Camp NaNoWriMo Week Two Update

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Hello, lovelies!

This week I had a good time with my writing goals and with my family. I got spend a lot of time with my mom, dad, and step-dad, two days with my aunt and uncle in Rochester, some bonding time with my cousins, and a lot of laughter with my friend Donna—we made some silly jokes about Ernest Hemingway.

Want to watch me make a fool of myself? Check out my Camp writing vlog below.

I really picked up the steam this week, lots of words and extra minutes, and a ton of pecking away at this beast. My pantsing magic dropped some great details on me in the last few chapters. I never thought I’d say this, but torture has become mundane. I’ve had to issue a lot of it on my main charrie. I’ve condensed a few of the chapters to limit the redundancy, and I’m glad we’re closing in on the end of it, for Ria’s sake, mine, and my readers’.

As a side note, I got to meet the great candy makers at Hercules Candy, who I found on YouTube this past winter. They are some funny people, and I loved chatting with them while I was there. I knew they were my kind of people when I found out they were from my home town, even though I found them while I was all the way down in Oklahoma. Shout out to those good people!

So, here are my number so far:

Minutes Completed: 740/720

Words Written: 4,575

So, I’m behind by 110 minutes, and that’s a big step forward from last time. Since I go home tonight, I will be pecking away at those extra minutes over the next week.

But first, I’ll have to feed my husband and son, and spend some much needed time with them after a month away.

I’ll be back next week with another update and another writing vlog. In the meantime, let me know what you’re working on or what you’re reading in the comments below.

 

Camp NaNoWriMo Week One Update

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Y’all, last week was one hell of a busy week. I went to a craft show in Pennsylvania with my mom on the third and fourth. It was busy, but fun. I didn’t get the minutes in that I thought I would. Yet, I’m not really all that far behind.

Want to watch me as I struggle? Check out my Camp writing vlog below.

I’m really liking this minutes tracking, although it was hard to judge and keep track of at first, my prediction was right. I can catch up on them far easier than I can words, and my average per day has increased.

What I’ve noticed is the difference comes in not seeking a specific word count. When I push for 500 words a day, I allow myself the minimum effort until I hit that allotment. But when I judge my minutes, I only count them if I am activelywriting or thinking seriously about my story. That difference alone has pushed me to upwards of 1,200 words in one day.

This is a lot for me, especially given my busy life, and I’m super happy that NaNoWriMo now allows these types of goals beyond words because it is working for me.

So, here are my number so far:

Minutes Completed: 590/720

Words Written: 3,664

So, I’m behind by 130 minutes, which in the grand scheme of things isn’t so bad. That’s about a day behind, and I can catch that up without much of a problem. Just not likely while I’m in NY.

What can I say, seeing my family is more important.

I’ll be back next week with another update and another writing vlog. In the meantime, let me know how your writing goals are coming in the comments below.

 

Camp NaNoWriMo Goals and Plans

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It’s been a long time since I successfully completed a NaNoWriMo project, but this year, I feel like I’ve got a better handle on it.

Want to see me talk about this in a video instead? Check it out on YouTube here:

I like how the goal options include minutes and hours instead of just word count. This has freed me up to work writing into my schedule this month due to traveling and family time. Usually, spending time with my family trumps my writing goals, but I’ve established a nice balance this year.

So, here are my goals: 3,720 minutes of writing this month. That’s equal to two hours a day, which means I can hammer out around five-hundred words on average. This connects well to what I’ve done for the last three months and allows me some wiggle room to catch up on writing minutes for those days that I simply won’t have time to sit down and create. Like when we go to the water park, which is my niece’s favorite trip because she’s a little fish.

Also, I’m going to be working on two projects, and since I’m not sure what my end word counts will be for them both, minutes makes this easier, too.

Now that we’ve got the goals down, let’s talk about the stories.

First and foremost, I plan to finish BLOOD PHOENIX: INFERNO. I’m currently hovering around 67,000 words, so the hope is between 13,000 and 20,000 more words will get me to the end of this bad boy. That word count is topping my normal goals, but as I reach the end of my stories, words tend to come faster. At least, until I hit those last few words. I struggle there because I know how important endings are.

Second, I am going to launch myself into TATIANA’S DIARY, which is a companion story to the BLOOD PHOENIX SAGA, and the diary style of it will be both a blessing and a curse as it means that I have a lot of freedom in formatting and the depth of scene I can sink into. I originally planned this to be 8,000-16,000 words, but my last short story came out 2,000 words less than intended, so I guess I will have to see where it takes me.

So, with the 3,720 minutes, I also want to write between 21,000 and 36,000 words during Camp NaNoWriMo.

I will also be documenting this process vlog style on YouTube with weekly check ups here, and I would love to know if you’re participating in July’s Camp NaNoWriMo? Whether you are or not, let me know what your creative goals are this month!

Character Interview with Devere Kiernan

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Hey, y’all. I’ve been looking forward to introducing you to this guy for some time. This is Devere Kiernan, or Dev for short, one of the two protagonists in LITTLE RED AND THE SURLY BEAR. He’s the surly bear if you hadn’t guessed.

I love this guy. We’ve gotten close.

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Alisha: Good morning, Dev. Thanks for joining me. It’s nice to see you again.

Devere: The pleasure is mine. I’m glad the circumstances are much better this time.

Alisha: Me, too! Last time got a little bloody. It’s hard to get out cotton?

Devere: I’m afraid that I do. The trick is cold water.

Alisha: Oh, well, that’s helpful. I’ll remember it for next time.

Devere: That’s likely.

Alisha: All right, let’s get into this, yeah? I know you are close with your family. Can you tell me about them?

Devere: I am. It’s just my sister, my nephew, and myself now. Maddy, my sister, likes to pretend she’s my mother. My nephew, Theo, thinks it’s funny. And I’m the reason they have to move all the time, but we’ve been a tight-knit pack for hundreds of years, especially after our parents died.

Alisha: Can you tell me about your parents?

