What I’m Writing Wednesdays: Week One

I’m going to try this, and we’ll see how long I stick to it. The goal here is to share a snippet of whatever I’m working on every Wednesday. I really do want to try to establish a more regular blogging schedule. One more thing on the interminable to-do list, I guess. :)

For this week’s “What I’m Writing Wednesday,” I thought I’d share the opening lines of NETHER. I shared it on Facebook this morning as well. I’m kind of surprised by how emotional I am over this book. Highs and lows, and the knowledge that I’m going to be both excited (because I can’t wait to share this story with you guys) and sad to see HIDDEN end. The words “I am Molly Brooks…” have been part of my life for four years now, since Molly became Molly in that third draft of what became “Lost Girl.” It’ll feel kind of weird to start a novel without them.

Without further ado, here are the beginning lines of NETHER:

 

My name is Molly Brooks.

Not many know me by that name.

To them, I’m the Angel.

Superhero.

Goddess.

I can’t even think either of those two words with a straight face.

And yet, here I am.

The people of my city are becoming accustomed to seeing me soaring in, wearing my customary black, and punching whoever needs to get punched.

They’ve seen me freeze troublemakers with a word.

And they believe the spin our government has put out about me.

It helps them sleep better at night.

What they don’t know, in general, is that the villains don’t listen to me out of fear or respect.

They listen because they can’t not listen. Because I have control of their mind and actions, and that unless they’re mentally strong, they don’t have a chance in hell of fighting back.

They don’t know that I can steal the abilities of those around me, that I feed off of emotions and power. They don’t know that, should I ever lose my mind, there’s not a whole lot that can stop me.

Lucky for them, I have no goddamn intention of losing myself again. Ever.

I have fought my way back from death. Torture. I have been at the edge of the abyss, and I’m still here.

I have been captive. I have had to fight for myself. I have been bonded to the immortals, possessed by an angry primordial being. And where she was, where Nether lived in my soul, I feel emptiness now.

And I welcome it. 

For the first time in my entire life, I am learning exactly what I am. Who I am.

I was a lost girl.

I was a freak.

Widow.

Monster.

Goddess.

Prison.

Hero.

And, now, I’m figuring out what it means to be me, to live by my own terms, to stop dancing to the tune set by those who came before me.

My life.

And I swear on everything I am that I am going to make it a good one.

that I’m going to be the hero I’ve always wanted to be.

The woman I want to be.

I am done playing games,

being afraid,

fighting what I am.

This is my life. 

And there will be no help for those who try to take it from me.

 

The book is almost done! About one more week of writing, then a couple of weeks of editing and tweaking. I am a bundle of nerves and emotions right now.

I’ll have another installment of EARTH BOUND for my newsletter lovelies on Friday. Have a great day!

Molly and Eunomia

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Forgive me for going all “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic” here on you. (My kids LOVE that show, and so do I.) 

This post was inspired by seeing Susan (hi, Susan!) post on Facebook that Molly and Eunomia were two of her favorite book besties. I was happy to see that, because as much as I love writing the romantic relationships in my books, writing those friend and family relationships is just as enjoyable. Every time I get to write E and Molly together, it’s a treat. Honestly, I would like to write many more E scenes than I have, because she’s a fun character and her back story is amazing. I do have an idea for that, but that would be something to think about when Nether is finished.

Which should be in the next couple of weeks. I hope.

Anyway, back to Molly and E. What I love about both of them is the fact that they are each very experienced in certain aspects of life, and not at all experienced in others. For example, you have E, who has been around for thousands of years. She’s seen every facet of death and destruction you can imagine, and some we probably can’t. Her entire existence has been about duty, about fulfilling the things she was created to do. Interpersonal relationships, leisure time, basic, simple things, are things she has just about zero experience with until Molly comes into her life.

