The Best Words to Write

 

… Well at least when you’re working on a draft, it is.  Now the book is off to beta readers.  It’s all an iteration.

This is how editing works for me.

  • Bang out a rough draft.  I mean BANG it.  It’s rough, it’s wild, it sometimes contradicts itself and is a bit of a wild child, but it’s still your child and you love it.  My rough drafts are usually mechanical, very action focused without much emotional depth or scenes.
  • Let it sit, think about it.  During this period, I jot down ideas to change, to fix, to deepen.
  • Time to edit!  I go through four to six versions of each novel.  Each pass I focus on more specific things, like adding emotion, expanding world building, then I go for passes for plot consistency and flow, pacing, any holes that are obvious.  And then a final pass for typos.  All these passes take me some time.
  • Then off to beta readers.  I have various ones who will help with plot, or writing voice, or typos.  A variety of skills in my editing peeps is always valuable.
  • Then back to more polish, fixing the things my betas brought up and I agree with.  Sometimes it’s big stuff, sometimes it’s not.  It’s important to know what to change and what you feel is done correctly.  Trust your gut… but as I say that, I also think that if three or more betas agree with a thing, then I should probably change it.

What is your editing process?  How many drafts or passes do you make?  Do you use any computer tools to help with the editing?  I use word spelling/grammar checker, then Grammarly, then I pay another set of eyes to review the entire thing.  I always miss typos, but I do catch many.

Happy writing!  And for fans of my stuff, look for a new book this year!

Review: Hathonatum by Taylin Clavelli

Hathonatum by Taylin Clavelli

Rating: 4 stars
Buy Link:
 Publisher: MLR Press | Smashwords

Length: Novel (~300 pages)

An interesting take on star-crossed lovers. A soulmate story that crosses dimensions. This review is littered with spoilers, so beware. Long story short, a very sweet romance with some great characters and fantastic world building.

I was drawn to this novel for two reasons. I love Egypt and the mythology and history of that country. The other was the promise of interspecies romance. Taylin delivered beautifully on both. Her research and knowledge of Egypt shone in this novel and in her interview, she talks about her own love for Egypt. And while Hathonatum isn’t all that different from humans, there are definite differences between biology, culture, and world.

Ben is an archaeologist and one of the reasons he’s drawn to Egypt is that in his past life he was the king’s consort of a sort. And Hathonatum (in a very interesting way I won’t go into to avoid too many spoilers) was that king.

The worldbuilding really shines in this story with the layers of past lives, soul mates, and alien cultures. It seems like a huge mash up, but it works.

Ben, the human, knows what he wants. And when he meets Hathonatum, he knows this is the man he’s been waiting for. They are drawn together. Hathonatum was there specifically for Ben, because he knows Ben is his soulmate. Hathonatum is the capable, older, confident man of the relationship, but doesn’t bully Ben. There is support and love.

Though the story has one (unnecessary in my opinion) relationship set back, for the most part there isn’t much relationship angst. (Ugh relationship angst… not my fave.). The conflict is with the world out there, with other characters, with other aliens with agendas, it isn’t between the two main relationship characters. So, cheers for that.

Ben’s brother is a pretty significant character in this book. Jared is awesome and supportive and makes me wish I had a sibling like him. Their closeness is a gem and how they will do anything for each other. I’m happy to see strong family support.

My biggest gripe has nothing to do with the relationship, but one aspect of the worldbuilding. I had issues with the time slip between dimensions. I’m wondering if I missed some vital clue in my reading. So an hour in Hathonatum’s dimension is a week or so on Earth. But we have a couple where one half is on this side and the other half is on that side, but there is no problem with the time slip with them. I didn’t understand why. There was another issue with DNA sequencing to make earthlings and Hathonatum’s people age at the same rate (apparently Hathonatum’s people are very long lived)… but I wasn’t sure if this was attached to the time slip, and if so, why would it matter if the human was in the other dimension. It seems he would age at the speed of whatever time he was in (see author’s comment explaining where I got it wrong!). So, those two things kinda nagged at me, but if you’re not picky about details like these, they shouldn’t bother you to enjoying this romantic story as a whole.

I wanted more closure on Jared getting the King’s DNA (for the aging issue mentioned above) and what exactly that meant. Lots of hubbaloo and hinting with no actual follow through. Then I found out this was book one of a series, and I’m betting this is going to continue in the next book, which has me excited and eager to find out what is up with the DNA sharing!

