Posted by Barb on 06/03/2017
And since I’m away, I’m going to introduce you to a guest! I found her through Goodreads and thought you might be interested in meeting someone else! Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Claudie Arseneault!
Where do you live and write from?
I live in Quebec City, the capital of Canada’s majority French province. I’ve been here all my life, and English is a second language for me. I love my city, for all of its conservative faults. I think I see myself in a lot of its contradictions.
Why do you write?
Funnily enough, I recently wrote an entire guest post on this topic (it’s not up yet, but keep an eye on Ayah’s wonderful Why I Write series for it!). I won’t repeat all of those words here, but the short version is this: I write because it makes me feel like I belong. Writing allowed me to find my community. Writing reminds me that I am a professional, that I have found my path. Even when it is stressful and hard, writing is like coming home.
When did you start writing?
About ten years ago. At the time, it was a complement to my intense roleplaying habits. I ran games with a single player, and I wanted to write out the scenes between characters he didn’t witness. Then I heard of NaNoWriMo, got a sudden burst of inspiration, and after that first rush of creativity and fun, I could never go back.
What genre(s) do you write?
Fantasy is my main turf, although I tend to play around a lot in the genre. My latest novel, City of Strife, is a crossover between high fantasy and political fantasy, while one of my other projects is… steampunk-fantasy-ish. Without the steam. Kind of falls a lot into the kind of magic/technology mix you’d expect from the Tales of _____ series, or Final Fantasy. I do also write science-fiction, and when I do, it’s absolutely solarpunk—a community-driven, eco-conscious, hopeful subgenre. I love the subgenre enough to edit an entire anthology of solarpunk dragons, Wings of Renewal!
What does your writing routine consist of?
I don’t have one. I write whenever and wherever I can. This means I write on my cellphone in the bus to/from work, I write at a cat café in the city, I write after work on weekdays when my brain is half mush from the day’s labour… anything I can get done, I try to do it. I sit my ass in my chair and try to ignore twitter and social media until I have the strict minimum done. It is not always successful, but that’s okay. (I also do not necessarily recommend it? I have to watch myself because I will overwork myself if I’m not careful).
What do you feel are your strengths as a writer? How have you developed these qualities?
Characters. I have absolutely no qualms stating that: I’m good with characterization. A lot of it comes from all the roleplaying I did, and creating such a wide range of characters over the years. I pay a lot of attention to details when I build a character, and a lot of time thinking of silly things that are unrelated to the story, but that help me nail their personalities.
I also tend to build storylines that have a great many threads, and with practice, a lot of craft-studying, and trial and error, I’ve grown quite good at tying all of them into an epic ending. I like to think the last quarters of my books are the best part—that the payoff is worth it.
Where do you find your inspiration? Do you put yourself in your stories?
Everywhere. This isn’t a question I have a great answer for, really. I draw inspiration from other stories, from history, from things I feel aremissing from what I read. I used not to put much of myself in my writing, but now I do.
Outliner or improviser? Fast or slow writer?
Outline. Gosh, I would have written myself into a corner a dozen times over without outlines. The degrees of precision I put into them varies a lot from one project to the next, but I always have a general outline before I start (typically, the ending is more vague, and I outline it as I get nearer). Although, really, I frequently end up ditching or redoing my outlines as I write, so it’s a little of both. But I never start without some basics down. I’m also definitely a fast writer. Not in terms of words/minute, but it terms of time I can and do put into it, yeah! I get through drafts fairly fast.
Tell us about your latest book
Okay, here is the short version of the blurb:
Isandor, City of Spires.
Bickering merchant families vie for power through eccentric shows of wealth and brutal trading wars. Unspoken rules regulate their battles, but when an idealistic elven lord provokes the powerful Myrian Empire, all bets are off. They are outsiders, unbound by local customs, and no one knows how far they’ll take their magic to dominate the city. Nobles and commoners alike must fight to preserve their home, even if the struggle shatters friendships, destroys alliances, and changes them irrevocably.
City of Strife is the first installment of the City of Spires trilogy, a multi-layered political fantasy led by an all LGBTQIAP+ cast. Fans of complex storylines criss-crossing one another, strong friendships and found families will find everything they need within these pages.
It is indeed published, and you can find it here on Amazon. The book’s page on my website also contains a list of trigger warnings and all other buy links. This universe has been with me since the very start of my writing, and I’m happy to share it at last!
Indie publishing or traditional publishing – and why?
Indie all the way! I can’t even imagine going a traditional route. First, too much of it is still hostile to wide LGBTQIAP+ casts, and I don’t have time to waste arguing about the validity and existence of my characters, or being pressurized to add a romance. Second, indie publishing allows me to choose my contributors and encourage marginalized freelancers with my money. Third, I like being in control. I like leading projects from beginning to end, and earning every bit of those way-better royalties. I do wish I had a larger marketing reach, but I’m working on that too! I just created The Kraken Collective with fellow indies, a cooperative of QUILTBAG science fiction and fantasy! We share platforms, advice, and skills, leading to high-quality books and great times.
