Thursday, January 26, 2012

It's simple math, really.

Sometimes I storyboard. I take a pack of index cards, write down all the scenes that are jumbled together in my mind (one scene per card), and lay them out on the carpet. This way, I can see if the storyline and character arc makes sense. I like storyboarding more than outlining because I feel as if I have more leeway to add scenes, delete scenes, and shuffle stuff around (this advantage, of course, is all in my head because cut & paste lets me do all of that on the computer). It's a way of getting organized that works for me.

Below is one of the cards from a novella I just finished:

Recognize those names? ;)

Friday, January 20, 2012

On heroes, villains, and what I can get away with.

A while back I got a rejection letter (I know, shocker, right?). It was nice as far as rejection letters go. Said my writing skills were tight. The story itself was too dark, though. I know this because the word ‘dark’ was used five times in two paragraphs.

It made me realize that I’m not so good at telling my heroes from my antiheroes from my villains, and that this could actually be a problem.

click the pic to learn more about One ShotSometimes I don’t cross a line by much and an editor will tell me how to revise. In the original manuscript of One Shot, Riley was much scarier than he is in the published version. When I made him nicer I made the mistake of not toughening up Nick by a proportional amount, but Nick’s still a little hottie in my book so that’s okay.

click the pic to learn more about Want MeWalker Cain from Want Me, however, didn't get dialed down at all. For good or ill, it was one of the reasons I chose to self-publish. It meant I could go crazy with the storyline. I got to write a character who literally had no concept of right and wrong, not even as other people saw it. He wanted. He took. That was his life. Unfortunately what he wanted most was Joel, and the spiral they were thrown into as a result turned out to be razor sharp and painful for both of them.

Ahh, how I loved that book.

Still, there was an element of likability to Walker. Partly because he just didn't know any better. Innocence born from madness.

click the pic if you'd like to learn more about Just PerfectDraven Donnor is not mad. He knows exactly what he's doing. And he knows that almost everything he does is not right by human standards. So that would make him a villain, yeah? Except that he's not human. He has a moral code, but it's a product of who he is, of a culture very different than ours. And when it comes to Cody, he's all about loving, he's all about protecting, he's all about getting closer. So he's got flaws, but he also has one really, really good trait. Maybe that makes him an antihero. But…

When he becomes an assassin, he finds that he enjoys his job. That never changes. No angst. No crisis of conscience. Plus at the beginning of the story he steals from Cody. His best friend. Which brings us back into villain territory. On the other hand, from his perspective he is a natural, right being, rightly doing what comes naturally to him. Then again, most villains think the same thing about themselves, meaning Antihero Upgrade denied.

As you can see, I’m not entirely certain how I should feel about my newest character. But I feel for him all the same. He is Draven and I love him. Just like I love Walker. Just like all those psychotic characters I adore so much in anime. (I’m looking at you, Akabane.)

This says something serious about my psyche. I've yet to figure out what, exactly. As the writer of such stories, am I the hero or the villain? Maybe I’m trying to write the best story possible with a concept that’s always intrigued me, and maybe I hope Just Perfect catches on and its popularity will let me write more of it. Some of the stories I'd like to tell are cool and dark and possibly twisted. And I believe they belong on the shelf right next to my fluffy stories, because I love fluffy too.

Perhaps my ultimate goal is to bring balance to my backlist. That’s a worthy aspiration, even if the road is five times as dark.

Does that mean I'm the antihero?

Or am I just a writer with wicked thoughts, trying to see what xe can get away with?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Just Perfect Release Day

My new novella, Drayner Series #1 - Just Perfect, is officially available from Torquere Press.

I hope you like it. ;)


click the pic to visit the book's Torquere pageThree years ago, Draven was forced to leave behind his human best friend to become a Drayner Assassin. Cody knew nothing of Draven's ability to steal a person's physical attributes by touch, and the Drayner intends to keep it that way when he returns to Maryland. Remembering the innocent, flawless human he left behind, he looks forward to rekindling his relationship with his friend.

He's taken aback to find Cody a different man, and Draven is stunned by his own attraction to a harder, more brilliant kind of perfection. But getting close to the human is not easy—Draven has more secrets than ever. Like that day, all those years ago…

When he used his magic to steal from Cody.

Friday, January 13, 2012

X’s and Bios

I’ve written and rewritten this post so many times over the last few months. The drafts ranged from Dramatic Announcement to Flippant Lines to Absolutely Nonsensical. I knew what I wanted to say—just couldn’t figure out how to say it. But writing is all about drafts, so let’s give it another try:

It’s nothing big in the grand scheme of things. Just decided to use gender-neutral pronouns in my author biographies. I prefer them over “he” or “she” in reference to myself, and I complain a lot that I hardly ever see them used. I say I don’t use them because most people don’t know what the hell I’m talking about, and because there’s no standardized system for gender-neutral pronouns in America and Why does America suck so bad?!

Around then is when I realized I might be part of the problem, because if I don’t use them, then how the hell are the people around me supposed to become familiar with them?

So I’m going to use them now. In my author bios, as well as during those odd times when I think it’s a good idea to talk about myself in the third person. I don’t think it’ll change anyone else’s lives in any significant way, but it’ll change my life, and that’s what I’m going for.

Now, there is one advantage to having no standardized system for gender-neutral pronouns in America. It means I still have time to put in my vote, and I’m going with the X-set:

Xe, Xem, Xyr, Xyrs, Xemself

The “X” in these has the same sound as the “X” in xylophone.

