Although I never thought it would come, I’ve bowed to the idea of putting up some of my work under a pseudonym.   It wasn’t an impulsive decision by any means, I gave it a lot of thought before I went ahead with it.  The first alter ego came after I realized I’d like to compartmentalize my fan fiction, to keep the more lewd of my works separate from my usual ones, to have one account, one pen name, for my usual Teen rated works, and a completely separate account and pen name for the mature rated erotica.    That bridge crossed, I took a long hard look at the idea for my original novels.    I never want to mislead a reader, and I feel I’m making some strides in putting myself out there as an author of sci fi and fantasy, but I certainly wanted to bring my contemporary stories out for those who might find them interesting.    It’s an odd feeling, both liberating and a little bashful… I’d thought I’d stopped ‘hiding’ my writing, was willing to put it out there and let the world see it, only to turn around and back away from that.   But, I realized that wasn’t the reason for this… my fan fictions have always been written under pen names, of course, that comes with the territory, so to add a ‘mature’ pen name to that didn’t seem so wrong.   Putting another name on an original novel was a little bit more of a thought process, but now that it’s happened, it has a certain comfort.  (Doesn’t hurt that I chose a version of my maiden name, so it really doesn’t feel like a ‘pseudonym’, just rather like I’m using the rest of my name.)



Genres and labels.

I’ve always had a problem describing my own work, it’s like trying to pin down mercury.   But after taking a long, hard look at Clearing of the Way, I decided that it is indeed paranormal romance.  I mean, it’s full of the paranormal, both main characters qualify as paranormal, and there’s definitely a romance involved.  That should make this easy, concrete.  Hi, my name is Melissa and my most recent series is a paranormal romance!

So I decided to take a look at the community that has sprung up around this genre, to look for guidance, to become familiar with a genre I’m new to.   I was pleasantly surprised that there is a huge, HUGE, paranormal romance community and that so far, it’s been a very kind and supportive group to be involved with.   That’s the good.  The bad?  Well, Clearing doesn’t seem to fit the template that they consider to be paranormal romance.  I feel like I did when I first fell into fan fiction… there’s a lexicon, there’s shorthand, and there are certain expectations tied up in the community.   Yes, both Nathalie and Gideon are paranormal.  But they’re not vampires, faeries, were critters, zombies, mages, witches, they’re people.  Imbued with power, but still pretty ordinary people.   While they’re both attractive, especially to each other, neither one of them is drop dead fantastic.  And most importantly, they lack the love-hate, gasping, grasping, fascination  that I admit that I find rather creepy now that I’ve reached adulthood.    They’re there for each other, they love each other, but they’ve always lacked the romance relationship angst… I figured end of the world zombie plague style was angst enough.

But I’ll keep up with the community because they’re a bunch of really nice people.  And I definitely recommend them to anyone who has a story that fits the template.

Back on track- “Way of the Blessed”

I’ve been doing well, managing to push fan fictions behind me to focus on what I really should be working on, Way of the Blessed.   I’ve produced twenty pages in the past two days, and it’s walking forward under its own power again.   It’s bad news for those who are waiting for the endings of those three fan fics, even worse knowing that at least two of them are just a chapter or two away from being completed, but I’m always much more secure in what I’m doing if I’m working on my own original works.

And for this one, it means research.  While I love to do it, I always feel like I’m just scratching the surface and somehow, somewhere, I’ve gotten something desperately wrong along the way.   I think that’s one of the reasons why I am so insecure with “The Harder Right”, although I did as exhaustive a research as I could, given my limitations, I still feel that there is something in it that would be glaringly wrong to someone who has been there before, I just can’t see it.

Thankfully, Way of the Blessed’s research right now is strictly map based,  (Thank you, Google Earth!) plotting the path between Nathalie’s main home in the Arkansas Ozarks and her destination…her parents’ home in northern Texas.  That part of Texas, I am familiar with and don’t feel the same doubt about writing as I do when I put Nat and Gideon in places I’m only passingly familiar with or have never been before in my life.  But it can’t really be helped, I just have to do the best I can and accept the fact that I will get something wrong along the way.   Science fiction and fantasy are so much easier for me, and I miss always being right with them, but at this point, Way of the Blessed is still very close to here and now and it’s something I just have to deal with.

But, all of that angst aside, it’s good to talk to Nathalie again.  It’s good to be writing my own stuff again (sorry, fan fiction fans!).   And it’s good to be truly writing again.    (Oh, and it is an absolutely beautiful, clear blue day here in the wilds of SW Wisconsin!   I know we’re due for another winter storm later this week, but again, I’ll take what I have right now.)

