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This is my writing journal and this is where I stash chapters, bits, edits and inspiration as well as my journal entries about writing. I write in multiple genres; science fiction, fantasy, romance and erotica. I tend to keep the genres separate. I just finished the early draft of a science fiction novel called Thornwood. Now, I am letting that marinate a little while I work on an erotic piece called Only What I Seek.

 I often add chapters to read here on this blog, so check back often to read new writing. I frequently have contests with prizes for winners, so stick around and see what is coming up next. This journal is an effort to blog the process of a writer, in this case a budding and unpublished one; me. My thoughts are just opinion and my process is mine alone. Doubt, fear, regret, whining and occasional bursts of mania should be expected.

My erotic work is available on my other blog Rowan Darklee (my alter ego) and you can read stories, chapters of my new novel and other fun things here:
https://rowanserotica.wordpress.com

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My Favorite Premade Book Covers (currently available)

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This elegant design by S. Frost Designs is not too busy, has elegant, easy to read text and beautiful images.

TownOfBedlam

This gorgeous watercolor pre-made is available at Beetiful Book Covers. Beetiful has done one of my covers and it is gorgeous.

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This cover by Paper & Sage is elegant and modern while still being romantic and a bit mysterious.

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This print book cover by Spittyfish Designs has  an eye-catching curve, good color, font and placement.

As of August 25th, 2015, these are available.

Facebook’s “Real” Name Policy

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I am the latest victim of Facebook’s “real name” policy. I have been demanded to show legal identification with my user name on it. Of course, I don’t have this. The name Rowan Aftyn, for all purposes, IS my name. Everyone online AND offline knows me by Rowan Aftyn. My birth name is buried deep under a lot of violent history and trauma that I choose to take control of by giving myself a name that I chose MYSELF. Using a “fake” name is my way of taking control of a dark part of my life and making it MINE again. My “real” name is what my abusers called me. It is what was on a missing persons report. It is what was said over and over in a courtroom while my attackers got away with a slap on the hand.

Who are some Facebook employees to tell ME what is my name and what is not? My husband calls me Rowan. Everyone I know does. So, in a few days I may lose my Facebook account because I refuse to give personal documents to some stranger and I refuse to use my legal name online… always a dangerous move.

Facebook needs to get rid of this policy. It only serves to damage and put in danger the lives of people who want privacy, people who are moving on from abuse and trauma, gay people who experience discrimination, Native Americans (Jane Standing Bear would not be considered a name that “sounds real” by Facebook’s standards, and performers who wish to be known by their stage names or pen names.

It is a thoughtless, power hungry invasion of privacy by Facebook.

Grammarly sucks.

I have been trying out Grammarly.com’s paid subscription service and am not at all impressed. Errors are everywhere in their edits. According to Grammarly, all of these sentences are correct…

“I know,” she said. “that you’ve been stealing cookies.”

“I know,” She said. “That you’ve been stealing cookies.”

“I know-” she said, “that you’ve been stealing cookies.”

“I know—” she said. “That you’ve been stealing cookies.”

I tested out various combinations of mistakes and Grammarly failed to catch them far too often. I am going to try out Hemmingway and hope that suits me better.

A Court Of Thorns & Shadows (part one)

Eltzen Village, Geuren
The Northlands

The horse was white, a pure white with no markings to mark its perfection. The tail sported an intricate braid and the bit and bridle were festooned with plumage and enamel jewels on the leather. The jewels were not real, of course. Hyacinth Meadow had little use for such things. In truth, she had little use for a horse of this kind, one that pranced rather than raced through the forest. She prefered her gelding, a sturdy and reliable sable mare she had bought at market auction for a single gold. This white horse was the latest in embarrassingly extravegant gifts from her father. The white mare would serve her well on the Great Hunt, he said, but what did her father know of hunting?

He was an explorer, hardly a hunter. He carved out trade routes in the New World, bringing silks, spices and oils home from all manner of far away places. She grew up with his stories of those places, exotic sultans and princes of the Far East, how the women were dark haired with skin the color of amber and gold rings in their ears and noses. He brought her gold ear rings like that once, and what could she do with them? Nothing. None of her father’s gifts could be displayed in public. No one was to know she was his daughter; he a great man, a noble man, and she… a lowly half breed. Her dark ash colored hair marked her as a half breed. She kept it braided back and hidden under the hood of a scarlet red cloak when in the village. Her eyes were her father’s, and his eyes were touched by the East, a deep green with flecks of gold.

Snow, River, Cloud, Rose, Stone, Pine, Meadow… these were the names of orphans, bastards and half-breeds. A half elf in these lands of the North was not an easy thing to be. The land was filled with humans, dwarves that worked the stone mines in the Elenor Mountains and the haughty and autonamous elven enclave of the White Cloud Forest at the Northernmost point of Geuren. Hyacinth would not be welcome there, and her mother would not either. Her mother committed the unforgivable tabboo of loving a human man and submitting herself to live as his mistress. No elf would ever have her. Her kind rejected the high elf enclave of White Cloud and lived among the forest with the stags and bears; the wood elves, wild and true. Still, they too would not have her.

Continue reading

Momentum!

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Oh, did I make a mistake a month ago. Stephen King’s “On Writing” is a wonderful book full of excellent points and advice on writing. I would go so far as to say that just after Strunk & White’s ” Elements of Style” it is the best book on writing out there. However, I took once piece of advice from the book that I regret. In the book, King advises that when you are finished with the first draft, set the book aside for a few WEEKS so that you can come back to it with a fresh perspective.

