06 May 2014

Steampunk + Kismet

Random things keep entering my sphere of reality lately that are peripherally steampunky. I think the universe is telling me it likes what I'm writing at the moment. ;-) Here are a couple of links that connect to the early 1900s as examples.

85-year-old steam engine ready to roll again in Lewis County
16 Edwardian Colour Photos That Will Make You Feel Like A Time Traveller

There are links to more photos off that second one that I could spend hours happily perusing. But, alas, my m/m steampunk novel isn't going to write itself. Although every now and then I hit a scene that seems to do just that. If only it were always so easy. ::sigh::

17 April 2014

Writers Write About Writing (Blog Hop)

Greetings! If you’re here reading this, you probably found your way from the blog of the lovely and talented Raina James. Or if you arrived here along another path, well, that means you still have the fun of reading her post on the topic of the Writing Process ahead of you. This is a cool blog hop that I’m delighted to take part in. I’m also finding other authors’ posts on the subject fascinating. Seeing what’s similar and different between their processes and mine, and also seeing what they’re all working on right now so that I can make up my To-Read List.

That said, here is my hop along the blogosphere.

1) What are you working on?
I have three things in various stages right now. I’ll start with the one closest to finished. That one is an f/f erotic fantasy romance that is in the final stages of polishing before submission to publishers. This is a novel set in the same world as my other fantasy works, but this time I’ve moved to a tropical archipelago with a matriarchal society where family and business are deeply entwined. I love world-building, and this one world has given me many opportunities to invent different cultures. I love it!

Second is a YA novel that I would classify as light urban fantasy. It’s in the present day, in our world, and in first person. Three things I never write. LOL! This one is close to ready and I will probably self-publish it since it’s not anything like what I’ve released through my publishers, and they wouldn’t want it anyway.

Third is a North American steampunk m/m novel that is currently under construction. There’s a bit of mystery, a bit of romance, and a bit of I-haven’t-a-clue-what’s-coming-next. Ah, the joys of being a pantser!

2) How does your work differ from others in the genre?
This is a tricky question. I know that my choices of sub-genres put my work in a niche within a niche within a niche (Is that enough niches? *counts* Yes, I think that’s right.), but I don’t think that’s what we’re talking about here. I like to think my stories are a little less predictable than most. Yes, they still have to fall into the designated “acceptable endings” (HEA or HFN), but within that framework, I want to believe that there are moments in my stories where readers say, “Oh! I didn’t expect that!” or even, “Really? That was an odd choice.” Because, honestly, I’m okay with readers thinking my brain is a little odd.

3) Why do you write what you write?
World-building! For me, the most important part of my long list of sub-genres is the Sci-Fi/Fantasy label. You can take the girl out of Middle Earth but... You know the rest. SF/Fan gives me the perfect medium to create new worlds and new cultures. I’ve read science-fiction and fantasy my whole life. From Madeline L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time, which my mom first read to us before I could read chapter books on my own; to Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy, which I seriously ought to re-read because, let’s face it, I did not really understand it when I read it in middle school; to Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, which I re-read yearly through high school (at least) after first reading them in the fourth grade. Each of these is a unique example of world-building at its best. I might layer all sorts of other genres into my stories, but for me they are all secondary to this one.

4) How does your writing process work?
In fits and starts. ;-) At its simplest, I work character => world => story. Characters make themselves known in my head before anything else comes along. When they’re ready, they start talking to me, giving me an idea of where they belong, in what universe or country or culture. That gives me context so that I can construct the right world around them. Once I have that established, they start telling me their stories--if I’m lucky. Sometimes I have to drag it out of them. Sometimes they lie to me and I have to go back and dig out the truth. Sometimes I have to get them drunk so they will reveal all their secrets.

Also, I am a dedicated pantser. I’m the kid who used to write her school report first and then write the outline. I actively dislike plotting out a story. If I know how it ends, I find no joy in the journey. This is why the urban fantasy crime novel I started will likely never be completed: I know how it has to end, and where’s the fun in that? Although I’m a little sad about it because I really like the characters.

There you have it! I hope you enjoyed this peek into my writing process. Hopefully I'll find someone to tag so you can continue the blog hopping. In the meantime, there are already many out there. Just follow the link back to Raina, and she'll take you on a branch of your journey. :)

08 April 2014

Opening Night!

Not the theatrical kind, which is more common in my life, but the baseball kind! My team opened the season on the road this year, so we've had to wait an extra week for them to come home to play. (Boo! *pout*) I won't be at the sold-out game, alas, to watch those tight-panted young men run the bases, but I shall be watching from home. It's a bit of a springtime ritual for me to make a dinner in keeping with the day (baseball-geek-meets-foody), whether it's the classic hot dogs and apple pie or a homemade version of Ivar-dogs and slaw. I believe last year I bought sushi for the occasion. (Yes, at our ballpark, sushi is an option.) This post about some of the new menu items is making me hungry already!

25 February 2014

That moment when...

