My 13 Favorite Shadow World Scenes (So Far)

One thing I love about a book release is catching people quoting their favorite lines and scenes.  It makes me think about my own favorites in the series, and how they might differ from a reader’s.  There are some moments that have just been a blast to write, some so much so that I didn’t want them to be finished and would keep going back over them hoping I could stay engaged with the moment.

So, for fun, here are my favorite moments and scenes (sometimes chapters) of the Shadow World series thus far.  The list is weighted slightly toward Shadowstorm because it’s freshest on my mind, but they’re in order of chronology, not preference.

Needless to say, SPOILERS FOR THE ENTIRE SHADOW WORLD SERIES UP TO BOOK 6

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1. Queen of Shadows – Opening Scene

Untitled 2Openings are freaking HARD to write, but after about fifty different takes on it, I was satisfied.  I just loved the image of our poor, mentally battered heroine finding herself buying beer and candy bars next to the man who will turn out to be her partner – who is himself there buying ice cream blissfully unaware he’s just met his soul mate.

One of the things I was trying to do in QoS was to lay it all out there from page 1 – I never made any real secret of how things would end up for Miranda.  I wasn’t interested in some will they/won’t they tired romantic cliche; I was interested in how and why.   As the LOLCats say, “WHY YOU SURPRISED? IS TITLE OF BOOK!”

 

2. Queen of Shadows – Miranda and David’s “first date”

There’s something so fun about the juxtaposition of supernatural creatures and incredibly ordinary situations.  First, we start off seeing Kat and Drew react to David’s sudden appearance, their first impression being David asking if he should kill Drew; then Miranda drags him off for ice cream, and we get to watch a 350 year old nerd scarf down a sundae that would render most humans catatonic from sugar overload.  After that, of course, is the shagging, which is always fun.

3. Shadowflame – “The Prime of California Had Arrived.”

Deven’s introduction in the second book remains one of top five in the whole series.  I just love the “visual” – it’s a cinematic and iconic moment.  I particularly like the “shot” of Deven wordlessly pulling aside the lapel of his coat and exposing both Ghostlight and his Signet – Miranda knows exactly who she’s dealing with before a name is spoken by either.  The next few chapters in fact delight me because I know that all the enmity between them will eventually turn into an intimate friendship that changes them both profoundly.  You’d never know it based on how they meet.  I love that.

4. Shadow’s Fall – A Doomed Shag

Again, it’s those seemingly ordinary moments that I enjoy most with my characters, and the part in the third book where Miranda and David attempt to have sex but she ends up falling off the desk and he gets hit in the head with his own Signet tickles me.  I’ve always thought sex is kind of inherently silly, and if you can’t laugh with your partner, your relationship is probably going to get really boring really quickly.  No couple has misty Sarah McLachlan sex or mad passionate Nine Inch Nails “Closer” sex every time.  Not even badass vampires.

5. Shadow’s Fall – The very last line of the book

Oh, that line still makes me so happy.  Shadow’s Fall was arduous to write; there was so much Untitled 2aawfulness about to happen, and getting there with the right amount of tension and pain took a lot out of me.  I knew people were going to lose their minds when it was pretty clear that yes, David was really dead – and I let that shock stay in place up to the very last possible second, but I didn’t want to drag it out just for the sake of drama.  I wanted everything to fall apart so utterly it would break every heart in the room (it sure as hell broke mine), but then to offer this bewildering second of hope with a dose of WTF that I hoped would sustain everyone the year it would take to get the sequel out.  I like to think it worked.

6. Of Shadow Born – The Haven Comes Back to Life

The fourth book is one of my favorites – I just felt like the whole thing clicked really well.  I loved watching Miranda try to hold herself together without David; not so much because of the sadness involved, but because it showed both the strength of her character and how much she had learned in the last few years about how to lead and how to survive.  The moment where she hits the recall button to call the Elite back to the Haven, and all the systems come back online while Stella watches, gets me every time.

7. Of Shadow Born – Olivia’s Houseguest

I was really proud of the scene where David wakes up in Olivia’s loft with his mind all screwed up after the transition to Thirdborn (and that whole resurrection thing) – I doubt anyone really noticed, but the scene starts out without any actual reference to David himself.  No pronouns, no sense of who he is as a narrator – I mean, we know who he is, but it’s not even until midway through the scene that he starts thinking of himself as “he.”  The moment he says, “I’m alive,” the language switches to a more traditional narrative.  Maybe it’s pretentious, but it was fun as hell to write.

