Thursday, September 17, 2020

Writer Update... on the Road Again

 I seem to have missed by usual Wednesday update, but that's in keeping with how everything is going. After traveling to Colorado to deliver Eldest Son to start graduate school, I returned home with Second Son. Less than a week later, we left for Seattle, where he is spending his fall quarter (while attending UC San Diego... this is, indeed, a strange world we now inhabit!). Now I'm off again, for some exciting travel, including my first trip to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. I'll share photos along the way, and maybe can come up with a story or two.

Amid all that, what of the writing? Well, I've been picking away at the edits on Death By Donut, and have some hopes that I will be able to make it a book. And I'm working away at planning my next novel, which will kick off an all-new mystery series. More on that as it actually happens (NANOWRIMO? Maybe).

And I still owe you all photos from the Weminuche Wilderness... 

For now, a few bits of travel to and from Seattle. I was up there when the West caught on fire, and the drive back to California was surreal, with smoke so thick that visibility was down to 1/2 mile, and I only got out of the car to race to the restroom, then back to the filtered air inside the car.

Amazing what you can fit in a Prius... bike, duffels, lunch... pet snake.

 The air in California was pretty smoky when we left, and we did a lot of exclaiming over it. If only we'd known..

Passing Lake Shasta, we were also struck by the devastation of the fires from 2018.

A hazy pink sun at the Weed rest area (yes, there really is a town called Weed in California).

When we arrived, the air in Seattle was clear and beautiful--and so cool and pleasant after triple-digit temps in CA!

The kind of summer evening that makes people move to Seattle.

The perfect conditions in Seattle blew up in a hurry when more fires broke out in Oregon and Washington. When I headed south, it was hard to tell where I was, because I couldn't see anything but the road!

A field in Oregon.

When I got home, I found everything covered in ash from our local fire.

A hard time to be a spider.

All images and text ©Rebecca M. Douglass, unless otherwise indicated.
As always, please ask permission to use any photos or text. Link-backs appreciated!









Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Cover Reveal! Princelings Revolution, by Jemima Pett

The long-running Princelings of the East series has reached the final book... and it's coming soon! Before we can tell you about the book, you have to see the stunning cover, by artist Danielle English (kanizo.co.uk).

Today is the Cover Reveal for the final book in the Princelings of the East series: Princelings Revolution.
Princelings Publications is also kicking off the Launch & Anniversary Giveaway, which will run until midnight on October 23rd, to cover Jemima's tenth blogoversary on 21st October! There may be additional options for entries added between now and then, so check whenever you see it.

Jemima Pett has come by to tell us about the Princelings series covers.


NL: Cover art is a challenge for author-publishers. How did you managed to get such fantastic art for yours?

JP: When I decided to publish the first three books, I needed a cover illustrator. Looking at the lists of people offering their services, I gulped. Then my niece mentioned her daughter was in her final year of art school, doing Design and Illustration. Danielle English said 'yes' when I asked her to do the first three. It was a way to get her name on something other than her college portfolio.

Little did we know it would lead to a run of ten books, and the start of her freelance illustrator career. See her Facebook page or Twitter feed for a better idea of what she's doing now - or buy cards, gifts and prints at her Etsy shop!

NL: In the interests of full transparency, we should note that Danielle has also done all of our covers. Thanks for sharing :)

So, are you going to show us the new cover?

JP: I thought you'd never ask! Here it is.

NL: (Drum roll, please!)


That is gorgeous, Jemima! Now, tell us about the book.
JP: First, I have to tell everyone that Book 10 of the Princelings of the East series – Princelings Revolution – the final book in the series, is on schedule for publication 1st October 2020.

Now here's the blurb:
The planes are crashing, George appears to be blowing things up, the people are angry at the changes and shortages. King Fred puts democracy to the test and finds it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.  There’s an organised anti-monarchy group called the Causists, and they are spreading false information which the people seem to believe. Things are bad—but they are going to get worse…


Will Fred even keep his head, let alone the promise made to Lord Mariusz at the start of the whole adventure?