Where did you come from? (The epiphany machine at work again)

My mind is filled with a whole conglomeration of random ideas.   Occasionally, one of them spins off and starts to ferment in a back corner.   A couple of weeks ago, a tiny idea took hold.   Last night it unfolded into an entire story, leaping along from point to point until I had an entire concept.  Then this morning, I sat down with the idea of getting it started so that I would not lose the idea and the impetus.   That was at about 9 am.    It did the usual changes in mid-stride, and is not what I envisioned even as recently as last night.   And then it was done.   5k words and an entire story, in less than 24 hours.  I love it when it all comes together as seamlessly as that.   Unfortunately it is extremely rare, so today was a gift.

My new friend is Nicola.   I like her a lot.  The core of this new story was the thought of children being innately magical and losing that as they grow up.   Then it grew into a thought, what would a society be like if the vast majority of their children really were magical, but lost it as part of adolescence?    What would it be like to deal with a magical four year old on a rampage, but as an adult, you had no defenses against them?   What laws would come from that?   What societal adaptations?   Who would enforce them?  What happens when someone just doesn’t fit into this?

Well, hopefully I can find a home for this one because it certainly was a fun ride.


Backlog, and a little summer cleaning

Like most authors who have been at it for awhile, I have started many stories that I just never got around to finishing.   I’ve  been going through them recently, and have finished and sent off to various publications. Cockleburs has had a full blog post devoted to it, so I won’t go there today.  It is a new story, completed in good time.

In Mysterious Ways is another short story that revolves around one of my favorite characters from a roleplaying game, Roan Lattimer.  Roan is a rather long in the tooth woman who was spaceship wrecked on a low tech world, where she used her high tech knowledge to rise to a position of power in their Church so that she could protect her new home.  This particular story really feeds (in my humble opinion) on the blurry line between accepting a deity’s existence and work in a character’s life and the fact that often miracles can be explained away if an observer wishes to.    This one sat around in my documents folder for a few years, it dates from early 2009 as does the other one I just finished today….

Trade Relations began in 2009.  It began very strongly, and for the life of me I don’t remember what came along to distract me from it. It is the weird love child of a sci fi/fantasy/speculative writer who is also involved in the Society for Creative Anachronism (a medieval recreation group)  Put them both together and you get a short story like this one.   I don’t want to even try to describe it, but I am very pleased I finally managed to get ‘er done, as they put it.

The Broker and the Fetch (the odd ghost story I referenced earlier) is also complete, and also springs from 2009.  Not sure what I was doing that year, I had three strong short stories that I let go dormant.

All four of them are completed as of today, however, and all four of them are out to various publications (What is up with horror markets only wanting tiny little stories?   I had to pass on several likely homes for The Broker and the Fetch because at 5857 words, it was considered to be too long.   They seem to really be buying only works that are under four thousand words… )

And it’s done!

Over the past few months, I have shared the experience of writing a novel, from story kernel to end, with Clearing of the Way. It’s been a great ride,  I put the final touches on it this morning and put it up on Amazon Kindle.      Here is the breakdown… I put the first word down on 12/6/2011 and the last on 4/18/12.    341 pages, 67,412 words.   Then I let it sit for awhile while I worked on editing the sequel to “The Emperor’s Finest”, and went back to it a couple of weeks ago to look at it fresh again.


What can I say?  Overall, I’m very pleased with it, and even more so since it is the first original work to come completely after my stroke.   It is definitely one of the cleanest novels I’ve written, editing really meant chasing down all the changes in venue (we did finally decide to set the start in Chicago and forget about New York) and killing more than a handful of oddly placed commas.   So, now it’s onward…to the sequel…

Way of the Blessed.

Thanks for taking the time to walk Nathalie and Gideon’s first steps with me.  I hope you’ll stick around for the rest of it.


Erotica…or whoops, there goes my pacing!

The vast majority of my works involve a central male/female pairing relationship.   Which means I often find myself at a point where that relationship wanders where these relationships go… in a bedroom or other convenient, private and somewhat plushy place.   The moment this happens, my clickety clack pacing goes down the drain.   Sex scenes take me forever, as I try to balance what I want to convey while still holding on to a certain level of discretion.  I don’t write porn.  I don’t want to.   I want to express a true, intimate relationship, not just sex and I want to do with the same polished vocabulary I use for the rest of the book.  This is not nearly as easy as it should be, at least for me.   I spend a lot of time during these scenes fighting the urge to go do something else, anything else.  Laundry?  Well, there’s always that.  Dishes?  Sure.   Vacuum?   Ditto.

So here I am.  Most of Clearing the Way has been written to a techno soundtrack, Global Deejays is my newest love, but that’s just not hacking it through this day, with a full bore erotic scene unfolding.   So, I must sadly admit, I’ve gone back to even worse…techno love songs.   :/   It’s a morning of Cascada, Dj Sammy and DHT while I try to find the best route through where I’m at.   My hope was to actually see the first draft finished today, and the writing is going well, but as long as this scene is taking, I’m doubting if I’ll actually get to the end.   Agh, maybe it’ll be tomorrow, if I can get these two out of bed.

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