And then, there’s Molly. Who has lived in the mortal realm, who has had love and loss and hate and all of the normal things she’s taken for granted. As we learned in Strife, there are several things (ahem) Molly had done that E hadn’t. But for all of her human experience, Molly knows next to nothing about the world she really comes from. It’s all new to her, as is the fact that she isn’t at all what she thought she was.

So in their own ways, I feel like Molly and E are both kind of stumbling along. The great thing is that they have one another to lean on when they need to.

I really wanted to write a female friendship that had just about zero to do with anyone or anything other than the two women involved. I didn’t want any of the cattiness or stupidity over men or competing over nonsense that it seems many female relationships in the media are centered around. And even when things potentially could have gotten weird between the two of them (again, in Strife) the loyalty they have to one another surpassed any of that.

In addition to those heartwarming moments, I have to admit that writing Molly and E fighting side-by-side is a lot of fun for me.

I think what I wanted to get across with all of the relationships in the series is that things are complicated. Even with people you love. Even with people you hate. Feelings are not simple and as a result, neither are relationships. People screw up. People change. It’s the foundation of love and trust that two people have between them that determines whether the relationship will last.

And if Molly and E’s relationship has a bit of complexity to it, we haven’t even gotten into Brennan and Nain’s friendship yet. We may need a professional on hand to tackle that one. :)

Side Note: Earth Bound

This week’s installment of Earth Bound went out this afternoon. I hope you enjoy it!

 

Have a great weekend!

RT Book Reviews: 4.5 Star Review for STRIFE!

I just had to share this with you. I mentioned it on my Twitter and Facebook pages a while ago, I but I just realized I hadn’t mentioned it here. The lovely Jill Smith from RT Book Reviews (who also reviewed HOME and gave it an amazing 4.5 out of 5 stars) published this awesome review of STRIFE in the September issue. Check it out!

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How about that? I still grin like an idiot every time I read this review. :)

Have a great day, all. Newsletter subscribers: you’ll have this week’s Earth Bound in your inboxes sometime tomorrow afternoon, most likely.

Sneak Peek: Nether

I am celebrating getting over a rough patch with Nether… by sharing a sneak peek of Nether! Enjoy!

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I was finishing up, talking to a few of the people from the neighborhood, when I noticed the black SUV pulling up to the curb. I suppressed a groan. This would be my government counterparts. I’d avoided them as long as I could, apparently. I had to give Bren credit: he’d kept them off of me longer than I thought he’d be able to.

I watched as Ross and one of his underlings got out of the SUV, and noted Brennan climbing out of the passenger side. One look at him told me all I needed to know, even if I couldn’t sense emotions: the man was pissed. That tightness in his jaw, the cold glare he sent in Ross’s direction.

Either Ross was a really good actor, extremely confident, or totally clueless, since he didn’t seem to realize that he was in bodily danger.

Personally, I voted for clueless.

I moved away from the Normals. This probably wasn’t a conversation they needed to hear. I was relieved that they didn’t insist on coming with me, trying to hear what we were saying. They were taking me at my word that it would be handled, and there aren’t even words to express how crazy that still is to me. And when Heph arrived and they all flocked to him, I had to smile. The man was probably even more popular than I was. He was, after all, the one who got the lights back on and life back to normal. He gave me a wink before I turned back toward Ross and his guys.

“Angel,” Ross said as he approached.

“Agent Ross,” I said, with just as much warmth in my tone as he’d had. I had to wonder how he ever got his job. The man had the personality of a damp rag. His men alway looked either bored or confused, and usually both.

I glanced at Brennan, who was still shooting Ross looks that would have made me cower, even knowing Bren would never hurt me.

“As you can see, there is absolutely nothing for us to do here, unless you count getting in the way as being productive,” Brennan said. The other agent, who I wasn’t familiar with, chuffed out a breath in a sound that might have been a laugh. “I know you need to feel important here, Ross, but you’re useless unless you want to help Heph shovel some of that mess out of the way so he can fix the sewers.”

“No one asked you, Matthews,” Ross snarled. “So this is another immortal doing this?” he barked at me, and I raised my eyebrow.

