Let’s talk about Loki

After mentioning Cirvel in my blog earlier this week, someone — not naming names here *cough* “Loki” *cough* — got a little jealous. I’ve heard him piping up the background the last couple of weeks politely telling me that I don’t write enough blogs about him. Not nearly enough!

He’s probably right.

So let’s start with a tile card. (grin)

This quote comes to us courtesy of his personal assistant, Jason.

Okay, fair warning here. I’m going to talk about some things which might be considered spoilers if you haven’t read at least the first 2 novellas of the 5 part story arc. If you don’t want spoilers, then I suggest you stop reading this blog post and go read at least the first 2 (1-800-Mischief and For Sale, Call Loki if you want the individuals, or those two in the box set). Otherwise, spoilers ahead for a book that is nearly a decade old.

Wow! Has it really been that long? Sorry, pausing here, I have to go look up the publication date. Yep, 2013; 7 years, nearly 8. Wow!

I’ve been writing mythology mashups a lot longer than that. The first one I did was back in college when I wrote an alternative to the story of Jason of the Argonauts and Medea. I just never felt that Medea could do that (killing her children) without a better reason. There had to be more that we weren’t being told. So I wrote a different story.

I wish I could find that story because I’d publish it now. Maybe its best that I can’t locate it.

What I did have was a big (no, HUGE!!!!) hatred of Jason. What an arrogant S.O.B. Yeah, I sided with Medea. She should have driven a dagger into his black little heart.

So, when I was writing the Loki adventures and I realized that his personal assistant was named Jason, I tried at first to think about a boy I used to go to school with by the same name. Dumb, and yet not; I’ll tell you why: this kid said he was (or adamantly claimed to be) related to Edith Hamilton, who wrote the Mythology book we all had to read in school. I don’t know if it was true or not. Frankly, I don’t think he would’ve had a reason to lie about this since it just got him teased (lightly of course because he was jock and very adored). But all that aside, I just focused on him and tried to keep my thoughts away from Jason of the Argonauts and the Golden Fleece.

I would not write about Jason of the Argonauts!

Then, one day I’m writing a scene about him riding along with Loki and Jason casts a spell. I felt it coming.

Then Jason announces that he is Jason of the Argonauts. Loki’s reaction was pretty close to mine. Yet, I knew I was doomed. I knew I would have to reconcile my feelings about the mythological Jason with my character.

It’s a good thing I’m a big believer in trusting the process. Otherwise, I might have edited all that out and revamped it. Instead, I looked at my rather large poster of Loki and said, “Bring it on!”

Of course, at this point in writing the series, I’m actively looking for things which would change my opinion about Jason of the Argonauts. I watched some documentaries, did some research. I didn’t want to get down too far into it as I didn’t want to spark those old emotions about Medea being forsaken, especially considering my own feelings regarding my divorce were still raw and had given me completely new insights and emotions into betrayal. Yeah, my own healing had taken awhile and I had completely new thoughts about Medea and Jason’s story. I knew I couldn’t touch that deeply in the mythology if I wanted to get this story to work (trust the process and that little voice!).

The universe delivered. First was the BBC television show Atlantis. I hesitated to watch it at first because it was about Jason. Let’s just say that I loved Atlantis. It’s a shame it only got two seasons! They did such a wonderful job with it. I’m currently watching it for the second time with my son, who is experiencing it for the first time. While they have adapted the mythology to suit a different creative vision, much like I have done with my own Loki series, it let me open up toward Jason and feel emotions with him. I really feel like this is when Jason started to feel real in my story. I could now empathize with him on the level I needed to be on with him.

Then there was a documentary I watched about the gold and the ancient Egyptians. Now, many times I will put a documentary on while I’m painting. I often don’t remember everything that was said, but I know that this feeds information into my subconscious to generate stories. I personally consider it as “filling the hopper.” I watch (or rather listen to) all sorts of things, but usually ancient history, metaphysical, or speculative conspiracy documentaries are what I put on. I do remember vividly that during this one documentary about the gold and Egyptians, no I don’t remember what it was called, the Loki story had a huge “click” for me. I dropped my paintbrush with blue paint on it, leapt from my stool, tripped over it and my own feet, while stumbling to grab a piece of paper and a pen to capture the idea I’d just received. I raced the video back a little bit and watched that segment again. Then I had a minor mess to clean up. But I had the next step in my story, a little shift in direction which would make such a big deal later.

