My brain is a pitiful creature pulled in a dozen directions at once, and I’m finally ready to give one of them a true voice alongside Sam Argent. So today, I’m introducing you to Tamia Benson. There aren’t a bunch of secret nerdy references buried in this pseudonym, but there is a simple statement; a black woman wrote this book. Due to writing and my health, I’m usually watching on the sidelines when drama breaks out in the YA world. There were more than a few times when I wanted to deplete my spoons to rant on for days, and more than a few times when writing was the only thing that stopped me from becoming discouraged about entering that type of environment. Hell, writing sex scenes was less daunting than just being reminded of the statistics constantly working against POC in the YA market. So I guess this where having a life of shitty luck comes in. I’ve been through a lot, both physically and mentally, and if anyone is dumb enough to stand in my way, God help that poor soul.
I would only run a long distance if zombies were after me, but having Witches For Hire ready for pre-order feels like I’m walking up to a marathon start line. I’ve run it once with Sebastian, but the second time around is just as nerve-wracking. Despite the constant butterflies in my stomach, succeeding at making it to this point again is worth the stress. My crappy health and my doubts couldn’t stop me, so there will be a third and a fourth marathon.
As for the very late YA books update, I’ve divided it into three parts. The first part will cover my pseudonym and goals, the second will address the standalones that are planned, and then the third will be about the Banshee series. My energy levels took a big hit last month(slowly improving thanks to a shit load of vitamins and supplements), so shorter blog posts will be the norm for a while.
Today’s post is another progress report, folks! Family of Lies – Kevin is about 2 1/2 chapters from the end, so it feels good to be this far in a novel again. There were some tricky spots that I worked out during NaNo, but I got through them. This has signaled other wips to pelt me in the head like I just pissed off Kenshiro.
The Orwells are talking the most as usual, so here are plot summaries of what’s to come and how the stories can be read(these are first drafts so they are subject to change frequently, and please forgive the ugly writing):
Sebastian – https://samargent.wordpress.com/2015/03/04/the-sound-of-a-thousand-squees/ (I’m being lazy here)
Kevin – Kevin Orwell gets fed up with his family and wins an apprenticeship to Larnlyon’s most famous blacksmith, Luke. On his way to meet the master blacksmith, Kevin finds some relief in the bushes with a decent looking fellow who needs more practice. This fellow of course turns out to be the blacksmith who has a fuck once and never speak to you again policy, so working together becomes awkward. Despite Luke’s restrictions on their companionship, they grow closer while preventing trouble that Kevin’s family causes and violently discouraging minions of Luke’s former guardian sent to bring the blacksmith back into the illegal weapons’ business.
James – A year after his brother’s death, James Orwell still blames himself for being unable to prevent it. He encouraged his brother to follow his dreams of being a soldier, and he can’t sit at home waiting for another sibling to make the same mistake. He ventures out on his own, drinking from tavern to tavern and trying to dodge his younger siblings trailing his every move. The last thing he needs are knights-in-training, Eliana and and Alton accusing him of a robbery he drunkenly slept through, or them insisting on traveling with him once his innocence is proved because he attracts trouble.
Alice – Alice Orwell has spent years watching her siblings draw an invisible line between good and bad, not understanding why she should care about separating the two. Her only way of blending in with normal people has been imitating those around her or lying about the thoughts in her head. That feeling of being different has grown stronger over the years, and drinking away her worries leads to waking up next to the most boring man she’s ever met and a marriage ring on her finger. Determined to scare away her unwanted husband, Mernon, Alice displays her true monstrous self. But Mernon doesn’t flinch from her willingness to kill, instead, he removes his own mask.
