Fan Art Friday

This week I’ve spent some time making use of my new Photoshop subscription, experimenting with images to make faux/alternate book covers for some of my friends’ books. It’s been so fun I’ve decided to try to do it as a feature for the next few weeks.

So, welcome to FAN ART FRIDAY!

First off, we have the image that began it all, for Allison K. García’s Vivir El Dream.  This idea for this image came into my head on Wednesday while I was walking to meet my carpool, and I couldn’t get it out until I made it!



Then I made a set of three covers for Tamara Shoemaker’s Heart of a Dragon series. A lot of YA-fantasy books have two sets of covers, one set a big, bold, colorful free-for-all that is eye-catching and directed towards the younger readers, and another that is discreet and elegant, for the grown-ups who still love to read YA-fantasy (guilty here). These are my take on the “grown-ups-can-read-these-at-the-airport” version of Tamara’s titles.




I hope you enjoyed this episode of FAN ART FRIDAY. I’ve already started two covers for next week.

Image credits:

“Take me to the zombies” CC 2.0 by Esparta Palma
“The Hungry Mexican Restaurant on Bolton Street” CC 2.0 by William Murphy
“Carina Nebula” public domain
“American Flag background” public domain
“Nightfall of London” CC 2.0 by H. Michael Miley
“Fire (III)” CC 2.0 by H.P. Brinkman
“Fire! Fire!” CC 2.0 by Michael Mol

Dragon pendant image by


Deleted Scene : More Hinge Backstory

This little snippet was originally in The Gantean, a piece of information about the magic of the Gantean Hinge. Ultimately, I found a way to “show” rather than “tell” this information, but, like a lot of writing about magic systems, I had to write out the theory of it before I could even attempt to integrate it more naturally into the story.

Leila was the narrator telling this info, though it could have been the Cedna, too:

“Because of this Hinge, all other magic was possible, for in its opening, the Ancestors had made the Layers permeable, so that we could walk from one to the next. The Gantean People were the Guardians of this Hinge, and it was our sacred duty to protect it, to keep it hidden, safe, and open. Not just for ourselves, but for the whole world, for all the nations who used magic. The Hinge, high on the ice plateaus of Gante, was the source of all magic.

Every Gantean knew about the Hinge. Such knowledge made us Iksraqtaq. It was a secret funneled into us, never spoken, but lived and felt and inhaled from our very first breath. If we were a stern and somber people, it was because of this great responsibility we guarded. We kept the Hinge open by feeding it the dead, their flesh and spirit and blood, to appease its endless hunger.”

New Feature: Deleted Scenes

I do a lot of rewriting in my books. I’m fully rewriting two drafts right now, the draft for Mage & Source and the draft for Light & Shadow. Three issues had presented themselves in my original drafts for the last four books in the Tales of Blood & Light Series. The first was a relationship between two characters that was problematic; the second was a deep timeline issue; the third was the fact that the last four books were all telling the same events from different points of view and thus the storyline itself was repetitive. So…that meant rewrites on all four drafts. I’ve excised the problematic relationship so it no longer exists, restructured the timeline of the last four books, and teased out the storyline into the four books so each one tells its own story, and yet the plot arc of the series is distributed evenly over the final four books (or rather, it will be once I’m finished).

All this rewriting means that I have tons of deleted material. Some interactions and scenes I enjoyed no longer fit within the parameters of the books and cannot be used. So, in keeping with a goal of trying to post more on my blog, I’ve decided to present some of my deleted Lethemia scenes here.

They will post on occasional Mondays starting next week on 1/9. I’ll try to give a little context for the scene before hand, and I may explain why it was deleted if that seems relevant. I’d love to hear what you think of them.

The Made-Up Words of The Velocipede Races

This morning I got a question on my blog about one of the made up words in The Velocipede Races, which made me think about made-up words in general. I admit I have a tendency to make up words; it’s part of the tendency to make up worlds. When you design an alternate world, naturally (it seems to me) you need new words to describe parts of that new society that are different from ours.

In the case of the The Velocipede Races, one of the reasons I made up words was so that I didn’t end up basing Serenian society  on any one country or culture too much. For example, if I had used “gentry” instead of “riesen,” readers might have immediately characterized Seren as England in the nineteenth century. I wanted to avoid that, because Seren is a blend of many cultures and places, with a generous touch of pure whimsy from my own imagination, too.

