Tuesday, September 01, 2015

While I Was Away

We went to Denver for the Historical Novel Society conference at the end of June... and snuck in a trip to the zoo, of course. Because I can never resist a zoo with big cats --

That glass he's pacing in front of is a viewing window for visitors to get a more up-close and personal glimpse of their beautiful Siberian Tiger. While I was inside (barely holding myself back from plastering my face against the glass) there was a woman with a baby in her arms -- I don't know how old. Less than a year, at a guess, but don't quote me. Every time the tiger paced TOWARD us, this kid would BURST into tears. She/he definitely has a stronger survival instinct than I do!

To be fair, this tiger was massive. Just incredible to see and have that perspective up-close. In a lot of the zoos I've been to, guests were primarily looking down on them from a distance, in a pit, or across a moat, and it definitely makes a difference to have the nearer view. I mean, I've met a tiger in person up-close and personally before (and told that story here!) but she was downright petite compared to this guy.

We also had the opportunity to feed the Giraffes, which offered another dose of size-perspective. See that guy's head? It's MONSTROUS. Because Giraffes are MONSTROUSLY LARGE. (And I don't care what anyone says, herbivores of that size are WAY more terrifying than the largest predators.) His eye is bigger than my HAND you guys. LOOK AT IT. LOOOOOK!

And then we saw the Gorillas.

You have to understand that I studied wildlife biology in college before I made the switch to classical studies. My career goal while I was working toward that degree was to become a zookeeper. I wanted desperately to work with animals -- because I love them. Always have. Always will. Particularly big cats and large predators. And I also believe that zoos are necessary to conservation. There are too many people who would not think twice about the plight of an endangered species if they had not gone to the zoo as a kid and fed the giraffes, or saw the elephant paint, or pressed their face up against the glass and looked into the eyes of the pacing tiger. We need to SEE these animals in order to care about them as individuals, rather than abstract concepts -- and in that respect, the animals in zoos (and marine parks) are ambassadors for their species. They are (perhaps unwittingly) sacrificing their freedom for their wild cousins, and I know that accredited zoos are doing their very best for the animals in their care via vets, nutrition, social/enrichment activities and so on, because the people who become zookeepers LOVE these animals, too.

But it hurt my heart to see the Gorillas in their enclosures. It broke me to look into their eyes, to watch their casual so human movements and gestures. It's SO easy to see the intelligence, the consciousness and the sentience in gorillas. It's easy to look at them and see them as people. And it hits hard, the realization that these people are caged for our gawking pleasure. That we need them to be, because otherwise there wouldn't be enough goodwill to keep them alive anywhere on this planet.

And it should. It should hurt. It should be shocking and painful and uncomfortable. We should look at ALL the animals in zoos and see their majesty at the same time as we wish for a day that zoos won't be necessary for conservation efforts and breeding programs. For a day when we, as a world community, recognize the value of protecting their lives in the wild without caging them first. (And I would be lying if I didn't have a moment of man, it would be awesome if we could communicate with animals and then let them volunteer for zoo duty if they wanted it!)

For the time being, I can only hope seeing the gorillas made everyone else just as uncomfortable as it made me, so maybe when they get that flyer from some wildlife org needing donations to save the tiger or the gorilla or the maned wolf or, or, or, they'll remember that moment, and do what they can to help.

Forged by Fate (Fate of the Gods, #1) Tempting Fate (Fate of the Gods, #1.5) Fate Forgotten (Fate of the Gods, #2) Taming Fate (Fate of the Gods, #2.5) Beyond Fate (Fate of the Gods, #3)
Honor Among Orcs (Orc Saga, #1) * Postcards from Asgard * Helen of Sparta
Buy Now:
Amazon | Barnes&Noble

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Second Books Aren't First Books

I've written 3 second books in 3 different series now, and barring FATE FORGOTTEN*, they've all felt impossibly more difficult than the book that came before. First books build relationships, they weave together the tapestry of characters and create the threads of plot and conflict and challenge. First books, it seems for me, are more about character and relationships, rife with internal conflicts more than external -- Arianna and Bolthorn, Eve and Garrit/Eve and Thor/Eve and Adam, Helen and Theseus. For me, that's the easy part. The part I love most. I love bringing these characters together and watching them figure things out, building relationships and finding the support they need to conquer the troubles they're forced to face.

