Weekly Musings #6

(Image from Pixabay)

Apologies for my absence. Haven’t felt like blogging for some time. It doesn’t get the same kind of immediate interaction that posting to Twitter or Tiktok gets you so it can be hard to keep up with it sometimes, and frankly, I get so busy writing that I don’t leave as much creative energy for the marketing side of things. I have been writing almost every day though and making significant progress on my novel.

It’s also hard to figure out what to blog about on a weekly basis when I’m in the drafting process. Only so many times you can report on your word count. The actual act of drafting is pretty tedious stuff really; 30 minutes a day, 500-1,000 words pumped out. Then it becomes a habit. Like doing the dishes, or taking your medication. The same thing every time, even if the writing is exciting. But you can’t say much about the writing because spoilers. I’ve shared excerpts on social media but I don’t think these really say much about the story, just show people a taste of your writing.

I’ve hit 83,214 words in my m/m paranormal romance crime thriller, which makes it officially book length no matter how much longer it grows, and it continues to be the longest manuscript I’ve ever stuck with. I am in the home stretches of the ending so the words are coming more slowly now, 300-500 words a day versus 1,000-2,000. I feel a little bit of imposter syndrome kicking in, as I get nervous about wanting to build an unpredictable ending and to tie all the pieces together in a way that will satisfy my readers.

I decided I will look at Fiverr for my cover art; I don’t want to spend $300-500 on it, because I probably won’t make $300-500 in book sales (I’m a pragmatist here!), but I am willing to spend more than $50 for a good cover. Graphic design just isn’t my strong suit. I’ve thought about commissioning character designs too as a marketing tool. (I made the mistake of mentioning this on Twitter and I got mobbed by people using bots soliciting their services; if you send me one of these emails I will delete it without looking at it and block you. Just saying.) I want to see my characters come to life, though.

I plan to spend 2-3 months on editing after I finally type “The End” on my manuscript. I need to rewrite the first 30,000 words at least, and fix some continuity issues, and insert more action into some dialogue-heavy scenes. I’m good at self-editing so I feel pretty confident with this step. Then I’ll need to learn formatting but seeing as I do that for a day job on legal documents I think I’ll be able to figure that out too.

I’ll probably be looking for volunteer beta readers after I get it edited into a decent shape. Then comes the task of finding ARC reviewers; I’ll probably sign up for a site like Booksprout once that time comes around.

I also decided to turn this book into a trilogy since they sell better than stand-alones, I’m not quite ready to leave this universe just yet and I have a few more ideas up my sleeve. For the rest of the year I will be working on that as well as novellas and submitting short stories.

I have episodes scheduled out on my Patreon through May 10. Nearing the ending of a first draft is a whole slate of mixed emotions – fear, excitement, giddiness and nerves. But this one will happen, I can feel it in my bones. I haven’t finished a book-length manuscript since my creative writing thesis at age 23. Now, at age 40, I’m actually doing it. Just goes to show that you can start following your dreams any time. You just have to put in the work to make them happen.

Support me on: Patreon | Ko-fi

Book Review: Hollow Road by Dan Fitzgerald

A fast-paced buddy fantasy quest adventure; multidimensional female characters; and an intriguing species called the Maer that throws the traditional high-fantasy villain on its head. These were a few of the highlights that brought me to give “Hollow Road” by Dan Fitzgerald, published by Shadow Spark Publishing, high marks.

In Book One of the Maer Cycle, we meet Carl, a soldier who lands a well-paid job to bring a body back to Brocland, Carl’s hometown, for burial. It turns out that nobody’s heard from Brocland in ages, and they fear it is under siege by the Maer, a race of man-beasts that loom so large in legend and folklore that people think they are monsters, or at times, bedtime stories to scare children. Carl will need to make a perilous journey across Hollow Road to reach Brocland, and for that he enlists the help of two of his friends, also from Brocland – Finn, a student mage training at a monastery-like compound to become an adept, and Sinnie, a circus archer. 

This ragtag crew embarks on their journey to Brocland, where they discover that the Maer are less monstrous than anyone could have imagined. 

The story alternates points of view between Carl, Finn and Sinnie, and this was a strength of the writing style for me, helping us gain better insight into the relationships between these three as we switched between their perspectives of each other. It also meant there wasn’t as much chance for showing for the emotional states of each characters, but I was okay with that with this story because it’s meant to put the adventure arc front and center instead of the literary. The pace of the writing style moved along briskly and I enjoyed the author’s deft hand with rich descriptions of natural settings. 

Moving onto characters, I really liked Sinnie; she resonated with me as my favorite character. Usually I cringe whenever I read a male indie author’s depictions of woman characters; I’ve read some cringey descriptions before, that tend to rely on emphasizing a woman’s sex appeal and physical appearance instead of her emotional complexity. Sinnie was a well-rounded character and I appreciated that. I also enjoyed how her strength was shown not just in her military prowess, but in how she interacted with the Maer when she changed her mind about them. 

I wanted to know more about the magic system practiced by Finn; it was intriguing and I felt Book One only brushed the surface of it – I still have a few questions about its parameters, which I hope are answered in future books. I liked that it was based around meditation and a yoga-like practice. 