Any other projects in the pipeline?
The second book, haha. The City of Spires trilogy was conceived as a unit, and I want to get the second one out as fast as I can. Spare my readers the long years of wait between cliffhangers (there are some).
I do have another project besides that one, called Baker Thief, which is sort of a fantasy-mystery-romance, except instead of actual romance, you have the slow bound between an aromantic spectrum character and a demisexual one. There’s a lot of me in it—twins, French puns and sentences, a city that draws upon Québec’s history—and it gets quite tropey at times, which I love.
What is your goal as a writer and what are you doing to achieve it?
Two things: first, I want to provide a large array of stories in which the whole LGBTQIAP+ spectrum gets to play a part and be a hero. This is especially true of aromantic and asexual people, because these are also my stories, and I hope that through the body of work I can give voice to a large part of the spectrum. Second, I would love to earn a living with this? A lot? Hey, we can always dream. So I write or work on my projects almost every day, and I follow and listen to other marginalized voices, and hopefully as years go by things will get better.
What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever been given?
Find the writing advice that applies to you. Seriously, every writer has a different process, and a lot of writing advice disregards that, especially when it comes to writers with disability. So, sure, try out the writing advice out there, but know that if it doesn’t work, it’s not you. You’re still a writer!
One that worked for me was: “open a blank document and rewrite.” This is a follow-up to the more common “your first draft is crap”, but it taught me not to be afraid to start over. My process changes between projects, but for novels, I will often scrap almost the entirety of the first draft. Because I need to reach the end to see the story as a whole. So I tend to rewrite with only a few looks at the first draft, from beginning to end. Even later in the project, I still apply that to entire scenes too. Sometimes it’s better to start from scratch. Scary and long, but better.
Claudie Arseneault is an asexual and aromantic-spectrum writer hailing from the very-French Québec City. Her long studies in biochemistry and immunology often sneak back into her science-fiction, and her love for sprawling casts invariably turns her novels into multi-storylined wonders. The most recent, City of Strife, comes out on February 22, 2017! Claudie is a founding member of The Kraken Collective and is well-known for her involvement in solarpunk, her database of aro and ace characters in speculative fiction, and her unending love of squids. Find out more on her website!
Posted by Barb on 03/03/2017
I’m Samantha and I come from another world – the original, old Silvery Earth, where people are immortal and never grow up. When I’m not switching bodies at will, I travel to other universes, especially books or movies. That’s how I met Rajveer the vampire, for example!
So, I’m taking over the interviews on this blog! And here I am, meeting people from other books/universes/whatever!
We’re still on the new Silvery Earth! Still exploring those Quests books! They don’t have that much to do, do they? Why are they always looking for something anyway? Let’s ask them!
Hello, young lady. Tell me a little about yourself.
I’m Sayla, I’m nineteen, my mother Talulla is a maimed Sila. I have inherited the keen Sila eyesight and I’m the best archer in town.
I think we met your mother in the first book, but you were but a wee little girl back then… I don’t suppose you remember three people passing by? A gorgeous warrior with turquoise eyes, a brooding beau of a magic user and a blonde healer? No? Thought not… It was fifteen years ago for you, after all! Describe your appearance in ten words or less.
Petite, light brown hair, blue eyes.
Do you have an enemy or nemesis? If so, who are they and how they become an enemy?
No, well, let’s say I ran away from Inex when I discovered that my mother cut my wings at birth. I mean, my MOTHER maimed me, can you believe it?
Not very motherly, but then, she’s not Human, is she? Although being maimed herself… why would she do the same to you? Anyway, would you kill for those you love? And would you die for them?
I hated everyone after discovering my mother’s betrayal. Well, except Keenan. He’s the only friend I have.
Mmm… do I smell a relationship here? If so, what it is about him that you find appealing?
Not really, not yet, but I know Keenan adores me and when I’m ready, he’ll be there.
Sweet! Lucky gal! Where do you live?
I was born in Inex, a city-state on the northern coast of Varia, an lived there until I ran away to go looking for the Sila nests after my mother told me of the maiming.
What is the biggest challenge you face in the story?
Finding the Sila nests and reaching them without wings. I’ll need help from eagles and dwarves to succeed.
Do you have a family? Tell me about them. Besides your Sila mother, I mean.
She married my father Myckim who comes from the south. I have an elder brother, Sanylo, but he’s an asshole.
And you just left them all behind… so let’s hear the young man now. Tell me a little about yourself!
I’m Keenan, the tanner’s son, and I’m twenty. I grew yp with Sayla and I’ve been silently in love with her for years.
