Monday, August 25, 2014

Announcing Dark Dancer, a Steampunk Fantasy Novel

Today, I'm thrilled to host Jaleta Clegg. She's got a book that I've been very excited about for a long time: Dark Dancer.



What do you get when you mash together steampunk airships and metal men, Shakespeare's fairy world, legends of the fae, monsters, a prophecy, pirates, evil wizards, a young woman with stolen memories, and crystals full of power? You get Dark Dancer. This is how I do fantasy.

The idea for the series came from several places. I found a cool piece of art on DeviantArt (http://anacorreal.deviantart.com/art/Release-80921725) that sparked the idea of a woman with the power to open gates between worlds. I read a series by Frances Pauli where the passages between our world and the fairy world are re-opened (Changeling Race - http://www.amazon.com/Moth-Darkness-Changeling-Race-Book-ebook/dp/B005GRBYNE/) that fired my imagination about elves and magic and their world crossing with ours. I watched too many anime episodes with airships and cool steampunk tech. I've always been in love with Errol Flynn's version of pirates. Out of this tangle came the story for Dark Dancer.

Sabrina has magic that can open the portals to the fairy world. But with that power comes great danger. Her mother tries to keep her hidden and her power a secret, even from her. Sabrina's ties to the other world are too strong. Ruthless Seligh Lords, hungry for power, will stop at nothing to gain control of Sabrina and her gift. And magic will find a way to express itself, even if it destroys the one holding it.

I'm excited to release this book. It's my first fantasy novel and it's a stand-alone story, not part of a series. I have eleven other novels out, all part of a science fiction adventure series. I've published several dozen short stories ranging from science fiction to silly horror to fantasy, so I'm no stranger to the genre. Writing about magic really isn't that much different than writing about technology, though. And for me, it's all about the characters and story. Everything else is window-dressing to make it all more exciting.

Dark Dancer has lots of great characters. I had way too much fun dreaming them up. From elves with pointed ears, slanted eyes, and a penchant for arrogance, to ferocious pixie warriors, to renegade pirates, to evil sorcerers hungry for power, to talking birds, the book has a rich cast. The star of the book is a bewildered young woman trying to figure out who she is and how her past ties her to the world of the Seligh.

With magic, mayhem, monsters, and just a touch of romance, Dark Dancer is the type of book I love to read. I hope you enjoy it, too.

You can find a complete list of all my work at http://www.jaletac.com

Available in ebook and print.
Smashwords (all ebook formats) - https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/465920
Kindle - http://www.amazon.com/Dark-Dancer-Jaleta-Clegg-ebook/dp/B00MRANX5A

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, August 22, 2014

Friday Writer Roundup: Sonar


One of the most embarrassing things that can happen to a writer is submitting a piece to a market that already rejected you. I mean, getting rejected once is bad enough as it is, but twice? From the same people? On the same piece? Now, not only do they not want it, but they're starting to question just how desperate/egotistical/insert adjective you are, subbing to them multiple times with this thing?

Well, those worries are ended (and for someone as paranoid as I am, it was a big worry) with Spacejock's Sonar Submission Tracker.



When you first open up Sonar, it can be a little intimidating. There's a touch of a learning curve to it, and the Manual that's provided is sometimes less than helpful, depending on what it is you need to do. But it's well worth the small amount of effort you put forward.

So let's go through it, just very quickly. The very first thing is to start a new file. Call it whatever you like. Mine is 'Submission Tracker.' Cut and dry, easy to find. Once you have that, you'll have this nice blank spreadsheet looking thing.

Now you load up your work(s), one at a time. This is where you can begin to see the first glimmer of hope—this program could rock. You go up to Works, click add, and enter in the vitals of each individual piece: the title, the word count, the genre, any description and comments you might have for it. You can even link to the actual file, right in here, so you can easily access it while you're going through Sonar. So, you set up MegaDoc, your novel about a robot crocodile that got infected by a corrupt Word file. It's all in there, and ready for step two.

