Category Archives: fantasy
I completely forgot to update my blog when I released Reluctant Godmother #2! How silly of me.
I’m insanely proud of this book. My copyeditor, the wonderful Katie St. John-Shin, raved about it as she read it. My dad texted me this morning to let me know he’s halfway done, and wanted nothing more than to tell everyone he meets about it (except that he’s a trucker, and that talking to other truckers about fairy godmothers would be, shall we say, awkward). Oh, the warm fuzzies that brings!
The weft and wend of this story…it has so many threads to pull together, I often despaired I would do a clumsy job of it. I worried through the entire two years that I wouldn’t be able to pull off what I had planned. It tried many times to spiral out of control, to grow steadily larger until it finally topped out at about 180,000 words (pre-edits). I had pulled apart the structure of the first act so many times, I couldn’t remember what was where as I was writing the second half. For most of the final haul, I felt like I was flying blind. Had I left that part in? Did I mention this thing earlier? What was I forgetting? Was this character a jerk the whole time, or had I written it to gradually build confusion? The day my mom finished reading the first book and asked me if we’d find out about what was going on at the end in the next book, I about gave up (how was I supposed to write a decent sequel when I could barely remember the beginning of the second, let alone the ending of the first?!). Thankfully, I didn’t.
Because none of that is why I’m so proud of this book.
I started writing A Wand a Day in September of 2016 and finished almost exactly two years later, in September of 2018. Going back over my productivity tracker, I would write a few thousand words…then put it down for a month. Write a few thousand words, put it down for a month. And it’s no wonder. I got tremendously sick for two months in the spring of 2017. When I was finally feeling better, my mom ended up in the hospital. Then my son got sick. Then my husband needed a bone marrow biopsy. Then my cousin spent a month in a medically-induced coma. Then I got sick again. 2017 was not a great year.
2018 opened with tremendous stress, culminating in a sudden move to California in April. By the end of the summer, I was sick again, this time with breathing issues we’re still trying to figure out six months later. So, healthwise, it’s been a rough road. My stubborn refusal to let the book go is the only reason it’s available now.
But more than that, this book saw me through a complete transformation of self. If One Good Wand was hard to write because it dredged up all my insecurities, past troubles, and unresolved feelings, A Wand a Day nearly did me in.
In the course of the last two years, I lost both of my muses to interpersonal complications. Given that their likenesses form important parts of Tessa’s world, writing became a study in constant heartache. The Chisel’s behavior became a frustrating parallel that made me want to collapse on the keyboard every time he appeared on the page. Mueller wouldn’t talk to Tessa until last August, when I finally figured out a reason for his reticence. (Yes–August, in the last 30,000 words of the novel. Fixing their interactions was a whole edit in and of itself.) I no longer have my alpha reader and sounding board, either. So Tessa’s struggle throughout the book to hold onto a life that makes sense mirrored my own losses and fears (ironic, since I had planned her life that way in 2015). And that was the hardest thing I’ve ever put into a story, bar none.
As spoken-word poet Shane Koyczan says, “If your heart is broken, make art with the pieces.”
Tessa Hargitay may have successfully pulled off her first fairytale ending as a press-ganged fairy godmother, but that doesn’t mean she’s ready to accept the ballgowns,
beehives, and responsibilities that go with it. In fact, all she wants is a paycheck that pays the bills and gets her back on her feet in the Mundane world.
Unfortunately for Tessa, magic has other plans.
Between her witchy boss’s push to promote her to personal assistant and the Fairy Godmothers Union’s bubbly attempts to recruit her, Tessa’s plan to return to normal human life isn’t going so well. Add to that a spoiled princess she’d rather strangle than provide a fairytale ending for, and her life couldn’t be more complicated. (Except for the hunky men of magic wanting to heal her broken heart and the monsters hungering for her new power…)
One way or the other, she’s going to have to make a choice – Light or Dark, Magic or Mundane – before the beasts that prowl the woods and boardrooms of Colorado decide her future for her.
Buy a copy from Amazon!
Last time, I talked about how my Kickstarter campaign idea came to be. Today, I want to share the actual story.
