Friday, December 29, 2017

Question of the Week

Q: Ultimately, do you think a blended clan that's comprised of an Earther man/men and Kalquorian(s) would be possible?

A: It would be possible as time rolls on. In a couple of generations, the Empire will be mostly made up of Earther-Kalquorian hybrids anyway. That is, if Maf doesn't win the war, kill off the hybrids, and have the pure Kalquorians die off. But that would never happen...right? *wink, wink*

Thanks for the question!

Do you have a question for me? If so, leave it in the comments section, and I might answer it in a future blog.

Please note, I may not answer some questions because they could give away some upcoming plots in future books.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Thoughts on Shalia: A Lot of Grief, a Little Creep, and the Ghost of Oses

By the time Book 3 of Shalia’s Diary rolled around, I knew I had a big task ahead of me…making a nine-month journey from Earth to Kalquor interesting. I had a lot of elements to work with, but how would they gel into a cohesive whole?

For better or worse, Book 3 was the ‘angst’ book, in which Shalia processed a lot of emotional upheaval. She’d just left Earth and the young clan she’d foolishly fallen in sorta-love with. Then she found out she was pregnant, which left her 'oh-woe-is-me' in places. Readers responded accordingly. There were complaints about whiny Shalia and demands that she be with Clan Dusa in the end. Completely understandable. We adored Dusa, Weln, and Esak. It sucked for them to be left in the past. And Shalia…well, it would have been nice if she’d stopped complaining.

Yet I had to look at it from a realistic point of view…or as realistic as one can get in a sci-fi universe I’d made up. Shalia would naturally sob her heart out in her private journal. And she was dealing with a lot between Earth’s demise, leaving Clan Dusa and her Dad Clan, and learning she had an unplanned pregnancy. There was simply no way she was going to be sunshine and rainbows at that time.

Katrina was the foil to Shalia’s bleakness. With her unrepentant libido and live-it-up attitude, Katrina gave us all something to laugh at. I was delighted when she came along with her sex salons and dildo Christmas presents.

Betra was another desperately needed diversion, though he could be as moody as Shalia when it struck him. Maybe that’s what helped draw them together. Besides, Shalia had to have a distraction that would help her ease away from Clan Dusa. And that was all Betra was supposed to be…a distraction, a rebound lover, interesting for his heterosexuality and being chased by an amorous Nobek.

Darn characters with their own agendas.

It became clear pretty quick that Betra and Shalia were going to turn into another doomed love affair. I could tell this was going to become a situation in which they would fight their feelings for each other to no avail. Great. Just what I needed.  I already had things falling into place as far as the ultimate end of Shalia’s story, the clan she would fall for. Yes, even back in Book 3, I knew a little bit about Clan Seot, Shalia’s true soulmates. I was a little ticked off with Betra for being…well, the wonderful guy he was.

I consoled myself with the high drama it would provide the readers when it came time to deal with the impossible love affair. All I could do was hope they didn’t hate me too much when the affair ended.

Then came Oses to make it even worse. Grr. But rawr. If there was ever a Nobek to challenge my adoration for Clan Tranis’ Lidon, it was Oses. I couldn’t even be mad at him for making writing Shalia harder.

There still needed to be more to make the diary work besides baby, heartache, and new lovers. That part was easy, however. Earthers and Kalquorians have a host of threats out there in space. No doubt their shared enemies would be out in full force, ready to capitalize on the disorder left in the wake of war’s end. Tragooms, the ultimate opportunists, began to harass the Pussy ‘Porter on a regular basis, leading to the climactic invasion of those hideous fellows.

With the start of Book 4, Shalia was getting her equilibrium back. Baby coming…okay. Hot lovers she could enjoy for the moment…great. Angst over and done, for the most part. It was the perfect setting for things to go cataclysmically wrong. So they did.

Let me say, had I known how horrific the situation with Little Creep was going to get, I might not have written that book. I consider it one of the best stories (if not the best) in the whole series. For pure tension, it really stands out. But ye gods, the emotional trauma of writing it was huge. To this day, people tell me they cannot re-read Book 4 because it’s just too disturbing for them. It went into some pretty dark places that I haven’t wanted to return to myself.

I went into Book 5 determined to lighten things up after that awful journey with Finiuld. The idea of a ghost story felt fun and different, while dealing with the trauma Shalia and Oses had to face in the wake of their abduction. I certainly breathed a sigh of relief during the writing of that book. It was the one I enjoyed writing the most, probably because of the story that came before it.

By the end of Book 5, I had a solid idea of how Shalia’s Diary would find its ultimate finish. But Shalia had some work to do to make that happen, and it was going to take something major to shake her into the right mindset. It was time for another story that would take us into dark, terrible places. We’ll look at that next time.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Question of the Week

Q: Have you considered having an Earther Matara who didn't want to have children? Maybe they feel like they won't be allowed to have that kind of relationship or be guilty because even if the men say they don't want children either, she would still worry she was taking something from them? Of course this is different from Elisa and Clan Zemos, because they discussed that they were beyond child rearing due to age and their military careers.

A:  It's a good thought, and yes, I've considered writing about a Matara who has no wish for children. I've got a couple of upcoming stories where that might fit in. I'll have to see what the characters want when I get to them. It could happen.

Thanks for the question!

Do you have a question for me? If so, leave it in the comments section. I may answer it in an upcoming blog. 

Please note, I may not answer some questions because they could give away upcoming plots in future books. Sometimes you guys are a little too smart for your own good!

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Thoughts on Shalia’s Early Days

When I began Shalia’s Diary, there was no definite endpoint in mind. I set Shalia in motion and waited to see where she would take me. I had a vague idea of where I thought she might end up in the future, but no real plan of how she would get there. Indeed, having arrived at the end of the story, what I’d envisioned over five years ago bears little resemblance to how I thought it would be.

