Tag Archives: YA novels

Whispers in the Code – Release Day!

Woot! After a few years of having plotted, written, and revised the Glitch saga, the first book in the series is now here! It’s currently ebook-only, though I hope to have a print edition ready later this year. Please share this post if you know someone who might enjoy reading Whispers in the Code. 🙂

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Whispers in the Code

Upper YA Science Fiction

Whispers in the Code - Now Available!

Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK) | BN.com | iTunes | Kobo | Smashwords

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SBibb - Glitch: Whispers in the Code Book Cover

 

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A haunted airship made from living people…

Nineteen-year-old hacker Tim Zaytsev is a traitor, but he never expected his betrayal would earn him the highest honor among the international community—a place among the Camaraderie’s elite council.

Ushered into a glamorous lifestyle of fancy airships and a chance to use his programming skills to better the world, Tim is assigned the task of finishing their secret Legion Spore project—a living airship made from shapeshifters.

Inside the Legion Spore, dozens of humans have been forcibly hooked to the vessel’s computer, but fragments of their memories reside in the airship’s internal code as glitches. Their faces appear in the walls, and their whispers invade the code of the Camaraderie’s base. Tim’s ability to telepathically connect with computers means that he’s the only one who can make the ship fully functional.

But programming a computer is one thing. Dealing with a haunted, living airship will not only test Tim’s wit, but his sanity. If he can’t learn to trust himself and his abilities, his mind will be trapped in the Legion Spore as just another whisper in the code.

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Get your copy of Whispers in the Code today!

Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK) | BN.com | iTunes | Kobo | Smashwords

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Alternatively, sign up for the Distant Horizon Universe newsletter to read Whispers in the Code for free!

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Enjoy! 🙂

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New Cover For Distant Horizon!

I’ve mentioned in the past status reports that Isaac and I have been planning to change the cover for Distant Horizon, and now it’s finalized. Isaac and I haven’t switched the book cover in stores yet, and I’m not sure when the paperback version is going to change, but you can expect to see the updated cover on the ebooks sometime in the next few weeks.

Without further ado…

Here it is!

Distant Horizon - New Book Cover

As much as Isaac and I love the old cover, we’re hoping the new one will attract more readers from the genre.

What do you think? 🙂

For reference, here is the old cover:

Distant Horizon - Book Cover

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Infinitas Publishing Status Report – December 2017

It’s that time again! I think November might have been the more productive month for me, but I had anticipated that this month would be a little slower with the holidays coming up. Still, some progress and future plans have been made. 🙂

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Glitch: I’ve finished preparing the book cover for the first book in the Glitch mini-series, and I hope to be sharing that soon. Also, now that Isaac’s on break from school, we should be able to find some time to do the read-aloud to check for inconsistencies, and then all that’s left is formatting and proofreading. 😀

Fractured Skies: I finished reading through the revisions from the major overhaul, and now Fractured Skies is in the process of going through beta-reader feedback. This will probably take a little while, as I want to make edits between readers, but it’s moving along, and I’m excited to see what the beta-readers think of it.

Distant Horizon: The new cover is complete! Those who are subscribers to the Infinitas Publishing newsletter have now seen it, so I’ll be revealing the new cover on this blog soon. I’m making a few tweaks to the manuscript (uploading a smaller file size, switching back matter, and changing the title font… but no changes to the story, everything’s aesthetics), so I’m going to wait to upload the new cover onto sites until everything’s done. But that’s the next step. No date set yet for changing the paperback’s cover, though I’ll likely need to switch that once Fractured Skies is ready to release (since it should have a cover from the updated version).

The Multiverse Chronicles: On hold.

Little One: I haven’t said much about this project yet, but I’m happy to say that I’ve finally done the first round of revisions to it, and it’s ready for Isaac to read. Yay! I’ve been wanting to revise this one for a while now. It’s set in 2012, several decades before the events of Distant Horizon, back in the heyday of heroes and villains. This is one of the novels where we get to see the beginnings of their world and learn more about characters who have previously only been mentioned in passing.

