Having fun with the Seven Deadly Sins - a Writer's Take

There are lots of writerly blog posts on the Seven Deadly Sins of Writing. (Show Don't Tell, don't overuse adverbs, don't "head-hop POV, etc etc etc). I was inspired by an old post of Lexa Cain's to do a fun writerly twist on that norm...

First. let's get in the mood by looking at Marta Dahlig's amazing digital art. It took me a few beats to actually find out who did these, because SO many bloggers use this image without crediting the artist. Marta sells these and more as cool posters, BTW. Okay, back to the business at hand.

Here are some of my writerly sins...

Lust: I lust after novels that blow my mind, fire up my imagination and make me want to write. Two recent reads that do that for me are The Dress Lodger by Sheri Holman and Alma Katsu's The Taker trilogy. What novels have you lusted after recently?

Envy: I envy any writer who can pump out a full novel every month or two and have it actually be a well-written, clever novel with heart. What writerly aspect of another author do you envy?

Vanity: I'm proud that Dorianna won best Horror Book in the Kindle Hub awards, and that I'm signed to go to three book conventions this year even though they are intimidating. I hope I never get vain about my accomplishments though. What author achievement has you most proud of yourself?

Wrath: I hate books that are sappy, badly-written, predictable, formulaic, boring, and that don't have enough high-stakes. What kind of books or writing do you hate?

Sloth: I'm loathe to admit that sometimes I'd rather laze around and watch Portlandia and Sleepy Hollow than trudge off to the writers' space and work! What is your slothful admission?

Gluttony: Since I'm writing a witch novel, I want to feast on any book that has to do with witches. I even bought a witch datebook and green grimoire. Which books are you feasting on?

Avarice: Sure, getting big money for my books sounds attractive, but I'm even more greedy for devoted readers. What writerly avarice do you hate to admit?


Happenings in the Realm: Huzzizzle February 2015 - #SpecFicChat on Twitter: What Makes Fantasy Believable?


This month's #SpecFicChat is: What makes fantasy believable?
Hosted by: River Fairchild
Where: On Twitter, use the hashtag #SpecFicChat to participate
When: Begins noon EST

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Is it a con fling or something more?
LOOSE CORSET (Dice & Debauchery #1) is hilarious, nerdy, and sexy.

The Geeky Dice & Debauchery Tour is still happening!
Follow from Christine Rains' blog and enter the giveaway for your chance to win Zombie Dice and a unique Christine Rains die.


Tuesday Tea with Mistress Snark

Welcome to the Untethered Realms edition of Mistress Snark's Tuesday Tea. Afternoon tea is a most civilized British invention – an opportunity to snack with impunity. However, in Mistress Snark's parlor, you never know what might be floating in your tea or what those cute little sandwiches are hiding under the bread.

As full disclosure, any guest appearing here must sign the usual waivers regarding food poisoning, bodily harm caused by Jezebel, random attacks by minions, or permanent brain damage resulting from the questions posed.

Today's guest is Angela Brown, Untethered Realms author of Beacon; Neverlove; Frailties of the Bond, and more. It's so nice to have you here today. Would you like some tea? Or perhaps Jezebel's special punch? I don't know what's in it but it could prove detrimental to your health.

Angela: Mistress Snark! I'm so happy to be here again. I think it's again. My brain seems to know I was here before but the details are rather... fuzzy. I'll take Jezebel's special punch. Did I do that the last time I was here? Oh, nevermind that... the special punch sounds risky and I'm up for an adventure.

Mistress: I’m sure an adventure can be arranged for you. *turns to wink at audience* Speaking of fuzzy, you’re beginning to lose your…well, shall we say, cohesiveness? No reason to be startled. Keep sipping your punch, dear. The effect is rather illuminating. In fact, you’re developing a lovely shade of green glow about you. As an author, how might you incorporate your current condition into a storyline?

Angela: *fans self and starts rocking back and forth* I, uh, wow... is it getting hot in here to you? Or is it just me? This - what's - I don't know what's... I feel enlightened. Lightheaded. Wait! That's it! Light! That reminds me of Beacon because, you know, a beacon is a light. Now that I think about it, I believe there's a scene in Beacon where I might have done something like this to the main character, Macie. I feel so... weird. *giggles then hiccups, then giggles again* Can I have another sip of that punch? That's *hiccup* yummy.

Mistress: Jezebel has topped off your punch…and brought you a straw. Your glass may melt if you attempt to pick it up. Don’t worry; slurping is allowed in the parlor. *signals to someone backstage*

Now then. Let’s plan a little trip for you…before your giggles get out of control. Imagine your luminous, enlightened self floating into the town of New Festus in Beacon. What happens next?