8. Shadowbound – The Proposal

I’m so mean to poor Deven.  Miranda has to deal with a lot of tragedy and pain, but most of it comes from outside herself; she doesn’t for a second believe she knows everything, but she does know herself, and knows who she wants to be.  Dev on the other hand is locked in a seven-century battle with his own self-hatred.  But I wanted to give him just a little bit of happiness before the next tragedy befell him, and what seems like a totally random idea on Jonathan’s part leads Dev to one of the few purely happy experiences of his life.

You know, until I fuck it all up in the next chapter.

9. Shadowbound – Turning Nico

Nico’s another fun character because of inner conflict.  His perspective on becoming and living as a vampire is fundamentally different from the others’ so turning him into a vampire was a chance to turn all that white light and happy trees stuff upside down and expose the darker creature underneath.  I especially like when he tries to eat Stella in the library; who doesn’t love bitey sexual tension?  A relationship between the two of them seemed like just the right kind of weird.  The best part, though, is the way he reacts to Miranda and David in that scene – there’s more to a Signet than just legal authority, there’s an instinctive recognition and fear even for an above average vamp like Nico.  We also get our first real look at the chemistry between him and David, which I always thought was a yummy thing indeed.

10. Shadowstorm – Miranda’s Walk to Holding

Everyone loves that moment in a movie where the bad guy is marched down a hallway by law enforcement, most likely to the glass-walled cage he’ll escape from in the next act.  I’d been itching to give Miranda a scene like that, showing how alienated she’s become from the human world even though technically she’s still a part of it.

11. Shadowstorm – David Juggling Nutter Butters

I mean, c’mon, if you were telekinetic you’d totally do the same thing.

12. Shadowstorm – Deven and Miranda’s Coffee Date

Untitled 2bEvery writer slips bits of her own history into her characters’ lives.  Miranda’s story about getting busy in a Burger King bathroom was actually taken from my own life.  I enjoyed writing the scene just because I love writing good conversation – plus, it was a lot of fun giving Deven a giggle fit.

Not to mention, in order for Dev to know so enough about Harry Potter fan fiction to come up with an accurate-sounding porn fic username, he had to have read some at some point, and that thought give me  a giggle fit.

13. Shadowstorm – This Love

The scene where Deven and Nico finally sleep together was probably my favorite to write in Book 6.  I couldn’t tell you why, exactly; there are sexier moments in the book, and more emotional ones, but I worked hard to make it feel like the two of them hooking up was something earned, not just a matter of destiny shoving them together and voila, everything’s peachy.  They both went through a lot to reach each other.  To quote Nico’s thoughts, “Somehow in the midst of everything that was wrong, something had gone very, very right. ”

Don’t forget, Shadowstorm is now available for purchase in paperback and electronic forms – check out this post for more information.

And just FYI, my supporters over at Patreon have already read the first chapter of Book 7.  That could be you too!  Click below to find out more.

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It’s Possible – I’ve Killed a Lot of People.

With Halloween just round the corner and a seemingly endless run of Forensic Files reruns on TV, I found myself pondering the many ways I’ve done my characters in, and how there are certain commonalities.  I apparently get off on blowing people up, for example.  (Who knew?)

Just sticking with the Shadow World novels it was quite a list.  I didn’t include large numbers of unnamed people who died in battles or explosions; I tried to stick mostly to people who at least had a name.

Obviously I’m no George R.R. Martin or anything, but I do seem to burn through vampires at an alarming rate.

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Five Shadow World Things…

…brought to you by the letter C.

1 ~ The Countdown Continues!

Only 36 days until the official release of Shadowflame! I’ll be doing one last ARC giveaway this week, and after that you guys are on your own until the book comes out. *laugh* Well, that’s not entirely true – since I’m currently way too broke to have a big launch party/benefit, I was thinking I might put a signed copy or two up for auction to benefit RAINN.  (I suppose if I was being smart I’d do it to benefit the “Keep Sylvan in Frou-Frou Coffee Beverages So She Can Finish Shadow’s Fall Before Her Unemployment Benefits Run Out” fund.  We’ll see.)

