Wednesday, December 13, 2017

My books are character driven, which means I can't sit down and plot the whole book out; things change as people do. Even if I could, the book would feel pre-written and boring. Ask me how I know.

The great part about that is every day of writing is a surprise. The downside is that every day starts with a blank page. I brainstorm, come up with ideas, but essentially, writers make something out of nothing.

Right now I know sort of how Black Hound ends, but how the book gets from where I am to that point. Every day I solve more of that puzzle.

This is the part where I usually get fussy and start to think I should query a publisher, have someone else deal with cover design, formatting and edits. The temptation's always there, but it's so nice having control of the process...when I'm not tired. Never make decisions when you're tired, sick or stressed.

As it is, I'm thinking of buying a Mac just so I can use the Vellum book formatting program. It would be nice to spend less time on technical stuff. We'll see.

Snippet: I’m magic, cuz.

It's been about a month, so I thought I'd share. Here you go:


From the next Convergence book. No release date yet.

Black Hound

She woke the next day refreshed. It was Monday and everyone had to work. She was glad of it as she loaded up her charcoal gray, armored SUV. Ike and his friends had been very helpful, but she needed space and quiet to create. Although she could meditate with an audience, it was so much easier when she was alone.
Even so, she’d promised Ike she’d keep her cell phone handy and contact him if the slightest thing went wrong.
Her smile died as she bumped up the rutted road to the Yard, plans to smooth the road forgotten. Something black covered her formerly shiny Watchtower. She might have mistaken it for cast iron, but it swallowed light. It was also hard to look at, emitting a subtle energy that was dazzling to the eyes.
“What the French toast,” she swore, along with a few other choice words. She was all set to work, and now this. She debated briefly, but she’d promised. Dialing her cousin, she told Ike, “There’s some kind of crap coating the Watchtower. I’m in my car, doors locked, and I’m about to scan it. I’ll leave you on speaker.” That done, she closed her eyes and did a careful scan of the alien matter.
“Huh. It’s a metal, but nothing I’ve seen before. Figures. Hang on, I’m going to poke it.” She mentally tossed a car door and a hubcap at the tower, but nothing happened. She made a thoughtful noise. “Nothing. Standby.” She probed deeper, testing the metal’s properties. It was wonderfully malleable, but all metal was to her. It was hard, yet not brittle, like spring steel.
“Talk to me, cuz,” Ike ordered, his voice echoing a bit as if he were in the shop.
“It’s living steel. Well, not living,” she corrected, searching for a word. “It’s not sentient, but it responds to magic, which might be why it coated the tower.” She made a sound of frustration. “I don’t think it’s dangerous…to me…but I need more time to investigate before I move into the tower.”
“Do you need me?”
“No. I’m going to set up a bunker to work from. Since it’s just me, I’ll drive into the space I cleared earlier, set the robots on watch and form a shelter around me.  I can have it up in ten, fifteen minutes.”
There was a long silence. “Why didn’t you do that yesterday?”
Good question. Slightly embarrassed, she said, “Um…there was flying metal to play with?”
“And people to watch your back. Fine. Keep the speaker on.” He sounded resigned. “I’ll do paperwork while I wait.”
“You know you won’t be able to concentrate. Why don’t you clean the bathroom? It needs it.”
He said something rude, but didn’t disconnect.
She could visualize him pacing. Maybe she should have brought him along, spared his ulcer.
She drove into the Yard, but not far. Between the robots and her building project yesterday, she’d cleared some space, but not much.
This sucked. She’d have to root the building in magic, and she hadn’t wanted to do that until she’d stuck an anchor in the far side of the Yard. It was always easier if anchors were placed at the compass points first to help “pin” things down, prevent the pool of magic from spreading and taking over more of the city.
Since it had to be done, she pushed aside her annoyance and drew the metal over her in a rough sphere, liquefying rusty pipes and mangled wrecks on the fly, shedding rust. A swirl of metal rose around her in a spiral like a giant screw, providing basic coverage as she got out of the car. Taking a deep breath, she plunged metal into the ground, deep into the magic lake.
The power was turbulent this time, a rough ocean out to test her. Maintaining iron focus, she patiently welded metal to magic, soldering them together until they became a seamless whole.
She became aware of someone shouting in her ear. Wincing, she touched her Bluetooth headset. “Not so loud! What?”
“You promised to tell me when the bunker was done. It’s been twenty-five minutes!”
She blinked, realized she was standing in darkness, and felt for the car door to switch on the headlights. “Yeah, I was going to. I just anchored it first.” Her voice echoed inside the conical metal.” She tuned him out as he offered his opinion on that and grabbed a bottle of grape juice. “I’m fine. Seriously, I’m rehydrating and everything. You’ve got to relax a little.”
She could practically hear him roll his eyes.
“You’re going to make me take up smoking again, I swear! Fine. You’re coming home tonight, right? Things have changed?”
“Dude, I’m cocooned in a foot thick of solid iron right now; even you would say my position is secure. I’ve got food and supplies for a week and I’ve seriously got to work. I can’t pull this off if I don’t live on site. You know that. Right?”
His grunt was unhappy. “Fine. At least text me a picture? I’ll feel better if I know you won’t be eaten alive.”
She glanced up at the roof. “Inside’s a bit dark right now, but I’ll have Iron Eagle send you an aerial. Stand by.”
Ike made a surprised sound when the text came through. “Wow. Okay. A foot thick, you say?”
“Yep. I’m set. Let me get some work done and I’ll get back to you at lunch, okay?”
“Wait! If that thing’s a foot thick, how are you getting cell reception?”