Angela: Angela: *slurps very loudly then burps* Oh dear, please excuse me. What does Jezebel put in this? Oh, wait... I feel so... light. Nevermind, I'm getting *burps again then giggles* off topic. New Festus seems quiet and dark. No one is out. It's past sunset curfew. I gaze up to the broken moon and the lunar cloud that hovers close to it, then down. Oh look *points as if really there* I see a tent in that shadowy part behind the school but it's being, uh, is that a devil spawn attacking someone?

Mistress: Devil spawn are certainly fascinating…as are you. *points to the Geiger counter beeping madly* I’m afraid you’ll have to be escorted out of the parlor for the safety of our gentle audience. Go along with the nice people in the hazmat suits. They’ll try to reduce your radioactive splendor in short order. It was a pleasure having you here today, Angela! Perhaps you’ll brave a return visit in the future…after you’ve recovered.

Angela: Mistress Snark, neither weird colorful glows from my body nor the really weird feeling like I'm about to spontaneously combust from the inside out will keep me from coming back for a visit. But yes, yes, after this *burps, giggles, then rips a long belch* dear me, that was terribly un-ladylike. So sorry. But I'll come back after this pa - pa - *burp, hicccup, hiccup, giggles* passes.

Congratulations, Angela! You’ve earned the Tuesday Tea Survivor badge, suitable for your blog or hanging on the bathroom wall. Go ahead and take it with you.

Angela Brown -Born and raised in Little Rock, AR, Angela now calls Central Texas home. She's a lover of Wild Cherry Pepsi and chocolate/chocolate covered delicious-ness. Steampunk, fantasy and paranormal to contemporary - mostly young adult - fill her growing library of books. Mother to a rambunctious darling girl aptly nicknamed Chipmunk, life stays busy. Her favorite quote keeps her moving: "You may never know what results come of your action, but if you do nothing there will be no result." ~ Mahatma Gandhi ~ Website

Mark your calendar! March 17th will see author Catherine Stine sitting in Mistress Snark’s parlor, guzzling one of Jezebel’s famous concoctions.


A Discovery of Russian Witches

When I sat down to write this post I couldn't resist playing with the title of Deborah Harkness' 2011 book, as it fit so perfectly. I felt like I discovered my own special witches when I was coming up with the stories for my latest release Polar Day and its prequel The Turnagain Arm.

I knew I wanted to use a witch as the antagonist in Polar Day but I also knew I wanted the character to be male as opposed to the more popular or traditional female witch. While doing a little research on the history of witchcraft, I learned that when witch hunts swept across Europe during the seventeenth century, a different kind of witch hunt inspired terror in Russia. Unlike the religious-based trials in Europe, the Russian trials were concerned with stopping "witches" who they feared would use magic to inspire revolt against the system of serfdom and aristocracy that ruled the land. The Russians weren't worried about devil worship; they were worried about social agitators. And their primary targets were men.

I couldn't believe how perfectly this real world history fit in with the history of my fictional universe. Aleksei Nechayev, the antagonist in my first novel Polar Night, was Russian, so I had already established a Russian backstory. Once I discovered this history, my new characters came to life and the stories played out from there.

A line of male Russian witches is introduced in my novella The Turnagain Arm through a saloon owner named Vasyl Dzubenko. While he is a witch, he's not the antagonist of that story. Vasyl is a good man who uses his power reluctantly and only to stop evil. Unfortunately his descendant Jamie, the Polar Day witch, is a very different story.

As a history buff, I couldn't have asked for better inspiration for my story than a real life horror such as the Russian witch trials. History never ceases to fascinate me.

Any other history nuts out there?

Polar Day is now available in paperback and on Amazon Kindle. To celebrate my new release, I'm offering The Turnagain Arm free this week, through Friday, 2/13. If you'd like to get to know my witches, get your free download here.

About Polar Day:

The midnight sun bakes Fairbanks, Alaska as residents gather for the annual summer solstice baseball game. Amidst the revelry and raucous shouts of “Play ball,” a spark alights and a jogger bursts into flames. Detective Danny Fitzpatrick, still reeling from his near death at the hands of vampire Aleksei Nechayev, watches in horror as the man burns alive.

Someone is burning Fairbanks and its residents and leaving nothing but smoldering embers behind. As the city sweats under a record-breaking heatwave and unexplained fires claim more victims, Danny and his colleagues struggle to find an arsonist who can conjure fire out of thin air.

To Danny’s horror, the only one who may be able to help him stop the arsonist is his nemesis Nechayev. Will the vampire help in the hunt for a witch?


Review of The Hunted Heart by Alison DeLuca - a fresh twist on Snow White

I rarely review novels. That’s because I don’t like to read books I’m lukewarm about and I detest giving negative reviews.