But second books are about the pressures of the outside world upon these characters after they've had their taste of happiness and found their strength. The tension and conflict is less present BETWEEN them, and more focused AGAINST them as a unit. There are still tender moments, still challenges that drive them apart, but the story ultimately isn't about their relationship with one another anymore. It's about how, with the support of one another, they will face the future, and all the challenges and conflict entailed. In second books, my characters aren't saving each other anymore -- they're saving the(ir) world.

For Bolthorn and Arianna, this means turning back. Returning to Gautar to face the growing threat they left behind, to save the friends and family who took grave risks for their sake, and protect both their peoples. For Helen, it means struggling, still, to face her fate without the hope of peace she had thought within her grasp. Bolthorn and Arianna, Theseus and Helen -- they have very different paths to walk, but the struggle of writing the book wasn't much different at all!

For me, writing the external conflict, the world-saving and the battle-scenes -- it's a frustrating challenge. And three books in, it hasn't gotten any easier.

*FATE FORGOTTEN builds a different relationship along side the external conflict, so it was less problematic for me to write. I also originally wrote FORGED BY FATE and FATE FORGOTTEN as one book, which was then belatedly broken into two parts, so it wasn't the same experience at all.

Forged by Fate (Fate of the Gods, #1) Tempting Fate (Fate of the Gods, #1.5) Fate Forgotten (Fate of the Gods, #2) Taming Fate (Fate of the Gods, #2.5) Beyond Fate (Fate of the Gods, #3)
Honor Among Orcs (Orc Saga, #1) * Postcards from Asgard * Helen of Sparta
Buy Now:
Amazon | Barnes&Noble

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Orc Saga: Book Two and Other Sequels

Remember when I said I was hoping I'd have some news for you when I got back? Well, we're in luck! The stars have aligned and I have lots to share!

First of all --

BLOOD OF THE QUEEN (Orc Saga: Book Two) is INCOMING, and this here is your first peek at the fabulous cover art created by Melissa Stevens (The Illustrated Author). FEAST YOUR EYES (because Isolfur!!!), and get ready, because it releases October 20th!* The ebook will be Amazon exclusive, but you'll be able to order the paperback more widely. 

In the meantime, mark it to-read on Goodreads, and I'll have ebook pre-ordering set up in early September, so keep an eye out for that announcement, too you can Pre-order the e-book now on AmazonAND, if you're interested in reviewing BLOOD OF THE QUEEN in advance of October 20th for your blog and/or Amazon/Goodreads, please shoot me an email at amaliatdillin (at) gmail (dot) com, and I'll get in touch with e-ARCs when they're ready!**


I'm really excited to be able to confirm finally that YES -- HELEN OF SPARTA will have a sequel! It's in the works, and I look forward to being able to tell you more about all of that when the time is right -- for now, just rest assured that it's happening, and more of my spin on Helen's story is coming your way.

(Did you really think I was going to leave you hanging? Well -- okay, I'll admit that I might have been tempted, and I have the alternate/previous ending to prove it, but that's all behind us now, and I hope you'll be as pleased as I am with how it all comes together!)

So there you have it! All the Author news you always knew you wanted -- and now I need to get back to work so that I can keep my side of the Orc2 bargain!

*Fair warning, Orc2 is kind of the Empire Strikes Back-ish. Make of that what you will!
The first 25 or so people to email me who have previously reviewed my books on goodreads/Amazon have dibs!
E-ARCs are offered in exchange for your HONEST review, so please DO read and review if you sign up!

