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Thursday, January 23, 2020

Throwback Thursday: Edge of Dawn

Continuing Throwback Thursdays for the entire Light Warrior series. Next week, I'll get to the fourth and final published story, the one that had an actual request for me to talk about. In the Darkest Night, one of my personal favorites.

This week, though, is the third book in the Light Warriors series, Edge of Dawn. It was released in 2008 and I think enough years have passed that I can finally say in public that this cover is the least favorite of my covers. Um, yeah.

The story itself, well, I think of this as my medical book. About the time it was scheduled to be released, I had a health scare, and when I found out I didn't have cancer (thank you, God!), I cried in the parking lot of the clinic, I was so relieved.

Also while I was actually writing the book, my dad was diagnosed with cancer. He had a tumor the size of an orange on his kidney and had to have it removed. I remember writing at home when he called and asked me to drive him to urgent care. I remember being sent from urgent care to the hospital for tests. It was late enough at night that it was just my mom and I sitting, waiting to hear the results. I remember trying to write in my dad's hospital room while he recovered from surgery and not succeeding. I know some authors lose themselves in writing to forget about what's going on in their lives, but I couldn't do it.

His recovery took a while, and my mom had stopped driving years earlier, so I had to take them everywhere they needed to go. It was a tough stretch, but I still got this book in on time. Looking back on it all, I'm not sure how I did it. (FYI, my dad sees a kidney doctor once a year, but everything is still looking good!)

So anyway, Shona Blackwood is the heroine of the book and her hero is Logan Andrews. Shona is a Gineal who doesn't realize what she is--her parents were stripped of their powers and had their memories erased (In Twilight's Shadow covers the hows and whys)--but she is being pursued by darksiders. Logan Andrews is a troubleshooter sent to protect her, but he's not allowed to reveal the existence of the Gineal or magic.

Shona's lack of creativity (she's an artist) and how she feels about it was taken directly from how I felt during my period of burn out that I experienced while working on Twilight's Shadow. When I read comments about how her reaction didn't seem realistic, I just laughed. I'd been there, done that and it was completely realistic.

Logan is into restoring classic cars and has no interest in art. Shona has no interest in cars. But they make it work to be a couple, which I appreciated.

My favorite scene in this book is the epilogue where Shona and Creed meet for the first time.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Yes, Another Planner Post

I know, but it's January. Indulge me as I geek out about planners and organization.

***I received no compensation of any kind***

My planner of choice is called STARTplanner. They come in daily or weekly, spiral or casebound, and with different styles in the cover. I actually use a weekly casebound at work because it gives me an overview of my week and I don't use any stickers in my work planner.

At home, though, I use a daily planner. I did try weeklies at home and they sat, unused. When someone posted in a writers' group I'm in and mentioned the STARTplanner, I checked it out and was intrigued. IIRC, at that time they only had the daily planner in spiral. I bought a midyear planner because at that point in time, I wasn't organized enough to get myself started in January. I thought that this planner would end up sitting like my weekly planners had, but that's not what happened.

The daily planner was like an epiphany for me! I used it like crazy. For once, everything about planning made sense!

I'd tried a bazillion weekly planners and none of them had worked for me. Here was my planner peace. Mostly.

STARTplanner has a lot of pluses. I don't have to use separate stickers to keep track of water or vitamins. There's a box on each day for what they call meal planning, but I use it after the fact to record what we had for dinner that night. There's another box that's supposed to be for quotes or whatever, but I use it to record my workouts.

I don't love everything, though. My biggest annoyance is that Saturday and Sunday share a page.

Seriously, these are the two days I need a full page for the most!

I understand that space is limited, but the 2020 version has a major annoyance. There are a whole bunch of perforated "list" pages at the front of each month. One for each week. This replaced the weekly grocery list that used to take up HALF of the weekend page. For real.

First of all, there wasn't nearly enough room to write down all the groceries anyone would need to buy in a week. Secondly, who takes their planner grocery shopping? This is a year's worth of spiral-bound pages and it's not light. Besides the grocery stores have their own apps, and if I make my list in those, the store will tell me the exact location of every item I need to buy. This is so much more efficient than dragging my planner to the store.

