Drabble 2 — Andre

Prompt: Andre — “Not that he cared. This was what he lived for.”

“You destroyed another company car.”

Andre turned to his partner. “The alchemist blew up the car.”

Emily scoffed. “You didn’t have to antagonize him.”

“One more nail in the coffin. You know how the agency prefers undeniable proof.”

“If the company refuses to issue you another vehicle, I am not bringing my own car on cases with you.” She started walking away, past the still-smoking scrap of metal that had once been a Buick. Hardly a model to weep over.

“And don’t even think about me riding on the back of your motorcycle,” she called over her shoulder.

Andre merely shrugged. The SPA could deny his claim. Not that he cared. Watching the handcuffed alchemist get shoved into the back of an agency van, he felt nothing but satisfaction. This was what he lived for.


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Drabbles

Hello blog, it’s been a while. I know I’ve been woefully absent for the past year++…and if there is anyone who comes back to read this, then virtual cookies to you for being so loyal.

One way I thought I might get back into blogging is to start writing drabbles based on reader prompts. Hopefully it would be a neat way for people to request things they’d like to see with some of their favorite characters beyond the books, and a fun challenge for me.

Here’s one a lovely reader sent me:

Aileen — “She didn’t ordinarily do this kind of thing, but this was no ordinary day.”

“Are you done yet?”

“No. And stop asking; you’re changing the contours of your facial features.”

Aileen almost scowled, but remembered to bite it back at the last second. She didn’t normally do this kind of thing, but this was no ordinary day, not when an up-and-coming local artist wanted to theme his next collective project on environmentalism and the sea. Aileen just didn’t know why she had to be the inspiration for his current painting. Live, in person. For almost an hour now.

And the bubbling commentary from the peanut gallery in the aquarium nearby was not helping. Especially since she was the only one who could hear it.

“Lift your chin.”

“This way.”

“Other way.”

“I wanna be in the painting!”

“Shut up,” she muttered.

The artist huffed. “Hold still!”


Writing Skeleton Drafts

Resolutions blog seriesThe arrival of the new year ushers in a long-standing tradition of New Year’s Resolutions. Some of you have decided this will be the year you finally write that book. But, as I’m well familiar with, resolutions are hard to keep past a few weeks, so for the rest of January I’ve decided to write a short blog series on writing tips to help you turn that resolution into a sustainable habit.

The first thing I’m going to talk about is writing a skeleton draft. As in, a draft so poorly executed that it doesn’t even deserve to be called a first. Any writing expert will tell you that the most important thing is to get something down. It’s much easier to edit and refine a sludge pile of words than a blank page.

At this stage when you’re first starting on a story, don’t worry about sentence variety, decent description, or even witty dialogue. If your characters sound like sock puppets in a soap opera, go with it. In fact, I would encourage you not to edit anything in a chapter until at least a day after you’ve written it. If you realize you need to change something, make a note to do it later. Just focus on finishing that skeleton draft of that scene or chapter—and give yourself permission to suck! I’m serious. Nobody ever said the definition of a good writer is someone who can type up gold on the first pass. A good writer can weave words into something beautiful and moving, and by the way, what does a woven basket look like before it’s formed? A pile of reeds! That sometimes gets tangled.

Doing the above isn’t easy. Many writers feel anxiety over not writing well enough. They’ll sit and stare at a sentence or paragraph until it’s perfect, but that usually means they don’t get very far into the story. Fear of failing can hold us back from ever trying. I just finished writing my 11th book and I still experience what I like to call First Draft Syndrome. For those first several chapters, I had a hard time concentrating and putting actual words down because what I wrote felt pathetic compared to the quality of work I’d published in the past. It took some effort for me to push those insecurities aside and write however poorly I needed to just to get the story going. And eventually I got on a roll. I also have to look back at previous books’ early drafts to remind myself that it is possible to go from word muck to a pristine novel. So can you. Just don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty.

Remember, a finished novel is a diamond, but gemstones don’t just pop out of the earth like magic. It takes extraordinary amounts of pressure, sweat, and probably some tears. Embrace the rough stage as part of the process, and you’ll make it through.

Do you experience First Draft Syndrome? Is it hard to give yourself permission to suck at something, even in the effort to get better at it?

Next week I’ll be talking about a strategy to reduce some road blocks and pitfalls: plotting. Hope to see you then!

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2013 Year In Review

Oh my goodness how time flies. I say this at the end of every year when I sit down to write up a blog post on the past year’s accomplishments. Which kind of feels like bragging and makes me uncomfortable, but I also think it’s good to keep track of what’s happened in my life, to remember the ups more than the downs and provide hope for the coming year.

