Monday, March 20, 2017

LitRPG Is The New Black

Okay, maybe I'm pushing that metaphor, but it feels like LitRPG--books based on role playing games of all types for those who might not know--has finally found an audience, and that's something that makes me very, very happy.

I've been playing (and DM'ing) dungeons of the traditional heroic fantasy and even of the paranormal variety for many years now, inspired by my father (Thanks, Dad!). I even started out my writing experience as a fanfic author based on some of my old campaigns (if you can call writing fiction about my own stuff fanfic... but I digress).

When I discovered LitRPG had a huge following and was growing rapidly, I had to explore the idea myself. But not in the ordinary way, because that wouldn't fit who I am.

And who am I, really? I had to stop and think about that when I chose to dive into this particular genre. Because I considered using a pen name for this series, it's so outside my usual work. And yet, every time I looked at the covers with the name that wasn't mine at the top, I felt like a fraud.

Not sure if you're aware, but we writers (artists in general) already fight fraud syndrome anyway, so I didn't need writing under a pen name to make things worse. It did make me take a step back and think about who I am, though, as a creator and as a person of passion looking to share my vision. I'm a writer, yes. A reader, too. As much a maker as a devourer of worlds in many forms, from video games to books to TV and movies. A creator of many different things and someone who loves all kinds of genres. That's why I'm excited to release the Genesis Gates and explore all the ideas I've been mulling over the past several decades.

Soulblade, Stage One of the series, is coming in April (sign up for email updates if you're curious so you know when that happens!) and I can't wait to share it. But there are eight more to follow in the Genesis Gates, so stay tuned.

For now, happy LitRPGing and a huge hell yeah for a genre that deserves the kind of attention it's finally generating.

Happy campaigning!

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Giraffes and First Drafts

How I imagine April's baby :D
So, if you're like me, you're totally and completely obsessed with April the giraffe, star of the maternity show at the Animal Adventure Park in Harpursville, NY. (If you don't know what I'm talking about, where have you been? Go look at her. Go. Look. Okay, come back and let's get to this.)

Now until February 23rd, I had never heard of Animal Adventure Park, Harpursville (which I now must visit because APRIL and her BABY) or this particular giraffe soon-to-be-Momma for the fourth time (you go, woman!).

Now, I'm not a mom myself, except to a variety of very bossy voices in my head and a plethora of fur children who dominate my existence. But, like many of you, the pending birth of April's new baby with her darling partner, Oliver (all together now, awwwwwww!), has kept me going back--and back--and back--to watch her wander, pace, snack, lie down, stand up and generally be a giraffe for well over a week now.

And here's the thing. I started a new book, Fame and Fortune and Murder, with the expectation she'd be having her giant bundle of 150 lb. giraffe joy by the time I wrote "The End" on Fiona's latest mystery. A task I just completed about ten minutes ago.

I then proceeded to visit in with April. And found her lying there, on the job, doing nada, squat, bupkis.

I actually grunted in surprise. Because, honestly? The deal I made with her? I finish this book and she delivers. That was the plan. So simple. To find I've upheld my end of the bargain and she's literally lying there doing her giraffy nothing?


My very dear writing friend, Christina G. Gaudet, did mention I might be a little selfish about this. After all, to quote her, "You have a lot of books under your belt. But have you yet witnessed a giraffe birth?" As if April's pending achievement outweighs mine.

Huh. "I've helped deliver calves of a bovine nature," I replied, a bit snarkily, to be honest.

"But they weren't giraffe calves," she said in her wise way.


Which got me thinking about delivery dates and being in a hurry and how much pressure we put on ourselves as writers to produce. While darling April--the sweetheart of the internet at this juncture--chews her cud (I have no idea if giraffes chew cud so don't send me nasty notes that they don't unless you do the research and even then, whatever) and couldn't care less.

She's on April time, isn't she? And that's an excellent lesson right there, folks.

So, I'm going to celebrate finishing this book baby with a delicious pizza from a local joint I love (Famous Peppers, I'll take a tub of maple cream sauce to go!), and celebrate while April does her thing.

