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Posts tagged as “Dakota in the Bay”


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Gaah! How do I spend an hour writing a new long scene and only get 500 words out of it? 17% done, 30% behind. Aaa! Still, I got this. Just … need … to … write … faster ...

-the Centaur


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Is the novel back on track? NO. But I am reaching the point where I have enough traction in the story that I’m starting to make real progress. I’m 14,000+ words behind, I need to write over 2,500 words a day to finish my 50,000 words in the month … but at least I’m making real progress now. An excerpt:

The looming tower of Brendelbane Manor leered down at me, its three irregular windows looking even more like a skull. Yes, it was the same room, the nook at the front of Alissa van Kreveld’s room—but was there now flickering light within?

And … was the thing we’d seen Alissa van Kreveld? The phantom hadn’t looked like a Scottish refugee or a woman of Dutch descent; its hair and face had looked distinctly Asian, like a concept drawing for a mash-up of The Grudge and Memoirs of a Geisha.

So if it wasn’t her … who was it? What was it?

In horror movies, it seemed like you had a fifty-fifty chance of a ghost being a human ghost or a real demon. My personal experience told me next to nothing about ghosts, but any kind of phantom had a seventy percent chance of being a projectia, and a ninety percent chance of it turning out to be something hostile.

I stopped for a moment. No. That was my bad attitude talking. Chris Valentine’s projectia, the Streetscribe’s projectia, Cosgreave’s specter: all hostile. My Dragon, Arcturus’s vines, Avenix’s tentacle monster: all benign. The odds were closer to fifty-fifty. Even if this ghost had chased us out of the property with phantom fire, it might not be a hostile.

Still … my girlfriend was inside, and this thing spat phantom fracking fire.

Screwing up my courage, I drew my sword, ascended the steps … and went inside.


-the Centaur


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Is the novel back on track? NO.

For an idea of why I push so hard on this, though, take a look at this graph of how popular my books have been over time (a graph compiled by myself looking at data from various sources). It may not be readily apparent, but every time a new book is released, all my books spike in popularity, then slowly decline. The graph starts at the release of BLOOD ROCK, and the big gap between that and LIQUID FIRE - working on stories for anthologies - really caused things to fade away. If I want to write all the time, I need people to buy my books, so I need to produce books, to get back on track with novels coming out on a regular basis.

So … back to PHANTOM SILVER.

-the Centaur

Blood in the Water

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Well, shoot. Camp Nano not going well so far. Blast ye, taxes. Is the date right? Should I make Dakota worry about her taxes too, just to be mean? Checking The Grid … no, dangit, her taxes wouldn’t be due until the next book. Sigh.

Back to work.

-the Centaur

Now THAT Was a Book Reading

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So my book reading at Books Inc in Mountain View happened, and I'm really happy with how it turned out. We had a lot of people show up - more than at first I thought - and there was a lot of positive energy from the people in the audience which made it easy to read. (Note: I took pictures before the event, but not during, because I was the speaker, and that would be just rude).


I actually was less nervous and stuttery speaking to this crowd than I was when I was sitting alone in my great room reading the passages I had planned. The thing I'm happiest about, however, is that I planned what I was going to read deliberately.

Normally I read, by reflex, the first section of whatever new thing I've got. But sometimes the setup is not that interesting, so I've tried reading really exciting bits. But that doesn't seem to work either - people demand context.


That led to a brainflash: I decided I should think not about what I wanted to read but what I wanted people to get out of the reading. I chose the first page and a half of FROST MOON to set the stage. At the last minute, I also decided to read a page and a half of BLOOD ROCK, filled with police, magic and vampires, to show progression in the world (and unabashedly to show off what I thought was a nice bit of writing). And then I chose to read the first half of a chapter out of LIQUID FIRE, tuning again at the last minute, to show off the action and adventure of "The Battle of Union Square." People seemed to love it - I even got applause.

What's more, the sequence of selections enabled me to talk about various aspects of the world I'd built - setting it in a time and place, making the action realistic, exploring consequences - and led into a really good Q&A session. Finally, I left a little time out to read the first chunk of THE CLOCKWORK TIME MACHINE, which also seemed to strike a chord. At the end, we had a line of people for signing, including one who bought a copy of the whole trilogy; many of those joined us for a victory dinner.

Wow. I am so happy that you all came, and that you all liked it. You really made my day. Thank you.

At first I thought just enough people showed up to fill half the seats, but I was wrong - there were actually many more people standing and watching who didn't sit down because they were late. I didn't see them because I was paying attention to the nearer audience, but I know this because some of them came up afterward to talk to me … and others took pictures and sent them to me.


What a wonderful event. I want to send my sincere thanks to Alex, the whole staff of Books Inc, and the staff of the upstairs Cafe Romanza, who have not only made this a great experience for me, but also have made this environment one of the best places I know to sit down, to get some good coffee, and to find and read a good book - or to imagine and write one.

-the Centaur

At Clockwork Alchemy this Memorial Day

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This Memorial Day weekend, I'll be at the Clockwork Alchemy conference in the Author's Salon. I'll have on hand the new steampunk anthology TWELVE HOURS LATER, plus of course the newly released third Dakota Frost, Skindancer book LIQUID FIRE, which, despite the presence of an airship, is firmly an urban fantasy novel.

