Thursday, May 16, 2024

No Time for Tea

A lace tablecloth with a microscope sitting beside some packs of empty blood tubes and a white porcelain tea cup with a grey rose etched on it

Last week’s topic was our fantasy dinner parties and who we’d invite. Yeah, I missed it. So my image for the week is my favorite tea cup to make up for it! 

This week we’re talking about real people we’ve based characters on. I think to some extent every character we write is a conglomeration of people we know or have met. How else would we write relatable characters? 

The only character I’ve truly based on someone is actually another character: John Hammond. From his cane to his white hat and clothes as he stepped onto the Jurassic Park screen, John Hammond. He fit the side character I wrote in The Mars Strain, Dr. Dresden. 

One of my author highlights was when a friend of mine was gushing about my audiobook and asked me if I’d pictured John Hammond from Jurassic Park when I wrote Dresden. I was so excited that she’d pictured him how I’d written him! Especially because I didn’t say who he looked like, I wrote Dresden’s looks into the story. And she picked up on it perfectly! 

As for basing a character on someone I know in real life…I can’t say I won’t ever do it, because that’s basically ensuring I will at some point, but it’s not an intentional goal of mine. I prefer my fictional creations to be bits and pieces of those I know and of myself. My goal is to write characters you can picture sitting next to at a restaurant or hanging out with around a campfire. And yes, using a real person template would do that, but when we read we want larger than life. So why not glue parts of multiple together to create a character that’s bigger than all of them? 

How about you? Have you based a character on someone you know? And the more important question, did they read it and recognize themselves?

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Models Who Inspired Characters

 This Week's Topic: IRL Person on Whom I've Based a Character

Beyond models whose images helped me focus on the physical aspects, I don't think I consciously developed a character's personality based on someone I know or a celebrity. {chin scratch} Maybe a quirk here or a tic there, but no one individual comes to mind.

What's that? You want to see the models' reference photos? Oh, well, pfft, yeah! I have to thank whoever chose this topic because it's been a few years since I reviewed these photos and I've fallen in love with the characters they inspired all over again. 

From my Immortal Spy urban fantasy series:

Character = Bix; IRL Inspo = I wish I knew her name

Character = Tobek; IRL Inspo  = Lasse L. Matberg: 

Character = Phobos; IRL Inspo = David Gandy: 

Monday, May 13, 2024

A Secret Celeb I Based a Male Lead on

 This week at the SFF Seven, we're talking about real life people (or celebrities) we've based characters on. 

That phrasing makes me laugh a little because I'm pretty sure celebrities are still real life people. It puts me in mind of some of my ongoing themes of reminding readers that their favorite authors are still people who get sick and have life drama. But I digress.

I don't know if I've talked about this openly, but in UNDER HIS TOUCH, the second Falling Under book (and this series is contemporary erotic romance, not SFF, fair warning), I totally based the male protagonist on a celebrity. I wanted a Brit man, one who was brooding and not conventionally handsome, full of smoldering sexiness. Guess who I based him on?

Neil Gaiman.

Yeah, yeah - I know. Only a book nerd like me would pick someone like that. I don't think it's at all obvious in the text to the reader, but he was the guy I envisioned when I wrote it. I even threw in a little Amanda Palmer easter egg, just for fun. 

Friday, May 10, 2024

SFF Dinner Date

Just so we're clear, the only reason I'm having a dinner party for writers past and present is so I can fangirl. Also, I'm going to need a massive table because this is just scratching the surface of the invitations I'd ship out (in no particular order). 

Martha Wells, N. K. Jemisin, Alice (Andre) Norton, Ursula K. Le Guin, Anne McCaffery, Robin McKinley, Rebecca Roanhorse, and Nnedi Okorafor. 

Yeah, I know it's all female-presenting. Listen. I love me some SFF writers who are guys. I do. But I tell you what. I'm having a really great time right now reading stories that aren't written from within the confines of the white straight male experience (or just the white cishet experience in general). For that reason, if I started bringing the male-presenting folks to the dinner table, Dr. Chuck Tingle would be on the list. John Scalzi would be, as would Neil Gaiman, and boy howdy, wouldn't it be a hoot to have Sir Terry Prachett for the event? If I could suddenly learn adequate Mandarin, Liu Cixin would be there. 

Phew. At this point, I think I just opened my own restaurant and I'm not going to get to talk to any of these people, much less drink tea with them. Still. I'm so interested in the wealth of experiences and perspectives and the fun that could be had at these dinners. 

Sunday, May 5, 2024

Living the Dream

I used this photo (Thanks to Craig Chrissinger for taking it!) a couple of weeks ago, but it's too appropriate for this week's topic to pass up using it again. Our topic at the SFF Seven is our fantasy dinner party. We're asking which SFF authors and characters you’d invite to a soiree. 

The thing is, one of the best perks of being an author is getting to make other authors be your friends. So my fantasy dinner parties have mostly happened! Case in point: above I'm having dinner with Martha Wells, Darynda Jones, and Kelly Robson. Yes, it was a great conversation. I feel so blessed and fortunate that I pretty much get to have my fantasy dinner parties on a regular basis now. 