As far as the Maer go, that was the most interesting part of this story to me. You would expect a buddy adventure quest story to end with the buddies victoriously slaying the enemy and celebrating their spoils. I won’t spoil anything, but this book ends up with more internal than external conflict in that regard. Can people change, after they’ve grown up taught to hate someone? This book explores that central premise. In the Maer, we discover a species very much like humans, with their own customs and even legal systems. 

I’m intrigued enough to want to read more in the series. It was a fun book, just the thing for escapist adventure fantasy with deeper moral questions driving the story. 

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Photography portfolio updated

I updated my photography page of my website with new photos to reflect my new direction.

I enjoyed all my experiences working with people but since I’m not shooting portraits anymore, I decided I needed a more accurate reflection of my current scope. I am focusing on nature and still life, and I love it.

Also simplified my Hire Me page so now you need to talk to me if you want to make a business inquiry or find out my rates. Business inquiries only, no creepy shenanigans, y’all hear… I prefer to do an initial consultation anyway, to discuss your goals and needs.

And don’t forget, you can also support my photography by buying items in my Redbubble shop.

The anthology featuring my story is now available for preorder.

I have some good publishing news to share again. The anthology that accepted my story DRAGON GIRL is now available for preordering!

The ebook edition of Dragon Soul Press’s Fairytale Dragons Anthology can be preordered at http://books2read.com/dspfd.

My story DRAGON GIRL is a feminist retelling of the Grimm’s fairy tale GOOSE GIRL, except with queer characters and dragons. I wrote something new from my usual style; high fantasy.

The anthology features fairy tale retellings except the twist must include dragons.

I would be honored if you checked it out.


Support my creative work? Donate $1 to my tip jars http://www.venmo.com/denise-ruttan and http://www.ko-fi.com/fieldofstars or buy a print at http://siriusrosephoto.redbubble.com

Book Review: Depart, Depart! by Sim Kern

I received the novella DEPART, DEPART! by Sim Kern as an e-ARC (Advance Review Copy) several months ago in exchange for an honest review, and I am finally getting around to actually reviewing it. And I have one reaction to sum up my feelings upon finishing this book at last: I am stunned by this book’s force and magic, blown away by its relevance for our times.

I also feel a twinge of regret about this book, because there are those who will miss out on its power because they will immediately dismiss it as too “preachy,” too gay, too political, too wrapped up in the politics of identity, too steeped in generational tension, trapped in this uniquely tribal moment in time of Snapchat filters and viral tweets. But those are the very people who need to read this book. We can only heal the divisiveness in our country if we understand each other.

And this book will give you an unflinching, intimate look at what it means to be queer, what it means to be alone in a country that seems against you, in a body and a religion that seems against you, and more than any of that, what it means to be human and to make unbelievable choices for yourself and for your community in the face of a climate crisis that heartbreakingly may still be prevented, or we can at least still try to prevent it.

DEPART, DEPART! is set in Houston, Texas, after a climate-change-fueled hurricane destroys the city. The whole country is simultaneously ravaged by unprecedented climate events. The novella follows the journey of Noah Mishner, a trans Jewish man haunted by the ghost of his great-grandfather, Abe, a Holocaust survivor. Noah follows the whispers of the ghost to safety, first abandoning his friends as he seeks shelter on the roof of his apartment complex as the floodwaters devastate the city below.

Crushed by grief, and layers of grief at that, the story then shifts to Dallas, Texas, where Noah takes shelter in the Dallas Mavericks’ basketball arena. The rest of the story is centered in this setting, where refugees from the storm take shelter, and form a sort of community as they can, with all the trials and tribulations of refugees huddling together and not-so-together. Noah seeks refuge with the queer community there, all three or four of them at first, them against a world torn by hate, division and fear, even in the microcosm of this gym.

This is a story about identity, yes. It is a story about what you would do when crisis threatens everything you love and think you know. It is about the ties that bind. It’s a queer Jewish ghost story told from the view of the generation that has the brightest ideas to tun the tide on climate change. Even though this reads like a dark, dystopian novel, I found hope in it, in the end. Hope that humanity will always find a way, even now. To me, that’s the best cli-fi. The best of cli-fi (I really don’t like that term, I’ll just call it climate fiction) shows you how things could dramatically change for the worse so that we can change for the better.

And we must change, or this is our future.

Find the book on Goodreads and on IndieBound (I no longer link to Amazon. You know how to find Amazon…) It’s published by Stelliform Press and will be released on September 1. Preorders are available now.


Support my creative work? Donate $1 to my tip jars: http://www.ko-fi.com/fieldofstars and http://www.venmo.com/denise-ruttan

New photography gallery, prints published

Continuing with my theme of flowers on my neighborhood walks, I present my latest photo shoot. Can you call it a photo shoot when there are no people involved? I don’t know, but I’m doing that anyway.

You can see my 500px gallery here: https://500px.com/siriusrosephoto/galleries/flowers-05-18-20

And buy my photography printed on masks, notecards, T-shirts, journals and more: http://siriusrosephoto.redbubble.com



Support my creative work? Donate $1 to my tip jars: http://www.venmo.com/denise-ruttan and http://www.ko-fi.com/fieldofstars