Describe your appearance in ten words or less.
Blond and blue-eyed, like most northerners…
What is your role in the story?
I follow her when she runs away, then help her in her quest. One day I hope to give her wings.
What is your relationship with her, then?
We’re childhood friends, she’s my Wonder Girl.
Well, I wish you both to find what you’re looking for and live happily ever after! If you, the reader, what to know more about these two, go and get The Path of Air (Quests Book 3)! Now available also in Quests Volume 1 with The Path of Water.
Posted by Barb on 01/03/2017
Posted by Barb on 27/02/2017
Words of wisdom, writers on writing, something to keep your minds busy while I’m away! 🙂 Have a great Sunday!
Like Delilah Dawson said in this very inspiring series of tweets – there’s no top of the mountain when it comes to writing/publishing. Even if I write the bestselling-est of bestsellers, I’ll probably write another book after that, no matter what. The writing, for me, is something I have to get out and process and create. It’s going to happen anyway. I need to write. Would it be great to get billions of people to read my books? Hell yes. But those are the possible perks, not the targets.
Burnout is a kind of creative constipation. You get tired of doing it. The work feels only like work. Clarity seems impossible. The stress outweighs the joy.
You’ll hit it. You might hit it early in your career trying to get published. You might hit it in the middle of your career after all the business baggage has been slung over your shoulders. If you’re me, you might bump up against it again and again with the standard peaks and valleys of the authorial life. I periodically run parallel to burnout like someone running alongside the ocean — if I turn my head just so I can see the shark fins, I can see the rippling lines of a threatening undertow, I can see the SURLY OCTOPUSES OF ENNUI THREATENING TO ENROBE ME IN THEIR TENTACLES AND DROWN ME IN THE BUBBLING DEPTHS OF MY OWN LASSITUDE.
Question is, what do I do about the OCTOPUSES OF ENNUI?
As my nemesis Jaye points out, you’ve got options. Nab a new hobby. Take up yoga or meditation. I like photography, as you might see with my Macro Monday experiments. Take a walk. Take a vacation. Have an adventure. Vent frustrations with fellow writers (seriously, this can be a huge help). Punch a punching bag painted to look like the politician of your choice.
All of those are good at scraping some of the barnacles off.
Authors as a group tend to have a “don’t rock the boat” attitude. And with good reason; rock the boat, and the captain kicks you out.
But if you say nothing, nothing changes.
In this business, as in life, no one is going to just hand you anything. Because none of us deserve anything. You have to work hard, and fight for whatever you can get. Fighting for something when the outcome is uncertain is a scary thing. That’s the definition of bravery.
So many writers come to class with one question dominant in their mind. “How do I make a living from this?”… it saddens me that it so often overshadows the more relevant questions of “Why am I writing” and “What am I saying” and “How do I keep it honest.”
– Celine Kiernan
I really want writers to start thinking like long-term professionals. Learn copyright and don’t sell all your rights to a traditional publisher.
And don’t only sell your book in one store.
And have more than one or two products to sell.
You will be stunned at how small, seemingly below-notice cash streams can add up into larger numbers over time.
So today was fun for me, as I said at the top, because two new cash streams started up just today. Two in one day.
In my world, that’s a fun day. (grin)
Posted by Barb on 26/02/2017
Movies time. Caramel was on my to-watch list in 2007 when it came out, but eventually I decided to pass. Then I saw it at 3/5£ in London and saw it was from Nadine Labaki, so I bought it. Now, I personally don’t go to beauty salons or even wax myself (and certainly not with caramel, LOL!), but it was interesting to see the stories of those Lebanese women. I probably wouldn’t have liked it this much 10 years ago, but now it’s part of my World’s Movies collection.
I seem to favor female directors, although Nadine Labaki is the only one who also acts in her movies (at least in the two I’ve seen). I started in the 1990s with Mira Nair, then early 2000s with Nancy Meyers (whom I even saw at some screenwriting event and wanted to shake her hand for What Women Want, The Holiday and Something Gotta Give) and Gurinder Chadha (Bend it like Beckam, Bride and Prejudice), then 1970s daughters Zoya Akhtar (Luck by Chance, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, Dil Dhadakne Do) and Nadine Labaki.
In March I have another Gurinder Chadha and another Mira Nair in the to-watch pile, along with other world’s movies (but I haven’t checked the directors of those). In the meantime I rewatched Where do we go now and I shall leave you with the neat song from this Lebanese-but-Bollywood-inspired movie. Have a great weekend! 🙂
Posted by Barb on 24/02/2017
And the reading month is over, phew! By the way, for the first time since I got it in 2011, Kindle Keyboard a.k.a. KK died on me in the middle of a story. Battery dead. I guess I intensively used it! 🙂 Now it’s all charged up again for the trip, when I hope to finish the novel I started in January and then move on to other things.