Devere: My father was a good man. Strong and brave. He protected us when we needed help and let us fall when we needed a lesson. He stood up for others and taught me to do the same. My mother was much the same, but she was more meticulous and far better with a weapon than the rest of us. She taught me how to throw knives during puberty—gave me a reason to like being in my human form.

Alisha: How would you describe your childhood?

Devere: Peaceful. We traveled a lot, lived in the woods. My twin and I were playful. I loved France and scavenging human food across the country. The French have quite the palette.

Alisha: Where is the favorite place you’ve lived?

Devere: Other than France? Hmm. I liked the beer in Germany, the wine in Italy, the chocolate in Switzerland. But I like what they now call the Peneda-Geres National Park in Portugal.

Alisha: If you could change one thing about your life, what would it be?

Devere: I’d let others take more risks for me.

Alisha: How do you feel about lying?

Devere: It proves valuable to keep people safe, but I am not a fan of it in general. I do it far more often than I like.

Alisha: Do you have a motto? If so, what is it?

Devere: Help others when you can.

Alisha: What do you like to do when you’re not working?

Devere: I prefer to spend my free time romancing the fairer sex. One night and woman at a time. I also like to make weapons. Knives.

Alisha: Do you have a criminal record?

Devere: Not in this country nor this century.

Alisha: Are you a pessimist or an optimist?

Devere: An optimistic pessimist. Hope for the best. Prepare for the worst.

Alisha: Do you believe in soul mates and/or true love?

Devere: I do. My parents had it, but I don’t think I’ll be lucky enough to have that in my life.

Alisha: Well, that’s it. Thank you again for taking the time to visit with me. I hope only a mild sense of danger awaits you.

Devere: Since danger certainly awaits me?

Alisha: Call it a hunch.

Well, y’all, that’s Dev. He made a cameo in LOVING RED, but now, he’s finally got his own voice in the story. Expect to see more of him in the last installment, LOVING THEM BOTH, coming in early 2021.

 

See him in action in my newest release, LITTLE RED AND THE SURLY BEAR.

 

Did You Know…About the Skoffín?

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Sometimes fathered by a fox and mothered by a cat and occasionally born from an old hen’s small egg, the skoffín were often killed at birth. The creature is not quite a cat nor a fox, not quite wild nor tame, kind of human but also animal, and extremely dangerous. They are cunning and cruel, often referred to as the “demon harriers.”

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Skoffín are partly bald with impressive teeth and claws. They change color with the seasons like an Artic fox, and its exact appearance varies. Born with their eyes open, they disappear quickly after birth and don’t return for up to three years, when they feast on nearby animals. Most are killed at birth because they’re not easy to kill once they reach maturity.

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Keeping them under control in the wild is impossible. They are deadly to approach. Meeting their gaze would instantly kill both man and animal. Worse, some stories say that you were dead if they saw you, whether you saw them or not. The skoffín are intrinsically abhorrent and spiteful, and they wet their appetite for destruction by killing.

They are capable of moving in the day and night and are clever enough to hide on church roofs. It once killed people one by one as they left. The priest was smart enough to tie a mirror onto a long stick to kill the beast with its own gaze.

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The skoffín is closely related to the skuggabaldur, which are fathered by a tom cat and mothered by a vixen. It is a bit more dangerous and can outsmart a human if it wanted. Should you encounter a skoffín in rural Iceland, try averting its gaze as long as possible and run, and showing a skoffín its reflection is the only way to guarantee its death. You might also try firing silver bullets at it, and carving a cross on them helps.

 

 

Sources:

https://blogs.transparent.com/icelandic/2012/10/18/dont-let-them-see-you/

https://grapevine.is/mag/articles/2008/09/03/more-monsters-and-mythical-beings-skoffin/

https://icelanddefrosted.com/2013/04/13/mythical-icelandic-creatures-skoffin/

https://www.mythicalcreaturescatalogue.com/single-post/2016/06/05/Skoff%C3%ADn-Iceland

LITTLE RED AND THE SURLY BEAR Launch, Excerpt, Party, & Free Stuff!

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I love, love, love, LOVE these characters. Devere and Kaia have been romping around in my head for more than a decade, and they have such a fun creation, stemmed from roleplaying in a Dark Hunters’ group on facebook.

And now, I’ve finally rendered the budding of their love story.

Their story spans further than this, the first, or the LOVING RED saga as a whole. You can’t see me, but I’m rubbing my hands together here, excited about how these guys are going to pop back up in the end of INFERNO and throughout RESSURECTION, the fifth and final book in the BLOOD PHOENIX saga.

I don’t want to belabor the point. These guys have chemistry.

So, here’s a look at the first chapter of LITTLE RED AND THE SURLY BEAR. Be sure to join me over the next twenty-four hours for some book-related giveaways with my launch party, starting at 2PM Central. Come chat and nab some free stuff!

 

But now, let’s get into story:

Home sweet home. The iron and wood of the bar were a welcome sight. Glass bottles stacked behind the bartenders, and Maddy rang the bell at the pick-up window connecting to the kitchen, her famous stew billowing steam from the ceramic bowl.

I hefted my duffle bag around my shoulder, squeezing through the filled tables and nodding at the staff—most of them weary bosex in need of asylum and a few new humans that seemed to shrink under the breadth of my chest and towering height. I acknowledged them, foregoing the smile.

My mission weighed too heavily on me to drum up the pretense, mask already cracking under the pressure of earning the Travelers’ trust. Even the females were leery of me, although less so than the men, who didn’t like my toeing their territory, especially the vampires. A misled assumption that I wanted one their women.

I shook it off, compartmentalizing, and swung into the kitchen to show Maddy my face before I disappeared upstairs. She’d mount my head on the wall if I snuck off without saying hello.

“You’re back.” Maddy’s smile lit up the stark kitchen, my nephew banging around the metal bowls to coat the fried chicken. “Have they been feeding you? Theo, make your uncle a bowl of stew to take with him.”

“I can feed myself just fine.” Although, I struggled to find the time away from the crew to find safer options as I wormed into their cliques. The taste of human flesh wasn’t my favorite, but I’d scavenged it a few times as a cub when I was desperate.

