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To celebrate my 64th birthday, I offered Jaydium and Northlight as a free omnibus edition. I'd like to keep it available (at a price less than the two if bought separately) but I'm having a hard time coming up with a title. "Omnibus" is dreadfully uninformative, and I don't want to use "When I'm 64."

For those of you who've read them both, any ideas? I was stretching my fledgling literary wings, so they don't have much thematically in common. But maybe that's my limited hindsight.

I'll give away a free copy to the person who comes up with the title I use (multi-format, DRM-free ebook).

Interview!

Apr. 23rd, 2011 05:18 pm
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A little while ago, I was contacted by fan "Cookie's Mom" who blogs about books she loves and interviews her favorite authors. IIRC, she read Northlight through the Library Thing Early Reviewer program. We went back and forth, putting together an interview specifically on Northlight. Here is is!

Cookie's Mom Book Club Interview.
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In celebration of the anniversary of my birth, lo these 64 years ago, I'm holding a "When I'm 64" omnibus ebook giveaway over at Book View Cafe. Just following the clickies to download your copy, multi-format and DRM-free, of Jaydiumand Northlight. (Today only...)

Enjoy!
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How about this?

Northlight: She's a Ranger, a wild and savvy knife-fighter, determined to get help in finding her partner who's lost on the treacherous northern border. He's a scholar who sees visions, eager to escape the confines of city life and the shadow of his charismatic mother. With the assassination of Laurea's beloved leader and the city in turmoil, the two have only each other to turn to. What begins as a rescue mission turns deadly as together they unravel the secret that lies beneath Laurea's idyllic surface.
deborahjross: (bench)
I need help coming up with a snazzier product description for the Kindle edition of Northlight. I'd put up a paragraph I'd written back in the mid-90s because I thought the publisher's back cover copy was too long. So, here's a new version, plus the old plus the back cover copy. I could really use some feedback on what might be most effective in getting internet buyers to "pick up the book," read a sample chapter, and hopefully nab a copy.

Here's the new one:

She's a Ranger, a knife-fighter with a tortured past, determined to get help in finding her partner who's lost on the wild northern border. He's a scholar who sees visions, eager to escape the narrow confines of city life and the shadow of his charismatic mother. What begins as a rescue mission turns deadly as together they unravel the secret that lies beneath Laurea's idyllic surface...a secret that threatens everything they hold dear...a secret that will test each of them to their very limits...

Here's the old one:

Under its idyllic surface, uneasy forces stir in the land of Laurea. Tensions with the savage north escalate sharply when a charismatic leader falls to an assassin's knife. Kardith, knife fighter and Ranger, joins forces with young scholar Terricel. With her sharp steel and his transcendent vision, they struggle against both old hatreds and new tyrants. But to do this, Kardith must make her peace with the personal horror she has buried deep within her soul, while Terricel uncovers the ancient secret that threatens not only Laurea, but the entire world.

Here's the publisher's description:

Kardith the Ranger...exiled from her own people, she'd found a new home, family, and purpose among the Rangers, patrolling the borderlands known as the Ridge to protect the people of Laurea from invasion by the northern barbarians. So when Aviyya, her closest comrade-in-arms, mysteriously disappeared into the badlands, Kardith had no choice but to journey to the capital to win permission to venture into forbidden territory on a desperate rescue mission.

But all Kardith's hopes were struck down when an assassin's blade claimed the life of Laurea's beloved leader, Pateros. Determined to save Avi even against orders, Kardith joined forces with her friend's younger brother, Terricel, heir to one of the most powerful women in the government yet treated by his mother as little more than a clerk. With Laureal City in turmoil, the two had only each other to turn to for help, and together they set off into the wilderness in search of Avi, thus beginning a dangerous odyssey which would take them into the heart of enemy territory to uncover a secret beyond their wildest imagining...
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My second published novel Northlight is finally available again, now as a multi-format ebook from Book View Cafe. It includes a new introduction, "the story behind the story."

It was amazing to work on this book again, preparing it for epublication, and realize how much of my heart is still in it. Yes, it's got glorious horses and dramatic fight scenes (using techniques I learned in my years of kung fu -- the intro also talks about my teacher, Jimmy H. Woo). It's also got the kind of tortured-soul-healing and coming-of-age stuff I love. Also shades of what it was like growing up in the shadow of a charismatic parent, how you find your own place in life. A journey into the wilderness of the spirit as well as the landscape. And the cover is a very cool pic of [livejournal.com profile] dancinghorse's lovely mare, "Tia" photographed by our own [livejournal.com profile] tcastleb.

You can read the first chapter on the BVC site. I'd love to hear what you think.

Scaling the final hill was like climbing into a sea of ice. Up and up we went, one shivering, dogged step after another, woman and mare. My fingers had gone numb, laced in her mane, and I could no longer tell if she pulled me along or the other way round. I envied her, with no thought but to keep going.

As we neared the crest, I squinted up at the sky, as white and airless as if some vengeful god had sucked it dry. I reminded myself there were no gods here in Laurea, vengeful or otherwise.


