2:45 am Tuesday and I’m wide awake. A storm is heading my way promising 18 inches of snow. Everyone in the house is sleeping and my brain is on overdrive, no I haven’t had any coffee…yet. I think the few brain cells I have left would melt if I did.
My current book Tombyards & Butterflies is doing fantastic in its first week of release, but that’s not what’s keeping me up. The second book is nagging the hell out of me. If you are creative you know exactly what I’m talking about. The idea that wont be quiet. The plot point that just wont stop. The character that whispers into your ears when you are driving, showering, doing the dishes or any other activity where a pen and paper( or phone) is out of reach, forcing you to stop and hurriedly get that idea down. And you do, because like a wisp of smoke, if you dont it vanishes and taunts you, remaining just at the fringe of conscious thought.
So I’m up and I haven’t blogged in a while because this latest book has demanded I write-hard and fast. It pushes me to write to the exclusion of everything else and so the blog, like a secret mistress, gets my visits in the dead of night when I can’t sleep. But the story,implacable, unrelenting, is there looking over my shoulder, pacing and tapping it’s foot. It gives me the stink eye and then floods my brain with ideas as if to say,”try writing that post now.”
I manage because I enjoy my blog and writing. My brain is always writing, always dealing with the alchemy of words, spoken and written. A part of me seriously believes that all creatives are slightly mad and unhinged-it’s what drives us and fuels our creative expressions. I can only speak to my experience. Writing a book is mad work. You sit down and have a conversation with the voices-in your head. You weave a story around that conversation and then invite others to jump into a world with you. Sure… totally sane.
Taking a blank page, canvas, or pick your medium, and transforming it into a book, a painting, a piece of music, a piece of you, is the ultimate form of creation. To bring forth something from nothing is the both the most empowering and frightening thing you can do and you must do it. To refuse the impulse is an act of abnegation and the fastest way to insanity.
In an effort to stave off my impending madness I am going to go wrestle with a story that just wont quit. I’ll see you on the other side.
A few nights ago I managed to conduct an interview with one of New York City’s premier supernatural detective agencies: Montague & Strong. They graciously offered to sit with me, drink some coffee (and tea) while I asked them about their work and lives.
Here is the interview:
I’m sitting at a large table in the back of The Last Gasp Brew- a coffee and tea shop located in lower Manhattan when they walk in. Right away you can see the contrast. Simon stands around six foot tall and has a casual air about him. He’s wearing a leather pea-coat, black jeans and a light gray sweater. His bronze complexion is off-set by the shockingly white hair that sits atop his head. He looks around for a few seconds, sees me, gives me a wave and a smile as he approaches. He slides into the chair opposite me.
Behind him glides in Tristan who looks like he just left a martial arts class. His eyes scan the room and he exudes a quiet danger as he enters the shop. He’s wearing what appears to be a black loose-fitting tai-chi uniform. He’s not as tall as Simon, but his presence makes him appear to fill the space around him. His complexion is darker than Simon’s and his hair is a deep black with gray at the temples.
They sit at the table opposite me, both facing the door. Simon and I shake hands, Tristan gives me a curt nod.
Orlando: Thank you both for meeting me here tonight. I know your schedule is usually busy working cases. I really appreciate it. By the way the coffee here is excellent.
Tristan: You only say that because you haven’t tried the tea. It’s our pleasure. Thank you for having us.
I notice that Tristan has a slight English accent while Simon sounds very ‘New York’.
Simon: No one drinks tea anymore.
Tristan: Except maybe most of the civilized world.
Orlando: Thanks again. I didn’t realize how difficult arranging this interview would be. You two must have some of the busiest schedules in the city.
Simon: Well it’s not like we had a choice – what I mean is you are… you know?
Simon makes some gestures I don’t understand with his hands and Tristan sighs.
Tristan: What he means is that he’s happy to be here answering questions. You’ll have to excuse him, sometimes he’s as tactful as a brick.
Simon looks at Tristan and chuckles. He takes off his coat and reclines in the large wing-back chair. His laugh is infectious and I find myself smiling. Tristan responds with a brief smile, but remains mostly serious and vigilant. I get the impression he has assessed everyone in the shop and found no imminent threats.
Simon: What the worst he can do, Monty? He did make me immortal you know. Try and relax.
I look down at my notes and prepare my first question.
Orlando: About that- you’re immortal?
