Monthly Archives: July 2013

Kickstarter started– join the magic

Ravensblood is one of the best things I’ve ever written. . .and I’m not the only one who thinks so. One of my preliminary readers lives in France, and she got on a plane to come visit me and take the Ravensblood tour of Portland! For those of you who haven’t heard me talk about this before, here is the burb:

In a life of impossible choices when sometimes death magic is the lesser of the evils, can a dark mage save the world and his own soul?

Ravensblood is an urban fantasy set in an alternate version of Portland, OR.

Corwyn Ravenscroft—Raven— is the last heir of an ancient family of dark mages. He holds the secret to recreating the Ravensblood, a legendary magical artifact of immense power. As a youth, Raven wanted to be a Guardian—magical law enforcement for the elected council, but was rejected because of his ancestry. In his pride and his anger, he turned to William, the darkest and most powerful mage of their time. William wants a return to the old ways, where the most powerful mage was ruler absolute. But William would not be a True King from the fairy tales. He would reign in blood and terror and darkest magic.

Raven discovers that he does have a conscience. It’s rather inconvenient.

He becomes a spy for the elected council that William wants to overthrow. His contact, Cassandra, is a former apprentice—and a former lover. She had been doing everything she could to live down her past with him. The ambiguous and contradictory feelings between them only add a level of complication.

Cass and Raven think they have a plan to trap William outside his warded sanctuary, where he is most vulnerable. But William is one step ahead of the game, with Raven’s life, his soul, and the Ravensblood all at stake.

Stay tuned for sample chapters at this website! Please pledge if you can, and whether or not you can afford to pledge please help spread the word!

Fabulous review!

Samhain-kitty here. Writer-person is off muttering something about Kickstarter. Not sure what that’s all about. . .I’m hoping she isn’t thinking about spending my kitty-crunchie money on a motorcycle!

Anyway, in lieu of a blog, I thought I’d post a link to an excellent review of The Stolen Luck. The reviewer called it “. . .one of the most thoughtful, well-characterized novels I’ve read in a long time.” Writer-person really liked this review because she felt the reviewer really ‘got’ the book. Not to mention that she glossed over the book’s major flaw, that is to say, the miniscule amount of wordage devoted to cats. Anyway, check out the full review here:


Samhain-kitty here. Just wanted to say that the writer-person abandoned me ^all weekend^ to go to some silly steampunk con. Sure, she came home every night to check my food and water, but, what if there was an emergency? Like I needed a lap to sit on, or someone to throw a toy for me–


Oops, gotta go!

Ahem. Sorry about that. Writer-person, er, Shawna here. And yes, I did go to Gearcon this weekend.

As I am an introvert, cons are a bit of a mixed bag for me. Even if I have fun, even if the people are lovely and friendly and fun, by the end of each day I feel like I could sleep a week to recharge my battery. But usually it’s worth it, and Gearcon was no exception.

I was dealing with the added adrenaline of this being my very first con as a panelist. Right before my first panel, I was so nervous that I was ready to throw up, but, the funny thing is, as soon as I got up there with my fellow authors and started talking historical research, I felt totally at home. It was one of those great panels where we were all taking notes while the others were talking. (Fellow panelists, I am sure, will be looking up Lee Jackson’s Daily Life in London: An Extraordinary Anthology. I know I will be looking for Bill Bryson’s At Home, which I’m told is an historical look at home life down the centuries.)

Due to concom deciding to leave panel descriptions out of the program (yes, it was deliberate; a cost-saving measure, I am told) I almost missed the panel on crowdsource funding, as it was titled, somewhat oddly, ‘Westward. Ho!’. Glad I found it. . .I learned all the things I didn’t know enough to ask regarding Kickstarter. Will definitely be checking out Jonathon Burgess’s blog for more details.

Saturday’s reading was lightly attended, possibly because I was scheduled opposite the panel on Victorian Working Girls. Honestly, if I wasn’t *giving* the reading, I would have gone to that panel! Still, the audience was appreciative, which warmed my writer heart.

Saturday afternoon I acquired some useful information at the Victorian Good Cop/Bad Cop program. Saturday night was playtime– my very first swing dance lesson. Or lessons, I should say. They scheduled beginner, intermediate and advanced back-to-back. Two and a half hours is an awful lot of lesson. Still, it was fun. Music wasn’t as good as ceili, (Irish social dance) but the style is much more knee-and-tendon friendly. I was surprised to see how much skills learned in ceili dancing translated.