Book Three of The Wishing Blade Series: As of yet, still untitled. Isaac is now reading through it, so I’m starting to get his developmental feedback (and I expect that I’ll be making some major changes). Once I’ve made those edits, it’ll go out to beta-readers. It may be a while before we reach that stage, though, since Glitch is on the forefront of our projects.

Stone and String 2: I think I have a name for it! Hopefully I’ll be able to announce it soon, once I’m sure that’s the title I want. Anyway, I finished the last half of the story. It still needs revising, but the rough draft is finally complete!

SBibb’s Photographic Illustration: This month, I have mostly focused on preparing for the holidays and finalizing two covers for my own projects, so not much new here. (Though next month I’ll have to step back into gear with other covers).

Game Development: On hold while Isaac is busy with his classes. That being said, I’ve recently learned of a genre known as LitRPG/GameLit… and I’m fascinated by the game mechanics playing a noticeable role as a major part of the story. (Probably doesn’t help that some of the fourthwaller characters in a few of my stories believe they’re characters inside a game). I’m hoping to read more books in this genre as time allows.

Marketing: Isaac and I have chosen a website name for the Distant Horizon book world, and we created a mockup for the main cover image on that page. Long story short, we’re working on getting that website up, and we’ll be launching a new newsletter to go with it. Hopefully we’ll have more on that in the coming month. (In the meantime, if you want to stay up-to-date with our latest book releases and promotions, we still have our overarching Infinitas Publishing Newsletter).

Cyberpunk/Dystopian Snow White Story: I started doing a few revisions to the first couple chapters, but got side-tracked with getting stuff ready for the holidays and beta-reading. Still, this is on my to-do list.

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That’s all for now. I hope you enjoyed this post! 😀

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Don’t forget, if you want to stay up-to-date with our latest book releases and promotions, sign up for our Infinitas Publishing Newsletter!

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Thoughts on Writing – To Swear or Not To Swear

Warning: This post is meant to be an informative article about swearing in fiction. As such, I have not censored the words involved. If you do not wish to read the actual words, you may wish to skip over this particular post.

Before I finished editing Magic’s Stealing, one of the lines I was torn on changing involved whether or not to have a character swear. In all fairness, I tend to lean on the side of, ‘as few swears as possible, but do what feels right for the character and sounds better.’ However, I ran into the problem that this particular swear would be in the very first chapter, and I was worried that readers who generally avoid swearing might avoid the book if they happened to see a curse word so early.

First chapters set up a standard of what the reader should expect. If you see magic early on, you expect magic. If you see dark, creepy landscapes, you expect horror. Clones? Sci-Fi. And if you see swearing in the first few pages, you’re likely to expect swearing later.

However, in Magic’s Stealing, this is the one time throughout the entire book that we see a modern day swear. Everything else is set specifically to the world.

Here’s the passage:

Coming? The pink ribbons carried Daernan’s thoughts to Toranih’s mind, and she fought the urge to swipe them away.

Toranih knelt beside the window so that she was eye-level with the owl. He tilted his head and blinked. She snorted. “I’ve been expressly forbidden from attending the festival,” she said in the most high-and-mighty voice she could muster. “So, no. I’m not coming.”

Not that she minded missing the event. Too much magic and too many people teasing her about when she and Daernan would make their courtship a formal engagement.

She turned from the window, lit her oil lamp, and then mentally killed the crystal’s light.

The ribbons vanished.

Let me guess. Your father wasn’t happy that you challenged Lady Ikara to a duel, then respectfully threatened that she ought to let her fiancé fight for her, lest you knock her off her high horse onto her—he mentally coughed for effect—her lazy ass?

Toranih shrugged. “She insulted you. Good excuse not to go.”

Originally, the line read

Let me guess. Your father wasn’t happy that you challenged Lady Ikara to a duel, then respectfully threatened that she ought to let her fiancé fight for her, lest you knock her off her high horse onto her—he mentally coughed for effect—her lazy bum?

