Made It Monday: A Primary Color Wave

This weekend I tried a new-to-me project and did a 3 Color painting of a wave. It’s an interesting technique that relies on blending primary colors (red/yellow/blue) to create all the other colors needed. I enjoy painting because 1) I honestly suck at visual art like drawing and painting and want to improve so 2) I have to focus when painting and it becomes very meditative. Learning a new skill isn’t everyone’s cuppa tea, but I enjoy improving on something, and painting is a nice break from writing.

But, because I’m me and I like patterns, metaphors, and books I couldn’t help but let my mind wander over to how acrylic paintings  – which tend to be ugly up until the very last brush stroke – are so similar to book writing. Since NaNoWriMo is coming up in just a few short weeks I’m going to pull this all together in a quick mini-writing lesson. Because… why not?

If you’re interested in making this painting yourself check out the fabulous Cinnamon Cooney and her Art Sherpa youtube channel.

 

Phase 1: The Outline and Choosing your Colors
Before I could even paint my wave I had to pick which set of primary colors to use. There’s Primary Blue/Yellow/Magenta, or Magenta/Hansa Yellow/Pthalo Blue, or Cad Yellow/Cerulean Blue/Crimson… the different starting tones made different colors. You can see my test splotches in the top corners and the combinations further down.

Starting a story has a similar rhythm. First you need to decide what is going into the book. Are you writing a thriller or a romance? A Romantic thriller with a happy ending? A Thriller with romantic elements and a tragic end? Is your focus on one or two characters, or on the fates of thousands? Is the tone light or dark, somber or joyful, lively or a slow dirge into eternity? Knowing what you want helps you get the foundation of your story correct.

 

 

Phase 2: The Vague Outline of An Idea
The beginning. The end. Not middle visible? Ah, yes, that’s either this painting or anyone rough outline I’ve ever written. You should know where the book starts, and where you intend it to end, but the middle is always a murky mess when you begin. That’s fine. Draw in the ideas you know belong and figure out the rest as you go.

 

Phase 3: Color Blocking And The First Details
What do we have here? It’s a basic wave, you can see the shape of it now, and the middle has been filled with a purple blob that doesn’t really add much, but that’s okay. It’s there. This is the visual representation of a a rough draft. Everything is colored in. Technically, the wave has been painted. It’s not a blank canvas. You could probably sell this at a flea market for $5 and call it a day. It’s also painfully ugly and that ugliness makes too many people throw away their brushes (and their books) and give up in frustration. This looks nothing like the wave I envisioned! A rough draft doesn’t have the mental heft and weight of the book in my head! All is woe and sadness!

Okay, not really. This is a rough draft. The bones of a painting, or a story, are there. Now the fine details need to be added.

 

Phase 4: A Finished Work 
What changed? I added details. The foamy white crest splashing everywhere, reflections of light, more clouds, more color, more paint… And, again, this is a decent enough painting. It could be called done and hung on the wall. The equivalent of a book is one that has a couple rounds of edits and gets a nod. For most books, this is where they hit the query trenches or the publishing trenches. A lot of effort and time has been put into the project and the painter (me!) or the writer (you!) should feel justifiably proud of the effort.

 

Phase 5: The Polished Work
I’ll be 100% honest here… I could do more with this painting. I quit last night because I’d already gone over the 2 hours I’d set aside for painting and I needed to get some sleep. There are little details I’m not super happy with, things I’d still like to change, and I am seriously tempted to repaint this next week and do better

And, while I’m being honest, I can say I’ve felt that way about every book I’ve ever published. Most authors feel this way. There’s always something you think of at the last moment. There is an art to letting go, to knowing when any further effort and embellishment will only add noise, not improvement. It’s a hard skill to learn, and you only learn it if you are willing to take the risk of failing. If you can’t take that risk, can’t let yourself fall, then you’ll never find the point where you can fly.

Worth A Watch – Love O2O

Hello, my lovelies, I’ve found another show that earns a place as Worth A Watch. In keeping with the theme of finding non-American TV to enjoy this fantastically geeky show comes from China and has subtitles for English-speaking audiences on Drama Fever. There are actually two versions of this story, the movie (which I haven’t watched but enjoy the GIFs of) and the TV show that I’m actually going to talk about.

What’s the story? The adorable Wei Wei is a STEM lady working on her computer science degree at a university in Beijing and working as a math tutor on the side. She’s smart, funny, and super sweet. Literally the nicest person ever (which is shown again and again). She lives with three dorm mates in the nicest dorm you’ve ever seen, and in her free time (don’t even ask me how she finds it) she plays an online MMO where she’s the Red Bandit and one of the top ranked players on the server. Interestingly enough, in a refreshing change from most Geek Girl stories she doesn’t play a bard or healer, but an aggressive tanking character. When the story opens she has a crush on the university hottie and a virtual husband on the game (because there are couple-only quests). In the opening episode her online husband dumps her for a character named Enchantress, but she’s not single for long because the #1 player on the game ( a bard-class dude) proposes to her.

The story spans 30 episodes and 2 years as Wei Wei works on her degree, meets her online husband offline, helps him build a new gaming company, and they take over the world. Basically. In a nice way.

Who’s it for? This is for the gamers and romance fans. If you liked The Guild, or anything with Felicia Day, this is the show for you. It’s cute, it’s funny, the characters are (mostly) mature enough to make responsible choices, and there is enough plot to keep you watching for the whole 30 hours. If you love Meet Cute stories about people who find each other online, this is the show for you!

What’s the culture like? The major things that are going to jump out to an American audience are the use of the words Master, Junior, and Senior. In Chinese dramas it’s fairly common for the boss/leader of a group to be called Master (think apprentice/journeyman/master not slave/master). Junior and Senior are used to denote both age and seniority within a company. There’s a healthy bit of nepotism on the Bad Guy side of the spectrum, and some lingering Machismo. Chinese dramas haven’t fully broken away from the Domineering Male Knows Best point of view, but the male lead is fairly modern and fully respects Wei Wei’s opinions and her ability to handle her own problems.

Like Korean Dramas you’ll see more same-sex PDA between friends than between couples. Wei Wei and her friends are a close knit group and stay that way for the most part.