Now you set up the markets. For the most part, your markets are probably going to just be the places you submit whatever pieces to, but if you have markets you submit to regularly, it wouldn't hurt to add them in. It's the same shtick for adding a market as it is to add a work. You go to the Markets tab, click Add, and begin. The name of the market, the editor, the guidelines, even all the contact information for them. And you've decided to submit MegaDoc to Corporate ArtSlayer Press, dedicated to wringing every bit of artistic merit out of their books before publication.

Again, we hit the tabs: Submission, Add. Then you pick your work, you pick your market, and you enter the date. Once you do that, it'll tell you exactly what's going on: MegaDoc <> 2014-08-22 <> Sent to Corporate ArtSlayer Press (Out 2 days). And it lets you see if you've sold it, too.

Now, this is where it becomes your safety net. Say that Corporate ArtSlayer doesn't take this genius manuscript, for whatever reason. Bad taste, most likely. It then sits there for a while as you mope and consider if you should maybe cut it down from 400,000 words. But then, as you're looking around one day, inspiration strikes: you should submit it. And you found the perfect press: Corporate ArtSlayer. So, you get ready to go and… wait… Sonar says I've subbed this to them already. Oh lordy lord, thank you for saving me, Sonar!

Now, there are other options for this, although I don't think any of them quite stack up to Sonar in usefulness. Duotrope, of course, has a submission tracking option for paying members, which also gives you access to the response data, something I very much miss. The Submission Grinder has the same exact setup, but they are A: still new, so not very well-known, and B: Free. It's a trade-off, really. Or, you could do what I did before I found Sonar: an Excel document or other spreadsheet. It works, but with Sonar being free, I'd say it's worth it.


Voss

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

My Apologies

Hello, everyone.

I feel I need to apologize to y'all. With The Jester Prince release, I've been majorly busy, and my blog has been suffering for it. But fear not, I intend to return. With The Park totally drafted, the blog tour petering out to the end, and a whole world of creative freedom stretching before me, I'll be free as a public domain Kindle book on Amazon. For a little bit, anyway.

So stay tuned for your regularly scheduled programming. I'll be here Friday with the Friday Writer Roundup. If you need your fix before that, I'm on Speculative Friction today, and I'll be talking to Jennifer Willis tomorrow.

Until then, I bid you adieu.

Voss

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Jester Prince: Tobias

Tobias tossed his hoop into the air and spun on his toe. The whole world around him twisted and blurred. He kept his eyes focused on the spinning hoop, tracking it. The breeze caught it, or he'd thrown it the wrong way. Whatever the cause, the hoop listed to the right. Tobias pushed off with his other foot, speeding up his rotation and sliding to the right just as his hoop came back down. He caught it and skidded to a halt.
-Zirkua Fantastic

Tobias, a child of the circus. Zirkua Fantastic was the only life he knew.

Until King Jester broke free.

His love is at stake. His very life could end here. And even he doesn't know his own story, or his own place in this new world.

What will become of him? Read The Jester Prince, Book Two of the King Jester Trilogy.



With the destruction of Zirkua Fantastic, King Jester, the spirit of discord, has been unleashed once more upon the Earth. Only Toby, a fresh, untrained immortal, and the other former members of Zirkua Fantastic dare to stand against his chaos. But their hold is tenuous, and they are only truly safe from his power within the bounds of their camp. King Jester grows more powerful and more dangerous with each passing day. But he's made one mistake. That mistake could be his undoing. He's stolen Toby's soul mate, Marley. When he discovers Marley's location, Toby knows what he has to do. He will rescue Marley, even if it means he has to face King Jester alone.

But the others don't let him go at it alone. Marley has information about the resistance. They can't afford to let him stay in King Jester's control. In desperation, the immortals raise an army to storm the compound. But will it be enough to challenge the embodiment of chaos himself? All they can do is hope. Hope and put their faith in love.


EXCERPT:

Moonlight swirled down, mingling with the very edges of the firelight. Coyote whipped a flask out of nothing and poured a messy drink into his mouth. Half of it went down the front of his jacket. "Anyone?" He offered it around, but no one moved. With a sigh, he put it back wherever it had come from. "Honestly, you'd think I was trying to kill you."

Madame Zerga scoffed. "Not you directly." She showed him an image on her mirror -- red eyes. "Lou's coming back soon."

Coyote sat straighter. "Lou?"

