Proof of life

The con hasn’t killed me yet.

It may have driven me insane, though.

I need a salad.

12274714_1661679964100431_2673489507220657740_n.jpg

GUEST POST: Jette Harris, Author of COLOSSUS

Still at the con!  Maybe I posted 20 times yesterday, maybe I didn’t!  Either way, have another guest post.  Jette Harris is the author of COLOSSUS, and made the mistake of asking for advice on Twitter about how to sell more books.  Ten minutes later, she had to write a guest post.  Ha!

A slight warning: the cover and the subject matter of COLOSSUS could potentially be triggery.  Author’s smiling, pre-nuptial face therefore included first.  


JetteAs an adolescent, I was always attracted to the dark side of fiction: My favorite movie was The Wall and TV show was The Maxx (You actually see a lot of Mr. Gone in my antagonist, and a little of Julie Winters in the protagonist). The topics that could bring me to tears in real life are enthralling in fiction (although they bring me to tears in fiction as well). When I started writing, my content was no different, exploring the demons – literally and figuratively, sometimes even both – that haunt humanity and manipulate people’s actions.

Here is the difficult part: Writing a description that entices readers and does justice to the novel in a short amount of space…

COLOSSUS is the nickname four young adults call the man who has abducted them. Although initially in a position of trust, Avery Rhodes reveals himself to be capable of unimaginable cruelty, both physically and psychologically, to amuse himself and punish missteps. Each of the hostages must navigate their intertwined histories in order to maintain their sanity and attempt to survive. Before the end they all learn, including Rhodes, that they are in over their heads, with far more than just their lives at stake. COLOSSUS is the first book of the My Name Is Not Heather Stokes series.

51NVmPCR7LL._SX373_BO1,204,203,200_I had a vivid image of the over-arching plot, which was supposed to take the form of several short stories. That didn’t happen, obviously. COLOSSUS was actually the last story I came up with before I buckled down to write, and before long presented itself as three separate novels: COLOSSUS, Two Guns, and RUIN (inside the house, outside the house, and after the house). The content as it played out in my mind was horrific, and it began to far more horrific than what readers will encounter. Two things dialed it down:

  • Some things I just didn’t want to write. I didn’t want Avery Rhodes to be Professor Umbridge; I wanted readers who usually root for the bad guy to be willing to root for him.
  • Absolute evil is absolutely unrealistic. Rhodes began as a flat, sociopathic, emotionally-controlled character, with one goal in mind. In uncovering why he developed that goal (you don’t discover that until RUIN), and why he is the way he is, he became the opposite in several ways: He became an emotionally- and psychologically-complex character who believes he can control his emotions, but in reality causes far more damage (to himself and others) than good (for himself).

Despite this, I’ve only had two readers (out of several) who could not finish it. Many others wished they could put it down, but were too invested in the characters to give up on them (If I can do anything right, it’s well-rounded engaging characters). Whether they finished or not, they all reported enjoying what they read. I recommend taking the risk and letting me know what you think!


Jette Harris was born and raised in the greater metro-Atlanta area, where she lives with her husband and their pets (dog, cat, and four snakes).  She graduated from Mercer University in ’08 with a BA in English Literature and German Language & Literature, and a certificate for teaching secondary Language Arts. After three years of teaching, she ran away screaming with her hands over her head. She is now happy to sit at a desk, surrounded by other geeks, answering phones, and writing while she thinks her boss isn’t looking.

Buy COLOSSUS (international link): http://geni.us/Izb

STALK JETTE!

Her blogs: writing – https://jetterfly.wordpress.com/

samples – https://mynameisnotheatherstokes.wordpress.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JettimusMaximus

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JettimusMaximus

God I’m glad I did guest posts

The view out my hotel window is unimpressive and it is dark and rainy.  This is the pizza the hotel Italian restaurant just served me, because I am insanely tired and the thought of going out and finding somewhere else to eat was more than I could bear:

CU3AAXoVAAAxt53.jpg-large.jpeg

While getting to the con was ridiculous– I forgot my banners and had to turn around after half an hour and go back, damn near ran out of gas, and wasn’t allowed to check into my room when I arrived, and the aggravation combined with the stress of gaslessness and a very serious need to poop compromised my ability to think clearly and I just made them hold my bags all day rather than going back to my car and putting them in there.  Then when I finally did check into my room after the dealer’s room closed at 7, neither of the keys worked and I had to haul all of my shit back downstairs because I’m here alone and I couldn’t exactly just leave it in the damn hallway.

But: pizza.  Good pizza.

The con itself is going quite well.  I sold a book in the first five minutes the dealers’ room was open.  That’s awesome.  I’m not setting sales records, but I’m damn close to paying for my table already.  Considering I sold zero the first day at InConJunction I’m gonna call it a win.

Weird thing about this convention, though: I can sell books to people, but hell if I can get anyone to take a free bookmark.  Free!  Take a fucking bookmark, people!

Okay.  It’s 8:15 and I say that makes it okay to go to sleep now.  Perhaps tomorrow I will be able to do a thing connected to the con once the dealers’ room closes; I can’t bear the thought of spending another second on my feet right now.