Simon: The technical term is ‘cursed alive’. Apparently Kali-
Orlando: Kali as in the goddess Kali the destroyer? Shiva’s consort?
Simon: Yeah that one. Well I was on this job for Shiva-
Tristan: Which I told him not to take. I distinctly remember advising you against getting involved with those two.
Simon: Anyway- Shiva asked me to get some information, things I’m not at liberty to discuss. Kali found out what I was doing and lost it. She went ballistic and marked me with this.
Simon shows me the back of his left hand. An intricate design is etched into his skin.
Orlando: What is that?
Simon: It’s called an endless knot. She basically stopped me from aging.
Orlando: I’m not seeing the downside. She made you immortal. You don’t age. This may sound odd, but can you die?
Simon: Can you?
Orlando: Well yes, I haven’t been cursed by an angry goddess.
Simon: Well so can I. The problem is that I wont stay dead. Even worse is that I don’t know how I’ll come back. It’s not something I’m eager to test. You know?
Orlando: I can understand your reluctance.
Tristan: His immortality may be conditional, is what he’s trying to say. He could very well die and return as a goat. Which would be an improvement if you ask me.
Simon: He didn’t ask you, Monty.
Orlando: So you don’t know if you’re really immortal?
Tristan: All the indicators are there and several prominent entities have alluded to his altered state-some more violently than others.
Orlando: What can you tell me about the mark Kali gave you?
Simon: It’s part of the curse. As long as I have this-
He shows me the mark again and it seems to reflect the light around us with a subtle golden hue.
Simon: I’ll be hunted every time I use it..also every time I use it, it gets ‘her’ attention.
Orlando: Her meaning Kali?
Tristan looks up at the ceiling and sighs loudly.
Tristan: Here we go. It’s not every time. Your delusions of grandeur are astounding. The universe doesn’t revolve around Simon Strong.
Simon: Her meaning Karma. I don’t even like saying her name out loud. I never know if she’s close.
Orlando: Karma is female?
Simon: You’ve never heard the saying: “Karma is a bitch?”
Orlando: I think everyone has heard that one.
Simon: You have no idea, trust me.
Orlando: Does it do anything special, the mark?
Simon: Yes it’s a source of endless grief. See what I did there?
Tristan: It causes temporal stasis, but we cant really go into much detail.
Orlando: I understand. So Monty?
Tristan: Tristan please.
I take a moment to check my notes.
Orlando: My apologies I have it here that Simon calls you Monty.
Tristan: Because my friend is a bloody idiot.
Orlando: I see, sorry about that, Tristan. You’re a mage. A magic user?
Simon: Oh not just a mage. He’s a ‘Golden Circle’ mage.
Simon makes air quotes as he says golden circle.
Orlando: A Golden Circle mage?
Tristan: The Golden Circle is the oldest of the mage groups on the planet. They have devoted their lives to the deep study of magic and its connection to all life for the betterment of humanity.
Orlando: That’s some mission and quite admirable.
Simon suppresses a laugh.
Simon: I’m sorry. It’s just that Monty can’t stand them because all they do is study. The mages are forbidden from entering and being part of the world or modern society. Monty is currently AWOL.
Tristan: I’m on extended sabbatical. I believe magic should transcend just study and has practical applications as well.
Simon: That’s what you’re calling it now? How long is the extension-forever? I’ve never heard of a sabbatical lasting ten years. I’m just saying.
Tristan: Next question please.
Orlando: What is that you both do?
Simon: We’re a paranormal detective agency. When things go south, sideways and inside out they call us. We take the cases no one else can or wants to take.
Tristan: We provide a unique service to the city and the supernatural community. We investigate matters our clients prefer to keep discreet and on rare occasions prevent catastrophes.
Orlando: That would be the Montague & Strong Detective Agency? Who named it?
Simon: It was going to be the Strong & Montague Agency for Paranormal Investigations, but Monty bought the sign. I still think my titles sounds better.
Tristan: It doesn’t and also M comes before S.
Orlando: You two have an interesting chemistry. How did you meet?
Simon: A few years ago I was working a case- this was before the whole Kali thing- turns out Monty was working the same case from a different angle. We were dealing with some sorcerers who were kidnapping homeless people for a human sacrifice ring. The Dark Council asked me to look into it and stop the kidnappings. Monty and I teamed up and stopped it. I haven’t been able to get rid of him since then.
