Over the weekend I got a tweet asking if the cover for HELL BENT that was floating around the internet was okay to share. I replied that I still had a draft version of the cover, and hadn’t gotten the go-ahead to share yet from my publisher, but that I’d check.
So I checked. And I’m happy to say that YES! The cover for HELL BENT is final and ready to be revealed.
I want to take a moment and thank the people who contacted me *before* posting the cover. I know it’s nearly impossible for the author to be the first person who gets to share the cover of their books these days, but I also know that sometimes the cover that gets early posted (and reposted, and reposted) is still a draft and subject to some pretty big changes.
Anyone who goes out of their way to contact me about things like sharing a cover that hasn’t appeared on my page or anywhere else on the web before posting it, has my deep gratitude. So, to the fine ladies and gents who held off posting the cover before checking in with me, I raise my coffee in toast to you today!
And now, let’s have a look at that final cover, shall we?
The artist is Michael Heath. I think he did a great job! I love the action of the scene, and love that our hero is front and center with trouble coming his way. And is that the St. Johns bridge off in the distance? I do think this version of Shame is looking pretty clean-cut and on top of his game, which might not always be the case in the story itself. Still, it shows a strength and toughness that I like, and Shame is certainly both tough and strong, especially when all hell is breaking loose.
What do you think?
Fiction River – Unnatural Worlds is officially out today!
This fantastic anthology is filled with terrific stories from authors: Ray Vukcevich, Esther M. Friesner, Irette Y. Patterson, Kellen Knolan, Annie Reed, Dean Wesley Smith, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Leah Cutter, Richard Bowes, Jane Yolen, and David Farland, (and yes, me too!) and is edited by Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch.
My short story in the anthology is titled: LIFE BETWEEN DREAMS. While it isn’t set in the Allie Beckstrom universe, I think if Allie met Mary, they’d get along just fine.
To celebrate its release, I thought I’d post a little snippet of my story for you today. Happy reading!
LIFE BETWEEN DREAMS
Mary Still dropped the screwdriver back into the empty coffee can next to the jar of Moebius clock oil, and held her breath. From just beyond the open door of the garage she heard the distinct glassy tink of this reality colliding with another. Someone, or something, was crossing the boundary.
The sound could be nothing, just the random scrape and rattle of the joined universes steering a little too wide around the corners.
It could be the bosses, who said they’d be here in exactly one hour to see that the outpost was secure and to reassign her a new partner if Tom didn’t return.
Or it could be Tom.
She hoped it was Tom. But she hadn’t seen her partner for six months now, not since the job they’d almost failed in East London with the dreamer kid. She’d walked away from that with a much finer appreciation for the rules of dispelling terrors and imaginings.
Tom had just walked away.
She picked up a tire iron and a wooden cross, and moved back from the nineteenth century Regina music box she’d been restoring, even though she had yet to find a comb to make it sing. No need to lose paying customers just because she had to fight nightmare creatures from another dimension, or worse, her bosses.
She strolled up to the door and opened it. Being quiet and sneaky around terrors and imaginings never worked. Walls didn’t stop them, doors didn’t hold them back, and stealth was a waste of time.
Still, she hesitated there in the cool shadow of the garage and stared out at the Nevada sunlight pouring over the rocks and orange dirt in front of her shop. Highway 90 lay like a black snake warming itself over the arid land, curving down out of Goldfield up north and missing her place by an eighth of a mile or so.
Wind hissed through the sage brush and set the insects buzzing.
A man stepped up to the front porch of her shop.
He was medium build, brushing six feet tall and wore a black wool coat that reached almost to his knees, his jeans tucked into the top of hunting boots. His dark hair was brushed up and away from his face, even though it was several inches too long to hold the style, and he was in need of a shave.
Hands shoved in his coat pockets, he paused to read the sign above her entryway: STILL CURIOUS ANTIQUE RESTORATION
“You put my name on the sign?” he asked.
“Yes,” she said, not lowering cross or bar yet. “Good to see you, Tom. You owe me half a year’s overhead on the place.”
He turned his head, tipped down his sunglasses. “Good to see you too, Mary.”
She swallowed against a mix of anger and relief that rushed through her. He still had a soul behind those eyes. He was still human. That was good. Very good.
“Are you going to put your sticks down yet?” He gave a slight nod toward the cross and crowbar.
“No. But you might as well go inside. The coffee should be done brewing.”
He hesitated. Maybe he didn’t want her at his back. She was angry, and he was pretty good at reading her emotions even though no one else ever was.
“Are you worried I’m going to knock you out when you’re not looking?” she asked as she strode across the dirt, her boots kicking up clouds of cinnamon dust.
“It crossed my mind.”
“You’d deserve it.”
“Yes,” he said, “I would.”
And that was that. They were partners again. Everyone got their one time out, their one time to break away from the job and never come back. No one would chase them down if they decided to just quit.
Coming back meant the next unapproved time off would be in a coffin.
