Sunday, November 24, 2013

Land, Sea, Sky: the blog posts, vol. 4.

I have three bits of business to get out of the way first:

1. Crosswind is here! It's now available as an e-book at Amazon and Smashwords, and as a paperback through CreateSpace. I expect the Smashwords edition to migrate to Kobo, B&N, and other retailers shortly, if it hasn't already. And I just noticed the paperback is up at Amazon! It should be available from other retailers within the next couple of weeks.

2. I'm making good progress on Undertow, my NaNo novel and the second book in the "Land, Sea, Sky" trilogy. I was at 42,205 when I went to bed last night. That's not quite as far along as I'd like to be right now, but I'm still ahead of the curve, and the last 8K is definitely doable before the 30th. But I tell you what: Doing NaNo in the same month as a book launch has been pretty darned stressful. I'll be glad when November is over -- as long as I win NaNo, that is....

3. Don't forget about the big Master Koda Black Friday/Cyber Monday promotion coming up next weekend on Facebook. I'll be hosting on Cyber Monday (December 2nd) from 7pm until 9pm Eastern time, and I've got some fun stuff planned. But the best part for you guys is that the authors participating in the event are marking down some of their books to 99 cents for the weekend. You can click here to get to the event page on Facebook. Hope to see you there.

I promised to wrap up my "Land, Sea, Sky" posts this week by explaining the structure of the series. That's not all that complicated, so I thought I'd throw in a few Fun Facts to Know and Tell, too.

When I first started thinking about a follow-on series to the Pipe Woman Chronicles, I knew one thing for sure: the Morrigan was going to be in it. I don't know why, other than the fact that She is generally perceived to be one of the darker goddesses in the Celtic pantheon, and I expected this series to be a little less lighthearted than the Pipe Woman Chronicles (if you can call Naomi's story lighthearted).

Anyway. Once I'd settled that, then I realized three books would be the perfect size for the series. The Celts, like a lot of Indo-European cultures, considered 3 to be a sacred number. A whole bunch of Celtic sayings follow a "three things" formula. Here are three examples:
  • Three words of counsel: know thy power, know thy wisdom, know thy time.
  • Three candles that illume every darkness: truth, nature, and knowledge. 
  • Three things it is best to leave alone: a strange dog, a sudden flood, and one wise in their own eyes.
Too, many Indo-European cultures developed a belief that the Universe has three realms. For the Celts, the three realms were -- wait for it -- Land, Sea, and Sky. They held these three so sacred that they would swear oaths upon them:
If I break this oath, may the sky fall down and crush me, may the earth open and swallow me, and may the sea rise up and drown me. (link)
On top of all that, the Morrigan is a triune goddess, comprised of Badb, her warlike aspect; Macha; and Anann, her Earth aspect, after whom twin hills in County Killarney, Ireland, are named the Paps of Anu.

Having gotten this far, it made sense (to me, if no one else) to have each book in the trilogy dedicated to one of the sacred realms. And it also made sense to have three main characters, with each sort of representing one of the three realms.

That's why I've been saying cryptic stuff like, "I consider Crosswind to be Tess's book." Crosswind is the Sky book -- hence the wind turbine on the cover -- and it's Tess's book because she is a journalist, and communication is related strongly to the element of Air. Also, the book is set in and around Washington, DC, which, as we all know, is chock-full of hot air.

Undertow is the Sea book, and it's Darrell's book both because he is a sailor, and because Water has always been important to the Potawatomi way of life. And not just for fishing: the Ojibwe, another Anishinaabe people, still harvest wild rice by rowing their canoes into a stand of the plants and beating them until the seeds fall into the canoe. The plot of Undertow takes place in Hampton Roads, VA -- mostly Norfolk and Virginia Beach. The "roads" in the name Hampton Roads refer to the Elizabeth, Nansemond, and James rivers, which join there before emptying into the Chesapeake Bay.

Which leaves Sue, the realm of Land, and Scorched Earth. Sue is the Right Hand of the Earth goddess Gaia -- 'nuff said. (To be honest, I haven't gotten much farther than that with the planning for this book. When I figure it out, I'll let you know -- how's that?)