NL: Thanks for that teaser, and for sharing the fantastic cover art. Now we can have the banner with the whole series!

 
The Princelings Revolution ebook is now available for pre-order a very special price at iTunes, B&N, and Kobo. This special launch price is only for a few weeks. It’s also on pre-order at Amazon.


The Launch Giveaway
This giveaway is only valid in countries and states where such games are legal. Entries close 11.59 pm on 23rd October 2020.


Entry options may increase during the giveaway period - check back or when you see it on another post (including launch and guest posts on other blogs).


a Rafflecopter giveaway

 Watch for reviews, interviews and more during the launch tour!

  Badge for the Princelings Revolution launch tour

Friday, September 11, 2020

Flash Fiction Friday: Someone's Dragon Is Double-Parked

 I haven't written any new flash fiction to share, but I thought this Friday deserved a bit of light-hearted fiction. I first posted this in 2017. Enjoy a little pre-weekend distraction from all the dreadful news out there.

Someone’s Dragon is Double-Parked Outside

"I'm not gong to tell him."

"Don’t look at me!”

"Someone has to."

"Why?" A silence followed the question.

"It's blocking traffic," Redbeard offered hesitantly.

"Then let the traffic complain," Sharpears replied. "A dragon means an elf, and you know how they are when anyone tells them they're doing something wrong."

Redbeard nodded. He did know. Elves all thought they knew everything, and they didn’t like anyone suggesting otherwise. Not even the meter maids, and certainly not a pair of dwarfs with a tavern to run. Redbeard and Sharpears turned back to their work. Three dwarfs, five ogres, a pair of banshees and an elf all demanded to be served immediately if not sooner.

Redbeard kept a wary eye on the elf. It was his dragon parked outside, blocking most of the westbound lanes of Rowan Street, named by some misguided fool in a futile attempt to keep the elves away.

In the rush of work, the dwarfish bartenders forgot about the dragon. A couple of hours later, they were still running drinks about the bar, which was now filled to capacity. The elf, now also nearly filled to capacity, was still on the stool at the left end of the bar, a pint in front of him. Company policy was that no one was too drunk until he fell off his stool.

Redbeard had just served the banshee what he predicted would be the final drink when a troll ripped the door half off its hinges. Redbeard sighed. Trolls always had to make an entrance, but in this case it was more clumsiness than intention.

“HEY!” the huge lump of humanoid rock shouted. After her entrance, she didn’t really need to shout to get everyone’s attention, but that was trolls for you. No sense of decorum. Everyone looked at her as she continued, “Someone’s dragon is double-parked outside.”

Everyone looked from her to the window, though which the dragon could be seen in the lantern-light of the backed-up traffic. Everyone, that is, but the elf. He continued to gaze into his beer.

Redbeard looked from the troll to Sharpears, and shrugged. “I'm still not going to tell him.”

“He must know by now.” Everyone on the block must have heard the troll’s announcement.

The troll surveyed the room, spotted the elf, and stumped across the bottle-strewn floor.

“I SAID, YOUR DRAGON IS DOUBLE-PARKED OUT FRONT!”

At last the elf stirred. He turned his head very carefully, as though it might  come loose were he careless, and enunciated carefully, “That’s not my dragon.”

“Nonsense,” someone chimed from the back of the crowd. “You are here, it’s outside. Who else would have come on a dragon?” Dragons would carry no riders but elves, and there was no elf present but the drinker.

“He’s his own dragon,” the elf explained.

Silence fell over the room.

His own dragon? Could dragons be their own masters?

They must have been wondering quite loudly, because the elf said, “He told me so. So not my dragon now.”

“Well,” said the troll, who might be clumsy and uncouth but had a good grip on the essentials of the case, “he’s been blocking up half the street for hours, and the traffic jam is a bit nasty. Go tell him to move.”

