• Who We Are

  • Schedule

    Mondays ~
    Tuesdays ~ Snarky
    Wednesdays ~ Dreamer
    Thursdays ~ Naughty
    Fridays ~ Dreary
    Saturdays ~
    Sundays ~

    Whenever ~ Smokey, Mighty, Eerie and Wicked

  • Snarky’s Tweets

  • Kinetic’s Tweets

  • Dreamer’s Tweets

  • Wicked’s Tweets

  • Eerie’s Tweets

  • Mighty’s Tweets

Welcome to The Swamp

Greetings and Salutations Discerning Readers of the blog,

My sidekick Mischievous Raven said he would join today , but alas, he is either late or not coming. Not unlike his moniker, which he comes by honestly, I’m sure he’s up to no good wherever he is. I thought we’d take a moment and meet some of the other colorful residents of The Swamp. On the right where all the packing boxes are stacked up is the shack of Wicked Dwarf, (whispers conspiratorially) she moves often. I wouldn’t mention it to her though she’s sensitive about her gypsy blood. When she’s not packing or unpacking, she’s chasing down the Prankster Duo, keeping the Knight in Slightly Muddy Armor in check, or writing.

As Jami Gray her Kyn Chronicles will take you behind the curtain where you will discover your sharing the planet with some pretty foreboding creatures. And you thought it was all fairy tales. Shifters, Witches, Fey, and yes, even Demons are walking amongst us. (Even Demons, that’s kind of catchy. But I digress.) Not all of them are good sharers, and that’s where the trouble begins. Within this unsavory group there is an elite squad of Wraiths who police the Kyn community and keep us barely drooling humans safe. When her muse comes calling we generally clear out of the neighborhood. Mischievous is especially frightened of her.

A sudden rustle of wind and a flash of ebony. “Did I hear my name mentioned.”

Ahh, Mischievous, good of you to join us. We’re just doing a little tour.

“Is Her Deadliness here?” He points one quaking wing at Wicked’s door.

No, I don’t think so. Wicked is taking a short break. I’m sure her muse is off sharpening her knives and swords.

“Oh yes, one must keep the tools of the trade sharp, even if that trade is killing things.”

I’m sure you exaggerate.

“I think not, do you remember when she commented on what a lovely black feather boa I would make. Or that time on Troll mountain when she suggested raven stew for dinner.”

She’s probably teasing.

“Uh huh. and the pope wears a spinner beanie. When she teases you about making you less of a man, with that gleam in her eye, while she slides her finger along a shiny blade and then licks blood from the cut, (Mischievous takes a deep breath) Call me. I want to be there.”

Okay I get it. Relax. Say hi to our visitors.

“Hi, have any of you seen a cranky crocodile moping around?” Turning his head 180 degrees he looks back.

What have you done to C.Rock Adile, now?

“Someone had to shut him up. I was at the Slice your own Deli for breakfast and he was going on about how important he is, having worked for the crown and all that. You know what a blowhard he is.”

Yes, but you can’t expect the whole world to be quiet because you were hung over.

“It wasn’t even noon yet. Something had to done, so I slipped a laxative in his Swamp Juice. He suddenly had to go, and go, and go. Hahaha.”

I hope he doesn’t figure out what happened, for your sake.

“He’s always grouching at someone. Speaking of the Deli, today’s dinner special is Toad Tacos.”

We best go then you know how crowded it gets. I guess we’ll continue the tour nest week. Your welcome to join us at the deli for dinner. The Toad Tacos are one of their specialties.

If you’re looking for something to read this summer Check out www.Jami Gray.com

Shadows Edge Cover Shadows Moon CoverShadows Soul Cover

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If you have slogged through all this, may I direct your attention to the SWAMP TALES tab above. Each of the Evil 7 writes a piece of a story picking up where someone else left off.