A few of the younger bosex gravitated my way as I ate grilled animals and human snacks. The older crew called me a hipster or herbivore or hippie, but the plan wasn’t to convert them all, just their young, and the boys saw in me a lot of what they wanted as a man. Mostly, I was good with the ladies, and their hormones controlled much of their thoughts, but that was why the Assetato sent me to infiltrate the group.

My nephew handed me a box with stew and enough bread to last me the evening, and I nodded him my approval.

“Don’t hide away all night. We have a surprise performance from some locals that you wouldn’t want to miss, and I could use you at the door.” Maddy pinned me with her expert mothering look, one she practiced on me throughout our childhood before she ever became a mother. It didn’t matter how many times I told her that she was a scant few minutes older than me; she claimed older sibling status and waved it in my face like a dude with a big dick.

I might have gone through a phase. Sue me.

“I’ll be back down by eight.”

“Good.” She shooed me away to my apartment above the bar.

It was small, but I didn’t need much, and I wanted to leave the townhouse apartments to the strays that came in need of shelter. They were big enough for full families, which swung through from time to time, but we’d only filled one room at the moment—Javier, who quickly became a cornerstone of our staff after he’d been chased out of his last pack for challenging the alpha and losing. It happened more often than most thought.

The stew settled the undercurrent of nerves left over from touring, and I fell into my old routine without much thought: shaving, showering, and cleaning up before strapping on jeans and a tight tee to flex my arms at the ladies. My smile was the secret weapon, and I worked it to pay the bills.

Javier uncapped a local brew and slid the bottle to me as I stepped behind the bar.

“Things been quiet the last few weeks?”

“Nothing more than a few drunks who didn’t want to pay their tabs. Your sister’s stew made for a few sloths. Pretty normal, I’d say.”

Dinner patrons shifted to late night drinks and pool hounds.

But the boys moved the tables around the stage where bands set up on weekends, and the scent of patchouli, orange, and baby powder mixed with the fog from our machine. I leaned against the frame by the front door, arms across my chest as I waited for whatever performance Maddy seemed excited about.

A few pretty little things showed me their IDs, wiggling their curves and batting lashes at me. I gave them a wink as they leaned against the long, sleek bar, giggling with each other and ogling the other shifters in the place. Maddy did a good job of maintaining a strong male presence for the vacationers and girls in bikinis, and as the lone female working, I was glad she stayed behind the order window, so I wouldn’t have to crack more skulls than necessary.

Smoke billowed out from the sides of the stage as the main room’s lights dimmed, narrowing into a spotlight. Drums beat low and steady, a tribal rhythm that had a few girls rocking with it.

Four women stepped onto the stage, swaying and shimmying with the beat. Their sparkling bangles swung over their bare mid-drifts and hips, arms raising above their heads to elongate their movements.

A fifth stepped out behind them as the rest moved off the stage to circle the floor.

Her scent warped the space, narrowing it as her pale skin glowed in the stage lights, a light shimmer to her skin barely noticeable with her hips moving in slow, controlled spirals. Her stomach rolled as her body moved in full undulations. The veil over half of her face made her green eyes brighter, like the moss-covered Scottish Highlands.

Fingers perfectly posed, this woman’s movements were more elegant, and she took up the entire stage, the four on the floor mimicking her—none of them poor dancers, but none of them outshone their companion.

As they bowed forward, she released her hair, and red swept down to her shoulders. Her body arced, her chest circled, and the jiggle of her legs bloomed the taste of her on the air. How I smelled her over everything else, orange and patchouli, almost stepped me from my post. Hands brought me to her hips as she gyrated, and I wanted them against me.

Stepping down with her fellow dancers, they swirled in unison, and her veil disappeared to reveal her red-painted mouth. Those mossy eyes performing their own dance through the crowd. When her gaze landed on me, a vacuum sucked the air from the room, and she spun my direction.

Releasing another veil from her hip, her steps whirled her toward me. Thin fabric circled my neck as her bangles pressed into my stomach, and she winked wickedly before fluttering back to her group.

The fun I could have with her evident in the way she smiled, in the vibrations of her limbs, in the control of her rapid movements.

Skirts twirled, jingling matching the drums as the last strains of music died.

The little redhead peered over her shoulder, and I rubbed her token between my fingers.

She vanished behind the curtains on the side of the stage, another song starting and a new group spinning out to perform.

I hit up Javier for another beer, his grin matching the rumbling deep inside me—one that I’d ignored in the field, that needed soothed. The brew did nothing to dim it or the scent of her on the fabric as I tucked it into my pocket, but it sprouted again as the real thing sauntered back into the room in jeans and a dark tee, the shimmer still glued to her skin.

Another patron waited for me at the entrance, her fingers lingering on my arm as I returned her ID.

The redhead saddled up to the bar, poised at the end a few feet from the door where her scent overpowered me. Decidedly human but intoxicating, I appreciated the way her back arched as she ordered a drink, and I flagged the bartender to put it on my tab.

She turned to admire me. Yeah, I know I’m full of it, but that’s the best way to describe the look in her eyes. “Thanks.”

I sent her a deadly wink and enjoyed the pink brushing her cheeks.

“You must be Maddy’s younger brother.”

I snorted. “Yeah, by two-and-a-half minutes.”

“Twins. Makes sense. She worries about you.”

I draped an arm over the back of the empty hostess stand. “Does she? I didn’t realize she talked about me so much.”

A slender shoulder shrug, bouncing her hair as she drew a swig from her own beer. “Maybe it’s just me. We’re nearing friendship territory. Girls night and all.”

“It’s likely just you, little red. My sister isn’t a frilly type.”

The quirk of her mouth sweetened her scent. “Neither am I.”

“Must be why she confides in you then.”

“Oh, you don’t think she talks about you every chance she gets?”

“Not unless she wants me locked in a cell.”

“Are you telling me you’re as dangerous as you look?” She swiveled on the stool, crossing her legs and swinging her beer between her fingers. Her lips puckered around the tip of the bottle, her thumb running along the moisture on the neck.

