Lantern Leaf Press

Voyages Into The Fantastic

Category: From the Author’s Desk (page 3 of 9)

A Rambling Fall

If I was asked to sum up my autumn in one word, that word would be “travel.” I might also throw in “exciting,” “exhausting,” and “Nebraska could at least have different colors of cows.” Writing had to take a bit of a back seat.

After various family members visited during October, I helped my good friend Kendra pack up her stuff and move back to Colorado in preparation for her new adventures. And by “helped” I mean I sat around talking while she packed, and then helplessly rode shotgun in her manual-transmission car while lobbying for expensive lunch breaks. And yes, we had lots of fun. We took a circuitous route to see various friends and family members, and we got to stop at the Missouri Botanical Garden!

There was a whole lot less in bloom in late October than there was when Taylor and I visited in August, and it was a lot more chilly, but we survived. We also discovered two sections of the garden I’d missed before. A large Japanese section, and a smaller one that we think was Turkish, possibly Ottoman. . . . But there was this fabulous enormous chair, and we took turns trying to fill it up with personality. (No small feat on a cold day!)  I think I won.


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September Review


Despite my blog silence, I’ve actually been getting quite a bit done this month. It’s just all been mixed up with relatives visiting, a friend packing up to move away, and my annual bout of panicking author. So instead of an in-depth series reviewing the month, here’s a quick look at September’s shenanigans with a few poignant moments to spice things up. (It is Fall, after all, and the spice trend is all over the place.)

First off, the fun stuff. I started the rough draft for Surfaeillance 3. The third episode is going to have a bit of an aquatic theme, so what better place to start it than while I was on vacation at Mexico Beach? I even pulled an almost 6k word day in the car on the ride home. As of right now I can tell you that there will be psychotic mermaids, new agents, a hydrokinetic wild card, and a seriously disturbed villain.

But, you might ask, what about Surfaeillance 2? Well, The Mirror Knife is getting its final edits and formatting changes this week, and I started negotiations on the cover design yesterday. And “negotiations” is the definitely the right word. Every time I tackle a cover I feel like I’m in the middle of a hostage transfer with Creativity. Yesterday that meant being willing to stand in a moldy shower stall (toes in cold water) and press my hand against the glass for a series of reference/idea bouncing photos.

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A Sliding Scale for Greatness

As I sat next to a stack of library books (and frantically wondered what possessed me to bring so many home at once) I remembered a question that a group of fellow writers brought up. As a reader, what do you look for in stories?

The question made me stop and think for a bit. I knew I had a loosely defined mental set of criteria, but I was surprised at how quickly the list came together. (Have you had the opportunity to write down your own list? I have a hunch it’s wildly different from reader to reader.) Here’s mine –

  • A relatively seamless and easy entry into the first few pages of the story.
  • Hints of interesting things to come. They can be an event, the character’s “voice” (I have a soft spot for snarky first-persons), or even general circumstances. The caveat to this is that any first-page hints have to be paid off or elaborated upon within the first three chapters. Any longer than that and I no longer trust that the story will give me the answers I want.
  • A main character who is assertive and takes action. If they have a bit of flair, so much the better.
  • High moral codes. Or even just a mentality that answers to something higher than the main character’s desires. For instance, there’s a narrow line between petty revenge and “legit” revenge. I like legit much better than petty.
  • Shiny parts! I have to have my shiny bits of story where magic is let loose, characters have dash and style, and my imagination goes “oooooooohhh.”
  • Light and lyrical narrative ranks very high with me. It’s like reading a flickering flame or a happy little brook, as opposed to the dry intellectual tone, or the sort that sits down and gives you deliberate sentence after deliberate sentence. I like springboards in narrative.
  • And, me being me, I need a happy ending. Or at least an ending where the vast majority of wrongs are righted and the evil system has been crushed.

Reading back over this list, my pile of favorite books makes way more sense than before. What are some of your criteria? Are you a happy ending person, or do you find “sad” to be satisfying in some ways?

Summer Sale!

August is nearly over and, if you’re heading to the beach like me, you might be looking for something fun to read while you’re there. (Or something fun for while the kids go back to school. Or when you’re supposed to be at school. . . . just don’t tell the teachers I said that!)

For the next five days, my alternative fantasy novel A Sea of Purple Ink is on sale! You can get the ebook for free from Amazon, or, if you like to hold the actual book and admire the cover, I’ve finagled to get you a coupon that will take $5 off the cost of the book when you buy it through CreateSpace. (Amazon itself won’t let me put the book on sale. But we have ways!) Simply go to the listing on CreateSpace and enter the coupon code U28D57SA. 

Both the sale and the coupon code expire August 26th, so grab it while it’s hot!

The Stars in August

It’s only halfway through August, and so many super fun things have happened!

The first big thing was, of course, the Realm Makers Conference in St. Louis. One hundred and fifty fellow writers running around in assorted geek gear and talking about story? I am so going again next year.

I think my biggest take-aways were that I need to focus in on specific age markets rather than trying to write to all of them at once, and that there are ways to measure which audience your book would best please.

Also, that it’s very fun to have the awards dinner be a costume dinner. My friend Linda Burklin snapped a picture of us before the ceremonies began.

I didn’t have time this year to make anything special for the event, but I had sufficient odds and ends in my closet to whip together a cohesive look. (Several people remarked that I have a pretty cool closet.) The skirt is for ballroom dancing, the top was a favorite thrift store find, the corset-thing was a remnant from a time-and-space traveling alien costume (long story, ancient history), and the cloak was a hand-beaded creation from 2008.

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