This is the blurb I’m using on my KS preview:
Gryphon’s Overture is the story of Paige Montgomery, the bookish sister with every expectation of forever remaining a spinster. Intelligent, introverted, and a solver of puzzles, she’s not exactly the picture of Bellflower Bay’s “perfect wife.” So when her sister hands her the perfect puzzle – a dusty warrant for their deceased father’s arrest – Paige jumps at the chance for a little adventure…and to escape the accusatory eyes of the village women. With family scandal erupting all around her, she sets out to discover the truth of the Montgomery past. In the process, she awakens a whole lot more than her own curiosity…and the interest of a lying knight dedicated to an order long dead.
Magic is knocking at the mortal door, and the Montgomery girls hold its key. They will need their mother’s forgotten heritage and all their father’s tinkering lore to hold magic’s would-be destroyers and possessors at bay long enough to let it blossom. Which would be a lot easier if their parents hadn’t kept so many blasted secrets…
That’s it, in a nutshell. It’s not perfect; it’s probably not the eventual sales blurb. But it gets the gist across.
Gryphon’s Overture was conceived of two ideas: 1. The Grecian Muses, and 2. Peter and the Wolf.
When I originally sat down to create the characters, I decided I wanted to do a parallel to the muses, whom I’ve always loved. Each sister therefore has a corollary muse (and their brother has parallels to Apollo). Paige, for example, is the Monty version of Clio, the muse of history. This connection dictated the sort of magic each sister possesses. I’m not going to give away exactly what they are, but I will say Paige’s has to do with the past. Her sister Mercedes is Erato, the muse of lyric/love/erotic poetry, and her magic has to do with romance. That formed the foundation of my character creation.
When I was little, I had a dramatized record of Peter and the Wolf. I’ve always loved the idea of a character embodied by an instrument, so when I created the Monty girls, their music became the basis of the magic and, from there, the plot. Each sister plays an instrument; more than that, each sister is embodied by a song of her soul, the music that represents who she is. In Paige’s case, her song is the Gryphon’s Overture (see how that works? :D), played on the flute. These songs and instruments feature prominently in each story, and when they’re all combined…well, that’s a secret! For now, I’ll just say that this is a core goal in the story.
Those two points – the muses and the music – are really what the girls are all about. Just as the muses inspired the Greeks to greatness in the arts, so the Monty girls inspire greatness in those around them. They – and what they bring with them – are the catalysts of change. Their music…actually, I don’t think I can go into that without giving important twists away! We’ll have to save that for much later in the series. 😉
The third concept came a little later as I put the girls into the RP world I played in. The setting was Medieval(ish) and rife with romance. Having watched the same romance story play out time and time again, I wanted the girls to be different, to tell a more compelling story. Not just boy meets girl, boy pursues girl, girl falls for boy, and they live happily ever after. BORING! I wanted to explore the many ways in which we, as humans, fall in love; not just the typical fairy tale, but the more realistic (and sometimes much more fantastical) sort. When Gryphon’s Overture opens, for example, Mercedes is a widow. Her husband, the absolute love of her life, has been killed in action. What sort of love story does that leave for her later? Does she love the next man just as much, or does she settle for a marriage of convenience? Are they just as happy? Does she let herself love again? What happens when one loses one’s soul mate at a young age? That, to me, is a much more compelling story than the one I could have given Mercedes if I started the series sooner in the timeline. She loved Wil with all her heart, but what’s she going to do now that he’s gone? That was something I wanted to find out.
Each book in the series will be about a different sister. Each sister will do her part to save or improve the world through her gifts and magic, and each sister will fall in or pursue love in her own way (though their actual love stories progress beyond their starring roles). Which led me to foundational pillar number 4: What’s the best period in which to explore the fanciful and tragic points of love and romance? The Regency period. In particular, Jane Austen’s Regency. High waists, soft colors, manners, tea time, letters flying back and forth; scandal, rebellion, men in uniform (and all those uniforms entail); and, above all, matchmaking!
And thus the world of the Montgomery Girls was born.
Next time, the world! Or maybe the changes I’ve planned for my major story overhaul. Come back next week to find out!
In my BEGGAR challenge post, I mentioned I have a lot of stuff due this week. One piece of that is my initial Kickstarter plan. I am so crazy excited about my campaign that I have to share it!
I think I first came upon Kickstarter through CE Murphy, a fun, gleefully geeky author I’ve been following for nearly a decade now. She has, among others, something of a
n obsess passion for Kickstarter. So even without being deeply involved with the workings of KS on my own, I’ve inadvertently followed and researched and planned as she discussed. I backed her project when she ran it and it was a ton of fun!