A fun cultural bonus is the Chinese poetry and history that gets slipped into the story. At one point the male lead tells Wei Wei “The flowers are blooming by the road. Enjoy them on your way home.” which sounds kind of weird without context. The context is that this is from am Emperor of China whose wife was visiting her mother, he didn’t want to order her back to the palace, but he missed her and this is what he wrote. The literally translation would be, “I love you and I miss you every day and I want you to come home but I respect your need to be with family and I’ll wait patiently until you’re ready to come back.”

Also, there’s a ton of basketball. I forgot how much Chinese liked the game until I watched this and remembered they do pretty well in the Olympics. They might not be Michael Jordan (but who is?), but they do like to dunk. It’s a better way to solve problems than the standard Boy Brawl, and I enjoyed it.

Bonuses? There’s no dramatic misunderstanding! The mainstay of the rom-com genre is done away because this is a nice couple who gets to be a couple for most the show. There’s also a m/m ship that is written and filmed as a romantic duo although we never see a kiss (only the main couple gets a kiss – sorry!). I found the pairing cute, although [name redacted] deserves a more mature hubby in my mind. Come for the cute warrior queen and stay for her adorable dad, her friends, and the bros.

Extra Bonus: There are some really awesome costumes in the fantasy game scenes. Enjoy!

What to watch out for? The sound dubbing in the first few episodes was a bit echo-y, especially in the dorm room scenes. Other than that, expect some bad behavior from the Jealous Dude who thinks Wei Wei should love him (because he has a crush – so obvs she’ll just adore him). There’s a minor redemption arc there, but not enough for me to forgive him.

How many seasons? Only one season, but it has 30 episodes each an hour long. Watch out, those last five minutes always result in a cliffhanger. If you need to go to bed stop at 50 minutes in and watch the last bit before going on to the next episode.

 

October Editing Special

 

October editing special! Book a content edit and hand the manuscript in before November 1st and you get a free query/back-of-book blurb critique with it. The standard submission formatting and rates apply. ($1/page – Times New Roman font – Double Spaced)

What is a developmental/content edit? Think of it as boot camp for your book. Your emotional scenes get stronger, your action scenes get fiercer, your prose loses the flab and comes out fab.

Developmental, or content edits are the second stage of editing. After you’ve gone through and made sure you’ve used the same name for your hero, haven’t left any scenes that way [insert fight here], and have done a basic spellcheck you hand your manuscript to a beta reader or editor to find the plot flaws.

Then you give the manuscript to me. I look at pacing, plot, character development, and context within the genre then tell you where things are working and where you need to do some major work. Content edits keep your book from being flabby, slowly paced, or meandering to the point where you lose your readers.

After a content edit your book will need at least one round of revisions (possibly more), and then a line edit to find any grammatical errors or typos.

To reserve a space please contact me at liana.brooks1@gmail.com

Fine Print: 
– I do not edit erotica or horror. I can recommend editors for these books if you need them.
– To qualify for the free query critique you will need to hand the full manuscript in by October 31st.
– This promotion is offered on a First Come/First Served basis. Reservations are highly encouraged.

The Hilarious And Epic Fails Of The Print Shop

Once upon a time there was a book…

… not just any book, but a book written by an American author for a brand new Australian publisher using a system still unfamiliar to most. It was a good book, well-planned and well-written. The schedule was made months in advance. All contingencies were planned for. And so all proceeded as if nothing could go wrong with the little book’s launch into the world.

At first, not much was planned. A few blog posts, a lunch perhaps, and then – when the book was a few weeks older and strong enough to go out into the world – a convention in Canberra, Australia. The files were filed. The edits were done. The books were ordered… and none came.

The day of the launch there was nothing.

Files had been filed, but lost. Edits had been done, but erased. Computer error. System error. User error. Distribution error. It was all there (or not as the case would be).

Still, there weeks until the con. Things could be salvaged. New files filed. New books sent to replace the missing box. Time passed, and the box of books did not come. And did not come. And did not come.

Phone calls were made. New books ordered. A new distributor used. A new system learned. And still the books did not come.

The con arrived, and the proof copy sat alone amid the other books.

The editor and the author talked. The distributor and the editor talked. The readers and the author talked. The conclusion, dear friend, will surprise no one at all. That little book was cursed when it launched this fall.

Two weeks after the official release – and too many working hours to contemplate – and we still don’t know where the box of BODIES IN MOTION prints are. There are still people getting a bad file when downloading from Amazon (despite multiple emails, calls, and updates). If I were a slightly more superstitious person I’d burn the drafts for LAWS OF ATTRACTION and have someone come cleanse the bad vibes from my house because this book is jinxed. Logically, it’s not. This is just one of those First Run hiccups that you encounter.

After all, EVEN VILLAINS FALL IN LOVE lost its editor three weeks before publication and I survived that. Only losing the proof copies and the print edition for the con is small potatoes by comparison. More phone calls were made this week. More emails sent. Hopefully this means we’ll have the print edition (and the hyphen problem with the Amazon conversion) sorted out by the end of the week. And, if not? Well… maybe then I’ll ask someone to come fix the feng shui at my work station.

 

 

Thank you for reading BODIES IN MOTION!

Dear Reader,

Thank you for coming along on the journey that is BODIES IN MOTION.

When I first came up with this story it was something much shorter, with much less depth and impact. It was a story about a missed opportunity, a war, and a second chance at love. I toyed with the idea of writing the war itself, and decided that the war never mattered. Wars happen all the time. Wars are universally painful. Wars are universally tragic. Even when a war wins something crucial – like freedom or safety – everyone who survives walks away scarred. What is unique is how those survivors live with the scars.

The common wisdom is that wars and collapses of society are exciting, but rebuilding is boring. I hope BODIES IN MOTION gave you a different perspective. Personally, I’ve seen enough war in my lifetime. I’ll probably live to see more war and more scars. But with every war will come the challenge to rebuild. With every scar we’re given a chance to rebuild ourselves, or let the wound seep, rot, and inevitably destroy us. I’d rather rebuild than rot.

BODIES IN MOTION became not just a larger novel, but also my first serial novel, and that was a fun adventure.

