Friday, September 12, 2014

Friday Writer Roundup: Tomato.es



Last year during NaNoWriMo, my Co-ML came up with an ingenious method to make our Nanites work their tails off. She started us off sprinting. Short bursts of writing (10-20 minutes) intermixed with 5-10 minute breaks. It was a way to show the Nanites who were 'too busy' that they only needed to devote an hour or two a day, whenever they could get it in. Fifteen minutes here, ten minutes there. Turns out, of course, that it wasn't an original idea, but she hadn't heard of it when she came up with it, so it was a totally awesome little brain-baby.



Well, I found something just as good, and it has it's own website. Today, I bring you the Pomodoro Technique, and a free supporting website, Tomato.es. The basis of Pomodoro is to increase productivity with the same basic principles that make sprinting work: concentrated periods of work, interspersed with regular breaks.

You work for twenty-five minutes, then mark off that twenty-five minute work session and move on to a five minute break. After four sets of twenty-five, you take a fifteen minute break. And it's that simple. It sounds a little strange, but it really works. Not only do you write words, but you condition yourself to write a lot of words in a short amount of time. I mean, you only have twenty-five minutes to work right now. You can't rely on more. So you'd better bang out some words. When you then don't use the Pomodoro Technique, you'll find that you're writing words faster in general, hence increasing overall productivity.

It's that simple. And the Internet is full of so many ways to work it. There are even apps you can download to help you, such as Pomodroido, Pomodoro Timer, and the desktop compatible, and very unobtrusive Tomighty. Or , of course, you can do it the simple and cheap way and just watch the clock, or use one of the thousand online timers out there. But if you, like me, would rather cut back on your workload as much as possible, and you have access to the Internet, you'll be best off with Tomato.es.


Voss

Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Big Reveal

I think it's time for this. It's been a long time coming, but I think it's really, truly time to make the final announcement.

See, I live a double life. The one you've seen, Voss Foster's life, is the one that most people see. It's basically accurate, minus a few personal details I would simply rather not share. But everyone has those.

However, there's a whole separate life that I've been... not hiding, but certainly not making clearly public information.

I am Raven de Hart, author of gay erotica and erotic romance. Since the inclusion of her as a pen name, I have kept it mostly on the down low. My writer and reader friends know, for the most part, but that's about where it ends.

Until today. I made a statement about it on the Torquere Twitter account this morning, and just put up a corroborating statement on my Twitter account. So it's out in the open. I am a singular person, yes. But I have two brands, for lack of a better term. This way, no one accidentally picks up a steamy erotic book, not expecting it from Voss Foster. And it works in reverse--they know that, if it says Raven de Hart on the cover, it's not going to be PG.

So there it is: the secret is out in the open. I feel liberated: no more hiding anything, now. I am free. We are free?

There's freedom, at any rate.

Voss

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.