This seemed like a good idea.

It wasn’t.

What happened was… I lost momentum. That frantic, writing every day, manic, productive chaos faded and now my perspective upon returning to the work is that of a kid needing to do homework. I think that if I had not put the book aside, I would not feel this way. Now, I am plunging back in and trying to work up a manic fervor to get me back to the super productive place I was in weeks ago.

Don’t put down that novel.

Little interview.

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What are you working on next?

I am currently writing a novel called “Only What I Seek” which centers on a prodigy cellist who inspires obsession in those who hear her music. The story will eventually be a trilogy.

Who are your favorite authors?

Jacqueline Carey, James Reese

When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?

I love archery, snorkeling, diving, fly fishing, sailing… anything in the water. I live in Panama so it is a short drive to both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.

How do you discover the ebooks you read?

Twitter, WordPress, Amazon, word of mouth.

Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?

I’ve been writing since childhood but the first story I remember was in high school. I wrote a series about vampires and I think it was probably a little to steamy for a high school kid to write.

What is your writing process?

I write as if I am writing a movie. I imagine a film in my head while I write. I often make storyboards on Pinterest for reference and inspiration. I outline the whole story first, and then end up pantsing half of it anyway.

How do you approach cover design?

I am obsessed with having a good cover. I think that a good cover is the tease before the flash. You have to make people want to read the story. If they don’t like what’s on the cover, they are unlikely to take a look. I use pros when I can. When I design myself, I keep it simple. Less is more.

What do you read for pleasure?

Fantasy, science fiction, literature, historical, alternate history… a little of everything.

What is your e-reading device of choice?

Kindle.

What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?

So far, my WordPress blog.

Describe your desk

A normal desk is too small. I like space, so I bought a dining room table as a desk. On one side are my paints and canvases. On the other is my laptop. I write everything on a laptop.

What motivated you to become an indie author?

I like the idea of maintaining control of my own work and control of how my career goes. I have read many accounts of traditional publishing not being at all accessable and not working in favor of the authors.

What is the greatest joy of writing for you?

I think joy is a strange word for it. I do enjoy writing very much, but I think that people who write… just write. I can’t imagine it any other way.

The Most Common Questions Asked Of Writers

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1. Where do you get your ideas?
This will sound cliche but, everywhere. I travel a lot and travel often influences my imagination. Music, film, books, any media influences me. I can watch a History channel documentary about something and it sparks something. So, I guess, just learning about things influences me. Thornwood was influenced by a trip to the UK and a stay in a castle hotel similar to the one in the novel.

2. Why did you start writing?
I spent years of my childhood in really rough foster homes and often needed to mentally escape. I wrote my first short story when I was eleven. I think it was about a cave full of crystals that gave people magic powers. I started winning small prizes for fiction and poetry. In high school I was the chief editor of a literary magazine. Writing was what I did to keep sane.

3. Do you think you are going to be the next JK Rowling/Stephen King/John Grisham/ etc?
I think this annoys writers the most. I think anyone who thinks they are going to be the next JK Rowling or Stephen King is a bit wackadoo. Even JK Rowling and Stephen King had no idea their work would reach that level of success. My aims are much, much more grounded. I hope to write regularly, grow a modest but loyal readership and if I am lucky, supplement my income with writing. Will I ever be able to pay ALL the bills as a writer – that would be awesome and that is what I hope for, but I don’t expect massive fame and millions.

4. Do you see a bit of yourself in your characters?
Definitely. To some degree, I write what I know, which is archery, castles, horses and history.

5. But, the chances of ever making any money as a writer are…
If I could just pay the basic bills, I would be happy. Really, I am happy anyway.

A Rant About Facebook Writing Groups

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Writing Groups on Facebook – There are hundreds of writing groups on Facebook to choose from. These groups can be helpful if you want to spend a lot of time talking to other writers… or people who talk about writing but never really do it. I have found that the largest of these writing groups is not a healthy place to spend your time. I found several types of personalities there:

People who can barely string a sentence together but think they are the hot shit.

Rule lawyers who screw everything up by caring more about the “rules” of writing than creativity.

Miserable, unhappy people who have sour dispositions and are outright mean to people for no reason.

People with nothing helpful to say.

A shocking amount of stupid people. I mean people that cannot comprehend a basic question or keep one train of thought long enough to talk to. Really. A lot of stupid people.

(perhaps the most annoying) Uptight, genre hating “I write LITERATURE and you all are beneath me” types who never share their work because a.) they are afraid you will steal their novel and become the next Hemmingway with THEIR work, egads! b.) their work sucks and if they share it, the secret is out.

Overall, I have found two smaller groups that work for me. Take the time to find the ones that are actually helpful and not just a bunch of jerks that you want to punch in the throat. Hanging out in the bigger groups often feels like hanging out in a really seedy junior college with ashtrays.

Two very different genres and two names?

I write in the fantasy and sic fi genres. I also write books with erotic content. I have always thought of my pen name as Rowan Darklee, but considering the readership of one genre may be put off by the other genre, I feel it is important to separate  my brand names. I think I will write my non-erotic work under my actual name; Rowan Aftyn, and my erotic work will be written by Rowan Darklee. I want people to know what they are getting with no unhappy surprises. This means that when I have the print mock up of my Thornwood cover made by the very talented M.S. Fowle, I will have the name changed to Rowan Aftyn.

This blog will be the blog for my fantasy and science fiction (non erotic) work. I will make another blog to handle my erotic work and let you all know the link if you would like to take a look there.