Friday, September 25, 2015

Inspiring Women: Martha Wells, Fearless Author

This is a post in the series, Inspiring Women.

To kick off my new blog series, I've chosen someone who is and has been a big influence on my writing: Martha Wells.

Ms. Wells writes Science Fiction and Fantasy. Her first published novel, The Element of Fire, is a total immersion into a new world and a kingdom called Ile-Rien. Her second novel, Death of the Necromancer (which was nominated for a Nebula) is set a few hundred years after her first novel.

These novels are brilliant in ways that I admire. Not only is Ms. Wells willing to relegate the characters of her first novel to mere murky figures of the past in her second novel, she is also willing to make difficult choices about the city, a-la Godzilla running rampant through your beautiful Sim City creation. In Death of the Necromancer, Ile-Rien is a mixture of new technology and stagnation. Not to mention a few of the characters who are odes to Sherlock Holmes characters, but I don't want to give too much away.

To round out the Ile-Rien saga, Ms. Wells wrote a trilogy that takes place several years after Death of the Necromancer. Talk about fearless, Ms. Wells is willing to bomb the city relentlessly and use it as a backdrop for a war that spans not just continents, but worlds. This trilogy is aptly named The Fall of Ile-Rien.

A rare still shot of the carnage the fearless Martha Wells wreaks in her fiction.

In between the Ile-Rien novels, Ms. Wells has written many stand-alone novels, all excellent, especially City of Bones.

In her newest series, Ms. Wells is fearless once again. She has created another new world, and one species in particular named the Raksura (the series is eponymous). It takes a masterful touch to write about a species so different from humans, and yet so compelling and relatable. Once again, I dislike giving too much away about any creative endeavor, so just let me say that one of the joys associated with reading about the Raksura is to see what customs they have that are wildly different than human customs. The Raksura are fascinatingly and satisfyingly alien, yet within that difference is a kernel of similarity.

Ms. Wells has a blog, and a website. She also tweets and her handle is @marthawells1.

As a fearless writer of Speculative Fiction, Ms. Wells' fiction is difficult to resist. Her style has inspired me to be more fearless in my own writing.

Author Martha Wells

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

My New Novel: The Quays of Lac-Carge

My new novel is now available!

I'm thrilled with the cover. It conveys the feeling of the world I've built;
a gaslamp/steampunk era where magic still lives.

Lac-Carge is the capital of a nation on the brink of a new age. Gaslamps light the city streets, and sandusk pellets propel motorboats and the fledgeling balloon industry. Yet underneath this shiny new technology, magic still lives.

This is a world where Alexander was born into privilege and great wealth, only to have it stripped away by an insatiable queen. Four years later, he's conspiring with the quay workers at Lac-Carge's busy shipping port. Their goal? To wrest control of the quays back from the queen.

Yet no one realizes the depths to which the queen will sink. Not only is she intent upon keeping the property she stole from Alexander, she is also scheming against her own daughter, the heir to the throne.

Enter Alexander's old flame, now a daring aviatrix; and his boyhood schoolmate, a receded thaumaturge whose powers may not have receded as much as he claims. Together, they must save Lac-Carge and its princess from the queen's army of walking dead.

Join Alexander, Chloe and Hugh as they battle against everything the queen and her thaumaturgical allies can muster.

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Saturday, September 12, 2015


What's happening in my life

A new novel

I'm putting a few final flourishes on a new novel, to be published next week! It's a steampunk/gaslamp fantasy, entitled The Quays of Lac-Carge. More details to come soon.

Travel: My Inspiration

We're getting ready to go to Yosemite for about three weeks in October. Despite living in California for several years, I've not been to Yosemite yet. I'm so excited to see what other people rave about. I'm an avid hiker, although I definitely feel content to stand on terra firma to watch rock climbers ascend sheer cliffs.

This is a scene from one of my favorite hiking trail near Oak Glen, CA.
I hope to be seeing a lot of the russet California autumn colors soon.

Current writing

I'm currently working on two novels at the same time. I've never done this before, but it's really working out. One is a science fiction novel with lots of space travel, and the other is fantasy with an alternate history twist. In general, my writing is split pretty evenly between the two genres. In the past, when writing a fantasy novel I'd usually stop in the middle to write at least one science fiction short story, and vice versa.

Although some people who this happens to may say that they get tired of one genre and have to move to the other, I prefer to think of it as I love both so much that I can't stay away from either one for long.

This time, as I work on two novels at once, I'm finding it so motivating to be able to go from one to the other. As of right now, though, I'm really going strong on the science fiction novel, and if it continues as it's going now I'll finish it before I return to the fantasy novel.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Saving It All For Later...

...or, the Holding Your Cards Too Close To Your Chest Syndrome

Pocket Aces by John Morgan.
 Licensed under CC by 2.0. Edited from original.

When do you let out a choice detail in your writing? When it's absolutely needed, or when the reader wants it?

In my opinion, it's a fine line. A fine line that I sometimes fall off to one side or the other.

Sometimes a story does need some exposition at the beginning. Other times, the story demands that the details be portioned out carefully (mysteries and thrillers are classic examples).

"Readers want dirt, but they also want you to do the hard work of spreading it out and working it into their lawn for them."

One tendency I have noticed in my previous writing self is that when I had a unique idea or detail, such as a villain, I would sometimes try to show its effects well before I showed what it actually was. I used to think this was clever, or suspenseful. It does add suspense. Yet, my tendency was to reveal the details of that villain during the denouement. The problem with this strategy is that the denouement already has so much going on that the details I'd so carefully hoarded were somewhat lost in the excitement.

An assignment I've given myself in a novel I'm editing now, is to put those exciting villainous details into the narrative much earlier than I would naturally want to. There is no point in wasting my ideas I've so meticulously crafted.

All stories need structure. A truckload of details can't be dumped onto the front lawn of your story without consequences. Yet that same truckload of details also can't be hidden in the neighborhood for the frustrated reader to suss out. I guess where I'm going with this filthy metaphor is, that readers want dirt, but they also want you to do the hard work of spreading it out and working it into their lawn for them.

Where do you fall on the great reveal/hoard divide?