This weeks quote comes from Jungleland, By Bruce Sringsteen

“And the poets down here
Don’t write nothing at all
They just stand back and let it all be”

Write On,

Eerie Dwarf AKA Dave Benneman

Character Assassination

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Greetings and Salutations,

It was nice of J. D. Tyler to visit The Swamp. Those guys she brought with her from Alpha Pack were kind of scary. It’s no wonder she was put off by the zombie horde shuffling around. Even the muses seemed to slink off in the face of those guys. I’m still getting used the changes around here. With All Hallows Eve just around the corner I better do it in a hurry. the weeks are shorter here too. Thursday and Friday seem to be the only days you count on. And Fridays are definitely suspect. Let’s get to work.

Continuing on with the theme of fictional characters. I promised you a personal example, but first let me share what Jami Gray said, was one of her favorite characters. Kate Daniels from Ilona Andrew’s Magic Bites

“I sat at a table in my shadowy kitchen, staring down a bottle of Boone’s Farm Hard Lemonade, when a magic fluctuation hit. My wards shivered and died, leaving my home stripped of its defenses. The TV flared into life, unnaturally loud in the empty house.
I raised my eyebrow at the bottle and bet it that another urgent bulletin was on.
The bottle lost.” –Ilona Andrews, MAGIC BITES

In five sentences I know a great deal about Kate. Despite her flaws, her humor (aka voice) pulls me right in and I keep reading.

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Thanks Jami, good example. This gives the reader a real taste of what’s to come.

I will offer up another example if I may? This is Raine McCord, from Shadows Edge by Jami Gray.

With a quick twist of her wrist, Rain slipped the blade between Quinn’s ribs. His heart gave one last desperate beat then fell silent. He slid slowly down her body to his knees in a strange, lover-like tableau.

Wrenching out her blade with a soft grunt, she held him in a gentle grasp, carefully lowering his lifeless body to the cracked concrete floor of the deserted warehouse. She closed his now dull brown eyes, knowing they would join the handful of others haunting her dreams.

In a few short sentences we have met a deadly killer who, took the time to close the eyes of her victim and acknowledged those eyes would haunt her dreams.

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What follows is the first paragraph of Zombie Transformation, my current work in progress.

Alston slalomed his Honda Accord around the light poles that stood sentinel in the vast empty parking lot of MARS Engineering.  The once bustling Philadelphia Naval Shipyard was a ghost town ever since the government shut it down.  He enjoyed driving recklessly across the acres of empty parking on his way to work everyday. Down-shifting he locked up the wheels and skidded into his assigned parking spot.  Designated parking was absurd since the lab employed less than a dozen people.  Everyone parked more or less next to the door.  Bolting from the car, he waved his badge at the reader.  Forcing a smile and waved at the camera hoping Emily was on duty over in the security building.

What do you think? Do you want to know why Alston’s so happy? Or, are you looking for the nearest Goodwill store to dump this book on? Let me know what you think.

Next up. Do you think fictional characters should have some redeeming values? Even the bad guys have something about them that is, if not well-meaning, at least understandable. Right?

There is a crop of dramas being played out every week on television that would contradict that. I’m not an avid watcher myself, but on the rare occasion that I join my wife to watch with her, I am amazed  at the total lack of morals demonstrated by the characters. Even the main character is often cheating, scheming, and manipulating for their own gain.

The popularity of these shows would indicate that the reader might be okay with morally reprehensible people populating a novel. What are your thoughts?

As is the custom here I leave you with the words of someone wiser than myself.

“Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”  ~Anton Chekhov

 Write On,

Eerie Dwarf

Where, Oh Where Has All the Love Gone?

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Was that or was that not an awesome interview with Jennifer Estep? You guys were great to come out and comment. Don’t go too far away, we still have The Bloggers Book Fair and the Paranormal Nights Blog Hop. Not to mention, I have the wickedly exciting Kallypso Masters and Trish McCallan coming to visit towards the end of July, beginning of August.