One of my dedicated fans in Australia wrote to tell me she was late to work because a chapter posted and she had to read before leaving home (Sorry!). People from all around the globe found BODIES IN MOTION. We chatted about who was guilty, who was falling in love, and speculated on who Rowena would find love with in LAWS OF ATTRACTION. Can I tell you a secret? Up until June Rowena was slotted for a very different story arc and One True Love. Up until early June, she was actually going to meet a new character in LAWS OF ATTRACTION.

One scene changed that.

The interaction was too good between Rowena and (SPOILER!) so I threw out everything I had for Book 2 and took LAWS OF ATTRACTION in a completely different direction. I have the first quarter of the book written and I think you’ll like it. But you’ll have to wait until 2018 to read.

For now, BODIES IN MOTION will stay up in all it’s drafty glory on the blog. Most of you already know how to get EVEN VILLAINS FALL IN LOVE for free (hint: sign up for my newsletter), but I think for other readers who stumble across here in the next year or so BODIES IN MOTION is a good place to start.

 

Editing for #PuertoRico

It’s simple: Puerto Rico needs help.

Three point five million (3.5 million!) people are without water or power, they’re in danger of damns breaking, have limited access to communications, and medical services are spotty at best. These are Americans in need and it’s time to give.

For the rest of the week (until October 2, 2017) every dollar donation you make to Hispanic Federation to help rebuild Puerto Rico gets you 2 pages edited. That’s a 50% discount from my usual editing rates and is first come, first serve.

Five dollars for Puerto Rico gets you ten pages edited.

A hundred dollars for Puerto Rico gets you 200 pages edited. That’s a full novella.

Ready to help? Here’s how:
1) Go to HispanicFederation.org and send them money.
2) Take a screenshot of your receipt.
3) Send me your manuscript formatted in Times New Roman size 12 font double-spaced and the screenshot of your receipt using the subject line EDITING FOR PUERTO RICO
4) I will let you know where you are in line and the estimated return date for your edits.

It’s that simple. You help the people in Puerto Rico rebuild, and I help make your book better. Together we can do a lot of good.

 

Questions about what I edit or how? Check out the FAQ.

 

BODIES IN MOTION: Chapter 25 (The End)

SELENA

Start at Chapter 1

The water falling from the three-tiered fountain in the center of the plaza shone with an ethereal blue light. Climbing roses framed every arch and window, and someone had come through to brush them with a luminescent nanite gel so they glowed a pale pink. Strings lights overhead mimicked distant stars, and already people were congregating around tables of food. Officially, the reception for Perrin and Genevieve didn’t start for another thirty minutes, but no one wanted to be late for a party.

Selena hung in the shadows, watching people arrive on the transport pad and via grounder cars. The warm summer air was encouraging everyone to come out.

Already, the happy couple was surrounded by well-wishers. Perrin’s adopted grounder family was there, although the youngest daughter had wandered off to flirt with Mars Sciarra. Captain Sciarra and her new second-in-command were there. The Lees, the Silars, most of the fleet, but Titan was nowhere to be found.

She pinged him again, trying to get a location, but he’d gone dark after breakfast this morning, promising only that he’d be back in time for the party. Looking over the crowd, she found a promising lead: Rowena Lee hiding in a small alcove. Selena made her way through the growing crowd. “Hello.”

Rowena put her hands behind her back, taking an at-ease stance. “Captain Caryll.”

“Do you know where my husband is?”

“I do. And I’m not allowed to tell you anything more than it is a surprise and he is safe.” She paused, then shrugged. “I’ve checked on him twice and he wasn’t bleeding, dehydrated, or in danger of losing oxygen either time, so he’s probably okay.”

Selena crossed her arms. “I thought he was planning to be here tonight.”

“Everyone is planning on being here tonight,” Rowena said, relaxing and sounding annoyed. “The invitations last week almost started a civil war and did trigger three mini-mutinies in crews who are stir-crazy. You opened up new housing outside Enclave, are throwing a party, and didn’t think anyone would come?” Rowena scoffed at her. “Hoshi’s favorite cousin almost killed him when the captain threatened to boycott the celebration.”

Wrinkling her nose, Selena considered the outcome. “Would it really have hurt…?”

Rowena gave her a glare she’d learned to accept over the past few weeks. “I’m not ready for a war.”

“When you are, Titan and I will be there for you. We owe you that. Meanwhile, Gen deserves a party after as long as she waited. So does Perrin.”

“We all deserve a party after this past month.” Rowena took a deep breath.

Selena nodded and waited for Rowena to leave, but the woman stayed stubbornly present. And silent. They watched more fleet and grounders arrive, more tables teleport in, more presents appear on the reception table. Finally Selena said, “Was there anything else you needed, or are we faking this buddy thing until Titan gets here?”

Rowena wrinkled her nose and raised a light sound shield. Nothing that would draw attention, but enough to keep anyone else form overhearing, or recording, their conversation. “I wanted to say thank you for the nanite gel you sent Aronia. The medicine helped, but we aren’t sure they would have both pulled through without it. The internal bleeding was extensive.”

“You’re welcome. Although that was meant to be a secret. I know what Hoshi thinks of me and I didn’t want to start any trouble.”

Rowena lifted one shoulder in a shrug. “No one knows, officially, but I knew the Sciarras didn’t have anything like it, and that Titan had used something similar. It wasn’t very hard to draw the right conclusion. I haven’t told anyone.”

“Thank you. How are Aronia and the baby doing?”

“Nia is up and moving. She’s feeling a lot better. The baby is good. They named him Ki, after a great-grandfather of ours.”

“Good. I’m glad that worked out then.” She stared off into the distance, not quite certain how she felt about the idea of sisters, babies, and bonding with Rowena Lee. It wasn’t as awkward as she’d imagined.

“You had a sister, didn’t you?”

Selena nodded. “Losna. She was eight years older than me and in crew training when I was born. We weren’t close like you and Aronia.”

“I’m sorry she won’t be here for your reception.”

She shook her head. “I don’t really remember her. She bunked with her age mates by the time I was old enough to remember anything, and then she went to the Academy. I was only home three weeks before she led a charge in battle and died.”

“Do you know who killed her?”

“No. I could. I have access to the files as captain. But I don’t want to carry that around.”

