The Wattys are here

After some hours of delay, assumed coding problems, and many thousands of panicked writers around the world…the 2016 Wattys are up and running.

The Wattys are Wattpad’s *huge* annual writing contest, split among many countries, languages, and genres. It’s a fascinating way for me, as an American, to see some of the best of the best of international writing outside the fanfiction and commercial venues I normally frequent!

Bloodshadow for Wattpad

For my part, just to see if anything would happen, I chucked Bloodshadow into the mix. From now until August 31, if you have (or want) a Wattpad account (they’re free), please stop by and give my old trunk-novel a look. It’s well beyond commercially publishable at this point; all that I can do is heavily revise and self-publish it, and I’m planning to do that anyway.

Bloodshadow on Wattpad

 

Bloodshadow for Wattpad

Say hi to Bloodshadow, finally.

On the savage world of Lonhra, its Sleeping Goddess has been genetically modifying human colonists into the long-lived, psi-gifted Sirrithani race. She can’t physically leave her prison inside the planet’s core, or the vengeful living planet might destroy all organic lifeforms on its surface. Her strongest ally might go insane and kill his ordained mate at any moment. An interstellar empire that has been looking for Lonhra and its people for thousands of years…just found them.

To act as her champion and spy, the Goddess picks Tel. It’s not mutual. The halfbreed shapeshifter wants to find her absent father, and answer questions about the dark, horrible magics she can barely control. Along the way Tel plays Sirr rebels against offworld spies, fears the one man in the world meant only for her, and tries not to lose her soul when she helps him keep his.

I have this nearly 20-year-old manuscript (if you count all of its revisions.) It’s loosely set in the same universe as Moro’s Price, but far distant, many thousands of years earlier, and with (mostly) different characters. Since it has only a sweet romance, and no direct LGBTQ content, it was unsuitable for Loose Id, Moro’s first publisher. While the protagonist is an 18-year-old woman, the book itself is not really YA – I get into some dark stuff, even if there’s no graphic on-page sex.

Bloodshadow StalkingDue to market uncertainties, it’s unlikely this particular story will ever get picked up by a large publisher. It was a hot mess until just a revision ago; I hope it’s less awful now. Even so, under the earlier title ‘Blackfire’, it won third place in the Del Rey/Spectra Suvudu writing contest in 2011.

I might self-publish it someday via Amazon. It’s not the best or fastest book I’ve written, but it has some good points. Like my fanfiction, it’s a marker of where my writing has been. Since it’s original fiction, it doesn’t really belong with my fan writing over at Archive of Our Own. So for now Bloodshadow can live on my Wattpad page.

It’s complete and gawdawful huge, so I’ll be splitting it into smaller Wattpad-friendly chapters. I’ll try to update chapters weekly, if not sooner.

(Cover image is my own digital art, via Painter.)

Sometimes I get it right

After playing with Bloodshadow for too damned long, I finally got a reasonable sketch of the main character Tel Girshanha. I might be using a version of this image as a cover, if I ever have to self-publish this crazy book.

Bloodshadow Cover sketch

For anyone following the backstories in both Moro’s Price and ‘Saints and Heroes’ – yes, that is a star-eater coming over the horizon. (But relax: he’s one of the Good Guys. Or at least house-trained.)

I’m not a brilliant artist, but luminaries like Michael Whelan and John Jude Palencar have spoiled me for quick and dirty Photoshop covers.

I love photomanipulation even more when I can really dig in and make it all arty.

This was done in Painter 11, with photomanipulation, digital airbrush, chalk, and diffusion brushes. Tel’s image took an hour to adapt; the background took around 2 hours to put together.

The Next Big Thing

Missy Welsh invited me to tag along on The Next Big Thing blog hop, and talk about my current works-in-progress (WIPs). What better way to celebrate the start of a new year?

1. What is the working title of your book? I have two WIPs jostling for attention at the moment. Book #1 is Moro’s Shield, book #2 is Bloodshadow.

2. Where did the idea come from? Moro’s Shield is the sequel to my first-published novel Moro’s Price.

Bloodshadow Stalking

Bloodshadow is set loosely in the same universe as the Moro books, but thousands of years earlier on one of my alien Sonta homeworlds.

3. What is the genre of your book? Moro’s Shield is gritty M/M/F erotic romance space opera.

Bloodshadow is a dark fantasy with space opera overtones and M/F romance.

No matter what genre I write, I make a point to include LGBT characters and cultural quirks in most of my writing, so few of my characters are 100% straight or gay. Tel Girshanha

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? I couldn’t, for the simple reason that I’d probably go with an anime and/or CGI adaptation over live action – certainly for the lead in Bloodshadow. (It would be really tricky to live-cast someone who half the time looks like a Utahraptor crossed with an African lion.)