In the end, I’m very glad that I had the opportunity to rethink my emotions surrounding Jason of the Argonauts and to make him an active part of my Loki stories. It wouldn’t be the same story without him.

Filling the Shelves

Been trying to post this since Tuesday, but the time never felt quite right until now.

Photo courtesy of © Kittichai Boonpong | Dreamstime.com ID 81867124

Now, if you were been reading between the lines on my Monday blog, you noticed that I’ve also been working on other stories too. Lately, I’ve been doing this massive brainstorming on Cirvel’s plans. This has led me to working on the entire story from Palladium on through to the Sacred Knight series where I’m currently struggling on book 5.

I remember when I was working on Quest for the Three Books and was getting overwhelmed because it was such a large story. I mean, there were three timelines involved! When I consider Cirvel’s story and how his plans literally run through three series (which right now are a total of nine books – more on this in a moment) and a span of about 5,000 years, I know that I could easily face that same overwhelm. This is an important story. When I add to it that between Cirvel and Moonhunter’s stories, I am building the backbone for a plethora of stories in a connected universe and I know it must be solid. Who wouldn’t hurl under these conditions? But I feel extremely lucky that I worked through those issues of overwhelm when I was at the smaller level, even though it didn’t feel like it at the time.

That’s not to say I haven’t had a few anxious moments. There are some things that when I’m having to make a decision, I feel as if I’m standing on a ledge looking out into the vast expanse of space.

Then I remind myself that no one’s life is on the line and I mellow out about it. It’s just a story.

It’s my own desire to get it right, as close to perfectionism as I come, that drives me. And I know I’m much better if I stay loose and trust the process. Again, not life or death.

So above I counted nine novels in the full scope of Cirvel’s tale. This includes Palladium (which hopefully you are reading along with on my blog right now), Tangled Magic and Walk the Path (the 2 stories which make up Rivic’s part of the tale), and then the six novels of the Sacred Knight series (even though only four of them are released right now). I haven’t included two other stories. One of those is where Martias and Steigan go off to the Palin Wars when they aren’t supposed to. I’ve been working on that story in this time too. In fact, I discovered the answer to the story that I thought I needed, but when I went back to it, I discovered that at some point I had “finished” the story. Now I’m left wondering if I want to do what came to me in the last few weeks, if I want to leave it as it is even though the new idea is so much better, or to figure out how to merge the two ideas which might overload the story. There is also the possibility that I break off the aspect of the story which “finished” it and make that another story. It would be so easy to do. It has left me wondering if Martias has an even bigger part than I ever imagined.

Not bad for a character I initially murdered off in an early draft.

Yes, Martias was supposed to die in Quest for the Three Books.

I am very glad my critique partners screamed at me killing him and told me to completely lose that draft. Sherri even made me feel very guilty about it. I remember her telling me that she was going to get “Team Martias” shirts made – I sometimes wonder if her comment spurred the turn in Martias’ character. He was never meant to become so evil. He was always supposed to be a helper for Steigan. The moment he became the Shapeshifter character and dropped the metal trap door on Steigan down in the catacombs, it surprised the heck out of me. Trust the process! I even know the exact moment he takes the journal from Steigan. There are things that only I know about Martias. Most of it has come out, but there is more. Even as I’m writing these words, I realize that I do have more locked away in my head, things that I’ve hinted at to myself. I have chills crawling over my arms. See, I might even have to write more stories with Martias.

As a side note, the world lost Sherri earlier this year to cancer. She was an amazing storyteller and I wish I had craft she did. She always spurred me to write better. And especially to pay attention to my grammar – I’m trying I swear! I have often thought about what Sherri would think about Martias now since I don’t know if she ever read books 2 through 4. Now that she’s gone, I invite her to my side often to help me through plotting all this. Maybe that’s why I don’t feel the overwhelm I did. I have promised another reader that Steigan will get a happy ending (though if you paid attention when Onesong was running on my blog, you know it didn’t last), but I hope that I can give Martias a happy ending too in memory of Sherri.