Rowena tipped her head in acknowledgment but not agreement. “I don’t know if I could be that restrained.”

“It’s easier when you know they didn’t love you.” The words seemed heavier than they were. She’d named the beast that had haunted her all these years. No one loved her. No one could love her. And now, that was changing. She was making a new family and crew with Titan. And—she glanced sideways—apparently with Rowena.

Every family needed uncomfortable sibling rivalries, didn’t it?

Rowena straightened up and looked around. “Titan says he’s incoming.”

“Why didn’t he tell me?”

“Because you’re shielding to the point of being invisible again,” Rowena said as she stood on her tiptoes. “Uh oh.” She dropped to her feet and spun around to inspect a rose.

Selena turned with her. “What’s uh-oh?”

“Silar is here.”

“Be more specific!” Half the crowd had red hair and freckles. Gen was well loved.

“Hollis!” Rowena sneered at the name. “I promised Ty I wouldn’t get into a fight tonight and…” She curled her lips in a dramatic look of disgust.

Selena rolled her eyes. “It’s his baby sister’s reception. He’ll be on his best behavior.”

“How do you find that reassuring?” Rowena asked. “His best behavior is flirting until your clothes spontaneously combust.”

“Never worked on me,” Selena said, amused. It wasn’t a bad description, but she’d never expected Rowena of all people to notice. Hollis had never flirted with anyone from the Lee crew that Selena knew about.

Rowena gave her a pained look.

“If I see you starting to smolder, I’ll dump the punch on you.”

“There are two of my three favorite ladies!” Titan’s voice made them turn.

Selena reached up and wrapped her arms around his neck in a hug, greeting him with a kiss. “Two of three?” She smiled at him. :Who am I forgetting?:

“Can’t forget my auntie,” Titan said before he gave her another quick kiss. “I’m glad to see you two getting along. What were you discussing?”

“Hollis Silar,” Selena said as she rested her head against Titan’s chest.

Titan raised his eyebrows. “Ways to kill him?”

“No!” Selena hit his chest. “We’ve talked about this. You can’t joke about killing my friends.”

“I’m confused,” Titan said. “Rowena talked about Hollis and murder didn’t come up as an option? Are you feeling all right, Ro?”

Rowena rolled her eyes. “I was up all night with the new baby on family duty. Call it a lapse of judgment. Or my present to Genevieve and Carver. I’m sure I’ll get over it soon enough.” She smiled viciously. “Where’s the present you’ve been teasing Caryll with for weeks?”

“Yes,” Selena held him tighter. “Where’s this present that kept you away from me all day while I was party planning? I was in desperate need of help,” she said dramatically.

“I saw you and Marshall out here. You didn’t need help, you wanted willing slaves. That’s what fleetlings are for.” Titan’s grin lit up the night.

“Excuse me?” Rowena held up a hand. “I’m leaving before you two have your first fight as a married couple. Caryll, try not to shoot the planet. Again.”

Selena pinged Rowena’s shield with the thought of someone sticking out their tongue as Lee retreated. Then she turned back to Titan. “Well? What’s this secret present you’ve been hiding from me for weeks?”

“I was getting this.” He teleported a small stick with a bundle of roots and four large, green leaves and let it hover in front of her.

Selena frowned at the twig. “Okay. It’s… a plant.” She looked from the stick to her husband. “Right?” There was nothing in her implant about Sciarra courting rituals. Was it a special plant? Was she supposed to eat it? Grow it? “Am I supposed to give you a plant?”

“No!” Titan laughed happily. “This is one of the plants that was sketched by your ancestors, or a descendent of the original at any rate. I spent the week tracking down a crew that had the seeds in stasis. I was thinking we could put it in our hydroponics section.”

“Greenhouse,” she corrected. The house didn’t have anywhere for a contained garden, but she’d make one for this, and for him. “Down here they have greenhouses, or conservatories. This is beautiful, thank you, Titan.” She kissed his cheek and took the plant.

He smiled and whispered in her ear. “I meant hydroponics.”

A shield she hadn’t noticed all day vanished and Persephone hit her with a dozen updates. It was a whirlwind of information that took her a minute to sort through.

“Estimated time to repair completion… two days?” Selena stepped away from Titan as she processed everything. “Two? Titan? What did you do?”

“You know the fighters that were mine as dowry?”

She nodded.

“I traded them for a convoy ship that lost its environmental controls but which had engines that matched Persephone’s. And then I twisted Rowena’s arm to help me fix it. My captain deserves a ship.”

Her jaw dropped. “Really?”

Titan nodded.

“We have a ship? A working ship? It’s perfect!” She fell into him again, teleporting them away from the party and to the bridge of the Persephone.

Everything was gleaming. The broken screen was repaired, the duty stations were waiting for a crew… Titan had even taken the time to install a chair for her second in command and her chief medic on either side of the captain’s seat. It was perfection, the one thing she’d wanted but never dared dream of having.

“Permission to come aboard?” Titan asked.

“Permission granted.” The words were a whisper. She couldn’t bring herself to say anything more. Selena walked around the bridge, touching the chairs and looking at the waiting consoles.

Persephone’s face appeared on the screen. “Welcome aboard, Captain.”

Titan wrapped his arms around her waist. “What are you thinking?”

“There’s no place to land her in Enclave. We’re still out of fuel.” There were so many things she’d overlooked.

“So we make new fuel. We land her somewhere else. We—”

“We have no crew.” A tear ran down her cheek.

“Love, what’s wrong?”

“You said we.” Selena looked up at him. “We. Every time I stood here as a captain, I stood alone. No future. No hope. No one there for me.” She’d bled and fought for her crew. She’d been ready to lay her life down for them. But, in the end when she needed them the most, they had left her. They’d fled to the life pods when she stood against Old Balaur. They’d run to other crews when she arrived in Enclave, broken and heart-sick. “It’s always just been me on the Persephone.”

Titan held her close. “That won’t happen again. Whatever fight comes next, I’ll be here. With you.”

She smiled as she claimed his lips in a kiss. “You’d better be.”

:Is that an order?: His hands slid down her back to squeeze her buttocks. One hand kept going, slipping down to the hem of her short dress to caress her leg.

Selena laughed as Titan brushed feather-light kisses down her jawline and slid the strap of her sundress down. “Persephone, dismissed.”