So this week we’re back to regular programming and I thought I’d touch on a topic I’ve been thinking about forever…how vital is romance to your Paranormal or Urban Fantasy reads?

For those who follow on a regular basis, you know that SHADOW’S MOON, the third title in my Kyn Kronicles, is a finalist in the 2013 RWA (Romance Writers of America) Golden Claddagh Contest for their FF&P category. I’m totally humbled to be nominated with some really, fantastic authors and can’t wait for the winner to be announced on 7/18/13.

Granted, SHADOW’S MOON, can not be confused for anything other than what it is: Paranormal Romance (ParaRom). The main story arc centers around Xander and Warrick’s relationship, and the secondary arc continues with the upheaval in the Kyn world.  Since romance took most of the stage in this one, it got tagged as a ParaRom. Which worked well for getting it into unpublished novel contests.

Yet,  let’s go back to SHADOW’S EDGE, my first book.  Like many newbie writers out there, I had to figure out exactly what my book was before I could even begin the hunt for a publisher or agent.  It was actually fairly simple since the romance in that book was hinted at, but the main thrust (no pun intended) was the unraveling of who was killing off the Kyn and why.  It is straight up Urban Fantasy (UF)

Then I did SHADOW’S SOUL, the second book in the series.  I knew romance would play a bigger role because, let’s face it, Raine and Gavin needed some special alone time.  Yet, this is where I began to run  into problems.  The main story arc is all Urban Fantasy, yet the secondary is the deepening relationship between Raine and Gavin, a relationship that will in turn, impact those around them.  So was it UF or ParaRom?  I ended up straddling that line and sent it out as UF or Paranormal with Romantic Elements.

Let’s be honest, it could have gone either way-UF or ParaRom.   I stuck with my middle of the street label because I knew that the romance was secondary to the main plot.

Was that the only reason?

Umm, no.  Here’s the thing, there are tons of great sources out there for writers in every genre.  However, I’m finding most of the places, contests, blog hops, etc. I ended up joining their main focus is romance.  It has led me to wonder, has romance invaded every genre?

My current WIP is a Paranormal suspense.  Is there romance in it? Yep, but it’s a very secondary part of the story.  The main story centers around my main character discovering exactly who she is and what she is capable of as she tracks down a killer.

Could I do more romance in it and then send it out into the very popular Paranormal Romantic Suspense market? Probably.  I’ve chosen not too.  Not because I’m against writing romances. Heck, they’re one of my favorite genres to read and judging how much romance is attached to every genre, they’re everyone else’s favorites too.  The thing is, I really like having more to my stories than the relationships between the two main characters.  I enjoy creating detailed worlds with various story arcs and subplots.  But trying to find the write support groups, contests, blog hops is difficult.

When your book crosses genre lines, you run the risk of presenting it incorrectly to your audiences.  And sometimes audiences are not forgiving.  They don’t want you to waste their time. How does a writer avoid this?

Answer IMHO, you don’t.  When your story begins to blur genre lines, you have to decide how you want it presented.  Is it an Urban Fantasy with some romantic elements? Is it a Paranormal Romance? Is it Romantic Suspense? Is it Paranormal Suspense with romantic elements?

In this day and age of labels, perhaps we’ve gone too far in trying to label our genres.

Maybe it would be easier if I just keep it to one word?

Fantasy.

You Never Really Grow Up…

I ran out of  “orginal” ideas for this week’s blog, so I’m pulling up a post I orginially did earlier this year for Nanny Berry’s GNBStacks Blog.  Please sit back and enjoy!  Don’t foget to swing by Jill Archer’s place on Friday, 9/21/12, to check out my interview with her. If you don’t know (and how could you not?) her debut Urban Fantasy, DARK LIGHT OF DAY was just released so please show some love, I’d hate for her to think I don’t have any friends!

I discovered a very painful and humbling lesson recently…you never really grow up. 