I know a number of readers hoped Clan Dusa would somehow turn into Shalia’s happily-ever-after. Several begged me for it. The boys were sweet and cute and wonderful for Shalia at that point in her life, and we adored them. How could they not be her forever clan?

That they would not be her final choice for a clan was one of two things I knew from the start. I always saw Clan Dusa as a kind of transitional affair for Shalia, three guys who could help her find and accept her natural sexuality…but not quite right to be her loves for an entire lifetime. Let’s be honest; Shalia carries baggage better than a hotel bellboy. The kind of baggage she toted around in those early stories pretty much guaranteed she wasn’t a match for the na├»ve Clan Dusa. To be fair, the guys were a little too sure of the path laid out for them by parents and empire. They had none of the real-life experience that might have made them dare to rebel against the rules to claim Shalia as their own.

It was a lovely affair, a necessary affair…but not one that had a real future. At least, that’s how I saw it.

The second thing I knew would carry through until the end of the story was Nang’s unhealthy fixation on Shalia. Though I didn’t know the details of how it would end, I knew it would be dramatic. It is, which you will discover in a few weeks when Shalia’s Diary Book 12 is released.

So there I was, at the start of a journey that I didn’t know the length of, or the twists and turns it would take. For me, that’s pretty significant. I plot my stories like a fiend. I joke that my outlines have outlines. Okay, so that’s not really a joke. I do take the whole plotting thing to an extreme.

Not Shalia’s Diary. Just before starting a new storyline, I wrote a few sentences about where I saw that particular chapter of her life going. With that as my only guide, I wrote by the seat of my pants. It was kind of terrifying for me, but Shalia was always organic in a way that none of my other work has ever been. I just sat back and let her take over, allowing her to live her life and tell me about it.

I had no idea how readers would take this serial story idea. It wasn’t even on the radar to offer Shalia’s Diary as books at the time. My intention with the free blog had been to say thank you to everyone for making the Clans of Kalquor series a success, nothing more. Yet as the views climbed into the thousands and people began to ask more and more for me to put the diary in book format, it became pretty clear Shalia resonated with many.

Should that have been a surprise? Shalia kept us all guessing as to what might happen next. Sitting down to see what she was up to was exciting. She kept springing surprises on me, out of nowhere.

Case in point: I did not know she would get pregnant until I was actually finished with the second story. Or that no one would know who the biological father was. It didn’t hit me until I started thinking about the third book, as the second was in the edit phase. My reaction was in line with hers…WHAT?!? Then I had to rethink the whole timeline of Book 2 and make sure that she could have snuggled with all four potential daddies to make it impossible to pinpoint who won the big sperm race. Nang’s attempt to get to Shalia and his altercation with Clan Bitev and his own clanmates was also a last-second add.

Even at that point, I was left wondering how it would all play out in the end. Bits and pieces were beginning to solidify as Shalia left her home planet, but she had nine months of travel time between Earth and Kalquor. What in the world could happen on a transport in all of that time?

Plenty, as it turned out. But that’s for another blog.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Question of the Week

Q: Are there anymore first Matara books coming soon? 

A: Not soon, unfortunately. Eventually. My schedule right now isn't letting me even think about those books, which I really, really want to write. But some day!

Thanks for the question.

Do you have a question for me? Leave it in the comments, and I might answer it in an upcoming blog.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Saying Goodbye to Shalia

Pretty soon, we’ll be wrapping up Book 11 of Shalia’s Diary on the blog. I have recently finished writing the first draft of the final chapter of her story, Book 12. Right now, that book is slated to be released sometime in January, and the blog will begin its final run a couple weeks afterward.

It feels like the end of an era. As it should, I suppose. I’ve spent nearly six years with Shalia Monroe, now Matara Shalia of Clan Seot, sharing her story with all of you. I’ve been writing her tale almost every single day since 2012. And now I’m saying goodbye, leaving her to her life after all those adventures.

Yes, I’ll miss the woman. After all, she’s been a constant for quite some time now. When I set out to write a Kalquor universe story from the point of view of one Armageddon survivor, I didn’t know everything she would face. I had a faint idea of how her story might eventually wrap up, but that early notion bears little resemblance to the end of the diary. She ended up surprising me, possibly as much as those of you who checked in twice a week to cheer her on. Or to groan at her latest boneheaded move. It’s been quite an adventure, a fun one, to share her journey. I’ll share some thoughts in future posts about different parts of that trip and what it meant to me.

At the same time, it’s a relief to step away from the diary. I won’t lie; Shalia’s Diary has worn me out at times. Shalia is tired too. I can see her in my head, giving me a look that says, enough already. If there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s to listen to my characters. Shalia has handed in her resignation. I have to let her go, and I think we’re both more than ready to wave goodbye.

After all, we’ve seen a lot. Some of my most emotional moments have come with Shalia. The horror of the Little Creep and the It are high on my list of ‘let’s not do that again’. Those were some truly gut-wrenching storylines that freaked me out. Then the sadness of saying goodbye to Clan Dusa, Nayun, Betra and Oses…though some of them were on the level of ‘until we meet again’, they were still difficult to get through. So yeah, Shalia and I are exhausted.

We’re down to one more adventure for Shalia to face…and I think you know what’s coming. Then we can at last walk away from each other, knowing it’s been done to the best of our abilities. Will Shalia and I meet again? Or will someone else from her diary step forward and ask for their story to be told? At this point, I have no idea. I just know it’s time to let that group head into the sunset, having earned a respite after the long journey.

Happy trails, Shalia. Thanks for the ride.