Orlando: This is the Council that governs the community of supernatural beings in the city? The one led by Michiko Nakatomi the vampire?
Tristan: You’ve done your research. That information is incredibly difficult to obtain. Yes that’s ‘his’ vampire.
Simon: She’s not my vampire. She is a good acquaintance.
This time it’s Tristan who tries and fails to suppress laughter.
Tristan: The Dark Council is a dangerous and ruthless organization made up of Vampires, Weres and other assorted supernatural beings. All of which can be a threat to humanity. The last thing they do is make ‘acquaintances’. He is madly infatuated with her to his and our detriment.
Simon’s phone rings. He looks down at the number and scowls.
Simon: Excuse me I have to take this. Ramirez- que pasta?
He stands and looks at me apologetically as he begins walking away and speaking.
Orlando: Is that urgent?
Tristan: When it’s Ramirez, it usually is.
Orlando: One last question. Why Simon? It’s obvious you two come from very different circles. Why do you stay together? I’m sure as a Golden Circle mage you could have your pick of partners or join any mage society.
Tristan takes a sip of his tea before speaking. He glances over at his partner who is still on the phone and nods.
Tristan: It’s quite simple really. You’re right I could be in any number of organizations, but I’m here with Simon. He can be and usually is a right pain in the arse. The simple truth is that he’s my friend and I’m his. We look out for each other.
Simon returns, downs his cup of coffee and puts on his jacket.
Simon: Hey, I’m sorry, but we have to roll. Some rogue vampire is terrorizing midtown. Can’t have the tourists be on the menu-bad PR for the city.
Orlando: I understand. Thank you again for your time and sitting with me. Maybe we can do this again when your schedule is less busy?
They both stop, look at me and laugh.
Tristan: I’m certain we can fit it in. Once we sort out dealing with the Dark Council, Ramirez and the NYTF, stopping the random deranged being bent on starting another supernatural war and any other fresh horrors that crop up.
Simon is at the entrance holding the door for Tristan. He has the phone to his ear again.
Simon: Monty, let’s go. Ramirez is having a fit.
He gives me a wave and heads outside.
Tristan and I shake hands as he prepares to leave.
Tristan: Try the tea, you wont regret it. Oh and stay out of Times Square for a few hours.
He heads out of the coffee shop. I watch them jump into a 1967 midnight blue Pontiac GTO parked in front. The engine roars to life and then settles into a purr followed by the screeching of tires as they speed off.
I decide to stay in the Last Gasp a little longer, seeing as how my next assignment was in midtown and order the tea.
Hope you enjoyed the interview! Let me know your thoughts in the comments!
In an effort to embrace writing here regularly I wanted to share a part of my current work in progress, but first… its Nanowrimo ! This is the month thousands of people get together and try and write a 50k novel in 30 days. Yes, its as hard as it sounds. If you haven’t tried it I seriously recommend it. You will be part of a great community and can share in the experience of focused writing for a month. I wish all the would be authors out there the best of luck in getting to 50k before the 30th!
Now for that excerpt .This is a little different from what I usually write but I wanted to go in a different direction, let me know what you think in the comments below!
Here it goes:
I remembered my grandfather, my sister, and various aunts and cousins, in their coffins and gone forever in the tombyards where the butterflies settled like flowers on the graves and where the flowers blew away like butterflies over the stones.-Ray Bradbury, Zen in the Art of Writing.
What’s more exciting than chasing a rabid werewolf? Chasing that rabid werewolf in downtown Manhattan. The Village as a neighborhood is a warren of intersecting streets and dead ends. We had been at this for thirty minutes and I was getting aggravated.
“This is what the English did—who lays out a city like this?” I said as we ran down Sixth Avenue. “A grid, Monty would it have killed them to use a grid?”
“The Dutch were here first,” he said. “The English didn’t arrive until 1664. That’s how you get the name New York.”
We chased it down Minetta Lane off Sixth Avenue. The wet dog smell punched me in the face as soon as I turned the corner.
“There’s something wrong with that smell,” I said. “God, he reeks!”
“I didn’t realize you were a werewolf scent expert,” Monty said as he caught up.
“I’m not, but this guy smells like he hasn’t bathed in a year,” I said. “Did you see his eyes?”
“I did,” Monty said. “He seems to be suffering from some kind of reaction.”
“Reaction?” I said. “He tore that poor woman in half. That’s not a reaction. That’s a full-blown infection.”
