Free Fiction Monday!

Seven Year Itch

What happens when you only turn into a monster once every seven years? How do you still gain control?

This story was originally printed in the anthology, “Bewere the Night.”


You can read it here for free for the next week.

It’s also available in all the usual outlets. Because it’s such a short story (only 2000 words!) I did it as an “Ace Double” — the story is marketed under Seven Year Itch, with a “Bonus Story” of Magpie. Then I did the same with Magpie — reissued it as a double.

I’ve been doing a bunch of the doubles for the short fiction. It’s all an experiment, as far as I’m concerned.

Tonight, more writing!


I only did about 7000 words for the week. I’m actually okay with that. 10,000 was a stretch goal, given how busy last week was. This next week, 10,000 is still a stretch goal, as I’m traveling for the day job.

15376 / 70000

Today, Pixie showed up. Pixie was the name of my mom’s dog, a little black Scottish Terrier. I always wanted to use him in a story, and today, the appropriate place came up.

Continue reading


People, generally other writers, ask me if I’m an outliner or a pantser, that is, do I outline a novel before I start writing it, or do I write into the story, by the seat of my pants?

Short answer: Depends on the novel. Some I do vague outlines on, some I do a hybrid of the two, and others I mostly pants, with some idea of where the next scene or chapter is going, but I don’t know the ending.

When I started, I was an outliner, for the first three books. I was also writing historical fantasy, and the outline was iterative, with the research. I’d outline, reach a point where I needed to do research, go do research, get additional ideas and fill in the outline more, etc. Back and forth.

The next three books, the Six Kingdoms trilogy, I didn’t outline, though I should have outlined the second novel. It’s so broken and not cohesive. This is why this trilogy will probably never see the light of day–while I could pub the first novel, it’s obviously the start of a trilogy, and I’ll probably never redraft the second novel. I respect my readers too much to publish something that I don’t intend to finish.

The third novel in the trilogy was where I started doing the hybrid thing, though I knew where the ending was, even before I wrote the second novel, I believe.

Clockwork Kingdom, I just started. Then after a bit, I started writing down what needed to go on in future chapters, so I always had an idea of my immediate future. I don’t believe I discovered the end of that book until I was closer to it. So while it’s kind of a hybrid, it’s mostly a pantser novel.

Zydeco Queen, I did a marketing workshop, and this was one of the novel ideas that just came out. So I had the synopsis before I wrote the book. Does the book faithfully follow this synopsis? Hell no. But you would recognize the book I wrote based on the synopsis. This book was somewhat outlined.

Siren’s Call is different. I’ve always known where that book is going, the final scene. I wrote up a synopsis for it as well at that marketing workshop. And someday I’ll write that novel. But I would call it vaguely outlined.

The Raven and the Dancing Tiger? It’s a pantser novel. I’ll probably end up doing the hybrid thing once I get further into it. But I’m not ready to get there yet.

I wrote down a list of things that need to happen in future chapters. That’s it — just a list. Last night when I finished writing I wasn’t sure what the next scene was. Wasn’t sure this morning either. The list is just information, and it’s critical brain. Asking myself what is the next appropriate piece of information that the reader needs completely kills my will to write, my voice, etc.

So I asked myself what part of the story do I want to tell next? A vivid scene came to my mind and I knew exactly what I wanted to write about and while it’s a good thing for the character in the long term it’s going to *screw him over* in the short term and as we all know, I’m all about torturing my characters.

I won’t write that scene until later tonight, but I’m really looking forward to it.


11029 / 70000

In an ideal world, I’ll be at 18,000 by the end of the weekend. We’ll see.


It’s amazing to me, now that I’ve admitted I’m committing novel, how far I’ve fallen into storyland. I went to yoga this morning and when my thoughts drifted away from being in the here and now of practice, I dove right back into the novel. The first stretching exercise the teacher talked about curving our back down and wrapping a cape around us — all I could think about were wings, folding in and folding out.

Last night I was having difficulty landing the ending of the scene I was writing. I realized this morning that I’d pulled back. Yes, it’s another complication for the main character. But it also makes his life more difficult, and that’s always good. I have to stay fearless while I’m writing him, trust that he’ll get out of it. Not a clue how yet, but he will.