“Yes, ma’am.” The computers on the bridge shut down, leaving them truly alone.

Titan held still, watching her, waiting for her.

She blushed. “I don’t think our every moment together has to be recorded for posterity.” Sex on the bridge. There was a teenage fantasy she’d never envisioned coming true. “How long do you think we have before anyone notices we’re missing from the party?”

Titan’s smile widened. “I enlisted help from the Sciarra troops to accomplish my mission.”

“Your mission?” She couldn’t help but laugh.

“I have to see the morale and happiness of the crew.” He stole a lingering kiss that melted away her fears. “Relax,” he whispered as he massaged her back. “The Sciarras are on the ground handling that. If anyone asks, they just saw us go past or we just turned the corner. They’ll even cheerfully help people go search for us. Elea is going to answer our pings, and Rowena promised to make sure they don’t run out of food. We have hours before the festivities are over.”

She walked her fingers up his chest to reach the top button of his shirt and looked up at his gorgeous green eyes. “Have I ever mentioned how wonderful you are?”

“Several times.” A smile tugged at his lips as his eyes sparkled with joy. “Permission to proceed with my mission, Captain?”

“Proceed, Commander.”

THE END
…until the next book at least…

 

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Ready to read the ending? BODIES IN MOTION is available everywhere books are sold! Grab your copy now!

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#SonOfAPitch – ♫ I’m all about that pitch! ♪

Turn up the music! The #SonOfAPitch Twitter Pitch Party is about to start and this here is tailgate central! We’re going to party, perfect our pitches, and get ready for the big game where you – my fabulous authors – will go live on the big Twitter screen to catch the attention of those fabulous agents who will really love your book! Throughout the day the Son Of A Pitch crew will be dropping by to give their advice and help you workshop your pitch, so make sure you come back a second time to get everything you can out of today’s workshop.

Ready? Set? Let’s go!!!!

Today we’re going to work on developing two pitches. The first is the standard Twitter Pitch, also called an Elevator Pitch or Logline. This is a 1-2 sentence description of your book that summarizes the main idea for a quick sale. It’s the pitch you use on social media, at cons, at book signings, and that librarians, agents, and editors will use to pitch the book to their audiences. An ideal pitch makes your story sound unique and exciting without being too long. If you’ve never written a good Twitter Pitch before I recommend going back to the last #SonOfAPitch Pitch Party Post and look through the comments. That’s a great way to get a feel of how these work.

The second pitch we’ll be working on is the High Concept Pitch. This is the pitch you use if your book has mass market appeal. It catches the imagination quickly, it’s easy to sell, and for really complex books it’s the easiest way to pitch them on Twitter. It’s the easiest pitch to write because the formula is literally “This Popular Thing + That Popular Thing in New Location”. Promise, once you learn how to do this you’ll use it all the time. It’s also a great brainstorming tool.

These two seem very, very similar. The only difference is that an Elevator Pitch is slightly longer, and doesn’t rely on any outside world building while a High Concept Pitch will rely heavily on the audience knowing other books or movies.

So, grab your notebooks and keyboards because it’s thinking time!

HOW TO WRITE A TWITTER PITCH
Definition: One or two sentences that summarize the book you’ve written.

What You Want To Include:
– Setting
– Description of the protagonist
– The problem to be solved
– Description of the antagonist
– Conflict preventing the problem from being solved
– The ultimate goal

What You Don’t Include:
– Proper nouns (names aren’t relevant)
– Irrelevant personal data (age, height, weight, ethnicity, gender, ect… unless one of these is the main trait of a character- ie 120yo scientist with a key to eternal life)
– Information about the author (unless you are writing nonfic with a platform)
– World building details

Let’s try writing a pitch for Harry Potter…
– Setting – England
– Description of the protagonist – A young boy living with his aunt and uncle
– The problem to be solved – Wants a birthday party and friends
– Description of the antagonist – But has an abusive aunt and uncle
– Conflict preventing the problem from being solved – Who haven’t told him
– The ultimate goal – He’s a really popular wizard!

Twitter Pitch: A young English boy who lives with his abusive aunt and uncle discovers he is a wizard with a destiny! (you can probably do better than this)

 

 

HOW TO WRITE A HIGH CONCEPT PITCH
Definition: A one sentence pitch that relies on known, popular works to help someone envision the piece being sold. -or- A one sentence pitch that makes it easy to picture the story.

Formula:
Popular Thing 1 + Popular Thing 2 + New Location

High Concept Pitch for Gallagher Girl’s 1: 
James Bond meets Harry Potter in an all-girls school for spies.
-or-
I’d Tell You I Love You But Then I’d Have to Kill You <- The title works as a pitch, which is awesome. This example is borrowed from agent Rachel Gardner’s blog.

High Concept Pitch For THE PRINCESS BRIDE:
A pirate rescues a princess from the prince she doesn’t want to marry.
-or-
Cinderella meets Jack Sparrow in a world of giants and magicians.

The goal here is to sum the story up in as few words as you can manage. You can use a High Concept Pitch for a pitch party, but in my experience it’s most useful at places like book signings or cons where you can refer to other popular movies or works you know the audience loves.

 

Your turn! Write your pitches and put them in the comments below. The #SonOfAPitch authors will come by to help you revise and rewrite them throughout the day so you are ready to catch the perfect agent at the upcoming pitch party!

 

One final thing… If you’ve never been to a Twitter Pitch Party before I recommend reading this post on pitching etiquette. And please remember to say thank you to the fantastic authors who have worked so hard to help everyone participating in #SonOfAPitch. You can support them by saying thank you, sharing links to their books, buying their books, or leaving reviews. Thanks goes a long way in this industry. <3

BODIES IN MOTION: Chapter 24

ROWENA

Start at Chapter 1

Enclave was quiet in the pre-dawn hours. The only sound was the gravel crunching Hoshi’s angry stride and the warble of early morning birds greeting the rising sun.

Rowena kept pace, staying a little behind and to the side of her captain as they approached the OIA offices.

Hoshi led the way through the doors and under the dome to the deliberation chamber that had been sealed after the last war trial. It had been reopened for the week’s events.

