Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The habits of the magpie.

Do not introduce a magpie to new, shiny things. That way lies...ooh, whassat?

Ahem. Hello again! My apologies for the radio silence as it were. I found a shiny (it's a game, I freely admit it) and I have been consumed by it for the past few days. I have lifted my head now and looked around and remembered there's a world out there. Phew! So that's what civilization looks like!

(To be fair to myself, it's not actually that bad. Yes, it's eaten my time, but I have actually, you know, gone outside. And socialized, and everything.)

I will be headed for a writing workshop/retreat/party-of-sorts at the end of this week. It's my local RWA chapter's semi-annual writing retreat, and we are fortunate enough to have the amazing Margie Lawson back with us again. I will get to catch up with people I've not seen much since taking a bit of a wander from writing. I will meet new people, I'm sure. I will get to see a new conference center and have some fun.

Oh, and I have another new shiny: a brand new laptop to take with me for writing purposes. I've named it Cherokee (we have a tribal naming thing going on in the chez) and it is a Dell Inspiron with a light-up keyboard (the magpie is pleased) and Windows 8. Not...so pleased with Windows 8, but I'm on the learning curve, so we'll see.

I spent the weekend past with my Ren Faire people in deep discussion and entertaining debate. This season seems poised to be an interesting one. More updates about that as they happen.

But you want to know about the writing, right? Well! I feel fairly confident in saying that Tybalt and the gang will be joining us in the world within the next week or so. I promise, when that happens, you will know. I will shout it from the rooftops, so you're not bound to miss it. Edits are proceeding, formatting will happen, and then, yes, there will be a book!

How exciting is that?

Oh, yes, and that excerpt I promised? Enjoy. :)


     If you want to get an impression about the people in a city, take a look at the architecture. New Yorkers like to pretend they're not interested, with their high walls and closed off spaces, too busy with their own business to care about yours, but the buildings practically lean on each other. You can bet someone's watching you from somewhere, day or night. Los Angeles sprawls, sleek and well-put together, but the pretty wrapping hides a multitude of sins. I'd trust her people about as much as a car salesman's smile.
     St. Sebastian's kind of like a starfish. We're better off working together, healthier as a whole, but we can still function if we lose an arm. The neighborhoods tend to pretty much keep to themselves, except for big events. The best and worst of the city is right at its center. That's why Diego keeps a penthouse there. That's why I avoid it as much as I can. Out here on the edge, though, it seemed like we had this particular arm all to ourselves.
     Which meant, of course, I couldn't have been more wrong.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Edits, grr argh!

Today, I am editing. I have been editing for the past ten days or so. Maybe longer. Getting this book ready to be released into the wild. I'd like to have it out there. I want to be able to stop teasing you and give you a whole book to read at once, not just bits and pieces.

Until yesterday, I'd say the edits were going well. Yesterday, however, I stumbled upon an event I'd written into the story and I realized a) that it didn't work because b) I couldn't remember what it meant when I wrote it in the first place.

Aigh. The trouble with letting a story sit idle.

I used to think it was odd when authors would say that they didn't remember the books they'd written, or how a particular storyline went. How is that possible? I'd think. All of the stories I'd come up with by then still seemed fresh in my mind. I was sure *I* would never forget a character or a plot twist or my hero's name.

And now I understand. Not happy about it, but I get it. While I still have the basic plot of the books I've written to date in my head, I am absolutely certain I've forgotten some of the twists and turns or some of the character quirks I might have tossed into the mix. There are things in those older stories that I should have delved into more deeply or taken out altogether, I'm sure. There's a reason a lot of us never want anyone to see our first manuscripts, right?

So this event wasn't working. I have to fix it. The problem has killed my editing groove and I haven't gotten it back yet, which is so frustrating I'm grinding my teeth. I will get through it, though, and I will pick up the pace again.