Rebecca – Selling herbs and robbing the occasional bandit at swordpoint provides Rebecca with a pleasant amount of money, but her days seem monotonous. She attends a court ball to see if pick-pocketing rich people will give her excitement, but a masked bandit appears to rob everyone before she can. Furthermore, the bandit smells familiar enough for Rebecca to follow the thief. Coming face to face with the girl, Emily, whom she helped rescue from a murderous aunt was the last thing she expected. Nor did she expect for Emily to advance her sword technique so much that they’re now equals. Once they finally declare a draw, Emily explains that disrupting the ball was her plan falling into place to take down her aunt for good. Rebecca isn’t one for honorable causes, but she’s had a soft spot for Emily since they first met, and her sword’s always ready for more enemies.
Demetrius – Demetrius Orwell finally did the worst thing imaginable; he performed a good deed. After rescuing a young boy’s sister from slavers, the pirate crew the siblings sail with mistake him for a damn slaver and kidnap him. Now he’s stuck on a rotting ship and instead of an apology when his role in the ordeal is made clear, the pirate captain, Coramis, says it was Demetrius’s own fault for being so suspicious. To make matters worse, Demetrius accidentally revealing his gift with languages is exactly what the crew needs to hunt down the other slavers.
Kraven – There’s one thing about being boring that Kraven Orwell has always liked; his parents forget about him. But with more of his siblings leaving the house, that attention has strayed his way. When his father suggests a trip to the City of Spies, he’s suspicious but easily wooed by the beautiful buildings carved into cliffs and lavish meals his father kindly pays for. Which should have alerted him to a plot, but he wakes in their expensive inn room with no money, no identification papers, and only a note that reads, “I have no boring children, and I will prove it. Also, don’t die or your mother will kill me.”
Afraid of what other surprises his father has for him, Kraven flees the inn and takes a translating job to pay his way off the island. Before the job is finished, his employer is poisoned, and Kraven finds out that he’s been decoding spy messages the whole time. Now spies all over the city are hunting him, and no one will believe that he’s just a boring man who grew up in the middle of a fucking forest.
Diana – Competing with the Pleasure Guild’s brews and concoctions to induce the greatest sexual experience has filled Diana Orwell’s purse with gold and introduced her to one of the Guild’s higher ups, Selene. Every encounter between them is wrought with desire, and when they do finally test their wares on each other, Diana admits defeat after being brought to her knees by Selene’s skills. Months pass between their next meetings, but when their bodies touch again it’s as if they’ve only been parted by seconds. And Selene becomes more than her competition. In the worst moment of Diana’s life, Selene is there to comfort her. When Selene later offers Diana an official courtship by revealing her true role within the Pleasure Guild as their executioner when harm comes to one of their members, Diana ends their relationship. Years pass, and Diana has to face the same secret in her own family. She sucks up her pride and seeks out Selene’s help no matter what the price will be.
Pratchett – Tired of coming second to Demetrius because his brother has more criminal experience in years, Pratchett Orwell decides the best way to set himself apart is to do what no one, not even his parents have done; break out of the most protected prison in the world. He also has to do it within his first day there or he gets the fun memory of being flayed. His escape almost goes perfectly, but he’s bitten by a prisoner with a mating instinct. Now connected by their souls, Pratchett can’t leave the man’s side until the mating is properly finished or they both pass out. Pratchett manages to drag him and the bastard to safety, but his new buddy won’t reveal how to undo the mating. In order to run off on some vendetta to kill everyone involved with destroying his life, the mysterious prisoner needs the tether to Pratchett’s mind to block the memories of his endless torture.
Cecilia – Haven’t figured out when the story is taking place yet, and this one needs the most plotting.
Ophelia – Being a seer hasn’t been easy what with the constant worrying about people wanting to cut her eyes out, but endangering her life is worth removing her most painful vision. In the magic-blighted land of Jesaro, an auction of the most forbidden objects will take place in two weeks, and one of them is powerful enough to banish the vision from her mind. Unfortunately, neither she nor anyone in her family has the money to buy it, so she has to steal it from the many assassins guarding it.
What to definitely read in order are Kevin, Alice, Rebecca, Demetrius, Kraven, Diana, and then Pratchett. Again, these are ugly summaries that aren’t spruced up because my brain is fried from writing at least 2k a day. A Strongest Sword update will come at the end of the week though.
