I finally have the title of the Karen Wilson Chronicles, Book 4. It took a bit of doing and digging and thinking and playing with words.
Originally, I wanted to call it something like “Dreamstalker” or “Dreamstalkers” because it’s about nightmares becoming real. But, frankly, that’s a boring name and doesn’t really tell you what I want you to know about the book. Thus, I have a new title: CHIMERA INCARNATE.
Chimera is a mythical monster. But it is also a “an illusion or fabrication of the mind; especially : an unrealizable dream.”
Incarnate means “invested with bodily and especially human nature and form.”
CHIMERA INCARNATE is perfect for a novel about nightmares that can both kill you while you sleep or enter this reality through the unprotected mind.
I am beyond happy. This is the exact right novel title. It was part of the reason I was doing so much fighting with the outline. Now that I have the title, the words are flowing.
Lucy A. Snyder is an author I admire who writes some of the most captivating stories I’ve ever read. Now, she’s got a single author collection of erotica linked into her Jessie Shimmer novels. She talks about why and how this got started.
On Writing Erotica
“Does this mean you’re writing your own slash?”
That’s what one of my friends said when I told her of my plan to write some new erotica stories featuring characters from my Jessie Shimmer urban fantasy series and release them in my collection Orchid Carousals.
I thought about it for a moment, and laughed. “Yes, I suppose I am!”
If you’ve read any of the books in my Jessie Shimmer series you know I don’t exactly shy away from portraying sex in my regular fiction. But despite the graphic scenes, books like Shotgun Sorceress or Switchblade Goddess are not erotica.
An erotica story is a narrative that focuses on sex. Sex is crucial to the plot tension. And, yes, erotica stories have real plots. They also have characterization, world-building, and all the other things you come to expect from any other type of fiction. Or, at least the good erotica stories do; take away the plot and the compelling characters and you end up with porn that has a hard time sustaining reader interest over more than a few pages. (This is a lesson that the writers of the webcomic Oglaf know quite well; they have thousands of dedicated readers who probably arrived at their site looking for a bit of diverting cartoon porn but keep coming back week after week to see where the characters’ stories are going.)
So, why erotica?
One of my overall goals as an author is to be able to write well in a wide range of styles and genres. If an editor comes to me and says “I need a 6,000-word Lovecraftian western story written in iambic pentameter that focuses on Nikola Tesla and Sherlock Holmes finding a crashed spaceship outside Tombstone, Arizona in 1890,” ideally my response should be “Sure; when do you need it?”
Being able to write a plot-worthy sex scene is no different than being able to write an exciting fight scene or a heartbreaking death scene; it should be a part of any well-rounded fiction writer’s toolbox.
But more directly, while I was working on the novel trilogy, I found myself with many more story ideas than I had room for in the novel. I wanted to continue the narrative, certainly, but I also found myself with back stories that I wanted to tell. And a number of the ideas that I had seemed to lend themselves well to erotica.
For instance, I wanted to tell the story of how Jessie and Cooper first became a couple; more to the point, I wanted to show readers that because of their age difference, it really wasn’t an easy decision for Cooper. I could have told a story that focused on Jessie’s anguish over her aunt’s death … or I could tell a story that focused on her passion for Cooper and would be a bit more fun for readers. Clearly, I chose the latter.
While I was writing Switchblade Goddess, I realized that I’d given Mother Karen a short shrift in the narrative. She’s a fairly important supporting character, but very little of what I knew about her life had actually gotten into the books. So I used the story “Demonized” as an opportunity to show readers more about her history and her intimate world.
At the end of Spellbent, Jessie leaves poor love-smitten Kai behind. A lot of people told me they particularly liked Kai and wanted to see more of him. So, I collaborated with Kaysee Renee Robichaud to write a noir-flavored erotic story that shows what happens to Kai after Jessie’s out of the picture.
There are more stories floating around in my head that I didn’t have time to write before the collection needed to go to press. Possibly in the future CGP or another publisher might release a volume entirely devoted to the Warlock’s adventures.
In the meantime, I hope readers enjoy Orchid Carousals!
Lucy A. Snyder is the Bram Stoker Award-winning author of the novels Spellbent, Shotgun Sorceress, Switchblade Goddess, and the collections Sparks and Shadows, Chimeric Machines, and Installing Linux on a Dead Badger.
Before I get into stuff. A couple of notes:
First, while I was at Convolution, I was quoted in an Examiner article about the convention. And they even got a picture of me smiling and looking tired. I enjoyed Convolution quite a bit. (Warning: the website is cluttered with ads.)
