"The notion that such persons are gay of heart and carefree is curiously untrue. They lead, as a matter of fact, an existence of jumpiness and apprehension. They sit on the edge of the chair of Literature. In the house of Life they have the feeling that they have never taken off their overcoats."
- James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

After a long trip, the destination looms

The first book in my fantasy trilogy is being released this Friday. I've written the entire trilogy, over 300,000 words spread across three books. It feels like I just wrote them, and yet I began this journey in November of 2015. Seven years! Here's the original blog post in which I take the first step: https://gaylecarline.blogspot.com/2015/11/mrs-carline-builds-her-dream-dragon.html

The story has gone through iterations of sometimes immense proportions. I began writing it in third person, changed it over to first person, and changed it back again. At one point, I believed I might have accidentally ended up in Hades, doomed to spend eternity rewriting a manuscript from first to third person and back again. The only good thing to come from that is there would be some new word invented meaning, "to do and redo a task over and over," like sisyphean

Gaylepovian: The act of relentlessly changing a story's POV until the writer's brain collapses.

This is where the book started:




I have an old boyfriend, Perry Kaufman, to thank for introducing me to used bookstores in Chicago, where I found this magnificent copy of The Count of Monte Cristo, revised and published in 1894.

I began writing a microscopic version of the count's story, gender-twisted to a tale of a young noblewoman who is betrayed by her so-called friends. I was thinking it would be perhaps a novella, but nothing more than a standard novel.

And then the dragons came, dragons that arrived for a reason and refused to leave until the entire story was told in all the books and all the words.

As with each book, I'm tremendously proud of its release and consider it my favorite. I've worked hard to help it find its readership and I hope they love it, too. If you read it and love it, I promise you will love the second book and the third.

And after the third book, who knows where else we may go?

Thursday, September 8, 2022

The countdown begins

 It's a month until BLOOD DRAGON RISING is released to the public. Here's what you should know about that:

1. The Kindle version will be on sale for 99 cents for about a week. Its regular price will be $6.99, so get it while it's hot. You can still pre-order it on Amazon, https://www.amazon.com/Blood-Dragon-Rising-Shadows-Book-ebook/dp/B09XQV24DW/

2. The paperback version is available at any online bookseller, or you may order it from any physical store. 

3. The AUTOGRAPHED paperback version will be available at my author booth in Tri-City Park during the Placentia Heritage Day Festival on October 8, 2022. Stop by if you're in the neighborhood!





In the meantime, here's another excerpt to tease you:

Lisette had never witnessed an actual sword fight. Her own training had been done with Jules and kept a secret from Mama. Even the most vigorous matches she’d seen had the look of a dance. This was ruthless, no fancy footwork or graceful thrusts. The men battled around the table, over the bed and back toward the door, jabbing and taking wild swings, each aiming for the other’s torso.

She tried to find a safe corner, but it was nearly impossible. As she backed around the table, attempting to avoid them, she became aware of the dagger in her hand. She had not let go when she stabbed the Spanish pig.

The Spaniard had trapped Rocco against the wall. Rocco stepped aside, tripping on the edge of her discarded gown. His leg slid out from under him and slammed him to the floor. The Spaniard raised his sword to bring it down on the captain’s vitals.

Without hesitation, Lisette leapt behind the stranger and pushed the dagger into his back. It slid easily between bones through the meat to the softness inside. She kicked the back of his knees and shoved him down beside Rocco. He fell, his weight pulling the dagger out, leaving the hilt in her grip. Blood covered the blade, up to her hand. She froze, staring at the body, blood staining the Spaniard’s coat and pooling on the floor.

He groaned and attempted to stand. Rocco jumped to his feet and put an end to the man’s complaints with a slash of his longsword. He ran toward the door, turning at the last moment.

“Thank you. Now, bolt the door behind me.”

Lisette continued to stare at the dead man. Blood formed a ribbon of red around his waist and gathered under his arm. His last breath had stopped the fountain. She was glad his face was turned away, where his eyes could not see her. His sword lay just beyond his right hand.

Trembling, she looked down at the dagger, her heart pounding viciously. The blood on the blade turned her stomach while adrenaline pumped her with excitement. Her head felt light and her eyesight blurry. Above, the sounds of swords and guns and guttural screams seeped into the room, but inside these four walls, there was an absence of noise as if silence swallowed even a whisper.

Rocco told her to bolt the door, stay inside, but that seemed impossible. The sounds of the battle frightened and intrigued her. If she stayed one more moment, she would start screaming and never stop. She reached across the dead man to take his sword, feeling its heft.