That moment when your characters first meet and sparks fly.
That moment when they begin to reveal secrets that you, even as the author, didn't know they had.
That moment when you discover a third voice is necessary to tell the story.
That moment when your "short story" passes 31K with no signs of slowing down.

I love that moment. :-D

11 February 2014

Building a Steampunk World

It feels like ages since I've done any proper world building. I did so much of it for several years running, and then poof! Nadda. Just last month, that began to change. I love to read steampunk stories. I attended Steamcon V last October. These days, it is my favourite costuming genre to peruse online and find excuses to build. For a couple of years now, I've wanted to write my own steampunk story in my own steampunk world. My first attempts were with potential co-authors, but for varying reasons we simply couldn't get on the same page. (No pun intended.) Then I tried for months to work on an idea of my own, but the damned thing wants to come out as a movie script and that is just not something I can deal with right now. Plus, it has too many ambiguities even for me, and I am a classic example of a pantser. Now, at last, I'm in a groove. A writing groove, a world-building groove, a steampunky groove.

I've built the framework of the world and the general mores of two societies. I've done research that was more than just a string of increasingly unrelated distractions. I've presented a number of hurdles to my characters, and they are working hard to leap each of them in their arduous journey towards their HEA.

Now, if you'll excuse me, the two fine gentlemen talking at me inside my head would really appreciate having their story written down. I oughtn't keep them waiting.

31 December 2013

Year-end Sale!

Torquere Books is having a year-end sale! Just use the code "hello2014" to get 20% off EVERYTHING. But hurry! It's only good through WEDNESDAY! I don't have many titles left there, but you can get Rose & Thorn for a little while longer. (I believe it's about to go out of print, and after that you'll have to wait to pick up it whenever I can make the time to re-release it.) And there's also the anthology I Put a Spell on You where you'll find a short-story of mine that you won't find anywhere else. So go shopping and have a sexy New Year!

17 December 2013

Print Release and Excerpt

It feels like it's taken all year (and maybe it has, but I sincerely do not want look and find out that I'm right), but at long last Compass Hearts is available in print form. Bring home this sexy winter romance to keep you toasty this December. Here's an excerpt to get you warmed up.

Compass Hearts by Maia Strong

He barely recognized his own voice as he went on. “The human body is...fascinating.” There was a question, an invitation, underlying his statement. He hoped Ash would hear it and understand. Despite this sudden swell of bravery, he knew he couldn’t say that out loud.
A slow smile spread across Ash’s face. Matthew grinned back, guessing his message had gotten through. His guess was confirmed when Ash asked, “Have you ever had a live model?”
“No.” Matthew’s cock strained at his breeches. He yearned to draw Ash, see him stripped and posed. He couldn’t remember ever wanting anything so much or so urgently in his life.
Then reality crashed down on him. His face fell. “My materials are at my apartment.” In the time it took to get there and back, the moment would be beyond lost. And there was no way he was taking Ash back to his flat. He didn’t want him to see it. It was so unbearably grim, lacking in any charm or comfort, especially when compared to Ash’s quirky and inviting room upstairs.
“What do you need?” Ash asked.
“Charcoal pencils, largish paper.”
“I have that.”
“You do?” Matthew perked up at this spark of hope. It was almost too good to believe. “How? Why?”
“Botany class. We do a lot of plant sketching. I not only have charcoal pencils, I have pressed pigment pencils.”
Matthew’s eyes lit up and Ash grinned and grabbed his hand. “Come on.” Ash pulled him to his feet and toward the stairs.
Matthew’s practical side asserted itself and, still clinging to sense, he asked, “What about our books?”
“No one will bother them. Come on!” He practically dragged Matthew from the parlor. By the time their feet hit the stairs, though, Matthew was plenty willing to follow him up.
Inside the cozy comfort of the little attic room, Ash went immediately to the window seat. He opened it and fished around inside, coming up a moment later with a large tablet and a tin box. “Here.” He handed the box to Matthew, who opened it and looked in wonder at the myriad colored pencils within.
“Where did you get these?” he asked, awed and envious.
“Some of them I bought in town. Some of them my dad gave me before I came here.” Ash flipped through the tablet of his botany drawings, Matthew looking over his shoulder. The plants were barely recognizable, and then only because he’d labeled them. “They’re awful, I know,” said Ash. He pulled a disgusted face. “It’s all right to say so.”
“I just have one question,” said Matthew.
“Yes?” Ash turned and looked up at him. “What?”
“Are you actually passing botany?”
Ash burst out laughing. “All right, Master Critical.” He flipped to a blank sheet and shoved the tablet at Matthew. “Let’s see you do better.”
“That much I can guarantee.”
“I’ve never been an artist’s model.” Ash’s eyes shone deep blue in the lantern light and his voice was husky. “Tell me what to do.”
Matthew swallowed hard once. The heat and tightness in his groin were intense, and he was glad for the tablet he held in front of him. What was he thinking? He’d never get through this! Panic began to rise in him, quelling his arousal. No. I want to do this, damn it! Steeling himself and taking control of his fear, he said with as much authority as he could muster, “Strip.”