Monthly Archives: October 2011

“How’s that working out for you?” Tag Line Tuesday with Shéa MacLeod

Welcome back to Tag Line Tuesday, a chance to meet and greet some new authors. It is “long-form” interview style, as I do tend toward verbosity.  Call it a pitfall of writing in the “epic” genre. 😉

This week’s guest is the crimson-headed Queen of Fire & Darkness, who makes everyone she knows call her that, all the time. Not really, but it does have a ring to it, right?

Ed: ‘Ello, your Majesty. As writers are creative types, please answer the following twice, once truthfully and once creatively. Name?

SM: Shéa MacLeod. Petunia Butterfinger

Ed: Where you from, Petunia?

SM: The Planet Xircon 5. Portland, Oregon, USA.

Ed: Day job?

SM: Writer, Dragon Wrangler.

Ed: How ‘bout a Dream job?

SM: Writer, Zombie Hunter.

Ed: Well if the same answer appears on Day Job and Dream Job, things ain’t all bad. 😉 So why do you write?

SM: The voices tell me to. I can’t NOT write.

Ed: Somehow I feel like those both were true. And now, since what people read can say a lot about them (or maybe even make them what they are), let’s talk about OPB (Other People’s Books). Feel free to go back to full honesty.

SM: Phew!  Thanks.

Ed: What’s the biggest consideration when you are deciding on a book to read?

SM: Definitely my mood.  I’ll buy a book based on the blurb or an interaction with the author or even a recommendation from a friend, but I read based on the whims of my inner voices.

Ed: When looking at a blurb, what sort of thing makes you say “yes?”  What sort of things makes you say “pass?”

SM: If it makes me laugh, it’s a “yes.”  If it gets my imagination fired up, it’s a “yes.”  If it’s preachy, gory, or flowery, it’s a “no.”

Ed: What genre do you enjoy most?

SM: It’s a toss-up between urban fantasy and anything post-apocalyptic.  Though I do love some paranormal romance, steampunk, or a good murder mystery.  Thrillers, too.

Ed: What genre would you read only if you lost a bet?

SM: Probably “inspirational.” I used to read it all the time, but I just find it all a little “preachy” now.

Ed: Do you have a favorite author, and do you think they influence your own writing?

SM: Agatha Christie.  And yes, definitely.  Agatha Christie was something of a pioneer. When she first began writing, there was a certain style of fiction that was acceptable.  This usually involved lots of flowery language and fancy words. Christie wrote more along the lines of how people actually spoke.  Simple language.  Not a lot of description.  Simple.  Effective.

Having spent most of my childhood reading Christie, this definitely rubbed off.  I write as people speak.  I rarely use snazzy words, and I don’t like getting to bogged down in description.  I want the reader to have his/her own image of how things look without me getting in the way.  Flowery words are nice, but I’m trying to tell a story, not win an award.  Simple.

Ed: 🙂 My Mom had a full set of Christie’s books in paperback when I was a kid, some of the first things I remember reading. Out of curiosity, what’s the first book you remember buying with your own money?

SM: Oh, boy, I don’t actually remember.  Probably back to that inspirational thing.  We were only allowed to shop at the Christian bookstore or in the Christian fiction section of Powell’s (in Portland).  I know I bought several of these books when I was in my teens.  The book that sticks out for me, though, was one I bought on poisons.  It was research, you know. 😉

Ed: Um, I’ll just leave that cheese dip on the table alone the rest of the way. How about a favorite book? Do you have one, and how many times have you read it?

SM: It’s rare that I re-read a book, though I consider Stephen King’s The Stand to be my favorite.  I’ve read it probably three times.

Ed: Any books you have been told you should read, and know you probably never will?

SM: Lots! I was told I absolutely must read Brick Lane.  In my opinion it was the biggest waste of time ever.  I ended up skimming it (as it was for a book club), but I was so bored I wanted to poke my eye out with a spork.  Pretty much any “award-winning fiction” is suspect in my book.  About the only “must read” book I ever sat down and read and actually enjoyed with Justin Cronin’s The Passage.

Ed: Apart from skimming, have you ever out-and-out lied about reading, or not reading, a book?