A fire rumbled in my gut as I thought of a few things I’d like her to do with her mouth.

“Depends on how dangerous you think I look, little red.”

Her smile said she appreciated the name. “You make it sound like you’re the big bad wolf.”

“More of a surly bear.”

Her gaze danced along the front of me. “Big enough, but aren’t bears supposed to be hairy?”

I grinned for her. “Not when we live in the age of clippers and razors.”

“Are you trying to put images in my mind, bear?”

“None that aren’t already in there.” A new group of patrons pulled me from the naughty gaze she gave me.

Another performance started, dimming the lights and misting more fog across the floor. The redhead’s skin sparkled again, calling for my touch as she leaned in and reached her hand out to me.

“Kaia, by the way, bear.”

Her hand was soft but cold as I laid a kiss on it. “Dev.”

“Dev? That must be a nickname.”

“Short for Devere. It’s French.”

“Mmm, a French bear here in Florida. Now, I’ve heard it all.” Her hand lingered in mine, slowly slipping away like she wanted to pull me closer. How easily I could give into it, to take her upstairs and smear that glitter across both of our bodies, but if she was truly a friend of Maddy’s, the short-lived pleasure would cause more trouble than it was worth.

“I’m sure I have a few more surprises to throw at you, but Maddy would kill me if I scared you off.”

“What makes you think you could?” The challenge in her voice dug nails into my back, pushing at the itch I needed to scratch. Sweet and earthy plumes laced around me as she dropped from her stool to step nearer.

“Experience.” Breathing her in tapped the darker recesses of my nature. “In our line of work, it’s difficult to maintain relationships of any sort outside of family.”

Green moss glimmered with a challenge, her finger poking the center of my chest twice. “Well, do you provide a safe walk service?”

The corners of my mouth twitched with humor. “We certainly do.”

“Hmm. Let me grab my things, then. I’m parked around back.”

This wasn’t a good idea, but I didn’t care. I followed the curve of her walk as she weaved through tables and people, waving and smiling before she disappeared behind the curtains. At the back door, I caught her bending over to lift a chartreuse duffle bag. Some of the other women hugged her, making plans for later or wishing her a good night. A few of them glanced my way, and my muscles tightened as she strode toward me.

I had the door open, waiting for her without pause, and her finger found my arm on her way by. Close behind, the door shut, and we were alone. The moon swaying with her hair as she bounced to her car and threw the bag in her trunk.

“Did you need me to check the backseat?”

“You mean that bear nose can’t smell it from here?” The slow blink teased me, but it didn’t persuade me that she might know more than she let on. It breathed danger into the tension between us, the one yanking me forward as her hand tugged a piece of my long hair.

“Can’t help but play with fire, can you?” I barred her in with my arms, and she shifted seductively, fingers patting the corner of her mouth.

“It was only a little tug. Don’t be so sensitive.” Red-stained lips parted, she lifted them to mine. Atmosphere bloomed between us, and my hand found her back, pulling her into me as her grip wrenched more hair. Heat drove deep as a peek of her flesh bared under my touch.

I grabbed her roughly, lifting her against the trunk, and her soft moan cracked my restraint. She clung to me as I pressed into her.

My mouth dropped to her ear, grasping for scraps of sanity. “Are you sure you know what you’re doing, little red?”

Everything about her screamed for me to take her.

“I don’t think you understand how dangerous this is.”

“Oh, you don’t think I’ll hurt you. Do you, bear?”

I snorted, breath draping across her neck. It made her back arch, and I wanted to bite her. A nibble. Maybe more.

“I have a reputation.”

Her thumb fell to my lips. “A ladies’ man. I have eyes.”

“It’s not likely to stop anytime soon.”

“If your rep is so bad, why are you telling me about it instead of taking advantage of the opening I’m offering you?”

Her touch, her scent, the heat in her eyes, they all needled my resolve. Why was I?

Because of my sister. That was why. We allotted ourselves so few friends in the human world. I’d easily ruin this for her if I didn’t stop now.

“Because my sister needs a friend more than I need to get laid.”

Kaia slumped back, fingers tracing the stubble on my cheek, a pursed smile beguiling me further. “You’re a good brother.”

“Only when it counts.”

Her laughter lightened the weight of my desire for her, and I set her feet back on the ground.

“I bet.” Another little tug, and she slipped away.

The moon taunted me; traces of her essence played partner.

I cursed her for being exactly what I needed right then and went inside to the flirt-filled gazes of the ladies sitting at the bar.

With a wink on my way by, I returned to my station up front.

 

Remember to celebrate with me on facebook, Instagram, or twitter to take part in the giveaways. I’ll be taking entries from 2PM Saturday, June 15th until 2PM on Sunday, June 16th before I pick the winners, but if you want to win some of the extra grab bags or freebie stories, be sure to check in on the official event page.

Quarterly Update: Setting Up Quarter Three and a Quarter Two Review

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Hello, lovelies!

Round two of the quarterly review. Let’s see if I learned anything between the two quarters or if we find some trends.

If you’d like to see my process more fully, watch me plan here:

I stuck with the same basic set up and questions.

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What I overestimated. Welp, my time, again. I got more edits done for Time, but they’re going slower because I’m trying to combine two steps into one to save time overall, and that’s to edit the stories I like before moving on to read another submission. It’s kind of working.

What I’m learning from this transition is that I can start editing a story to discover how much work it will take, which makes it easier for me to solidly say yes or no to a specific story instead of ending up with so many maybes at the end of an open reading session. For the last few anthologies, I racked up WAY too many maybes, which meant more time spent reading and trying to decide than was necessary. We’re moving in the right direction at least.

I’m also behind on marketing and advertising. To be honest, I can barely keep up with what I’m doing now, so it keeps slipping to the back burner. However, I am hosting a live launch party this weekend, so…maybe there’s a little progress there.