That said, early physical inspirations for Valier Antonin included the models Phoenix James and Andrej Pejic, and younger photos of actor Jared Leto.

Moro has no specific physical counterpart (I haven’t been 100% happy with my sketch models of him), but I will admit to my jaw dropping when I first saw David Giuntoli in ‘Grimm”. Sure, Moro is taller, paler, with longer hair and odd eyes – but that’s the fun of writing fantasy!

Moro, Val, and disc pencil version

5.  What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Moro’s Shield: On the run from two human empires, Moro accepts Sonta help for his damaged nervous system, while Val discovers unexpected friendship among the Sonta’s masters of sensual torment.

Bloodshadow: The shapeshifter Tel confronts her dark and alien heritage while uncovering a plot to invade her planet.

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency/publisher? Pending approval, Moro’s Shield is on contract to Loose Id, who published the first book.

Pending revision, Bloodshadow may be represented by my agent or self-published.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? I had a lot of necessary interruptions in 2012, so it took me a few months to plot both Moro’s Shield and its possible sequel. I’ll have the 70K final draft done by the end of February.

Bloodshadow is one of those on-again, off-again epics that I work on when I feel like it. I started it in 1998, dropped it in 1999, picked it back up in 2009, finished 150K of it, pitched it unsuccessfully to agents, won honorable mention or second place in a few high-level contests with it (Thank you Random House and Writers of the Future for giving me hope!), and am now trimming it to a more readable 110K.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? I’d say that folks who like Belinda McBride’s ‘Coalition’ erotic romance space operas might like mine. In the broader sf&f field (and if sf&f readers can handle the graphic M/M sex), the Moro books might appeal to folks who like C.J. Cherryh’s science fiction or Lois Bujold’s ‘Vorkosigan’ space operas.

For Bloodshadow, I think it feels a little like Jacqueline Carey’s ‘Kushiel’ novels blended with James Cameron’s ‘Avatar’ movies, or Andre Norton’s ‘Witch World’ series meets Scott Lynch’s ‘Gentlemen Bastard’ novels – a secondary world mingling fantasy and science fiction elements, an immense history, and a main character whose self-discovery guides readers through bloody action and political intrigue.

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book? As a hobby, I’ve been developing the universe of Bloodshadow for almost 30 years. My very first inspirations would be the epics of J.R.R. Tolkien, and the space opera/metaphysical crack of the first ‘Star Wars’ movies.

Movies, TV shows, and anime sagas like ‘The Fifth Element’, ‘Babylon 5’, ‘Firefly’, ‘Cowboy BeBop’, and ‘Ghost in the Shell’ inspired the world building and ‘feel’ of the Moro books. The actual inspiration came from an erotic romance editorial test I took in early 2011, after trunking Bloodshadow yet again. I learned three things from the test: I was not cut out to be an editor. I thought the editorial sample provided was derivative and so clunky it needed more developmental than mechanical editing. But I really enjoyed the idea of cutting loose with a new genre. I’d loved writing M/M stories in obscure fanfiction, received some thoughtful praise and critiques from them, and I wondered if I could write original M/M and M/F erotic romance commercially. Ninety days and 100K later, I had the first draft of Moro’s Price.

10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? The Moro books are as much space opera as they are erotic romance, because I find plot as much a turn-on as sizzling sex scenes. If you like layers of story, plot twists, some fairly intricate world building, plus hot and damaged guys building friendship out of lust and a nearly-accidental marriage – give these books a try. Dark Music tapestry

On Bloodshadow? It could be my epic foray into mainstream fantasy, or an epic fail. I’m a fool for working on it and its plotted sequels when I have no outlet other than self-publishing, but it’s a big, fun story that keeps pulling me back. You can get a hint of Tel Bloodshadow’s world in the erotic fantasy short story ‘Saints and Heroes’, in the Cleis Press anthology Thrones of Desire:

http://mitziszereto.com/thronesofdesire/

To get you started, here are purchase links for Moro’s Price. 

At Loose Id, my publisher.

On Amazon.

At AllRomance e-books.

 

Now go forth! Check out these great writers, their past works, and their Next Big Things coming up next week or so:

Meredith Booke  http://meredithbooke.blogspot.co.uk/

Belinda McBride  http://www.belindam.blogspot.com/search?updated-max=2012-12-04T04:08:00-08:00&max-results=3

Vera Nazarian   http://www.veranazarian.com/

A.G. Carpenter  http://agcarpenter.blogspot.com/