“Yes.”

“And what are you doing about it? Because from what I see, you have your pals fixing the messes, yet I don’t see you out there doing what you’re supposed to do.”

“And what is it you think I’m supposed to do?” I asked, shooting Brennan a glance.

“You’re supposed to be out chasing it down, not standing around here basking in the glow of your fame,” he said, and I stared at him.

“Basking? Really?” I said.

“You love it. The adoration. And for what? As long as you’ve been with us, you haven’t done shit beyond give press conferences.”

Before I could react, Brennan had Ross by the front of his shirt, his face inches from the shorter, thinner man’s.

“You have no clue. You have no idea what she does every single day to keep everyone, including your smarmy ass, safe. Because she doesn’t go around advertising every single action she takes the way you do. And considering that you came to her, begging for her help,” he continued as Ross struggled to get out of his grip, “I’d suggest showing her a little fucking respect.” He released Ross with a look of disgust and turned back to me.

I watched in amusement as Ross took a few steps away from Brennan, shooting him looks as he straightened his tie. It was rare for Brennan to actually show that he was pissed. Usually, by the time he was pissed off enough to act, it was too late for whoever had pissed him off to save themselves.

“Any other agent would have been written up for insubordination for shit like that, Matthews,” Ross said, pointing a trembling finger at Brennan which did absolutely nothing to help regain the appearance of control. The other agent was standing next to Brennan, arms crossed over his chest, looking more than pleased with the turn of events. Honestly, he looked like a kid at an ice cream parlor or something.

I liked him. I sensed for him, and felt his good mood over seeing his boss shown his true place. Respect for me and Brennan, and undertone of concern for the circumstances. He was a Normal, but unlike Ross, he didn’t seem perpetually freaked out by all of this.

“Yeah, well. I’m not just any agent, am I, Ross? And we all know you’re on your way out. I wonder who’ll replace you when you’re canned,” Bren said with a smirk.

I glanced at him. “Seriously?”

He grinned at me. “It’s all but a done deal. The higher-ups think he’s made more than a few missteps, the main of which is that he doesn’t understand a damn thing about how the supernatural community works because he’s lazily relied on my reports all these years.”

I smiled. “So why not put the man who actually knows shit in charge, right? Finally.”

He laughed. “And they’re not happy with the way he’s treated you. You wouldn’t know it from the interactions you’ve had, mostly with him,” he said, gesturing toward Ross, who was standing there seething, “but you have a ton of fans in the agency and in higher levels as well. Pissing you off is not something anyone wants to do.”

“Well, congratulations. It’ll be a vast improvement.”

“Yeah, it will,” Bren said, nodding. I had to laugh. There was that cockiness, that self-assuredness I hadn’t seen since before Nain died. His gaze met mine, and he nodded once before looking away.

“It’s not a done deal, Matthews,” Ross said.

I rolled my eyes and turned away from Ross, and Brennan followed suit. “So it looks like the same as the last one. Heph is making the repairs now to limit any chaos,” I said to Bren. We started walking toward where Heph was, Ross trailing behind us like a cranky toddler, the other agent at Bren’s side. “These people should have the lights on and water running within a few hours at most,” I said, and Brennan nodded.

“Give me a little fuckin’ credit, queenie,” Heph called from the ditch Demeter had cleared around the broken sewer pipe. “An hour, tops.”

I grinned, and the assembled Normals cheered. Bren and I exchanged a glance.

“He’s loving this, isn’t he?” he asked quietly as we kept walking.

“Every single moment,” I answered, and he laughed.

“I’ll keep looking,” I continued. “Jamie sent me the reports she ran, and this  is right in line with what she predicted from the pollution stats. I’ll start monitoring the next few probable sites.”

“I can put some men on them, too, so we can cover more of the possibilities.”

“I’d appreciate it, thanks,” I said. “I really miss the imps at times like this. They were freaking masters at surveillance.”

