Page-a-Day Challenge: Week 1

I’ve been stifled. My thoughts have been so full of static the past couple of weeks that I’ve been unable to come up with a single creative sentence or idea. I went on a music-buying binge to clear away some of the cobwebs, and it did jump-start some scene ideas for my Daughter of Time series (which will be my focus after book 3 is Meratis is out in the world), but that’s about it.

Stagnation is brutal. Honesty: It always throws me into a depression that’s difficult to climb out of. I want to give up writing because I start to doubt I’ll ever wade out of the mire.

I’m pretty sure I haven’t written anything solid since the beginning of April when I tried to start Evenlight and half-way through realised everything I’d written was filler. So I scrapped it. 50,000 words. I already posted about that. But I haven’t been able to try anything since then.

For my birthday last week, my wonderful family loaded me up with new journals. I love journals. Journals and Chapters gift cards are the safest presents anyone can ever give me. This year they made me feel guilty. I had nothing to write in them. They would sit unused and forgotten in a desk drawer.

NO! I refused to let that happen. So I gave myself a challenge. Every day for at least 30 days (longer if I can manage it), I mean to fill one page. A short story, a scene, a dialogue exchange. Something inspiring from my day to turn into fiction. Evensong started as a flash fiction piece, so who knows what might be shaken lose with such a task.

To keep myself motivated, I’ve decided to share one of those entries a week on my blog. They won’t all be good. The won’t all make sense, but I still mean to pull my favourite from the week.

So here we go. Week 1. A short store I called “Cake”

**

The chocolate pastry sat dead centre on the plate, powered sugar and chocolate sauce shaken and poured over iced and ceramic surfaces. A precise dollop of whipped cream waited on the side, topped by a ripe strawberry sliced down the middle. The presentation was perfect. Strategic. Not a sprinkle of sugar out of place.

I smiled with warm pride.

As it was a special occasion, I carried the plate myself, pushing through the swinging doors of the kitchen in my clean white uniform and hat. A smile pasted on my face as I imagined the reaction of the customer when the first bite was tasted.

Never mind the words that had been exchanged the week before. Never mind the termination notice still sitting on my desk in the back room.

All that mattered was this moment.

I set down the plate. “Bon appetit.”

The restaurant owner took a critical bite.

I continued to smile, waiting for the arsenic to kick in.

A Blog Hop on the Writing Process

A big thank you to Angela Addams for tagging me in this writing process Blog Hop! I love reading about what other authors are up to, and how they get from idea to finished manuscript. Before reading my post, you should head over to Angela’s blog to read her information!

Welcome back.

Now for my process!

1) What am I working on?

This is always a fun question, because it’s never a simple answer. I just released book 2 is my Meratis Trilogy: Eventide. After a bit of a break, I’m just about to throw myself into book 3 – Evenlight. I’m excited about this one, but admittedly a little nervous as well. I’ve been with these characters for a while now. I like them. I don’t want to let go of them. But at the same time, considering the subject matter, they’ll probably be relieved for me to stop messing in their lives.

Never one to work on something without the next goal in mind, I’ve also started brainstorming ideas for the next series on my list. I’ve decided to resurrect my Daughter of Time series, which is the story of the accidentally-immortal sorceress Katerina. It’s such a fun cast of characters, lots of room for historical research, and I’m looking forward to getting back into it.

Finally, a step outside of the fantasy genre, I’m working at a murder mystery novella, very pulpy and fun, set in the burlesque community.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

The Meratis books are pretty unique entities in the fantasy genre, I think. The purpose of the concept was to play with that fourth wall, so it’s steeped in layers of meta fiction – characters aware that they’re characters; an author with no control over his story, losing his imagination and having to rely on the people he created to help him get through it. I did my best to avoid any grim dark themes, keeping the tone light, with as much humour as possible. I had so much fun writing these stories, that I hope the readers have just as much fun reading it.

3) Why do I write what I do?

I don’t limit myself to genre. Everything I write is very character-driven. I follow the voices in my head and see where they take me. I love seeing where they take me – whether it’s to the European Witch trials or a fictional world within a fictional world.

4) How does your writing process work?

I confess I don’t have a set process. I find it changes depending on the project. For the first two Meratis novels, I wrote the first drafts within 30 days and then started edits. So far Book 3 is requiring some extra brainstorming sessions. Brainstorming typically involves mass music buying to trigger scene and character ideas, and then vomiting ideas over every scrap of paper I can get my hands on. I refer to my system as the “connect-the-dots” method. I like to come up with the beginning, the ending, and some random scenes in the middle, but how I get from point to point depends entirely on the characters.