My finance tracker went by the wayside. I used it for a month, kind of. Set it up for two, and forgot about it on the third. A big signal that it’s not working for me in the form I’m trying. I think I need to sit with my parents and get some budgeting advice. They both have two very different systems, so I can mutate what works for me.

And finally, nothing of a surprise here. I’m not that great at compositing art. I’m learning, but man, I have a long, long, long way to go.

What I underestimated. Again, this shouldn’t surprise anyone, but my ability to admit when I need a day off and the benefits taking a break can offer my overall productivity. It’s funny because I preach to others about taking breaks when they’re stressed over their work or life, but I really like working… Man, that sounds crazy, but it’s true. I love what I do, so I tend to pile myself with all the things that I want to do and need to do. I’m in need of some prioritizing, and what a perfect opportunity to do that, right?

I think I’ve come up with a compromise for myself. And it’s one of the notes I made to myself in the spread, which is to slow down and take more time on projects, which offers more time for marketing and ads, and helps to keep mistakes to a minimum. Less rush and more buzz. Um, no brainer?

I’m pretty sure that last quarter I mentioned this as well, but my creative potential is so much more than I allow myself. This comes back to that prioritizing idea. I’ve made writing every day a priority, so it’s getting done, and I. Am. Loving. It. Oh my shit, y’all. As of today, I’ve written 77,680 words. And although I’m sure some writers might scoff at this, it’s MASSIVE for me. I’m almost done with my newest book. After three months? Are you kidding me? It usually takes me close to a full year to write a novel. Now, there’s a lot of changes that’s allowed me to progress so much, but man… Man, that’s a big stepping-stone to my dream of writing multiple books a year.

Next is actually YouTube. I stumbled into #authortube, and I am really enjoying consuming and creating videos. I have a way to go as far as growing comfortable talking and filming myself, but it’s a new way to move forward in my industry, which keeps me from wanting to jump into another one to cure wanderlust, and I’m all for it.

If you’ve been following any of my video updates, I’ve been working freelance on a cookbook, and I totally underestimated my joy for this type of thing. I love food, the recipes are super new for me, and the photography is amazing. YAS!

My last note is to carve out more time for family. Next month will have buttloads of this, but I need to make it a more regular part of my day. This goes back to overestimating my time. It’s an all-around problem, and it hasn’t changed much. I must change this.

My current vision. Simplify popped up again. Yup. It’s getting better, but we’re still not there yet. Simplify your life, Alisha. Get it together. Do the things. Be an adult.

I also listed consuming more books. I love books, obviously, I write and publish them. It means I read a lot, but it’s not the same as simply reading for fun. At least a chapter a night or a day, or something. Damn it. This is doable. I’m going to make it doable. I also made a Book Bingo Board in my bullet journal to help motivate me.

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Freelance more. This was a surprise. I like it. I want to do more. That’s pretty much it.

Finally, I’ve listed to find joy. I’ve loved writing so much, working freelance, and building my business. That’s what I need to make happen on a more realistic and sustainable scale. Also, I’ve loved having a show to watch with my husband every day. We need another one. If you have a suggestion, by the way, make it in the comments below.

Current pain points. Other than what I’ve already outlined above, and frankly, I know can babble on about this stuff for far longer than necessary, but here we are. I need to step up and use focused power blocks to get through work more efficiently. Ahem. Simplify.

I’m trying to juggle too many projects at once. SIMPLIFY.

I really need someone to delegate to, which of course requires money. Maybe some day.

Oh my shit. We have a giant increase in submissions. Like I think we’re hovering around 200 since April. Much love to Authors Publish Magazine for that shout out. I’ve been subscribed to them for a long time. Helpful resource.

And yeah, I need to decide on whether to finish my complete revamp of my Blood Phoenix covers now, or wait until all five books are written. The problem here is that people who have already bought the first three books wouldn’t have complete sets if I shift gears now.

However, some of the big marketing pushes I would like to get into, like Bookbub, won’t be as effective, aka lower ROI, until I do the revamp. My current plan is to do both, but that’s going against my goal of simplifying my life. I don’t know. I could use some advice before I dive into the marketing part of my WIP.

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Quarter Three plans. Anyways, here’s how this transformed into my quarter three goals and project plans. It’s still jammed pack with stuff. Probably too much stuff, but I’ve given myself some relief in not trying to push to publish this new anthology, TIME, by the end of 2019. If it happens, cool. If not, that’s okay, too. The fall semester is way too busy for me to push myself like that, and I need to learn to accept that.

The take away. Less is more. Haha. Less distractions. More focus. Less busy work. More productivity. Less worry. More progress.

My motivation to keep writing is on track.

Overall, a successful quarter. Bring on the next.

What are your goals this quarter? Did you get everything you wanted done last quarter? Tell me about them in the comments below!

How to Conduct a Character Interview, Part One: The Questions

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I love interviewing my characters, especially to give those who don’t get an internal voice the chance to express themselves and provide the reader with more insight.

Coming up with a new list of questions with each new book, story, or character either becomes repetitive or draining. This often leads to endless searches on the internet.

So, instead of repeating this process each and every time I want to write a character interview, I decided to compile a list of my favorite questions from the lists I often visit.

This is going to be long, y’all.

 

I took a good chunk of questions from The Writing Kylie below, but she has SO many more for us get to know our characters, but I tried to pinpoint the ones I thought would work best for interview purposes instead of development. There’s even some for villains in the mix:

Do you have a motto? If so, what is it?

Do you have any annoying habits, quirks, strange mannerisms, or other defining characteristics?

How would you describe your childhood?

would you describe your childhood?

How much schooling have you had?

Did you enjoy school? If not, why did you struggle?

Where did you learn most of your skills and other abilities?

Did you have any role models? If so, describe them and why they were your role models.

How did you get along with the other members of your family?

What did you want to be when you grew up?

When and where were you the happiest?

When did you have your first kiss, and who with?

What do you consider the most important event of your life so far, why?

What is the most evil thin you have ever done so far?

Do you have a criminal record?

What is your greatest regret?

If you could change one thing from your past, what would it be and why?

