Monday, March 21, 2016

My Best Creative Advice (Today, Anyway)

I don’t exactly have a large social circle. I’ve never been someone who particularly likes crowds or anything like that. When I finally got easy access to email, I was thrilled, because I much prefer communicating via writing. Always have. There’s a lot of reasons for that, of course, and there’s also a lot of non-reasons I could talk about. But that’s not the point, here. Just a preface.

It’s hard for me to meet people, and even harder for me to meet other authors I can get along with. A few years ago, I joined a writer’s group in my area. I was shocked there was one in town at all, and when it turned out I could be friends with these people in a non-professional sense, I was ecstatic. I’m still friends with a few of these people.

But it turns out that one of the people I was closest with was very much a toxic individual. They were manipulative, they lied, they turned us against other members. And of course, as it goes with this sort of thing, I couldn’t see it. I didn’t know how bad it was until I finally did. And then I couldn’t be around them anymore. It wasn’t healthy, and I couldn’t support their lifestyle. Blah blah, personal personal.

The problem is that they were the self-appointed leader of this group. So when I had to stop being around them, I had to leave the group. I needed to separate. It was hard, because this group helped me out so much. A sounding board, beta readers, support. All gone. That led to quite the slump in productivity, and it’s a hole that I’ve been trying to claw my way out of for several months, now. I’m finally seeing the light, and that’s thanks in large part to a critique group I’ve joined. They’re wonderful people, and it’s writing first, social second.

Why was that so important? The companionship, yes, but something else. In the arts today, it’s much easier to get your work out there, and there isn’t much of a system for checking. That’s what it’s about. No matter if you’re a writer or a painter or a musician, feedback is essential. Art can be put out into the world without it, but it shouldn’t.

So this is for the creatives in the world. If you feel stuck, there’s a lot of advice. I’m going to repeat these two pieces, out of everything floating around out there. Find other people doing what you do, and run your work through them. You have no idea what a change it can make until you go after it.

Also, try to avoid people who make you miserable. It seems like stupid obvious advice, but I needed a wake-up-call, so maybe someone else does, too.

Raven

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

UPDATE: Heart of a Pirate

Darlings! I’ve come up for air just to give you a quick update. Now, I shouldn’t say this necessarily, as I can’t promise that I’ll live up to this particular promise. Sometimes, when it comes to publishing, things don’t always line up nicely the way you intend. But I’ll say it anyway.

You can keep your eye out for a new series by April/May.

Yes, I have more for you, and it’s currently going through editing. Thanks to a bit of a slump I went through recently on the writing front, it took a little longer than I wanted. But I’ve also got a wonderful new critique group that’s really working for me, which helps. I’ve been without a real authorial support system for quite a while. More on that in a later post, though. That’s heavy, and this is light.

Why?

Because sex, of course! Sex and love and magic!

Keep a look here, on Facebook, and on Twitter for updates so you don’t miss out.

Raven

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Unkempt Ramblings on Adult Content

I’ve been thinking about sex a lot lately. Go figure. Not just sex, but how we look at sex. Now, don’t get me wrong, I think there’s a good reason for some censorship when it comes to sex. Little Bobby and Jenny don’t need to see full penetration thrust in their faces (Pun intended), and parents don’t need to have that conversation before the conversation about the basics of sex.

That being said, the United States has this weird thing with sex in media. It’s simultaneously ubiquitous, taboo, and precious, which is just fucking strange, if we’re being honest. I was talking with some people over the weekend about how we treat sex v. violence v. psychological issues in our fiction, compared to other countries. Especially in children’s works, but also in general. We would rather show exploding heads than a bare ass or nipple. You see it in movies. Gladiator got marked up for a shower scene, but the same person reviewing it for the MPAA failed to mention, you know, the blood (Watch “This Film is Not Yet Rated” to see this stuff. It’s a great film.).

I don’t think we need to do this. I don’t think we need to make such a big deal out of it. Good lord, I had to struggle to buy Nora Roberts books in middle school, but I read serial killer novels in elementary school. Stephen King kind of stuff. Nobody batted an eye. That seems like a problem for me, because not everyone is going to handle it well. That’s just the way things are. And, you know, Nora Roberts levels of sex were probably a little too much for me at that age, but I guarantee you don’t need a kid reading Red Dragon, either.

Do I think there’s a good reason for the beaded curtain and the plastic-wrap on the naughty books? Yes. But in general, why is it such a taboo? And why isn’t violence? And should things really change? Where do psychological issues fit in? A lot of questions, and not a lot of answers, so what do you lovely people think about this? Let me know, and stay tuned for content that’s a little more… fun.

Raven

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Release: Street Magic!

Darlings, darlings, it's finally here! Street Magic is out to gambol about the world like a little, super-horny bunny (Can you imagine if bunnies were any hornier? Christ on a cracker, they'd overrun us in a week.).


Sometimes magic tricks are more than mere illusions. Street magician Axel Rye understands that better than most—his magic is real. If a mundane ever learns the truth, the Magisters will show no mercy. Getting close puts everyone at risk, which is why Axel knows he's in it deep with his latest crush.