SM: Don’t think so.  I’m pretty honest about saying I think a book is crap and that I couldn’t (or wouldn’t) finish it.

Ed: Ever read a book you were sure you were going to like, and not liked it?

SM: Many times.

Ed: Ever grudgingly read a book, and loved it?

SM: The aforementioned The Passage.  There was so much hype about it I was convinced it was going to be like all the other over-hyped garbage out there.  A friend practically begged me to read it.  I got it from the library and couldn’t put it down, so I bought my own copy. It’s one I plan on re-reading.

Ed: What’s your favorite line from a book? (not your own)

SM: “Call me Ishmael.”  It’s the only line I can remember. Lol  Also it’s about the dopiest line ever.  What do you mean “Call me Ishmael?”  Isn’t that your name?  Do you think I’m going to call you Bob?

Ed: While we are talking about favorites…Quick!  Favorite:

Band – Loreena McKennitt (not really a band, but what the heck)

Food – Uhhh … chocolate?

Game (any kind) – Civilization

Album – Wednesday Morning 3am by Simon and Garfunkle (I know, it’s weird, but my dad had it when I was a kid and I’d listen to it over and over and over.  I think I wore out the vinyl.)

Word – Supercalifragilisticexpealidocious.  What? That’s a word. FINE! Antidisestablishmentarianism.

Color – Purple

Animal – White Siberian Tiger

Piece of clothing – Pajamas

Movie – Pitch Black

TV show – Currently Terra Nova.  Of all time it’s a toss-up between Firefly and Farscape.  Oh, and SG1.

Drink – Alcoholically speaking, a caipirinha.  Non-alcoholically speaking, apricot nectar.

Song – I don’t really have just one, but “I Am What I Am” by Gloria Gaynor is way up there. Mostly for the message.

Line from a song – “I am what I am and what I am needs no excuses.”

Pizza topping – Mushrooms.  Lots of mushrooms.  And extra cheese.

Crime – Um?  What?  My favorite crime?  Murder, I guess. 😉

Place – Hawaii.

Quote – “Take the first step in faith.  You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”
– Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr

Ed: Three random things about yourself, please.

SM: I trained as a massage therapist and was licensed in Oregon for 4 years before moving to the

I’m violently allergic to lilies, but adore irises.

I can milk a goat.

Ed: A better question than “can you milk a goat?” might be “should you milk a goat?” But I digress. Let’s talk the talk of the scribblers for a bit.  In your own writing, are you more Plotter or Pantser?

SM: Combo platter.  I’ve figured out the best way for me to write is to have a general outline with a few specific scenes.  The rest, I wing it.  It keeps me focused while allowing the muses free reign to go nuts.  And they generally do.

Ed: Worst advice you ever got as a writer?

SM: “Write what you know.”  If writers did that, we’d never have Jules Verne’s marvelous Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea or Tolkien’s epic fantasy or anything Stephen King.

Ed: Best/Worst thing about being a writer?

SM: The best thing about being a writer is creating these wonderful worlds and sharing them with my readers.  There is no worst thing.

Ed: Why Indie?

SM: Why not? The traditional world said no.  What did I have to lose?  Nothing.  In fact, I’m proving all
those agents who turned me down don’t know what they’re doing, because my books ARE selling.  People DO like them.  And now I’ve gone indie, I love the absolute freedom of creating what I want, how I want.

Ed: Is being a writer what you expected? How so, or how not?

SM: It’s better.  To be honest, I was always a little afraid I couldn’t do it.  That I wouldn’t be good enough to sell.  Or I wouldn’t have the self-discipline to do this full-time.  Or that I could write one book, but not a second. With my third book out now, I’ve proven to myself that I can do this.  I do have the self-discipline.  Even more, there’s nothing else I want to do.

Ed: Have you, or would you ever, collaborate on a story?

SM: Absolutely.  I’ve got a couple projects in the works that are collaborations with other authors.  They’re just in the baby stages, though, so I’ll spill the beans another time.

Ed: If you were starting to write for the first time, what would you do different?

