Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Among The Living

I have very few delusions about any regular blog readers, but it did occur to me for a breath this morning, that there might be one person out there thinking, is she still kicking?

In other words, the guilt monkeys pointed out I hadn't blogged this century.

So here is the state of things, and a reassurance to my own guilt. I live. I write. Sometimes, I do both at the same time.  It turns out that's a lot easier than it sounds.

The current book in my Scriv binder is Sky Dragon, the third Kundalis dragons novel, and it is well past the midpoint and racing for home.
The third Princes of the Shroud book is with typesetting etc, and should be a real live launched book late this summer.
The second Corduroy County Coven book is begun and in the queue to finish as soon as the Kundalis novel is awaiting edits.
Speaking of awaiting edits, I should have The Elf's Apprentice back from the proofreader soon and we'll have an indie launch on the schedule.

Farther out, I'm afraid, the final Dogs of War books will still be coming soon... (seems like the soon is a bit too much, there huh?) As will the next Kingdoms Gone title, Powers that Be. That series has a lot more coming from it, and I hope I can keep the releases at least to a bi-annual sort of pace.

In the "new business" category, I am working hard to lay the groundwork for my next series, Hybrid Nation, which I'm only half jokingly calling "Divergent meets Zootopia." For a sneak peek at that one, there is a short story in the current issue of GoAL that has to do with my protagonist's origins.
Not for the faint of heart thought, that particular short has a horror edge to it.

Should be a lot of shorts coming, in particular in that world since it's haunting me and I can't quite get to it in earnest yet.

Both the web serials are still available for free reading as well. Just follow the bouncing links.
 The Earth Tigers
Much Ado About Bluebottles

Thanks to anyone/everyone who is still reading. It's been a helluva a year, a lot more awesome than the last on so far. Health is good, new critique group is appropriately kicking my arse, and the convention season has gotten off to a bang of a start.

Here's hoping everyone out there is having as much fun as I am!
Best,
Frances

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Why My Favorite Miyazaki Film is the One Where Nothing Really Happens

I'm a big fan of movies about writers. I'm an even bigger fan of anything by Studio Ghibli or having anything at all to do with Hirao Miyazaki. Well, who isn't really?

But instead of the painfully cute Totoro, the adventurous Laputa and the ever-adored Howl, my favorite of all is Whisper of the Heart. The which of the what? I know, I know. It's not exactly the best known either.

What Whisper of the Heart is, is a delightful, soft, tender first romance that could probably be considered sickeningly sweet. But don't write it off yet! There's a lot to love in there. Trust me.

Why it's my pick.
#1- Writer movie. Okay, that's an easy win for me. I'm a writer. Like many of my kind, I'm a bit obsessive, slightly narcissistic, and always a fan of a film about my favorite topic. So... onward.

#2- The cat returns...FROM Whisper of the Heart. Didn't yall wonder where the cat returned from? Well, he makes his first appearance, and a ton of his back story here in Whisper of the Heart. If you love the cat... this one is a must watch too.

#3- Parenting. A lot of the Ghibli films, and anime in general, give me fits about the parenting going on... or more importantly NOT going on. The father in Totoro needs a visit from CPS. Seriously, how long was little Mae running about in the yard and he has NO IDEA where she is? The kids wander the countryside, go on adventures, and I'm having an anxiety attack on the couch the whole time. But... the parents in Whisper of the Heart do something that I find extremely wonderful. When the little girl confesses that her studies are failing because she has this great dream to write a book... the father thinks a little, smokes a lot, and then says, go for it. Dreams don't come along every day, if you don't try it, you'll never know. Parenting win.

#4- The moment.This is really the reason I love Whisper of the Heart. There is a moment in the movie that every author knows intimately. It goes like this: Girl wants to write. Girl is possessed with the obsession to write. She fills her head with the idea of being a writer. She dreams. She writes like mad, like a bat out of hell. She knows it's good. It's what she's meant to do. It's her opus. She clutches said masterpiece to her chest and rushes out to share it with someone. They read it. While they read it she paces, whimpers, pulls her hair, dreams some more. And then they're done.
How was it? she asks. Well? WELL WELL WELL?
and they guy says, basically.... well, yer no Hemingway.
CRASH.
This moment is so deliciously portrayed it hurts. It's the moment that every writer's life turns upon. This is the second when you discover if you're a writer or not.
Yer no Hemingway... yet.
Will you take up basket weaving or keep trying? Will you give up? Are you going to stand there and take that or are you going to pick the pen back up and show them what you can really do...?