Given the circumstances, showing Daernan quoting Toranih exactly, and having her say a curse word (in this context), helps to clearly show the type of character she is… even if most of her other curses are either world based (“For the love of Shol,” “Cursed Trickster,” “Isahna-cursed…”) or simply said as She cursed under her breath.

In the long run, I decided to use the actual word. For one, it fits her character and the situation, and for another, it’s not that “bad” of a swear. (Keep in mind, this is YA. We can see some really strong cursing depending on the characters and genre involved). In all honesty, I don’t know if I would have thought about it twice if it hadn’t been for the fact that–before edits–the story almost felt like it could be classified as middle grade.

I tend to look at cursing as having a variety of “types.” You have what feels to me more like classic curses (whether they are or aren’t)… such as damn, hell, ass, etc… and then you have what feels more modern (even if they have been around for ages) fuck, crap, heck… and even then, the ‘strength’ of the reaction a person will give to each varies entirely upon the person. Others could care less what curse you use as long as you don’t curse in vain (This is an interesting article on the subject of cursing in vain, if you’re interested in Christian theology. It also shows how deeply ingrained religion is regarding various curses). Consider that you can get creative, too. (“Odin’s beard” for Norse mythology, anyone?… Take a look at this site (renaissance faire-themed) for a few examples of how you can string together world-based curses).

(As a side note, this post as a whole has the most curse words I’ve ever written in one place. Outside of the occasional “frack” I used when role-playing a certain character a while back (you can probably blame the original Battlestar Galactica for that one) you will rarely hear me curse. Rarely. Can’t say it doesn’t happen, because things sometimes take me by surprise, but still. This is rather interesting to write).

Curses also tend to be based on context clues and tone.

Take a look at the word “ass.” When refering to a certain barnyard creature, it’s not a curse. Call the guy sitting next to you an ass, and now you have a swear word. (According to dictionary.com, a swear word is “a word used in swearing or cursing; a profane or obscene word.” That is, something that is offensive.

The great fun of trying to decide whether to swear or not is largely based on whether or not you wish to risk offending someone, or alienating members of your audience who might find certain terminology offensive. On the other hand, you risk offending someone if you don’t include the swear where they feel one should be.

Isn’t writing wonderful?

This is why it pays to know your audience, and know what terminology they accept. If you’re writing for yourself, you can do whatever [the fuck] you want. Note that adding the swear doesn’t fit my normal writing style, and writing it felt really out of place. If we’re looking at this from a character point of view, this doesn’t fit the established rules for my “character.”

Take a look at this scene from my husband’s and my manuscript of Distant Horizon:

Behind us, Jack snorted. “Superheroes– like comic books. You’ve heard of comic books, right? Video games?”

The three of us exchanged glances. We’d played interactive educational activities on EYEnet, but those weren’t particularly humorous.

“You’ve… you’ve heard of video games, right?” Jack pushed himself from the doorway and gaped at us.

Lance shook his head ‘no.’

Jack grunted. “Pops, I’m telling you– the Community sucks.”

Tim stuffed his hands in his pockets. “The Community is safe, secure, efficient. It’s not… bad.”

Jack is anti-Community, very much a rebel, so he’s going to use curses however he [damn] pleases. Tim, on the other hand, has been raised in the Community, where cursing is seen as inefficient… though they have a few of their own choice phrases (For the love of efficiency, Jenna, hurry up and finish your homework!). When Tim tries to refute Jack, he almost quotes him, but he doesn’t, because saying a curse makes him feel awkward. (Like me and writing half the curses in this post. Though, arguably, it’s questionable whether Tim would have even heard that particular swear). Again, this reveals characterization… not that all characterization is in whether they curse or not. That’s just one tiny aspect of dialogue you can fiddle with.

Now let’s take a look at how we can approach cursing in fiction.

Say the actual word: If you’re writing an adult novel or upper YA, you’re probably safe to use the actual word given your target audience. If you’re writing middle grade, using a substitute might be better. The benefits of saying the actual word come when it isn’t avoidable (the sentence doesn’t work without it, or removing it makes a scene unnecessarily comical), or when it shows a personality trait of the character. You might not use swear words in regular prose, but you might add them to dialogue. Whether you sprinkle them in or apply a heavy dosage depends on the genre you’re writing and your target audience.