“It does seem he’s unstable,” Monty said as he looked up and down the street.
“Just a bit, yeah.”
We followed the scent to the end of Minetta and on to Macdougal Street when a large furry blur shot past us.
“Shoot it, Simon! Shoot!” Monty said.
“What do you think I’m doing?” I said as I fired several times.
“Shoot it harder!”
We jumped behind a parked SUV. The license plate read RUFFRDR. It was one of those huge things that wasn’t quite a tank, but could never pass for an ordinary car. I figured there was enough vehicle to protect us from the Were’s razor sharp claws. That theory evaporated as it sliced through the metal and plastic with ease, rendering our cover useless. The SUV fell apart like a block of Legos and I couldn’t help thinking that RUFFRDR was going to wake up in the morning and have a very bad day.
“Really, that’s what you’re going with, Monty? Shoot it harder?”
“Strong,” rasped the creature on the other side of what used to be a perfectly functioning mode of transportation. “I’m going to rip out your intestines and eat them while you watch.”
“Wow,” Monty said. “He’s pissed. What did you do to him?”
“Now would be a good time for magic,” I said. “You know a fireball or two? Or some Were melting spell?”
“Can’t—he’s wearing null proximity rune,” Monty said. “I don’t understand why the silver ammo isn’t affecting him. You did switch out for silver ammo, right?”
“Silver…ammo?” I said, “Of course I packed the silver—shit.”
I forgot to switch the ammo.
“You forgot, didn’t you?” Monty said exasperated. “We’re out here fighting a werewolf, Simon.”
“I know,” I said. “It’s a little hard to miss.”
“I’m going to die,” he said as his voice hiked up an octave. “Out here on the filthy street alongside you, wonderful.”
“No, I just misplaced it,” I said with feigned indignation. “Hey, I had to pack all of the bags while you did your meditation thing to charge the magic you’re currently not using.”
Monty narrowed his eyes and glared.
“Are you saying this is somehow my fault?”
“I’m just saying a little magic would make this go smoother, especially since I forgot to pack the silver ammo.”
I have been away from this blog for a few months due to my insane work and writing schedule. That has since calmed down a bit and so I will be posting regularly.
Its been an amazing few weeks. I had an incredible summer. I have also taken on training seriously. I realized that a healthy body facilitates a healthy mind which means I can write more.
That’s me doing a 500 lb dead-lift and making the only face possible when lifting that much-we call it a squat face lol.
I’m currently putting the finishing touches on the third book in the Sepia Blue series and it has been a blast to write. Book Two(cover above) will be released this month and the story is twisting in some unexpected and surprising ways. By the time you read this-Sepia Blue Sisters will be available. Grab a copy and let me know what you think.
I’ll be releasing some new content soon. I have a new kind of story rolling around in my head and I would like to bounce some ideas here, before I pursue them elsewhere. Your feedback would be greatly appreciated. I truly hope you have had a pleasant and exciting summer.
I’ve jumped back into the world of Sepia Blue and i’m currently on book two of her series. There is no cover reveal(yet) and the title is a working one so I wont share it yet.
I have to say I have mixed feelings about this trip back into her world. I became so invested in Ava James that I didn’t want to write about anything else. On the flip side I really want to find out what happens in Sepia’s world since I last visited. It’s a great world to write about, a lot darker than the world of the Warriors of the Way and this gives me the opportunity to explore some ideas I have had rolling in my head for while.
As of this post I’m about done and will soon give it to my readers and launch team to enjoy before handing it over to my uber editor. Once I have the cover I will let you see it.
So I have been away from the blog for a bit due to writing and most recently editing. In the midst of this i have released a short story which is the prequel to the next book. You can find this book on Amazon here.
This short went through a few changes. I had to add several chapters because if I didn’t I was threatened with bodily harm from my beta readers. I cant go into detail without spoiling it for you. Pick it up and let me know what you think.
The next few months are going to be full of activity. The next book is scheduled for early May I will have a cover reveal soon.
He would sacrifice all for love.
Roland James is an Arch Mystic and an expectant father. When the Enclave discovers his wife-Mei is pregnant, they demand he adhere to the rules and give up the baby for mandatory reprogramming and Enforcer training. When he refuses, the Enclave decides he is better off dead, along with his wife and unborn child. Now, together with Mei, they must evade the Enclave forces sent to kill them long enough for her to give birth. They must find a way to escape the Enclave or lose it all.