Forged by Fate (Fate of the Gods, #1) Tempting Fate (Fate of the Gods, #1.5) Fate Forgotten (Fate of the Gods, #2) Taming Fate (Fate of the Gods, #2.5) Beyond Fate (Fate of the Gods, #3)
Honor Among Orcs (Orc Saga, #1) * Postcards from Asgard * Helen of Sparta
Buy Now:
Amazon | Barnes&Noble

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Notes from the (re)Writing Cave, and an Orc Saga Teaser

I'm back in the saddle, going through my manuscript for some extensive reworking and rewriting -- I've already cut 13,500 words or so and added back in about the same amount, and I'll be rewriting the last 100 pages more or less entirely. These next two months are going to be a whirlwind of writing, rewriting and revising, punctuated by my trip to Denver for the HNS conference, which means it's time for the annual summer hiatus!

Fear not loyal friends and followers -- with any luck, I'll be back mid-August, and I'm tentatively planning for a new game of #NAMEthatBUTT in the fall, (assuming I can relocate the lost butts required!)

Enjoy your summer festivities and be sure to check back in when I return, because I'm hoping with fingers crossed times a million to maybe possibly hopefully perchance have some authory news, for all you wonderful readers and fans who have been waiting oh-so-patiently for me to talk about what might actually be coming next in some kind of firm manner. (Oh, Publishing!)

In the meantime I'll leave you with this small teaser of Orc Saga: Book Two, because I can't make any promises at all quite yet --

“What are you?” Ragnar demanded.

Bolvarr forced himself to relax, forced his limbs to assume more of a lounge against the stone at his back, than the miserable crouch he’d suffered since moonset. “What do I look like?”

Ragnar grunted, pacing slowly around him, as if to get a better look. “Seithr, by the marks on your face, but you’re strange even for their kind. And everyone knows no Seithr woman would teach a man her arts.”

“Maybe my mother made an exception.” Bolvarr shrugged, causing the chains to clank together. He had no idea what the Seithr were, but he could only assume they were witches of some kind.

“That green skin is something else. You’re too pretty to be orc or dragonkin, so I suppose you’ll tell me it was the work of some potion.”

“Not at all,” Bolvarr said, pretending boredom.


“Cursed.” He tipped his head back against the wall and closed his eyes. Men or elves, it always came back to the shade of his skin. The imperfections of his form. He was the closest the Hrimthursar had come to redemption, and it wasn’t anything near good enough. How he’d believed for a moment they’d think him human in the dark was a question that was likely to mock him until the end of his days. Which, it turned out, might well end up being far sooner than he’d anticipated. “By the Ancestors.”

Ragnar snorted. “Cursed or not, you’ll make a fine gift for the king. And if the Ancestors smite him for holding you, all the better.”

“And why’s that?” Bolvarr asked, lifting one eyelid to watch him make his way back to the door. A handspan thick, and reinforced with iron bands, not that he could reach it, chained as he was.

“Because he’s standing in my way.” And then the door swung shut with a thump, taking the torchlight and Ragnar with it.

Forged by Fate (Fate of the Gods, #1) Tempting Fate (Fate of the Gods, #1.5) Fate Forgotten (Fate of the Gods, #2) Taming Fate (Fate of the Gods, #2.5) Beyond Fate (Fate of the Gods, #3)
Honor Among Orcs (Orc Saga, #1) * Postcards from Asgard * Helen of Sparta
Buy Now:
Amazon | Barnes&Noble

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Ode to an Action Figure Base

Little did you know, O Lowly Styrofoam Packing Piece, when you were formed to cradle and cushion a halogen lamp, that upon unpacking, you would be called to serve a higher purpose! How could you have dreamed that once revealed and emptied of your precious cargo, you might fall into the hands of a small girl in need.