Nick works in a tattoo shop on Axel's favorite busking pitch. If there's one thing Axel has learned, it's that magicians and mundanes don't mix, but he can't seem to stay away. It's only a matter of time before his magic is exposed, and his budding romance might lead to an even bigger problem. Drawing the wrong kind of attention might be the last mistake he ever makes, and it will put his powers, his lover, and his very life on the line.

You can snatch it from Amazon and All Romance Ebooks, of course, or from Storm Moon Press directly.



EXCERPT:
I knew better. The mundanes weren't supposed to know a thing about us. Technically, I suppose, I hadn't broken that rule. Yet. When they saw me pull the correct card out of thin air or guess their name, they called it mentalism or sleight of hand. Or called it nothing at all, which worried me more than anything else. But worry over nothing. They didn't know that this was magic. They didn't know anything about the other part of the world—my part of the world. But not every magician would agree with me. I knew better, and yet I still walked among them and displayed my skill.

I let the cards run from one hand to the other, and then nudged one out. I could still feel a tiny trace of the woman's energy clinging to it, right where her fingers had touched when she grabbed it. "Is this your card?"

She leaned forward and scooped it up. "Oh, my God!" She held it up to the crowd behind her. They'd seen it. I hadn't, but I didn't need to. The mundanes couldn't control their energy; they left spots of it everywhere they went.

I plucked the card from her grip and slid it back into the deck. A few well-placed taps and slides along the surface of the cards banished all traces of her energy from them. They felt clean again. I almost sighed. I'd gotten a large crowd with the card tricks, including a few regulars I knew how to work. Which meant a lot of energy cleaning for me. But magician or not, bills had to be paid. I'd put up with the hassle and just... persuade them to drop a little extra into my hat. That persuasion had already netted me twice as much cash as I probably would have gotten otherwise.

After a few more final tricks, I slid the deck inside my coat, into the pocket I'd extended to hold all my supplies, and then tipped my fedora and smiled. "It's past my bedtime, folks." The streetlights flickered to life above my head, but I could still hit some of the later crowds. I also knew enough to let everyone think they were the last—think they were special in all this. I spun on my heel and walked away. Once I got around the corner, I turned into an alley. I'd used it often enough that I'd finally left a transport sigil scribed on the asphalt. It glowed to my eyes, but was invisible to the mundanes. A circle of complex swirls, intertwining symbols, combined for one effect—instant movement.

I put both feet in and felt the tendrils of warm power sliding up my legs, tightening. I closed my eyes and pictured my destination, the cramped shops along the rough pavement, the bars, and the useless, dead street lamps.

And then I let go. The power enveloped my body. When I'd first started traveling this way, I'd tried to fight against it. But that had only resulted in getting lost, spat out in the wrong place. It was tight, with all that power surrounding you. You couldn't breathe, couldn't think.

But it was only a few seconds. I sucked in warm, oil-scented air and opened my eyes. Not a glamorous part of town, not rich and corporate, but they liked me well enough, here. Well enough that I maintained a sigil. I slid out from between two tiny brick shops and glanced over my shoulder at the familiar glow of the sigil behind me. Money wasn't the only reason I'd put it here. The other reason was a tattoo artist on the corner.

I marched down the street, drawing attention. The zoot suit always drew looks, though less so in places like this. Not a whole lot drew attention around here. Every other shop along this street was a bar, each with its own theme, its own d├ęcor, its own energy coating the doorway, glowing through the windows. Traces everywhere, illuminating better than the street lights ever could.

I got to the corner and leaned against the signpost, James Plaza hovering above my head. One-handed, I shuffled the deck of cards, teleported back out of my pocket by a touch to the brim of my fedora, and scanned around me. The street running perpendicular to James Plaza had once been active. I'd seen it in old photographs and newspapers. A few people around here were old enough to remember it. But now, it was just foot traffic, all the entrances and exits closed off by concrete dividers. The one at this intersection bore layer after layer of graffiti.

I sighed and scanned around me. A few people, all lost in their own thoughts and conversations. Which didn't work for me. I worked a little magic over the cards, amplified the sound of the shuffling, and stepped it up. The cards glided together in higher and wider arcs every time until, finally, I saw attention shift over to me. I let them all fall back into place on my palm, a neat stack once again, and waited.

A young woman approached me. She wore a red and gold corset and matching miniskirt, but nothing else. Steampunk bar on the far corner. She stopped about a foot away and I offered her my deck and my best smile. "Pick a card."

She snorted. "And then what? You flip the deck upside down while I'm not looking so you can pretend to be magic? Fat chance."

I pressed the whole deck into her hand. "Now pick a card. Don't tell me what it is." I watched as she shuffled the deck. People like her made this part of town so profitable. When you broke down the walls of their skepticism, they paid.

"I've got one."

She offered me the deck, but I shook my head, put my hands up in front of me. "You hold onto that. I just need one finger." I tapped the deck with my index finger and hooked onto her energy. She'd shuffled, so all the cards carried tiny traces of her. But one in particular held her essence to it.