I have always loved Janni’s letters to her characters. Here’s mine:

Dear secondary character who just showed up out of the blue:

Yes, you’re cute. And smart.

You also realize you’re about to step into a world of hurt, right?

Run now.


The unexpected novel

I started writing “The Raven and the Dancing Tiger” I thought it was a short story, that I would be able to finish for the short story assignment for the workshop I was taking. I tacked on an ending, knowing it wasn’t really the end. People told me it was a novel. I knew that while I could write a novel set in this world, but that this story wasn’t necessarily that long.

So I started thinking about the story, plotting it out. I was able to plot out what felt like about 20,000 words, and I figured that would be a good length, doable and fun.

Then I started writing.

My very wise friend Melissa and I were once talking about making the Hell-verse short stories into a novel. And I didn’t see how to do it. One of the things she mentioned was that I’d have to break it apart in order to make it longer.

I didn’t get what she meant at all. I couldn’t see how to do that in the Hell-verse. I still can’t.

Then I reached, for want of a better term, a break-out point while writing this story. It was like a tiny crevice in the world, and once I reached that, it cracked open and all these other things came spilling out.

At that point, I figured I was working on a 40,000 word story. Okay, a bit longer than I wanted, but the story will be the length the story will be.

Friday, I hit another one of those break-out points. Today, I figured out exactly what it meant.

One of the things I kept saying, why this couldn’t be a novel, was because there were no subplots.

Friday’s break-out point is really the subplot.

You should have heard the amount of swearing I did when that light dawned.

Now, the story feels about 70,000 words. Particularly if I delve into this sub-thingy and the ramifications of it. Because, yeah, it could be big. And not just this novel, others as well. (I am not going to do a series of novels all set in this world. I am not. La-la-la-la-la I can’t hear you, muse.)

Why am I bitching about this? I am going to take a short story workshop in June. I have ~7000 words finished on this piece. I do not have time to finish a 70,000 word novel between now and the time I go to the workshop, not and fix whatever is broken with Zydeco Queen and turn that around and get it to my editor on time, as well as taking time to read all the short stories we’ve been assigned for the class.

So basically, it’s 70,000 words in 4 weeks. If I was under contract, could I do it? Yes. I’d have to call into the day job sick for some of that time to manage it. But I could do it.

However, just because I can do it, doesn’t mean I want to, or that I should. If the story takes me by the throat and says, write me I will, which will mean more words per week. Right now I’m still feeling my way through it. If I get a clearer view, I can go faster.

Which also means accepting that it’s a novel, and doing the plotting I need to do for that.

So yeah, this is the unexpected novel. I had two completely different novels that I’d planned on writing this year. Guess I’m writing this one first.

Paper book versions of Paper Mage, Clockwork Kingdom, available!

There are so many things I’d like to post about, but I’m writing and working and busy so I will just say this:

Buy Paper Mage! Paper Mage is available as a trade paperback book!




Buy Clockwork Kingdom!Clockwork Kingdom is available as a paperback book!




Yes, the cost is higher than a mass market. However, I’ve tried to give good value by paying a lot of attention to the layout, making the books as pretty as I could.

Now — go read! Or go write!

Keep on writing

Yesterday I finished Zydeco Queen and sent it to my first reader. After she goes through and tells me what’s broken, I will fix it and send it to my editor. So I’m still on schedule for indie pubbing that novel come June-ish.

I wrote the next 1000 words on a different story tonight — The Raven and the Dancing Tiger. I’d tried to write that story as a short story during my writing workshop, trying to hack it off at 3000 words. Not so much. Normally I have a very good idea where a story is going, where it’s going to end. I have no freaking clue about this one.

However, as I just wrote 1000 words and haven’t even gotten into the meat of Part II, let’s just say I’m doubting it’s merely 9000 words. I keep getting this feeling that it’s actually about 40-50K.

We’ll see.

There’s other stuff happening that I’ll talk about later. And I do have some announcements that I really should make.