There is one more book that I didn’t include in my list of Cirvel’s stories and it might be an important one. It’s the story where Elliot is the main character. Now Elliot is a different breed. If you read For a Good Time, Call Loki, then you saw Elliot as a (pre)teen. Yeah, I’m being vague on that. His novel starts many years later and involves characters that I believe are Cirvel’s children. What I am missing is the little spark which really pulls this into being a book in the chain of Cirvel’s long-term plans. I feel like I am so close to finding the tie, but I have yet to put the bow on it. You’ll probably hear me screaming with joy the very moment I discover it. (grin)

So yes, if you were paying attention in that last paragraph, you see that in my “connected universe” I even pull Loki’s and Steigan’s stories together. Elliot is not the only connection I have either, it’s the only one that has been published (and I guess doesn’t fully count until I publish Elliot’s book too).

I love these mind games I get to play with myself! Best job in the world. To me, this is what makes writing so exciting.

And now I’m going to get back to it. So many books to write. So little time.

All hail Loki!

She's smiling because it's Loki!

Even among fans of The Loki Adventures, this is one of the favorites. I am very pleased to announce that it is now available as an audiobook. You can find it at the following locations:

Audible – U.S. 

Audible – UK

Audible – France

Audible – Germany

Google Play

Nook Audiobook

Kobo Audiobook

Audiobooks.com

Scribd

Playster

This is only a partial list. More audio outlets (including libraries) may also have the audiobook. Go find Loki and let him make your day.

Progress – 2018 official

Last year I gave a report for the 2017. I thought I’d do the same this year, just to wrap things up, even though I feel (as I’m writing this sentence) that it won’t be nearly as impressive as last year’s post. I did a lot in 2017, considering it wasn’t a very good year personally with my dad passing away. I’m sure that bleed into 2018, but maybe as I look back, I will find something to surprise me. So, let’s reflect now on 2018.

I’m running this a bit late so that I could get in all my numbers for the 31st. I wanted the year full and complete. I was going to add that I usually write during the turning of the clock to the new year, because I was told many years ago that you should be doing what you want to come in the new year at the striking of 12. Because of that, there might be a few words that I’ll transition into 2019, but actually I probably should be editing. 2019 needs to be the year of reviewing what I’ve already written. I have a lot of work to do there. So, let’s move on.

Let’s start off by talking about the numbers for the last full week of 2018.

Words written in the last week of December: 6,668 words of both fiction and non-fiction. Sorry, I forgot to write these down the breakdown before I set the sheet up for this week, so that’s all I’ve got.

Blogs/Newsletter articles/non-fiction written:  1,354 words today, because today all I’ve been doing is writing blogs. No fiction for you today!

Writing month to date total:  28,761 words

Drawing/painting last week: I continued working on those dang space paintings which I keep swearing I’m done with. I started playing with some acrylic fluid medium and am really enjoying how it enhances the depth of them. We’ll see how it looks when they dry. I really wanted to finish them in 2018 since that’s when most of the painting was done. I’m hoping I’m there. I also have been repairing the canvas of my lotus painting. It’s almost done. I’m thrilled because I’m not even done and the scar has nearly vanished. Pictures coming; I’ve been documenting the process.

Audio: I spent 6.6 hours last week recording and editing audio and just over 2.6 hours today. I did manage to get Fall’s Confession uploaded, so even though it won’t come out until 2019, it’s a 2018 complete. Check that box off! I have started recording the voices for Manifest the Magic and I’m ready to get started on editing the first couple of chapters.

So how did the year turn out overall?

Let me start by saying that it’s been another not fun year. In fact, I kept trying to hire an assassin to kill 2018 in its infancy. Toward the end of the year I was commenting on how fast it was going and my son replied with a comment akin to, “Well, Mom, you kept saying that you wanted to throw 2018 back and the universe knew that it couldn’t do that, so it just fast-forwarded the year for you.”