So this week I’m adding the second POV to the novella rejected by TOR. Hope to finish before I leave so I can take it with me and check the typos while I’m traveling. Also that the story flows, since I’m currently not really cycling. I’m simply adding scenes from notes that I took when I sent it out, so I’ll need to re-read it all in as few sittings as possible.
In March I’ll also make sure to fill the Worldcon 75 Programme Volunteer Form – as soon as I’m certain I can have that week off in August, that is. And maybe I’ll do some other online workshop, while writing the next book.
A couple of writerly links! Take the test to see if you have author potential! I don’t because I’m a writer, not an author, LOL! I think Authors are those One-Book-Wonder who are everywhere. But saving your docs outside the cloud and outside the PC is a good idea… I lost a novel to a floppy disk in the 1990s, so… always have more than one copy! 😉
And beware of the new scam of sensitivity readers (along with the other ones)! Me? If I write about something I don’t know, I ask an expert to check it. I certainly don’t pay anyone to tell me if it’s politically correct or not. There’s also the thing that this “censorship” goes mostly for YA and children, and I don’t write in those areas…
Fiction readers* often have to tell hard truths.
And we often piss people off.
And sometimes we miss getting something perfectly right.
And we get bad reviews because someone doesn’t agree with us.
If we write what we are passionate about, what we care about, what makes each of us happy, what other people think should never, ever matter.
Write your own story. Get it out to readers and write the next story.
Keep learning, keep having fun, and keep writing new stories.
You do that and trust me, none of these scams will even tempt you in the slightest.
*I think he means “writers”, but you get it, don’t you? Don’t waste money on scammers. Happy writing! 🙂
Posted by Barb on 22/02/2017
Posted by Barb on 20/02/2017
REDEMPTION – A Many Lives Standalone Story
“One of the best books I read this year. A tightly-woven tale of what it means to be redeemed by love ★★★★★” – Margo Bond Collins, NY Times bestselling author.
From New York Times bestselling author, Laxmi Hariharan, comes REDEMPTION the much anticipated next standalone story in the Many Lives Series. For fans of Nalini Singh and Christine Feehan. Experience a thrilling paranormal romance where shifters, vampires and immortals fight to save those they love.
Read REDEMPTION free in KU * 99c for limited only * here http://smarturl.it/RmptionLH
When differences threaten to tear fated mates apart
I submit to no one—not even him.
Not till I was taken
Now a terrible emptiness tears me apart. For,
Will I see him again?
I never needed anyone
Then I met her, a cage fighter, my shifter. Mine.
The one I must protect
Now I want her. In my life, in my blood.
Her, only her.
Reclusive designer Mikhail Anton blames wolf-shifters for his memory loss, refusing to accept the signs that he is immortal. On meeting Leana Iyeroy, a cage-fighter and shifter, Mikhail is drawn to her in ways he can’t identify. And when vampires threaten Leana, he must acknowledge his abilities to rescue her from certain death. They must team up to save their city– before their differences destroy everything they love.
Posted by Barb on 19/02/2017
Because I caught 3 on Facebook (the first, by Holland, and the last two mentioned here) and don’t know how to embed them in WordPress… I found a link to the first eight videos of European countries trolling the new US president. Add to these Finland and Slovakia and even Modor (which you LOTR fans can probably appreciate better than me) but you probably won’t find Italy. I don’t think they have enough sense of humor. But if you find it, please post it in the comments, thank you! 😉
Of those countries, I’ve seen Amsterdam in 1998, most of Switzerland (lived there 1973-1978), some of Germany. The Scandinavian countries are already on my “To visit” list, I’m not sure about Eastern Europe or Portugal. But I should really drag my ass to Belgium since it’s the other country of bandes dessinnées (Franco-Belgian)! 😉
Now I really look forward to going to Finland for the Worldcon! 😉 I better start looking for a hotel, and maybe book a couple of days in advance so I can have a look around. The other Worldcons had things to do before the actual convention, but they were in places I already knew.
And I think next year it’s in Dublin… no, wait, 2019 – Ireland, here I come! 😀 And I don’t even need to renew my passport… I think I’ll stick to this side of the pond until I’m back to full health. Besides, there are corners of Europe I haven’t visited yet… entire countries, actually… since I go always to the same! 😉
I still hope to get to Iceland for the Northern Lights – hopefully at the end of this year. I might even manage a small group from Italy, besides Techie Bro. A number of friends seem interested to come with us, yay! 😀 But next trip is to the US for a couple of weeks.
Then I better stay put, recover and organize my summer trip to Worldcon… Aging sucks! 😦 I’ll do more intercontinental trips next year or later… Have a great weekend! 🙂
Posted by Barb on 17/02/2017