Now I tag my good friend Colin F Barnes, who just released his post-apoc novel Salt, which is a very creative and wonderful read and I highly recommend it!

Bio:

Colin F. Barnes is a full-time writer of science fiction and techno thrillers. He honed his craft with the London School of Journalism and the Open University (BA, English). Colin has run a number of tech-based businesses, worked in rat-infested workshops, and scoured the back streets of London looking for stories and fine ale.

He has three novels out in his cyberpunk technothriller series THE TECHXORCIST. His recent release is SALT: A Post-Apocalyptic Thriller. To contact Colin you can email him at: hi@colinfbarnes.com

Or for more information on all his works you go to: www.colinfbarnes.com

Salt_Ebook_Lowres1-200x300In 2014 humanity didn’t stand a chance. A series of fatal climatic disasters struck, entirely drowning the planet. Now, just one hundred and twenty-five souls remain, surviving on a flotilla of damaged ships. But their survival isn’t guaranteed. Facing severe threats to their numbers by a fatal bacterium and increasingly warring factions, they discover a serial killer within their midst.

When the murderer targets Eva Morgan’s friend, her investigations draw her into a deadly mystery and a race against time before the killer’s actions destroy the fragile existence on the flotilla. The further she digs, the more secrets she uncovers, and the truth becomes a pawn in a game for ultimate survival.

With humankind on the brink of extinction, the story of SALT will take you on a thrill ride of intense emotions and incredible revelations.\

Buy now on Amazon

 

Buys Links and Interviews

A HUGE thank you to everyone who shared FB links, and retweeted, and spread the word about my Eventide release!

As the exciting news continues, the buy links are now up for all four retailers!

Amazon

Kobo

B&N

Apple

My good friend Colin F Barnes posed some fun Meratis-related questions over on his blog yesterday, which were a blast to answer. Are there any answers you would give differently? Leave a comment!

 

In Ottawa and want to meet me and get a signed copy of the book in person?  Stop by Singing Pebble Books on Main St, this Saturday, June 14th, between 12 -4!

EventideEbook-Cover-loresSix months after he returns from his fictional world of Andvell, Jeff Powell is still plagued by nightmares, and an inability to write anything new. Cursed with permanent writer’s block, and on the verge of losing the woman of his dreams, he feels his life can’t get any more complicated. Until he comes home to find Jayden and Brady in his apartment with news that the evil sorcerer Raul is in Montreal.

In their search for the now-powerless villain, they find themselves cast back into Andvell, tasked by the Sisters with finding Raul before he regains his power and destroys the world.

As far as Jeff is concerned, he has greater issues. Cassie has a new admirer, his characters are keeping secrets, and he has become the target of a silent assassin. Without his creativity, Jeff doesn’t know if he’s up to the challenge. If he wants to save his world from ruin, he needs to prove he has more to offer than his imagination.

 

EVENTIDE Released

Woohoo!!! Eventide, book 2 of the Meratis Trilogy, is now available on Amazon and Kobo! Looking for it on iTunes and B&N? Check back soon as I update the links!

Not sure if you’re interested? Read part of the first chapter here.

EventideEbook-Cover-loresSix months after he returns from his fictional world of Andvell, Jeff Powell is still plagued by nightmares, and an inability to write anything new. Cursed with permanent writer’s block, and on the verge of losing the woman of his dreams, he feels his life can’t get any more complicated. Until he comes home to find Jayden and Brady in his apartment with news that the evil sorcerer Raul is in Montreal.

In their search for the now-powerless villain, they find themselves cast back into Andvell, tasked by the Sisters with finding Raul before he regains his power and destroys the world.

As far as Jeff is concerned, he has greater issues. Cassie has a new admirer, his characters are keeping secrets, and he has become the target of a silent assassin. Without his creativity, Jeff doesn’t know if he’s up to the challenge. If he wants to save his world from ruin, he needs to prove he has more to offer than his imagination.

 

EVENTIDE: Chapter One Preview

I did promise on Wednesday I would share the introduction to Eventide. Nearly missed the day — but then again, I thought today was Tuesday.

Sneaking it in under the wire, here is the first look at Book 2 of the Meratis Trilogy!