SM: Nothing. I’d like to say I’d do this or that differently, but the truth is, I wasn’t ready until now.  My writing
wasn’t ready until now.  My self-confidence wasn’t ready until now.  This is the perfect time for me and all the steps I’ve taken, good or bad, brought me here, now.  And here and now is a very good place to be.

Ed: What is the most important thing you have learned about writing?

SM: To keep doing it.  Just write that next book.  And the next.  Don’t faff about waiting to get something “perfect”.  It will never be perfect, but it can be a wonderful story, well-edited, and enjoyable.

Ed: What’s the moral of the story?

SM: Write what you love.

Ed: Next up, let’s pontificate a bit more directly about your own books. How, and when, do you tend to come up with titles?

SM: When depends on the book.  Sometimes I get the title first, sometimes I get it at the end. Sometimes it changes on me.  How?  You’ll have to take that up with the voices.  I have no idea.

Ed: How about your characters, how do they get their names?

SM: Sometimes it’s easy.  They just come to me (the voices again).  Other times it takes awhile.  If I’m having trouble I’ll hunt through some of the name etymology websites to find one with a meaning I like.

Ed: If you could live in the world / with the people of one of your stories, which one would it be and why?

SM: One of my WIPs which is a blend of urban fantasy, paranormal romance, sci-fi, post-apocalypse and steampunk.  Mostly because it’s a wickedly cool place filled with magic and mayhem and ALIENS!

Ed: What do you think your books say about you?

SM: That I quite possibly need to be locked away in a padded room.

Ed: Is there anything you have written which you would now like to change or revise, wish you had written differently, etc.?

SM: Nothing that’s published, no.  It’s as I want it to be.  There are things I’ve written which will never see the light of day, though!

Ed: Tell me about…your favorite character.

SM: Hands down, it’s Morgan Bailey (from the Sunwalker Series, see below).  She’s incredibly tough and kick-ass, but she had to go through hell to get there, and even though she’s got these superpowers, she’s still incredibly humble and human. She’s very flawed, just like we all are.

Ed: What would Morgan say about herself?

MB: Excuse me? You think I got time to sit here yammering about myself?  I’ve got demons to slay, vampires to dust, and … stuff … to do.  Yeah, I got stuff.

Ed: Anything to say about Shéa, Morgan?

MB: <rolls eyes>  She totally wants to be me.

Ed: Shéa again, what’s your favorite line you have written?

SM: “So you moved to Portland.  How’s that working out for you?” (In reference to Jack needing sun to survive yet moving to one of the non-sunniest parts of the US.)

Ed: Quipperific. 😉 And now, some HYPOTHETICALS

Ed: Your computer is smoking, wheezing, and sparks are shooting out of the back. You can save one thing off the hard drive.  What is it?

SM: Ha!  I back up EVERYTHING (especially my writing) on multiple memory sticks.  But hypothetically, my current WIP.

Ed: You have one perfect day of free time, no obligations, needs, or responsibilities.
What do you do?

SM: Nothing.  LOL.  I might write a little, read a little, watch telly a little, but mostly, nothing.

Ed: Someone “in the business” suggests you change something you feel is a critical part of one of your books, and guarantees it will increase sales.  What do you do?

SM: I will seriously think about it, but most likely I will go with my gut.  Which means, stick with what I’ve got.  It’s been proven that those “in the business” rarely know what sells and there’s no such thing as a guarantee.

Ed: You are offered just enough money to live comfortably for the rest of your life, if you will just stop writing.  What do you do?

SM: Tell whoever it is to eff off.  There’s no point in making a comfortable living if I can’t write.

Ed: What question do you wish I had asked?

SM: You never asked about DRAGONS!!!!  And you know how I feel about that …

Everything’s better with dragons!


And now, Shéa’s books.  The links will let you find the bona fides for each, for my purposes here, I just asked for a FIVE WORD SYNOPSIS (because authors absolutely hate doing that, and I’m a bit of a jerk) 😉

Shéa’s book page (on her blog):

Dragon Warrior

“Post-apocalyptic romance, with Dragons!”



Amazon DE

Amazon France


Kissed by Darkness – Book One of the Sunwalker Saga

“You’re dripping blood on my carpet.”

SM: Okay, so that’s six.  Sue me.

