Monthly Archives: August 2018

Free Fiction Friday: Cozy fantasy romance

Sweet. Clean. Cozy. Call it what you want, but the result is the same. Looking to get cozy this autumn? There’s plenty to choose from. But hurry! The giveaway is for a few weeks only.

August 26 to September 11, 2018

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Weekly writing check-in: second draft … done!

And … it’s done! The second draft came in at 81,000 words. I added about 13,000 words during the revision, and I’m feeling good about that.

I still need to do a third draft. There are things I want to refine before I send this manuscript off to an editor. I will let it sit for about a week or two before I tackle that.

Because this is going to be a series, I’ll be setting up a series bible so I can keep all my world building information in one place. I’m thinking about using OneNote, but I’m open to suggestions.

I will also work on a few short stories–in fact, I started one yesterday. And I’m planning a companion novella for the series as well, and I will ponder that a bit while I work on building the series bible.

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Free Fiction Friday: The Girl with the Piccolo

First published in Kazka Press, Evil Girlfriend Media, and in audio at Cast of Wonders.

No one thinks about the empty note casings after the nightly revelry. Someone has to pick them up, right? That I spent four grueling years at the Acoustic Academy at Stormy Point for the privilege is something I try not to think about.

True, it takes only a breath or two to chase the notes into my sack. Still, patrolling the DMZ (Disharmonious Zone) feels anti-climactic. I didn’t sign up for this. But now, with the sun nearly cresting the horizon, I can’t say what I did sign up for.

I holster the piccolo and continue the patrol. When I first enlisted, I wanted something shiny, something big and brassy, a trumpet or a trombone, or—if I dared to dream—the saxophone. (Really, who doesn’t want the sax?) The supply sergeant gave me a once over and puttered around her inventory on grizzled wings.

“Here you go, sweetie,” she said, dropping a piccolo into my outstretched hands.

My own wings sputtered, and I sank to the ground in disbelief.

“None of that,” the supply sergeant barked. “Remember, everyone underestimates the girl with the piccolo. Don’t let them.”

Perhaps I have. Let them, that is. This might explain why that piccolo and I now do border patrol.

Through my viewfinder, I scan the tree line on the other side of the DMZ. I catch sight of my enemy counterpart. She is a brilliant pink, where I am midnight blue. Her wings drip with glitter. Mine spark with stardust. I wonder how she can breathe a single note through her piccolo with all that tinsel in the air.

Through the lens, I see her eyebrows furrow. When her viewfinder is level with mine, I stick out my tongue. This, sadly, is the highlight of my evening.

I near the border, my bag overflowing with spent notes. I swipe the residue from a tuba casing. The tubas are so wasteful. I can fuel my piccolo for a week on what they leave behind. Across the way, the pink fairy dips and swoops; I suspect she’s doing the same thing I am.

A shift in the air makes the fine hairs on my wings stand on end. I shoot skyward just as a full marching band crowds the path alongside the meadow. Stardust fills the air. I could reach out and pluck notes as they float past me. I might. Except. This particular band? Doesn’t include a piccolo player. Underestimated? Try forgotten. Typical. They can play on without me.

I turn to fly away when the stench of rotted nectar hits me. I blink back tears. The aroma clogs the back of my throat. The players are drunk, spoiling for battle, and a wing’s breadth away from the DMZ. From above, I watch the band weave along the path, each rousing measure inching them closer to treaty violation. I cast a look for the security forces. Certainly someone is on the way.

Or not. I blow a few quick notes into my piccolo, an alert that may not reach its intended recipients, at least, not in time. Frantic, I peer through my viewfinder. The stricken face of my counterpart stares back at me, a hand on her own piccolo. A few breaths and she will bring in her own band—and they will not be drunk. They will be deadly, armed with wing-piercing notes. They will tear across the meadow, swoop into the DMZ, reigniting the Fairy Wars.

All on my watch.

I pull out my piccolo. Next, I take a quick peep through my viewfinder to make sure my pink counterpart is watching. She is. I mimic holding a baby, of rocking it to sleep in my arms. Certainly this movement is universal. Pink fairies come from somewhere, yes? I peer through my viewfinder again. Nothing but a pair of pink fuzzy eyebrows, drawn into a frown.

