Fire and Chaos at The Ripped Bodice!

I Always Slow Down at the End…

I finished writing THE PROMISED QUEEN! This is the third book in the Forgotten Empires trilogy, and – as happens with many trilogy finales – the draft came in long. I sent 118,489 words (about 426 pages in Word) to Editor Jennie Friday afternoon. A lot to pack into that ending!

As usual, finishing the book wrung me out. As an interesting statistic, writing the first 100,000 words took me 57 days, while revising those words from the beginning and adding 19,000 more took me another 19 days. So a full quarter of my time creating this manuscript went to revising what I’d written and adding the last 16% of the book. I always slow down at the end. I always feel like I *shouldn’t*, but I do.

And you all know what I always say: Figure out what your process is and own it.

So there I am!

I am trying to be better about refilling the well after I finish a project like this. So instead of plunging into the next fiction work, I’ve been taking a little time off. Those of you who listen to my podcast know that on Saturday I drove our 20 year-old Highlander into town to buy plants. When I arrived after a twenty-minute drive, I discovered that a pack rat had built a nest in the engine. How did I find out? Because the engine caught on fire! That’s it in the photo. You can see the bits of detritus from the pack rat nest – and that lots of the engine components melted. I’m fine – many thanks to Newman’s Nursery for quick action with a fire extinguisher and being so lovely to me – but the car will cost more to fix than it’s worth. So, goodbye to Nessie. My mom bought her new in 2000, so she had a good run.

A friend pointed out that it counts to a fiery sacrifice to the gods upon completion of this trilogy, so I’m going with that.

The Freedom of Being a Hybrid Author

Our topic at the SFF Seven this week is “Choosing your freedom – Traditional or Self-Publishing?” We’ve been asked which freedom we picked: the freedom to write without getting into the business side or the freedom to control it all? I bet you know what my answer is…

Reading: To Enter a World

Some exciting news! Book three in the Forgotten Empires has a title!

THE ORCHID THRONETHE FIERY CROWN (out May 26), will be followed by…

THE PROMISED QUEEN.

I really love it, don’t you? I recall as a kid being captivated by the title “THE ONCE AND FUTURE KING,” the Arthurian retelling by T.H. White. It was one of the first times a title really piqued my interest. I feel like I’m evoking a tiny piece of that magic.

Our topic this week at the SFF Seven is our favorite quote about books and reading, and why. Come on over for mine. Literally: mine.

 

 

Is Fantasy Inherently Conservative?

So, I’ve mentioned on my podcast, First Cup of Coffee, that I like listening to L. Penelope’s podcast, My Imaginary Friends. (Our podcasts are also part of the Frolic Podcast Network, but we listened to each other before that.) On this week’s episode, Making an Impact, she talks about her experiences on panels at a recent convention. I tell you, folks, I was gaping at the speakers when she said the other panelists had said that the Fantasy genre is inherently politically conservative – and no one challenged it.

People: I SO want to challenge this assertion!

Apparently the thought process is that Fantasy often involves the trope of restoring the One True Thing in some sense. Defeating the Big Bad to restore the Time Before. The Chosen One appearing to usher in a time of peace and plenty. The recovery of magic or something else that has been lost.

I’m sure you all can recognize these themes.

First of all, I want to point out that this is a pretty narrow conception of what the Fantasy genre encompasses. I mean, yes, there are people who equate “Fantasy” with “Tolkien.” People have said exactly this to me. Never mind that Tolkien was writing a hundred years ago, so that’s akin to saying they equate Science Fiction with Fritz Leiber, Jr. and Isaac Asimov. Sure, all of these authors made substantial contributions to the SFF genres, but there’s been movement since then.

A lot of the time, when people say “Fantasy,” they do mean Tolkienesque epic fantasy  – including all those writers who’ve followed that path. It’s a grand tradition, but it’s not the only tradition. The writers who keep to that fairly narrow interpretation of fantasy, who write only pastoral, non-tech, peaceful-farmers-are-pure-of-heart tales might be conservative. I dunno. I think the writer brings their values to the story, regardless of genre.

Fantasy is a broad genre with many themes. There are a LOT of people writing it who very much do not have conservative values.

Second, I don’t think there’s ANYTHING inherently politically conservative about the concept of creating peace and plenty, of overthrowing an oppressor. Our current political situation speaks to that. The avowed conservatives in power may give lip service to “family values” and “making things great AGAIN,” but a totalitarian government is exactly that – and resisting can be an act of rebellion. Fantasy absolutely takes on these themes. For example, my Forgotten Empires books (see? even the series title speaks to something lost) tell of people laboring under an oppressive empire. They rebel, eventually and in their own ways, but that recovery of what’s been lost is hardly an expression of conservative values. Those are radical and dangerous choices. And, yes, those stories are absolutely part of my personal response to an authoritarian government that serves only the rich – and part of my resistance to that.

I’d argue that the best Fantasy takes on sweeping political change.

There’s a lot more to the enormous and varied Fantasy genre than Tolkien and farm boys called to be the Chosen One. Let’s make some noise about it.

THE FIERY CROWN has a cover!

THE FIERY CROWN has a cover – and it’s gorgeous! I love the fiery colors. Some of you may recall that this second book in the Forgotten Empires trilogy was originally titled “The Fiery Citadel.” Then St. Martins asked if I’d mind changing the title to THE FIERY CROWN so we could have a crown on the cover instead of a much-less visually appealing citadel. I happily agreed (the title still totally works) and here we are!

Out May 26, 2020!

“A timeless tale of love and survival amidst a lush backdrop teeming with greed and deceit.”–New York Times bestselling author Darynda Jones

A desperate alliance. . A struggle for survival. And a marriage of convenience with an epic twist of fate. . .

WILL THEIR LOVE STAND THE TEST OF TIME

Queen Euthalia has reigned over her island kingdom of Calanthe with determination, grace, and her magical, undying orchid ring. After she defied an empire to wed Conrí, the former Crown Prince of Oriel—a man of disgraced origins with vengeance in his heart—Lia expected the wizard’s prophecy to come true: Claim the hand that wears the ring and the empire falls. But Lia’s dangerous bid to save her realm doesn’t lead to immediate victory. Instead, destiny hurls her and Conrí towards a future neither could predict…

OR TEAR THEIR WHOLE WORLD APART?

Con has never healed after the death of his family and destruction of his kingdom—he’s been carefully plotting his revenge against his greatest enemy, Emperor Anure, waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike. When Lia’s spies gather intelligence suggesting that Anure is planning an attack against Calanthe, Con faces an agonizing choice: Can he sacrifice Lia and all she holds dear to destroy the empire? Or does his true loyalty exist in the arms of his beguiling, passionate wife—’til death do they part?

The Forgotten Empire series is:

“Captivating…engrossing.” —Romance Reviews Today

“Sensual fantasy romance you won’t want to miss!”—Amanda Bouchet, USA Today bestselling author of The Kingmaker Chronicles

“Action-packed…sexy…highly recommend.”—Harlequin Junkie (Top Pick)