*** Note: There are spoilers if you haven’t read the first book!

 

EventideEbook-Cover-loresCHAPTER ONE

The green iridescence of dragon scales flashed in the sunlight, the massive beast flying low to cut down trees with the serrated edges of his wings. He pulled up just in time to miss the waiting army, but behind him came a greater evil: a man with eyes like blood who raised his arms to black out the sun, leaving the world in darkness. Only the sound of a single beating heart broke the silence as it sped up and made it impossible to breathe, and—

Jeff Powell woke with a yell, unable to recognize where he was or who the people were on either side of him. As his heart slowed, he remembered he was on a plane, and the people glancing sidelong at him were fellow passengers. Strangers. Who now thought he was insane.

Clearing his throat, he shifted in his seat to get comfortable and make sure he stayed awake. The screen on the back of the seat in front of him said they were ten minutes away from landing. Ten minutes away from home.

Between the influx of announcements and interruptions, classic rock blasted through his headphones from the satellite radio. Jeff tapped his palms against the armrests along to the music as the plane started its descent. Nothing like some heavy bass to drown out the crying kids and rattling luggage. His fingernails dug into the plastic, and he squeezed his eyes shut as the plane shuddered onto the runway.

Blue, black, and white lights swirled behind his eyelids at the vibration. Visions—memories—threatened to bring his panic to a crescendo. He had to open his eyes again to settle the writhing in his stomach. And to make sure the dancing colours were only in his mind. Even after six months, Jeff suffered a gnawing fear that he would get caught up in that tunnel of light again, the magical doorway into Andvell. Once the setting of his bestselling fantasy series and so recently a part of his reality.

Almost over, almost over. He repeated the mantra as the plane juddered on landing and taxied towards the gate. He kept his eyes focused on the headrest in front of him the entire trip across the tarmac, and didn’t look away until the captain’s message came through the speakers that they had arrived in Dorval.

A twenty-minute drive and he would be in Montreal. With a slow exhale, Jeff’s gaze roved the plane. He took in the crowded lines, his fellow passengers jostling for room in the aisles, trying not to hit people over the head as they took down their luggage. He watched them dance around each other, trip over straps and toes.

Business class would have been less chaotic.

Lisa Tellier, his agent, had suggested he indulge and fly first class, but he’d opted not to. There was a certain comfort in knowing he would be with the masses if the plane went down. Not to mention farther away from the nose. Front seats just asked for trouble.

And for the last six months, Jeff had made a point to avoid trouble and steer clear of potentially dangerous situations. Personal experience had taught him they weren’t everything novels made them out to be.

As soon as the seatbelt sign went off, Jeff pulled his cellphone out of his pocket and turned it on. Almost immediately it buzzed in his palm. Two new text messages.

Seeing no end of the line in sight, the doors not yet open, he settled back in his seat to check them. The first was from Lisa. You nailed the interview. CBC loves you! Call when you get home—need to talk next steps.

Jeff caught his bottom lip between his teeth and bounced his head back against the headrest. Next steps were not good. He wasn’t ready for current steps, let alone the next ones. Too much shit from his last adventure still to work through.

He flipped to the second message, and his breath caught in his throat. Heard your show—you sounded great! Dinner tonight?

It took three read-throughs to absorb the meaning behind the words, and another two to connect the message with the sender. Cassie Murphy. Barista in Le Coin du Café coffee shop. Woman of his dreams. The woman for whom he’d sacrificed the greatest part of himself. And now she was the second person in his life he was terrified to talk to.

Goddamn it.

He turned his phone back off and returned it to his pocket, happy to forget for another half-hour that either of them existed.

Squeezing his eyes shut, Jeff sank down into his seat.

How had he reached this point? Never had he experienced so much success in his career or his personal life, all of it tainted by the memory of how he’d attained it. Evensong, the fourth book in his Feldall Saga, was a hit. Copies flew off the shelves in every country they reached, and sales on the first three books had spiked. Radio and podcast interviews, a few small television spots—he’d gone across North America promoting the new release and so far the response had been elating.

Maybe there was something to be said for writing non-fiction.

Not that anyone would believe him if he came out on the next CBC interview announcing Evensong wasn’t so much a fantasy novel as a memoir. That in some place and time magic was real, dragons weren’t evil, and in a small way he had helped stop the destruction of his once-fictional world. He wasn’t sure he believed it himself half the time.