I rock my imaginary baby again, then hold up my piccolo. I run my fingers across it while holding my breath—one false note will bring my plan crumbling down. I check my viewfinder again. One of those pink eyebrows is raised. In question? Understanding? This time, I waltz with my imaginary baby before checking the viewfinder.

I hope her smile means what I think it does. I hope this isn’t a ruse. Without her help, I will be tried for treason, assuming, of course, I survive the ensuing battle.

I hold up a hand for the countdown … three … two … one. Fairies have many lullabies, but only one in three-quarter time. When pitched just right it soothes the most colicky baby, sends mortals into a deep sleep. As for drunken fairies …

Her piccolo plays counterpoint to mine. At first, my comrades show no sign of stopping their rampage. In fact, the tuba player bursts through the ranks, intent for the DMZ and the meadow beyond.

Before he can reach the DMZ, his pace flags. The tuba slips from his grip. His wings falter. By the time both are on the ground, he’s snoring. The rest of the band drops off, in twos and threes, notes scattered everywhere. My own notes, and those of the pink fairy, play in the sky, creating an iridescent lavender that prolongs the night.

At last I need a breath—and so does she. I alight on the tuba. From this vantage point, I can peer across the meadow. Through my viewfinder, I study my enemy counterpart. How many times has she fogged my view with pink glitter? How many times have I stuck out my tongue? This time, before she can look away, I salute. Then, I shoot skyward. Someone else can clean up all these notes. After all this time, I realize what the supply sergeant meant.

Never underestimate the girl with the piccolo.

That goes for both of us.

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Weekly writing check-in: home stretch

Last week, I complained about how slowly the revision was moving along. This week? I’m up 25,000 words! I feel as if I’ve stolen Jo March’s writing hat.

This part of the manuscript is more straightforward. The events I moved around occur earlier in the story, and I suspect that’s the reason I’m moving much faster now.

I have about 15,000 original words left in the first draft. I have a few scenes I pulled from there and worked on using The Emotional Craft of Fiction, which I already revised. Granted, I will need to review them because when you revise, things … change.

But with a little time and a little luck, I hope that next week I get to report that the second draft is done.

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Free Fiction Friday: SFF Book Bonanza

Head on over to SFF Book Bonanza for many, many free fantasy and science fiction books. Even if you miss the dates, many of the books will be available and free for the rest of August–click early, click often.

Happy reading!

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Weekly writing check-in: 99 cent Geek Girl

So, I made a discovery this week that the e-book version of The Geek Girl’s Guide to Cheerleading is at 99 cents in all the US stores. That was a surprise. I think it started around Wednesday, based on the rank shift over on Amazon.

As I said on Friday, now’s the time to grab a copy if you don’t already have one.

Kindle  Nook  Apple  Kobo  Google Play

Edited to add: looks like the price is going up on various retailers (Kobo, Google). Well, it was fun while it lasted.

In revision news, I’ve added ~8,000 words to the second draft. This is moving a little slower than I’d like. Or rather, I think I should be moving faster through the manuscript, but on reflection, I suspect this pace is just right. I’ve rearranged events and moved scenes around, and I simply can’t drop a scene into the manuscript as is. There’s emotional context to consider, story threads to weave in or tug out.

So, while part of me wants to zoom through this revision, another part of me is pleased with my progress so far.

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(Almost) Free Fiction Friday: The Geek Girl’s Guide to Cheerleading

So, I was working on something else when I discovered that The Geek Girl’s Guide to Cheerleading is currently at 99 cents at all major e-retailers.

Why or when, exactly, this happened, I don’t know. I also don’t know how long it will remain at 99 cents. In fact, I fear it may no longer be at 99 cents by the time this post goes live.

So if you ever wanted a copy, now’s the time to grab one. Buy early. Buy often.

Kindle  Nook  Apple  Kobo  Google Play

A YALSA 2012 Popular Paperback pick in the Get Your Geek On category!

When self-proclaimed geek girl Bethany Reynolds becomes the newest member of the varsity cheerleading squad, she realizes that there’s one thing worse than blending into the lockers: getting noticed. Who knew cheerleading was so hard? Well, at least there’s a manual, The Prairie Stone High Varsity Cheerleading Guide. Too bad it doesn’t cover any of the really tough questions. Like:

  • How do you maintain some semblance of dignity while wearing an insanely short skirt?
  • What do you do when the head cheerleader spills her beer on you at your first in-crowd party?
  • And how do you protect your best friend from the biggest player in the senior class?