I started 2013 with a list of goals…none of which I really remember at this point. I made some “business” goals in terms of book sales for the year because I’d been watching other authors do so back in January. I pretty much abandoned them, however, when they didn’t get much traction. I went through a period of serious soul-searching regarding my writing/publishing career and finally came to terms with what I want and need, and not what I’m “supposed to do.” It’s still a struggle sometimes navigating social media, branding, and marketing, but I’m doing the best I can. Most of all, I continue to write because I love stories and have many to tell.

Dreamstealer-AngelaWallace-600x900dream assassin 1000x1600Speaking of stories, I wrote and published way more this past year than I thought I was capable of. Part of that probably had to do with a season of the best health I’ve seen since I was…well, 14 and first got an insulin pump.

Dreamstealer, the second book in the Dreamwalker saga, came out in April, and I’d already started writing book three, which turned into books three and four. In between those I wrote a novella for one of the secondary characters: Dirk. Dream Assassin came out in June, Dreamsnatcher in November, and Dreamweaver just three weeks ago. WOW. I spent all of 2013 in the Dreamwalker world and it was a beautiful, heartwarming journey. I will miss it.

Dreamsnatcher-AngelaWallace-500x750Dreamweaver-AngelaWallace-500x750

AW-SSleuth-432x648This past summer I also tried my hand at my very first Vote Your Adventure type story, and you guys helped me write a short tale featuring Paige from the Elemental Magic world. That stretched my writing–and pantsing–abilities to new heights.

ET cover with awardIn other news, I passed the national certification exam for sign language interpreting, and Earth Tones won the 2013 Best Indie Book Award for Fantasy. You could’ve knocked me over with a feather on both. I am so grateful for all the people who helped me achieve these things, from friends who helped me study for the exam and gave me pep talks when I was doubting myself, to those who critiqued and read Earth Tones.

I can’t claim sole credit for any of my accomplishments, for I wouldn’t be here without the support and guidance of dear friends and the Lord’s hand. These are the things I need to hold onto moving forward into 2014, for while 2013 held an abundance of blessings, that season of great health in the spring didn’t last past summer and this fall has been a struggle. But that’s part of the purpose behind this post: I did all this once; I can do it again.

So what’s ahead for 2014? Well, I’ve already made good progress writing Elemental Magic 4 with a tentative publication date in Spring. Now that the Dreamwalker series is complete, I can hopefully get out a few more Elemental Magic books before I start a new fantasy series that’s been simmering on the back burner. 😀

AND, speaking of the Elemental Magic series, I also spent the past few months rebranding the series’ image. That was a little exhausting, but I’m so thrilled with how the new covers turned out and the cohesiveness they now have. Don’t they look great? Covers by Shelley at Spittyfish Designs.

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So how did you all do this past year, and what are your big plans for 2014?

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Not a member yet? Click here to join!

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Excerpt of Dreamstealer: Lexa vs. The Dress

I have another excerpt of Dreamstealer for you today, this time one with a little humor. Lexa is on her way to Teltania to see if their princess is in fact a new dreamwalker. Unfortunately, her cover for this mission is to go as a visiting diplomat of Artasia. And one must dress to fit the part…

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Neil gestured to the gray-toned, crackle-textured trunk. “Mathias left this for you, but he insisted you not open it until the day before our arrival. So, here it is.”

Lexa could tell she was not going to like this. She strode forward, flipped the latch, and swung the lid up. The trunk was full of clothes, it seemed, and dresses at that. She stared at the fitted, maroon velvet gown with a cross-laced bodice on top.

“Hell no.” She slammed the lid down again.

Neil cleared his throat. “I believe his words were something about you being a lady and needing to dress to fit the part.”

No wonder Mathias hadn’t wanted her opening it until the last minute…or while he was still around. She would have strangled him. Yes, she understood the importance of playing the role of diplomat, but did he have to choose such…opulent clothes? If he had given her more time, she would have done her own shopping—which had probably been his plan all along.

Lexa threw the lid open again; the hinges rattled as they quaked under her wrath. She grabbed the maroon dress and lifted it up. It was even worse in full form: puffed sleeves at the shoulder, which tapered down into a tightly fitted cuff at the wrist. Her arms would look like mutton legs in it. She tossed it on the bed. The next dress on the pile was an aquamarine with wide, billowy sleeves and lace around the neck meant to imitate sea spray. Underneath that lay a dark green gown with a loose skirt that Lexa thought she could tolerate, but for the most part, she discarded the various dresses on the bed, her lip curling in even more disgust with each one.

“I’m going to throttle him.”

