Wednesday, October 7, 2015

3rd Annual #NAMEthatBUTT: Round 1, Bonus Quote!

Guess the Butt, and then Guess the book (hint -- it was written by me) from which this quote was taken! Or just guess the book, and you'll still score your bonus 2 points for this round!

Her auburn hair hung loose down her back, myrtle flowers floating in the soft curls like gulls on the sea. A scallop-shell pendant rested at the hollow of her throat, and sparrows and doves darted around her feet, picking at the crumbs of past offerings. Strange that I had never met her before, but I wished that she had not dedicated herself to the gods. Perhaps Menelaus might have fallen in love with her, instead.

“Do you feel so ill-used? The most beautiful woman alive, with a brother who loves you well—Pollux will never forsake you. And a man who would offer you the same, though you spurn him.” She seemed to look right through me, pinning me to the earth. “Is there someone else you would prefer over Menelaus? You have only to name him and he will be delivered.”

“No.” I rose to my feet. I did not like the way she spoke of Menelaus, as if he were nothing more than a convenience. “I ask nothing of these gods. Let Menelaus love me for his own reasons, or better yet, not at all.”

Name that Book, and while you're at it, go ahead and Name that Butt, too! (You know you want to!) Drop your guesses in the comments --they're moderated so no one will see your answer but me-- and join the fun!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The 3rd Annual #NAMEthatBUTT Challenge begins October 6th!

Artemis/Diana's beautiful backside in motion!
Join me over at for some mythic sculpture fun beginning October 6th, and test your knowledge of mythology with the 3rd Annual #NAMEthatBUTT Challenge!

This year the games will cross over to this blog, as well, with some bonus clues appearing here, as called for -- I'll be using quotes from my books which relate to the butts in question, and if you guess which book I'm quoting from, you'll get a bonus two points for that week's round! (Spoiler: you can safely eliminate the Orc Saga books from these events -- so if you want to prepare by reading up, focus your attentions on HELEN OF SPARTA, and my Fate of the Gods trilogy!) As a result, you can expect this blog to be mostly finely sculpted backsides for the immediate future, and regularly scheduled posting will likely not resume until next year. (Words to write! Holidays to Holi! etc, etc.)

And since the games are coming, I thought it would be a good idea to post the rules for those of you who might be new to this greatest of adventures, just in case you want to play along!

  • Comments will be moderated.  You will NOT see your comment appear immediately after posting! 
  • I post a butt and clues at on Tuesday, you guess who that butt belongs to in the comments yonder. If you guess right, you get 5 points. 
  • There may be a bonus clue posted on Wednesdays over at -- when applicable they will be announced on Tuesday in the main post and instructions for how to bonus it up will be included in the bonus post!
  • If you CORRECTLY identify the artistic work (title/artist) in question, you earn a bonus 5 points total: 2.5 for title, 2.5 for artist. (Provided of course, that it differs from the subject's name alone and the artist is known at all)
  • The following Friday, I reveal the full backside image of the sculpture in question! If at this time you can correctly identify artist/title/subject of the piece, you can earn up to 3 points (total -- 1 point for artist, 1 point for title, 1 point for subject) 
  • You may guess artist/title/subject/book from which I've quoted until the next round of NAME THAT BUTT begins. (Usually the next Tuesday -- I'll reveal the previous week's sculpture and offer the next butt for guessing!)
  • I'll keep a running tally of correct answers/points.
  • For Olympians, Greek AND Roman names are acceptable for the subject guesses. For example, if the butt belongs to Mercury, I will also accept Hermes as a correct answer. Titles of works must be exact, however.
  • A new NAME THAT BUTT may NOT be posted every week, depending on Things, but it's my hope they will be. 
  • There will be Prizes at the finish. They will be shipped internationally. I haven't decided what they'll be yet, but for sure they will include #NAMEthatBUTT postcards/stickers.
I do hope you'll join us in the fun!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Tales from the Edit Cave

I'm still in developmental edits (Round 2) for Helen the Sequel (we're still working on the title!) and hoping to wrap that up today. NEXT Wednesday, I'll be taking the day off from this blog, but for a reason! At the end of September/early October I'm hoping I can put together a new #NameThatButt game, which will cross-over from my Amalia Dillin blog, GOOD TO BEGIN WELL, BETTER TO END WELL with some fun clues from my (myth-related) books. So fans of HELEN OF SPARTA, I hope you'll come play along!

In the meantime, I'm running a promotion for my romantic fantasy series -- HONOR AMONG ORCS is just 99 cents for the next two days, and I've reduced the pre-order price of BLOOD OF THE QUEEN, too, to entice readers during the sale -- so if you think you might be interested in reading the non-historical-fiction side of me, now's a good time to take a very small risk for what could (potentially/hopefully) be great rewards!

And with all of that said, I'm climbing back into my cave to edit, edit, edit!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015


New rug, new work space, new books, and new adventures!

Well, okay, maybe not entirely new (seriously this desk came with us from North Dakota, where we bought it second, or possibly third hand off of a fellow student, and that chair is a hand me down from my sister's residency in this same house -- I think 4 out of 5 of my siblings have lived here at one point in time or another, and we all left something behind -- but we did finally reorganize and relocate it all so I have a new-semi-temporary space to work that isn't "that armchair in the living room"!) because I'm editing Helen The Sequel, still, after all -- but I'm definitely exploring some different options. At the moment I can neither confirm nor deny anything relating to the topic of the next book I'll be working on because I'm still a little up in the air on what I want to write!