Timey-whimy, whibbly-wobbly. That’ll teach mean to wish the years away!

Of course, it certainly didn’t help matters when my websites were hijacked by the hosting provider who refused to give them back. Fortunately I still had access to my dashboard, which allowed me to at least buy new domains and redirect my websites with forwarding. But because I wasn’t sure I’d get my websites back and that my forwards would one day stop working when the websites were taken offline, I had to go back through my books and get everything pointed toward the new websites, which also had to be built on a different platform away from my original host. I had to set up new email accounts and get all my accounts all over the Internet as well as newsletters I wanted to make sure I continued to get. Honestly, I got quite a bit of all that done, but not all. I made phone calls to the registrar of the domain and to ICANN, all who had their hands tied because of the privacy settings on my domains so my name wasn’t associated with them. I wrote letters, sending them certified. I went looking for an attorney to start suing to get my domains back.

Then one late night in October, I decided to do another Google search on the company and found a post from a guy who was experiencing exactly the same thing with the hosting company, but he reported that he’s called the registrar and after about 10 minutes on the phone, got his domains back under his control. Needless to say, the very next morning, I call the registrar, found out they were authorized to return the domains to those who could provide the invoice for the domain purchase, and, well, it wasn’t 10 minutes but maybe more like half an hour, I had my domains back.

I swear that was the first thing in 2018 that went right. That same week other things started falling into place. I think I had finally turned around the series of unfortunate events that had started in 2017.

Lesson: DON’T EVER LET SOMEONE ELSE CONTROL YOUR DNS RECORDS!

Now I fully understand why I had to become an indie author/publisher. I had to have control of my copyright — the publishing industry is rampant with intellectual property thieves. Whether it’s your domain name or your copyright, it’s your intellectual property and it can be taken from you if you don’t keep control of it. Don’t ever think a contract is going to keep you safe, especially if you go with the one that is offered; it’s not written for your benefit. I learned that when I was fighting for my domains and really dug into the contracts I had with the hosting company. I had literally tied my own hands. Only because of the hosting company’s non-response did I have any leg to stand on. Literary agent and publishing contracts are not for your benefit; they are for the agent or publishing house. Let that be your final warning.

Because of this whole fiasco, I initially bought 4 extra domains, not including the .net versions of my domains so that could move everything over. Three of those domains are something I had been thinking about for a couple of years, but I hadn’t taken action. I still didn’t get to do anything with them because of the time needed for rebuilding and relinking everything. But I hope that in the next year, I can do something with them.

I currently have 10 domains. My previous webhost lost out.

And the DNS records are under my control!

Sorry, that was kind of long winded, but it took a lot of my time and energy, which meant things didn’t get done. When I’m writing and sending emails or certified letters (for which I don’t get to take the word count on!), rebuilding websites on a new platform so I could establish redirect links, or I’m having to update the web addresses in my books and republish, new words aren’t getting written and the words that have been written aren’t getting reviewed.

I knew it was having an impact on my writing and art, but until I wrote these words, I don’t think I had really considered how damaging that loss of time was. No wonder I lost my daily word counts for a while and why I couldn’t even manage to get the weekly counts in. In looking back at the data of my spreadsheet, I see that my days started to fail when I first discovered that my websites were having issues and I wrote my initial demand for the sites to be unlocked and transferred. Then, things really crashed as I scrambled to build new sites. My word counts once again pick up once I had the websites and redirects in place.

Seeing the devastation in the numbers, it’s amazing I managed to hit my yearly word goal. And it’s little wonder that my drawing and painting took a side seat.

That reflection was probably good for me. It tells me that I can get back on track all around.

Let’s see what happened.

Writing year to date total: 338,586 words. This is pretty close to what I achieved last year. So even though I had lowered my daily word count, I still hit over my 300,000 goal. I have more on this below in my reflection and goal area.

My best month was January at 36,294 words. My most productive days were Sundays, followed by Saturday. Third most productive days were Wednesday.

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Progress – November 26, 2018

Last week was a busy week. It was perfect week.

As I said last Monday, my son had come home from college for the holiday. It was great having him home (of course). He hung out with me, he hung out with his brother, we all hung out together — it was a whole holiday hang out party.