I love this movie, for the sweet, the cute, the cat and the romance, but its THE MOMENT that makes it so special.
So personal.
So brilliant.
 My favorite. :)

~Frances


Secret reason #5- John Denver Karaoke!!!! WIN.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Black Dragons: Guest J.M. Scheirer

Please welcome J.M. Scheirer to the blog today! She is celebrating her first solo release, a short story titled, Black Dragons. 
Welcome J.M.!



We've always called it the Cluster of a Thousand Suns. Are there truly a thousand stars with inhabited worlds within the cluster? Perhaps, but I doubt anyone has made it a point to count them all. We much rather prefer the romance of the name to its reality.



Still, as we look to the night sky, and all those points of light, we have to wonder about the worlds that surround us. What are those other people like? What stories do they have to tell? A thousand planets means billions of possibilities...

The Thousand Suns Saga's story begins almost 15 years ago. Inspired by Star Wars, my partner, Tim, and I started by creating a couple of imaginary worlds where magic and technology lived side by side. Almost every day, we've added something new, building on the lore and mythology.

When asked to write a story with assassins as the theme, my mind immediately flew to the cluster's most notorious band, the Black Dragons. But what tale could I tell to best reflect their nature?

"Black Dragons" deals with the struggles of secrecy, of duty, and of failure. Does our heroine manage to overcome her hurdles, or is she destined to become one of the deceased herself? Find out for yourself, if you dare.

As the most feared group of assassins within the cluster, the Black Dragons rarely have reason to worry. When their reputation is threatened by outsiders, it's up to Selena Olian, prostitute by day, Viper by night, to stop them. However, she discovers that even the most talented of assassins sometimes fail...

Buy link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B019AM2YRA

Webpage: www.jmscheirer.com

EXCERPT:

The door was the same non-descript metal as the others that dotted the stone hallways. Selena pressed the access pad on the side and waited for the distinct “chink” of it unlocking. The door slid to the side.
Master’s office was a good-sized room dominated by a large, dark wooden desk near the opposite wall. The only real decoration was a stiff black rug beneath the desk. It extended out to rest beneath the two chairs on the reception side and the few weapons of the trade that hung on the walls. Master himself sat in the more comfortable executive chair behind the desk. He wore the close black outfit and mask of the order, so she could never make out much about him except that he was shorter and stockier than her. He looked up from the datapads scattered over the surface of his desk when she approached.
Viper.” He greeted her in quen’nare, the modified voice low and grumbly. “Please, come in and sit down.
Selena approached, offering a bow before she sat. “How did you know it was me?
 “I would not be a very good leader if I did not recognize those under me… And Fox called to let me know that you were here. Now, what can I do for you?
The imposters are getting bolder, Master. I had one openly brag that he was a Black Dragon when I saw the bad replica of a tattoo on his skin.
I assume you took care of the problem.
Selena dipped her head. “He will not be making that claim again.
Good. The imposters need to know that we will not tolerate them besmirching our name. Our profession may not have the most favorable impression, but we have a long, honorable history and a reputation that we have well earned. I will not let that falter under my watch.
Selena nodded. Everyone in the surrounding systems knew about the Black Dragons, and she had heard their name spoken in both fear and awe even before she joined. If you wanted someone dead, you went to the Black Dragons. “I understand, Master.
Master sat back in his chair, draping his covered arms over the armrests, and sighed. “See if you can find out where this imposter was inked. If you do, do not kill the artist. See if he or she inked others, and make it very clear to this person that further marking will not be tolerated.
Selena nodded again. “Of course, Master.”
I am very pleased with your work, Viper. I do not regret welcoming you into our Brotherhood.
Even though I am a Sister?” she smiled back.
Master waved it off with a hand. “There is a reason we keep our sun lives separate from our moon lives. Do you know how many people would be all too happy to arrest us, even kill us if they recognized us?
I imagine it would be quite a few. I understand the reasons for all the precautions we take.
Of course you do, Viper. Is there something else you need to discuss with me?
Selena shook her head. “I came here right away to let you know. I did not think it was something that should wait.
No,” Master agreed. “We operate on information. You have done well, Viper.
She dipped her head to him. “Thank you, Master. By your leave.”
Master waved a dismissive hand at her before returning his attention to ’pads in front of him. She stood, bowed, and turned to leave. It wouldn't be easy to track down the tattoo artist, but she was a Black Dragon. If Master wanted it done, it would be done.