She blinked. When the answer came to her, she grinned. “I’m magic, cuz.”

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Black Hound snippet: The Watchtower

Just noticed my last snippet was this summer. Oops! That was mean. Here you go:


From the next Convergence book. No release date yet.

Black Hound

Chapter 2


“I’m grateful we waited to try that thing out,” Ike said, staring in consternation at the “floating palace”.
Rue winced as the giant, warty green bear cubs climbed the chain, chasing a bug the size of a basset hound. Although they were the size of an adult polar bear, she knew they were cubs because their mother was as big as an elephant. Annoyed, the pea-green mother bear grabbed the chain to follow. She was too heavy, so the chain dipped slightly. With a growl, she put both paws on it and pulled, making the car palace bob like a ship in rough seas.
Bruce sighted the bear through the machine gun. Although the two hunting buddies had also come, he was the one who always ended up on the roof. “Green with yellow blobs. That thing looks like something floating in the toilet after eating corn.”
“Ew! Thanks for that. Go ahead and shoot it. I’ll bury the body.”
“A woman after my own heart,” he said approvingly, and shot the beast behind the shoulder, the high powered round punching through thick hide and hitting the heart.
Rue activated her robots, which had gone dormant in her absence. As they approached now twitching bear, she formed a spear out of a rusty pipe and shot it through the bear’s head before rapidly killing the cubs. She knew some would consider it brutal, but if not contained here, the animals would wander into the city in search of food. They wouldn’t hesitate to catch anyone would couldn’t outrun them.
She had the robots drag the monsters away and bury them; the former tractor was great for digging holes.
There were no monster attacks today, so it was easy to focus on improving the car palace…she really had to think of a better name for that. She made the chains razor sharp, adding spikes for good measure, and made four sharp spiral columns to brace the platform. It was no longer free floating, but she could worry about that later.
Barely winded, she grinned at her escort. “Ready to go inside? I’m calling it the Watchtower.”
Ike opened his mouth, but shut it as a car elevator descended from the belly of the tower. “Huh.”
She hopped in the car. “Cool, right? I didn’t want to leave the car undefended.”
“You’re sure it’s stable?” Bruce peered at the elevator nervously.
“Yes.” If it was one thing she knew, it was metal. Rue enjoyed the ride as they ascended, finally able to see above the junk. The noxious fumes didn’t bother her; they were mostly at ground level, and puddles of poison usually contained a lot of metal that could be manipulated, rendering them harmless.
The platform reached the inside of the Watchtower and locked into place. They stepped out, admiring the great hollow space. Car windows let in plenty of light, illuminating the brushed steel interior.
Bruce’s voice echoed as he spoke. “What are you going to put in here? This place is huge.”
“Also, it’s going to get hot with all those windows. Have you thought of a heating and cooling system yet? What are you going to do for plumbing?” Ike asked, wandering to a window. “Look at that view.”
She smiled. Trust Ike to be practical. “Actually, I thought you guys might have some input. There’s a cooler in the truck, plenty to eat and drink, and we brought paper and pens. Take some pictures, kick around ideas. If you have any recommendations for plumbers and whatnot, write it down.