Let’s sketch you a picture of me, so you have a starting point.  I am a mature (okay… over thirty… fine… forty) woman who has labored long and hard to raise two wonderful boys in this crazy world while trying to be the Suzy homemaker partner (minus the cooking part) to her hubby of fifteen years (and that’s no easy feat!) while handling both a job that pays the bills and following that illusive dream of being a writer.  Somewhere in there I also have to lay claim to a walking fur rug, a pair of even more mature than me in-laws, a rowdy critique group known as the 7 Evil Dwarves, a couple of very close friends and, most importantly, my mom.

One of the things I treasure most about my mom is the fact that through the years I’ve had a fellow reader with whom I can spend hours discussing plots, character motivation, description and world building of the books we’ve both read. We’d delve into the worlds of Lisa Jackson, Iris Johansen, Nora Roberts and so many others.  All those romances she had tucked neatly into piles while I was growing up, became my own personal library.  She pretended not to notice when I’d sneak them out to read while I was in high school.  And even when my tastes turned to those stories where magic and mayhem existed side by side, we still found common ground for our discussions.

Now when I was offered my first publishing contract with Black Opal Books for my Urban Fantasy, Shadow’s Edge, she was the first one I called.  I mean, come on… she’s been there from the get go.  From the moment I took over my spot at the dinner table with my electric typewriter, which never moved until I graduated from high school, through the whole artistic college years where I fought not to get a “real” job so as not to dilute my writing dream, to when I wised up about the fact a roof and food might be good things to aspire to, my mom has never once told me I wouldn’t make it.  Instead, she never faltered in her belief of me and my ability to actually get my stories in print. So of course I’m going to call her so I can ramble in this really high pitch voice only my walking fur rug could probably hear, about how “I GOT A CONTRACT!”   Of course, the panicked breathing was probably a dead giveaway of what was happening since I’m not sure she could actually hear the words in-between the squeals.  Regardless, she’s my biggest cheering squad.

The greatest conversation I could ever have occurred shortly after my Urban Fantasy, Shadow’s Edge, came out.  Within days she called me to tell me how this was the first time she actually enjoyed reading an Urban Fantasy story.  I was so thrilled.  My mom loves her romances and her romantic thrillers, so the fact that she had a hard time putting down my book?  Even knowing she’s biased didn’t dampen my joy!

So the months pass, and my second UF, Shadow’s Soul is now off to my gorgeous and highly accomplished editor’s desk (no, seriously, she really is…I’m not sucking up!).   I’m visiting my mom and my magnificent sister and my fabulous nieces, up north.  We’re chatting away about writing and books  and some of my earlier reviews, when suddenly the conversation turns. 

Magnificent sister turns to me and says, “So, since one of the reviewers mentioned there weren’t any sex scenes in your first book, what happens in the second?”  A waggle of eyebrows follows.

Remember the part about me being a “mature” woman? Yeah, well, I can feel my cheeks doing their impression of a sunburn.  “Umm…yeah…there’s a couple of scenes in the second one.”

Magnificent sister with evil twinkle in her eye, “ Reeeaallly?”

I try really hard not to squirm because I am a mature adult talking to other mature adults about something perfectly natural…maybe if I say it enough I’ll actually believe it.   “Yes, really.  So about lunch tomorrow…”

My bid for a subject change whizzes by like a mosquito and is batted away by my sister who’s moving from Magnificent to Tease.  “I’m not so sure I’m going to be able to read these knowing my sister has written them. “

Under the bright eyed visages of both my mom and my sister I scramble for some pithy response.  I come up empty.  Instead I say, “So you can skip the pages.”  I pause and then quickly spit out, “Actually, I’d be thrilled if you and mom would both skip those pages.  I’ll even send you the page numbers if it helps.”