A Kindle edition will be forthcoming, after I get back from Radcon, where I am Writer GoH. (I am informed that you can download the .mobi format on your Kindle reader, but don't know how to do that myself. Maybe that makes sense to you?)
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My Tuesday blog on Book View Cafe is on my adventures in writing Northlight. This was my second published novel, which began with my first published short story and underwent amazing changes, as did my life. The knife-fighting stuff came from my years of kung fu and the horse stuff from my years as a horse-crazy teen. But the book really owes its final form to the time I lived in France.

Huh? How does that work? Check out my blog and see...

Northlight will be released from BVC next Tuesday as a multi-format ebook. Look for the announcement.
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In noodling around some old files, I found this essay on my struggles in revising my second sf novel, NORTHLIGHT. I don't remember why I wrote it, but I found it worth re-reading.


After I sent JAYDIUM, my first published novel, to market, I began work right away on my next project. Or rather, I took a look at all the ideas and characters which were screaming inside my skull to be made into stories and tried to decide which one would cause me the most anguish if I didn't work on it first. High on my list was to rewrite the last novel I'd written before JAYDIUM. It had received careful attention, not to mention three single-spaced pages of critical feedback, from the editor who would later buy JAYDIUM. (I didn't know that yet; NORTHLIGHT was almost finished when I sold JAYDIUM.)

I felt that if an editor had taken that much time and trouble with the book, there was something of value, something that perhaps I was now a good enough writer to bring out fully.
The book's working title was WEIREMASTER and it was based on the world of my very first short story, "Imperatrix", which appeared in the very first SWORD AND SORCERESS anthology. Weires are bipedal, seven-feet tall, fanged, silver-furred, immensely powerful and receptively telepathic. In the world of "Imperatrix," they obey people of imperial blood. For the purposes of that short story, no further explanation was needed.

Now, years later, my world-building had matured. I wanted to know how these creatures had come into a human world, how the control worked, and how the dynastic characteristic had been established. I concocted an adventure which would lead my hero into the world of the Weires and back home again, changed. He would carry me -- and the reader -- along with him, a classical hero-quest.

I began the story as Terricel, a young scholar, received word that the democratically elected ruler had been killed -- shades, no doubt, of my own memories of the Kennedy assassination. "Imperatrix" had portrayed a worthy monarchy, with heavy overtones of The Divine Right of Kings. Now I had shifted in my world view to a populist leader. After all kinds of political turmoil, a second main character appeared -- Kardith, a Border ranger, looking for help in searching for her missing partner, Terricel's sister, and so the action began.

When I sat down to actually write the new version, I realized that the assassination had to happen on the page or not at all. It was simply too pivotal an event to tell second-hand. And twist them as I might, I couldn't seem to make the politics of the city anything but deadly boring. I wrote and rewrote the first 150 pages four or five times, until I was heartily sick of them. The shift toward democracy had been right in tone but wrong in emphasis. This wasn't in essence a political story.

Then I asked myself, When does the story really get interesting? I realized that everything up to the entrance of Kardith was preparatory. She came barging into the city -- and Terricel's home -- and set off the entire chain of events that made up the backbone of the story. Okay, I said to myself, let's chuck the preliminaries and get right to the good stuff. But what about the assassination, which plays a pivotal role in shaping future events? I moved the assassination in time to shortly after Kardith arrived in the city. And as I wrote about these events, something strange and wonderful happened.

Kardith herself started talking to me.

I'd known she was interesting -- brazen, obstinate, darkly humorous, an accomplished knife fighter. But as her voice came clearer, I realized that she was telling me a much more powerful and moving story than I had before envisioned. Her courage and the abiding pain of her past ran like a counterpoint through the action.

You can't turn a story over to someone like Kardith and expect it to come out unchanged. By the time Kardith was done with it, there were no more imperials and no more Weires. There was, instead, a far different world to be explored, and very human lessons to be learned.

One of the interesting questions that comes up is how much of the author is in the character. This was particularly relevant since Kardith is a knife fighter, and I used armed techniques from my style of kung fu in describing her fighting style. I'd never written a character who was so vivid and yet so different from me. But I never felt that Kardith was me; rather, she was someone I had something in common with. I think a writer needs the sensitivity and imagination to have empathy for the character she creates; there must be some bridge, some understanding, but the character must not be limited to her own experience and taste. It was only logical that a character as colorful and determined as Kardith would shape the story in a new direction.

But the direction was not hers alone. She'd brought along Terricel, even given him a new name, Terris. In the original version, Terricel was a cipher, a place holder whose function was to take the reader along on the adventure. After Kardith was through telling her tale, I was left with a wimpy Terricel-sized hole in the story.

Terris turned out to be a more complex character than I'd thought, just as full of surprises as Kardith had been, and more difficult to get a hold on. For one thing, Kardith's focus was intensely personal and emotional, whereas Terris had the ability to see a larger picture, to dream larger dreams. His gifts were of empathy and imagination. He took Kardith -- and me -- clear across the wilderness to places and times I hadn't imagined existed.

If Kardith was the story's heart, Terris now became its soul. With the two of them as anchors, I could now explore the political aspect of the story without turning it into a recitation of dreary details. The book acquired a new title, NORTHLIGHT, which then became a metaphor for transformation. But the center of the story remained with these two characters, their dreams and passions, the web of their lives. In order to find that center, I had to be willing to let go of my preconceptions of what the story "was supposed to be" in order to discover what it could become.

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Deborah J. Ross

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