Brennan reached over and took my hand, gave it a squeeze. “You’ll get them back. Have you seen them at all?”

I shook my head. “Once Nether’s around, I probably will.”

I heard another car approaching and turned to watch. It was another black SUV, and Jamie and another government guy climbed out. Brennan nudged me with his arm.

“Listen,” he said, meeting my eyes. I nodded.

I heard Brennan’s voice in my mind. This is Director Petersen. He’s in charge of homeland security now. Ross’s boss. Also a huge fan of yours.

“Thanks,” I said softly, and he nodded.

“Agent Matthews,” Petersen said, walking up to Brennan, hand extended.

He was a good looking man. Early to mid-forties, maybe. Tall and broad, muscular. Blond hair, blue eyes. He could have been related to Brennan, from looking at the two of them.

And he was a warlock.

“Director Petersen,” Bren replied, shaking the man’s hand. It didn’t go unnoticed that Petersen addressed Brennan, and not Ross. “I’d like to introduce you to the Angel,” he said, nodding toward me.

Petersen turned to me with a smile. “Finally! I’ve been looking forward to meeting you and thanking you in person for all of the help you‘ve given us.”

“Thank you,” I said, shaking his hand. I sensed for him. Respect. As I studied him, I watched as his eyes took in the scene around us, noting Heph working on the pipes, the Normals standing around. “I admit I was not excited to join up, but other than a bit of unpleasantness, I’m glad Agent Matthews convinced me to work with you,” I said.

Petersen nodded, and his gaze landed on Ross. “Yes. As far as the unpleasantness. I am sorry about that.”

I nodded.

“You will meet with me at nine tomorrow, Ross,” Petersen said, and Ross gave a terse nod.

“What was that?” Petersen asked in a mild voice.

“Yes, sir,” Ross grated.

“Good.” Then Petersen turned back to me. “I can’t believe how fast you and your friends get things back to normal. This would be a giant pain in the ass otherwise.”

“Instead, it’s just mildly terrifying,” I said, and Petersen laughed.

“You know who’s doing this, I assume? Agent Matthews has been typically tight-lipped about anything related to you.”

I shot a glance at Brennan, who was watching me. “And I appreciate that. As you’ve undoubtedly heard, I like as little interference as possible when I’m working.”

“Absolutely. All I need to know is that you know what’s going on and you’re working on it.”

“And I am,” I assured him. “This isn’t something any of your agents could deal with. It has to be me.”

Petersen surveyed the area. “I can see that. It is mind-blowing.”

I nodded. “I’m working on tracking the being responsible down. Hopefully we can stop this from happening again. It’s my top priority right now, in addition to tracking down the being who destroyed Hart Plaza the other day.”

“Two separate beings, then? I was hoping it was all the work of one insane, powerful supernatural,” Petersen said.

“Nah. That would be too easy, director,” I said, and he laughed. “I know who they are, and it is something my friends and I are uniquely suited to handle, and we will.”

“You have my eternal gratitude, Angel,” Petersen said. “If there is anything at all I can do for you, please don’t hesitated to contact me.” He reached into the inner pocket of his blazer and pulled out a business card.

“I will. Thank you,” I said. I was getting antsy. Too much talking, not enough smashing. And every second I stood around, one or the other of my two foremost troublemakers were undoubtedly preparing to do something else insane. I turned to Brennan.

“I need to get going,” I said.

He nodded. “Thanks again. I’ll stick around in case there are any questions.”

I nodded, then excused myself and walked out of the Normals’ line of sight, between two large trucks parked in the otherwise empty lot.  I focused on the house Nain and I had moved into, and felt that familiar sensation of being pulled apart, cell by cell, until I came back together again in the kitchen of our flat.

I had to track down my insane Titan. I had to stop her from doing this again, no matter how much I agreed with her in general. I had Jamie’s reports, and I had Brennan’s promise of help for recon.

What I really needed now was a tracker, someone who knew what to look for.

