Then Bane started to shift. His face elongated, and fur shot out of his skin like he was a living Play-Doh Werewolf Fun Factory. His hands, lying on top of the table, turned into big paws with long, black nails. And his teeth grew. Boy did they grow. I yelped like I’d gone canine myself and took a step back before I remembered I wasn’t in any real danger.
Sunday, September 30, 2012
Saturday, September 29, 2012
I’ve been re-posting old writing tutorials for a few weeks now with the thought I’d crank up some new articles when I get more time to work on them. Alas, my schedule only seems to get more crowded what with turning to self-publishing and growing personal commitments. Besides, I think the majority of you would prefer to see me writing about aliens anyway.
So Tutorial Tuesdays will end as of now. I will eventually add a new page to this blog that will contain all my writing tips for those interested in why I do what I do ... once I get it put together. That might take awhile.
And now for the news you’ve been waiting for. That surprise I’ve been hinting at for the last two months will debut Monday, October 1. Shalia’s Diary is a Clans of Kalquor story, delivered in journal entries written by the heroine, Shalia Monroe. Every Monday I will post a new entry from her story, which begins about two months after Earth’s Armageddon (following the events of Alien Conquest). As for when it ends ... well, that’s really up to you readers. As long as you are interested in it and I can keep up a decent storyline, we will follow Shalia’s journey. I have a year’s worth of story already, with so much more to come if this little experiment works out. So you are getting an ongoing Clans of Kalquor story for free! This is my way of thanking you all for the wonderful support you’ve given me. I truly appreciate my readers, and I wanted to show it.
Since we are looking at everything through the heroine’s perspective in a journal format, Shalia’s Diary will not have the polish of a book I might otherwise release for sale. I have also decided not to give you much of a physical description of Shalia. I’d like for you to be able to put yourselves in her shoes, hence the lack of a clear picture of Ms. Monroe. She’s of no particular age, though she is young enough to bear children and old enough to have an elderly mother suffering from dementia. Fill in her details as you see fit.
Shalia’s Diary will NOT be a part of this blog. After studying my options when it came to putting this together, I determined it will be so much simpler for me to make Shalia’s Diary happen if it was a blog unto itself. I will post links to it here on Wicked Words; you will find it on my blog links in the lefthand column, and I will also post a link to the newest entry each Monday via Twitter and Facebook. That should make it easy for you to access it on demand.
So get ready. The opening installment of Shalia’s Diary starts in two days. And just so you’re forewarned, we won’t encounter our first Kalquorians until the fifth entry. Yes, you have to wait and anticipate, but that’s the breaks, kids. Hopefully you’ll find the delay worthwhile.
Friday, September 28, 2012
The self-styled Beast of New Bethlehem roamed the halls of the Matara complex, tracking the scent of the one who had caused such emotional pain tonight. It wasn’t enough that those like her had physically destroyed so many of his men. Had killed them outright. The devastation continued. Perhaps the bloodshed had ended, but the Earther women still annihilated Kalquorian men, this time through their hearts and souls.
Releasing November 16
Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Outlining has begun on the seventh(!!!) installment of the Clans of Kalquor series. Good heavens, did I say the seventh? Wow. I never in a million years thought I’d see so many books come from that first one, Alien Embrace. My thought was there might be ONE sequel to the first book if it did okay in sales. And yet, the stories keep coming, along with a spinoff series (or two. Or three. Stay tuned.).
Anyway, we’re going with a character near and dear to my heart. Iris is the mother of 6-year old Thomas, who is a high-functioning autistic child. They live on the Earther farming colony Haven within the Kalquorian Empire, overseen by the Kalquorians. Earthers are pretty much allowed to do their thing, so long as no one gets hurt. It’s a benevolent occupation by their old enemy, but we humans don’t like ANY occupation, do we? So there are issues.
Plus there’s that little complication with Kalquor’s slowly growing rebellion. Anywhere you find Earthers and Kalquorians in the same place with the potential for interbreeding, there are problems from both races who don't want that to happen. On Haven, the two sides are coming together for one purpose: to stop the mixing of the races.
I know, I know. You want to meet the clan that figures prominently in this little tale, the men that our heroine will come to know. They’ll have to be pretty amazing guys considering there’s a beautiful little Earther boy with special needs attached ... and Iris’ supposedly dead, abusive husband who shows up to make things more complicated.