If I'm not at my table, I will likely be appearing at:

  • The Science of Airships Saturday, May 23 from 2pm - 3pm in the San Juan Workshop Room
  • Steampunk Comics Saturday, May 23 from 6pm to 7pm in the Author's Salon.
  • Writing Steampunk: Sunday, May 24 from 2pm to 3 pm in the Carmel Fashion Room

In addition to TWELVE HOURS LATER and LIQUID FIRE … I may have something else at the table. Stay tuned.

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-the Centaur


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I think I'll be posting this everywhere for a while … LIQUID FIRE, my third novel, is now available for preorder on Amazon. I talk a bit more about this on the Dakota Frost blog, but after a lot of work with beta readers, editing, and my editor, I'm very proud of this book, which takes Dakota out of her comfort zone in Atlanta and brings her to the San Francisco Bay, where she encounters romance, danger, magic, science, art, mathematics, vampires, werewolves, and the fae. It comes out May 22, but you can preorder it now on Amazon! Go get it! You'll have a blast.

And, almost at the same time, I found out this is coming out on May 22 as well…

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TWELVE HOURS LATER is also available for preorder on Amazon Kindle and CreateSpace. Put together by the Treehouse Writers, TWELVE HOURS LATER is a collection of 24 steampunk stories, one for every hour in the day - many of them in linked pairs, half a day apart … hence "Twelve Hours Later". My two stories in the anthology, "The Hour of the Wolf" and "The Time of Ghosts", feature Jeremiah Willstone, the protagonist of "Steampunk Fairy Chick" in the UnCONventional anthology … and also the protagonist of the forthcoming novel THE CLOCKWORK TIME MACHINE from Bell Bridge Books. (It's also set in the same universe as "The Doorway to Extra Time" from the anthology of the almost identical name).

And, believe it or not, I may have something else coming out soon … stay tuned. :-)

-the Centaur

Viiictory the Eleventh

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Woohoo! I just completed Camp Nanowrimo 2015, writing an extra 50,000 words on my novel SPECTRAL IRON! And, for special bonus points, I basically ran out of novel - I finished the end to end rough draft a few days ago, and to get the final few thousand words I had to actually go back through and start fleshing out and polishing! Double woohoo!

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This makes this not just the eleventh time I've finished Nanowrimo, it makes it the first time I've finished a novel during the month. This draft will need a heck of a lot of editing, but it is finished end to end and I had to come up with some very inventive stuff to get it there in the month - which, as always, is the beauty of Nanowrimo.

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As you can see, I spent most of this month in the red, because I started off dealing with nine kinds of crazy. I actually can't remember all the stuff that happened - I remember editing on LIQUID FIRE and nonsense at work and disasters at home and a truly horrific tax situation - or wait, i do remember it all, I just don't want to.

Regardless, I was able to power through in three big chunks, getting close to 3000 words a day most days and 4000 to 5000 words a day when i really cut loose. And some of the things I discovered as I churned forward, cleaning up the plot, took the book from "where is this going" to "I can't do that, can I?" to "O.M.G. that's an AMAZING idea!" which I now love.

Lots to do to clean this up. Can't really show an excerpt - all of this stuff is too near the end of the book. Spoilers.

But still … viiictory.

Now, on to the edits of … THE CLOCKWORK TIME MACHINE! After a nap.

-the Centaur

North, South, East, West … and Wonder

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Has it only been 3 days? Since 1:37AM on Friday morning and now, I've written about 10,000 words. And I'm hoping to get 1,000 to 2,000 more words done tonight - ideally, 3,300 which will put me up to date on Camp Nanowrimo, so I can start to RELAX at last. But it's left me a bit loopy, especially with static at work and from neighbors and with my wife's art show coming up rapidly.

Oh hey, a quick aside on that:


You all should go to the Color Me Free show by my wife Sandi Billingsley, which starts this Friday at Kaleid Gallery in downtown San Jose - opening reception from 7 to 11, this Friday, May 1st.

Okay, back to procrastinating on these three thousand words. That looniness has been very, very creative! The story is really fleshing itself out in strange and unexpected ways. I quote a discussion with a fellow writer who's helping me research the science of the magic of the faery kingdom. Looking it over … hmm … seems pretty spoiler-free. So here is what I told her:

I discovered something about the fae in the Dakota Frost universe which I totally think you will appreciate because you also design faerie worlds. I can explain to you more the next time I see you on Tuesday [at the Write to the End group], but I figured out where they're from, why they left, how they got here, why they're so weird about names and fates and everything, and even why faerie is strange and pathless!

Ok, the last one I got from that crocheting book [Crocheting Adventures with Hyperbolic Planes]: faerie has hyperbolic geometry ... and hyperbolic geometry cannot be contained in normal three dimensional space. It's like having a map with north, south, east, west and one more direction - the map folds up, wrinkles up like those crocheted hyperbolic planes - and the worst part will be the boundary of the human and faerie worlds, where, forced into a place where it won't fit, it ultimately wrinkles over and starts crossing over itself! Neat, eh?

Well, at least I think it's neat. Faerie has five cardinal directions: North, South, East, West … and Wonder! How inspirational! Onward! Only … a whole normal day's writing ahead of me. Aaa!

Still … onward, into wonder!

-the Centaur