“Do it yourself,” the elf said.

“Done that,” the troll replied. “He don’t seem to care.”

The elf shrugged and returned to his beer.

The troll began to get steamed up. Redbeard could tell that, because there was steam coming out of her ears. Experience told him what came next.

Most of the bar’s patrons knew, too. Those that didn’t caught on when they saw the others diving for cover, fingers in their ears.

“Move your bloomin’ dragon, you drunken oaf!”

The shout cracked a few glasses behind the bar, but the elf didn’t flinch.

“How’re we going to get them two out of here?” Sharpears muttered to Redbeard when they could hear again.  

“The usual way,” Redbeard said. He stood, climbed onto the bar, and pulled out a large silver whistle. Blowing a piercing blast, he shouted, “Raid!”

Every creature in the bar ran for the door.

Five minutes later, when the other patrons had gotten themselves untangled and run off into the night, Redbeard and Sharpears stood looking from the troll to the elf, who hadn’t budged.

Finally Sharpears sighed. He walked around the end of the bar, picked up the elf, and slung him over a shoulder. The elf dragged on the ground here and there, but he seemed to be past noticing. Redbeard gave the troll a sharp nudge in the ribs, then stood rubbing his sore elbow while the troll lumbered across the room and opened the door, tearing loose the last hinge.

Sharpears lugged the somnolent elf to the curb, stepped between two brewer’s drays that had been stuck there all evening, and approached the dragon.

Here he encountered the usual problem. The back of the dragon was well beyond his reach. That was where the troll came in, and she caught on fast enough.

Picking up the elf in one giant stone fist, she deposited him on the neck of the dragon. Sharpears climbed up and fastened the flying harness himself, since the troll might have ripped it apart in the attempt. Climbing down, he gave the dragon a swift kick in the hindquarters, then jumped back between the drays as the beast woke up and turned to see what had tickled his hide.

“Home, you winged lizard,” Redbeard called in his best imitation of a drunken elf.

It worked. To the relief of all concerned, especially a pair of traffic cops who had been dispatched with orders to remove the obstruction to traffic at all costs, the giant dragon spread its wings and took flight.

The dwarfs turned back to their tavern, flipped the sign from “Open” to “Go Away,” and propped the door into place before dousing the lights. The bar was closed.

###

All images and text ©Rebecca M. Douglass, unless otherwise indicated.
As always, please ask permission to use any photos or text. Link-backs appreciated!



Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Writer's Wednesday: Some Writing Errors to Avoid

 I've been reading and listening to books more than I'm writing, but my writer brain is clearly turned on, because I've stumbled on--or over--some writing mistakes that I certainly felt shouldn't have gotten by the editor. 

The worst, a constant irritant in an otherwise pleasant (if somewhat saccharine) series, have to do with what I'd have to classify as info dumps. I'll call this one, "The dog had three legs, he remembered." The particular author I'm listening to (who I see no reason to name) has a tendency that I don't think I noticed so much when it was on paper, to use "John remembered that blah blah" in order to get info dumps out there. To make it worse, some of them don't really even matter to the story at any time. 

A subset of this, equally a clunky device for sharing background the reader may need but shouldn't trip over (from a different writer, whose works I also usually really enjoy), is, "She remembered she'd been meaning to ask about X." Apropos of nothing, we learn of something that suddenly will become important to know.

Back to the first author, another thing that's irritating me as that at times the books, set in an Irish village, read as though they are meant to introduce the American reader to the language, customs, and culture of Ireland, rather than just to tell a story. I wonder at times in an editor told the author he needed to explain all this stuff for then poor idiots across the pond. The result is lots of awkward leveraging of "he knew the Americans would call that soccer." (In fact, do I have hold of an edition meant for the US market, or is it all that way, because the sport is consistently referred to as soccer by the narrator and I think even the characters, which jars on my ear every time).