Okay, so, Fun Fact to Know and Tell #1: We used to live in the townhouse where Sue, Tess, and Darrell live. It's in Alexandria, VA, in a complex called Brookville Townhomes, which is bordered on the south by Holmes Run Park. In one scene in Crosswind, Sue walks over to the park to sit by the creek and do some thinking. Here's a photo of the creek that my daughter Amy took. It was taken downstream from Sue's vantage point, but it should give you an idea of the setting. Amy took lots of pictures of Holmes Run when she was in high school, and I've got a few of them on a Pinterest board here.

Fun Fact #2: We lived in two different townhouses in Brookville; for this series, I put the kitchen (and its pass-through) from one into the other one. The teeny-tiny bedroom that Darrell rejects? That was my room. But one detail I did not change was the infestation of spider crickets in the basement.

And Fun Fact #3: The Potawatomi own and operate several casinos. One of them is in New Buffalo, MI, which is about 15 minutes from the house where I grew up.

So there you go. Hope you like the series. I think I'll go now and try to knock out a few more words on Undertow.  Happy Thanksgiving!

These bloggy Fun Facts to Know and Tell have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Land, Sea, Sky: The blog posts, Vol. 3.

Welcome to any of you who are stopping by following my five-week free promotion for the Pipe Woman Chronicles! I gave away hundreds of e-books each week, and so it stands to reason that at least a few of those folks have read the books and are here for the first time. So, hi. I hope I don't bore you.

A mess of publishing notes: Over at Amazon, you can now find an omnibus e-book of all five of the Pipe Woman Chronicles. If you missed one, or if you think someone on your holiday list would enjoy the series, I hope you'll think about picking up a copy. There won't be a paperback version of the omnibus, mainly because it would be about 500 pages long and I would have to charge at least 18 bucks to break even.

I intend to sell the omnibus exclusively at Amazon for now. But I'll be putting the individual books back up at other retailers by the end of this month.

Also, I've gathered together the three "Land, Sea, Sky" prequels into an anthology, which went live at Amazon this morning.

And speaking of "Land, Sea, Sky" -- drum roll, please -- Crosswind will be out at Amazon and Smashwords this Wednesday, November 20th.

So this week, I'm supposed to talk about Sue Killeen, our third and final main character in "Land, Sea, Sky."

On the day of the Second Coming, Sue was a senior in high school. She and her best buds, Heather and Moira, skipped school that day to go to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. The three of them grew up together in Fairfax County, Virginia -- not far from where I live now -- and Rehoboth is only a few hours away.

Anyway, Heather has always been the ringleader for their little clique, and Sue has always felt like the ugly, awkward one, as she's taller and stockier than her friends. But during that day at the beach, the girls stop at a New Age shop, and Sue has a Tarot reading that indicates she will be important to the Earth goddess Gaia. With that, the balance of power in the group shifts, and the friendships don't survive the young women's transition to college in the fall.

Fast-forward ten years. At 28, Sue is coming into her own as the Right Hand of Gaia. She has become comfortable in her Wiccan religion and can do some pretty unusual magic. And she is indispensable at her job as a project manager for a nonprofit called Earth in Balance.  But she has never reconciled the feeling that she's awkward and less than pretty. It doesn't help that Tess, whom Sue met in college, is tiny and adorable, and is on TV, and has guys falling at her feet all the time. Tess -- who has her own problems with intimacy (see my post from two weeks ago) -- ignores those guys. And then sometimes the guys come to Sue for commiseration and advice about how to get Tess to notice them, which makes Sue feel like she's always sloppy seconds.

You would think that by now, five or six years after finishing college and moving on, she would have gotten over this feeling of always being second best. Alas, she and Tess got an apartment together with another friend right after graduation, and even though Sue and Tess no longer run in the same circles, Sue still sends out the sort of desperate vibe that guys run from.