Neil arched a brow at the mess. “So you two hadn’t discussed this?”

Lexa glowered at him. “Don’t pretend that comes as a surprise. He did tell you to keep this until the last minute.”

Neil rubbed the back of his neck. “I’m not sure I see the problem.”

Lexa gestured to her plain shirt and pants, then at the dresses. “Seriously?”

He quirked a smile. “They would look stunning on you.”

“They’re ridiculous.”

“Perhaps you should try one on first.” He dug under the pile, pulled out the maroon one, and held it out to Lexa. Her fingers twitched, unwilling to even touch the extravagant fabric. But with Neil watching her closely, she swallowed her discomfort and snatched it from his hand.

“You’re forgetting a piece.” He reached into the trunk and pulled out a corset.

Lexa gave it a blank stare.

“It’s all the fashion in Teltania right now.”

“You wear it.”

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I hope you enjoyed the sneak peek. I was also on Mistress of the Dark Path’s blog this weekend for an interview. Curious if I have a naughty side? … 😉

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Dreamstealer is available on Amazon, B&N, Kobo, and iTunes.

When her kingdom’s former enemy suspects their princess is a budding dreamwalker, Lexa is drafted out of retirement and sent to Teltania to train the twelve-year-old girl. But hidden agendas complicate her mission, and Lexa doesn’t know whom to trust. Meanwhile, her own dreamwalking powers are waning when she needs them most. Can Lexa decipher the mysteries at every turn, or will the dreamscape claim yet another dreamwalker?

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Fiction In My Backyard

When I write an urban fantasy book, I have to pick a setting from our world. Several factors go into that decision: climate, geography, a place I find interesting. I have yet to write a book set in my own city (though I’m considering it for the fire book), but even though the locations I’ve written about so far have been exciting new places to me, they’re in some people’s own backyards.

I recently met a woman on Twitter from Grays Harbor, WA, the setting for Elemental Magic. She was intrigued with the book mainly for its setting, and has even been blogging about it on a local community blog. (I find the Twilight/Forks comparison quite flattering.) As for some of the details I got wrong about the city, I blame Google Maps. 😉

Even though I have yet to write a story set in my own backyard, I do get excited when I find a book taking place in it. Unfortunately, there aren’t too many for the South Bay in California. San Francisco seems to be the go-to city. Close, but not close enough for me to feel a connection. I did read one book that took place in Fremont, which I was super excited about since I did grad school there, but the characters never left the office building the entire book. :-/

What is it about stories set in our neighborhoods that get us excited? Is it the chance to see if the author gets the details right? Is it the feeling that hey, someone’s paying attention to our little corner of the world? Or is it the sense that whatever supernatural story is playing out on the pages, we’re a part of it, simply by association?

Have you read books set in your town or city? How did you feel about them? I love hearing from you!

If you missed it yesterday, be sure to stop by Rebecca Enzor’s blog for the Earth Tones My Little Pony!

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“One of These Lonely Orkney Isles”

Life has been very busy lately. In addition to the day job taking a lot of focus right now, Earth Tones’s book tour is under way. Did you guys check out the interviews I had with Tameri Etherton and Alina Sayre? This week I’m over with Raelyn Barclay on Tuesday for another author chat, and Rebecca Enzor this coming Friday and Sunday for an excerpt and an Earth Tones My Little Pony! Don’t miss the fun!

Not wanting to neglect my blog completely, but running up this post at the last minute, I’m going to dazzle you with something brand new! Okay, maybe not dazzle. It’s poetry. Now, I don’t consider myself anywhere near a poet, but I’ve written some. I suspect every writer has tried a hand at it at least a few times.

“One of These Lonely Orkney Isles”

The wind blew up and around
the stones like a cyclone,
disturbing a century of dust.
She traced her fingers over
the runes carved in granite,
while he stood on the altar in the center of
the ring, telling her stories of the druids
and heroic kings. With a reed in hand, he lunged
at the wind, turned, and vaulted the stone,
dancing out an ancient battle.
She wove hawthorn into
her hair and laughed when he claimed to have bested the wind.
He climbed the highest pillar and shouted
to the ocean how he would sail its currents and search
its depths for treasure; she gazed at the hills
where the sheep grazed and the collies stood guard.
Sea spray salted their cheeks, both the color
of rose nipped by chill. They linked hands, and before turning
back towards the village, he leaned over
and kissed her, then dashed across the meadow,
laughing to the wind.

How about you guys? Writer or reader, have you tried your hand at poetry or song writing?

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Did you miss the Halloween treat? Two great books are still free on Amazon, but Tuesday the 30th is the last day to grab them!