Another made-up word from The Velocipede Races is manotte, a Serenian slur for a woman who looks or behaves like a man. I couldn’t find a suitable slur in English. (Aside note: analyzing a language’s slurs can be terribly revealing about who and what is marginalized in that culture). In English, many of the slurs we have for women who look and behave like men are conflated with prejudices about sexuality. For instance: bull dyke or butch. I didn’t want connotations of sexuality in my slur (not because I imagined the Old Guard of Seren wouldn’t be horribly prejudiced about alternative sexualities, but rather because I didn’t feel Serenian society was open enough for any kind of discussion of those sexualities, even in their slang insults!) So a sexuality-charged insult wouldn’t do. Other words for describing women who are outside the gender box, such as mannish or unfeminine, didn’t fit the bill because they were adjectives, not nouns–and I feel that a noun insult carries a deeper vitriol: you are this thing; you have been boxed into a narrow and socially-despised category. So I came up with manotte. I like it because it has that French diminuative -tte at the end, making it infantilizing and patronizing, and it combines two English words: man and not: as in, you are not a man, so don’t try to be one.

My writing comfort zone is pure fantasy. I think most writers who love to write in made-up worlds also like to make up words. Language is a reflection of awareness, the very stuff of the categories and realities we perceive, the prejudices and understandings we have learned. Made-up words build a story’s world and shape a character’s psyche.

In The Velocipede Races, I made up only a few words (for me, at any rate). In my Tales of Blood & Light series, I have three separate cultures, all with their own languages, beliefs, and magic systems, and I have a ton of made-up words to describe the facets of their societies that are different from ours. Fantasy readers are probably quite accustomed to absorbing made-up words via context and suggestion. Other readers, I know, are deterred by such new vocabularies.

My editor, Elly Blue, and I discussed the made up words in The Velocipede Races and decided to include a glossary note at the beginning of the published book. Here’s is the note in its entirety:

A Note About Language

Some of the words that exist in Seren do not exist on Earth, or may be used slightly differently than we might use them here.

Seren is the name of the city-state where the story takes place, an imaginary combination of the prominent late 19th century cities of Europe and America.

Riesen denotes the upper class of the city, the people who are born to privilege.

Velocipedes are two-wheeled, human-powered vehicles similar to old-fashioned bicycles.

The keir is a bicycle or velocipede race that takes place on a track, similar to the keirin race that developed in Japan in the early twentieth century. The first laps are paced to ensure all racers achieve a shared starting speed before the final sprint for victory begins.

Finally, manotte is a uniquely Serenian slur used to insult a woman for behaving or appearing like a man.

I hope this post helps readers consider language and made-up words in a new light. Please note: even though I included “velocipede” in my TVR glossary, it is an actual word in the English language. You say it like this: vuh-la-suh-peed. Go ride one sometime!





Happy Monday! The next FlashDogs flash fiction anthology, TIME, is up and available for pre-order. I have two stories in here, one co-written with Tamara Shoemaker. I also donate my time for formatting for The FlashDogs.

The proceeds of these anthologies go to an international literacy charity. Learn more about The FlashDogs here. You can also get fantastic merch from their website.

The fabulous FlashDogs art is by Tamara Rogers:

TIME Ebook Cover

“Time may wait for no man, but The FlashDogs shepherd it with aplomb in their third anthology of flash fiction. Let this intrepid pack of cutting-edge writers fill your mind—and your hours—with their super-short stories of past, present, and future. Featuring an impressive roster of flash-fictioneers old and new, this collection has a bit of everything–romance, dystopia, comedy, tragedy–all spread across a changing timescape inspired by three photographs.”

Summer of Super Short Stories Week Six

Week Six prompts are up over at Luminous Creatures Press. This week we head into magical territory with an evocative image and a phrase prompt straight out of The Gantean: “six crystal pillars.”

The six crystal pillars in The Gantean are huge, colored spires that are the anchor points of the hexagonal walls that gird the High Palace of Lethemia. They have lots of magical energy and mystique. Each one has a cavern garden carved into its top.

Here are the prompts. You can submit a story of up to 350 words over at LCP.

“six crystal pillars”

magic stone

Image credit: Untitled by Julian Povey Flickr CC 2.0 
Image has not been altered from its original form.


Summer of Super Short Stories, Week 5

Prompts are up for LCP’s fifth week of summer story writing fun. This week the mood shifts darker, with an image and a line prompt that evoke possible horror stories in my mind. I picked the line prompt by doing a word search for “fear” in The Gantean‘s manuscript. Then I selected a likely phrase from the many options.

Post your stories of 350 words or less in reply to this post on LCP’s site. Flash fiction marvel Nancy Chenier is judging. Here are the prompts:

“this creeping fear”

Anthropomorphic Roots

Image credit: Anthropomorphic Roots by Mike DelGuadio flickr CC 2.0
Image has not been altered from its original form.