The nice part about my writing process is that I have this built-in roadblock, though. If I hit a snag like this, I know it has to be fixed. I must back up and figure out where the plot went wrong. Much as I hate that it happens at all, I'm grateful to my brain that I can't simply write The Wrong Thing (as determined by yours truly, of course) and toddle on blithely ignorant to what I've done.

But that doesn't make it fun.

Upside: I've written 628 words I didn't have yesterday. I will take my victories where I can get them.

No snippet today. Sorry! Just means I have to find something really tasty to share with you next time. I'll find one. Probably.


Friday, April 19, 2013

The weekend cometh!

It has been a hell of a week. There are so many people and places in need of help and healing and support that I'm not going to list them. Here in the States, there's been a lot of focus on Boston and Texas, understandably, but other parts of the world have seen unpleasantness this week as well and ... man. Sometimes it seems like we can't take anymore shit.

But as other people have pointed out, in the middle of the bad, there are always signs that there's good out there too. People who are risking their health and safety to ensure it for others. People reaching out to offer what they can even if it doesn't seem like enough.

Humanity still exists.

People do not inherently suck.

I will take the cockeyed optimist label for those beliefs. Happily.  So there. :)

And then I will point you at a happier, cool thing.

I didn't know about the Weekend of Legend until this week. Seems I've missed it a few times so far, but not this time, oh no! This time, I'm sharing it with you.

I have met or at the very least corresponded with many of the writers participating this time around. They're all extremely talented, and clever and ...well. Suffice it to say that I wouldn't be spreading the word about the weekend, if I didn't think it sounded like a lot of fun and a great way to possibly score some free stuff from writers you should really be reading.

I will not be participating as I'm still in recovery mode, and still editing rather than writing new words. Perhaps next time around.

But if you'd like a few more words from me, well, I'll leave them below.

Happy Friday! Have a good weekend. Go find some fun!

            My first time at the Market also meant my first time being seen there. I didn't know whether to be flattered or worried that heads swiveled, fingers pointed and eyes widened on all sides as I followed Vi. People leaned their heads together and whispered, all the while watching me. It felt almost like being famous must, I imagined, with strangers thinking they know you at a glance. In some cases here, though, I wouldn't have been surprised to learn that the gawkers actually could learn my secrets just by studying me. There were real gypsies at the Gypsy Market, and they had ways of knowing things.

     I didn't imagine the crowded street opening up before us, though. Vi kept on and people got out of her way. Maybe they were just avoiding me. Maybe they feared crossing in front of a the faerie On A Mission. Hard to tell. I saw one big man, dark tattoos drawn over his cheekbones and gold dripping from several holes on both ears, step past the awning of his tent, expression thunderous and angry. The woman beside him, every bit as exotic but far less threatening, stopped him by lifting her hand, knuckles bouncing off his chest in a painless thump. He stopped but glared. She gave me a slight nod. A shiver chased all the way down my spine.
     And then I nearly collided with Vi, who'd stopped abruptly. I looked at her, then beyond her. I fought to keep my mouth from falling open again.
     Fanned out before me were the biggest tents yet. They lined the back wall of an angled cul-de-sac, the end of this particular pathway through the marketplace. The tent flaps were all open, revealing dark and lush decorations inside. Some of them were, yes, typically gypsy, if there was such a thing. Ornately patterned rugs, crystal balls, dim lighting reflected in the occasional glint of dozens of crystals. Candle light flickered over an earring here, a mirror there. And none of them looked at me, at us. No one stirred or looked surprised and yet I knew for certain that every single one of them knew we'd arrived.
     "What is this, Vi?" I pitched my voice low. I didn't know what exactly we'd wandered into, but I knew it demanded caution and respect. "Where are we?"
     She smiled up at me over her shoulder.  "Don't know," she answered, "but isn't it great?"

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The promised Thing (tm)

Hey guys!

Apologies for the silence over here. As I have tweeted about a few times, I came down with a pretty nasty skin infection and got laid low for a while. At the same time, one of our household computers decided to do some belching and, well. The combination made for quiet, quiet days.