2 ~ A Conspiracy of Cartographers

Since I’m working on the aforementioned third book fast and furiously, I haven’t had time to come up with any fun new Shadow World extras, but I did just post something I made back when I was working on Queen of Shadows – a map of the US Signet territories.  I needed a reference so I’d know who had what state and where the Havens are located, and since I know people love maps, I thought I’d share it.  I don’t have a worldwide Signet map yet, though I’m working on it for Shadow’s Fall, when you’ll get to meet the entire Council.

Here, have a look if you like. Click on the pic to see the details (it’s rather large).

3 ~ A Categorical Caveat

I feel like I should say, before Shadowflame comes out, that if you’re going into it expecting another romance like Queen of Shadows, well…sorry.  There’s a reason QoS was labeled Urban Fantasy even though it was obviously a romantic story; Shadowflame has a faster pace and more action, though it definitely packs its own emotional wallop.  The series as a whole begins with Miranda and David’s courtship, but things aren’t always rosy in the land of Primes and Queens.  Mistakes will be made – huge ones – and evil of all kinds will try to tear our Pair apart, but I can promise you this:  no matter what happens, Miranda and David are mated in soul, and the only thing that can end their relationship is death. They’re stuck with each other’s flaws and fuckups until the day they die.   That doesn’t mean their relationship won’t evolve and change as they mature together, and it doesn’t mean there won’t be pain or loss, but it does mean that the foundation, their love for each other and their equal partnership, is forever.  I don’t write idyllic romances where everything is neat and tidy ever after. Not only is that kind of thing unrealistic, it’s boring.

4 ~ Continuation and Commitment

For those who have asked, ideally (purely hypothetical at this point) the series will be somewhere around eight books long.  This is totally subject to change depending on a) how the story goes and b) what my publisher decides it wants from me.  There is a lot of story to tell, and it gets pretty freaking epic in scale; there’s also another aspect of the Shadow World I could quite easily dive into and get another series out of.  But that’s way, way in the future; for now, I’m concentrating on the storyline of books 1-4.  (#4 hasn’t sold yet, but unless Ace wants to be very, very cruel to you all, hopefully they’ll take it.)

5 ~ Caught on Camera

If you’re interested in seeing some of the visual inspiration for the books, check out my Shadow World Pinboard; when I come across faces, places, and other things that help shape a character’s appearance or a scene setting in my mind, I Pin them for later perusal.  It has everything from what I envision the Signets looking like (sort of) to t-shirts David wears to the various animals and Austin landmarks that appear in the books.  I’m thinking that just for fun I might do a Google Map sometime of the actual places mentioned in Queen of Shadows – not all of them are real, but quite a few do exist, and if you’re ever in our fair city, you should visit them (and eat their ice cream, because OMG).

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January: Another Learning Experience, Damn It

So, yeah, January was…a month.  With 31 days in it.

Hmm.

Rather a rocky start to 2011, at least for me and a lot of people I know – lots of illness, lots of drama, lots of rides on the bipolarcoaster (one minute you’re on top of the world, the next you’re screaming your head off).  It wasn’t until I looked back at my journal entries for the entire month that I realized just how tough it was for me.

February’s frigid arrival here in Texas was such a relief!  I personally love the cold, and it swept all the cobwebs out of my brain, leaving me in a much better place on Tuesday than I was on Monday.  This past weekend while I was recovering from the Great Barf-tastrophe, I was in something of an emotional tailspin, but the universe flipped the Sylvan switch with the cold front and I’m doing much better now – well enough to evaluate my progress, or lack thereof, on my Sacred Intentions without feeling like a total loser.

Work Toward Wellness

Hoo boy. I didn’t do so well on this one in January – there were lots of false starts and a good deal of burying my head in the sand.  I did, however, learn a few new things about my body that are proving very significant, and it turns out there was an up side to getting so sick:  I had been seriously overdoing it on the caffeine front, and for someone with a dodgy heart that can be a big problem.  The Barf-tastrophe, however, forced me to detox, because I was stuck in my apartment with no caffeine for three days.  Several days of withdrawal headaches later, I decided to see how it felt to stick with the decaf routine, expecting that I’d be sleepy and groggy and other Dwarves as well…but I haven’t been.