Are you optimistic or pessimistic?

What is your greatest extravagance?

Do you believe in the existence of soul mates and/or true love?

What is the most evil thing a human being could do?

Under what circumstances do you find killing acceptable or unacceptable?

How do you measure success?

Have you ever been in love?

What is your most treasured possession?

Do you like to read? If so, what?

How do you spend a typical Saturday night?

What makes you life?

How do you define happiness?

How do you deal with stress?

What are your pet peeves?

Which talent would you most like to have and why?

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

What three words best describe your personality?

If you have 24 hours to live, what three things would you do in the time you had left?

If you were to die and come back as a person, animal, or thing, what do you think it would be, and why?

What do you have in your pockets or purse?

What is on your nightstand?

What’s in your fridge?

 

These next three are from “37 Questions to Ask Your Character”:

What is your earliest memory?

On Monday morning, are you excited to go to work, or are you sad?

If you could go back in time for one day, where would you go?

 

The next set are from Helping Writers Become Authors. They have a nice infograph and a character interview sheet that you can print to develop your characters as well. But these are the ones I like best:

What do you like best about the main (other main) character(s)?

What do you like lease about the main (other main) character(s)?

If you could do one thing and succeed at it, what would it be?

What kind of person are you?

Who do you sympathize best with?

 

Here’s another chunk from Gotham Writers. They gave another few I hadn’t seen in the others:

What was your favorite journey?

What is your most marked characteristic?

Who is your favorite fictional hero?

On what occasions is it okay to lie?

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

Which words and phrases do you overuse?

 

And another snippet from Writers Write. They, have a great, long term process for understanding your characters:

What was it like being raised about your parents?

What traditions are important to your life?

Which teacher or authority figure had the most impact on your life?

What’s your favorite quote?

 

Here’s Writers Write again, with another list that has a lot of personal prompts for creative nonfiction writing that inspired me:

What’s your best physical feature? Why do you like it?

Which part of school did you enjoy the most?

Would you wish upon a falling star?

What superstitions do you believe in or follow?

What was your favorite toy as a child?

What’s your favorite season?

Do you connect with your zodiac sign?

What would you tell your younger self if you could?

What would a wanted ad for your ideal roommate read like?

Can you describe your personal style?

Do you believe in fate?

What would you like to teach the world if you had a platform?

If you had to wear a sign around your neck explaining something about yourself before somebody spoke to you, what would it say?

 

AutoCrit offers “Four Methods For Interviewing Characters,” which has an interesting example of a free-form interview for development that also showcases the way character answer questions that may pry into topics they may not answer in an expected way:

If you had a free day with no responsibilities and your only mission was to enjoy yourself, what would you do?

What impression do you make on people when they first meet you? How about after they’ve known you for a while?

What’s your idea of a good marriage? Do you think it’ll happen for you?

Do you think you turned out the way your parents expected?

What would you like your tombstone to say?

 

I relish an opportunity for new and non-traditional questions, and WayUp gave us a few traditional job interview questions and what their answers might be:

Batman vs Spiderman: Who Would Win?

In what ways are you lucky?

If you were a cartoon character, which one would you be and why?

If you were a crayon (or paint swatch) color, which would you be and why?

 

Novel Factory gives us a couple new questions amongst their Ultimate Character Questionnaire:

What would you ask a fortune teller?

If they could have a superpower, what would it be and why?

What is your favorite fairy tale?

Do you believe in redemption?

What is your favorite proverb?

What or who would you dress up as for Halloween?

 

Labotomy of a Writer provides a LONG list of questions with a whopping 253 questions. Here are a few I really liked from it:

Are you spontaneous or do you always need to have a plan?

What do you do when you’re bored?

What time of day or night is your favorite?

What do you think about being supernatural? Is it cool or have you been screwed?

Do you have a mentor? Describe them.

What is something you had to learn during your training that you hated?

How would you convince the opposing side to join your team if you could?

What would you wish for if you found a genie?

What time period would you live in if you could?

 

These come from Roleplaying Tips’ Mother of all Character Questionnaires. This has a lot more fantasy-based world and character building questions as well:

Do you have a notorious or celebrated ancestor?

Do you have a parton Deity?

Do you enjoy “roughing it,” or are you a creature of comfort?

How do you feel about the government (rulers) in general? Why?

If your features were destroyed beyond recognition, is there any other way of identifying your body?

 

Would you rather questions also make for interesting answers from questions, but it’s best to sprinkle these amongst others rather than having a 20-question volley with your character.

 

And finally, since we’re on the topic, here’s one last great resource of questions for fantasy world building from Patricia C. Wrede that is just massive, and I couldn’t do it better justice if I tried.

So, there it is. My list of questions. Stay tuned for part two, where I elaborate on how I choose questions for characters, how I answer them, ways to create a scene or indicate movement during an interview.

 

Got a favorite question that I missed on my list? Leave it for us in the comments below.

Breaking Down Satire: Colloquialism

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Colloquialism uses informal words and phrases within a dialect to include aphorism, idioms, profanity, or other words that occur regularly in daily speech. Spoken by a specific group, dialects are a language within a language that uses unique words, slang, and accent.

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Additionally, colloquialisms pop up frequently in poetry, prose, and drama, especially concerning dialogue or first-person narration. This gives characters a more lifelike quality because a character’s voice is one of their defining features.

This literary tool is used in two main ways. First, some colloquialisms are words or phrases that only appear in a specific dialect. For example, in my hometown, Syracuse, NY, we call white-hot hotdogs coonies. We are the only place in the world that call them that because we’re stubborn, and that’s what they’re called.

Second, these words and phrases appear widely but have different meanings amongst certain dialects. For example, in Oklahoma, the word coke refers to any kind of soft drink, while in most other states, it refers to the brand Coca-Cola. The first time my husband ordered a Dr Pepper after we moved here: “Hey, I want a coke.” “What kind?” “Dr Pepper.” It absolutely flabbergasted me. Still does.

These can also include contractions (y’all) and profanity (bloody) and idioms (“That thing is all cattywampus,” a version of caddy-corner).