When I jerked my hand back, one of the cards came with me. I flicked it into my palm and flashed it at her. "Is this your card?"

Her mouth opened just a little. "How did you do that?"

"Magic."

Friday, January 22, 2016

New Book Announcement: Street Magic


Huzzah, darlings! Raise a glass, because it’s time for a new book!

After a long and somewhat turbulent path to publication, Street Magic is finally about to hit shelves. Well, digital shelves, at any rate. Close enough. It’ll be available, and that’s enough reason to crack a bottle or two of the good wine, as far as I’m concerned. The really good wine.


Sometimes magic tricks are more than mere illusions. Street magician Axel Rye understands that better than most -- his magic is real. If a mundane ever learns the truth, the Magisters will show no mercy. Getting close puts everyone at risk, which is why Axel knows he's in it deep with his latest crush.

Nick works in a tattoo shop on Axel's favorite busking pitch. If there's one thing Axel has learned, it's that magicians and mundanes don't mix, but he can't seem to stay away. It's only a matter of time before his magic is exposed, and his budding romance might lead to an even bigger problem. Drawing the wrong kind of attention might be the last mistake he ever makes, and it will put his powers, his lover, and his very life on the line.

So keep an eye out on your favorite retailers, and over on the Storm Moon Press store. The book releases on January 29th!

Raven

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Happy New Year 2016!

Oh, my darlings. I’ve finally recovered from the New Year festivities, and I figure this is as good a time as any to fill you in on just what you can look forward to from me. Aside from drinking wine, that is. I can’t foresee that changing any time soon, so not to worry on that front.

Currently, I’m nearing the end of Heart of a Pirate, which is the first book in long-running fantasy/erotic romance series. It’s an idea I’ve been in love with. It’s sort of like the ultimate in exotic locales. A far-flung world with strange religions, strange creatures, and an awful lot of bare chests along the way, of course.

A bare chest like this:


I mean, just look at that. Glorious, isn’t it?

Beyond that, however, the future is a bit more nebulous. I intend to write the next book of that series (Heart of Absolution), which excites me even more than the first one. And after that, I’m toying with ideas for a new urban fantasy or paranormal book. I’m not quite sure what it would be about, but I enjoy writing things like that. Set here in real-life land and all. Well, nearly real-life land. Close enough that I can write sarcastic, pop-culturally-up-to-date characters. It tickles me.

Also at some point, Street Magic will be coming out. It’s still a little up in the air as to exactly when, but it’s been a long time coming, and I hope it’s well worth the time spent waiting. I’m not allowed to show the cover yet, but I promise you’ll approve.

I also have some more ideas floating about in my head. Little snippets of things, singular scenes. They might see fruition this year, or they might not bear anything for another decade. You just never know with things like that. But I’m continually working and thinking, be sure of that. It would take a hell of a lot to stop this old biddy writing about man flesh.

On a less writing related note, I’ve also decided to take less crap from people. I know what you’re thinking, this raving bitch doesn’t take crap anyway. Well trust me, I do. And this year, I vow to care just a little bit less. I think a lot of people could do to take on that particular challenge. Other than that? Drink more, laugh more, cuddle more with the dogs, drink more, have more sex, have better sex, drink more, travel more, work more, sleep better.

Also drink more.


What about you my darlings? Anything you intend to tackle in the coming year? Let me know and, as always, love yourself. Just maybe not in public.

Raven

Friday, December 25, 2015

The Best Gift You Can Give Yourself

No, I’m not talking about love or elf-respect (Whoops. Self-respect. But that typo is so on-theme for the season that I had to leave it in.) or anything serious like that. Besides, if you could just give those to yourself, everyone would already have them.

Elf-Respect. Hehe.

No, I’m talking about something you can actually do to maybe make your day a little brighter. At least your Monday through Friday.

Now, I’m a big fan of Buzzfeed. It’s not like it’s that unique to be a fan, but I am. And they have a great service: Dude a Day. A newsletter that delivers a new dude to your inbox five days a week, complete with a little spot of cute text to accompany it. There aren’t many things I look forward to throughout a normal week. I look forward to whatever show I’m watching (With Into the Badlands over and done with, that’s on hiatus until Once and TWD come back on the air.). I look forward to reading my webcomics (Gunnerkrigg Court for the win!). But every weekday morning, I seriously look forward to my dude. They’re all lovely, and even if you don’t like one day’s selection, you get five a week. Times 52 weeks. That’s 260 dudes every year, plus a few for the rare weekend postings (Like the Twelve Dudes of Christmas they just finished off.).

I actually keep a folder of them. I don’t need them filling my inbox, but I like to keep my favorites for later perusal… and for later stealing, so I can use them to inspire a hero or two. With all names changed to protect the innocent, of course.

So, amid all the giving, if you’re looking for something to give yourself, consider giving yourself a Dude a Day. I wasn’t disappointed, and I doubt you will be either, darlings.

Happy holidays, and many glasses of wine, to you,

Raven