And I knew just who to ask. Assuming she wasn’t busy babysitting just then.

 

 

Nether will be out in November! I’ll undoubtedly have a few more sneak peeks between now and then. :) I hope you enjoyed it!

 

On Giving Myself Writer’s Block

Hidden_Nether_FullSize-640x1024I’m going to say up front that I don’t believe in writer’s block as some mystical, unexplainable force that just sets upon guileless authors, holding their words captive until it is appeased via blood or tears, or maybe both.

No. Writer’s block is just a name for a bunch of other common, everyday shit. Procrastination. Boredom. Insecurity.

Fear.

And that’s the one that got me. Fear. Fear that I would wrap up Hidden, and my readers, those lovely, amazing, gorgeous people who have followed Molly and company through five books and two novellas (at the time the series ends) will be left shaking their heads.

Fear that I’ll let them down.

Fear that I won’t do these characters justice.

When it comes down to it, fear that I’m just goddamned not good enough to pull it off the way I want to.

I had an outline. And then another outline. And another. Notes scrawled in notebooks, on Post-Its. I screwed around, writing anything but Nether, not because I don’t want to, not because I don’t love writing these characters more than anything I’ve ever written.

But because I totally psyched myself out. This book is the LAST ONE. It must be PERFECT. It must be the jaw-dropping, mind-blowing, “holy shit!” climax that I want it to be.

Uh. No wonder writing was impossible. Way to set the bar impossibly high, eh?

So I made myself take a few steps back. I thought about what my readers love about these books, and, maybe more importantly, I made myself remember what it is that I love about them:

  • Endless action
  • Strong personalities
  • Emotional insanity
  • Love and sexytimes
  • Heartbreak and loss
  • Molly, Nain, Brennan, etc.

That’s what I love about the series. Those are the things that have brought the series to just under half a million words (I’m guessing) by the time Nether is published.

People say things like “I needed to get back to my roots” when they’re talking about creativity, and I found that I had to do the same thing so I could move forward with Nether. I know that my readers’ expectations for the book are pretty high. Believe me when I say that mine are even higher. But nothing is going to get written if I freeze under expectations.

I write because it’s fun. When I feel myself getting crazy, numb with fear and insecurity, I need to try to remind myself of that: this should be fun. At its best, it is so much fun it almost feels criminal.

The good news is: writing Nether is fun again, and it’s moving forward nicely. Next time I feel myself slipping into the mindset I’ve had the last couple of weeks, I’ll try to remember to tell myself to have fun. That’s what it’s all about. :)

On Reading

I was thinking a while back, trying to remember what the initial inspiration for Hidden was, after my mother-in-law asked me how I came up with it.

It wasn’t any one thing. I can point to definite influences:

The action-packed, emotional, angst-ridden feel that Marjorie Liu attained in her run writing Marvel’s X-23.

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The bleakness and sense of foreboding, as well as the passion, in Wuthering Heights.

My home city of Detroit. You can’t spend 36 years of your life in a place and not have it impact your worldview, your creativity.

Wonder Woman’s goodness, kindness, and take-no-bullshit brand of badassery.

 

 

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Greek mythology. Obviously.

So it was partially inspired by all of these, and I think readers who are familiar with any of the above can probably see how they have influenced my work.

But it’s not just those things. Those are the more obvious, outward manifestations of what inspired me: mood, personality, tone.

The more I thought about it, the more determined I became to figure out what tied it all together, what thing it was in my past that made me come up with Molly and the crew.

And finally, it came to me.

Jane Eyre.

It didn’t hit me until yesterday, but I owe a ton to Charlotte Bronte. Stay with me here.

  • Young woman raised in really crappy circumstances, who learns that she can only rely on herself? Check.
  • Young woman grows to be caring, responsible, and kind, despite that crappy childhood? Check.
  • Woman grows up and is determined to make her own way, to live by her own terms as much as she possibly can in her situation? Check.
  • Woman finds love in an extremely unexpected place, with a man who seems wrong for her? Check.
  • Man fucks up majorly, losing the woman? Check.
  • Woman moves on from heartbreak, and learns how strong she truly is? Oh, hell yes.