Second, I’ve got my first COINS OF CHAOS anthology review. It’s from Bitten By Books and the anthology got four tombstones. Not bad. Not bad at all. I can forgive them not getting my last name right.
I’m home from my last convention of the year. Really, I shouldn’t have gone to it but no use worrying about that now. I really am busy. But, at the same time, I know I can handle it. It just seems harder right now having just finished a ton of travel. Part of it is me fighting with the outline of KWC#4. Part of it was everyone asking me what all I still need to do this year.
I’ve looked at my list due by the end of the year and it is fine. I will just need to do a lot of head’s down work. There is actually not a whole lot to stress about. Plus, no more conventions again until April. Yay! (Yes, I have some travel but it is all FUN travel.)
I’m still completely in love with crocheting. I’ve discovered that crocheting at conventions is a great conversation starter if you're downstairs in the lobby waiting for someone. And it is a great way to decompress upstairs in the hotel room after a very loud party. This fourth cat blanket is actually looking like a blanket and not a mutant yarn thing. I’m pleased with myself.
So. Things left to do this year:
1. Finish Colonial Gothic: Roanoke supplement.
2. Read and select all stories for the unannounced anthology. Begin edits
3. Finish Karen Wilson Chronicles #4 outline and begin.
4. Finish over all polish of THE NELLUS ACADEMY INCIDENT book.
5. Submit various manuscripts to awards/various people by request.
See? Nothing too onerous.
Jaym Gates is an author and an editor I’ve had the pleasure to work with. She is driven to succeed and a lot of fun to hang out with. I really like the idea of WAR STORIES. This particular kickstarter has 3 days and less than $1000 to go. I’d love to see it funded.
I love cheesy action movies. I'm talking Statham and Lundgren. I'll watch damn near anything with those two. My boyfriend and I have agreed to disagree about The Expendables. I don't care how awful and unreal these are. They're intended to be over-the-top.
I also grew up in a family that owns and uses guns, has a strong military background, and generally tends toward the extreme right, politically. I'm a gearhead. Date night last week included my boyfriend pulling out his warchest to demonstrate the problems with rucks, based on a conversation we'd had earlier in the week.
I love cheesy. I love gearhead. But in my fiction, I want real people, real stories, real struggles. There are military SF stories that have made me tear up, and one (Adam Troy Castro's “Her Husband's Hands”) that I had to stop reading within the first couple of sentences. At its best, military science fiction can be some of the most emotional, powerful work in the genre, an examination of the human psyche at its rawest.
But it's a genre with a lot of baggage, too, often still in the Vietnam or World War era, even in the far-future work.
In WAR STORIES, we wanted to look at the future, rather than the past. Technology is evolving rapidly, changing the tools of war, while the culture and realities of it never change much. Drones, cyber-warfare, sophisticated bombs, the set-dressings. The sense of honor, the bonds between combatants, the grief and shock, the physical wear and tear on bodies, those don't change. Those are the things our soldiers and their families are dealing with now, and will be dealing with in the future. Those are the stories we wanted to see on the page.
Combatants, family members, survivors, civilians, rebels, commanders, grunts. My co-editor, Andrew Liptak, and I wanted their stories to be told. The history, the technology, the political and social triggers, all those elements of war are fascinating, and could fill endless books. But what does it look like from the ground? What are the stories from the front lines, the aftermath, the hospital? What does war do to the internal landscape of soldiers and civilians? How do we, as humans, survive, recover, move on, break, adapt to the unique and awful stress of conflict?
Everyone has a story to tell. Here are a few of theirs.
WAR STORIES is currently in the funding process on Kickstarter. If you want to help us bring these great stories to life, hop on over and throw a few dollars our way.
Jaym Gates is an editor, author, and publicist. More about her business can be found on jaymgates.com, and wacky hijinks can be marveled at on Twitter, as @JaymGates.
Convolution was a heck of a lot of fun. I spent a lot of time with Wendy and Richard Pini, Richard Kadrey, Ivan Van Norman, and M. Todd Gallowglas. The Frouds were very busy but I did get to chat with them in passing.
10 Things that may or may not have happened at Convolution. 8 of these are real.
1. Richard Kadrey may or may not have referenced “bad eggs in a trucker’s bordello in Mississippi” during a conversation.
2. I may or may not have missed a couple of my panels.
3. M. Todd Gallowglas may or may not have been drugged to the gills.
4. I may or may not have punched Matt Marovich for making me read that awful book for his podcast “Your Book is Why Daddy Drinks.”
5. Richard Pini may or may not have been walking around with a tabloid newspaper for some serious Sunday morning reading.