The Sie/Hir set is probably more common, and I’ve used it online on several occasions. Using them can be an interesting study in perception because in my experience most people will assume I’ve made a typo and will correct it for me. So “Hir” is often reflected back at me as “His” or “Her” depending on the person reading it. It’s kinda cool from a sociological standpoint.

But I’m also a writer, and I’d rather not have people thinking I make that many typos. :-D

With the X-set, it’s pretty obvious that I’m deliberately spelling the words that way. Plus it fits well with “Mx.” in place of “Mr./Ms./Mrs./Miss” and I absolutely believe that “Mx.” should be an option on every form that feels it requires that sort of information. And, come on, X’s are cool.

I went through a phase (that I’m likely still going through) where I tried on all sorts of pronouns, looking for a set that fit me. I don’t mind He/She. I tend to joke that since I’m gender fluid, chances are one of those is right some of the time. The Sie/Ze/En sets made me feel more…settled. But the X set is, by far, my favorite, and it’s my bio. So, by definition, it’s all about me, yeah? ;)

If you’re interested, I’m posting the revised bio below. It's nothing in the grand scheme of things, but it's changed my life for the better.

Born an Air Force dependent, Rowan McBride traveled the world and totally missed the 80’s as most Americans know it. In exchange, xe’s gotten to walk in clogs, break an arm at Mt. Fuji, and say prayers at a Korean Buddhist temple. So far it seems like a fair trade. Although xe graduated from high school in Hawaii, xe didn’t learn to hula and make leis until going to college in Iowa. After leaving the Midwest, xe moved to Washington, DC and very nearly got xemself a Juris Doctor degree. Now xe’s chilling out in Texas, diabolically planning road trips that could span years.

People say xyr life is random, and that’s probably true. Rowan comforts xemself with the working theory that a random life makes for good stories. When that doesn’t work, there’s Pocky. Lots and lots of Pocky.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Excerpt: Just Perfect

click the pic to learn more about Just Perfect

Excerpt: Just Perfect

Rowan McBride

Available January 18th from Torquere Press :)

Just Perfect © 2012 by Rowan McBride. All rights reserved. This story may not be reproduced in whole or in part without author's permission.

Flagging down a taxi was easy enough. I settled him inside and climbed in after. "Cody, tell the cabbie your address."

He turned his head, his cheeks flushed with liquor. "You're coming home with me?""Yeah," I said, keeping my gaze fixed on the seat in front of me.

Cody chuckled and told the driver his address.

"What's so funny?"

"I don't know," he said, his shoulders shaking. "I just feel like laughing."

I glanced at him, taking in that smooth, flawless skin. "For a second there I didn't think you'd ever laugh around me again. Not like that."

"Back in the bar..." He rubbed at the tears forming in his eyes. "It felt like you were coming to my rescue. Like old times." He focused on me, his gaze going from playful to piercing and back again. "Silly, huh?"

I'd never seen eyes like that. "I don't think it is."

He curled his legs into the seat, tucked his arm under his head. "I think I'm drunk."

"I think you are too." But hell if it wasn't adorable.

Cody went quiet, staring at me. I tried not to squirm under the attention, but damn. He didn't say another word until we'd arrived at his apartment complex.

He fumbled for his wallet and I stayed his hand. "I've got the cash; don't worry."

His arm fell to the side. I paid the cabbie and scooped Cody into my arms, lifting him out of the taxi and surveying the complex.

Cody laughed. "This is just like when I twisted my ankle and you carried me to the nurse's office. Remember that?"

I smiled down at him, held him a little closer. "I remember you begged me to put you down the whole way there. Is that what you want now?"

"Nah." He waved his hand, like he was trying to sweep the question out of the air. "It's late. Doubt anyone'll see us this time around."

This time around. Hopefully that meant I had a second chance in more ways than one. "Where to?"

He flung his arm out and pointed to our right.

I carried him to the building and through the lobby. We rode the elevator to the seventh floor, and he threw his arm to the left.

"It's number 706," he said lightly.

When I stopped in front of his door, he wriggled his way out of my arms.

Shit, his body felt good.

Cody fumbled for his keys, managed to get the door open. I helped him inside and closed it behind us.

His knees buckled and I hooked an arm around his waist, holding him against me.

"Thanks," he said, smiling again.

The breath skittered in my chest. I'd never been dazzled by a smile before. "Any time."

"So this is my place," he said, gesturing to the studio apartment before sliding his palms up my arms. His head fell onto my shoulder. "You smell like fresh-tilled earth." He chuckled into my shirt. "Shit, I really am drunk."

My body tensed--could he smell the death around me? Was he saying I smelled like a grave?

"Hard as a rock," he murmured. "Just like I remember."

I groaned, unable to take it anymore as I tipped him backward. "Cody," I said, getting brave because he was drunk, "what kind of guys are you in to?"

He laughed and thrust his hand into my hair. "I like them tall and dark." He gave my head a hard tug. "I like them to have all the muscle I could never pack on to my own body."

My lips parted.

His gaze dipped to my mouth, and he lifted his other hand to brush a thumb against it. "Draven Donnor," he murmured, all humor draining away. "My first crush."

Learn more about Just Perfect at

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A Just Perfect Cover

There are so many horrible horrible ways to work the title of my latest novella into a sentence, and you will quite possibly see me use every single one of them eventually. For that, I apologize in advance. But there is a bright side. My brand new cover, for instance!

click here to learn more about Just Perfect

Snazzy, yeah? And you’ll be able to get both the cover and the story from Torquere Press on January 18th, 2012. :)