Another double post because if I put off this announcement for happier times, that may be a depressingly long way off. Soooo drumroll, trumpet blares, and a smoke bomb for extra pizzazz! Here’s the cover(by Catt Ford) for Witches For Hire that has a publishing date set for April 4, 2017!
I don’t have any new comments about Trump becoming Commander in Fuckery other than these tweets:
It’s not because there isn’t more to say. My crappy body just doesn’t allow me to dwell on stressful shit. Whenever I do, hello chest pains, puking, and my back turning into a rock. Luckily, writing has always been a reliable way to vent those frustrations.
As someone who falls into multiple demographics affected by this election, being as healthy as I can be is how I survive this. There won’t be a lot of sitting on my hands though. I can still make phone calls to very chipper aides who may or may not deliver my angry messages to my useless representatives(yay, Georgia!), and continue writing the kind of stories that were a sanctuary for me when the real world was just too fucking awful.
Sort of. This past year I’ve found my groove. At least for now. My mojo comes and goes, but this has been the longest streak yet. I’ve been jumping around three stories, and none of them are backtalking me right now. The key for me is not thinking about speed or wordcounts. Those thoughts add too much pressure which forces me not to think of the story first. I do work on a random wip during downtimes, but I’ve got into the habit of not naming them unless I KNOW they will be finished in the next couple of months. All part of the ‘No pressure’ strategy I’m following. And yeah, this mindset is hella different than from when I was unpublished. I believed selling wouldn’t change how blasé I was compared to when no eyes were on me, but I was wrong. As for the three tales in question:
Veiled Dancer(formerly known as Royal Persuasion) – went through a huge revision and added about 15k after I said I was done editing it.
Family Of Lies: Kevin – has not encountered the ‘Sequel Blues’ yet, rewrote the ending, and the back half of the middle still requires some planning due to a heist where Kevin is getting much deserved payback against a troublemaker sibling. I definitely see a lot of editing for the beginning to add in more of Luke’s voice. He was hard to nail down because guilt for the weapons a warlord forced him to make made him cautious about opening up to anyone. That’s why Kevin is so perfect for him. The Orwells do so many fucked up things that Kevin isn’t shocked by Luke’s past and thinks it’s hypocritical for him to be judging anyone.
The Strongest Sword – I expected a portal Scifi/Fantasy YA would be a pain in the ass to write, but after the first two hellish chapters, this baby is rolling along. It helps that the mc, Ryan, has a charming confidence about him that let’s him jump back on his feet no matter how many times I knock him down.
Alrighty, after exorcising some demons in the last post, on to the good news! Witches For Hire(heavily revised to a Georgia setting) has found a home at DSP Publications, which is an imprint for Dreamspinner’s stories that aren’t outright romance. No worries. There’s still humor, a long-term poly relationship developing in the background, and I tend not to go George Martin on my main characters.
WIP updates will come later this week.
Today will be a double post because I have a lot of catch-up to do. For several months there’s been an ongoing duel between my writing and my body. One of the casualties has been my online presence. There were grand announcements I wanted to make like Sebastian receiving an audio version or being translated into different languages. Instead, most days I just wrote ’til I passed out or marathoned Banshee while on forced bed rest.
Oh how I miss you, Job.
Add in the stress of being out on submission, and I pretty much went mute. I kicked myself for being too physically/mentally exhausted to speak outside of writing fiction except for once. After the Orlando massacre, I was brimming with words. Unfortunately, most of them were the wrong ones. Sure I could give condolences to the families who lost loved ones and to the injured who after they healed would carry a part of that night with them forever. But for the people who contribute to the culture that instigated that shooting, all I had were dark thoughts that weren’t healthy for my soul or for those in the lgbt community who did know the right messages to send.
My rage has settled down and absorbed itself into the disappointment building since Trump became a serious presidential candidate. I thought I understood my country’s faults, but there is an ugliness under the surface that rivals Dorian Gray’s portrait. I don’t know what to do with that knowledge as a black bisexual woman or as a writer.