They’re still in development, so I don’t have a clear handle on the men yet. However, I do have a general feel for them. First you have Dramok Ospar, the governor of Haven. Tough, sometimes a little overbearing from what I’ve seen so far, but his heart is definitely in the right place. He has to do a balancing act that entails keeping the Earthers safe as they get their feet under them, without stepping on any toes.
Nobek Jol is head of Haven security and Ospar’s main bodyguard. He does step on toes, especially when a child and his mother’s welfare are involved. He might be a bit overprotective, but he’s a Nobek. What did you expect?
Imdiko Rivek is a temple priest, devoted to the principles of the Book of Life. He is also a badass martial arts expert. Yep, an Imdiko that will hand you your butt if he has to. It’s Rivek I know least about at this point, but I look forward to getting to know him.
So I’m at the very beginning of the process, with no idea when Alien Refuge will be done. Maybe April or May? As always, I will keep you informed.
Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Making your story come to life is a matter of zooming in for close-ups of the little things. Minute details can go a long way to spicing up a setting or making a character stand out. The smallest elements loom large when it comes to making your book memorable.
When it comes to the room a scene takes place in, what makes it stand out? Say your characters are enjoying a spontaneous romp in a suburban middle-class living room. What do you furnish it with to paint a picture for your readers?
Think about the furniture that decorates your space. A tan couch and blue recliner do little to tell us about the tastes of their owners. Are we looking at grand antiques? Lovingly restored shabby chic pieces? Sleek-lined contemporary? And don’t forget accessories like dead plants, framed circus posters, cheap tourist knick-knacks; pieces that stand out and give us information.
Look at this passage from Alien Conquest in which the chapel’s main focal point differentiates it from what you might think of when you visualize a church:
Cassidy entered the chapel. Her grandfather sat on the bench closest to the altar, his bald head gleaming in the soft colors of the stained light glass and altar candles. She hurried forward.
She knelt before the altar and the mammoth symbol of her religion that hovered behind it. “The emblem of great religious perversion” one illicit book in her collection claimed. “The North American bloc’s final insult to the world it has consumed.”
At the center of the icon was a six-pointed star representing the former Jewish faith. Radiating from it were four bars, the cross of Christianity. Topping the brushed gold figure was a crescent moon with a five-pointed star perched on its lower tip for Islam.
It’s not enough that your character has curly blond hair, stands about five and a half feet tall, and wears jeans. You need details that make this person stand out, especially if it’s a minor character that resembles two or three other characters. I can’t tell you how many books I’ve read in which a character pops in and out of the story, but I can’t remember who they are. You need something memorable that will jog the reader’s memory. Raw bitten nails, chipped black nail polish, a birthmark, scars, a nose hooked like a bald eagle’s beak ... something.
Also take a look at the clothing for a specific style, jewelry, and cologne. Maybe the character carries a ballpoint pen that leaks ink all over him. And what does he carry in his pockets? Change, his dead girlfriend’s picture, ribbed condoms?
How does your character move? A shambling limp is distinctive as is someone with ramrod straight posture who takes great strides. Maybe he shuffles along hunched over as if the weight of the world has been placed upon his shoulders.
Another useful detail can be nervous habits. Does the lady in the corner play with her rings or twirl her hair around a finger? All it takes is one little element to stand out in the reader’s mind to make them take notice of a character.
Take a look at this description of Naya, the heroine from the WIP The Font. See if this description from the hero’s point of view gives you a mental picture of her, one you will remember throughout the story:
Taken piece by piece, she was not a beauty. Her pale blond hair, reaching to her waist, was too flyaway and untamed. Her eyes, as green as the ubiquitous pine needles of Georgia, were too large, too round to balance her tiny chin. Her nose was long and straight, and her lips, while well-formed, were thin slashes of pink. Her body was so willowy as to make her appear taller than she actually was, especially in the sweeping gown she wore tonight, its green skirt that matched her eyes reaching the marble floor. There was an aloof restraint in her demeanor that suggested she was above the pettiness of the world around her, but gazing at her for only a few seconds told the observer this regal bearing was but a mask she wore. Beneath it, there was a nervous fluttering of fingers, a jerkiness of the darting eyes that took in everything, and a tension in her stance that spoke of a willingness to take flight. She was at her heart a wild thing, as untamed as the floating froth of hair that moved with its own life around her torso.