This is not my fight. I have no experience. Well, practically none. Julian taught me to fence, but we didn’t actually battle. Not like this.

Still, she could not stay here without going mad. Desperation took her out the door and up the steps. If she could get away from the dead man and breathe fresh air, she might feel better.

On deck, however, there were more dead men and less fresh air. Her eyes watered from the stench of smoke and gunpowder and men and death. Most of the fighting was on El Ɓguila Negro, but there were still a few Spanish sailors trying to claim the helm of Rocco’s ship.

A burly man in a uniform caught her attention. He was hacking at the rope that held the mainsail. His attempt to disable the ship alarmed her—what if she was stuck in the middle of the ocean with these brigands?

“Stop that!” She stomped her foot.

The man turned his head, spit the word, “wench,” and went back to sawing at the ropes.

“I am not a wench. I am a lady.” She swept the long blade through his midsection, squealing as she did. He crumpled, and she squealed again.

This alerted another Spaniard, who ran to engage her, his eyes wide. “You’re a girl.”

“Lady.” She slashed at him.

He held his own sword up in defense and parried. His skills were lacking, but he was keen on killing her, which kept her blocking his swings and unable to advance. He had backed her to the helm and around the wheel when Lisette tried a different tactic. She gave him a sly, coquettish smile and lowered her sword a little.

“My, how strong you are,” she told him.

He smiled back, no doubt anticipating a very personal surrender. Stepping into him, she pushed his blade away and brought her knee up between his legs. He doubled in pain, and she struck upward, catching him square in the chest. The tip of her sword hit bone, deflecting before sinking into his body.

He fell and she found she was no longer shocked by putting her blade through flesh. Her pulse racing, she looked around for more uniforms to puncture.

Captain Rocco stood, mid-deck, bodies piled around. Men were screaming on the galleon where Rocco’s crew slashed their way to any and all treasure. His men who had remained on L’Implacable set to work clearing the decks of the bodies, uniformed and pirate. The captain glanced up and pressed his way through the carnage to the wheel, where she stood.

Lisette met him, sword in hand and glaring in defiance. He leaned into her, stinking of gunpowder, and sweat. His fingers caressed her shoulder and traveled down her arm. She winced and glanced down, noting a line of bright red running to her hand, and dripping from her little finger. He wrapped his hand around the hilt of her sword. She let him take it.

“Pretty good with a strange blade.” His voice was low. “You seem to have a scratch.”

She looked back up at him. “It seems that way.”

“Let’s go back to the cabin and clean it up.” He picked up her long shirttail and wiped at her face. “And dry those tears.”

She brought her hand up to her cheeks and felt the wetness, now aware of the catch in her breath. How long she had been crying, she did not know.

He towered over her, and she swayed, her head spinning from the fight and her body still pulsing with agitation. If the captain took her now, she wouldn’t fight him—or maybe she would. Maybe she’d mount him in a frenzy and enjoy it. Maybe she’d kill him. She no longer knew what she was capable of.

All she could do was turn and walk down the steps, back to Rocco’s cabin, where they would be alone. Behind her, the Spanish crew continued to scream.



Sunday, August 28, 2022

It's that season again

 No, not pumpkin spice.


via GIPHY

It's writer workshop season! Much like the start of the school year, September is when writing clubs and conferences want me to come and share what I've learned over the years. This year is exciting for a couple of reasons:

1. I get to present "What's the Point? Story, Subtext, and Plot" at the California Writers Club of Long Beach in person. I love this workshop and really enjoy teaching it.

The last time I taught at the CWC of Orange County, we were still Zooming. Long Beach is currently in a hybrid mode, so I'm sure a few folks will be remote, which is fine. If you're a writer in California, I recommend checking out this club--they've got 22 branches around the state. Here's the scoop on Long Beach:

https://www.calwriterslongbeach.org/

2. I'll be teaching two new workshops at the Southern California Writer's Conference in Irvine. In addition to teaching "Something to Talk About: Speaking Publicly About Your Books," I'll also be presenting the spanking-new topics, "Avoiding Stereotypes, Cliches, and the All-Too Common," and "The End is Just the Beginning." I'm both excited and terrified of these new workshops. Developing new material is fun, but can I do it justice? Stay tuned and sign up to find out:

https://writersconference.com/la/

The Writer's Conference does cost to attend, however they have a discount code to help you out. Just use “Scwcsd3622” without the quotes of course,

I hope to see you at one of these events!