She nodded. "Soon. I thought I should do you the courtesy of warning you."

He nodded, slumping lower. But his shoulders never relaxed. "Thank you." He scooted closer to Toby. "We haven't been properly introduced, Tobias."

"Tragic."

Coyote's fangs caught the firelight when he grinned. "You have Madame Zerga's eyes."

"My mother."

"I know." He pulled even closer. "You go by Toby, right?"

"Yeah."

Coyote's voice could barely be called a whisper. It quivered out. But the words could have been shouted, for the way they slashed out at Toby. "You must be the one he talks about."

He's just trying to break you. Even knowing that, his reply rushed out, frantic. "Who?"

It couldn't be him. Couldn't. Coyote fixed his inhuman eyes on Toby. "Marley. My brother."

The fire didn't exist. It couldn't. Not if Toby could be this cold next to it. It had to be an illusion. He struggled to speak, his jaw just as frozen as everything else around him. He only managed one word. "Marley?"

Coyote nodded. "But he's not doing very well, right now."

"What?"

"Not well at all." He came so close when he whispered that Toby could feel the moist heat of his breath."I can show you, if you want."

"Yes." The word slipped out before Toby could even think about it

"Are you sure? It's gruesome and--"

Toby wanted to hit him, pull his hair, somehow hurt him. But he couldn't risk it. The others hadn't heard their exchange. He needed them all to stay ignorant. "Just do it, damn it."

TOUR STOPS:
Wednesday, August 13th: Voss Foster: Demon Hunting and Tenth Dimensional Physics (http://vossfoster.blogspot.com)
Thursday, August 14th: Siana Wineland: Siana's Place (http://www.sianawineland.com/)
Friday, August 15th: S.Evan Townsend: Writing Thoughts (http://blog.sevantownsend.com/)
Saturday, August 16th: Iyana Jenna: Iyana Jenna (http://iyanajenna.com/)
Sunday, August 17th: TR Goodman: trgoodman.net (http://www.trgoodman.net)
Monday, August 18th: T. Strange: T.Strange (http://tqstrange.blogspot.com/)
Tuesday, August 19th: Frances Pauli: Speculative Friction (http://francespauli.blogspot.com)
Wednesday, August 20th: Jennifer Willis: Jennifer Willis (http://jennifer-willis.com/)
Thursday, August 21st: Cathy Hird: Open One More (http://openonemore.com/)
Friday, August 22nd: J.J. DiBenedetto: Writing Dreams (http://writingdreams.net/)

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Flash Fiction: Face

She stretched from her sleep, brushing the cold satin canopy of her bed—a gift from a former lover. It took effort to pull herself from the depths of the silken sheets and pillows, but there was no hurry for her to go anywhere—no one would dare rush her. When she finally managed to get on her feet, the woman walked no more than a yard from her bedside and stopped. The mirror. There it stood behind the thick curtain, half a century of dust coating the folds of the fabric. A tear streaked down her face, following the scars and wrinkles, but she brushed it away—tears would do nothing for her.

She stalked to the old cabinet and her spine chattered in fear—the clasp hung loose between the doors. She reached a mangled, shivering hand out, pulled open one of the doors just enough to see inside and fell to her knees—painted porcelain shrapnel littered the lining of the cabinet. She had nothing without them. She reached up, opened the carved doors the rest of the way and burst into tears—the shards showered down around her, slicing her skin. She stared up, saw a single perfect face and reached for it, but to no avail—it was only a photograph.

No one could love you without a mask. Her father’s voice burned in her skull. Through the blurring rain of tears she grabbed pieces of pale china and jammed them against one another. Red trails cascaded from her hands, staining the floor and glass crimson.

She crawled across the sharp, broken doll faces and ripped away the curtain from her mirror. Dust exploded through the air, landing thick on her floor. That was the face no one knew, the face she kept hidden from the world. She smeared the blood across her skin, the red liquid pooling in the deep pockmarks and wrinkles.

Pulling her skin taut, she caught sight of the wine-stain birthmarks and painted them over with red—it was all she could do now. She clutched a larger piece of one of the masks, the smooth surface cool against her skin, and ran it along her forehead. More blood flooded down, dyeing her skin like a rose.