Sunday morning I was scheduled for the Mega Writer’s Panel. I said ‘was scheduled’ because I certainly didn’t volunteer and wasn’t sure how good an idea it was to put all the writers together in one big panel to Talk About Steampunk. It turned out to be brilliant, mostly because of my wonderful fellow authors, who were very respectful of one another and who all seemed to have compatible views but slightly different takes on steampunk, where it’s going, and on writing and literature in general. Highlights include Canadian writer James Stafford, in response to the question on the American role in steampunk, describing the USA as being willing to go for any batshit crazy idea and give it a try. (:Lest anyone get offended, he said it was one of the things he liked about us.) An encouraging note from this panel was the number of panelists that seemed to think that crossover genres had a big place in the steampunk world. (Encouraging for me, anyway, as I seem congenitally incapable of picking a genre and sticking with it.)

Wandered through the dealer’s room a bit. Bought a pendant watch as a souvenir of my first con as panelist (also because I had no pockets and was sick of digging my cell phone out of the bottom of my purse–why are there no clocks in conference rooms?)

Found a gorgeous feathered monstrosity of a hat that I want to have made in colors to match my someday dress– when I get my first big advance. (yes, it was that expensive, at least by my budget standards.) Was told by the milliner that I have the ‘substance to carry it off’, which is by far the nicest thing anyone has said ever said about my generously proportioned figure.

Was treated to an impromptu magic show from one of the vendors–thought I knew how and where he had palmed the extra lengths of rope, only to realize I was wrong and I really had no idea.

Wandered into a bartitsu demonstration. That’s right, bartitsu. For years I had thought/been told that Arthur Conan Doyle had made up baritsu, the style of martial arts used by Sherlock Holmes. Turned out he just misspelled it. It’s a fascinating discipline combining jujitsu, Victorian-era pugilism, cane fighting and a form of French kickboxing. Maybe more on that later. I’m about ready to crash, and I need to be up early tomorrow to write before work.

Looking over this blog, I realize that it’s a disorganized potpourri. But then so was my weekend, so that’s all right.

Writer’s Block Part 2

So, last time I covered several types of writer’s block. I saved the best (or at least the most complicated form, the Things Left Unsaid version. Many, if not most of us, were raised with all sorts of scripts. Don’t rock the boat. We don’t talk about such things. Nice girls (or boys) don’t say that. It is, I think, why I would rather do anything, including housework, than write a blog post. Not only is fiction more fun, but I get to hide behind my characters.
But even fiction takes courage. I had a really hard time completing The Stolen Luck once I realized that it had arguably wandered into the realm of male/male fantasy romance. I worried about all the questions I’d get about what a straight woman was doing writing about gay (well, bisexual, actually) males. (My answer has since become ‘why not’? I’m a person. I write about people.)
I especially worried about the slavery issue. Not that I had any qualms about my approach, since the idea was not to condone the institution but rather to explore what imbalance of power does to the soul of all parties involved I was afraid editors and readers would find the topic so unsettling that they wouldn’t see past the word ‘slave’ to look at how I was exploring the theme. It’s absolutely not your typical master-slave trope story, but rather the antidote. Unfortunately, when you try to turn a trope inside out, it’s hard to pitch it without everyone seeing the original trope.
I actually abandoned the novel several times because I was so uncomfortable with the idea of taking it through the pitch process once it was complete, but the novel kept riding me and demanding to be written.
But I finished it. And I found a publisher for it. And then my editor found the scene that I was still afraid to write, and made me (gently encouraged me) to write it. I did. It made the book better, and the world didn’t end.
I’m proud of the book. I’m glad I pushed outside my comfort zone to finish it. No one stopped speaking to me because of the book, and I managed to create a work that a Catholic Republican friend (yes, I do have one or two of those) enjoyed and found ‘very tasteful’ *and* an avid reader of male/male fantasy called ‘squee worthy.’ How many writers can boast that?
So, my point is, if you find yourself sweeping the walk and washing the curtains rather than sitting down to the keyboard, ask yourself: ‘What am I afraid to say?’ ‘Why am I afraid?’ And then say it and see what happens. You might be glad you did.
Samhain kitty says to remind you that you are following the last bit of advice, like all the advice in this blog, at your own risk. Please don’t sue the writer-person. She doesn’t have much money, and she needs it to buy kitty-crunchies.