Ed: Sorry, but I have to crop it to
five, so your blurb is now “You’re dripping blood on my…”


Amazon UK

Amazon DE

Amazon France


Barnes & Noble

Kissed by Fire – Book Two of the Sunwalker Saga

“Fire burns.  So do Dragons.”


Amazon USA

Amazon UK

Amazon Germany

Amazon France

Barnes & Noble


Posted by on October 24, 2011 in Paranormal, Shea MacLeod, Tag Line Tuesday, Writing


Writer Wednesday: Farscape, Polynesian History, and Tillamook Cheese

Writer Wednesday: Farscape, Polynesian History, and Tillamook Cheese.

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Posted by on October 19, 2011 in The Norothian Cycle, Writing


“Too cold to snow.” Tag Line Tuesday with Heather Marie Adkins

At long last, I am committing to an actual, regular feature here at thesablecity: Tag Line Tuesday’s.

What’s that, you ask? Well, from here on out I’m going to use Tuesdays to introduce some of my fellow Indie authors, people I’ve met over the last…has it been eight months?  Yikes.  Eight months or so, whose work makes me ever so happy to count myself as an Indie, and a writer.

Since there is more to a lot of us than just the writing (in theory), I’m going for more of a general intro, followed by the requisite book/writer talk which we all love so well. 😉  And as I’m um, verbose, I prefer what used to be called the “long-form” interview.

The “Tag Line” part of the title refers to me using a line of theirs as a title for each interview. Thus and ergo, from “Cause and Effect” by Heather Marie Adkins:  “You know it’s a bad one when it’s too cold to snow.”

And now to introduce our first victim…a practicing witch obsessed with Ireland, whose left pinkie doesn’t bend as it was smashed in karate.  Seriously. 

Ed:  Hiya, Haytch. (waves)  As I hear writers are creative types, please answer each of the following questions twice, once with the truth and once with a lie. Name?

HMA:  Priestess Willow Moonbeam Hecate.  Heather Adkins.

Ed:  Where you from, Princess Hecate?

HMA:  Northern Kentucky. The far side of the planet Quiggle in the galaxy of Nirshod

Ed: You have one of those dreaded “Day jobs?”

HMA:  Police Dispatcher, and meal taste-tester for the Queen of England

Ed:  How about a dream job?

HMA:  Sea World Dolphin–will work for fish.  Career Author.

Ed:  So, why do you write?

HMA:  So I can sleep.  Because it keeps the apocalypse at bay.

Ed:  Hmm.  In either case, please keep writing. 🙂  And now, feel free to return to complete honesty for the Lightning Round.

Quick!  Favorite…

Band: Gaelic Storm

Food: Mashed Potatoes and Gravy

Game (any kind): Zoo Tycoon

Album: Nickelback’s Dark Horse

Word: effervescent

Color: Green

Animal: Dolphin

Piece of clothing: an old, gray hooded-sweatshirt

Movie: The Boondock Saints

TV show: Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Drink: White Russian

Song: “Lover’s Wreck” by Gaelic Storm

Line from a song: Can I just say every line from every Gaelic Storm song?  No?  “Sometimes I take the long way home I walk down to the sea / I look out across the water and remember how it used to be”

Pizza topping: Pepperoni

Crime: Public Indecency

Place: Ireland–more specifically, Blarney.

Quote: “When a man stops believing in God, he doesn’t believe in nothing, he believes in anything.” Credited to GK Chesterton but no one can prove it was him.  Coulda been an alien.

Ed:  And now for the book chat portion of the show, let’s start with books you didn’t write.  What would you say is the biggest consideration for you when deciding what book to read?

HMA:  First would be author.  When I find someone I
love, I am one of those loyal, rabid fans that will follow that author’s career and gush about everything they ever write.  Secondly, I have to be in the mood for that specific genre–if I’m depressed, I’ll likely pick up a romantic comedy.

Ed:  What genre do you enjoy most?

HMA:  Travel writing, particularly that of the comedic style.

Ed:  What genre would you read only if you lost a bet?

HMA:  I was going to try to go for a PC answer on this one but I enjoy books in all genres–I am an equal opportunity reader. I’ll have to go with the un-PC answer–Christian Spirituality.