GUEST POST: Characters Just Barge In, by Natacha Guyot

I’m at a convention and likely being run ragged right now, so I’ve scheduled a few guest posts this weekend.  This is the first one.


NGHello everyone! I realize this is my first time here (thank you for inviting me, Luther) though those of you familiar with Sourcerer and Part Time Monster might know me and remember me writing about Star Wars, gender representations and assorted topics.

My name is Natacha Guyot and I am a French author, scholar and public speaker. I am passionate about Science Fiction, Fantasy, Transmedia, Gender Studies, Children Media and Fan Studies.

After releasing several works of nonfiction, I returned to my fiction love and recently released Clairvoyance Chronicles Volume One, a Fantasy collection of ten (connected) short stories:

Book CoverOld enemies never truly disappear. When they return, peace becomes fragile and clans are on the brink of destruction.

Were Saber-toothed Cat Neyla relives her real-life nightmares upon Keno’s reappearance. Her longtime nemesis is scheming to overthrow the supernatural society. With Keno’s followers growing each day, Fae, Weres, Shifters and others with special gifts, are at risk.

In these dark times, everyone must join ranks and keep faith in a better tomorrow.

Unfortunately, the price may be high.

This made me reflect on something I had already realized but that hit me quite hard when working on Clairvoyance. As much as a writer can make their story work, if it wishes to comply and behave, they don’t really create their characters. Those little monsters just barge in without a warning. The best part is that it is how you get an organic story. Of course, you wrestle a lot with them and sometimes there is no way to make them go your way, but most of the time, they have better ideas than you (at least the raw version).

Logo NGWhile I have loved creating stories and universes since I was a child, including novellas and novels in my late teens and early twenties, my roleplaying experience on a Star Wars board since 2008 has helped me a lot when it comes to just let the characters come to me, steal the show and make me take notes. Sometimes, I wish fewer characters would just appear out of the blue or that they would take turns and be a little more patient with me. Yet, I have come a long way as an author because of all I learned about crafting and storytelling, and having much more exstensive material to work with thanks to the countless characters showing up (and sometimes – often? – switching universes if they realize they’re not a good fit for a given one) had a significant role to play.

When I started working on the Clairvoyance universe, I thought it would be a couple of novels with a specific protagonist. Then, as I developed the history and the different groups, there were tons of voices that wanted to be heard. And they all made sense. I couldn’t just relegate most of them to supporting characters. They had to be heard, whether because they directly served the main arc of the story or because they brought solid insight into the overall experiences of all of these supernatural characters.

This is how the idea of doing several short stories with a different narrator each came to life. While I am hoping to introduce new narrators in future installments, I know some will return. It has given me so much more to work with and listening to all the voices in my head helped me establish the main arc with more justness. While diversity is important to me as a person and a writer, I didn’t sit down to come up with characters from a vast span of backgrounds, species, age, gender, orientation. They happened; and God were they loud.

One of my favorite parts about the loudness of my characters, even when they irk me to no end, is that it often allows them to reveal their annoying side. What does their annoying side bring? It brings flaws, which will give them credibility if you listen to your characters. I’m not interested in writing long-term immature characters, but I am not into perfection either. I want layers; I want contradictions, struggle, laughter, tears. I want life in my characters.

While I draw certain lines about what I will write (like I will not go beyond PG-13 rating as a personal choice), I let the characters rather free, before tidying behind them. Most of the narrators in Clairvoyance’s first volume didn’t even exist in the original story idea, and I couldn’t imagine the universe without them now. Some also emerged in the story as non-narrators and I can’t wait for the next volume(s) so they can tell their own stories as well, especially Roxane and Jo, who appear in several stories.

What about you, readers and/or writers? How important are characters for you? Do you like more story driven or character driven narratives? Do you enjoy watching characters evolve over a long period of time?


LINKS:

Goodreads page, Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada, Amazon Australia.

 

SOCIAL MEDIA

Come see me tomorrow at @StarbaseIndy!

I should be packing right now; I’m spending the next three days at the Wyndham Indianapolis West in, uh, Indianapolis at the Starbase Indy science fiction/ Star Trek convention.  I will, hopefully, both have a really good time and sell an insane number of books.

Unknown

It goes without saying that I think if you’re in Indianapolis or within reasonable driving range that you should come see me.  At least, it should go without saying, even though technically I just said it twice.

“But, Luther!” you cry.  “Who shall post roughly every four to five hours while you are awake?  How could we go a weekend without you? Isn’t it true that it’s been a year since you missed a day?”

First of all, no, not quite; the last time I missed a day was December 23, 2014.  So it’s been almost a year.  Second, as of right now my next six posts are set up, taking care of the blog through Monday morning.  You’ve got two from me (well, one’s a Station Identification) and four guest posts coming from four very capable writers, at least one of which genuinely deserves to go even more viral than the Syria post (35,456 hits and counting) did.  You’ll know it when you see it.  There’s also an announcement coming Monday morning!  Your hint is that it’ll be on Cyber Monday.  Let your brain run wild.

Anyway.  Don’t spend too much money in the big boxes this weekend, kids.  The sales aren’t that good anyway.  Support local and independent retailers and all that.  And come see me!