The rune pendant hanging around his neck warmed the skin where it rested, and Jeff grasped it in his fist. He pictured the green and black colours dancing within the stone. Souls, according to the enchantress, Maggie. The constant reminder that what he remembered actually had happened.

“Sir?” a voice cut into his thoughts.

Jeff opened one eye and saw the plane had emptied. A flight attendant with copper hair leaned forwards from the aisle, one hand stretched out towards him, not quite touching him.

“Is everything all right?” she asked. Her nametag read April.

“Yes. Thanks. Sorry. Just trying to get my landlegs back.”

Jeff grabbed hold of the seat in front of him and staggered to his feet. He had to duck his head to avoid the luggage compartment as he shuffled towards the aisle.

“Are you someone?” April asked. Her hand flew to her mouth, and she laughed, brown eyes shining over her bright pink fingernails. “Sorry, I just mean you look really familiar. Are you on TV?”

Jeff slung his overnight bag over his head and smoothed the strap across his chest. “I must have one of those faces. I’m no one. But thanks for the ego boost.”

Normally he would have told her the truth—anything to ensnare another loyal reader—but red hair made him nervous these days. He always had to double check for emerald eyes, and keep an ear out for an eerie laugh on the wind. A laugh he still thought he heard from time to time, although he couldn’t tell if it was in his head or a real visit from three witches who had no concept of personal boundaries.

“I’d hardly say you were no one,” April persisted, her twinkling eyes suggestive.

Jeff pasted a smile onto his face, the air in the cabin growing hotter. “Thanks for the great flight. Have a good one.”

He hastened towards the door, and once he passed through the gates the air conditioning in the airport hit him with a refreshing blast. Pausing, he leaned against a wall to adjust his bag.

The September heat wave had to end soon. He tried to tell himself it was only the weather that had knotted his stomach. It couldn’t possibly be that the close quarters of the aircraft triggered his all too frequent nightmares about twenty-one days spent locked in a pitch black room. Nothing to eat but maggoty food. No one to speak with but an evil sorcerer’s Captain of the Guard who would then sacrifice her life to save his. Or the nightmares about animals mutated into walking death traps, all armoured fur and poisoned whiskers. Or the nightmares of actual walking dead, the greyed, decayed corpses swaying in the breeze.

Jeff pushed the heels of his palms into his eyes to block out the images, but the memories followed him. Shoving himself away from the wall, he glared down at the floor and made his way out of the airport to wait for a cab.

He wished he could say he was coping well. It made him feel weak that sometimes he had to sleep with the radio playing or the light on in the bathroom to escape the suffocation of being alone in the dark. He knew he’d got off easy compared to what some of the others suffered. Jasmine Feldall had lost her lover, Corey, in a freak dragon accident; Maggie almost died casting too many spells to save their sorry asses, and her husband, Conrad, had had to sit back and watch because she was too stubborn to stop. Hell, Jayden Feldall lost both his right arm and eye taking down an armoured bear, and the last time Jeff saw him—only a month after the battle—the warrior had stood with a sword in his hand ready to fight Raul and give Maggie more time to get Jeff and Cassie home.

Jeff couldn’t even make it through one night without waking up in a cold sweat. Couldn’t shake the feeling that the Andvellians weren’t nearly as finished with him as he was with them.

A cab pulled up, and he dropped into the backseat.

“Where to?” The cab driver’s local French reassured Jeff that the nightmares were behind him. He was home.

He started to give the man his address, but the thought of being trapped in the cage that was his bachelor apartment didn’t appeal.

“Take me to Old Port?”

“You got it.”

The driver pulled away from the curb, and Jeff leaned his head against the cool glass, watching the scenery speed by.

His new-found claustrophobia wasn’t the only reason he dreaded going home. Once there he’d have to call Lisa back. His Feldall Saga concluded, she would want to know his plans. Would it be the mystery series they’d discussed, or the contemporary fantasy?

How about nothing? Jeff’s bitter thoughts spat.

That wasn’t quite true, he told himself. He still had lots of options. He could always write the instruction manual for the latest model in one-cup coffee makers.

His head bounced against the window.

Jeff was pretty sure everything else he experienced in his novel-world of Andvell would be easier to handle if it weren’t for the one nightmare that stayed a reality—one he couldn’t escape by turning on the lights.