ED:  So let’s say you are looking at the back of a book in a bookstore, reading on online blurb, or whatever.  What sort of thing makes you say “yes,” what sort of things makes you say “pass.”

HMA:  I do NOT dig long blurbs.  Blurbs should be short, simple, and to the point.  I am also turned off by bad grammar or typos in a blurb; seems like you would come across said issues in the book as well.  A build
of tension makes me say Yes.  As for content, if there is any mention of witchcraft or mythology, I’m likely to say Yes.

Ed:  Do you have a favorite author, and do you think they influence your own writing?

HMA:  I have several favorites 🙂  The ones I believe DO influence my writing are Jennifer Crusie, Laurell K Hamilton, and Jim Butcher.

Ed:  Do you have a favorite book, and how many times have you read it?

HMA:  I have favorite books from different “eras” of my life.  My favorites of today I’ve never re-read; there just isn’t enough time when my TBR list is gigantic.  So, to go with a book that I loved and re-read many, many times, that would be The Forbidden Game Trilogy by LJ Smith (probably re-read the most out of all my books and considered my favorite book(s) of all time).

Ed:  What’s the first book you remember buying with your own money?

HMA:  I can’t remember the first book I ever bought with my own money but I’m going to place
a bet on any number of Goosebumps books (R.L. Stine).

Ed:  Any books you have been told you should read, and know you probably never will?

HMA:  The Christmas Shoes and its subsequent follow-ups. I’ve heard it’s fantastic, beautiful, must-read, blah blah blah… but not my kind of book.  My mom even gave me two of them–they’re wallowing beneath my monstrous TBR pile.  I’ll probably be eighty before I read them.

Ed:  Ever lied about reading, or not reading, a book?

HMA:  Hmm.  Probably. If I have, I can’t come up with one at the present time.  Other than maybe books we were supposed to read in high school and, um, I didn’t.  I still got A’s, so there’s that.  But really, who the f**k wants to read “Longitude” by Dava Sobel at 16??

Ed:  Ever read a book you were sure you were going to like, and not liked it?

HMA:  I’m sure I have.  But I have the memory of a dead toad.  When you usually clock around 200 books read a year, you lose track of what you did or didn’t like.  Let’s go with one book that I can remember letting me down, but it’s not fiction — Witchcraft: Theory and Practice by Ly De Angeles.  Occult nonfiction that was just not for me.  Her style of practice is nothing like mine.

Ed:  Ever grudgingly read a book, and loved it?

HMA:  Again, probably.  But toad.  Dead.  Hmm… Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert.  Everybody said “READ IT.”  I said, “Ugh is it religious?”  They said, “NO! READ IT!”  So I did.  And it is now one of my top ten favorite books of all time.

Ed:  What’s your favorite line from a book? (not your own)

HMA:  This was REALLY hard.  I checked my “liked” quotes at Goodreads and just pulled my favorite. “After all the evidence is in–after you’ve run all the facts by everything you know–and you’re still lost, you have to do some things on faith.” ― Christopher Moore, Island of the Sequined Love Nun

Ed:  And now, let’s talk about how you do things with your own writing.  First: How, and when, do you tend to come up with titles?

HMA:  The title is usually the very first thing to come to me, actually.  I get these weird flashes of insight based on stuff that happens in my life.  For example… Chatting with my mother at Panera Bread.  My grandmother’s house was being auctioned off and I was lamenting the fact that I didn’t have the money to buy it.  I grew up in that house.  I was devastated that we were losing it.  Mom started talking about how lots of people go in and buy houses like Granny’s and flip them.  Flipping houses.  “Flipping Spouses.”  Don’t bother asking me how I made the leap–no idea.  It’s my Southern Chick Lit novel that will probably be out sometime after the first of the year.

Ed: How do your characters get their names?

HMA:  I keep a list of names.  I work in dispatch for law enforcement where we handle a LOT of paperwork.  Whenever I come across a civilian’s name that I lurrrve, I write it on my list.  I pick and choose as I start new works, figuring what names work for the story.  I don’t like normal names; I like strange, fun, new names.  Some of my stuff, like Abigail’s name in “Abigail” and Vale’s name in “The Temple” just came to me.