In the meanwhile, though the DoJ and other law suits are trying to keep things interesting, I have to remember the basics, namely, that I can’t control all of that stuff out there. I can stay informed, try to make the best decisions for my business based on what I know (not rumor or speculation), but really, the only thing I can control is my output.

So keep writing.

Here’s a much funnier post on basically what I just said.

A Sword’s Poem

I know I have other things to chat about. But this is on my mind.

A Sword’s Poem was the historic fantasy I’d planned on writing after I’d finished The Jaguar and the Wolf. I’ve actually written the first 19K words.

The main character loses her mate in the first chapter, then is in denial about her mourning process through much of the rest of the novel.

Then I lost my mother.

It was impossible for me to write a character who was going through such a different mourning process. I had to put it away.

The novel is set in the early Heian period of Japan, around 680 AD, just as things were starting to change.

The hook?

Hikaru is a fox fairy. Her mate is killed, his soul, stolen, then reforged into a sword. Hikaru must find the sword and break the curse–but it’s never as easy as that.

I’d originally envisioned the novel with six, first person point of views. That’s really not doing me any favors. I know why I did it–all the journals from the time are written in first person. And there are 10 novels/journals from this time period.

I think the main character’s story should still be in first person — she’s in so much pain and grief, the reader needs distance from that. I think the scenes from the POV of the sword won’t work unless they’re first person. But the others should all be redrafted into third person.

Could I go back and write this novel now? I think so. I took extensive notes while I did 12+ months of research for it.

Plus, enough time has passed. The other problem with this novel was that I plotted out too much of it. There wasn’t enough left for me to discover, to make it interesting to write. I can ignore all of what I had planned now.

I’m not convinced that I’ll go back to write this novel. I kind of want to, though. Some of it’s so pretty. I was steeped in Japanese poetry when I started: it shows in the language. I like the characters, and I still can see some of the scenes further on in the novel. It’s just — time, as much as anything else.

The good news is that I read through the first chapter of Siren’s Call, the novel I’m supposed to write next. It’s in pretty good shape — MUCH better shape than Zydeco Queen. It needs some updating, but I think I can go through with that novel as well. And it won’t take me too long to finish.

So we’ll see what the next novel, after Siren’s Call, turns out to be — if it’s a brand new novel, Popcorn Thief or the historic fantasy.

Free fiction!

As promised, when I post a new story I also make it available for free for a week on my web site.

The Key To Many Places

Sure, Martin is Irish. And he doesn’t stand more than four feet tall. Maybe he has a fondness for red jackets. Perhaps also a shoe collection that would rival Carrie Bradshaw’s.

And sometimes, yes, he can make wishes come true.

But that doesn’t make him a leprechaun…or does it?

This was one of the short stories I wrote at the workshop last week. The other short story, honestly, it isn’t finished yet. I added a scene to “end” it, but it really wasn’t the end of it. I’m not sure where that story ends yet. If it’s a 9000 word short story or a 20,000 word novella. (The title — The Raven and the Dancing Tiger)

I’m moving forward well on Zydeco Queen. Will be finished with it next week. Think I’ll move to the raven story. I’m looking forward to the journey.

Norwescon 2012

Okay — here’s my schedule for Norwescon. I will be around later in the day on Saturday, as well as Sunday.

Saturday 9-11 am Baker
Writers Workshop – Round Robin 1

Saturday 11 am – 1 pm Maxi’s Ballroom
Single Pattern Contest Judging
Closed Judging session for the Single Pattern Contest entries.

Sunday 10 am Evergreen 1&2
Should You Publish an E-Book First?
The publishing landscape is changing rapidly. Now anybody can e-publish a manuscript and even sell it on Amazon. But just because you can, should you?
Leah Cutter (M), Mike Shepherd Moscoe, Matt Youngmark, Ken McConnell

Sunday 11 am – 1pm Salon
Writers Workshop – Round Robin 4

I will be missing the Broad Universe RFR due to the pattern judging contest. I bought chocolate covered figs for the chocolate raffle they’ll be having. I’ll try to remember to bring it to the panel instead on Sunday.

Hope to see at least some of you there!