For the sake of saving the woman he loved from Raul—a sadist with the power to destroy cities with a mere thought—Jeff had given up his imagination to the giggling witches. Not given up. Traded. For a key that had disintegrated into smoke as soon as he used it to open the cell door. Those were the sorts of deals the Sisters made. He could still remember the sensation of having his ideas drained from his mind. All his future story ideas, character arcs, book blurbs. They emptied him of all his creativity, and the only reason he’d been able to finish Evensong was because he’d lived it. He’d been able to hide the truth of his “condition” behind the busy book promotion schedule, which could possibly carry him for a few more months, but not longer. Then he would have to face the truth. Come to terms with his new position in life.

He hadn’t lied to April. He was no one. He was no one who used to be someone.

 

Cover Reveal: BOUND

This summer is going to be filled with all kinds of amazing reads. Today I’m thrilled to be a part of the cover reveal tour for my friend and fellow author Kate Sparkes! Feel free to stick around and ogle for a while, and then head over to Kate’s blog to learn more about this hilarious and wonderful individual, and then make sure to pick up a copy of her debut novel Bound on June 26, 2014!
bound_promo

Cover design by Ravven (www.ravven.com)

Welcome to Darmid, where magic is a sin, fairy tales are contraband, and the people live in fear of the Sorcerers on the other side of the mountains.
 
Rowan Greenwood has everything she’s supposed to want from life— a good family, a bright future, and a proposal from a handsome and wealthy magic hunter. She knows she should be content with what she has. If only she could banish the idea that there’s more to life than marriage and children, or let go of the fascination with magic she’s been forced to suppress since childhood.
 
When Rowan unknowingly saves the life of one of her people’s most feared enemies, a simple act of compassion rips her from her sheltered life and throws her into a world of magic that’s more beautiful, more seductive, and more dangerous than she ever could have imagined.
 
Now Rowan might just get everything she ever dreamed of— that is, if the one thing she’s always wanted doesn’t kill her, first.
***
About the author:
sparkes profile
Kate Sparkes was born in Hamilton, Ontario, but now resides in Newfoundland, where she tries not to talk too much about the dragons she sees in the fog. She lives with a Mountie, two kids who take turns playing Jeckyll and Hyde, three cats with more personality than most people she meets, and the saddest-looking dog on the planet. Her first novel, Bound, will be released in June 2014, assuming the dragons don’t eat her, first.
 

Blog: Disregard the Prologue (disregardtheprologue.com)

Twitter: @kate_sparkes

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/katesparkesauthor

Goodreads

Cover Reveal: EVENTIDE

I’ve learned a lot over the past month. Most importantly: do not try to write or publish a novel while moving. WIP notes get lost in bags, sleep becomes the greatest priority, and unpacked boxes do not make the most productive work environments.

In a scary, but wise decision, I scrapped 50k words of Book 3 a few weeks ago. Proof that it’s never too late to start over. As I’ve written in the past, I’m happy with closing my eyes, setting fingers to keyboard and seeing what happens … but when more than 50% of what I’ve written feels like filler, it’s time to re-evaluate. So next month I’ll be starting fresh and hopefully tap into my Muses.

But I am now settled in my new home and flying forward with the novel that is Eventide.

I’ve done a lot of teasing about the cover, and right now, this morning, you’re going to see it!

The Advanced Reader Copies (eARCS) will be available next week, and I’ll be sending them out to everyone who offered to read to review. Interested in being one of those people? There’s still time! Send me an email at theravens (dot) quill (at) gmail (dot) com with your contact info. Next Wednesday, I’ll post the start of Chapter one!

Enough delays. I now present THE COVER (credits to Kevin Lester and Colin F Barnes):

 

EventideEbook-Cover-lores

Six months after he returns from his fictional world of Andvell, Jeff Powell is still plagued by nightmares, and an inability to write anything new. Cursed with permanent writer’s block, and on the verge of losing the woman of his dreams, he feels his life can’t get any more complicated. Until he comes home to find Jayden and Brady in his apartment with news that the evil sorcerer Raul is in Montreal.

In their search for the now-powerless villain, they find themselves cast back into Andvell, tasked by the Sisters with finding Raul before he regains his power and destroys the world.

As far as Jeff is concerned, he has greater issues. Cassie has a new admirer, his characters are keeping secrets, and he has become the target of a silent assassin. Without his creativity, Jeff doesn’t know if he’s up to the challenge. If he wants to save his world from ruin, he needs to prove he has more to offer than his imagination.