Colloquial expressions allow literature to reflect a writer’s society, how people talk in their real lives, and this helps writers form strong connections with readers via realism.

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Slang and jargon help with this kind of realism and are sisters to colloquialism, although overlap can occur. The differences are that slang is used within a specific social group, like teens, and colloquialisms are understood across demographic barriers. And jargon is also used only by certain groups, like doctors, accountants, lawyers, and writers! Yeah, go on and talk about the POV in your WIP or the issues you’re experiencing between the Beta and ARC stages of the process, then watch as people’s eyes glaze over with confusion.

With all of that in mind, here are a couple lists of common colloquialisms:

 

  • to bamboozle – to deceive
  • go bananas – go insane or be very angry
  • wanna – want to
  • gonna – going to
  • go nuts – go insane or be very angry
  • look blue – look sad
  • buzz off – go away
  • penny-pincher – a stingy person
  • I wasn’t born yesterday – I’m not an idiot.
  • There’s more than one way to skin a cat – There’s more than one way to complete this task.

 

Now, employing this device will often stand out to the reader, but writers are cautioned away from overusing easy dialectal cues, like dropping the “g” at the end to create a Southern twang, since it’s diction that creates vernacular, not stylizing words.

For instance:

We’re goin’ to the store. A generic dropped “g” that may indicate a country or southern accent, albeit, not well.

vs

We’re fixing to go to Walmart. Note that I didn’t change anything about the words, but it has a hell of a lot more voice to it because of the dialect.

 

By the way, this kills me since fixing is one of my least favorite words. I really live in the wrong state to make this argument though.

 

But when colloquialism is used well, readers will find the story and its characters more genuine. In fact, many authors use colloquialisms unconsciously in their writing.

 

Some of my favorite colloquialisms and like devices define my side characters: how Vincent’s Australian accent peeks through via idioms, like “what are you having a wobbly about?” or how he refers to females a sheila. How Boden doesn’t use articles and confuses his prepositions because English is his third or fourth language. How most of my slang comes from Ari, like her use of “bitch trip” for a group trip to the girls’ bathroom.

My paranormals also have their own words, like renegades being new, unauthorized vampires; bosex taking place of the shifter; and claims meaning the control of a full-fledged vampire has over the renegade in their charge. Most of how I used these devices aren’t strictly adhering to satirical standards, but I do so love to mess with genre norms that they seem fitting.

 

Do you use colloquialism in your writing? Tell me in the comments below.

 

 

Sources:

https://literarydevices.net/colloquialism/

http://www.literarydevices.com/colloquialism/

https://www.litcharts.com/literary-devices-and-terms/colloquialism

 

 

LOVING RED Author Interview

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When I originally published LOVING RED in 2015, I had a lot of promos and interviews for its launch. In that time, some of them have disappeared from the internets, but I did one interview in particular that went beyond the norm of why I write and what my book is about.

Since the host is gone, I’m reposting the thoughtful questions Cindy from BookAbout asked me below. And just before the prequel launches seemed like the time.

I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

 

I’m fascinated by the names and labels you’ve used in your story. Was there a particular theme/process/inspiration to your choices? (Celampresians /Assetato / Kaia / Severins Bouvier / Ari)

I had various reasons for the odd names I chose. First, the Celampresians are named after the queen of the vampires, the first one in existence: Phea Celampresian. She’s vain, so she named her army after herself. I chose it after some research about Atlantis and what type of surnames may have come from their culture. “Celam-” means the noble, and Phea was part of Atlantean nobility as her stepfather held a high-ranking government position. This also plays into her heritage: she was born of an Atlantean human woman impregnated by the primordial god, Chronos; therefore, making Phea the granddaughter of the Earth Goddess, Gaia. I infuse this mythology in her story, “Maiden of the Underworld.” In any case, I’m going off on a tangent, as I do. The second part of the name, “presian,” came from my tweaking two other names: Ampheresian, which means unsophisticated, hardy, and enduring, and Diaprepesian, which means ambitious, untrustworthy, and sly, all of which describe Phea’s personality not long after she becomes a vampire. 

Second, the Assetato have a bit simpler of a back-story. I knew that Rosalie, the head of the Assetato, was Italian royalty before she was stolen and changed by one of the Celampresians. Once she freed herself from their reign, she banded with important allies and founded the organization in order to undermine Phea’s hold on the paranormal world so that vampires, shifters, and humans can live together. Simply put, I named them the Italian translation for “The Thirsty,” as they work not to kill humans in order to survive.

Next, Kaia and Severins are a bit different. These are characters that began as role-play characters on facebook. Kaia was not my own character, but I met her through a Sherrilyn Kenyon character: Dev. I loved playing him because he was a pervert, and well, so am I. They fell in love off screen, and so I made her a version of him that they could play on screen, hence the similar nickname of Sev. His name is made up of two French surnames, and other than the potential nickname, the meaning didn’t play into my choice for him. His surname, Bouvier, means herder, which seemed fitting for a wolf in the French countryside.

As for Kaia, like I said, she wasn’t originally my character, which created a whole different set of problems for me, but my friend tells me she chose it because she always liked the name, and I found that it means pure, which works well for her overall temperament. (I’ve written an explanation of their creation story on my blog.)

Lastly, Ari, who’s my main character’s best friend from the Blood Phoenix novels and finally has her own starring role in UNTAMED, is a shortened version of Ariana. I chose this name simply by asking my best friend what she would like her character to be named, since Ari is based off my oldest childhood friend, Becky. We’ve known each other for twenty-eight years now (and I’m thirty). I also liked it because it has the same three letters as my lead vampire, Ria. It connects them all the more.

 

Who/what are the Celampresians and the Assetato?

I explained a little about this above, but to simplify the explanation: the Celampresians are the bad guys, an evil coalition that aims to kill off most of the shifter races because Phea wants all paranormal creatures under her control. This stems from her birth as the first paranormal creature, the mother of all vampires and the grandmother of all shifters.