J.M. Scheirer:
 On a cold day on Hoth…er…in Eastern Pennsylvania, in the depth of night in the year of 1978, J.M. emerged into the world.  She moved to Endor…er…Southern Maryland as a young child, where she began the process of creating worlds and stories about them.  As an adult, she moved to Tatooine…er…Eastern Washington to spend the rest of her life with her soulmate (aka Tim).
There’s not enough time in the day for everything she tries to fit into her life.  On any given day, you can find her reading and/or writing and/or playing video games and/or watching TV shows and movies and/or sewing and/or baking.



Sunday, December 6, 2015

In Which I Try Something Different

Today is the launch of the Kindle Scout Campaign for The Elf's Apprentice.

https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/X1REXGY7PXNL
The first two chapters are uploaded and available for preview on the campaign page here: https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/X1REXGY7PXNL

If you like what you see, please NOMINATE the title for publication (in the sidebar) or save it for later consideration. If you help get the book to publication, there's a free copy for everyone who nominates the title. 

So, if the story seems like something you think others would enjoy, sassy, humorous, irreverent fantasy romance. Sexy elves and smart-ass apprentices, magic, sword fights, true love, etc. :)
Please spread the word! 

Thanks so much to every last person who has help or will help with The Elf's Apprentice's long journey.

Best to you all!

Frances

The Elf's Apprentice

by Frances Pauli 

 A sorcerer, a rebel, and a kingdom under fire

As the sorcerer's new apprentice, Kia's fiery temper is bound to get her into hot water. Evander is obnoxious, arrogant, intolerable, and undeniably the most beautiful elf alive. Even if she passes his relentless testing, working at his side just might kill her. Worse, her master has powerful enemies inside the palace. When their attacks turn personal, the sorcerer's apprentice becomes the perfect bait in a deadly trap set to destroy the man who has become far more than just her boss.

Monday, November 23, 2015

How's the NaNoWriMo coming?

Actually, not so good. I'm probably not going to hit fifty K for the first November in... well since I started. Still, The third Kundalis book is on the page. At least, the beginning of it is. So that's something. If I keep plugging away at it, hopefully, this one will make its deadline.

So... Chuck Wendig, (my dark god, don't tell him) has asked for excerpts and I do whatever Chuck says... also don't tell him that. You can read everyone's excerpts by following the links in his comments here: http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2015/11/23/nanowrimo-challenge-a-snippet-of-your-work-if-you-please/

Here is mine.
:)
It's rough, this is Nano people.