The thing is that the gods want Sue, Tess, and Darrell to become a team -- and if Sue's self-esteem issues keep her endlessly jealous of Tess, it's not going to happen. In Crosswind, Sue gets a bit of a wake-up call about her behavior. In Undertow, which I'm writing now, she'll get an external boost to her self-esteem. But in Scorched Earth, which I consider to be Sue's book, she's going to have to figure out how to believe in herself.

Next week, I'll talk about the structure of the series, and why I'm calling it "Land, Sea, Sky."

Speaking of Undertow, it's coming along. My goal for this weekend was 35,000 words, which I reached last night. I'm now at the point where I'm hoping that I have enough plot left for the final 15,000 words. Don't worry -- I had the same freakout at the same point when I wrote the first draft for Crosswind and it all worked out fine.

One more thing: Don't forget that the really big Master Koda Black Friday/Cyber Monday Bash is scheduled for Friday, Nov. 29 through Monday, Dec. 2. Thirty-five authors will be offering their e=books that weekend for 99 cents. The party starts on the Facebook event page on Black Friday, but we're prepping now, so do stop by. It would be a shame if you missed this event. Just sayin'.

These moments of Earthy blogginess are brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Land, Sea, Sky: the blog posts, vol. 2.

First off, I need to alert you guys to a fabulous opportunity (no, really, it's going to be fabulous!) coming up Thanksgiving weekend. It's the Master Koda Black Friday/Cyber Monday Bash, November 29th through December 2nd. Thirty-five authors (including Yrs Trly) will lower the prices on their participating books on Amazon to 99 cents that weekend. You can click here to see the list of books and authors. I've put Seized and my new book, Crosswind, into the mix.

Plus there will be a Facebook party all weekend, with games and prizes. The top prize is a Kindle Fire HD. Please feel free to stop by! Here's the link to the Facebook party page, where we're already chatting and getting things ready. I'll be anchoring the event together with K.R. Hughes on Cyber Monday, Dec. 2nd, from 7pm until 9pm EST. We'd love to see you there.

So this week, I thought I'd introduce you to Darrell Warren -- or more precisely, Navy Lt. Darrell Warren. On the day of the Second Coming at the end of Annealed, Darrell had just left on a fishing trip near his home in southwestern Michigan. He wanted to celebrate getting his first real job -- as a nursing assistant in an elder care facility. He had also recently been accepted as a fourth-level midew, or medicine man, for the Potawatomi Indian band he is part of -- which meant, among other things, that he could lead ceremonies on his own. And with his financial future assured, he planned to move out of his parents' house and marry his girlfriend, Ruthie.

But while on the trip, Nanabush -- the Ojibwe culture hero -- led Darrell to the otherworldly plain where Naomi had recently concluded the big mediation. There, Nanabush told Darrell that his life needed to do a 180-degree turn, because the god needed for him to become a warrior. Darrell considered himself to be a peaceful man; the thought of joining the military was anathema to him. Still, he swallowed his personal desires and did what the god told him to do. But it left him angry.

As Crosswind opens, Darrell is a changed man -- a 30-year-old hardened warrior who has left his past as a healer and magic practitioner far behind. He has seen action with his Special Ops unit in Syria, including a notorious friendly-fire incident in Al-Laqbah in which most of his men were killed. Ruthie, whom he did marry, couldn't handle either the changes in him or the long separations required of Navy spouses; she has divorced him and gone back to Michigan.

The thing is, Nanabush never meant for Darrell to stop being a midew. He knew Darrell would need to be both a warrior and a medicine man in order to accomplish the goals of the gods. So Darrell's main job in this series is to reawaken his magical side and integrate the two parts of his being. That means, for starters, learning to channel the anger that he has used as a defense for the past ten years. He begins that process in Crosswind. Then in Undertow, which I think of as Darrell's book, he will have to learn how to set aside his anger and feel other, deeper emotions again. It's only then that his true healing will take place.

If Crosswind is Tess's book and Undertow is Darrell's, then the final book, Scorched Earth, must belong to Sue. I'll give you an introduction to her next week. And then the following week, the last full weekend of NaNaWriMo, I'll tell you about the structure of the series and why I picked the name "Land, Sea, Sky."