All in all, a satisfying story and a fairly smooth read. The characters are likable, you want to root for the romance, and the world is interesting. Interesting teasers for what might be unveiled in the next book. Definitely worth a read to anyone interested in star-crossed/soulmate type stories.

Check out Taylin’s guest post on why she chose Egypt as her settling! Guest Post Taylin Clavelli

Guest Post: Taylin Clavelli, Author of Hathonatum

Setting

Setting is one of the pillars of any good story. To find a place to set the story, one that fits the theme, stirs the senses and opens the author’s eyes in wonder is an art form. Hathanatum’s main setting is Egypt and part of it at an archaeological dig. I have a personal love for Egypt and was immediately drawn to this book due to the setting and the themes (star-crossed lovers, reincarnation, alien love) I asked Taylin about why she chose this setting for her new book.

BLOG TOUR

Book Title: Hathonatum

Author: Taylin Clavelli

Why Egypt?

By Taylin Clavelli

History has always been a passion of mine. I am a historian at the manor house hotel, where I work. But Egyptian history has a special place in my heart. Since childhood, I have lost count of the TV programs I’ve watched featuring Egypt. Documentaries, films, series are just a few avenues. Stargate is a favourite of mine along with other sci-fi series such as Star Trek and the awesome Star Wars. So, I believe that subconsciously I’ve been looking for an opportunity to feature Egyptian history in a story.

I have seen many an archaeological program uncovering artefacts and mummies. I also own several books about Egypt, its tombs, pharaohs, and its people. A while ago, for fun (in the days of floppy disks), I completed a family tree of the first pharaoh to the last, including relatives. Did you know that the famous Cleopatra wasn’t the first Cleopatra – she was the seventh. Although, Greek by birth, she embraced all that was Egypt. Alexandria has a small feature in the story.

Many years ago, I was one of those who queued to see the Tutankhamun display when it came to London. Then, in 2014, I had the pleasure of visiting the Cairo museum, and the pyramids, followed by a boat trip down the Nile. I have personally looked upon the mummies of Seti I, Ramses the Great and many others. I love going to the British Museum in London, but, The Liverpool Museum has a particularly good Egyptian display, too.

I originally planned a story involving the ancient pharaohs in a more active capacity. However, I discovered that I had to be careful. Egyptian authorities do not look kindly on anyone depicting their pharaohs in alternate ways, especially as the country isn’t especially LGBTQ tolerant. So, I had a rethink. I decided to stay factually correct regarding the essentials of Egyptian history. Records show that the ancient people were a nomadic race who could be brutal over territory, particularly water holes.

Given that so much remains hidden or is lost beneath the desert, I went back to a period where little is written. Before the first recognised pharaohs – To those times where, when historians talk about them, they start with, “very little is known about this period.” In the same way that in the film The Mummy Returns, Evie says that there very little is known about the Scorpion King. She is correct because at the time the film was made, Scorpion was only a name on a piece of parchment. Therefore, they invented a world for him. The era where I created King Sahakemwy was a window of opportunity where I could add some characters of my own within a believable world.

I am not out to teach anyone about archaeology, as the focus is on Ben and Ashari Hathonatum. So, having already watched much about excavating in Egypt, all I needed was maps. I downloaded many pictures of cities, tombs, digs and temples. Once I had my plans in place, I could insert my main characters.

Science fiction enters the story in several places, with the use of alternative dimensions. Although while reading, it isn’t actively noticeable until later. Science fiction links the past with the present before my characters get to have their future. Therefore, Egypt heavily features, especially Abydos, Alexandria, and Cairo.

Because Hathonatum is a science fiction set in the present day, I am hoping that some of the events and theories make people think – “Yeah, that’s possible.”

Buy Links

Publisher: MLR Press | Smashwords

Hathonatum is a love story that spans time, dimension, universe and death.

Blurb

Have you ever wondered if that little voice inside you is actually your voice?

Egypt captivates Benjamin. As an adult, he immerses himself in his chosen profession, as an archaeologist in the ancient city of Abydos. For Ben, the hieroglyphs, and paintings unlock dreams of a time long lost.

The dig Ben works on is financed by Ashari Hathonatum. For many years, the man has been looking for the one who completes him. He initially saw his heart’s match from a distance. But that was a long time ago and from an alternate universe. When Ashari encounters Ben, he wonders if he is the reincarnation of the man he saw, through another’s eyes, all those years ago. Will the secrets Ashari hides about his heritage stop their love blooming, or will others from his dimension, determined to keep Ashari from his heart’s match, rule the day?