Kundalis: book three

The Ryegrass rest stop stayed busy year round. Central Washington didn’t exactly have much to offer, in particular on the dry hump of scabland rising above Vantage, but to anyone crossing the state from the wet, Seattle side to the wheat infested east, usually ended up winding down this particular hillside toward the Columbia River Gorge below.
I watched the traffic from a distance, perched on top of a 300 foot wind generator while my Kundalis dragon flirted with the gigantic white blades.
Bored.
“Li should be back soon.” I held a thin silver wire toward the sunlight and poked the tip into a blue glass bead. My jewelry kit sat beside my knee. A tackle box I’d found back at school in Cheney, the green case sported enough compartments for my tools, wire, findings and as many colored beads as I could pack into the little plastic squares. “We can head for home as soon as we’re done with the interview.”
Home is also boring.
I ignored the jab and strung two more glass orbs onto my wire. Then I fished out my needle nose pliers and began to twist the piece into a dragon that only slightly resembled the snakey blue monster currently complaining in my head. The pendants had been born out of my own boredom. Not that I liked to admit aloud that Blue was correct. Li had been the genius to suggest selling them online, and with the help of the ravenous media, our financial problems had been sorted out in the frenzy of Kundalis mania.
Which only lasted a few months, thank god.
You miss it.
“Only when our sales dip.”
Blue twined between the blades of the wind generator and twisted his huge head in my direction. Thank god no one else could see him. The patronizing look he favored me with wouldn’t be easy to live down in public. His whiskers trailed away like ribbons on either side of his dragon smirk, and I wondered, suddenly, what would happen if one got caught in the mechanism.
Nothing. I am not physical at the moment.
“Let me fantasize, brat.”
Li is back.
I stopped myself from saying, good. Glad to see Li was a new thing for me. Since our crew had all bolted with Doc, however, any company counted for something. We’d spent months in a state halfway like hiding out and the other half like being on tour. I did my best to plead to the media’s sense of intelligence, and Li spent her time proving to me that the media had no intelligence.
I’d manage to get an article with a shred of fact published, and she’d show up with a stack of papers about whacko dragon attacks, secret agendas and instructions on how to protect your children from being assimilated by our Kundalis cult.
Had to love Li.
She keeps you grounded.
Fair enough. The dragon had me there. Not that I’d ever needed grounding before he’d spawned from my navel like a rotten, sass-mouthed tumor. I twisted the wire into a curling tail, added a final smaller bead, and clipped off the excess wire. In my palm, a two inch mockery of my Kundalis caught the light and flashed from its facets. Li kept me grounded? Interesting. I was pretty sure I wanted that to be Doc’s job.
I set the pendant into the bottom of the tackle box, on top of the other four I’d finished before Blue got impatient. Before I could decide to close up shop or start a new one, my partner in crime shot past our perch like a cranky, Asian bottle rocket.
Li liked taking her dragon in a lot more than I did. Her black beastie could make her invisible, could put out fires, and when Li was feeling spunky, allowed her to pass through solid objects like smoke. Right now, however, she was more than visible, she hovered over Ryegrass like a anti-gravity goddess, long hair streaming behind her and nothing beneath her feet but open air and the transparent support of her Kundalis.
She lifted slight arms over her head, spun a little pirouette for effect and then lighted like a bird on the white housing in front of me. Almost blocking my view of Blue’s face, almost less annoying than my own dragon’s condescension.
“I got the papers.” Li took a step and her dragon slipped away, wafting out and upward until it stretched over her head like a black ribbon and left her less glowy, but just as snotty as ever. “Next time you fetch.”
“Sure.” I didn’t have the energy to argue with her today, or maybe, I’d just learned that agreeing saved me a lot of headaches. I cut a new piece of wire and picked up the pliers again.
“We made the A’s.” Li dropped a stack of local newspapers and then sat cross-legged across the box from me. “But Teddy’s been banished to D section.”
“He won’t like that.” I twisted a dragon snout out of wire and slipped an onyx bead on in honor of Li. “Poor Teddy.”
Li snorted. She spun my tool box around and fished inside. “We got ten more orders.”
“Really?” I set my half formed pendant down and reached for the top paper. “At least the attention is doing some good.”
“Good picture of you too.” She kept her voice level. It was hard to tell what Li was thinking on a good day, but I suspected she hid a barb in the comment somewhere.
I ignored it and opened the newspaper, separating out section A and scanning the pictures. A month ago anything about us made the front page automatically. Two months ago we were the front page. Ever since Teddy and Rick Waters outed the existence of dragons on the late night news, my Kundalis might as well have been a Kardashian.
I hardly think.
I might have only imagined a note of pride in that. It washed away quickly enough when I found the picture Li had referred to. Definitely a barb, though she’d opted to let the photographer do her nasty for her this time. I looked like a circus freak in the photo, despite the title claiming: Metaphysical Heroes Assist with Wildfire Battle. Why did they always catch me with my mouth hanging open?
Because you never stop flapping your jaws?
I growled at my dragon and Li flinched. At least our public image was pretty. I could live with that. Li and I had worked our asses off all summer to live with that.
I might have helped a little.
“Shhh.” I closed section A and flipped the rest of the paper over. The back page, and no photo either. Poor Teddy. I read his article rather than stare at my own hideous image. Our self-appointed spokesman had gone from starlet to snore faster than I’d expected, but then, he hadn’t taken his monstrous white Kundalis in yet. He couldn’t control her, and so, he couldn’t back up any of his talk with the fancy show that Li and I always managed to pull off whether we liked it or not.
Teddy couldn’t fly. He couldn’t shoot lighting from his palms. As far as I could tell, all he did was talk and cause me trouble.


Sunday, November 15, 2015

Do YOU Have A Dragon Problem?



It's new release day, and I am back in dragon-land ready to play! The above excerpt is from the second Kundalis book, and was published (fictionally) in a metaphysical newspaper entirely of my imagining.

That being said, I'd love to hear YOUR responses to the advert. (again, fictional--or ??) and if you post them in the comments below, I'll pick one person at random to receive e-copies of both Kundalis dragons books.

Let's hear your about dragon sightings!

~Frances
 


Monday, October 26, 2015

My Favorite Dia

I'm a big fan of the Day of the Dead. Not just in the, you know, recently very popular way either. It started when I was wayyyy back in High School, and I promise you... that's been awhile.

Not even going to tell you how many years.

But you definitely couldn't by sugar skull decorations at Walmart yet.  In fact, you couldn't get ANYTHING assoiated with Dia de los Muertos here in the states unless you knew people who had relatives south of the border.

A few years later than that my family decided to take a vacation to Puerto Vallarta on Halloween without me.

With. Out. Me.