Use a substitute: Particularly useful if you’re writing middle grade (where parents tend to be a bit pickier about what their children read), or if you want to add comedy. Also useful if you want to add flavor to the world. Of course, some people prefer to see the actual word, others don’t. Just make sure that the word used fits the situation and feels natural.

However, there are downsides to using a substitute.

If you aren’t careful, you can turn a completely innocent word into a curse for your poor, unsuspecting reader.

When I was a kid, my parents had a filter on the TV. It censured and replaced certain words from the captions (I have a partial hearing loss, so I have captions on whenever possible). I didn’t really care for cursing, so I didn’t mind… with a couple exceptions. One, the filter didn’t always recognize the difference between names and swears… Principal Prickly on the TV show, Recess always had his name filtered, and while watching 8 Simple Rules, the word ‘sex’ would often be translated to ‘hugs.’ (It was a really strict filter).

The problem was that my mind automatically began to translate everything back… even when I wasn’t watching TV.

This is around the same time that a certain “Free Hugs” movement became popular.

*Ahem.* (See what my mind translated that to? Took a while for me to stop wincing every time I saw a sign for free hugs).

Let this be a warning… people will still know the original meaning.

Alternatively, you can also create a negative meaning to an otherwise innocent word. For example, if you tell kids to substitute ‘witch’ for ‘bitch,’ we now apply a derogatory meaning to the word ‘witch.’ Of course, you have the Halloween nasty, evil witch (of which this is probably meant to reference), but keep in mind that there are people who consider themselves witches in practice and don’t act in the way that the term ‘bitch’ usually implies.

That particular factor was brought up when I was reading articles regarding the Clean Reader app (Read the article here about what the Clean Reader app is, and here for the article that mentions the problem of substituting “witch” for “bitch,” if you’re interested).

Also, slight derail, words can take on negative sub-text through similar routes.

For example, take a look at the word ‘gyp’ (as in… I’ve been gypped!) It wasn’t until recently that I became aware that the term derived from the word “gypsy,” referring to a stereotype of gypsies as thieves. Now, in some areas, calling someone a gypsy is a major slur. In others, not at all. Depends on who you’re talking to and how you’re using the term. But it’s something to be aware of.

Like all curses, slurs, and swears… whether or not something is offensive depends entirely on the audience. (In fiction, you can recognize this in how characters react to each other based on what they say or don’t say).

So, you can use a substitute, but make sure it has the meaning you intend.

Reference without specifying: You can sometimes suggest that a person cursed without ever saying what was said. He turned the corridor. Three giant monsters stood in his way. He cursed. This plan was getting worse by the minute.

We’re told that the character curses, but it’s left to our imagination as to what he actually says. I tend to use this one when a world-based curse won’t work. Alternatively, how other characters react to something said in a foreign language we don’t understand can give us the impression that they cursed or said something insulting… even if we don’t know for certain. (Consider how R2-D2 and C3p0 talk in Star Wars. We don’t know what R2-D2 says, but we have a pretty good idea thanks to C3P0’s reactions.)

Eliminate: When in doubt, leave it out… or not. Sometimes a sentence really doesn’t need the cursing to flow properly, and will feel stronger without it. (Remember earlier, where I bracketed the curse words) Sometimes a slight rephrasing of the sentence can eliminate the need for a particular word. Test how the sentence sounds with and without the curse (speaking aloud can be helpful here… though you might want to be alone when you try this) to determine whether the curse adds to the story.

There are some words I tend to avoid when I write, because I personally don’t like them or want to perpetuate a stereotype. For example, I tend to avoid slut because I don’t like vilifying someone just because they sleep with multiple partners, or bastard because I don’t like vilifying people born out of wedlock.

Granted, there may be times when they story calls for these particular slurs, and to use anything else sounds ridiculous. But I typically try a bit harder to avoid those than other curses.