“Meanwhile, I’m going to add some stairs and an upper story. When I’m done, I can rough out some space for bathrooms and whatnot.” She figured with men in charge, she’d have a huge garage planned, but that was fine. She’d need space to work on robots; most of hers were more elegant than the rough specimens she had patrolling the ground.
She walked a few steps and said, “Don’t forget ideas for defenses…and a decent kitchen.”
Ike flicked a hand. “Go do your thing. We got this.”
She chose a shady corner and mentally sorted through junk on the ground, drawing up metal for a curving stair and upper floor. Since the kitchen and living area would be upstairs, she added a glass and steel lift to make it easy to bring supplies up.
She chose to make the floor a grid of steel with frosted, bullet proof glass to let in maximum light.
To keep the space open, she ran a wide loft along the garage’s outer wall, figuring she could use the space as extra rooms or storage as needed.
It was a big space, so she added several bathrooms. For now they were little more than nice outhouses; plumbing this place was going to be interesting.
Before taking a break, she added several large fans and plugged them into the magic pool, allowing them to power themselves. She wasn’t sure how that would work with tricky things like heating and cooling units, but there were experts for that.
Of course, to hire them she’d need money. Not everyone could be paid in bullets.
“I like what you’ve done with the place,” Bruce said with a flirtatious grin.
“Thanks.” She gave him a lukewarm smile and helped herself to a sandwich and glass of iced tea. He was a nice enough guy, but there was an edge of nervousness to Bruce. She made him uneasy, or her power did. There was no future there.
They did a walk through and the guys shared several excellent ideas. Everyone had their own jobs to return to, but they had good suggestions for contractors.
“But you’ve got to beef up security here first,” Ike cautioned. “It’ll be hard enough to get workers out here, although curiosity will draw some of them. “You’ve got to prove they won’t get eaten for setting foot on the Yard. We thought a big fence would help.” He showed her a sketch of cars and trucks standing on end, forming a big ring around the Watchtower. A truck was balanced on two others, forming a massive gate.
“Why, cuz! You’re an artist,” she teased, making him color. “It’s a great idea.” She tilted her head. “Especially if I make each car robotic so it can crush monsters.”
“Nice. What about mounting guns on the bottom, too?”
She frowned. “Maintenance. Still, a crude cannon would work, or maybe spears on chains. It’s not like the monsters will shoot back.”
“In that case, what about pit traps?” Bruce asked, and they discussed several options for monster disposal.
Rue liked one so much she immediately implemented it. It took more effort than rearranging the house, so she sank into a trance and drew metal from the ground, forming several retractable metal bridges over pits, complete with trapdoors. The pits were lined with retractable spikes, perfect for impaling.
She was about to begin on the car fence when Ike gently shook her arm. “You can finish tomorrow.”
She scowled at him, but quickly realized he was right. She was beat. Also, she needed to improve the ventilation, because it was a bit hot in there, despite the magic powered fans. “All right. I need to go over your plans and call some contractors anyway. This place is going to be a money pit.”
“Welcome to homeownership. Wait until you get to pay property taxes.” He walked her to the truck with an evil grin. “By the way, what was your plan to pay for all this again?”
She groaned and dropped into the passenger seat. How ironic would it be to survive monsters only to fall prey to the tax man?