I've forgiven them, trust me. But they did ask if I wanted anything as a souvenir and I immediately started dancing around shouting: flower skeleton, flower skeleton. My brother did the noble thing and offered to book me a room in a special facility, so I had to explain.

He gave me a sideways look and said, "How will I find this? What if I get the wrong thing?"

I assured him that on Oct. 31st in PV he would not be able to miss my flower skeletons. I'm still pretty sure he thought I was nuts. When he returned with my hand carved wooden Dia de los Muertos dude. (still my favorite decoration of all) He understood. He told me he almost bought me the life-sized one, for which he gets major points, but he'd have had to get it a seat on the plane and didn't want to foot the bill for an extra fare. For which... well, I suppose I understand that.

Life sized.

Sometimes I still imagine him riding back on the plane with it.


So... the point of all this is that I LOVE DIA DE LOS MUERTOS.

and I have a free short story up on the Zharmae blog for y'all to prove it. 


https://zharmaeblog.wordpress.com/2015/10/22/kundalis-de-los-muertos/

It feautres the Kundalis dragons and makes a tidy bridge between book one (out now) and book two.
(coming very very soon)

I hope you all enjoy it.

Best
Frances

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Drinking the Novel

Writers have a long history of drunkenness (Both real and completely Exaggerated). In the spirit of authorly angst and punchy "I"m finally almost done with the book" fun, I have procrastinated all  morning devising the following drinking guide to the story creation process.




Drinking the Novel:

Inspiration strikes(Glorious): Glass of wine
Plotting(Intellectual time): Gin
Facing the blank page (Nerves): Shot of Vodka
Inciting Incident: (Getting excited) Appletini
Commitment Point: (Go time)Stout Ale
Midpoint:(Shifting Gears) Rum
Downtime:(Relaxing) Fuzzy Navel
Dark Moment: (Tragedy) Shot of Whiskey
Main Conflict: (Ahhhh!) Tequila
Third Act Twist: (Surprise) Grab anything!!
Resolution: (Tie it up neatly) Kahlua
Finished the book: (Celebration) Champagne
Editing:(Kill me now) Rum, Tequila and the rest of the Whiskey


Don't try this at home, kids.
*above guide is intended for novel creation of a long and arduous nature. For the freaks of nature who whip theses things out in a weekend, alcohol poisoning is no laughing matter.

~Morning!
Frances

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Favorite Heroines Blog Hop

Today we are playing in the Favorite Heroines Blog Hop. I'll be sharing some of my favorite heroines, and if you follow the links to the other blogs, you can meet even more. In addition, each blog will be holding some  kind of giveaway. For my prize, one commenter below will get their pick of either a first print proof copy of HORDED or an electronic copy of any one of my books.

Best of luck on all your hops!


First let me say that my favorite heroines are not "badass" in the usual sense of the term. I mean, sure I like a girl that can kick butt as much as the next reader, but to be honest, the ones that really stand out for me are the heroines that are strong in a different way.

I appreciate strength of character, perseverance, gentleness,personal growth and okay, a lot of badass magic too. So, my picks are less kicking butt and shooting targets and more, delving the inner reaches of their own psyches to route out some pretty ugly personal demons.

That being said, my all time favorite heroine is Sybel from Patricia McKillip's, Forgotten Beasts of Eld. She's a high wizard who calls ancient, mythological animals to her and keeps them as her servants. Sybel starts out powerful as hell, but her journey is about learning to be soft, allowing herself to need more than just power, and I am absolutely enamored with her character arc and her story.
(I own two signed copies to my great delight)

Gillan from Andre Norton's, Year of the Unicorn, is a very close second. In truth, it's probably a tie.  Gillan is studying to be a nun and herbalist when her story begins. In order to save a friend, however, she takes the girl's place in secret and ends up offered as a bartered bride to a group of wer riders from out of the wastes. No one knows anything about these men except that they are dangerous. Despite the fact that she is low-born and was never meant to be a part of the bride tribute, Gillan is the one who uses her strength to uncover the truth about the mysterious wer riders, and then uses her own power to battle for her life and the man she loves.
Gillan's battle is also internal, though she faces outward foes as well along the way. In the end, she is trapped inside her own mind and forced to find her true self and her own way back out into the light.

Both stories are lyrical and beautiful and I suppose, show how my own work has been influenced. The themes are certainly some of my favorites to use as well. The inner journey, facing down the shadow, and personal growth... In my book, that's some badass heroine-ism.

So, what are your thoughts? Do heroines have to kick butt and take names to be badass? Can they do both? Comment for an entry into my giveaway, and hop via the links below to enter the rest!

~Frances