The Assetato are supposed to be the good guys, but their means of fighting don’t always seem so pure. They combat Phea’s control over them and want to live more peacefully, although they do battle their natural impulses to consume human blood and flesh. Although they are mostly good-doers in the U.S., they are more aggressive in Europe, as I will explore in an upcoming spin-off novel THE SISTER WITH THE STOLEN POCKET WATCH about a mermaid-unicorn, but that’s a whole new tangent.

 

Are the shifter’s names linked to their alter ego?

Unfortunately, they’re not. I typically pick names that I like and run with that. I have a list of a few hundred names I pull them from. Not a very fun or interesting answer, I know. But I also don’t believe that my shifters change personalities when they change forms. They merely need to learn to balance their animal instincts and impulses with their humanity.

 

Your use of other were-animals is appreciated. Most shifter storylines tend to focus on wolves, but there are some authors who will utilise other animals (Laurell K. Hamilton is the one that comes to my mind). Was there a reason for the direction you chose in this regard? What do you think the various shifters offer to the novel?

Thank you. I enjoy novels that show variety as well. I’ve read several of Hamilton’s novels and Kenyon’s, who does the same with her shifters. I’m fascinated with how diverse creatures are in mythology. I’m such a geek about it that I own two encyclopedias on the history, lore, and use of both vampires and shifters in culture, media, and literature. (I’m looking at some faerie ones as well).

Essentially, I get bored with the same thing over and over again, so I wanted to incorporate a bit of variety in my novels. My husband tells me that I add too much weird variances and that I’m pushing mythology a bit too far, and that’s what I’m aiming to do—push it, tweak it, twist it. Besides, I can do a whole lot more fun and strange stuff with more creatures.

I do talk a little about what’s present in their world in LOVING RED with my tree nymph, Eilon. But there’s a whole back-story for where they come from that will show itself slowly. It revolves around Phea and her son, Romulus, or as she calls him: Mumu.

 

What is significant or different about your shifters?

It’s a bit hard to say what makes mine different as shifters have been written about so much as of late. I’ve taken aspects from other stories and combined them into my creatures, like their abilities and aversion to silver. I do have an interesting phenomenon beginning when my series takes place, nine thousand years after paranormal creatures appear. They’re beginning to mutate, and hybrids, although rare, are a new possibility.

 What I can say is different about Sev is his personality—how his wolf makes him both stronger and weaker. He’s certainly not indestructible, and he’s suffered a lot, but his motto throughout the novel empowers him: it can always be worse.

In this sense, my shifters are like regular people who have lived through extraordinary times, like the plague, the witch trials, and war.

 

What other animals have you incorporated into Loving Red?

I have wolves, bears, a hawk, various felines (leopard, lion, and a tiger), and one could make the argument for shifter fae. Eilon’s form changes, although he’s humanoid in shape in both forms. And I have other animals that will show up in later novels.

 

You use the term “shifter” instead of “were”… is there a reason for that? Elaborate?

I use the term shifter because were seems to have the connotation of a curse or having once been human. Although humans can be changed into shifters, or bosex as I call them in the books, it is far less common than the natural born shifters. I like this term because, like Sev, most of them are born in litters to families and stay in their animal form until they hit puberty. This can be dangerous for the larger creatures I have, like the centaur, unicorn, or dragon, but this can also create a safe environment for the young shifters until they’ve learned to navigate the world and care for themselves. When they’re old enough, they shift to their human form for the first time, therefore, shifting theirs and others’ perceptions.

Also, they’re not regulated by the moon or summoned to their animal forms because of it, which seems to fit more with the idea of a were-creature rather than a shifter.

And as a final tangent, I call them bosex in the novels for two reasons: first, bosex was an interesting typo in a conversation I had with the “real” Kaia, and I felt compelled to use it; second, we’ve invented the words were, shifter, and etc., and I like the idea that they had their own word for themselves long before humans had one.

 

You said… “like Sev, most of them are born in litters to families and stay in their animal form until they hit puberty.” This is fascinating! Would you mind elaborating on the social and emotional impacts this has on the shifters as they join the human race? Do they join the human race?

Thank you. I would love to elaborate. As with most of my answers, I have to say again that it varies. Sev had a hard time joining the human race. Since his pack was hit with disease in his youth, he was small as a new human and lacked the knowledge to immerse himself safely into the Middle Ages and the Catholic Inquisitions. His sometimes-horrific experiences with humanity personify his motto of “It could always be worse” or “I’ve been through worse.” However, because of this and other struggles, his family and pack remains close and stable as a unit, full of that special love that withstands the adaptation needed to survive for centuries. This also means that families like Sev’s will do anything to protect each other because family becomes their only constant as human culture changes around them.

For other creatures, the challenges are different. My centaur, for example, fell into reading and academia when he joined humanity, allowing him a quiet place to observe and learn how to fit in without truly being noticed. He did this to survive as so many of his kind were killed off before biology allowed him to change. This is true for many of my larger creatures, most of which are close to extinction and are seen as “mythical” even to other paranormal creatures.

And finally, my mermaids, who are isolated from humanity, have more to fear when they emerge from the water as humans. One of the families I focus on in THE SISTER WITH THE STOLEN POCKET WATCH demonizes humanity as the father was wiled away from his wife and produced one of the two hybrids I currently have in my mythology. The hybrid disrupts the family and clan dynamic in this pocket of the water, and she suffers for what she is. This means escorted visits on land for their first change and banning visits other than for mating purposes, which they do in their human forms.

All shifters possess an inherent fear of the human race, especially since their animal-counterparts are hunted, much like with the wolves in the U.S. or sharks in the Pacific. Most out grow their fear and learn to blend in, some feel more at home with humanity than they do with their own kind, and a select few hide themselves away to become as archaic as their mythologies depict them.

 

There it is. I still love all of those questions!

The prequel, LITTLE RED AND THE SURLY BEAR, comes out June 15th, and we’re having a release party where you can win the books, other paranormal books, and a grand prize with an Amazon gift card and character-themed candies! I hope you’ll join me there.