Every day will be a Willy Wonka wonderland of writing mixed with extravagant meals that I finally have the time to cook.
So…much…pizza. At first, having all day to write is wondrous, and I’m all ‘Yay for all the awesome meals I’m gonna make like I’m a friggin Iron Chef’. But then days became monotonous routines of waking, eating, break, writing, break, sleep, writing.
After two months of this, I questioned whether I made the right decision and perhaps I should return to the temp job. Witches For Hire screwing up my writing schedule by demanding to be rewritten didn’t help my confidence either. Since I’ve gotten behind, cooking has taken a back seat unless it’s simple pasta dishes and baked seafood. I’m also on a first name basis with the workers at Thai and pizza places in my area. My joints cried uncle from the weight gain, so I started dancing again. A few weeks into intense booty shaking, I had less belly and more writing. It turns out that what I really needed was a hobby. When my first royalty check arrived, I bought some workout clothes, shoes, and drawing supplies because I figured, why not two hobbies? My daily routine is still wonky, but I don’t question my choice to go full-time anymore.
I somehow formed the mistaken belief that being able to write at all hours of the day meant quickly achieving the perfect ability to translate what’s in my head on to paper. Reading reminds me that no matter how many hours writers have to work, no one achieves perfection even when they create amazing story and characters. I also had to redefine what I considered personal writing failures. If I don’t write first thing in the morning, that’s okay. My writing schedule doesn’t have to be strict, and there’s still a mental need for days off.
What I was probably turning into.
My editing is still too slow, and that causes a traffic jam in upcoming wips. Witches For Hire rewrite is finished, and I’m 2/3 into its final edit. The Orwell who’s rushed to the front of the line while aggravating as many villains as he can is Kevin. He’s a wonderful character to release stress with because he cares even less about authority than Sebastian, is a strong enough fighter to perform the offhand backhand, and plays the family fixer before any trouble his siblings cause reach catastrophic levels of needing James’s or Diana’s help.
This move will always be hilarious to me.
It was that time of the year where I give my brain a break from obsessing over writing and leave for Dragon Con. I have no pictures because I can’t carry a camera(deadweight at a con) and my hands tremble(no worries just regular effects from walking in the heat) too much to take decent pics on an old smart phone. Friday was a blast as usual, and when the crowds got too much, I either hid in the second food court or at the Westin’s lounges. Not so much Saturday because the crowds became crushes of people, and my body hates being jostled. No one was outright rude just oblivious when they made dead stops. This meant I stood to the side instead of participating, but I chatted with Dragon Con and hotel staff who wanted a friendly ear to vent to. Me and another nosy girl got asked if we were Undercover Boss before the worker started talking to us.
Saturday wasn’t always overwhelming despite the fact that I missed Arrow’s panel due to full capacity about 15 people in front me. Curse you, cruel world! If I was fifty back, that would have been less painful, and I would stop thinking about which bodily function I could have ignored to make it. One badass memory was the Super Fantasy panel. If you ever have the chance to see Lynn Abbey, Todd McCaffrey, Chuck Wendig, and Naomi Novik(forgive me if I left out anyone because my memory is bad and my short self could only see two faces)together, take it. They were like a professional comedy troupe playing off each other as they demonstrated through a game of Person, Place, and Thing with the audience about how to build stories. The track director was also a good sport as she was chosen to be the person placed on a Viking ship, inside a bouncy castle, and at some point there was a Voltron cat. I’m not doing the panel any justice, but it was a great time.
Make me laugh, and I can take any weirdness.
Dragon Con has grown into a beast. Sometimes I can handle it, and sometimes I need to hide in the Westin lounge while chomping on a Willy’s burrito and hoping my quiet corner doesn’t get Bogarted by a podcaster who can’t read hunched hermit body language.
This is Sam’s quiet corner. Go away! We eats you! We eats the bad interviewer!