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

I tell people I'm a housewife

I tell people I'm a housewife. It's true enough, and it avoids weirdness. Writing is a job, but people are odd about it.

Imagine you're a plumber. One third of those you meet say, "Oh. Cool. I'm a mechanic. Nice weather we're having, right?"

The second group says, "Oh, you're a plumber. What kind of plumbing? Oh, sinks and toilets. But do you do the fancy Japanese toilets? With the heated seats, pre-mist, bidet, dryer and wifi?" Because you're not a real plumber until you work on the right kind of throne...and bring in a certain income stream. Blue, not yellow. Real plumbers produce blue.

The last group says, "Oh My Gosh! You're a PLUMBER! That's so cool! How many toilets have you fixed? Are you famous? I've always wanted to fix a toilet..."

I've always wanted to be more interested in the stock market, but can't sustain interest. Shrug.

And that's why I tell people I'm a housewife.


Thursday, November 2, 2017

Yes, I'm still getting around to Blackhound. Burning the midnight oil. Healthy enough to burn the midnight oil! Yee haw!

Exhausted from the overtime, but having soooo much fun.

Discipline, dedication...and caffeine.

All my older books needed updated links and navigation. I feel like a factory inspector; check this, check that. Fix this, fix that...in a monotone. It's the only way to make my product shine, however. Yesterday I uploaded to Kindle and Smashwords several times each, and still managed to upload the wrong file, found links to fix, etc. Took ALL day for one book.

Today something made me check this morning, and yep, the wrong file was up at Smashwords. Discipline, dedication...and caffeine.

I think I've got a system down for updating, so hopefully my template works and this is a much speedier process.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Hi! Mostly I've been hanging out on Facebook. I've also redesigned my website autumndawnbooks.com. There are some some interesting new details there.

Also, in case you missed the Facebook post:

Day 39, no sugar: Your nose won't run if you eat spicy food, unless there's congestion. Been eating spicy lunches, no sniffles (which I'd vaguely wondered about). After the durum wheat thing, my nose responded to spices by running. Fascinating indicator of nasal health.
Did I mention I used to take GABA (amazon.com has it) for the sads? Needed it daily or really noticed depression. Now, I'm cheerfully daily, haven't needed it in weeks. How's that for mind/body connection?
John's cat allergies are better. I can smell things much better, yet I'm less reactive to chemical fragrances. The smells from the deli and bakery in the grocery stores don't make me wheeze anymore.
It wasn't hard to give up sugar at all, with two exceptions: chocolate (because it's barely edible without sugar and I crave it) and coffee (also barely drinkable sans sugar, but now I'll need much less sugar to make it palatable). I've been drinking coffee in an espresso cup with coconut milk to train myself to expect less sweetness. It helps if you start with really good coffee beans.
Why bother? For one thing, it's loaded with antioxidants and beneficial nutrients. Talk about taking your bitters!
Things I've learned during the fast:
Einkorn, barley, rye and oats are fine. It's not the gluten, it's the modern wheat that's been crossbred. Organic kamut is not okay; too modern.
Pay your farmer or pay your doctor.
Honey and fruit are fine. Won't slow the detox one bit.
Combining a saddle stool with standing allows me to get things done as my tailbone heals (it's almost been a year!). Do not fall and bend your tailbone to a 45 degree angle.
But if you do...realize that it might be the Lord's redirection. I've realized during the fast that yes, I do want to move. I like my neighborhood and my house, but the houses being build around me are annoying and cut off the view. Finally, my husband will get his wish.
I have my eye on a property. I posted the pic on my fridge and have it open on my computer daily to motivate me to get up early and work my tail off.
I can work my tail off because of this no sugar fast. I have the energy now.
Last...I'm editing all my romance novels to have "sweet heat". In a world that's busy making everything hotter (and more obnoxious), I decided to step back.
I've always enjoyed going my own way.
Jer 29:11

https://www.facebook.com/autumn.dawn.18/posts/1579650342091225