**The story is written with British spelling/grammar. **

Excerpt

Though Ben loved the thought of studying Seti, he was part of a small crew concentrating on Narmer (3180-3120 BC), whose tomb was located to the west of the dig, almost as far away from Seti as a tomb could get. Not much was known about the first pharaoh of the combined kingdoms, and Ben wanted to help discover something new. He wanted to shed light on a life that no one knew about—a new phenomenon to capture the imagination.

Ben had been on-site for a little over a week when he saw an intriguing man talking to Terry, his dig leader. Judging by his skin, Ben suspected the man to be local, but it was difficult to tell. Other than his face, the only other exposed part of him was his hands. The rest of him was covered with clothing designed to keep out the worst of the sand—layered, lightweight, loose, and black.

When the man locked gazes with him, Ben found himself staring into a vibrant blue sea of lapis lazuli, framed with black lashes and dark eyebrows. It wasn’t until a fellow worker walked between them that the connection was broken. When Ben sought to re-establish contact, the other had his back to him. Ben returned to his work, clearing out a trench of sand. The heat and excitement over what his group might find overshadowed any musings concerning the stranger.

At the end of the day, Ben was so tired he clambered onto the city-bound truck with as much grace as a stumbling mummy.

That night, while lounging on his bed, images of dark blue assaulted him. The event was rare for him, considering Egypt was his prime…prime everything.

Every day, the journey to the ruins was like being transported back in time. Ben could close his eyes and almost feel like he was there, in ancient Egypt. Often, he imagined he could see a partial image of the hustle and bustle of the ancient civilization continuing around him. At other times, he was in the quiet solitude of a temple. The images were odd, considering ancient Abydos was a graveyard.

From the drop-off point the next day, Ben made his way to tombs B17 and B18—the tombs attributed to Narmer. He worked there all morning with his small, square trowel and brush, slowly moving away the sands of eons.

As lunchtime approached, he relocated to the edge of the main dig and took his break. From there, he would imagine life in ancient Egypt.

Daydreaming, he chose to walk back to his station.

Suddenly, an alarm sounded. It was the warning for a sandstorm. It was similar to what his grandparents had described as the air raid warning from the war.

There was a flurry of activity while people efficiently covered artefacts and other areas of importance. Ben glanced around, noticing the storm was a lot closer than he’d originally thought. It had come out of nowhere. What crept toward the dig seemed like a moving wall of cloud, dense enough to shield the view and engulf anything below it. If it wasn’t for the cottonlike plumes of wheat colours, Ben could have believed a curtain of rain was heading his way. The screen of rapid shadow was making quick progress toward the dig, swallowing all in its path. Briefly, Ben went rigid, unable to move. When the sound of hissing reached his consciousness, and sand stung his feet and face, he dashed toward shelter. He was running a losing race.

Abruptly, he was grabbed and pulled to the floor behind a shallow wall. In a spell of activity as sleek as the sandstorm, a mask was put over his face, and his body along with that of his saviour rolled together. Over and over, they turned. Coming to a halt, and dizzy, Ben found himself cocooned, head to toe in a thick blanket. From the outside, the two of them probably resembled a fat, discarded mummy.

As Ben regained his senses, he could feel a wall to his back and secure arms around him. The only thing between them was his messenger bag containing the bottles of water he was required to keep on him to prevent dehydration in the desert sun.

Panting, he opened his eyes to a familiar sea of lazuli.

About the Author

I am proud to be British and proud to be an author of gay romance stories from varying genres. I write under the pseudonym Taylin Clavelli, not because I don’t want my real name out there, but because I think my real name is unmemorable for an author. The name came about from a night of Skype and a lot of wine.

My first published work – a comedy called Boys Toys and Carpet Fitters – came out in 2012. It was part of a Dreamspinners anthology called Don’t Do This At Home. Since then, I have produced a further two novels and five short stories, not including Hathonatum.

As well as being married for close to thirty years, and have a grown-up family, who I adore – I work part-time at a Manor Hotel, where I am also the resident historian. I am a book reviewer, too for a well-known site.

Not being a spring chicken anymore, I have a few hobbies that over the years have come, gone and resurfaced again. I am an experienced horse rider, and 2nd Degree Black Belt in Taekwondo. I help my husband with DIY projects, upcycle as much as possible and love my garden. As for those simple things that make me stop in my tracks. The dawn chorus, baking bread, lasagne, and the scene where Shadowfax makes his screen entrance.