Happily, Hunted Heart by Alison DeLuca is a novel I can truly gush about. It’s a very adult twist on the classic Snow White. Having just written a twist on A Picture of Dorian Gray with my YA horror, Dorianna, I know how tricky it can be. The writer needs to echo the original tale enough to craft a genuine homage, yet in their new version, they should let it free-float organically out of the predecessor’s ghost to form an innovative story uniquely suited to the era and zeitgeist. DeLuca pulled it off!

Tali is a poor yet beautiful and brave huntress who knows the forest in and out, and whose only family is an old man who rescued her from abuse many years prior.  She is called to the palace to meet the new Queen Leila, who has taken the much beloved Queen Freja’s place after her unexpected early death. Supposedly, Queen Leila wants to meet this impressive huntress because Tali is rumored to have killed a monstrous Drauger, an undead in animal form.

Fancy digs and stuffy parties make Tali uneasy. When she sneaks away to the library to escape the snooty crowd, she runs into Prince Kas, a handsome man who loves books. This is one of the first cool twists—he’s a prince who’s a real bibliophile.

The rub: Queen Freja has lured Kas into her bed and drugged him, but Kas is not so receptive. In fact, once he snaps out of his drugged state to discover what’s happened he is revolted. He is much more admiring of Tali, who can tell alluring stories as well as go on dangerous hunts. Meanwhile, Queen Freja has developed an obsessive crush on Kas, and when she realizes Tali and Kas have warmed up up to one another she orders Tali to complete a horrifying task: hunt Kas down, cut out his heart and bring it back to her as a trophy.

I won’t reveal any spoilers. I will only say that this novel kept me turning the pages, and reading way, way into the night. DeLuca is an incredible wordsmith! Her prose is spectacularly beautiful. The action was breathtaking and the surprises just kept on coming. Oh, and the romance was sizzling. Highly recommended to anyone who likes fresh twists on classics, dark fantasy, unusual romances, or just a flipping great novel!

Shop for the Hunted Heart, on sale at Amazon for 99 Cents!

See all of Alison DeLuca's books, including her popular Crown Phoenix series here.

Visit Alison's blog & Twitter

Alison DeLuca is a writer of urban fantasy for young adults. She was born in Arizona and has also lived in Pennsylvania, Illinois, Mexico, Ireland, and Spain. As a teacher she taught every grade level in every kind of school district possible. She currently lives in New Jersey with her husband and daughter.

What twists on classics have you found compelling? Ever tried to write one?


#SpecFicChat As Idea Generator

Writers are always asked where they get their ideas from. The answer invariably comes from real life, such as news headlines, magazines, television and even your kids.

I'm not one of those writers who has so many ideas clamoring around inside my head that they're warring with each other to get out. Mostly I work with one idea at a time. It stews around in my head for weeks or months. Even a year. If I'm still interested as time passes, I'll write down the premise. Sometimes I'll jot notes to add to it. Describe characters I have in mind. Maybe even draft a rough outline. I'm not always that ordered and organized, though. Sometimes I use pieces of paper to jot an idea down then stuff it in my purse. They might linger at the bottom for quite some time before seeing the light of day.

Clearly I'm not someone who can take any idea and run with it. If a writing problem stumps me, I tend to wait it out rather than moving on to something else. So when something happens to spark a resolution to a plot or setting problem, my excitement for the project is revitalized.

My current project involves paranormal aspects of a well known nineteenth century work. I've always been fascinated with the Victorian era, but I didn't want to write straight historical. I'm not a historian or much of a researcher. I was having difficulty in ironing out some of the details. The last thing I wanted to do was rewrite an already perfect story, even if it was from a different character's POV.

Then finally, one of those evasive resolutions presented itself! During a scheduled #SpecFicChat on Twitter, I realized how I could resolve some of those concerns. You just never know where an idea is going to come from!

I had never read something I considered steampunk but had a sort of vague idea of what it was. Turns out that steampunk is closely related to the Victorian era. It could be past, present, future or alternate reality/history. There are no hard and fast rules, but the premise is that steam powered technology (with all the cogs, brass and gadgets, not to mention the cool clothing they wear) is used for what might be considered modern technology. Imagine a computer powered by steam being used by a Victorian gentlewoman!

All of a sudden, through the 140 character posts floating around, I'm provided with ways my characters can travel through past and future: just by adding aspects of steampunk. I'm going to use both fictional characters and real life historical figures, because steampunk is so wide and varied, with so many offshoots, that just about anything goes.

This work attributed to Eugene Ivanov from Wikimedia Commons

I found a steampunk blog called Steamed that was very helpful if you'd like more information.

My writerly resolution to a problem came through Twitter during a scheduled monthly Twitter chat. Woo Hoo!

 Where do you get your ideas and resolutions from?

Do you stew or move on?