“Curelom Riders” e-book available

Curelom Riders Cover copyThe 2014 Mormon Lit Blitz is over and the winners have been announced. Congratulations to Laura, Jonathon, Scott, and Stephen. I quite enjoyed the winner, “Slippery.”

Next, “Curelom Riders” will be included with the other semi-finalists and up in an e-book anthology. I will announce when that becomes available. In the meantime, I am making “Curelom Riders” available as a free e-book. It is already up at KoboSmashwords and Amazon. (Though the latter does not allow me to make it directly free. That will happen through price matching sometime in the next couple months.)

The reason I am making it free is two-fold. First, it is already available for free in its entirety, so why try and charge for it? Second, it is too short to justify asking anyone to pay for it (even with the commentary added). So, rather than let it sit on my seldom visited website, I’m experimenting to see if this added exposure at e-retailers will increase sales of “Infant Insomnia.”

“Sarimanok Feather” v 3 is Complete!

Sarimanok Feather bannerThis story is almost as good as I can currently make it. Even though I retyped every single word, huge portions of the text remained the same. I’m glad that made things fast, though I do worry that it’s not professional level quality yet. Only one way to find out – and that’s to send it out to fly.

I do need to do a polishing draft, check for typos, and all that first. Big thanks to all my beta readers for their reactions and suggestions. I’m glad you enjoyed the Pacific Islander steampunk world, with a liberal dose of religious based magic thrown in. It’s been fun to create.

  • Started: June 17, 2014
  • Finished: June 20, 2014
  • 3,241 words
  • 105% the size of v 2
  • 25 total beta readers

“Curelom Riders” Author Commentary

Curelom Riders Cover copyRead “Curelom Riders” for free at Mormon Artist or my website.

I initially didn’t think I had a story for the 2014 Mormon Lit Blitz when I heard the call for submissions. But when I read William Morris’s steps of How to beat me in the Mormon Lit Blitz, my subconscious started needling me. “It doesn’t have to take a long time to write,” it said. “And fantasy can work. Look at his prompt- Parley P. Pratt: Vampire Hunter”

“But I don’t like vampires,” I said.

“Hey, if Naomi Novik could have Napoleon ride a dragon, then you could have Brigham Young, or people in the Book of Mormon do so, too.”

“Hmm… you know, we don’t know what cureloms are anyway. Why not describe them as dragons?”

And so I looked through the book of Ether for a story to tell, and decided chapter 7 verse 18 would work very nicely.

18 And it came to pass as he was about to put him to death, the sons of Shule crept into the house of Noah by night and slew him, and broke down the door of the prison and brought out their father, and placed him upon his throne in his own kingdom.

It was short – and so would fit in under 1,000 words. Also, it had plenty of action that the dragons/cureloms could help out in, and that’s one of my strengths as a writer.

From there, writing went pretty smoothly. A lot of the flavor came from the fact that I was playing Fire Emblem: Awakening at the time. The main change I made in revision was with Omer’s character. I knew from the beginning that he would feel overshadowed by his father’s accomplishments, but it wasn’t until the ending that it came out that he was afraid to rule himself. So I had to put that in the beginning to give him a nice character arc.

If you find the reference to hours jarring, here is my reasoning for including it. Not only is dividing the day up, and marking via sundials and other methods an ancient (4000 BC) concept, but the book of Ether itself refers to the fact that the brother of Jared was chastened by the Lord “for the space of three hours.” (Ether 2:14) Plus, trying to describe how long the flight from Moron was by mentioning the beginning and ending positions of the sun was way too convoluted.

This story was one of 12 finalists in the contest. Much thanks to fellow finalist Emily Debenham for beta-reading this story. I dedicate it to my father, who was the one to introduce me to dragon riders.

“Curelom Riders” and the 2014 Mormon Lit Blitz

Curelom Riders Cover copyLast month, I saw the call for submissions to the 2014 Mormon Lit Blitz – a contest for flash-fiction, poetry, and other short-short works that resonate with an LDS audience. At first, I didn’t think I could come up with a story. When fantasy and LDS fiction mix, its usually urban or portal fantasy, which doesn’t appeal to me as a writer. But as I kept seeing people promoting the contest, I realized that if Napoleon could ride a dragon in the Temeraire books, then so could Brigham Young, or people in the Book of Mormon. And since we don’t know what cureloms are anyway, why not describe them as dragons?

So I entered, and “Curelom Riders” is a finalist! I am so thrilled! This means it will be published at Mormon Artist on June 19. After all 12 finalists have been published, the winner of the contest will be determined by vote. Please only vote for “Curelom Riders” if you honestly think it deserves the place.

On June 19, I will also post a brief author’s commentary on “Curelom Riders.” After the contest is over, I will also publish the story on this site, as well as a free e-book on Nook, iBooks, and eventually Kindle (among other places). The cover will be the above image. While it is plain, I think it will work. I look forward to sharing this fun story with you!

Drift by M. K. Hutchins

20809874Title: Drift
Author: M. K. Hutchins

Tenjat lives on the shores of Hell, an ocean filled with ravenous naga monsters. His island, a massive Turtle, is slowed by the people living on its back. Tenjat is poor as poor gets: poor enough, even, to condescend to the shame of marriage, so his children can help support him one day.

But Tenjat has a plan to avoid this fate. He will join the Handlers, those who defend and rule the island. Handlers never marry, and they can even provide for an additional family member. Against his sister’s wishes, Tenjat joins the Handlers. And just in time: the Handlers are ramping up for a dangerous battle against the naga monsters, and they need every fighter they can get.

As the naga battle approaches, Tenjat’s training intensifies, but a long-hidden family secret—not to mention his own growing feelings for Avi—put his plans in jeopardy, and might threaten the very survival of his island.

Read sample chapters online.

Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other bookstores.

***

I “met” M. K. Hutchins in 2010 when my friend started a writing group that met via Skype. I loved her imaginative stories, and she really had a keen insight on what made stories work. I credit her for giving me the suggestions for making “Infant Insomnia” salable. I beta-read Drift, and I quite enjoyed the original world and interesting magic system. It’s worth checking out!

Sarimanok Feather v 2 is Complete!

Sarimanok Feather bannerTo all of you who can follow Heinlein’s rules of writing, specifically rule 3: “You Must Refrain From Rewriting, Except to Editorial Order” – I hate you. In college, I discovered that it takes me at least 3 drafts just to figure out what the heck I’m trying to say. Sure, I could get in the top 10% easy enough, but to get published, I need to be in the top 1%, and I can only get there by putting in the time to figure out how to make my writing sparkle.

Well, now that I’ve written 3 drafts of Sarimanok Feather, I think I’ve figured out what I’ve been trying to do with this story. I still don’t think it has that full sparkle to put it in the top 1% though, so I plan on doing at least one more draft. And then, we’ll see where it ends up.

  • Started: May 12, 2014
  • Finished: May 16, 2014
  • 3,078 words
  • 100% the size of v 1
  • 1 large scene cut from v 1
  • 2 short scenes added

Settling with Sea Serpents v 1 is Complete!

Settling with Sea Serpents Banner copyWhen I finished v 1 of The Gods’ Blessings in late 2012, I started writing v 0 of “Settling with Sea Serpents”, as a prequel short story. I made it to the climax, and then floundered. The main character’s actions suddenly seemed unlikable, and I felt that going over events that were already mentioned in The Gods’ Blessings just sucked all the tension out. Plus, the idea for Lightning Born struck me and started demanding that I write it. So I decided to abandon the prequel for the new novel.

Then as I started the rewrite for The Gods’ Blessings a couple months ago, it suddenly hit me how I could fix the climax in “Settling with Sea Serpents.” So I took a break to write it. I’m overall pleased with it, though I can already tell it has some rough edges to smooth out. Still, the fact that it is an official novelette gives me hope that it could do well in Writers of the Future. Now to see what the writing group thinks.

  • Started April 15, 2014
  • Finished May 5, 2014
  • 9,337 words long
  • 21 pages
  • 143% the size of v 0 (which was unfinished)

Diversifying My Bookshelf

As part of #WeNeedDiverseBooks, there is a call to diversify our own bookshelves. And so, I am putting my money where my mouth is and looking for good books where I might not normally look. And really, any excuse to buy books is a good one. 🙂

For me: The Killing Moon by N. K. Jemisin

The Killing MoonDescription: In the ancient city-state of Gujaareh, peace is the only law. Upon its rooftops and amongst the shadows of its cobbled streets wait the Gatherers – the keepers of this peace. Priests of the dream-goddess, their duty is to harvest the magic of the sleeping mind and use it to heal, soothe . . . and kill those judged corrupt.

But when a conspiracy blooms within Gujaareh’s great temple, Ehiru – the most famous of the city’s Gatherers – must question everything he knows. Someone, or something, is murdering dreamers in the goddess’ name, stalking its prey both in Gujaareh’s alleys and the realm of dreams. Ehiru must now protect the woman he was sent to kill – or watch the city be devoured by war and forbidden magic.

Why: This book is a nebula-nominee. I am also interested in seeing how someone infinitely more aware of race relations than I am handles them in fiction. I’ve also been following Jemisin on Twitter for awhile. I don’t agree with a lot of what she says, but I do appreciate her insights.

For 6-year-old girl: Sixteen Years in Sixteen Seconds: The Sammy Lee Story by Paula Yoo

Sixteen Years in Sixteen SecondsDescription: On a summer day in 1932, twelve-year-old Sammy Lee watched enviously as divers catapulted into the public swimming pool. Sammy desperately wanted to try diving himself, but the Korean American boy — like any person of color — was only allowed to use the pool one day a week.

This discrimination did not weaken Sammy’s newfound passion for diving, and soon he began a struggle between his dream of becoming an Olympic champion and his father’s wish for him to become a doctor. Over sixteen years Sammy faced numerous challenges, but he overcame them all and fulfilled both his dream and his father’s. In 1948 Dr. Sammy Lee dove into Olympic history. A matter of seconds after his final platform dive, the scores appeared and Sammy Lee became the first Asian American to win an Olympic gold medal.

Sammy Lee’s story of determination and triumph sets an extraordinary example for anyone striving to fulfill a dream. Winner of Lee & Low’s New Voices Award, Sixteen Years in Sixteen Seconds will inspire all who read it.

Why: My daughter recently said that her favorite sport is swimming. So I thought this might be a book that she would enjoy. We also have many Asians living on our street, and I want her to be able to see these friends as protagonists too.

For 4-year-old boy: How Far Do You Love Me? by Lulu Delacre

How Far Do You Love MeDescription: Based on a bedtime game author/illustrator Lulu Delacre played with her young daughters, How Far Do You Love Me? is an “I love you” book with a twist. With every expression of love, readers visit one of thirteen different locations around the world, each a beautifully illustrated scene of adults and children in a place of natural beauty.

Why: We already have several “I love you” books. I love that this one focuses on the wonders of our natural earth.

For 6-month-old boy: My Colors, My World/Mis colores, mi mundo by Maya Christina Gonzalez

My Colors My WorldDescription: The world is filled with bold, beautiful colors, if only you know where to find them. Little Maya finds purple and yellow in the flowers in her garden, red in her swing set, and black in her Papa’s shiny hair. Mud is squishy, cool, and brown. Orange marigolds glow like the sun. Look around you. Where are the colors in your world?

My Colors, My World/Mis colores, mi mundo is Maya Christina Gonzalez’s wonder-filled exploration of the colors and textures that make up the everyday environment of a small child. This new board book format of the award-winning story is perfect for tiny hands and was developed with the help of early childhood educators. The simple, streamlined text introduces rich vocabulary words alongside vibrant acrylic illustrations. Little Maya will draw the littlest readers in to her world, and will encourage them to make connections between the colors on the page and the world around them.

Why: My husband lived for two years in Chile, and he’s always been interested in teaching our kids Spanish. We could certainly use more bilingual books in our house to help with that.

My Choices For My Characters

The Gods' Blessings copyThe book world is currently having a lot of discussion about diversity in literature, specifically how little of it there is. You would think that because The Gods’ Blessings, “Sarimanok Feather”, and “Settling with Sea Serpents” have exactly 0 white characters, that this is a topic I care about. And you would be right, but probably not about why.

I started The Gods’ Blessings almost two years ago. The culture of Anku, the main character, was based on Pacific Islanders from the beginning. Not because I wanted to be politically correct. Not because I wanted to do my part to increase diversity. I just was tired of Medieval Europe in fantasy, and I thought it would be cool to have a fantasy based on the Asian Pacific.

Yes, the story deals with racism. I did not do this to make it an Issue book. It was because I had two nations (one brown skinned, and one gold skinned) in undeclared war and Anku spends a lot of time sailing through enemy territory. Not including racism would not be accurate.

So when I finished my first draft, I started to research racism. I used to think that we lived in a post-racial world. It was heart-rending to read about preschoolers being called the n-word, about people who were born in America being told to go home to Mexico, about children who thought the dolls they had that matched their own skin weren’t as important as the dolls that were white. And I also read the joy others felt when they finally found a hero in books that looked like them.

It is to increase that joy that I am working to have diversity in my stories. I know I am going to get it wrong. But I am going to learn and do my best. Anything less is a disservice to my friends and neighbors.

April 2014 Writing Status

Settling with Sea Serpents Banner copyWhat I Did in the Last Month

  • Wrote 2,665 words in Treasure of the Gods (renamed to The Gods’ Blessings).
  • Designed the privateer ship Defiance for The Gods’ Blessings.

Defiance plans 001

  • Wrote 5,577 words in new short story “Settling with Sea Serpents.”
  • cover copy copyFinished compiling recipes for The Best of The Rice of Life.
  • Wrote introduction, and About the Author page for The Best of the Rice of Life.
  • Created a cover for The Best of the Rice of Life.
  • Perfected 5 recipes for The Best of the Rice of Life.

Plans for the Next Month

  • Finish “Settling with Sea Serpents” and send it to beta readers.
  • Perfect remaining 8 recipes for The Best of the Rice of Life and copyedit.
  • Rewrite “Sarimanok Feather.”
  • Continue writing The Gods’ Blessings.