And there was no greater need in those days, than the need for a most excellent base. What are action figures without the shelter of a base? Without wall behind which they might hunker and defend themselves from marauding jungle animals three times their size? Without pressure and vacuum formed rises and dips to be seated upon as improvised couches? Without the canvas of styrofoam upon which computer terminals and monitors might be drawn, to spy upon thine enemies and receive communiques?

O Lowly Styrofoam Packing Piece, how finely you served! With a hole in the center, perfectly created to imprison and punish our enemies, and neat rows to prop those figures which could not quite stand on their own feet, or to be treated as benches in a make-shift briefing. Your thin corners easily broke to become escape hatches, at just the right height and size for the tiger figurine allies to stick their heads inside and converse with our heroes.

Truly, there was no awesomer Base to be had. And so many hours we spent together, in play! Somehow, you survived the garbage bag sweeps in which so many green plastic berry pint elevator/prison cells lost their lives, and we played on through the years, traveled on from the house of our childhood, to the home of our teen years, and even hid those long years while I was away at college, until you returned to me again, here, now.

But alas, there are no games left to play, O Lowly Styrofoam Packing Piece. Your destiny has been fulfilled, and after all these long years, it is time to set you free. To free myself from the clutter of your presence in the back of my closet where you merely waste away, beginning at long last to disintegrate, suffering only neglect, as my play has become words on pages and pages bound into books.

And so I say goodbye, friend Styrofoam Packing Piece. Goodbye, and thank you for all the good times, all the memories, all the stories we shared.

May you return to the great Styrofoam farm in the sky, where the children never grow up, and the action figures always need a base. They will find no greater base than you!

Forged by Fate (Fate of the Gods, #1) Tempting Fate (Fate of the Gods, #1.5) Fate Forgotten (Fate of the Gods, #2) Taming Fate (Fate of the Gods, #2.5) Beyond Fate (Fate of the Gods, #3)
Honor Among Orcs (Orc Saga, #1) * Postcards from Asgard * Helen of Sparta
Buy Now:
Amazon | Barnes&Noble

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Life, The Universe, Everything (V)

I have come to the conclusion that She's All That was a fluke, because I've yet to watch another Freddie Prinze Jr movie (Netflix is suffering from a rash of them) in which he is remotely compelling as a character or actor.
Our friendly neighborhood Milk Snake, not to be confused with
the garage-dwelling snake who refuses to have his picture taken.

These are the kinds of things I learn when I am not actively engaging in disciplined writing. But the vacation is about over -- starting today, I'm back on a regimented daily word count 5 days a week. I'm starting light and ramping up, but I know there's going to be some serious editing and revision work in my too-near future, so exercising those writing muscles is the best way to prepare.

I can't say I feel particularly refreshed after my time away from daily writing. Mostly I just feel kind of anxious, sleep-deprived, and cranky. When I'm not writing I'm far more likely to slip into negative thought patterns and I'm generally not nearly as fun to be around. Sometimes I *do* need a break from the pressure of all the words, but breaking from the actual writing itself for too long is asking for trouble -- part of the reason I choose to be a writer is because writing helps keep me generally healthy and happy.

Which isn't to say that being a writer doesn't have its detractions. Anyone who says it's all flowers and kittens is a liar. But I wouldn't really know what else to do with myself at this point -- maybe go back to bookselling instead, somewhere.

For good or ill, I'm an author now. And an author's gotta write.

Well, and occasionally conference. Which is what I'll be doing at the end of this month at the Historical Novel Society Conference in Denver. Give a shout in the comments if I'll see you there!

Forged by Fate (Fate of the Gods, #1) Tempting Fate (Fate of the Gods, #1.5) Fate Forgotten (Fate of the Gods, #2) Taming Fate (Fate of the Gods, #2.5) Beyond Fate (Fate of the Gods, #3)
Honor Among Orcs (Orc Saga, #1) * Postcards from Asgard * Helen of Sparta
Buy Now:
Amazon | Barnes&Noble