Feminine laughter feels the living room and I get the feeling I’m completely out of luck with this one.  Here’s the thing, when I hit those scenes in Shadow’s Soul, I knew my mom was going to be reading them and I don’t care how old you are, there is something about your mom getting a peek into your lurid side that takes a good twenty plus years off your age.  The hardest part about those sex scenes? Turning off that little voice in my head that kept up a running commentary:  Really? You think that’s a good word choice? Your mom is going to see this, didn’t she raise you better than that?  The little tsking sound a few minutes later—“Really? Good girls don’t even think about that! Are you trying to embarrass your darling mother?”

It took a great deal of very loud music to drown that pesky little voice out, but I managed.  But still, the urge to close your office door, take your phone off the hook and the quick side-glances to make sure your children/spouse/friends aren’t peeking over your shoulder never fade.  Seriously, no matter how old you are, in some things you just never get to grow up!

–Wicked

Who’s Head Are We In?

As a writer, you are made aware that there are a number of rules by which you must write.  Part of me, the one pepetually stuck in my teenage years, wants to thumb my nose at this never ending list of Do’s and Don’ts.  However, I’m a logical, thinking adult…and I still want to thumb my nose at the damn list.  Since writing is a craft you are continually perfecting, I have no doubt that I have broken several of these rules without even thinking about it. 

Yet, until my latest WIP, there is one rule I’ve been very careful of not breaking–keeping a consistent point of view.

If you’ve read (or are planning to read) my first two books, you’ll note that we are always in Raine’s point of view.  Since I’m easily confused, will just label my style as Third Person Limited–basically the story is told from the protagonist’s POV using “he” and “she”.  This has worked quite well for me, until Xander and Warrick decided to show up. 

I’ve tried the First Person POV–everything told from the protagonist’s POV.  This style lures you in with the promise of pulling your readers in closer to your character.  Those snickers you hear as you dive in? That’s the style laughing it’s ass off at you because you have stepped into the quagmire of “I thought…”,  “I moved…”, “I…”,  “I…” and it so hard to drag yourself free.  I have mad respect for all those writers who’ve used First Person POV brillantly.  I’ll even admit to having a partial story in this style.  It’s now sitting in a corner by itself until it learns to behave better.

There is this term–“Head hopping” that most writers hear.  For those not familiar with this term, pick up a book and tell me, how many of the characters are telling the story?  Are there chapter or scene breaks inbetween each character’s scene?  If so, the writer is skating the thin edge of the rules, but doing well.  But say you go from John’s perspective to Mary’s, then to Roman’s all within a page, back to John’s, then to Roman’s, then to Mary’s, all within two pages, that’s called head hopping.  It’s a bit like standing in the center of the room with the characters surrounding you and you spin endlessly trying to follow along.

Now, one of my favorite authors (and no, I’m not sharing the name) likes to head hop, and they have TONS of books out there.  As a reader I’m okay with it, those stories work for me. As a writer, I’ve tried very hard never to head hop.  For me (THIS IS MY OPINION!) I always felt like I was cheating if I had to use multiple perspectives to get the story across to the readers. 

*clears throat* 

Recently, I’ve had to change my mind.  Those who’ve been following along know I’ve struggled to get Shadow’s Moon under way as I searched for the correct POV to do the story from.  Finally, this weekend, it hit–this story is about two very distinct people, therefore the reader needs to hear both of their voices. 

*sigh*

So those rules you hear all the time, take them with a huge salt lick.  Rules are a great way to help you start out in writing, but don’t be afraid of ignoring them and jumping off your creative cliff occassionally. You’ll be surprised what meets you half way down! 

 Wicked

Perfection is so hard to acheive…

The other day our highly intelligent and quite demanding Snarky Dwarf sent me a link to a blog post. 

http://kriswrites.com/2012/06/27/the-business-rusch-perfection/

Here’s the thing, this post was just what I needed to read at this particular moment. With two books out there, and working on a third, I’m starting to recognize that there are a couple of stages in the writing game every writer goes through.  The first one comes after you begin to fall from that high of being published and seeing your first work out there–all alone in the big bad world of readers, where it can be raised up and kicked down faster than lightning.  You try not to get obsessive about the reviews, feedback and those pesky things known as ratings, but those little voices manage to wiggle their way in and tear bits and pieces off of your creativity.  Together those small things gain strength, and so the debilitating question looms on your writing horizon—can I really manage to write another book?