Last week I got to have dinner with Amanda Bouchet, Maria V. Snyder, Jennifer Estep, H.R. Moore, and Maria Vale. On another evening, I sat between Juliette Cross and Chloe C. PeƱaranda, later joined by Carissa Broadbent. 

The one person I have yet to meet in person - and hopefully have dinner with! - is Neil Gaiman. But I do have his cell phone number and have chatted with him on the phone, which gives me all kinds of happiness right there. Since it's a fantasy, Anne McCaffrey, Tanith Lee, and Vonda McIntyre could all come back from the dead and join us. 

My younger self would be thrilled. 


Friday, May 3, 2024

Self-Promo Allergy Cure

Oh lort. It's self-promo week. If anyone needs me, I'll be in my pillow fort with Perceval. Why, oh why does self-promo give me such a rash? I mean, yes, I'm mortified that I don't have a new book to promo. I hate that, and then, I think, there's a dose of self-loathing that dribbles into the mix, too, no matter how hard you try to tell yourself it's okay. You're making slow, steady progress. 

Spoiler alert: It never, ever feels okay.

So, I'll stare that icky feeling right in the face and say, hey! Can I interest you in a weird little tale that you'll either love or you'll hate? Damned If He Does is a light read about an incubus who gets tangled up with an asexual and her cat. Or is that the other way around? 

Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Dark Fantasy LARCOUT: On Sale for A Limited Time!

 This Week's Topic: Promote My Work!

This week, my dark fantasy LARCOUT is on sale for $0.99 in eBook format. The sale ends Monday, May 6th. If you haven't picked up my story of a rock-eating, parasite-wielding, fire-warrior trapped in a nation of corrupt magicians now's your chance!

Fire Born, Blood Blessed: Book 1

Blood-beings can be chattel or char.

Fire seethes through the veins of every Morsam, demanding domination and destruction. Combat is a hobby. Slaughtering the inferior blood-beings is entertainment. Life is a repetitious cycle in the prison fashioned by the gods. But mix-race abomination Vadrigyn os Harlo suspects the key to freedom lies in safeguarding the blood-beings; until her blood-born mother uses foreign magic to turn the Morsam against her. Betrayed, bound, and broken, Vadrigyn struggles against the dying of her essential fire. Yet the ebbing flames unleash the dormant magic of her mixed heritage…

The magic to destroy free will.

Seized by the gods and dumped in the desert nation of Larcout to stop history from repeating, Vadrigyn discovers her mother’s legacy of treason and slaughter still festers. To survive the intrigues of the royal court, the roiling undercurrents of civil war, and the gods themselves, Vadrigyn must unravel the conspiracy behind her mother’s banishment. But manipulating free will unleashes a torrent of consequences.

If she fails the gods, she will return to the Morsam prison, stripped of all magic and all hope.

If she succeeds, she can rule a nation.

Kasthu. Roborgu. Inarchma.

Live. Learn. Burn.

Friday, April 26, 2024

Revision List

 I’m behind. Again. We’re talking about revision. I believe I’ve mentioned it before, but revision is my favorite part of writing. I think I’ve also mentioned that how I come at revision is in the word itself. Re-vision. Once a draft is done, the revision process is my opportunity (and obligation) to look at the story with new eyes.

As I finish a draft, I keep a revision list. Once I type The End, I pack the WIP up, and I put it away for at least two weeks. I, too, am an intuitive writer. I feel my way through a story. Most of the time, that works really well, and revision is a minor affair. Most stories simply need a little tidy up. Most of my revision job is working through my list, tightening, calling myself out on my own BS – repeated words, gestures, over describing or over staging. I ensure that character arcs are fully realized. I make sure the plot holds together and drives from one end of the story to the other. Most of the time, my revision process is mostly about pruning to expose the trunk of the plot to air and light.

Then there are stories that need more. I’m working on a manuscript right now. This story needed to sit for years. I love the story. My beta readers like the story, too, and remember it even after all the time it needed to sit. It had to sit because all of us agreed that the story was flawed. Jeffe kindly read the story for me to help me identify the issues and she couldn’t finish the book. That confirmed for me that I had a major structural problem that I couldn’t diagnose. So, I shelved that story. I needed time and space before I tried to understand the issues.

It paid off. At least, I think it did. When I came back to the story and read it again, my story sense went off, immediately. The main character had no arc. She wasn’t driving the latter half of her story. That’s a pretty major issue. It required a serious rewrite of the second half of the book. That’s still in progress as a wrestle with the climax of the story and layer in ALL THE THINGS. This is the part of the book I really want to get right so it’s taking a frustrating amount of time while I obsess over it. I hope it pays off.

The biggest issue for me is that every story needs something different from a revision standpoint. I mean, the initial prerequisite is a finished draft. After that, though, each story dictates how I approach ripping and tearing at the guts. Some surgeries are less involved than others. Some are great big Frankenstein’s monster stitch jobs. And even then, I prefer revision to drafting. I probably need to be medicated for that.