I enjoy hearing from you! Leave me a comment below or send me an email.
I made peace with that. Understand that this is MY OPINION and you are welcome to disagree with me. Hell you can even completely ignore this entire post. That is your prerogative. Still here? Good. Strap in and lets go. If this one raises your hackles or if you feel the need to illuminate me on the error of my ways…I direct you to the comment section below.
There is no such thing as writer’s block.
Barring depression and or anxiety which are real things and can stand in the way of your writing (and if you suffer from these I strongly urge you to seek medical help) the other reasons that writers come up with to attribute to writer’s block sound like so many excuses.
For every ‘reason’ out there that has stopped a writer, there are countless others who have had the same(or worse) setbacks and have continued to write. It’s time we let go of the crutches and get to walking on our own.
Take ownership of your writing. Stop ascribing near mythical properties to these challenges in your life.
Not enough time? Reevaluate how you spend yours.
Demanding Job? Do what needs to be done then get to writing.
Family responsibilities? Meet your responsibilities and then get to writing.
Death of a loved one? Grieve, grieve some more. Remember that you are still alive and choose life. Use your writing as a catharsis if you must, but get back to it.
Lost your desire? Remember why you started writing in the first place… and then start again.
Dont fall into this trap. Dont make excuses. Dont put it off.
Develop the discipline to see it through and FINISH WHAT YOU START.
I’ll leave you with a quote that sums this up for me.
“Write every day, line by line, page by page, hour by hour. Do this despite fear. For above all else, beyond imagination and skill, what the world asks of you is courage, courage to risk rejection, ridicule and failure. As you follow the quest for stories told with meaning and beauty, study thoughtfully but write boldly. Then, like the hero of the fable, your dance will dazzle the world.”
― Robert McKee
I’ve been a little quiet on the blog because I have been creating a persona. Back in 2012 when started writing professionally I had no clue what a persona or “brand” was. I just knew I wanted to write a book and I wanted to get it out into the world.
This book has been ready for some time now but I didn’t want to release it until book 5 was nearly done and on the horizon. This one will be available this month and book 5 will be available early next year.
Here is a brief synopsis:
The Wheel has unleashed the Kriyas. Creatures of fearsome power that devour life-force. They have been set on a path to destroy anyone who stands in the way of recovering the three foci, weapons of immense power. Dante, having undone the searing must now locate the third foci, Shadowstrike, the only weapon powerful enough to stand against Maelstrom and Lucius.
From his prison in the forgotten plane, Lucius now with the power of Maelstrom has been patiently restoring the connection to the Nexus. One more weapon will complete the bridge. Once restored every plane will be in danger of destruction. Dante, together with Sylk and Meja, return to the Akashic Records. There they will seek to uncover the identity of The Wheel. Will they find Shadowstrike, stop the Kriyas, and prevent Lucius from escaping?
Writing this book was quite a challenge and the last book (book 5) has been exciting to write. The Warriors of the Way series spans 3 years of my life. I hope you enjoy it. I’m on to another project that is a departure from this type of story. Its a little darker but it has been bouncing in my head for a long time now. The only thing I can say about it now is that its a mystery and the protagonist is a mystic. More to come soon!
On my window sill beside my desk I have no less than ten books on writing your first novel. This is not including the numerous articles I have on my hard drives. Included in this list are a few must haves – Larry Brooks Story Engineering ,Story Physics, and Story Fix, Strunk and White- Elements of Style travels with me everywhere. so does Stephen King-On Writing. The others while good reads- (and think about this, being a writer reading about writing has to be the epitome of procrastination) did not really further my writing or prompt me to write any faster. Now don’t misunderstand, I am all for learning and honing our craft of word smithing. Many times that takes reading and learning and studying. However the best way I have found to get better at writing is-writing. So why do I have more than ten books on writing staring at me everyday? Well I bought those books before my first book was published and it was really a way to feel like I was progressing in my book without actually having to write. In other words it was busy work, but not real work not writing. Very similar to shifting those papers around from one side of the desk to another but not really doing anything about them.
So here is my advice: Just write it- already.
You want to become better as a writer you have to write, a lot.
You want to become a published writer? It wont happen just thinking about it, only you can write your story.
By all means hone your craft, learn as much as possible. Read the books on writing, get the style guides. Just understand that at the end of the day none of that can replace your voice on a page.