Answer: Hell, yeah you can.  You’re a writer, stop worrying about what’s being said out there.  You’re out there. Readers are reading you. You have to be doing something right. So in a truly horribly NY/Bronx accent “Forget about it!” and write your story.  Take the things you’ve learned with your first book, do them better or fix them in your second.

Once I made it through and got the second book done, it was time to tackle the third.  This was hard because I was leaving behind the familiarity of Raine and Gavin to focus on another character, Xander.  Granted she has some of the same things that makes Raine, well Raine, but she uniquely herself.  It took me longer than expected to get Xander and Warrick’s story off the ground.  Now that I’m about 100 pages in, it’s starting to come together…bit by bit. 

Yet while I’m crafting this story, I’m still getting feedback on Shadow’s Edge and Shadow’s Soul.  I know you’ll never please all your readers all of the time, but it is so easy to fall into the downward spiral of  “OMG, I need to change this…” or “Maybe I should do this instead…” Second guessing ourselves is not productive, not even a little bit.

Reading Kris’s post as she discusses when is your book truly done…I so needed to hear her when she said,

“I’m here to tell you this: If you want a career as a writer, ignore your critics.

When the book is finished, when the book is published for heaven’s sake, then it’s done. Irrevocably done. Mistakes and all.”

So now, I make it a point not to obsess over rankings or critiques–readers will either love it or hate it, it’s out there, I’m not changing it.  For now, all I can do as a writer, is take what I’ve learned, and use it for Shadow’s Moon.  And the mistakes I make in that story, I’ll just use those to make the next one even better. 

I’m a writer, but I won’t be much of one if I don’t learn and grow from my screw-ups.  Besides, who knows, maybe one of those screw-ups will turn into a flash of genius!

Merging of Greatness…

In an effort to cut down on how much of a time suck cyberverse is, I wrangled my Knight in Slightly Muddy Armor and had his alternate persona, King of Tech, merge my www.jamigray.com address to this–my most awesomest blog site ever!  Now if you type in jamigray.com you’ll come here, and you can still peruse my holy list of links on my Links page, buy my world changing books on my Books page, stalk me through the electronic world on my Blog Tour page, all in one spot!  I kneel to the genius of my hubby in the weird ways of tech, because it’s all Greek to me (and I mean that seriously!).

On top of this nifty change, I also set up an Author Fan Page on Facebook.  You can see it here http://www.facebook.com/JamiGrayUFWriter .  Feel free to go over and share your love of moi and click the LIKE button.  It took time before I bowed to the requests for one of these as I was uncertain exactly how to use it.  Now that I know it’s where you post all your blog visits, book releases and general writing news, viola it is created!

So even though I finally got a tighter handle on book 3, I have yet to sit down and start again, but now that all the pressing cyber demands have been met, I’m ready to go! WOO HOO!

Now, I need your support because this upcoming week (May 14th-18th) will become a testing ground on just how thick I’ve managed to get my writing skin to as I embark on a five stop review tour of Shadow’s Edge.  Oh yes, I hear you.  Why would I subject myself to such a rack of torture? Because, I really would like people out there to give me their honest feeback–good or bad–because how else will I be able to stretch myself as a writer? And because I don’t want to inhibit any postings, I’ll be there to thank the reviewer, but I’ll lurk in the shadows to see what is said.  Fingers crossed that the reviewers find Shadow’s Edge exciting and thrilling!