And speaking of NaNo, it's time for me to wrap this up and get back to the first draft of Undertow. Oh, wait -- before I go, a reminder that this coming Wednesday through Friday, Annealed will be free at Amazon. Tell your friends!

These moments of fabulous free book blogginess are brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Land, Sea, Sky: the blog posts, vol. 1.

Alert readers of this blog will have noticed that November -- a.k.a. National Novel Writing Month -- has begun. A couple of weeks ago, I declared my intent to participate in NaNoWriMo again this year, which means I'm churning out a lot of words on a fairly regular basis this month.

And too, the first book in the new series, Crosswind, is due to hit virtual shelves near you on November 20th. So I'll be kicking out some promotional stuff preparatory to the blog tour in December.

In short, I've got a lot of writing to do.

But I don't want to give the blog short shrift. So, since my head is full of the NaNo novel anyway, I thought I'd spend November talking about the structure of the series and a little something about the main characters. If you've read the prequel short stories (a vanishingly small population, if sales are any indication), then you've met their younger selves already. This will be a chance for me to talk about how they've changed in the intervening ten years.

Let's start with Tess Showalter. She's a complicated individual, and someone who has never really thought about how her background has shaped her. She grew up in Kansas on her family's farm. Her father fought back hard against Big Agriculture, holding out against all their attempts to buy his property, until Big Ag, in the form of a multinational corporation called MegaAgriCorp, sues him for violating their seed patents. The settlement allowed the Showalters to keep their land, but placed so many restrictions on their operation that their farming days were virtually over. (I may or may not have ripped this part of the plot from the headlines.) In addition, the settlement prohibited Tess's parents from speaking out about MegaAgriCorp in any way. Tess was a minor, and argued that the settlement didn't mention her, and so she should be able to say what all of them were thinking. Even as a kid, she knew that what this corporation had done to her family was wrong and that they ought to be stopped. But her father, in an overabundance of concern for her safety, forbade her from speaking out.

This was probably not the first time Tess had received a mixed message from her father. Parents, after all, are human beings, and prone to contradiction. But this one stuck with her, and did a lot to shape her as an adult. And too, the day her father silenced her was the day Morrigan came into her life. Tess stumbled across her at the creek on their property, and there, the goddess offered to hurt someone on Tess's behalf. All Tess had to do was choose: either the officials at MegaAgriCorp, or her father. Young Tess, bless her heart, was scared to death of Morrigan and didn't want to be responsible for hurting anyone. So she ran.

So when a TV news guy suggested to her on the day of the Second Coming that journalism might be a very interesting career for her, she bit. It would give her a ringside seat to history, she would be able to tell the Truth (just not about MegaAgriCorp), and she wouldn't have to make any life-or-death decisions.

In Crosswind, Tess is 27 years old. Antonia Greco offers her a job as an investigative reporter on her cable TV talk show, and she takes it. (That's not really a spoiler; the job offer comes in the first chapter.) It's a dream job, but her fight to the top of her profession has hurt her in some ways. For one thing, she's still a spectator. For another, she has lost her moral center along the way -- she's been smart enough not to get involved with anything like drugs or porn, but certain ethical nuances escape her. And too, she has sacrificed her personal life, and is telling herself that it's because of the job. It's not. It's because she learned early in life that interpersonal relationships are messy and fraught with misunderstandings, and she was never given the tools to cope. It's just been easier for her to build a fortress of ice and hide inside it.

And she remains scared to death of Morrigan, who is still pestering her to break down that fortress and make a choice already.

I think of Crosswind as Tess's book, and so you may rest assured that she will be confronting her problems during the course of the story. But Sue and Darrell also have roles to play. Next week, I'll talk about Darrell. It's his book, Undertow, that I'm writing for NaNo.

Speaking of Crosswind, I finished the video trailer this week. There's a link on the "Book Trailers" tab if you'd like to take a look.

I think that's it. Back to my lonely writer's garret now, to pump out another thousand words or so. I'm aiming for 10,000 by the end of this weekend, which is only a few short hours away. Wish me luck....

These moments of ethically nuanced blogginess have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell.