OK, Not OK?

Happy Valentines Day! Who doesn’t like to celebrate the bloody death of man in third century Rome?  I, for one, am all about the guy that no one really knows why he died, or how, but heck, if he somehow wants to spawn a greeting card industry associated with romantic and courtly love then I’m all for it. I am so for it, in fact, that I have written a book for the occasion – When Stars Take Flight!

When Stars Take Flight, a retelling of Thumbelina, is part of the new Galactic Dreams collection from Blue Zephyr Press featuring fairy tales retold as science fiction adventures.  Each story is unique, but all the stories take place in the same universe.  Galactic Dreams Volume 1 also includes Soldier, Princess, Rebel Spy (inspired by Mulan) by Karen Harris Tully and Aurora One (Sleeping Beauty) by the Stiletto Gang’s own J. M. Phillippe.

Writing this book was a fascinating process involving a lot of “research” aka reading of fairy tales. And the first thing I have to say is what the hell is wrong with fairy tales? What sick twisted bastard invented these things? So much limb chopping, incest, and cannibalism.  Apparently, cannibalism was a far greater problem back in the old days than I gave it credit for. The second part of the process was the “world building”. The other authors and I had to establish, build and agree upon our science-fiction setting. Monetary systems, space travel, religions—just how do all of these things function in our universe?  As we developed rules, we created some artificial stumbling blocks for ourselves to push how we were writing. One rule was that only people directly from Earth would use the word OK. Until I couldn’t use it, I had no idea how often I used OK.  But there is no word more distinctly American than OK. Would space colonists who were originally from Iceland use the word OK five hundred years or a thousand years from now?  It seems unlikely.  But even with that in mind, I ended up having to do a find and replace in my manuscript to find all the places I typed it without even thinking about it.  I believe that the result of our hard work are a fun, romantic, adventurous stories that stays true to the fairy tale tradition (I mean the ones about torture and true love, we skipped the cannibalism), but creates something entirely new and unique. I’m excited by this collection and hope that other people (aka readers) are too.


Buy now – three sci-fairy tale novels for $4.99!

 

Welcome to the universe of Galactic Dreams, where fairy tales are reimagined for a new age—the future. In each Galactic Dreams novella you’ll find an old tale reborn with a mixture of romance, technology, aliens and adventure. But beware, a perilous quest awaits behind every star and getting home again will depend on a good spaceship, true love, and maybe just a hint of magic.


Buy now – three sci-fairy tale novels for $4.99!

 

New for 2018!

2018 is set to be a very big year for me.  I have been working feverishly through 2016 and 2017 to bring out multiple projects and 2018 is the year that many of those projects are bearing fruit. Take a peek at my upcoming releases!

February 13 – Galactic Dreams (Just in time for Valentine’s Day!)

I will be part of a new series from my publishing company called Galactic Dreams featuring stories that are part science-fiction, part fairy tale, part romance and all adventure. Galactic Dreams Volume 1 will feature 3 novellas of fairy tales “reimagined for a new age—the future,” including Soldier, Princess, Rebel Spy (Mulan) from Karen Harris Tully, Aurora One (Sleeping Beauty) from the Stiletto Gang’s own J.M. Phillippe and When Stars Take Flight (Thumbelina) by me.  Pre-orders will be available next week, but if you want a chance two win 2 of the three stories for free, check out the rafflecopter below!

When Stars Take Flight – Kidnapped by the To’Andans, tortured by the Moliter, and rescued by Sparrow Pandion—a spy who hides a secret pain—Alliance Ambassador Lina Tum-Bel is up against a galaxy full of trouble as she attempts to rebuild the Interstellar Alliance. Her training says that she can’t trust her handsome rescuer, but maybe together, she and Sparrow can learn to fly.

 

April – Shark’s Bite

Book 2 of the Shark Santoyo Crime Series returns to the suburban underworld of teenage drug dealers and gang enforcer Shark Santoyo as he tries to figure out what to do with a bowling alley and an ATF Agent who is out to get him.

June – Against the Undertow

The sequel to An Unseen Current will finally be available in June.  This quirky cozy mystery series features 87 year-old, ex-CIA agent Tobias Yearly and his granddaughter Tish bickering, tackling home improvement projects, and solving mysteries in the San Juan Islands of Washington State. In Against the Undertow, handsome Sheriff’s Deputy Emmett Nash, was just accused of murdering his ex-wife’s boyfriend, and Tish and Tobias must face down hippies, cops, and psychotic event planners to solve the mystery and save their friend.

October – Shark’s Hunt

One Shark just isn’t enough.  This time, Shark is back in the city and facing some serious problems as a gang war erupts.

December – A Christmas Short?  

Maybe.  We’ll see if I make it December.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Crunch Time!

Ack!  I should be baking. Or possibly cleaning my filthy office.  Or writing any of the multiple stories I’m supposed to be completing. It’s crunch time for me.  I’ve got a sci-fi novella that is due back from the editor at any second (more info to come after the holidays!), a Christmas short story that needs completing ASAP, and mystery novel that is supposed to be way more underway than it is. And my business partner at my day job is about to go on maternity leave at any moment. I could use a holiday.  Oh, wait, one has just turned up.  Now I get to add baking to the list.  So excuse me, if I just complain for a minute and then dash off to put a pie in the oven.

But in the spirit of the holidays, how about a chance to win a print copy of Shark’s Instinct?  Reviewers are calling it an “amazing mystery with loads of action.”  Click the link below to enter! 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Shark's Instinct by Bethany Maines

Shark’s Instinct

by Bethany Maines

Giveaway ends November 30, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

 

Enter Giveaway

Copy That

Most of my writing this month has been in the form of copywriting and, jeez, do I miss fiction. Churning out “welcome” scripting and press releases makes for a fun occasional challenge, but is no substitute for spending an afternoon putting a character in hot water (figuratively if it’s action, literally if it’s romance) and then figuring out how to get them out again (with a gun if it’s action, with a hot guy if it’s romance).

But one thing that copywriting does provide is practice in how to think about writing. When the word count is proscribed, and the client says that it should be sort of, maybe, be something about this random list of things that has been collected, suddenly it becomes very important to communicate what the over-arching message is. What is the hierarchy of information that needs to be communicated? What does the audience/reader care about? How can we determine what needs to be said and what can be left out? In copywriting, the ability to construct thoughts clearly and to analyze and think critically about a piece come to the forefront. In a novel, an author can spend a bit more time decorating the place with adjectives and allowing characters to spiel off witty bits of dialogue that may not particularly move the story forward. In copywriting, there’s usually room for only one or two adjectives and they had better be the right adjective that supports the speaker or brands character. Copywriting skills are like exercising a new set of muscles and definitely make me a stronger writer. But on the other hand, I’ll be glad to go back to fiction! For one thing, they rarely let me write about hot guys or guns in copywriting.

A New Series with Bite!

I’ve been working very hard this year on multiple projects and I’m finally beginning to be able to share some of them with you.  I’m excited to announce that October will see the release of Book 1 of my new Shark Santoyo Crime Series.  Launching a new series is incredibly difficult and one of the hardest things to garner are reviews on reputable sites like Amazon and Goodreads.  So toward that end I’m giving all of you the opportunity to become a part of my Advance Reader Team.  Sign up using the form below and you’ll be taken to the down load page to get a free digital copy of Shark’s Instinct and in a few weeks I’ll send you a reminder email to leave a review.  That’s it. No strings, just a free book.  I hope you’ll join me as I venture into this new series!

 

Shark’s Instinct: Fresh out of prison and fresh out of luck, twenty-something Shark wants back into The Organization. But when Geier, the mob boss with a cruel sense of humor, sends Shark to the suburbs to find out who’s been skimming his take, Shark realizes he’s going to need more than his gun and an attitude to succeed. With the clock ticking, Shark accepts the help of the mysterious teenage fixer, Peregrine Hays, and embarks on a scheme that could line his pockets, land him the girl and cement his reputation with the gang—if he makes it out alive.

PRE-ORDER HERE or join the Advanced Reader Team using the form below!






 
 
 

Food for Thought

By Bethany Maines
 
 
Last weekend, I participated in a local author program called Food for Thought.  Put on by the local business district in partnership with a local literary group, CreativeColloquy, the program hosts different authors each week at a farmer’s market for a minimal fee ($5).  These type of events are great ways to connect with readers, brush up on my “elevator pitch” for books, and see what’s resonating with the public.  The elevator pitch is essentially a one to two sentence synopsis of a book.  And with that many people visiting the booth, I can try out different versions and wording to see what pitch makes people look interested in a book.  For my Carrie Mae Mysteries, slightly older ladies resonate with “It’s the story of what would happen if Mary Kay ran an international espionage organization.”  But the younger women and men do better with “If James Bond was a woman.”  Even if I didn’t end up selling a good amount of books, that kind of market research is pretty invaluable.  But, of course, being out in the public is also a way to connect with the… um… unique individuals that walk among us.
 
My favorite unique person this last weekend was the gentlemen who told us a series of stories about his experiences with ghosts including some “Indians” because he had been staying at a house built on an “Indian Burial Ground.”  The problem was that as he meandered on about his experiences, the Native Americans he described
sounded straight on out of the movies, and lacked any resemblance to the actual tribes that populate the area.  Not all tribes wear “leathers” crazy face.  Our tribes used capes woven from cedar bark and a type of fabric woven from the hair of a now extinct type of dog.  <LEARN MORE HERE>  So… try being more educated before doing drugs. Also, and not for nothing, if a housing developer were to find human remains, archaeologists and police would have to be called and the local tribes would claim the bodies.  Nobody wants to build on top of human remains – they disintegrate, leaving cavities in the ground and make foundations unstable.  It’s unsound construction, OK, nut job?  And also, also, you’re scaring people away from my booth.
 
But he’s just the tiny fly in the ointment. The majority of people at such events are at minimum polite and usually excited about talking to an actual author.  And in the end, talking to such enthusiastic readers and writers are what keep me coming back to these type of events.  So if you see me out and about, stop by to say hi.  Just
don’t tell me about your ghost experience… unless it’s historically accurate. 
 
 

Clues

Recently, I’ve been working on the sequel to my murder mystery An Unseen Current.  While thematically not that different from my other books (a young person struggles with unusual circumstances while navigating the choppy waters of family, love, and friends), mysteries bring a special level of challenge to the mix.  For one thing, people expect clues.  Oh, there’s a dead body?  Well, writer, where are the clues?  Chop, chop! Produce the clues!

However, it’s not just about clues; it’s about when to reveal those clues.  Too early and readers are bored because they already solved it.  Too late and it seems like the author is cheating and wedging information to justify who the killer is at the last second.  Then, even if the writer does pop a clue in the right place, she can’t be too precious about it.  The author can’t present it on a silver platter with a neon arrow stating: Clue Here!!  To accomplish the correct where and when of clue placement requires a stronger outline than other genres.  And that means that I must do what every writer hates doing—not writing.

Outlining and the synopsis are vital to a successful book.  But they aren’t the FUN part of writing.  The fun part is churning out scenes and spending time with the made up people who populate my brain.  Outlining requires problem solving and all the leg work of deciding back stories and motivations and the literal who, what, when, where and why of who was murdered. (It was Professor Plumb in the Library with the Candlestick, in case you were wondering.)  But mostly it leaves me thinking: Are we there yet? What about now?  Can I start writing now?

So wish me luck as I work out the kinks of how the dead body ended up behind a bar in Anacortes.

You never know what’s beneath the surface.
When Seattle native Tish Yearly finds herself fired and evicted all in one afternoon, she knows she’s in deep water. Unemployed and desperate, the 26 year old ex-actress heads for the one place she knows she’ll be welcome – the house of her cantankerous ex-CIA agent grandfather, Tobias Yearly, in the San Juan Islands. And when she discovers the strangled corpse of Tobias’s best friend, she knows she’s in over her head. Tish is thrown head-long into a mystery that pits her against a handsome but straight-laced Sheriff’s Deputy, a group of eccentric and clannish local residents, and a killer who knows the island far better than she does. Now Tish must swim against the current, depending on her nearly forgotten acting skills and her grandfather’s spy craft, to con a killer and keep them both alive.

Virtually IRL

I laughed when I read AB Plum’s recent post about unhooking from the virtual world.  It has been a long time since I didn’t enhance my RL (real life) experience with some sort of virtual interaction.  Photos on Facebook, the occasional witty comment on twitter, blogs and websites, they are all part of my life. Partially this is simply a function of my life and jobs.  As a graphic designer and a writer, social networking is part of the must do list. As a designer, it’s important that I be able to design ads for Facebook and other social media platforms and understand how the platforms function.  As a writer, it’s important that I use those platforms to reach an audience.

Which is not to say that I’m an expert.  As a designer, I get to create content and simply walk away.  The writer half of me definitely has it harder.  I have to remember to post (you wouldn’t think this was hard, but…), to come up with valuable and interesting content, and then not waste all of my writing time on marketing and social media.  On the other hand, for the last six months I’ve been swinging very much the other way.  I have not been doing a lot of marketing.  I have in fact been writing.  A lot.  A ton.  Lots of tons.  So much so that I’ve planned out my releases for 2018 and 2019. 

So, stay tuned for tons of updates later this summer.  Crime, sci-fi, a touch of fairy tales, and of course more than a little bit of romance are heading your way.  And strangely, I can’t wait to start marketing ALL of it.  If you want to get in on early give-aways (print and digital!) and announcements, join my mailing list at: bethanymaines.com/contact

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ORIGINALLY POSTED ON THE STILETTO GANG 6.14.17

Reading vs. Writing

by Bethany Maines

On Monday night fellow Stiletto author J.M. Phillippe (visiting from Brooklyn) and I attended the local open mic night from Creative Colloquy.  The evening celebrated Creative Colloquy’s third anniversary and featured the Washington State poet laureate Dr. Tod Marshall. Creative Colloquy’s mission is to connect writers with their community and celebrate their works. And in keeping with that mission, Dr. Marshall reminded us in the audience to both battle for the arts and to rejoice in our creative communities.

As with every time I go to a reading event I’m struck by what different skills reading and writing are. It’s difficult to differentiate the presentation from the work being presented. For every rushed reading, there’s one that gives space for the audience to savor the moment. For every mumbled poem, there’s one that echoes from the rafters.  For every awkward and misplaced laugh in the middle of a story, there’s one that ought to be a comedy special.  Delivery, timing, and pronunciation, all take a reading from blah to amazing.  Or at least important enough to make people stop talking to their friends at the table.  Are the amazing readings better?  Or just benefitting from better delivery?

It makes me wonder: what could I be doing to present my own work better in live readings? Should we authors all be forced to take public speaking classes? Improv classes? Should we be forced to listen to recordings of ourselves (God nooooooooooo!!!)?  Is there a secret trick that I could be using?  What if I just I hire an actor to read for me?  In all probability I shall simply have to rely on the very exclusive, top secret trick of practice and repetition.  As long as no one makes me watch a recording of it, that will probably be fine.

The Long and Short of It

I watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer when it was first on television. It was the first time I’d watched a show that combined the episodic weekly tale with a long-form, season long story arc. Whether or not you enjoy fantasy and teenagers killing things, the inclusion of a “big bad” (Buffy slang for the seasons main villain) made Buffy a tremendous innovator in TV.

It was an innovation that impressed and continues to impress me. The ability of the writers to maintain the critical pacing of the weeks mystery, while at the same time building a seasonal arc that culminates at the right point is a difficult writing feat. Most stories require that a character to fulfill a certain role to advance the story. But with multiple stories playing out at the same time the characters actions must serve several different purposes at once. Accomplishing these goals at all, let alone well, is something I aspire to. And while I have experimented with this type of writing before in my Tales from the City of Destiny, I have never tried to do a true over-arcing long form story across multiple novels. That is until now.

Starting last December, I have gone headlong into plotting and writing a new five book crime series. I’ll be excited when I can finally share more details about the series. But until then, I’m asking for inspiration to help keep my creative juices flowing. What TV shows do you love that combine short and long form elements and crime or action?