I didn’t do this on purpose, and, as I said above, I didn’t even realize Jane Eyre (though it’s one of my favorite books) had an influence on the series at all, other than Molly mentioning that it was one of her favorite books in Strife. This is just the unexpected, almost-magical way creativity works. This is why any writer who knows anything will tell aspiring writers (and established ones, as well) that they must be readers, that they need to fill their minds with stories, characters, tropes, and settings. Not to copy them. Not to be a second-rate anybody — but to provide a wealth of amazing things that come together with your own unique experiences and viewpoint to make something totally new. Something no one else would come up with. Two people could live in the same area, read the same books, and still create amazingly different work.

Stephen King said it best:

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You just never know what is going to end up inspiring you. And the things you learn about language and the amazing things it can do just can’t be learned any other way.

With that, I’m going to go read for a while. Have a great day, all!

 

Week in Review, 6/1 – 6/8

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Last week was a busy one! I feel like I’m getting my feet back under me after the release of Strife. Book releases are emotional for me. I’m excited, nervous, relieved, and just generally happy. I get knocked off of my routine a little, but the past week, I’ve been getting back to normal.

Writing

I’ve finally got my plot tangles sorted out for Nether, which is a huge relief. This is the third version of the outline, and I finally feel like I’ve got it right. I’ve been back to work on it, in fits and starts, and it feels right. Now, to just get it written! :)

Heph’s book hasn’t been progressing much, but I’m not overly worried about that. I worked on Shanti’s book when I felt like it, and that worked out pretty well. The first installment is ready to come out on Friday, and I have no doubt that as I get into flow with writing Nether, the same will happen with Heph’s book.

I’ve also started a new, not Hidden-related project. Right now, I’m just having fun with it, and we’ll see if it turns into anything.

Reading

I am on a Nora Roberts kick lately. Mostly, I’m in awe of her. The woman has written over 200 books, and her knack for describing people and settings is amazing. I started out reading Dark Witch, which is the first book in her Cousins O’Dwyer Trilogy (and I loved it — definitely recommended!) and then I followed it up with her “Night” series, all of which are also really good. I don’t read a lot of romantic suspense, but I should. It’s a nice change of pace, even if it does feel weird to be reading something without sexy shifters or demons in it. :)

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Other than that, I’ve just been enjoying the warm weather and time with my family. It’s looking like we’ll have a good gardening year (sometimes, you can just tell.) I have daisies, salvia, catmint, irises, and poppies blooming now, and the vegetable and herb garden are starting to produce as well.

We went to a Detroit Tigers game on Thursday, and that was a lot of fun, even if Toronto did end up winning.

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This week, I’m looking forward to lots of writing and getting myself back on track with a few things. I hope you all have a great week!

Guest Author on Prisoners of Print Today!

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Happy Friday all!

The lovely ladies over at Prisoners of Print on Facebook are hosting me today. I’m sharing random facts about me and how they tie into the books. I hope you’ll stop by and chat and give them a like. They’ve been really nice, and I appreciate the time they’ve already put into hosting me. They share a lot of fun information about authors and books. And, if you have any questions for me today, I’m happy to answer them over on their page.

Have a great weekend!

Interview with I Read Indie

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I’ve had my first interview as a novelist (yay!) with the lovely Mandy of I Read Indie! Want to know which writers I fangirl over, or what I consider to be my “guilty pleasure?”

It was a lot of fun, and thanks so much to Mandy for running a fun interview. Hers was one of the first indie blogs I ever read, so it is a real honor to be interviewed over there. Want to read it? Check it out here!

Work continues on Hidden, Book Five, as well as an unrelated project that just kind of popped up out of nowhere. Hopefully, I’ll have more news about that later!

Have a great day!