So those list pages at the beginning of each month would work better as full weekend days. I believe there are enough of them to do it without adding pages. My personal theory is one of the company's founders likes her grocery list inside her planner and that's why we can't get rid of these worthless pages, but that's just my theory. Now these "list" pages are an annoyance I have to page through to get from my monthly overview to the individual days. I'm probably going to take all of them out of the planner and toss them.

This is literally the only thing I don't love about this planner. It's almost perfect for ME and the way I use it. I did try their ringed binder system because that one does have full weekend days, but I could only fit two months in at a time and that drove me insane. I wanted my whole year in one place, not divided between multiple locations.

Um, I guess I feel pretty strongly about this. Sorry!

Anyway, I live with the annoyances because this is by far the planner that works best for me. I just wish they could print a version for me, just the way I want it, and give me complete planner peace.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Throwback Thursday: In Twilight's Shadow

In Twilight's Shadow is book 2 of my Light Warriors series. It was released in 2008 and I wrote it in 2007. This is the only deadline I needed to ask for an extension on and I was still late. While writing this book I was 1) severely burnt out from the deadlines I'd had on my previous four books and 2) the original plot wasn't working and I was too panicked about the deadline to cut everything and start over. Which I finally had to do anyway.

The heroine in Twilight's Shadow is Maia Frasier, the sister of the heroine in book one of the Light Warriors. Maia gave up her powers years earlier (the why is revealed in Midnight Hour) and she's stayed near her sister ever since. And has felt excluded because Maia is no longer considered one of the Gineal people.

Her hero is Creed Blackwood, the biggest badass troubleshooter the Gineal have. Creed...well, what can I say about Creed? He was an ass and did nothing to soften that. I liked him anyway, but it took me a while to warm up to him. It's a good thing he's so pretty. ;-)

This is the book where the prophecy/mythology of Twilight Time starts to be revealed. It's long forgotten by most of the Gineal people, but Creed has always had an interest in history. He knows that Ryne (heroine in Midnight Hour) is the strongest Gineal troubleshooter ever tested and that signals the onset of the prophecy. I can't remember how much of this is spelled out in the book itself, although I know some of it is. Again, I haven't reread this book in a long, long time. Because I had to fight for every word on this story, it doesn't make me feel all happy inside to revisit it. :-)

Twilight's Shadow is also the book where we learn about the existence of the god-demons. Maia was romantically involved with one years earlier, although she didn't know what he was at the time. The ancient Egyptians called him Set (or Seth). Seth makes another appearance later in the series.

The opening of the book where Creed is gored wasn't in the manuscript I turned in to my editor. She asked me to add an action scene since Midnight Hour opened with action.

There's also a scene where I mention the name of the heroine in the next book, although in this book it's used to explain some of why Creed can be such a jerk.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Say What?

***I received no compensation for this post***

I'm in a planner group run by the company who makes my planner. I pop in and out, but it's too much of the same questions and I don't spend much time there. And then I saw a post that stopped me cold. A woman said that she wanted to sell her unused planner because she's not going to school after all.

Other women in the group (it's almost all women) shared all the other ways she could use the planner to organize her life even without classes and homework assignments. The original poster wouldn't even consider any of these options. She simply didn't need a planner for any other corner of her life.

This shocked me. How can someone function without some sort of planner? I spent a lot of time hopping around from planning system to planning system until I found the one that works best for me, but to use nothing at all??? I am still flabbergasted by this.

This is where I keep track of my entire life. Not only appointments, but what I need to do that day, what I did as a workout at the gym that day, what I had for dinner. It reminds me to charge my Fitbit, to put out the trash, to share my blog posts to Twitter and Facebook. My planner has the daily weather: High and low temperatures and whether it was sunny, cloudy, rainy, etc. (At least I did this in 2019 because I want to knit a temperature shawl and I need this information to know which colors to use for which day of the year.) I will print out pictures from my phone on rare occasion and paste them into the book.