Tuesday, June 28, 2022

I got new blooms budding

I once heard Willard Scott say, "When you're green, you're growing, and when you think you're ripe, you're rotten."



I probably put too many commas in that sentence, but it's a sentiment that has stayed with me and I believe its truth. The most ageless senior citizens I know are the ones who are always learning new things, re-examining life, and capable of being amazed.

What does that have to do with the release of my fantasy series?

In getting the three books ready for consumption, I've had to write the dreaded synopsis of each book, and a synopsis of the trilogy. It's true, the majority of authors can write 70-100k masterpieces and yet balk at writing 250 words to sum up the story. I'm definitely in that group.

Part of my difficulty is deciding how much to divulge. My fantasy holds secrets about the humans and dragons that I'm not certain I want to reveal immediately because I'd like the reader to be surprised. Hell, I was surprised when I wrote it.


But then I sat down one afternoon to my usual TV addiction, Turner Classic Movies. They were showing the original trailer for "Now, Voyager," one of my favorite films. I'd seen the trailer before, but as I watched it again, I realized that they showed the entire film within the two-minute teaser, using a snippet of scenes from the whole movie. It dawned on me that many of the older films did this, showing pieces of the entire story, beginning to end.

My first thought was, "Why would anyone go to these films now that the whole thing's been revealed?" And then I understood why it worked.

If I had never seen the film, I'd still watch it because:

1. These snippets have no context, so I'm just watching six seconds of dramatic dialogue or a fight or struggle--or even a humorous entanglement, and

2. If one of those snippets is at the end of the film, you can bet I'm going to watch for that scene. (Spoiler alert: The very last line of "Now Voyager" is in the trailer!)

A light bulb moment for my trilogy. I'm not saying I'm going to tell the whole story in the synopses. But I'm no longer worried about what I conceal and what I reveal, as long as what I reveal tempts a potential reader into picking up the book and turning the page, then looking for Book 2. Rinse and repeat for Book 3.



EXCERPT:

Would she be able to kill him? She imagined trying to run the knife into his body. There would be but one chance. If she hesitated, it would be worse than if she never tried.

Eat now, she told herself. Escape later.

As she reached for the potato, she looked up to see the captain standing over her. She froze as she met his eyes. They were deep blue and set in a sharp, tanned face. Dark curls framed his shaven cheeks and a short goatee encircled full lips. His muslin shirt was open, revealing a curious amulet tied around his neck with a dark cord. A golden hand with folded fingers and a heart in the palm—protection against the Evil Eye. The heart was inlaid with a red stone.

She had expected an older man, grizzled, and scarred from battle. While mature, he was muscled and good-looking. And stupid and cruel, she reminded herself. And beneath her. A pirate.

She met his glare with her own regal sneer. “Thank you, Captain. I was quite hungry.”

He picked up the pitcher and poured its contents into two goblets. “Rum?”

“Yes, please.” As she extended her hand, he moved the goblet away. She stood and reached again, and he continued to step away, keeping it just out of her grasp. The entire time, his eyes never left hers.

Pining for drink, she continued to follow him, staying a cautious distance away. As he gazed at her she could feel heat rise in her chest, the blush spreading up her neck to her cheeks. No man had ever dared to stare at her thus, not even Eric. The corners of his eyes crinkled, no doubt at her embarrassment, though he did not smile.

At last, she stood by the window with him. The harsh midday sun exposed everything without shadows. Still staring, he handed her the rum. She took the goblet and moved back before taking a small sip. It burned but it also quenched.

He stretched his arm in a wide gesture. “Mademoiselle, welcome to the ship L’Implacable.”

“The Merciless.” Lisette nodded. “A fitting name for a pirate ship.”

                                         * * * * *

AVAILABLE IN KINDLE AND PAPERBACK OCTOBER 7, 2022

PRE-ORDER IT HERE: https://www.amazon.com/Blood-Dragon-Rising-Shadows-Book-ebook/dp/B09XQV24DW/


Friday, April 1, 2022

The countdown has started

The fantasy trilogy is nearing completion. All three books are written. The first is ready to go, the second is in the hands of my fabulous editor, and I'm completing the edits on the third so I can hand it off to her for her valuable insights (and corrections).

I've also figured out the release schedule, far apart enough for my sanity while being close enough to keep readers captivated--I hope! 

So look for Blood Dragon Rising in October 2022.




Moon Dragon Falling in December 2022.




And New Dragon Soaring in February 2023.




Color me excited.


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