Ed: If you could live in the world / with the people of one of your stories, which one would it be?

HMA:  A book I am currently writing, actually.  It’s the first title in my Hedgewitch mystery series, about a young practicing Witch who establishes an off-the-grid home in Maine.  She grows and sells herbs and does divinations from her kitchen table.  She is the woman I wish I could be–therefore, her world is one for which I ache.  As I write her story, I write her as the woman I want to be.

Ed:  Apart from wanting to live in Maine, what do you think your books say about you?

HMA:  That I am a strong, independent woman–feisty, hotheaded, and insecure with a desperate need to escape and be a part of the world instead of just in it.

Ed:  Is there anything you have written which you would now like to change or revise, wish you had written differently, etc.?

HMA:  Yes and I am doing changes/revisions.  The YA novel I’m currently rewriting for release under my YA pen name, Nolia McCarty, was written when I was a teenager.  I’m ripping it apart piece by piece and rewriting it.  I’m also working on massive rewrites to my short story “The House”–by the time I’m done, it will be a novella.

Ed:  Tell me about your favorite character.

HMA:  Mentioned earlier in the “which character’s world would you live in” question — Mena
McGinty.  She is thirty years old with long, curly dark hair and vivid green eyes.  She is a Hedgewitch–natural magick, natural living.  Her cottage in Maine is off-the-grid, meaning she is completely self-sustaining… no electricity or city water.  She grows herbs, which she sells as tinctures, salves, recipes, etc. as well as selling her chickens’ eggs and her cow’s milk.  She has a bad past, but she’s moving into a good future.

Ed:  What would Mena say about herself?

HMA:  My name is Mena McGinty.  I’ve been a witch all my life, raised by a Pagan mother who assed off to Ireland five years ago.  I never knew my dad and I wish I had never known my ex-husband.  If I’m not in the chicken coop, I’m probably on the bench outside my back door, drinking whiskey, coffee, or a mixture of both while my four cats lounge around me.  I love the smell of sage in the early morning.  I’m happiest with my fingers in the dirt and my eyes to the moon.  I feel like I’m filling out a relationship ad.  Is this thing on?

Ed:  What would Mena say about you?

HMA:  Don’t let her fool you; Heather is a lot more like me than she believes.

Ed:  What’s your favorite line which you have written?

HMA:  I HAVE NO IDEA.  Gods, that’s a hard question.  I don’t have favorite lines.  I have favorite scenes simply from content–I adore all of Annree’s scenes with her mother in Constant State of Disaster.  I can’t step back from my work and think, huh, what a great line… it’s impossible.

Ed:  Speaking of writing…Plotter or Pantser?  (ergo, do you plan your writing ahead of time, or just go “where the day takes you” by the seat of your pants?)

HMA:  Pantser all the way.  I usually have notes written on various receipts, notebook sheets, or typed in the memo pad on my phone but I don’t outline.

Ed:  Best/Worst advice you ever got as a writer?

HMA:  Best–Keep writing.  (Dur)  Worst–Don’t self-publish.  (hahaha, whatever)

Ed:  Best/Worst thing about being a writer?

HMA:  Best — the writing itself.  Creating characters, settings, worlds.  Worst — the insane, neurotic need for validation.

Ed:  Why Indie?

HMA:  Why not?  Full control of every aspect of the process and more money per book because you’ve cut out the middle-men.  We’ve been on the verge of a digital revolution for years; started with Mp3 music.  It’s where it’s at.

Ed:  I am legally obligated to follow “where it’s at” with “two turn-tables and a microphone.”  Ahem.  Is being a writer what you expected?

HMA:  This is an awkward question because I’ve never NOT been a writer–or at least, I don’t remember well the years before I began writing.  I’ve been writing since I was ten years old 🙂  So, to answer this question in another way…I don’t know that I even had expectations of what publishing my work would mean to me as a writer.  I worry more.  I despair more.  I’m a REAL writer now.  My progress on the books I write is directly involved in my success.  I’ve psyched myself into believing that I can make this a career and get out of my
soul-sucking day job; and that gives me more to worry about when I close out a month with 30 sales.  It will never be a career at that rate.  I’m pretty sure I didn’t expect all this to affect me so negatively.