But I *will* be doing some serious reading in the near future! For research and pleasure and um... pleasure research? (Research pleasure? Whatever! I just like Norse stuff, okay?!)

And now I'm back to the edit/research cave!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The Process: Developmental Edits

So since last week I talked a little bit about what I *want* to write, I thought maybe I'd stick with the theme and talk a little bit today about a step that comes after the *want* and before the Published-For-Your-Reading-Pleasure: Developmental Editing!

I never did give you guys a good look at Theseus Candy Land!
Much like Developmental Edits, this is only the beginning.
Here's a thing you should know about Developmental Edits -- they're my most favorite part of the editing process. I love getting the letter and digging in to find out what I can do to make my book better. Developmental Edits (or Structural Edits), are the bigger, macro level elements. How do I make my character's motivations stronger, or where do I need to cull some of the sag to keep the book moving because my pacing has faltered? It's about the broad strokes more than the line level issues. That said, there are usually some line level pieces that get tagged along the way, if they jump out, and I address those, too.

But the first thing I do is read everything. The letter, and any and all comments in the manuscript, and then the letter again. As I go through the manuscript comments the first time, I do all the easy fixes -- the line level things that popped up here or there, or anything that can be addressed with just a quick line or a clarification. I try not to get sucked into reading the book itself. (This is always a challenge at this stage -- less of one later, when I'm sick of staring at the screen and agonizing over commas.)

Once I've gotten all the easy fixes out of the way, I reread the developmental edit letter -- which kind of highlights the big things that were awesome or need fixing where more than just a comment bubble is needed to get the point across. I make myself a little list of the big issues, either in a new document, or by highlighting in the letter itself, so I can see EXACTLY what needs doing. (I've been fortunate with HELEN and her sequel in that the manuscript has been pretty solid, but with my other books, there have definitely been times when I had to throw out huge tracts of the manuscript or rewrite from the ground up.)

At this point, I do the surgical strikes. The "this chapter didn't work for x reason, please fix" kind of problems. I skip into the chapter (or maybe the chapter just before to make sure I'm grounded) and dig into that issue. The isolated issues are the easiest -- but sometimes even the issues that SEEM isolated have ripple effects throughout the rest of the manuscript, so I try to keep that in mind, and add it to my list as necessary.

Once ALL the spot treatments are out of the way, I go back to the beginning of the manuscript with the BIGGEST of those identified and issues firmly in mind -- the overarching stuff that requires me to attentively look at every chapter for either the whole book, or a considerable swath -- and I start rereading and nipping and tucking and adding and tweaking as necessary. As I fix a thing in my list, I cross it out or delete it. That way I don't lose track of what I'm doing or forget any piece of the edit puzzle.

There have definitely been times when after reading a developmental edit my kneejerk first response has been "No! I can't DO that! What! How am I supposed to make that happen?!" (Even for HELEN -- before she found a home a Lake Union, when I was only a fledgling author!) But in the next breath, my brain is already whirring and spinning with ideas for how I CAN make it work or otherwise address the issue, and by the next day or the day after, I have a plan of attack. It might not be what the editor had in mind or suggested, but I always end up finding away to approach the problematic element, even if it seems impossible at first.

And that's that! I hope you enjoyed this kind of behind the scenes peek into the editing process!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

What I Want to Write

These last couple of weeks as I've been researching different people and periods and places for something that might become A Book, I've been thinking a lot about what I want to accomplish as an author of historical fiction. What drives me to choose one story over another? To choose one person or place over another? What do I want to tie my books together when/if I eventually break away from the Bronze Age?

I hadn't really given it a lot of thought, but as I was researching, wrinkling my nose at this person or that period, it kind of jumped out at me. One of the things I tried to do with HELEN already, and would really like to continue to do, is give voice to people (in a serious and respectful way) who we, in the west, have been quicker to dismiss -- to acknowledge that perhaps these other, older cultures and people DID have their own meaningful experiences with the numinous or some greater spiritual power.

And maybe sometimes this means writing a book about Joan of Arc, who no one believed heard the voice of God (unless it was politically expedient, of course). Maybe it calls for a book about Ramesses the Great and Moses (both of whom, in that moment, must have felt sorely tested in their faith.) Or maybe it means writing books about Greek heroes who actually really are the sons and daughters of Olympians. And maybe it means digging into the Icelandic Sagas, and exploring the complicated relationships that the Icelanders and the Norse had with their gods, or the struggle to reconcile their old faith to the new one, when the White Christ came.

It's important to acknowledge the experiences and the beliefs of the people who came before us, and while we can't ever know for certain how real or imagined any god is or was, I want to be truthful to what the people of these times, these cultures, believed they were. Not just out of respect for the past, but for the present, too. Because there is still today, a great diversity of faith, and maybe by reading about it in the past, we'll have an easier time embracing it in the here and now.

I don't know if I'll always have the opportunity to write these kinds of books, of course -- but they're certainly the stories that make my fingers itch the most!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Helen Part II!

The biggest news around these parts -- HELEN OF SPARTA officially has a sequel in the works!!

Right now that's all I can tell you, but I look forward to sharing more about Helen II with all of you! Like, you know, a title, or a release date, or a cover, or even *gasp* the book!

But in the meantime, my other self is releasing the second book of a different series this fall, so if you like high fantasy, and you need something to tide you over... Well, you might venture on over to check it out!

This summer has been non-stop go go go go go, so I'm going to leave you with just the GOOD NEWS of Helen The Second for now. I hope it thrills you as much as it thrills me!