Jhandarmi and Tarrin police milled by the OIA exit, giving the fleet’s dark blue crew uniforms curious looks.

“Interlopers,” Hoshi muttered under his breath. “Lazy—” He bit off the insult as Hollis Silar stepped into the hall wearing his Starguard all-blacks.

“Captain Lee, yeoman.” Silar nodded in greeting. “We’ve been waiting for you.”

Hoshi sneered at him. “Then let us in.”

“Yeoman Lee only,” Silar said.

“Why is she allowed in and I’m not?” Hoshi demanded. “I’m her captain! I won’t be locked out of this.”

“Apologies, captain. My orders are to escort Yeoman Lee in and no one else. She’s here to be a witness.”

Hoshi rolled his shoulders back, squaring off for a fight he could never win. “The Captain’s Council will hear about this.”

“The Captain’s Council is equal to the Star Guard,” Silar said. “If you want to make a complaint you’ll need to file a report with the fleet marshal. Yeoman, if you’ll come inside, please.”

“There’s no fleet marshal left!” Hoshi complained as Rowena walked inside.

Silar shrugged. “The Captain’s Council can elect one in times of duress,” Silar said. “The Starguardwould be able to ratify the decision. Good day, captain. The Starguardwill see Yeoman Lee is safely returned to her vessel when this matter is concluded.”

The door shut in Hoshi’s face with a nudge of telekyen. A heavy shield formed, silencing Hoshi’s shouted protests of unfairness.

Silence being a better tactic than braggadocio, Rowena kept her mouth shut.

Silar led her down a narrow back hall, past the courtrooms, and to a small room with a large conference table and an eclectic assortment of people.

At the head of the table on the right, Hermione Marshall sat flanked by two empty chairs. She was wearing her dark gray uniform, shot with gold flecks and her family’s crest pinned where her ship emblem should have been. Captain Carver sat across the table from the door, wearing his all-black uniform and facing Titan and Caryll.

At the left end of the table a woman with a pale pink suit sat, a grounder tablet in front of her, two men and woman who might have been a bodyguard behind her.

Tyrling paced in front of the false windows on the far wall.

“Good,” Marshall said as Silar held out a seat for Rowena. “Now that everyone is here, we can move on.”

There was a murmur from the assembled fleet personnel.

The woman in pink looked at Rowena, appraising her. “Very well. We shall proceed. From this moment on, all conversation will be recorded.” She touched her tablet and pushed it to the center of the table to record. “For the record, will all parties please state their name and reason for attendance. In the case of subordinates, the senior member of the party may speak. I will go first.”

“I am Felila Conn, speaker for the continent of Icedell, Council Member in Full, born of the city-state Omul, descendant of the ship Quiet Way. With me are my advisors and troubleshooter. I speak on behalf the Assembly of Malik.” She nodded.

“Director Nate Tyrling, regional director of the Jhandarmi of Malik.”

“Captain Perrin Matteo Carver, commander of the Star Guard, speaking on behalf of the Starguardand the fleet.”

“Captain Hermione Marshall, member of the Captain’s Council, Council Member in Full, born of the city-state Ryun, junior delegate to the assembly of Mithila, speaking on behalf of the Marshall clan of Descent, the Captain’s Council of the fleet, and advisory chair for the Imperial Officer’s Academy.”

“Captain Selena Caryll, captain of the Persephone, member of the Captain’s Council, fleet-Jhandarmi liaison, lead investigator for the case number 18038-9R.”

“Commander Titan Sciarra, second-in-command of the Sabiha, senior officer of the Star Guard, speaking on behalf of my crew and as lead investigator—fleet—for case number 18038-9R.”

“Commander Hollis Silar, senior officer of the Star Guard, speaking on behalf of myself.” He looked at Rowena.

“Yeoman Rowena Lee of the Danielle Nicole.” She looked to Titan questioningly.

“Rowena is here as a witness,” Marshall said, “and as an Academy representative. She’s taking over as a drill instructor when classes resume next month and has a vested interest in the future of the fleet.”

Nice of someone to tell her that in advance. Considering the Academy had been shut in the early days of the war, she wasn’t even sure how they’d train, but if it made everyone feel better about her presence, then so be it.

Felila Conn nodded. “Now for the matter of the trial.”

“Shouldn’t the Sekoos be here?” Rowena asked.

Conn shook her head. “The Sekoo matter was resolved, according to all reports.”

“Sentenced and transported to one of the coastal prisons,” Tyrling said as he continued pacing. “They’ll rot in the damp.”

Conn nodded. “That matter being resolved, we will begin with the trial of the Enclave Treaty.” She reached out and touched her tablet again. The tension in the room dropped by a factor of 12. “Enough formalities. Let’s hash this out. I’m in the wrong time zone and I want dinner.”

“We are taking war off the table,” Marshall said. “Aggression, submission, and withdrawal of treaty are all off the table.”

“Agreed,” Conn said in a quick way that made it seem as if she’d done negotiations like this a dozen times.

“Upheld,” Tyrling said.

Behind Conn one of her minions made a note.

Carver raised a finger. “Can the current level of peace be maintained?”

“Arguably,” Tyrling said as Conn and Marshall both shook their heads.

“Make a note that both fleet counsel and Assembly reject the option of status quo. Changes must be made.”

“Agreed,” Marshall said as quickly as Conn had.

Tyrling grimaced. “Upheld with reservation.”

“Isolation and the idea of separate-but-equal was unpalatable three years ago and has proven unfruitful at best. Recommendation is full integration.” Marshall’s eyes narrowed, making her recommendation a threat.

Carver held a hand up to object but Conn’s raised hand silenced him.

“Define,” Conn said.

“Full access to lands held by the people under the governance of the Assembly of Malik for the fleet,” Marshall said. “Open enrollment to the Academy and pilot training programs for everyone in the system.”

Rowena tried to tally up what it would take to rebuild the Academy, once a space station for aspiring fleet officers, as something on the ground. None of the buildings were well-suited to the task. Even if they gave up the BOQ there was no place for zero-g training.

Conn shook her head. “No.”

No need to worry about finding gauntlets for grounder applicants than.

“Counter,” Selena Caryll’s voice was a surprise to everyone in the room. “A seat on the Assembly for Enclave, incorporation and recognition of Fleet as a House on the public rolls of the Malik System.”