If you’d like to swing over and see what’s up next week, feel free.  Here’s the schedule:

And lastly, I had to share a moment I had this weekend.  Life was getting stressful, you know how it is when everything around you seems to sit their big, heavy weight upon your shoulders and you just want to slither away into a small, hidden place?  Okay, so I had a few bad moments because, hey, we’re all human, right?  Just when the light of creativity was beginning to sputter, one of my favorite Twitter Peeps (@KindlesConsort) was chatting with another bud of mine and she gave strength to my flame through her excitement and anticipation of my writing and how much she enjoyed chatting with authors.  I couldn’t resist, I had to tell her how much her words meant and that it was because of readers like her that authors, especially me, continue to put pen to paper.  Then later that night through Facebook I received another message from another fan, Kim Hawk, who shared how much she enjoyed Shadow’s Edge and why.  Again, I was humbled by such words.  I may put my stories out there, but the reason I have the courage to continue onward is because of you, the readers, who so eagerly embrace these fantastical worlds and then share your excitement with the writers.

Long story short, authors write for you readers so take the time and drop a line to your favorite authors, big or small.  Who knows? Maybe you’ll be the one that strengths their flickering creative light on a dark day, giving them the strength to pick up the pen once more and forge forward!

–Wicked

Time for a Change…and a Tour!

So as  you can see I’ve decided to update my blog site over at jamigray.wordpress.com.  It wasn’t because I was bored, but mainly because it was time to update for a rather busy month just around the corner.

That’s right, I’m popping up all over the web starting on March 28th with a Q&A Session with The Romance Review at their Annivesary Party.  So I added a tab with all the sites and dates listed.  Feel free to pop over when you can and join in the fun.  But in case you want all the information in one nifty spot, here you go…mark you calendars because I’ll need peeps to talk with.  It’s so boring talking to myself!

MARCH 2012

3/28/12       Q&A with The Romance Review Anniversary Party

APRIL 2012

Black Opal Author Blog Tour!

4/5/12         Guest Post with Mona Karel

4/7/12         Guest Post with Nanny Berry

Rescheduled for 4/20/12!         Guest Post with Bri Clarkc at The Belle of Boise

4/14/12 Guest Post with Lindsay Jones at Just Another Book Addict

4/17/12       Guest Post with Michelle Miles at her blog!

4/19/12       Guest Post with Stacey Donaldson at The Write Way To Make A Living

4/21/12       Guest Post with BK Walker at The Immortyl Cafe

4/24/12      Guest Post with Denise Alicea at The Pen Muse

4/25/12      Guest post with Sarah Merchant at Work Aday Reads

–Wicked

Pesky Internal Voices

Here’s the deal with diving into your next work in progress after spending an incredible amount of time editing your last piece–your inner critic refuses to shut the hell up!

We’ll refer to mine as VON (voice of my nightmares).

Von showed no fear when I threaten to take her out and dump her in the hole I dug out back in the swamp just last week for such an occassion.  Oh no, she kept right on.  “Don’t tell me, show me!” 

Show her?  Ohhh, I could show her all sorts of cutting repartees that will leave lasting impressions.  Instead, I gritted my teeth and tried to drown her under the pounding melodies of Seether and Nickleback.  When that didn’t work, I brought out the big guns–Korn and the greatest of them all…Trent Reznor.  But still, Von’s venemous whispers wafting through my mind.

I was in the midst of getting Xander back to her partner and a dead body in book 3, when Von broke through.

“That is not going to work. Who told them about the body? Who found it? How come the Pack knows, but no human is involved? And where’s Warrick?”

Really? I refrained from slamming my head into the wooden surface of the table next to my laptop by the barest fraction.  Wouldn’t do to upset my baristas, besides I might spill my drink.  Gritting my teeth, I went back an re-read what I had written.  Damn it…Von’s right…so I went back and rewrote. 

For awhile Von was placated with frappacinnos and coffee cake, while Xander and I worked through a few challenges.  Yes, some of them involving the alpha of the Northwest Pack, but still, we were getting there.  Then Von butted in…

“Why?”

Stumped by the strange question that contained no extranous commentary, I sat there blinking.  “Huh?”