“That was your one chance, you know,” she said as they stepped into the darker, but not much cooler, shop.
The place was filled with rare items she’d restored through normal, and inter-dimensional means. Shelves and corners were stacked with antiques and other valuables. Need a bellows for your harmonium or a Tiffany lamp base plate? She’d find it in this world, or cross a few boundaries and find one that was still intact in an alternate dimension.
The bosses didn’t love the idea of trans-dimensional Dumpster diving, but a girl had to make ends meet between gigs of saving the world….
…continued in Fiction River – Unnatural Worlds anthology
I don’t know why this book has been so challenging to get started. It could be because this is a two book series at this point, so book #2 has to do the work of tying off everything from book #1 (HELL BENT), tell a great story, and wrap everything up for the series. That’s asking the book to carry some of the weight of a middle book, and also all of the action of a final book, while still needing to stand on its own as…well as a book.
Or it could be that I’ve never set out to write a two-book series before, and I am just over thinking it. (a-hem)
Anyway, I have an opening line I finally like, which is good. Unfortunately, all the rest of what I’ve written doesn’t fit with that opening line. So….I’m at square one again. But this time I’m at square one with an opening line! Win!
Last week I finished off the editorial revisions for HELL BENT. Editorial revision are based on the edit letter I get from my editor. She points out things that worked for her and also things she feels are lacking or confusing. It is up to me to decide how to implement changes or adjustments to the book, keeping in mind that she has the fresh eyes on this project and knows her stuff (while also keeping in mind my vision for the book.)
I wanted this book to be a fast and linear read but she thought it was a little too fast and linear and suggested some follow up on the secondary plot lines.
So I got busy. 1) deciding which secondary plot lines I wanted to expand 2) working out the secondary plot arcs so they flowed properly and didn’t bog down the pacing 3) mapping scene by scene against the current text to find places where I could break the book apart and stitch in new scenes 4) writing the new scenes…and finally 5) reading/cleaning up the book from Chapter One to The End making sure the story, action, and emotions flowed so it was still a fast read.
Took me about three weeks, which was a little longer than I would have liked, but I felt the time was well spent. Did I do a good job? I’m pretty happy with it. We’ll see if my editor likes the changes. One good thing about expanding the book is that we get more scenes with Shame, Terric and characters we know and love from the Allie books–and they are fun scenes!
While my editor looks over the revision, I’m turning my attention to book 2 in the series: STONE COLD. Since this is a two-book series (at this point) I need to make sure the books work well on their own and are also satisfying when read together. Even though I know many things about STONE COLD’s story, because of the shifts and decisions in the first book, the second book naturally needs to morph and change a little.
Today begins my countdown to getting STONE COLD turned in by early June. I have not a single word written on it yet. No outline, no scene list. But I DO have a large cup of coffee and the sun at my back. Time to start walking the road.
I finished the revisions on HELL BENT and sent it off to my editor on Wednesday, so then I took a little time to clean up my web page a bit. If you go poking around, you’ll see a page for HELL BENT, (under Books: Broken Magic: Hell Bent) an updated short story page (under Books: short stories), and some of my friends’ books that will be coming out this month (down there on the side bar).
I am also turning my attention to a few other things around the house. We intend to expand our garden this year. Last year we put in a couple of raised beds and promptly (and repeatedly) killed cucumbers, beans, pumpkins and squash. We did however, manage to grow zucchini (’cause seriously, who *can’t* grow zucchini?), tomatoes, peas, strawberries, and one lonely acorn squash.
This year I want to put in two more beds and try to kill some potatoes, onions, and garlic. I might even kill some carrots.
As for our hanging herb garden that I thought was so whimsical and delightful–it burnt to a crisp. We planted the herbs in the direct sunlight in the hottest part of the yard and the poor things sizzled, smoked, and croaked. So this year, the herbs will be tucked on the front porch where they will get morning sunlight and shade and shall be patted upon their leafy heads, and spoken to in gentle coos as we walk in and out of the house.
Our apple trees need a pruning, but our berries (raspberry, blueberry) are doing well. The wild blackberry we’ve been trying to kill for ten years finally wore us down. We quit. It can’t be killed. So now it is officially our corner-of-the-yard blackberry bush and it gives us lovely, plump berries when it is not trying to eat small children or entangle stray dogs.
As for the ancient (and wily) Concord grape vines in the back, the husband took a saw to it, to the delight of our neighbors. Apparently they weren’t thrilled to have the grapes climbing to the top of their 40 foot trees and dangling untouchable fruit above their heads. Since it had also devoured our dogwood, vine maple, and walnut tree, we were happy to bring it down a notch too.
And writing? That’s going great, thanks! I’m currently brainstorming and plotting book 2 in the Broken Magic series: STONE COLD. Since it’s due in a couple months, I’m hoping to get all the details nailed down this weekend and get a good strong start on it Monday.
Sorry for such a rambly post. Feel free to ask me questions, if you are in a chatty mood.