One of Conn’s assistants leaned forward to whisper something in her ear.

She nodded pensively and turned back to Caryll. “To allow this someone in the fleet would need to own lands untied to another house. If you use the lands of Captain Marshall you will become a vassal of the Marshalls.”

Caryll looked over at Titan as they shared some silent conversation. He nodded, and Caryll turned. “I hold land and companies in two city-states on Icedell, purchased at Landing as housing for my crew.” Her smile was bitter. “We were larger at the time. The holdings have served as rental properties since the time of purchase.”

“What of the company?” Conn asked.

“Kore Information Systems, which specializes in researching historical documents and authenticating antiquities.”

:How did I not know this?: Rowena asked Titan.

:She kept the records very well hidden. It would have been public, but her crew pre-empted the announcement with their decision to leave for other ships.: He sounded smug.

Rowena sent him the memory of an eyeroll.

:Don’t hate me because I didn’t underestimate my enemy,: Titan said. :Selena was front and center in the war, anyone could have courted her.: There was a moment’s pause and then he said. :It’s good she’s on our side.:

Rowena kept her face emotionless. There weren’t sides anymore. There was only chaos.

Conn’s assistant passed her a data tablet and conferred quietly before Conn nodded. “Icedell welcomes Enclave into the Assembly. You are permitted the standard twenty-three member team as other city-states. You will have five years to establish trade agreements with your neighbors.”

“Agreed,” Marshall said.

Shock rippled around the room. Her implant tagged over a dozen different messages pinging around the room. The fleet had always been separate. They had a different history, different reasons for being in-system.

Rowena took a deep breath as she re-coded her decision-making algorithms. The fleet had never had a voice in the government before. Being welcomed in, given equal status and citizenship. She pinched the bridge of her nose. :Half the fleet is going to move out tomorrow,: she told Titan.

:No, they won’t.: He sounded amused. :There’s a housing crisis in the city-states. And even if they move out, they can teleport back for work in the morning. It did just open up the dating pool though.:

She considered this, and shook her head. :All I can picture is the Silars expanding exponentially.:

:A red-head in every house?: Titan sent her the memory of a laugh.

She snuck a look at Hollis to see how happy he was. She’d expected a smile, but his face was blank, there was no sign he was taking pride in Marshall’s leadership skills or joy at the prospect of flirting freely with the grounders. If anything, he looked a little concerned. There was a tightness around his eyes that didn’t make sense to her.

Silar looked up, catching her gaze with his chocolate brown eyes. His eyebrows lifted a fraction in silent question.

Rowena looked away, feigning disinterest.

“I’d like to make an addition,” Tyrling said, interrupting the silent conversations around the room. “The Jhandarmi request a skills exchange and a Jhandarmi presence in Enclave.”

There was a murmur of disapproval from the fleet and grounders alike. Tech expertise was the only thing the Starsiders had to trade.

“You get Caryll and Sciarra,” Carver said. “They’ll be Jhandarmi and Starguard.”

:There goes my free time,: Titan grumbled on a tight beam.

Tyrling nodded. “The skill exchange?”

Carver looked over at Caryll. “Your call.”

“The Jhandarmi training isn’t anything strenuous. It’s adapted for the unaugmented, so we wouldn’t need to restrict it to higher ranks, and it would be good for the fleet to learn techniques adapted to living in a gravity well.” She looked at the other fleet officers before nodding. “Skills exchange is approved. We’ll train Jhandarmi on how to handle weapons that may have leaked because of this incident, as well as provide consulting experts for unique problems. Weapons specialists will be made available to help review the Sekoo’s records and identify what might be in the general population now.”

“Do you have a weapons expert with that breadth of knowledge?” Conn asked.

Marshall and Carver looked at each other and then to Silar. There was a conversation going on a tight beam. Marshall nodded and Silar turned.

There was a light tap on her outer shield, someone knocking for attention.

Rowena raised an eyebrow and made a place in her shield for the non-priority message.

:Would you be willing to be the fleet weapons expert?: Silar asked.

She let her confusion at his asking instead of Titan slip through.

:Would you?: Silar asked, ignoring the question she couldn’t form.

With a tight nod she accepted.

“Rowena Lee,” Marshall said, it was more question than statement.

“She’s the fleet’s most qualified engineer,” Silar said, smoothly taking control of the conversation. “The Starguard already consult with her on other matters, and she works for the OIA already, so there’s no clearance issue.”

The Jhandarmi director gave her a dubious look. “Do you have much experience with groundside operations?”

“No,” Rowena admitted, “but I’d be happy to take the Jhandarmi training courses you’re offering. In exchange, my expertise is at your disposal. I promise you no one alive knows as much about weapons and engines as I do.”

Tyrling nodded and smiled. “Accepted with amendments. The matter is resolved.”

:Hoshi is going to love this,: Titan said with a chuckle.

:Hoshi can breathe vacuum. And so can Silar. Why was he the one reaching out to me? You’re my Starguard liaison.:

Across the table Titan gave her an apologetic look. :When we were planning the hypothetical Academy here on the ground Carver put Silar in charge.:

:What?: She looked over at Silar again.

He was waiting for her this time, watching, probably wondering when she’d realize that she now reported to him. :What’s that look for?:

:I’m wondering how many of your bones I can accidentally break in training,: she said, sending along the Academy color code for a fight.

He sent a memory of that last time they’d had a real fight, on the desk of the Silar’s crippled warship Aquila. It hadn’t ended well for her. :Looking for a rematch?:

:Name the day.:

Titan rapped at her shield with a stinging shock. :Be good and looking at Silar. You’re making me nervous:

:He’s the one who’s going to go home bloody.:

“Would anyone like to present further business before we adjourn?” Conn asked.

Titan held up a hand. “Were the Jhandarmi able to track the information Kaftan stole?”

The grounders exchanged grimaces.

“We were able to identify one of the injured men as a contract mercenary for the Lethe Combine. Their lawyers contacted the Jhandarmi the next day,” Tyrling said. “The Lethes control a majority of the transportation on all three continents. They’re wealthy, powerful, and very, very careful. There’s no way to prove they did anything wrong.”