Happily, I am staying mostly away from the codeine these days and am improving. I hope to be fully recovered in another week or two. While sitting up is not yet a joy, I did actually manage to get back to editing this week, which means we're  moving closer to an actual book, finally.

I had plans for last weekend that sadly had to be canceled due to illness. One of them was to attend the San Jose Fantasy Faire and do some pre-release author promotion. To that end, I made up some promotional stuff.

And now...here it sits, waiting for release day. Typical, right? But that doesn't mean I can't share it with you. So without further ado, the Immortal Lies bookmark!

How's it look? Piqued your curiosity? I'd be lying if I didn't confess that I hope the answer is yes.

If you head over to the website, you'll notice there's nothing there yet. That will be coming as well. Another thing held up by the frailty of the human body.

But enough about that. How about another peek at some pages, hm?


I feel compelled to point out here that, despite being old, I'm not a Luddite. I am comfortable with a remote in my hand and I don't fear the microwave. I have a cellphone and I can make it do what I want nine times out of ten. I have programmed a VCR. Technology neither bores nor excites me. It's simply a fact of life these days.
It doesn't make me particularly proud, then, to admit that a wolf howl at high volume made me flinch. Logically, I knew there couldn't be a wolf in the room. The door hadn't opened, we were far above the bottom floor and even the werewolves in the neighborhood couldn't have found a way in with that sort of silent speed.
The sound still triggered a primal reaction, something that came with the transformation from living to undead. The hairs at the back of my neck stood on end. The room seemed to lighten as my pupils splashed wide and I made fists while the muscles in my back tensed. I managed to resist the urge to drop into a crouch. It was a dead man's version of fight or flight.
It made Zach glance up, look back at his screen, and then tap a button several times until the volume dropped. "It's just a sound file. Happens every time I load this page. Sorry, I should have warned you. I'm used to it by now."
I forced my shoulders down to their normal place and uncurled my fingers slowly. "It's all right," I told him and managed a smile. "Just wrapped a little tightly. It's fine. We're fine." A glance at Violet proved she nodded along with me, though her eyes were a little too wide as well. I winked, she beamed and all was right with the world. All right, not everything, but it made me feel less like a fool, at least.
"So," I said, attention back on the laptop screen. "What's the howling page about?"
Zach brightened. I'd given him an opening and true to form, he charged right through. "It's a forum. For all kinds of supernatural things. People post ghost stories, pictures of what they think are spirits trapped on film. It's like a hub for all the people trying to prove that you guys are real."
"Does it work?"
Zach snorted quietly. "Depends on your definition of work. Most of these people are hacks and liars, making stuff up to get attention. But every now and then, you find the real deal."
There went the hairs on the back of my neck again.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Write about myself? Why me?

It is the nature of being a writer attempting to sell oneself and one's work that eventually, you will have to write about yourself. Or hire/bribe/convince other people to write brilliant things about you, but that's a different matter entirely.

Bios are hard. Why, I'm not exactly sure. It's been suggested that it's because we're not used to writing about ourselves in that manner. Third person, objective, trying to communicate necessaries with our own particular style or sense of humor or ... it's just hard.

But I think I've got it, or something that will work for now. I'm going with this:

What's in a pseudonym? A writer by any other name called would make words as sweet. So S. L. Gray would, were she not S. L. Gray called.

But then how would you find her books?

S. L. Gray is a fantasy author (urban, epic and otherwise) transplanted from many places to the not-so-wilds of northern California. A storyteller for as long as she can remember, she's tamed her magpie-like attention span, somewhat, and dedicated herself to writing stories other people might enjoy as much as she does.

She is also, as you might have guessed, a huge fan of Shakespeare. She has done theatre on both coasts. She makes beaded boxes and jewelry and is a fiber artist. She loves words in all sorts of languages, knows her way around a computer and was once an EMT.

She did mention those magpie interests were *mostly* tamed, right?

She can be found on her blog, Words of Gray (http://wordsofgray.blogspot.com/), on Twitter at wordsofgray or on Facebook as S.L. Gray.

