Squirrels at a Rave December 27, 2016Posted by Elizabeth Schechter in 2017 plans, Best laid plans, Best planned lays, Ta-da, to-dos.
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Have you seen that meme?
Sounds an awful lot like my writing life, actually. Now that I’m actually not on deadline, it’s time to make sense of the projects that have been in the queue for a while. So, here’s the ever-increasing To-Do list.
- Bonds of Blood and Steel (Sable Locks sequel)
- The Sea Prince
- The Willow Sword
- Hidden Things (Swords of Charlemagne Book 1)
- Sins of the Father (Rebel Mage 3)
- Blood Bound
- Holy Orders (Sequel to Heart’s Master)
- The White Raven (sequel to Princes of Air)
- The Lady and the Sword (Swords of Charlemagne Book 2)
- Ashes and Light (Swords of Charlemagne Book 3)
- Tablets of Stone (Swords of Charlemagne Book 4)
- The Navigator (Steam and Screw, Book 1)
- The Captain (Steam and Screw, Book 2)
- Coral Throne (sequel to Sea Prince)
- Temple of the Mysteries (maybe a shared world thing)
- Sapphires and Gold
- Hidden Things
In addition, there’s a vague yet tantalizing idea set in the Rebel Mage universe — some small part of my brain wants to know what happens some twenty years down the line. Anything else I say on this will be spoilers for Sins of the Father, so that’s where I stop. But yeah… hrm… I wonder…
So… this happened… December 18, 2016Posted by Elizabeth Schechter in Eek!, Heart's Master, KermitArms, kvelling, mind blown, SQUEEE, yippee.
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I went to check on Heart’s Master this morning (because I’m a dork like that) and I found this:
It came out Thursday, and it’s broken the top 100 on Amazon for Gay Erotica. (It premiered at 154, I think.)
Release Day!!! December 15, 2016Posted by Elizabeth Schechter in circlet, Drum Mage, happy-happy- joy- joy, Heart's Master, kvelling, new books, Release date, SQUEEE.
Today is the day! Today is the day that Heart’s Master comes out!!!!
Now, it’s early as I’m writing this, so when I say I’m doing handstands, I just want you to know it’s figuratively, okay?
But yes, definitely handstands. This book — it’s been a long, strange trip for this book. And it’s finally loose in the wild.
So, here. Have an excerpt:
I was just finishing another drink–my fourth or fifth–and I was feeling nicely squiffed when I saw the stranger coming towards us through the crowd. Tall, broad shoulders, long brown hair pulled back in a tail, early thirties at the most–this guy looked like he belonged on the cover of a romance novel. And he was heading towards us.
“Maureen, you shouldn’t have…” I murmured, leaning back and enjoying the view. She looked at me, then looked up, saw him and smiled.
“Nick!” she called out, waving. My jaw hit the floor.
“Nick?” I repeated. “That’s Nick? Your Nick?”
She grinned at me and stood up, hugging the stranger and kissing him lightly. “Nick, this is Steven Ahearn, the man of the evening. Steven, I’d like for you to meet Nicolai Vikentiyevich Rozhenko.”
I stood up and wiped my hand on my jeans before accepting his handshake, trying not to be dazzled by a pair of amazingly blue eyes. “It’s nice to meet you,” I said. “I’ve heard a lot of good things about you.”
“As have I,” he answered, and I heard a hint of an accent in his voice. Eastern European, Russian, something like that. Sexy as hell. “Maureen tells me that you’re leaving, though.”
I smiled broadly, “My big break. I still can’t believe it…”
“Who the hell let him in here?” Maureen murmured, her anger plain in her voice. I turned to look and cursed softly. Joey, all six-foot-one of him, shoving his way through the crowd and leaving an angry, muttering trail of actors and stage hands behind him. I heard Nick’s voice, speaking in French, and Maureen answering in the same language. Then Nick was in front of me, standing between me and Joey.
“What do you want?” he demanded.
Joey stopped and stared at him, then asked, “Who the hell are you? For your information, I was invited. And you’re standing between me and my boy, so get the hell out of my way.”
I felt my temper flaring. His boy? Since when? Even from where I was standing, I could smell the alcohol on Joey. I knew he was a mean drunk–it was the main reason that I refused to let him keep hard liquor in the house. I knew where my money had gone now, and I was not looking forward to telling him that I was leaving him. But I also wasn’t going to let anyone else get hurt because of me. “It’s okay, Nick,” I said, stepping out from behind my new defender.
Nick looked at me, his eyes narrowed. “Steven? You’re sure about this?”
“Yeah. I’m fine.” I met Nick’s eyes and nodded once, then tipped my head ever so slightly to the side, towards the side door that had been propped open in the hopes of getting a breath of cooler air into the too warm room. Hopefully, Nick would get the message that I wanted him to follow us. “C’mon, Joey. We need to talk.” I turned without waiting for Joey’s answer and headed for the door, and nearly jumped out of my skin when a hard hand closed around the back of my neck. I winced as Joey’s fingers dug in, but he held on tight and shoved me forward, out the door and into the alley.
“You’re very full of yourself tonight, slave,” Joey snarled at me as we walked out into the cold night air.
I stopped and twisted, breaking his hold and stopping just out of his reach, “Enough of that shit, Joey. I’m not your boy, I’m not your slave, and I’m not your whore. I’m done with your little power trip bondage games.”
Joey looked at me like I was talking in another language. “What?” he sputtered. “You just wait until I get you home…”
“I’m not going home with you, Joey,” I interrupted. “I’m moving out.”
“Out?” he echoed. “What are you talking about?”
“Out of the apartment. We’re done, Joey. You went too far this morning, and I’m not putting up with your shit anymore. Go find yourself someone else to abuse.” I decided that I didn’t want him to know about my good fortune, or where I was going, so I deliberately didn’t mention New York. Instead, I started to go past him, back inside to my party. I was expecting Joey to turn, to stalk off the way he always did when he was angry. I was not expecting him to grab me and slam me back against the wall, hard enough to knock the wind out of me and bounce my head off the bricks. Before I could recover, he pinned me in place, his hands locked around my upper arms, his chest hard against mine.
“Let me go!” I snarled through clenched teeth. He laughed, leaning in and kissing me roughly. I tried to push him back, but he was bigger and heavier than I was. He shifted, pressing harder against me, his thigh hard against my crotch.
“Who’s being abused now, slave?” he crooned as he pulled back, his breath hot and stinking in my face. Under the alcohol, I could smell something else, something harsh, and I could see now that his eyes were glazed. He must have taken something. Suddenly, I was afraid. Drugs. When had he started using drugs? How had I not noticed? Shit, what had he gotten in to? “Tell me you don’t like this…” he rubbed his hip hard against my crotch, then stopped and looked down, his eyes narrowing. “Wait a minute….” He shifted, catching me around the throat with one hand, holding me painfully tight and leaving me gasping for breath while he pawed at me with his other hand. “Where’s your collar, slave?” he asked, sounding annoyed. “I told you that was supposed to stay on. So where is it?”
His fingers around my throat grew tighter, and I heard him laugh again as I struggled to breath. “Oh, yeah. I like this. There’s your punishment, slave. I’m gonna choke you out and fuck you until you wake up. And that’s only the beginning…”
No, that was the end–I grabbed Joey’s wrist in both hands to try and keep him from killing me outright, braced myself, and slammed my knee up between his legs. Never, ever give a dancer a chance to kick you in the crotch; he went down like a dropped brick, gagging and puking. I left him rolling in the trash and staggered back towards the door, taking long, shaking breaths and feeling the ache of incipient bruises on my throat and my arms. I wasn’t surprised to see Nick standing in the doorway waiting for me. However, I was surprised to see the baseball bat in his right hand. Where had that come from?
“Are you all right?” Nick asked.
I nodded and grimaced. “You should see the other guy,” I quipped. Nick grinned.
“Where is he?”
“Trying to pry his nuts out of his sinuses, I think. Let’s get out of here.” I brushed past him and into the restaurant, only to find Maureen waiting for me just inside the door.
“He didn’t take the break-up well,” I said, slumping into a chair. I felt Maureen’s fingers on my chin as she tipped my head back.
“I can see that,” she murmured. “The bruises are already coming up. I think we should get your things tonight.”
“And call the police?” Nick asked.
“That will be tomorrow,” I said. “I’m not ready for that. And I need a drink before I do anything.”
I saw the two of them look at each other, then Nick took my arm and hauled me out of the chair. “Come on,” he said. “I know a place.” As we walked out through the crowd of people, I noticed that the bat was gone, and I wondered briefly what Nick had done with it.
The place turned out to be a vodka bar in Federal Hill. About half of the party moved with us, and for a while, I forgot about the break-up, about Joey and his violence, and about the fact that tomorrow I’d be talking to police about what he’d done to me. Nick decided that I needed to learn how to properly drink vodka, and I proceeded to get very, very drunk. I vaguely remembered Maureen telling me that we were going to go to my place to get some of my things, and then she and Nick were pouring me into the backseat of their car. After that, I didn’t remember anything until the truck hit us.
Heart’s Master is out of Circlet Press, and is available to order in all formats wherever you buy books.
Writing the Other December 7, 2016Posted by Elizabeth Schechter in Blog Tour, ex-cathedra from my navel, Forbidden Fiction, Haven's Fall, Rebel Mage, Release date, The School.
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In my initial outlines for Counsel of the Wicked, Matthias, the main character, was gay in a world of religious repression and rampant homophobia. Now, my characters have this habit of telling me things about themselves as I’m writing. It’s how I know I’ve written a good character, when one has taken on a life of his or her own. This tendency took an interesting turn in Counsel, when Matthias took the bit in his teeth in the middle of a chapter, and revealed that he wasn’t gay at all. He was asexual, and I had a problem. Every other time something like this has happened and I try to force the story back to where I thought it should be (no, the outline says you do THIS!), I’ve broken the story, so I’ve learned to go with it. But I had never written an ace character before; I had no idea how to write an asexual character without making them either a caricature or a stereotype. Which led to the question: What do I do now?
Well, like any good writer faced with a lack of knowledge, I started with research. I knew nothing at all about asexuality. Surprisingly, I found that Tumblr is actually a very good source of references for writers on alternative sexualities, with many links to websites that answered most of my questions and allowed me to finish the manuscript. Then I went looking for special beta readers—I sent out a request to my usual communities for readers who could tell me if I’d written Matthias properly. To my delight, I had eight people who identified as asexual come to me and volunteer. And to my dismay, four of them backed out when I gave them the trigger warnings for the manuscript. However, the other four read through the manuscript, and I was told that I’d written a good portrayal of a demi-romantic asexual character. I’d written a believable character who existed outside my personal identity.
I’d written “The Other.”
One of the biggest lies that creative writing students are taught is that they should write what they know. Really. I’m not sure how creative that actually is, but that’s what the book says. Write what you know. So, if I was writing what I know, I’d be writing books about an overweight, 40-something, Puerto-Rican/Italian, gluten-intolerant, bisexual, homeschooling, stay-at-home mom who’s been married for twenty years, and who is currently living in Central Florida. That’s a lot of adjectives, isn’t it? Well, if I’m writing what I know, that’s me, in a verbose nutshell. Now, tell me honestly, how many books do you think that would sell? One, maybe.
Needless to say, I’m not a big fan of “write what you know.”
I am, however, a huge proponent of the Rikki-Tikki-Tavi School of Creative Writing. When you don’t know something, run and find out. Odds are pretty good that you’re writing on a computer of some flavor, which means that there’s a wealth of information at your fingertips. Google is your very best friend, and there are always going to be people who will be willing to read what you’ve written, if only because it is important that all people be able to accurately see themselves in the mirror that is published fiction. Because all the stories can’t be about the overly-muscled white dude who saves the world, or the model with the lower back tattoo beating up on vampires or demons or whatever the monster of the week is in publishing at the moment. Sometimes, the stories need to be about the overweight, 40-something, Puerto-Rican/Italian, gluten-intolerant, bisexual, homeschooling, stay-at-home moms. Or the demi-ace boys.
A couple of months after Counsel of the Wicked came out, while I was hard at work on Haven’s Fall, I was invited to a dinner that had absolutely nothing to do with writing. It was a product demonstration, for a tester that you can use to see if there is gluten present in your food. It’s a fascinating little thing, a real boon to someone who can’t have gluten in any form, but who does have to travel and is at the mercy of restaurants more than is comfortable for someone to whom regular food can be poison. You know, like me.
Anyhow, I’m at this very nice dinner attended by all these big name bloggers and writers in the gluten-free industry, as well as others in the food industry. I spent most of my evening sitting next to the Head of Special Diets for Walt Disney World; that was pretty awesome! I’ll admit that by the time the salad showed up (the device said don’t eat the dressing!) I was wondering what the heck I was doing there. Then the organizer came over to talk with me.
“I wanted to thank you,” she said. “Your book is the first one I’ve ever seen with an asexual main character. My daughter is asexual.”
That is the why of writing outside your identity. Of turning your back on writing what you know and instead doing the work so that you can competently and respectfully write beyond your limits. Because it matters.
Release Day for Haven’s Fall!!!! December 6, 2016Posted by Elizabeth Schechter in Forbidden Fiction, happy-happy- joy- joy, Haven's Fall, new books, Rebel Mage, Release date, SQUEEE, yippee.
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Happy morning release day dance!
Interviews and cover art December 4, 2016Posted by Elizabeth Schechter in Blessed, Blog Tour, circlet, cover art, Drum Mage, Forbidden Fiction, Haven's Fall, Heart's Master, promotions, publishing, Release date, Ta-da, upcoming books.
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Also, now that Circlet had debuted the cover art for Heart’s Master to the Patreon patrons, I can show the art to everyone else! Heart’s Master comes out on December 15th.
(We’re still waiting to find out if Amazon is going to faint over that cover…)
Guest Blogging December 1, 2016Posted by Elizabeth Schechter in Blog Tour, guest post, Haven's Fall, Heart's Master, promotions, Rebel Mage, upcoming books, upcoming work.
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I’m guest blogging over at Science Fiction Romance Brigade. Go check it out — I’m writing about juggling chainsaws.
Well, maybe it’s what you think.
Also, I missed when this one ran, but I had a post about my Nano Curse, and how that finally was lifted when I finished Heart’s Master. You can see that one over here.