Titan looked surprised. “With a smoking hole in Arwel’s backyard and witnesses?”

The Jhandarmi director’s calm expression turned into a bitter scowl. “Two months ago Sonya Lethe’s security detail reported her missing. They found her within a few hours with the help of the local police and the Jhandarmi, but she’d been drugged and beaten. The Lethe family told us today they believed family secrets had been taken during the time she was missing and that the Lethes acted within their rights to retrieve their secrets.”

“But, there were witnesses,” Titan protested. “Selena and I weren’t the only ones who were there.”

“Arwel withdrew his claim earlier this morning,” Tyrling said. “The explosion was blamed on an unfortunate sink hole. They do happen occasionally in Tarrin, and someone generously volunteered to pay for repairs as part of their civic charities.”

“Lethe,” Marshall said without hesitation. “Everyone at the party will get a generous donation to their bank accounts and a note telling them they saw nothing out of the ordinary. If they speak out,” she looked pointedly at Caryll and Titan, “they’ll be silenced. She wants to see who she can push, and who she can control.”

Caryll snarled audibly. “So, she’s made herself untouchable?”

“Patience is power,” Conn said. “Powerful families like the Lethes will spend years setting the stage for a power play. Decades. Centuries. It doesn’t matter to them.”

“Why do the Lethes want the information?” Carver asked.

Marshall sat back in her chair with a  chuckle. “Power. It’s always about power. Sonya and I went to school together. I remember her, an unremarkable child convinced she was destined to rule the world. She’s descended from the first governor of Malik, a title that’s been in abeyance since the wormhole collapsed. When we were both eight, she signed her papers Governess Sonya Lethe of Malik IV. For all that, she has only a passing understanding of how power is used. She probably hopes to either curry favor with the Jhandarmi or blackmail them. The Lethes rarely go to battle. They look for chinks in your armor, exploit your weaknesses.” Her words drifted off into a nostalgic smile.

“Power.” Conn shook her head.

“Patience first,” Tyrling advised. “We know where the information is. Now we watch and wait. We attend to the weak spots and let the enemy show their hand.”

Marshall grimaced. “Still, if Sonya has shown her hand like this it means she plans to expand her little empire. Much like the Sekoos, she believes she’s entitled to control of the population. Kaftan wasn’t a stupid man, he would have encrypted the data and kept the key safe until he was away with his money.”

“what are the chances he gave her the key before dying?” Conn asked, looking between Marshall and Tyrling.

Tyrling tilted his head back and forth in thought. “Time of death compared to when he left, very low. He was dead within an hour of leaving. Either the Lethes didn’t anticipate an encryption or they had someone already lined up to crack it. We’ll keep our ears to the ground. Rumors about these things always turn up, you just have to turn over enough rocks.”

“The Jhandarmi will have fleet backing if Lethe moves against you,” Carver said.

Tyrling nodded in thanks.

The meeting closed rapidly. Papers and tablets were passed around the table for signatures and witness statements. Conn spoke with Carver and Marshall, then with Silar. Tyrling had a few quiet words with everyone but Rowena on his way out. History was made with a quick exchange and no fuss. One word—agreed—and everything was different.

Rowena drifted out of the conference room, not quite ready to return to the Danielle Nicole, but at a loss as to where else she could go. A ping from Titan told her to wait, so she stopped at the intersection of a back hall and a service corridor.

At the far end of the hall she heard Titan say, “I love you, I’ll catch up soon.” He kissed Caryll before she teleported away, and then walked to Rowena. “How does it feel to be in the room where history happens?”

“Surreal,” she admitted. “It was all… easy. Like a play. Everyone seemed to know their lines except me.”

“Selena spent most the night filling me in on the political history,” Titan admitted.

Rowena smirked. “What a waste of a first night as a courting couple.”

He laughed and looked up at the ceiling to avoid her gaze.

“Are you here to gloat or did you actually need something?”

“I want to get Selena a proper courting gift.”

“Isn’t it a bit late for that? The entire fleet saw you two yesterday. Courtship declared and accepted.”

Titan rolled his eyes. “I know, but we won’t have the celebration for a few months. Or at least not until Carver and Silar have theirs.”

Rowena looked up in surprise. “Carver finally acted on that?”

“Genevieve told him she was tired of him trying to get killed before their wedding. They were either signing the spousal contract or she was going to find someone else who wanted to be with her. Selena offered them a house in Tarrin since the news about her land holdings was going to be public anyway. They’ll have a celebration in a few weeks. Then Selena and I will have ours.”

“What do you want to get her?”

Titan’s smile lit up the room. “You’ll back me on this?”

“For every crazy plan,” Rowena said. “That’s what friends are for.”

Meet The Characters
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Ready to read the ending? BODIES IN MOTION is out today everywhere books are sold! Grab your copy now!

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Happy Release Day to BODIES IN MOTION!

BODIES IN MOTION is out in the wild!!!! Wheee!!!!

What’s different from the free, serialized version on the blog?
– Grammar errors and typos have been edited away
– The Danielle Marie is the Danielle Nicole (a change explained in the back matter)
– Character bios for the main series characters are available at the end of the book
– The ship naming conventions for the fleet are explained (you may have caught on, or not, either way enjoy the Easter Egg!)
– Chapter 1 of the next book is available in the purchased edition of BODIES IN MOTION and nowhere else until the next book is released

The ebook is $4.99. The print edition is $15.95.

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Order the print edition from Inkprint Press and receive the ebook for free! 

 

A body at rest stays at rest unless acted on by an equal and opposite force.
– Newton’s First Law of Motion

Selena Caryll lost everything in the war: her ship, her crew, her family. The only thing keeping her going is the hope that somehow the feuding, ground-bound settlers and the fuelless space fleet can set aside their differences. But getting the politically-fractured fleet moving again is more than she can manage alone. For now, she has to settle for working undercover with the planetary police force.

When someone tries to reignite conflict between the planet-siders and the fleet, there’s only one person who has the rank and ability to help Selena protect the fleet: Titan Sciarra, Fleet Guardian—the one man she’s tried hardest to avoid since the war destroyed her life.

In a world where the stagnant weight of tradition can be as deadly as any knife, the only way to survive is to keep moving.