Bethany is going to need all her geek brainpower just to survive the season!

Kindle  Nook  Apple  Kobo

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Weekly writing check-in: a series without a name

Kitty has no suggestions for a series name

I’m 30,000 words into the revision. That’s almost halfway, or at least, it’s almost halfway through the original draft word count.

I’m still pondering not only a title for this particular book, but a name for the entire series as well. And I’m almost at my wit’s end and seriously considering Tea & Witches (as a complement to Coffee & Ghosts).

But, of course, Coffee & Ghosts started out as simply a shorthand way of referring to the stories I was writing. Then the whole thing bloomed into a serial/series, and by that time, the name was set. Because of this, I’ve had to explain what the heck Coffee and Ghosts actually is, with an essay here on my website and in all the books.

This is not a road I wish to travel with this series, even if it’s a spin-off. That being said, it would be very, very on brand. If you enjoy brainstorming, feel free to read the book’s description here and offer up suggestions.

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Free Fiction Friday: Straying from the Path

First published in Flash Fiction Online, Cicada Magazine, and in audio at The Centropic Oracle.

It was a wolf, rather than an ailing grandmother, that tempted Red into the woods. All day his cries echoed, small, plaintive-sounding things that filled the forest. By the time she found him, night had fallen and the blood on the snow looked black.

By moonlight, she pried his paw from the rusted jaws of the trap. He ran from her. And why wouldn’t he? It was her kind that set the trap to begin with. The wolf limped through the underbrush, tail between his legs. Later, if you asked her at what point she fell in love, she would’ve said that night. At the time, all she knew was how his injured gait made her heart lurch.

Later that night, Red spied his yellow eyes from well beyond the woodpile at the edge of the forest. The next evening, she left a meat pie on the lowest stack of wood. By morning, the tin had been licked clean.

And so went the winter. As the days grew colder and her supplies dwindled, she cut back on her own portion of meat. She could go without, but the wolf was still healing. Now, when she walked in the forest, she never feared brigands or the overly friendly woodcutters. When men called on her, they found the howl of a single male wolf so unnerving that they left their teacups half full, crumb cake uneaten.

When at last the snow melted and the sun heated the earth, Red took to bathing in the stream behind the house. No one dared disturb her. Every night, she set out a meat pie. Every morning, she collected the empty tin.

Except for the morning she didn’t. Flies buzzed around the soggy crust, the filling, chewed and pilfered by tiny mouths and claws. She threw on her cape and ventured into the forest—alone.

The trail was easy enough to follow. Drops of blood, tufts of gray fur. The farther into the forest she walked, the slower her steps became. What was done was done. All she could do was delay her own knowledge of it, spend a few more minutes free of a world where, every time she closed her eyes, all she saw was matted fur and severed paws—far too many to count.

That night, for the first time in months, she did not bake a meat pie.

The scratching came when the coals in the fireplace were mere embers. There, at the door, sat her wolf, bloodied but no weaker for his fight. He cocked his head as if to say: Where’s my meat pie?

She threw her arms around him, buried her face against his neck, and cried until the dirt in his fur became streams of mud.

When the townsfolk came, bearing axes and ropes, she threw open the door for them.

Why, no, she hadn’t seen any wolves at all lately. In fact, she’d stopped her treks through the forest for fear of them. Instead, she now cared for her grandmother here, in her very own cottage.

The men tiptoed from the room, not wishing to wake the old lady. The women rubbed their chins, hoping old age would not bring such a crop of whiskers.

After that, suitors stopped visiting. Although Red always sent them on their way with a meat pie, they found her grandmother’s beady eyes unsettling.

People forgot about Red and her grandmother who, while always ailing, never departed this world for the next. But on moonlit nights, townsfolk stumbling from the tavern swore they heard a woman’s laughter mixed in with the howls echoing in the night air.

If you liked Straying from the Path, consider the fairy tale compilation of the same name. Straying from the Path contains two novellas and four short stories in my Sour Magic fantasy world. Available in e-book and print.

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