It's not only a planner, it's also a memory keepsake. (I've blogged about my huge regret at throwing away my calendars from when I was younger.)

I know, different strokes for different folks, but planner at all? I mean not even using iCalendar or Google Calendar? The electronic calendars have never worked for me no matter how much I wished they would, but at least people using them have something. This woman is using nothing. Nothing! How is this humanly possible?

The thing is that it isn't as if I forget what I need to do. So much of it is rote. Seriously, the trash has gone out on the same day since I moved into my subdivision and I'm not going to forget to go to the gym. I moan and groan about it every day. :-) But it's a safety net. I don't have to worry about forgetting something if it's written down and I can refer to it. Anything that lowers my anxiety level is a huge plus.

I am dedicated to my planner, and if I wasn't using the daily planner I have now, I'd still be using something. I like my safety net.

Thursday, January 09, 2020

Throwback Thursday: In the Midnight Hour

I had a request to do a Throwback Thursday on In the Darkest Night (Book 4 in my Light Warriors series) and I felt like I needed to do the entire series because in my mind they're a set. Each story can be read by itself and make sense--that's something I strive for when I write--but there are references in later books that go back to earlier stories. They don't impact the current story directly, but they're there. Readers who are curious can go back and read the earlier books, but those who don't care, don't need to do this.

In the Midnight Hour is the first book in my Light Warriors series. The one-sentence blurb for the story is: When a troubleshooter for a society of magic users rescues a private investigator from a dark spell, she finds more than an ally as she faces down her former mentor. The troubleshooter is the heroine, Ryne Frasier. The PI she rescues is her hero, Deke Summers. She's intense and he's a smart ass...which he uses to hide his own intensity.

I wrote the proposal chapters for this story in 2004. This was before I wrote Through a Crimson Veil or Eternal Nights. My agent shopped it around, but before it sold, I was contracted for both TACV and EN. When the offer came for Midnight Hour, my turn time was 18 months. The editor had to pass because it was outside the interval she was buying for.

But she had another buying round when I was finished with TACV and working on EN and I could turn it in on the right schedule. Midnight Hour was sold! It's release date was in 2007 which was (OMG!) thirteen years ago. It doesn't seem that long.

As an aside, I find it interesting that I wrote my proposals in this order: Midnight Hour, Eternal Nights, Crimson Veil and they were contracted/due in the reverse order.

Ryne was a PITA about her name. She told me that it starts with an R and then left me scrolling through baby name sites online and paging through every baby name book I owned. Nothing was right and she refused any attempts I made to just pick one. I finally stumbled across Ryne in one book. It was the only book I had that put that name in the girl's section because Ryne is generally a boy name. No wonder I couldn't find it for so long!

Deke was largely an enigma to me at first. Until I found a picture of "him." I find pictures for all my heroes and heroines for sure and a lot of times the secondary characters as well. This is also frequently a PITA because the characters are very specific about finding the right image. Deke's doppelganger had this expression on his face that totally screamed "smart-ass" and yes, that's exactly what he was. He pushed Ryne's buttons just for fun. Despite his sometimes annoying qualities, he ended up being among my most favorite heroes. I have a thing for smart asses.

I finished writing Midnight Hour in 2006 and I haven't reread the book in years. Everything I'm talking about here is what's stuck with me from this book and these characters.

Ryne was my most solitary heroine ever. Also my most intense and my most kick-ass. Which all relates back to her childhood and her apprenticeship with another troubleshooter, one that should never have been allowed to teach a young troubleshooter. While Ryne maintains she was never sexually abused, there was abuse there. Since I don't use omniscient Point of View (POV), I was unable to directly address this because in her POV, that wasn't what happened.

This series had a mythology of the Gineal people at its core. Most of the society had forgotten about it, but one person didn't and he understood the time of prophecy was at hand. That person was Creed Blackwood, the hero of the second book in the series, In Twilight's Shadow.