“Why? Why kill this one?  What does his death do to the pack?”

Umm, okay, because…and I explained to her-again-why we were doing this.  She hummed under breathe and sipped her frappacinno.  “Okay, that should work, but we’ll have to see..”

Here’s the thing with Von. As exhausting as she is to work with when I’m writing, she’s an even bigger pest as I’ve been trying to figure out the cover of Shadow’s Soul.  Last week, I asked for feedback on Shadow’s Edge cover over at Cover Art Review blog and got exactly what I asked for.  Don’t mistake me, I’m actually really happy with what I got back.  There were no rave reviews, but the actual feedback was helpful.  However, it did give Von some serious ammunition as she peeked in on what I was considering for Shadow’s Soul.  I have a feeling that until I hit the big leagues or discover some unknown artistic genius residing deep inside me, I’m going to have to make what I have access to for cover art–work.

As for Von–I’ve tried luring her over to Eerie and Mischevious’s neck of the woods, but short of tranqualizing, blindfolding, and trucking her out that way, she seems determined to stick around and torment me.  Even making her play darts with the Muses doesn’t seem to do anything except make her more crabby!  Maybe if I turn up my music, she’ll get bored and go pester Snarky!  With my luck she’ll have a twin or hell, be part of triplets, and then all three of them can torment the rest of the Evil 7 and drive us all insane!

–Wicked

Tattoos, bare midriffs, and leather AKA Fantasy Cover Art

Not only am I writer, but I’m a reader and I, too, have a tendancy to cyber stalk a few of my favorite authors.  Okay, maybe stalk is a little creepy, but I’ll check out blogs, tweets and Facebook posts.  It’s a great way to discover new voices and interesting opinions.  So one day I was out on one of my newest stalkee’s sites and he had a link to Jim C. Hines’s blog on cover art for Urban Fantasy.  Of course, I had to check it out and now I have to share it with you: Striking a Pose (Woman and Fantasy Covers).

 I LOVED IT!  So much so, now I’m a regular visitor to Mr. Hines’s blog.  I have great respect for Mr. Hines and his posts.  Besides the bravery factor in that post alone, he deserves a medal.  Seriously, I don’t even think with years of yoga I could pull off some of those poses!  He’s shared information you generally have to shed blood for, like how much can a writer realistically expect to make doing what they love, and how Amazon’s pricing impacts the self pubbed writer. 

Since I’m currently considering the art for my second urban fantasy, Shadow’s Soul, Mr. Hines’s observations mirror a lot of mine.  Take the cover for Shadow’s Edge. I submitted it a cover art review blog where peeps are welcome to leave their honest feedback. At the time of this post, I’ve only gotten three comments (so feel free to add your own).  As a writer, I did this not so I could hear the gushiness of “I just love it”  but because I knew I could trust this site to give me serious reactions on the cover.  Now the comments on color for typefacing, I can understand and I’m changing for Shadow’s Soul.  I’m thinking along the lines of reds, oranges and blues as a starting point this time around.  Maybe lighten the overall image.  The third comment discussed Raine’s clothing or lack thereof, and really, I get it.  I’m not so sure I’d want to fight someone with that much bare skin, but like many writers, I’m learning as I go. 

Then there’s the issue of cover models.  For Shadow’s Soul, I’m really hoping to do a male and a female on the cover. Here’s the challenge I’m running into with that concept.  I need a man with a shirt.  I have nothing against six or eight packs, I have a pulse and can appreciate some seriously drool worthy examples of testosterone.  However, since I do have male readers, I’m trying to keep in mind that when they’re out reading in public they may not want to flash all that male flesh.  Granted, if it was female they might be okay, but still…

It’s hard to find that thin line between urban fantasy and romance, especially when your story has romantic elements.  I’m lucky enough to work with a great cover artist, so here’s hoping we can figure out a really, wickedly cool solution!

 

Wicked

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