She couldn't afford a new face—all of her wealth came from suitors. All of her suitors came for the angelic beauty. Once, too many years ago to count, she may have gone outside to find work, but not now—no one would love her without a mask. So she let the blood flow.

Red would be her new visage.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Friday Writer Roundup: Microsoft Word


This week, I'm touching on something so ubiquitous in the modern writing world that it honestly didn't occur to me until now that I might want to do a feature on it. And, for once, my big, main selection isn't free. I, the master of frugality, am recommending that you pay for something out of your wordmonkey pittance of a salary. This week is word processors and for me, Microsoft Word is the alpha and the omega.



And it's not just because of my personal feelings. In general, if you intend to publish your work, it will probably, at one point, have to be in .doc format. It's just the way that the publishing industry works.

But aside from that Microsoft Word has been around for quite a while, and that's let it learn a few tricks. Aside from being a moderately simple word processor (Honestly, you don't normally touch 80% of the tools provided in the program.), it has Track Changes. Nowadays, most word processors have a Track Changes feature. This lets you (or someone else) make changes to a document without deleting the original, so that you, the author, can make a decision on how to change things, or whether you should change them at all.

Word's Track Changes feature is just better. I've tried many over the years, but Word's is the most user-friendly, the simplest, and the clearest. It may not seem like a big thing but, at least for this writer, a good, reliable Track Changes is very, very important. And Word also has a decent, though not perfect, spell check (I wouldn't trust the grammar checker a far as I could throw it, however… and given that it's just a string of ones and zeroes, that isn’t far.) and is very easy to use for basic formatting changes (Alignment, font size, italics, bold, et cetera.).

The biggest downside, of course, is the price. It's… steep. Not Photoshop steep, but steep for what amounts to an electronic sheet of paper. But I wouldn't switch to another program for a hundred bars of chocolate. And that, my friends, is saying something. I do love me some chocolate.

As always, there are alternatives. The big competitor is Scrivener. It's billed as a tool specifically for fiction writers. It includes planning and organizing tools for your notes, your plots, your chapters. All that good stuff. Personally, though? I can't stand Scrivener. A lot of my writer friends use it, and it works wonders for them. I just can't. It makes me want to throw things.

Another program that I recommend, despite my somewhat checkered past with it, is Open Office. And this one's actually free. It's designed to fill the void for people who can't get their hands on Microsoft Office for whatever reason, and it can actually save files in .doc format. However, I have had issues with it changing formatting when saving in a foreign file type like that. Putting whole paragraphs in all caps and such like that. I've also talked to a lot of people about that, and I seem to be the only one who ever had that issue. So take that as you will.

Aside from those big three, there are some interesting little processors scattered around, including Word's former competitor, Corel WordPerfect. You won't hear much about it anymore, but it still has a fairly faithful following. It's really not that much different from word, aside from having more control available for internal formatting and saving as a weird file type no publisher will touch. OmmWriter is one of a new school of word processors, designed for meditative writing and, theoretically, to help you enter the all important flow state. And another one I found and intend to play with is Q10. Perhaps that will, at long last, unseat Word as the crux of my writing. We'll see.

Any word processors you love that I missed? Let me know, and be sure to subscribe for more, and to see how my relationship with Q10 goes.


Voss

Monday, August 4, 2014

Shifting Gears

Lord, I have terrible titles, don't I? But it works.

See, with 'The Jester Prince' coming next Wednesday, and the third book just waiting for a single editing pass before I send it in to Prizm Books, I feel like playing somewhere else. I've been in the circus for a long time and I loved every second of it. But now... it's just time for a change.

I have a few projects still to be worked on, of course. My book about marionettes. My air pirate adventure novella. My big sci-fi series. And some smaller things, of course. Shorts and such. But lately, I've been bombarded with new ideas. Not all of them will turn out to be viable in the near future, but I'm confident that all of them can be placed, when the time comes.

I'll be sad to see the circus go, and I won't see it again, other than my final edits, until close to when book three comes out. Do I think it will be my last circus book? Well, I just have an answer for that one. It could be. Or not. I don't even know if it's going to be the last time I play in that world, yet. It's all up in the air.

What I have are possibilities. And those are good things to have.

Voss