And, because I've gotten through tweaking Chapter 10, here's another snippet for you.


     Twelve city blocks passed in a blur, mostly because I tried to keep busy by not counting the sidewalk lines we stepped over. Ah, superstition, rearing its head again. I was also determinedly not listening to the mental clock ticking down the seconds of a very short future. Twenty-four hours gone already and no way to get them back.

     I studied faces as we walked, making brief eye contact with everyone we passed. I kept a running tally of who looked away first. Who blushed and smiled like they thought I might be flirting. Which ones looked like they might have it in them to hook a blood magic curse under my skin.
     Violet tugged my hand. "This is it." She wrapped her arms  around herself. "Can't see it anymore," she said, "but I can still feel it."
     I could feel it too, though I couldn't have pointed out the source of my dis-ease or named the exact emotion it stirred. I wanted to run as much as I felt like I had to stay. No, not stay. I wanted to get off the sidewalk and into the street. My feet moved without my permission and I stepped off the curb.
     Vi got in my way. Hands on my chest, feet in the soggy gutter, eyes so wide I could fall into them. Half a second later, a bus thundered by, the driver's hand heavy on the horn. Vi's hair sprang up in a whirlwind dance around her shoulders. The thin end of a curl tickled my cheek.   
     "Don't," she said. "Don't walk away from me." She frowned, bit her lip, and fiddled with the collar of my coat before looking up again. "It's not safe."

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

When you really want to share...

Perhaps you should. Or I should. Yes?

Yes, I say. Yes!

So, as advertised, I am chugging through edits on Immortal Lies for the last time, and I keep coming across parts I want to share. I'm calling that a good sign.

I really do like this book, regardless of how many times I've read it. Obviously I'm biased about how entertaining and witty it is, because a) it came out of my head and b) I keep coming back to work on it, but I think it's pretty entertaining and witty in places. I'm trying to do a last fix on the bits where it's not.

This is as far as I've gotten today, as I am now going to take a break and watch some mind-numbing television. The Engineer is home and that makes it tough to work for a while. It's the whole transitioning from having the house to myself and it being as quiet or noisy as I want it, and adjusting to someone else's commotion.



"You could kill him." Zach came back, another tray in his hands, new teacups and a fresh plate of cookies all neatly in place.  He put it down on the couch beside Granny and straightened, hands on his hips. He looked from face to face and his eyebrows rose. "What?"
     "Kill him?" I asked.
     Violet weighed in. "No killing."
     Zach made the circuit of face gazing again, then laughed, the sound abrupt and sharp. "You're kidding me, right? A vampire who won't kill? That's like a werewolf who's afraid of the dark." He chuckled another moment or two until he realized no one else had joined in. He cleared his throat. "If someone's got a tether on you, and Gran can't shake it loose, you're kind of stuck with doing things the ugly way, T. If you kill the guy who's hooked you, the hook goes away."
     He had a point. Not one I wanted to acknowledge just yet, but Zach was right. When all else failed, rely on the simple answer, no matter how messy. I sank back against the chair. Vi put her head against my knee.
     Zach picked up a teacup and brought it over. "All you have to do is find this guy."
     "Not a problem," I muttered into the steam. "He'll find me."

Monday, April 1, 2013

It rises from the depths...

She lives!


Hey gang. I know I disappeared last summer, but there were family matters that happened and then ... I got extremely lazy. Not a great trait, but an honest confession.

I have been attempting to get unlazy! (Do you have any idea how hard it is to not be lazy? Seriously?)

To which end, I've started cleaning up Tybalt's book to -finally- get it ready for this whole self-published thing. You would think it would be easy, since it's been finished forever, but then the author (c'est moi) decides to give it one last pass...

And then gets bogged down in ohgod I have read this book three hundred and twenty seven times, not again, please.

And. Well.

Here we are.

And here I am. Hello!

(I may be doing an authot event this month. More to come on that.)

(( This is not an April Fool's joke, I swear. ))