Ed:  Have you, or would you ever, collaborate on a story?

HMA:  I would and I am 🙂  My YA persona is currently collaborating with Julia Crane.  Sometime
in the future, I’m hoping to collaborate with zombie king Jack Wallen (erm, probably not zombies though).

Ed:  If you were starting to write for the first time, what would you do different?

HMA:  I would never have stopped writing in high school and college.  I should have been writing more and more at that point, and I didn’t.  I also wish I had self-published years ago instead of now while the market is saturated.

Ed:  What is the most important thing you have learned about writing?

HMA:  That it will be the single most important cause of me going on medication.  Oh wait, that’s just publishing.  Writing itself?  I need to do it like I need to breathe.  So I’ve learned to keep writing.

Ed:  What’s the moral of the story?

HMA:  Don’t self-publish unless you have the iron will of an Irish momma and the constitution of her prodigal, drunken son.

Ed: (By the way I would be remiss if I did not point out that Heather publishes under her own imprint, as well as providing formatting services, which I can swear by.  As opposed to my own formatting abilities, which I can swear at)

Ed: And now for something completely hypothetical: Hypothetical questions.

Your computer is smoking, wheezing, and sparks are shooting out of the back.  You can save one thing off the hard drive.  What is it?

HMA:  Cue a long stream of expletives.  I don’t like this question.  It makes my heart hurt.  My writings are saved on USB, so they’re safe.  I’m saving my Pictures folder.

Ed:  You have one perfect day of free time, no obligations, needs, or responsibilities.  What do you do?

HMA:  Eat a lot, drink a lot of coffee, and lie in a hammock with a book or five.

Ed:  Someone “in the business” suggests you change something you feel is a critical part of one of your books, and guarantees it will increase sales.  What do you do?

HMA: Negative.  Someone “in the business” does not matter to me.  Now, if one of my Eclective members said it, I might actually take it into consideration.  I have more faith in the opinion of people I respect than in people who think they know everything.  Too many “in the business” people are wrong.  The only true indicator of
whether your book is going to be a success is through your readers.  If a reader were to say something to the
effect, I may even look into it at that point.

Ed:  You are offered just enough money to live comfortably for the rest of your life, if you will just stop writing.  What do you do?

HMA:  Too bad, so sad.  I’m a writer.  It’s in my blood.  That’s like asking me to stop eating, sleeping, shitting, or breathing if only I’ll sell my soul to demons.  A pleasant thank you, but no.  I’d rather be struggling and writing (gods, I’m sad).

Ed:  Right answer. 🙂  And finally, What question do you wish I had asked?

HMA:  What will you do when you become a big, famous, successful indie with beaucoup bucks and the ability to do anything? 😉


And now, Heather’s books.  You can see more about all of them at her blog, Right here, she was nice enough to write A FIVE WORD BLURB for the following (after cussing about it for a while)

“The Wild Hunt claims


Amazon UK



“Fairy ain’t so sweet


Amazon UK


Barnes and Noble

“So what NOT to do.”


Amazon UK



“Bittersweet love–lost and


Amazon UK



“Disturbing short story,
with ghosts.”


Amazon UK



Posted by on October 18, 2011 in Writing


The Norothian Ennead, basics

So this is different. Actually got a request from a reader for more info on a particular piece of the world o’ the Norothian Cycle.  I began to write back, when I remembered that as I do tend to…um…write long stuff with tangents and digressions, there was probably enough here to get together a blog post, which I really, really need to do with more regularity.  So without further ado: Just what is the basis for the divine pantheon of my books?


While a lot of the terminology in the Cycle is invented, believe it or not “Ennead” isn’t one of them.  It comes from Greek and means a collection nine things, and is typically applied to a set group of nine related Egyptian deities: Atum, Shu, Tefnut, Geb, Nut, Osiris, Isis, Horus, Set, and Nephthys.