6. Multiple Convolution staffers may or may not have forgotten their pants.
7. I may or may not have made the Convolution Chairwoman, Kimmi, cry.
8. Tycho may or may not have told me a secret about his hair.
9. Ivan Van Norman may have convinced me to write a zombie novella even though I hate zombies.
10. I may or may not have made the papers while I was in California.
Next up… OryCon 35. Here’s my schedule as far as I know.
Sat Nov 9 1:00pm-2:00pm
Hybrid Vigor: Choosing Both Traditional and Self-Publishing
Don't believe the True Believers on both sides of this non-existent divide: you can be both a traditional AND a self-published writer. Learn how to let the project choose the path.
(*)Annie Bellet, Phoebe Kitanidis, Tod McCoy, Ken Lizzi, Jennifer Brozek
Sun Nov 10 11:00am-12:00pm
Urban Fantasy made real
Increasingly, stories are being placed in modern times or locales but with fantasy elements to them. Whether it is wesen in Portland or vampires in Washington, how does one effectively blend these very different elements? Alternatively, what are some examples of how NOT to accomplish this?
Patricia Briggs, Anne Bishop, (*)Devon Monk, Rhiannon Held, Jennifer Brozek
Sun Nov 10 1:00pm-2:00pm
Writing in Other People's Worlds
The fine art of franchise writing: working with established universes like Star Trek, Star Wars and more--including the new Kindle Worlds licensed fan fiction program.
(*)Jess Hartley, SD Perry, Wendy N. Wagner, Jennifer Brozek, Scott Alan Woodard
We have a live event running on Bitten By Books for my COINS OF CHAOS anthology. I will be there, off and on, all day. You can win an Amazon gift card if you join the event. Though, I think you win because you get to interact with all of the fabulous authors from the book.
Shannon Page is an author I have worked with off and on for years. She’s a consummate professional and I’m really looking forward to reading this anthology.
On the Crafting of An Anthology
Witches, Stitches & Bitches—A Three Little Words anthology, from Evil Girlfriend Media.
Three little words...three simple, innocent—well, okay, maybe not so innocent—evocative words.
When Evil Girlfriend Media publisher Katie Cord asked me if I wanted to edit one of her “Three Little Words” anthologies, I jumped at the chance. I love editing, and hadn’t had much chance to do it professionally. Better still, she let me choose which of the three I wanted to take on. Now, nothing against zombies or vampires, but I knew at once that the witch book was the one for me.
I’ve always identified with witches. I was born on Halloween night, so people delighted in telling me I was a little witch before I even knew what that meant. Of course, I went through a period (like so many girls) when I’d have much rather been a fairy princess; but I eventually got over that and embraced my intrinsic witchiness. I’m writing a series of novels starring a young witch in San Francisco (the Nightcraft Quartet, which begins publication next year with The Queen and The Tower). Even my LiveJournal handle has the word “witch” in it.
So that was a natural. But stitches and bitches? Not as much of a connection there. That’s okay, I figured; let’s see what stories come in. I imagined needlepoint and revenge fantasies.
But wow! Authors are creative! (I know: not exactly earth-shattering news.) I got such a flood of marvelous stories filled with so much imagination, I looked forward to my email inbox every day. We had knitting and surgery and zombies stitching on new limbs. Devious and clever women; bitchy witches; female dogs. And we even had needlepoint and revenge fantasies—but nothing like what I’d imagined.
I received nearly three times as many stories as I needed to fill out the collection—not bad for the very first offering of a brand-new publishing company, paying nowhere near professional rates. I read every story that came in, even the ones where I could tell from the start that they weren’t a good fit. I wanted to see where each story ultimately ended up. I wanted to be surprised—and, a few times, I was. To me, a good anthology is like the perfect smorgasbord: a little of everything; something for everyone. That’s why I like more open-ended themes; they give the authors room to explore, to show off that marvelous creativity of theirs.
Then came the painful process: winnowing them down. I had to reject some really good stories, including stories from friends...including stories I’d specifically requested from friends. (Fortunately, my friends being good people, they forgave me.) But I knew I wanted to put together the strongest group of stories possible. I selected for length and tone and style and subject matter. I wanted balance, and variety. As I mention in the book’s introduction:
“The sixteen stories collected here range from light to dark, fun to disturbingly spooky, and everything in between. We have retellings of fairy tales, modern edgy fantasies, stories of delicious revenge. We have romance, and some broken hearts. We even have a few tales by male authors, just to be inclusive.”
And when all was said and done...I think we ended up with an awesome book. I hope my readers agree!