Enough of my ranting. I think it boils down to: if your backstory and local colo(u)r don't fit into the story organically, leave them the heck out! This is a hard one for me to believe sometimes, but: your reader doesn't need to know everything you do about the characters, the setting, or the history.

Friday, September 4, 2020

Photo Friday: Random shots

 I didn't feel like putting together a proper post for this week, so I'm just going to share a few random photos from my recent trip to Colorado (I wasn't traveling frivolously, lest you wonder. I was delivering Eldest Son to Boulder to start graduate school. I admit that while I was there I took the opportunity to do some backpacking, though!).



A too-friendly deer

One of the millions of Colorado trees killed by bark beetles.

Virga--rain shafts that never reach the ground (though some very soon after this made the ground very wet indeed).

Nevada sunset

More Nevada sunsets

A bit of the burn area in Glenwood Canyon along I70 in Colorado. We were lucky that the freeway reopened a day before we headed back west. (Photo on my phone by Griffen Dempsey)

Train crossing the Bonneville Salt Flats

I promised you random! I think that delivers :)

All images and text ©Rebecca M. Douglass, unless otherwise indicated.
As always, please ask permission to use any photos or text. Link-backs appreciated!

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

IWSG: The best Beta-partner? & Writer's Update

 


 It's the first Wednesday of the month, and that means IWSG posting! 

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

The awesome co-hosts for the September 2 posting of the IWSG are PJ Colando, J Lenni Dorner, Deniz Bevan, Kim Lajevardi, Natalie Aguirre, and Louise - Fundy Blue! 

Every month there is an OPTIONAL question:

September 2 question - If you could choose one author, living or dead, to be your beta partner, who would it be and why?

 ***

I've had some fun thinking about who I'd like to have as my beta partner. I mean, I already have some of the best, members of this group with a keen eye to plot and prose. But what could I learn from Dorothy Sayers or Agatha Christie? 

Maybe not as much as I think. I love their books, but there's no denying their writing styles are dated. So maybe I can think about someone contemporary... I'll pick on a few mystery writers I really admire, and whose style I think would compliment my own. Here's the short list off the top of my head: 

Jacqueline Winspeare. Her Maisie Dobbs mysteries are beautifully crafted, both plot-wise and linguistically. And I bet she could help me get a grip on my characters' feelings. 

Rhys Bowen: Her "Royal Spyness" series proves she knows a lot about goofiness and sometimes wild plots, developing characters that are just a touch over the top, and how to balance humor with murder.

Elena Taylor/Elena Hartwell. She knows a thing or two about quirky small towns, as well as about humor in murder mysteries. Plus she set her first series in Bellingham, WA, just a stone's throw from Pismawallops Island. 

Finally, just for the sake of some of the best prose I've ever read, I'll take Ivan Doig (see an example of my ravings about his writing here or here). 

***

Now for my writer's update. I spent a lot of the last month on the road, or in the wilderness, so much of my writing was mundane journalling, with some less mundane entries, and a little work on the main character of the new mystery series I'm contemplating. 

But all is not about hiking: I did manage to complete and send in my entry for the new IWSG anthology, and am still plowing, little by little, through the edits on Death By Donut.  I have a lot more travel on my agenda now through October, but I do have some hopes of completing the book and bringing it out early in the new year, though I don't think I can make the pre-Xmas target I was trying for before the world turned upside down.

My mind wants to skip around, too. I still have other stories and some anthologies in mind to work on. Maybe as my ability to focus returns (not that it's ever great), and when I settle in this fall to stay home for a couple of months (mostly), I'll be able to at least edit the shorts and put together those anthologies! 

Every word written, every page edited, is a triumph.

This month's photo treat: a couple of really nice moose. Meese? Mooses?



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All images and text ©Rebecca M. Douglass, unless otherwise indicated.
As always, please ask permission to use any photos or text. Link-backs appreciated!