When the baby comes, I'll cheer and probably cry a lot and wish her well. But for now? Thanks for the lesson, you gorgeous girl, you. As for cud chewing, I'll take that pastime under advisement.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Diamond City Trilogy Rebirth

In 2010, when I first dove into writing full time, I explored the world of the blue joy, a dark urban paranormal fantasy about a teenager name Fresco Conte. He had it all: top marks at school, football hero, popular with everyone... except his family hid a horrible secret. His beloved older brother, Daniel, had succumbed to drug addiction and disappeared two years earlier. Leaving Fresco angry and torn with grief over the loss.

He had no idea this addiction that took Daniel away was fed by no ordinary drug. Or that he, too, would soon discover the call of Wasteland, that most horrible and wretchedly delicious of siren songs.

It was the second book I was offered a contract on in my budding career, the first to a publisher in the U.S. And though I ultimately chose to go it alone with the Diamond City Trilogy, Fresco's story was such a huge part of my own I completed the three volumes quickly and eagerly and hit publish before moving on, expecting him to do what he needed to do now that I'd done my bit. Right?

I was drawn back, then, into the Hayle Coven Universe and the twenty novels of that world's first series, Fresco did his thing without much help from me. In fact, when I look back on it now, I realize just how little attention he received in my drive to write and explore and create. Eighty books and seven years later and I'm rethinking just how cruel that was of me. Though, if Fresco were to comment himself, I'm sure he'd shrug, unsurprised to find himself out in the cold like that for so long.

Bad book momma.

So, here we are, he and I, together again. And here I am, re-imagining the images for the series based on his hurts. After much contemplation and a heavy dose of courage, I took the leap and created these:

               Fresco                  Wasteland           Diamond City

AND. I'm not normally a boxed set kind of girl. But I decided to try it out with Fresco's series and see what people think:

Diamond City Omnibus

If you've met Fresco before, please let me know in the comments below what you think of the new covers (and what you thought of my darling Fres). If not, I'd love to hear from you. I'll be giving away a copy of the omnibus to one reader (as chosen by the ever-faithful at the end of Wednesday, March 1st.

When you journey to the Diamond City, be sure to say hello to Fresco and Daniel for me. But watch that blue joy trip. It's a killer.


Monday, February 13, 2017

Valentine's Day and Murder

I’m not sure what it is about Valentine’s Day that makes me think of murder. Especially considering we’ve placed such a specifically romantic weight on the day, all love and chocolate hearts and couple adoration displayed in every restaurant and jewelry store and candy shop.

Can you tell I’m not romantic?

Here’s where we (who follow the less cloyingly sweet and more deadly train of thought) get to the good part: there’s a history of the holiday that’s dark and rather disturbing. How delicious.

According to some scholars, the person eventually dubbed Saint Valentine defied Roman Emperor Claudius II. That most brilliant of leaders decided to outlaw marriage because unfettered men, free of such worthless things as wives and children, made better soldiers. Because cutting off your population’s growth is an excellent idea, Your Imperial Ceasarness.

Needless to say, this decree totally went against Valentine’s whole idea of love for all and plenty of babies to prove it. Didn’t end well for poor Valentine, though, did it? Claudius had the rebellious priest beaten and then beheaded. Yikes. Talk about dying for love.

Wait, though. There’s another version, too. This one says Valentine may have been cut down while assisting the escape of his Christian flock from the horror of Roman prisons. Brave and all that, but diamond ring material...?

The most touching—and appropriate to the Day (yes, I capitalized that on purpose because I felt like it)—says he was imprisoned himself and sent the very first Valentine’s Day card to the daughter of the man who jailed him. I wonder if she said she’d be his Valentine?

Of course, there are more benign origin stories, that of appropriated festivals and Christians absorbing cultures and blah blah blah. As a writer, I can’t help but imagine the sinister and dangerous legends are the truth behind all that bubbly and candlelight. Utterly charming.

All of this guesswork at history leaves a decidedly murderous taste in the mouth. Good thing death goes so well with chocolate.

Like cozy mysteries? Find the first in the Fiona Fleming Cozy Mysteries series, Bed and Breakfast and Murder, HERE.

AND because it’s Valentine’s Day, book two launches with a bang. Find Chocolate Hearts and Murder HERE.

Happy VD!