Author Links

Blog/Website | Facebook | Twitter

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Guest Post: Gail Z. Martin, Author of Inheritance (Deadly Curiosities #4)

World Building

Perhaps the best thing about writing spec fic (fantasy and science fiction are just two flavors of speculative fiction) is the freedom to create a new world that follows your own rules. From completely second world high fantasy, to something closer, like a near future sci-fi that is firmly grounded in this world but has just a tweek or two, authors spin worlds as much as they spin plot and character. World building is no lesser a pillar of a good story as a strong character.

I asked Gail to give me some thoughts on World Building in her Deadly Curiosities world.

Book Title: Inheritance

Author: Gail Z. Martin

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Building a World to Share

By Gail Z. Martin

One of the many things I love about writing urban fantasy is that the stories happen in our own, recognizable world—but with the addition of magic and supernatural elements. On one hand, setting the stories in the real world means readers can picture landmarks and may be somewhat familiar with a region or city’s history. When you add magic and the supernatural, however, that well-known landscape becomes different, strange—even spooky.

I write three different urban fantasy series under my Gail Z. Martin name—Deadly Curiosities, Night Vigil, and Spells Salt and Steel (co-written with Larry N. Martin). And I write three more urban fantasy MM paranormal romance series under my Morgan Brice name—Witchbane, Badlands and Treasure Trail. All happen in various real-life cities, with plenty of magic and creatures.

What makes it especially fun for me is that all six series cross over with each other, so the characters know each other and show up in each other’s books, and ask each other for help. One reader dubbed it the ‘MCU—Martin Cinematic Universe’ (apologies to Marvel). But as with the Marvel movies, there are little in-jokes and ‘Easter egg’ comments that show up in the books for those who have read across the series.

Although the stories are set in the real world, there’s still a lot of worldbuilding that goes into each series and book. I draw heavily from the local history, urban legends, ghost stories and culture of each of the cities where the books are set—Charleston, Myrtle Beach, Pittsburgh, Cape May, as well as Northwestern Pennsylvania. And in the Witchbane series, each book takes place in a different city. So part of my preparation for writing a book is delving into that lore so I can make the location a character and assure that the story wouldn’t happen the same way anywhere else.

I joked that I couldn’t keep six different universes straight, so they had to cross over, but that’s only partially true. It’s a lot more fun for me (and from what I hear from readers, for them also) to run across old friends, hear from characters they follow in other series, and most importantly, see the characters as having a network of friends and allies they can rely on when things get rough.

I’ll be adding a crossover Morgan Brice series that connects with our Iron & Blood steampunk world, as well as two Morgan Brice connected series that extend my Assassins of Landria medieval adventure series. Stay tuned—there’s more crossover fun to come!

Buy Links – ebook and paperback

Amazon US | Amazon UK

 

 

About the Author

Gail Z. Martin writes epic fantasy, urban fantasy and steampunk for Solaris Books, Orbit Books, SOL Publishing, Darkwind Press, Worldbuilders Press and Falstaff Books. Recent books include Convicts and Exiles, Sellsword’s Oath, Inheritance, and Night Moves. With Larry N. Martin, she is the co-author of the Spells Salt & Steel, Wasteland Marshals, Joe Mack and Jake Desmet series. As Morgan Brice, she writes urban fantasy MM paranormal romance including the Witchbane, Badlands and Treasure Trail series. Recent books include The Rising, Flame and Ash.

Get a free complete short story, Catspaw here

 

 

Social Media Links

Blog | Website | Facebook | Facebook Group | Twitter @GailZMartin | Pinterest

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2020 Comes in Like Lion (or is that March?)

The new year has always been a time of reflection and focus. I’ve had some good years, and some better years, and some years that shall not be named.

2019 was one of the better ones. I self-published Afflicted to the Core, which is the third Wielder World book. I also put groundwork on Wielder World 4, as well as a new stand alone mage/vampire contemporary fantasy.

Writing is a love, a somewhat expensive hobby, and an avenue I plan on walking far into retirement (which is still far away). Juggling a day job and writing has always been a challenge, but I hope to carve our more writing time for 2020.

With the more hours goal in mind, I hope to deliver you the two books mentioned above in 2020. And possibly another novella.

I also plan to hike more, and take more dazzling pictures, of which you can see in my natkennedybooks Instagram. Join me there and see what I’m up to.

Any goals for 2020? Writing or otherwise? Here is a cheering section for you!