In fact the past few days I’ve felt great, which I’m almost afraid to say out loud.  It’s not just the caffeine; I started taking some supplements to help while I’m learning to eat more nourishing food, including flaxseed oil (Omega 3s), a B-vitamin complex, and calcium/magnesium (good for depression as well as cardiac issues).  I’ve also cut way back on my crap consumption, though I haven’t quite made it to vegan yet.  Give me another month, though.

Now that I think about it, I didn’t do so terribly in January after all.

My intention for February is to keep moving toward dietary changes and, for the love of Goddess, get back to Nia!  I barely went at all in January and spent way more time couch-surfing than I wanted to.  This is due in part to the winter weather, which has given me the urge to hibernate rather than dance, but I’ve definitely felt the absence of movement.

Financial Responsibility

Not bad on this front – I paid off a credit card and did my taxes this month, both of which are Very Grown Up Things indeed.  Thanks to some adjustments I made in 2010 I managed to come out ahead with the IRS for the first time in three years.

Be a better daughter

Not much progress in this area – I tend not to communicate at all when I’m feeling poorly, so I ended up missing my weekly call to the Mothership, but we caught up yesterday.  This intention isn’t so much a set of goals as it is a reminder to be mindful, so there’s really no “success” or “failure” even loosely defining the terms.

Seek Out Adventure

Eh, not so much this month.  That’s okay. I am hatching nefarious plans.  It’s far easier to have adventures when you’re not hiding under the covers.

Writing-Fu

In addition to getting the copy edits done on Shadowflame (YAY!), I started posting Shadow World extras here on the site, and I’m working on another one right now.  Meanwhile I’ve made progress on Book 3, though not as much as I’d like.  I’m most of the way through Chapter 1, though, which is most of a chapter more than I had started in December.  I’m confident that the Fever will hit me soon and I’ll be immersed in my lovely dark little world again.  That’s part of why I’m doing the extras – scenes and silly skits like the “Cast Meeting” help me work through blockages and get my mind back into sync with the characters.

A couple of people have asked why “The Space Between” wasn’t in Queen of Shadows, and I suppose I should have made it clearer that the scene wasn’t actually written until after the book was finished.  Some of what will come up on the Extras page was cut from the original books, but that one in particular didn’t come to me until near the end of editing QoS, so even if I’d wanted to add it in, it was too late.  However, the book ends exactly where and how I want it to.

(Not to mention “The Space Between” is written in first person and the book is not, so it wouldn’t have meshed anyway.)

When you Google "February" you get lots of Valentine's Day crap...and this chicken, for some reason.

Tally-ho, February!  You’re usually a wretched month for me, but so far you’re pretty cool…pardon the pun, fellow Texans who are freezing their nubbies off today.  We’re expecting honest-to-god snow tonight, and it hasn’t been above freezing in two days now, two conditions not exactly common to the Lone Star State.  People in northern climes are laughing at us, but our infrastructure isn’t built to handle this kind of weather – we don’t have plows or snow shovels and most of us don’t even have ice scrapers for our cars.  We shut down when it snows because we have to, not because we’re wusses.  I’ve noticed there’s a lot of bitching coming down when the temperatures reach 100 degrees and nobody up there has air conditioning – and we don’t take “heat days” off work in August, so cut us some slack!

Don’t worry.  Soon it will be Spring and we’ll all be bitching about our allergies.

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Shadowflame: Official Cover Art

I’m quite thrilled to officially show off the final version of the cover art for my second novel, Shadowflame.  The book will hit shelves July 26, 2011 (and trust me, you’ll be hearing plenty more about it before then). Judging from how excited I already am, by July my head will have exploded…of course by then I’ll have finished principal writing on Book 3, so maybe I’ll be too busy for ‘splodey goodness.

From the Back Cover:

It’s been three months since musician Miranda Grey became a vampire and married David Solomon, Prime of the South. As Queen, Miranda must quickly come to terms with her new role and learn how to negotiate the treacherous waters of Signet politics, inevitably making dangerous enemies along the way.

As if complicated vampire politics and a rising music career weren’t enough, an enigmatic but powerful force from David’s past appears, leaving a wake of chaos and uncertainty for the Pair’s fledgling relationship. Miranda begins to realize how little she really knows about her husband. But when an assassin begins targeting her friends and allies, the Pair must track down the killer, even as their lives hang in the balance…

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