In parts, Naya was not even pretty. But put together, she was striking, a pale will o’ the wisp that pleased the eye even as it confounded it. That such a dainty ethereal being gave Heriolf his power over all other vampires made her even more compelling.
When the action takes place in the great outdoors, think distinctive. Think about it: the Great Smoky Mountains look quite different from the Rockies. The pink sand seashore and blue waters of Eleuthera in the Bahamas is little like the blond beaches and green ocean off North Carolina’s Emerald Isle.
What is the weather doing during this scene? What sounds and sights are going on? On a playground there might be a child at the top of the slide too frightened to come down without coaxing. When I think of Atlantic City in New Jersey I’m reminded of the panhandlers on the boardwalk, especially the one who played a kazoo for money. Here in southeast Georgia, there’s always a turkey buzzard flying overhead looking for roadkill and porpoises' round silvery backs rolling through the shrimp boats’ wakes.
I wanted a background that reflected the stiff, unnatural lives of the nuns in Alien Conquest, so I when I created their colony/convent, I went with the vision of manufactured geometric shapes to create a landscape on the moon of Europa:
Degorsk peered around the depressing compound, wondering why anyone would choose to live in such surroundings. Suspended lights kept the compound from succumbing to the total darkness of this side of Europa. They emitted little illumination, but for sensitive Kalquorian eyes, it was more than enough to see by.
Besides the low rectangular building with the pointed spire shooting towards the star-strewn sky, two rows of squat box-shelters each sat in the center of a square of trimmed green grass. Straight walkways led from building to building, with a main thoroughfare between the double strings of structures. Like most Kalquorians, Degorsk preferred the natural state of vegetation growing wild, even on terraformed colonies. This collection of squares, rectangles and straight lines appeared aberrant to his eyes. He felt if he spent too long looking at it, he’d go crazy.
The Detail that is More than Window Dressing
While you’re looking for a key detail to set apart a scene, keep in mind that there are certain objects that cannot be used simply to dress up your background. Weapons such as guns, knives, swords, and the like are never mere elements to give a vibe. I can’t remember who uttered this memorable quote, but it’s a guide I live by: “If there’s a gun in the room, at some point in the story it had better go off.”
Think about in the movie Aliens when Ripley shows off how she can operate the exoskeleton loader to the hardened Marines. Later, she uses it to battle the big mama alien. In the Star Trek: The Next Generation series, if Worf was handling a batliff at the beginning of the show, you knew he’d be doing battle with it by the end.
Remember in Alien Rule when Jessica’s clan is touring her around their home and they come to Bevau’s private room?
“This is my room,” Bevau announced, the door to yet another chamber opening. Jessica stepped in, marveling at the array of weaponry displayed on the walls. Everything from crude stone knives to the latest technology of crowd-control guns had its place. It was a personal armory fit to make any battalion commander jealous.
That's right, a room full of weapons. Something was coming off those walls to threaten someone at some point:
Pwaldur pulled a long, wicked blade from his belt, and Clajak recognized it from Bevau’s collection, one he himself had given to his Nobek as a clanning present. The vicious curved knife was serrated in such a way that it would slide easily into a victim and shred the flesh to ribbons on the way back out.
Weapons don’t show unless they’re going to blow (or shoot or stab). That’s the rule.
Otherwise, the sky is the limit. Enjoy bringing out those little aspects to create the right mood or characterization to your story. It can make all the difference between an okay story and a memorable one.
Sunday, September 23, 2012
Whoa. My mind reeled as I contemplated the idea of enjoying both men at once. Okay, maybe I was easy after all. I’d never considered doing such a thing before … but then I’d never been faced with two gorgeous examples of the opposite sex willing to share before either. Were there consequences to such actions? What’s the worst that could happen to a girl who’s already dead?
Saturday, September 22, 2012
The surprise I’ve been planning for blog readers is only nine days away. I’m still saving the particulars for that day, but in the meantime, you can meet some new Kalquorians who will be a part of it:
I’ve let you have a peek at Dramok Dusa before. He’s a young man, off his homeworld for the first time as he joins in a rescue mission.
Commander Dramok Nang is in charge of the main site where the Kalquorians are based out of as they go about their important mission.
There’s your little taste of things to come. Stay tuned!