The Norothian Ennead are the nine major deities of the part of the world in which my books take place (the continent of Noroth, and Kandala across the relatively narrow Channel to the south, plus the Miilark Islands to the west, out in the middle of the Interminable Ocean).  The Nine deities are commonly accepted as having begun to “speak” to the people of Noroth on a specific date some 14 centuries before the time of the stories, which is the beginning of the Norothian Calendar.  “The Sable City” (Book I) takes place in 1395, NC, and time marches on from there.

So, first question: Why Nine deities?

This brings me to my first tangent, which I will style, “The D&D Homage.”  Yes, to no one’s great surprise, I spent a lot of my youth at folding card tables in basements, behind a DM screen, rolling multisided dice otherwise kept in a Crown Royal bag.  I played a *lot* of Dungeons & Dragons growing up (Advanced, thank you very much), and of course it still influences me now, as I am writing fantasy after-all, albeit with muskets.  And though it may amuse no one but me, I like to slip a direct reference into the books every now and again, like having a character refer in an offhand way to “Rutterkin and Dretch,” or by calling a magic spell Know History. Of course, in doing so, I somewhat underestimated the prickly nerd-dom of my fellow RPGphiles, who will snootily mention “That is straight out of D&D!” in a review. 🙂 Nobody likes some wanker blundering into their sandbox, but I promise, I really mean all that stuff only with the fondest of intentions.

With the deities, there is also something of an homage at work, or maybe low-grade theft, from AD&D land.  For those of you who don’t know, in Dungeons and Dragons (at least when I was playing it, this may have changed in 20 years) everybody had an “Alignment” which is sort of a worldview, guiding principles, raison d’être all rolled into one, defined by a junction of two terms.  The first is, basically, how comfortable you are with rules and society: Lawful, Neutral, or Chaotic.  The second is the kind of person (or elf or monster or whatever) you are: Good, Neutral, or Evil.  And the two terms work together, giving you nine options.  Let’s put ’em in a box (though there are a couple other ways of doing this, but we won’t go down that particular tangent)

So, as you can hopefully see, going by the AD&D rules, there are nine general “Alignments” which can be used to some extent define every character, monster, kingdom, god, et al.  Everything fits on the chart somewhere and it is sort of a sliding scale in two directions: Order to Chaos side-to-side, Good to Bad from top-to-bottom.

And that is what was in my mind when I was “inventing” the Norothian Ennead, nine deities sort of typifying the nine cardinal points of Alignment, with a divine portfolio to match.

A couple quick explainers. The numbers in the corners refers to how the gods are typically referred, ergo Tartha is “The Sixth God of the Ennead,” though if a Norothian was asked why the gods have the numbers that they do, they would probably just scratch their head and say “Because they do.”  Also, the order is hinckey with that nine in the middle square, because “Chance” is not personified as are the other deities, with both “spheres of influence” and even genders (the M or F in the bottom corners).  “Chance” is just that: True Neutrality.  The odds.  A coin toss.  If you are offering a prayer to Chance, you are in an awful lot of trouble.

Also, those reading the books may have noticed that the numbers for the gods also accord with their holy month, and the “Monthdays” within each (First of First, Seventh of Seventh, etc.) are their particular holy days.  Ninth of Ninth, on the other hand, is regarded as either a really good or really bad day to take a gamble.  Extremely astute (or pathologically obsessive) readers may have noted that Tilda Lanai, in Book One, makes an awfully big decision for herself on the Ninthday or Ninthmonth, though it passes in the text without reference, as all this stuff is really just background to the stories. Believe it or not, while historical digressions do tend to abound in the books, I am making an effort to keep a lot of this plumbing in the walls.  Or at least on this website.

Now, as far as the specific characteristics of the gods, why some are worshipped more in some places than in others, why some are known by multiple names, and what exactly “Triadism” is…those Q’s will probably be blog posts in and of themselves.  As will the question of whether or not it is significant that there are nine major(ish) characters who all gather in one particular place within Vod-Adia, 495 years after the First Opening of The Sable City which disappeared from the world, wait for it, 1395 years before, after an absence of 900 years.  This was just the nutshell background, and I hope it is generally what you were looking for, C.

Thanks always for reading,



Posted by on October 7, 2011 in The Norothian Cycle