A little over a year ago, when I decided to take the plunge into indie e-publishing, I knew I needed to run a KS campaign for the series of my heart. (I’m still trying to figure out a good series title, but for now we’ll just call it the Monty Girl Saga.) The Monty Girls and I go waaaay back. I originally conceived them as a storyline for a text-based message-board-and-chat-room RP group I belonged to. The more time I spent in the heads of Langston and her eight younger sisters, though, the more I knew they needed to have their stories told. So I wrote the first book, sent it out on the agent rounds. Even sent it to an editor (the one who originally published CE Murphy, as it happens). While the editor’s assistant/gatekeeper loved the idea, she didn’t love the execution. She offered to let me do a rewrite of the partial, which I did. Again, she loved the idea even more the second time, but it was clear that the story – or I, as the writer – was missing something. I had a minor crisis of craft, certain that what was missing was a good voice and that voice was the one thing that couldn’t be taught. I shelved the story and moved on.
Except I didn’t move on. My heart is still with the Monty Girls. The truth is, even if I’d landed a print deal back then, the likelihood I’d have been allowed to write the series the way I wanted was slim. I designed it to take one book per sister, with possibly a companion novel/long novella devoted to their lone brother. That’s a lot of books! For a publishing house, a lot of books is a lot of risk. Especially for a first-time author. Would I be allowed to write the stories I wanted? Would I even have the readership to get beyond the first book and maybe one extra optioned? Traditional publishing is all about the numbers nowadays, and numbers can be fickle, misleading jerks. With the economy collapsing between then and now, there’s an even higher chance I would have failed to reach the second trilogy. Because of the way print rights work, I may or may not have had a chance to follow up with other houses if the initial publisher declined to publish the rest.
But with e-publishing? Doing it all myself? This way, I have complete control over when, what, and how my books get published. If I want to take a break in the middle of the series to work on something else, I can. If I suddenly discover I want to diverge to a different kind of story than is expected within the same framework, I don’t have to worry about print line guidelines. So long as I have the time and energy, I can make sure the Monty Girls get the series they were always destined to have.
Except for one thing: Funds.
With self-publishing, I have to foot the bill for everything, from editing to cover art. Even simple proofreading of a 125,000-word novel (which is smaller, I think, than the first Monty Girl novel) will run me at least $1000. My family survives on a single, hourly-wage pseudo-retail income; we’re having a super-lucky month if our bank account carries a tenth of that editing cost over past rent day. Currently, there is no way in the world (minus winning a lottery I don’t enter) I will ever have a grand to shell out to have someone check my grammar on a single novel, let alone nine. Not to mention cover art, complex formatting, maps, or any of the lesser beasts that are involved in creating an ebook with a possible pay-on-demand print model.
That’s where Kickstarter comes in.
Through crowdfunding, wherein anyone with an extra buck can become an artist’s patron, I have the opportunity to not just publish the Monty Girls Saga, but to make it spectacular. It’s the series of my heart – it deserves to be spectacular! Plus, the extra bells and whistles add value and depth to the purchase and reader experience, which ain’t bad, either. ;D
I’ve been working long, tireless (and exciting!) hours this month to find out what makes a good campaign; to pull together the best rewards I can; to make everything the best value for my funding goal I can. It’s tremendous fun, but it’s also exhausting. It’s business and accounting, too, so I’ve had to learn a lot from areas I didn’t think I’d like or grasp easily. Turns out I actually enjoy the business side of writing – luckily, as I don’t have money to pay anybody to help me. I’m still researching, still learning, still finagling. But I also want to talk about it, ’cause it’s exciting, and I think if I don’t my head might explode!
Between February and March (exact dates still TBD), I will be running a Kickstarter campaign to fund the creation of Gryphon’s Overture, the first book in the Monty Girls Saga.
The goal will be around $7000 (I think…depends on a lot of reward finagling). This will pay for editing, cover design, formatting, and some pretty spiffy rewards (as well as the obligatory 7-10% administrative fees to run the campaign). The rewards (currently) include extra stories, t-shirts, custom statues, music, maybe flashy art prints, character input/naming for future novels, and one lucky big spender will have the chance to determine who the heroine eventually marries.
Keep an eye on my blog, my brand new Facebook page (and like it while you’re there!), or on either of my EarthGirly or sci-fi Twitter accounts (and follow them for good measure 😉 ).
I also welcome comments or suggestions, if you’ve got them! I like creative input. 🙂
Next up: Gryphon’s Overture, the actual story.