The point is, whether you use cursing in your writing is entirely up to you. If you get your stories published through a publishing press, they may have their own house rules about what stays or goes. But otherwise, you get to decide based on your own needs, and whether or not you think it will work for your target audience.

Like all words in a story, the swear should serve the story. If it doesn’t, cut it. (Your word count will thank you). If it does, keep it.

I hope you found this post useful. How do you handle swearing in your stories?

Further articles of interest:

https://www.goodreads.com/author_blog_posts/2636571-by-odin-s-beard-what-the-frack-is-all-this-sprock

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/10/24/cursing/

 

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Blog Hop Tour

I was recently invited to participate in a blog hop, and though I usually tend to write about book cover related topics, I thought it’d be fun to join in and talk a bit about the writing side of things. I was invited to participate in the blog hop by R.T. Driver on Absolute Write, an author who has recently published a young adult, science fiction novel: Isaac Comett: My Life as a Shard Knight.  You can find his blog here: http://rtdriver90.tumblr.com/ and his book here: Amazon

As part of the blog-hop, each person is asked a series of questions. These are the questions, and these are my answers. 🙂

Q: What am I working on?

A: I’m currently working on the Distant Horizon series and The Messenger of Gaia. Distant Horizon is in the process of being beta read before I start querying agents again, while I’m just now starting the first edit of Messenger. Distant Horizon (which includes several stories, some just plotted, some written and in need of editing) is set in a world where super heroes have been wiped out and super villains rule half the world. The main character, Jenna, learns that she has super powers and sets out to put an end to a government conspiracy that turns those with powers into sub-human monsters for a secret army.

Messenger of Gaia is about a space colonist who wakes up on the wrong moon and finds she’s being worshiped as a goddess. She convinces them she’s not the goddess, and ends up playing the part of their messenger. The story follows her charade while she searches for what happened to the colony ship she was on.

 

Q: How does my work differ from others in its genre?

A: There’s a lot of genre-bending going on. Distant Horizon takes place in the future, but it’s in a world where super heroes used to exist, super villains fly around on airships (which are decorated to look Victorian/steampunk, though more advanced), people with powers are turned into sub-human monsters, and powers range from your typical telepathy/telekinesis, to ones like fourthwalling (later in the series) and the ability to manipulate plant growth.

As for Messenger, the twist revolves around her trying to charade as someone more powerful than she thinks she is.

 

Q:Why do I write what I do?

A: Because I enjoy it. 🙂 Really, I enjoy exploring the worlds and all the nooks and crannies, and seeing how everything ties together. I write what I want to read, and I hope that someday, other readers can join in on the fun and enjoy those worlds the way I do.

 

Q:How does my writing process work?

A: Lately, my stories have been collaborations with my husband, Isaac. We create the story with table-top role-play games. He creates the world and a majority of the characters, as well as the basic plot. I then create my character, and we see what happens. Once the campaign is over, I write what happened– or a variation of it.

It started with Distant Horizon, which, about half-way through the campaign, I decided to write down so I wouldn’t forget the main character’s feelings. It evolved into a series of novels; the first one is in the process of being beta-read. The second one has been through a few rounds of edits, and the third one is a rough draft. I try to write all the books (or have a good chunk written/outlined) before publishing, that way I can iron out any plot holes and add stronger foreshadowing.

The DH series has evolved quite a bit since the original campaign– and spans outwards into what I hope to be a series of short stories/novellas.

For Messenger, we also did a role-play to get the basic story down. Once we had the plot, I started writing the story. (And taking notes, since it may be a while before I write part two). Afterwards I’ll edit and revise as needed, and then it’ll go to beta readers. And then it’ll go back to edits. Right now it’s a bit of a long, winding process.

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Next week there are two more blogs up for questioning, and I look forward to reading what they have to say. 🙂

Carissa Taylor –  who writes YA science fiction [ http://carissa-taylor.blogspot.com/ ]

 Jordan Elizabeth Mierek – who writes YA/MG fantasy [ http://kissedbyliterature.blogspot.com/ ]

 

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