While enjoying his company, I finished the audio on For a Good Time, Call Loki and got it uploaded. That meant I also had to design the cover for that edition too. I do hope that in a couple of weeks I can report that the audiobook is available.

Meanwhile, I also started on editing the audio I recorded for Fall’s Confession. I also fixed the errata I found in Fall’s Confession and re-uploaded it.

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Progress – November 19, 2018

Another week done. I really, really, really can’t believe we’re nearing the end of this year so quickly.

My son came home from college over the weekend. It’s good to have him back; the house feels full again. I’ve been torturing him about branding/logos. We’ve been working mine over. He’s currently told me to “go sleep on it” so I can give our developments some space and I can review them accurately with fresh eyes. He’s right, but dang it, I’m too much of a bulldog. Once I get into something, I like to get it done. Otherwise, I’m likely to be bored and not come back. I know myself all too well. But, I’ll hope he can keep me on task now.

He’s become such an amazing adult. Both my boys are. And yes, it’s hard to believe they are both full blown adults now. They still feel like my young babies. It’s weird. *grin*

I have so much to get done over the next few weeks. There’s a special promotion deal I’m going to be in during December — more on this later. I also have 1, maybe 2 shows to do in December. Just for these two things alone I have quite a list. But there’s so much more I want to get in before December hits. Hence why getting the branding/logos done are so important; I have a lot of things to get set up before the end of the year. I’m really trying to breathe about several things in my life, but this mostly.

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Progress – November 12, 2018

I can’t believe we’re almost halfway through November now. When did that happen?

I’ve been reviewing where I’m at and all I accomplished (or didn’t) this year. It feels strange to not have my next publication date at least in mind — the calendar right now is barren, at least in that aspect. I do know what’s coming, I just don’t know how long it will take to get there; more on that in a moment. Right now, I’m about 10,000 words away from hitting my yearly word goal that I’d wanted to accomplish. I figure I’ll be there by the end of November. There is a part of me that’s tempted to take a month off. Don’t worry, I won’t — I fully plan on breaking the tape and continuing beyond, mostly because I’m curious how far I can go. Last year was too much of a push, so I had backed off some this year and still wanted to make it a challenge. I think that challenge has pretty much become norm for me, but I might want to shift my goals a little next year, so I need to take good stock of what I can do.

Next up on what I plan to publish is Tangled Magic. I’ve been working that over this week and am finally getting to a place where I’m satisfied with it. If you read the whole thing here on my blog, you are in for some wonderful changes. I hope you will be as delighted by the arrangement of scenes (it was getting a bit fragmented there at the end) and new scenes that have been added as I am. I do still have a lot of work to do on Walk the Path, but I hope it comes together just as quickly. Obviously there is also Dragons of Wellsdeep which is getting close to… well, I feel as if I should be three quarters of the way through, but I don’t think I am. But I know the direction I’m heading. I don’t know if I’ve ripped out a scene that will be coming up in the next couple of weeks or not — in trying to structure as I go, I can clearly see that this scene doesn’t fit, at least now where it’s at. I really liked the scene too. But maybe another book. Maybe it’ll be a book where I write the story around the scene just so I can have it (then I’d probably end up tearing the scene out of there too because it wouldn’t fit –writers are weird creatures).

That’s three books I plan on having out next year.

I know, I know. I hear you! There’s no Loki or Sacred Knight in that list. I know already!

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Progress – November 5, 2018

This week, I started the cuts on Tangled Magic and Walk the Path. It was frustratingly hard to make that first surgical incision, yet it had to be done.

The little voice in my head kept telling me that I should be working on designing some covers. “You’re not finding this fun because you don’t have covers designed for the next few books, like Cirvel’s story. Yeah,go design a cover for that. Just a quick little jaunt to see what you can find for cover material, it won’t hurt. You’re just sitting here with you head in your hands anyway.”

Fortunately, I recognized the liar for what she was: a distraction! I often shot back with, “Well, I don’t even know the title yet, so it’s kind of hard to build a cover without knowing the title. How about you go and work on that?”

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