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Anvil of Tears

One of the next things I need to do is write up an outline for Aron to begin work on Spear of Fire. (That’s the extra Reforged book that will come after Hammer of Time.) But when I finished the original trilogy, I threw away all of my notes!

Never, ever do that, writers. Or anyone. Always keep your notes! You never know when you might need them!

It’s been long enough since working on any of the Reforged books that I don’t remember very many world details. What’s the money system? What year is it in the Reforged universe? What was the name of that one Mirran singer we briefly referenced once? I might need them! What color do Ixthian eyes turn when they’re angry? Shit!

So now I need to read over all of the Reforged books, starting with Anvil of Tears, and taking notes on names, places, descriptions and so on.  ( At some point, we have plans for a sequel to In the House of Five Dragons. I tossed the notes when I finished that, too. Reconstructing those is going to be an ordeal, too.)

But Anvil of Tears was our first novel. Hell, when I first published the book, it didn’t even have Aron’s name on it. Like all first books, it’s… a little rough. A lot of authors call their first book a trunk novel. Because it goes in a trunk and stays there. I would never go so far as to say I regret publishing Anvil of Tears. I don’t. But I’ve always admitted that it’s not exactly my strongest work. Whenever we get a new reader who starts with that book, I wince a little. So now that I need to read over the Reforged trilogy again, I figured it was a good opportunity to brush it up. Not the events or anything, but the prose and the dialog.

I really braced myself before starting. I reminded myself over and over to cut myself some slack. Anvil of Tears was my very first book. I had never so much as taken a writing class other than basic high school and college English. I never read a book on writing or listened to a podcast. But you know what? I’m a few chapters in and it’s not nearly as bad as I feared. Sure, the writing is rough, but I still love the stories and the characters of Anvil of Tears. I had forgotten how much fun it was to write Maeve and Logan in particular, and am having an absolute blast going back to their story.

I’m really looking forward to the next few weeks of work on Anvil of Tears, and then the rest of the series. Just from a time perspective, I hope the other books don’t need as many updates, but I’ll do whatever needs to be done. I still love Reforged and want to make it the best it can be.

I’m not quite sure yet how I’ll manage releasing the new version. Do I send it out under the same ISBN? Give it a new one and an edition number? I’ll ask around and see how other authors do it.

Afterword on Lily Quinn

A little while ago, I added an end note to the first Lily Quinn book about the process of writing the whole book. For most retailers, this will only go out to readers who buy it after I added it. For anyone else interested in reading about how and why we wrote Lily Quinn, here it is:

Well, that was filthy, wasn’t it? We hope you had half as much fun reading Wanted Undead or Alive as Eric and I did writing it.

Okay, we actually hope for more than half. But the point is that we had a ton of fun writing this book and the entire Lily Quinn series. We pretty much took our favorite genres, tropes and dirty fantasies, then mixed them together in a big jug. Cheers!

I’ll admit that this isn’t what we usually write… sort of. Let me explain: Since long before Eric and I started publishing Lily Quinn stories, we’ve been writing science fiction and fantasy novels under the names Erica Lindquist and Aron Christensen. As of this publication, we have eleven fiction books and two non-fiction books (table-top RPG game storytelling guides) published under those names. Right now, we’re working on several more genre books that will be released with the Lindquist and Christensen names on them. Weird westerns, in case you were wondering. In case you’re not familiar with the genre, that’s westerns with monsters and/or magic.

But since even before any of those books, Eric and I have been writing each other naughty stories. Just for fun, just for each other. Sometimes they’re about original characters, video game characters (we have written some wicked smutty Borderlands and Resident Evil fanfic), or television characters. I have a particular lady-boner for Shiro from the new Voltron franchise. Mmm.

Where was I? Well, Eric and I had been privately engaged in the filthy fiction trade for a long time when I shame-facedly admitted that to some friends. They not only failed to be aghast, but they thought it was awesome. Yeah, acceptance! That was a damned good day.

Just about the time I finally adjusted to the idea that my friends knew this dirty little secret, one of them suggested that we go all out and actually publish some of them. By that time, we had released almost a dozen mainstream genre books and knew the self-publishing process pretty well. This meant that loosing some naughty stories on the general public should be easy, my friend reasoned. Right?

I think I choked on my soda or lemonade or whatever the fuck I was drinking right then. It might have been nothing – the idea of letting other people read our smut was enough to have me choking on nothing but pure shock. That was insanity… wasn’t it?

I sat on the idea for months, just pondering it. I fantasized about what it would be like to be a porn author, how much fun it would be to write full-length stories instead of just single scenarios. Oooh, and cover art! That’s always one of the best parts of writing a book, when we get to commission art and actually see our creations…!

Before I knew it, the idea had fully taken root. I wanted to do it. So did Eric. We were still a little nervous, though, so we put together a collection of three other non-paranormal stories about Miss Rose, a psychology professor and domme, and her student, Alex. I had written the first two stories just for Eric years before, but I added a final chapter to the collection before we gave it to our friends.

To say we chewed our nails while we waited to hear back would be an understatement. I just about chewed my fingers off. But they liked Miss Rose! A couple of readers said they wished our glasses-wearing domme were real – they would sign up for a session in a heartbeat!

We couldn’t ask for a much better response than that. So we edited the Miss Rose collection, came up with a new set of pen names, and published it.

Then we got to the even more fun work of figuring out what other naughty stories we were going to write. Miss Rose was a lot of fun, but Eric and I both wanted to write something with more magic and monsters in it. We’re still sci-fi and fantasy nerds at heart, after all.

But one of the things that was most important to us was that the sex be a true part of the story. I’ve read romance and erotica before, and when the sex isn’t important to the overall narrative thread, I quickly lose interest. Because I’m also a story whore – story comes first, before anything else.

And because there’s a lot of bad porn out there. Written porn has always been my preferred form of smut, and the quality – of story, of characters, and editing – that’s freely available is so often disappointing. That’s one of the reasons Eric and I have been writing each other custom pieces for almost two decades.

And you know what? People deserve good porn. If we couldn’t find the kind and quality of naughty writing we wanted, we figured there might be other people looking for something better, too. So we figured that we were writing the stuff we always wanted to read, and if anyone else was looking for the same thing, there was finally some great sex with fun stories for them, too.

It was also very important to Eric and I that we create a sex-positive body of fiction. Everyone in what we call the Quinniverse has fun. No one gets their hearts broken – at least not for long – and you won’t find anyone in these pages ashamed of sex, of who they sleep with or what they like. Everyone enjoys themselves and has fun.

So we created Lilith Quinn, a half-succubus monster hunter who needed sex to do her job. From there, we came up with the outline for the entire series in about a week. It came together so perfectly, so naturally that we could barely write it all down fast enough. There were issues, sure – like exactly how Lily’s powers worked, managing the over-arching story and the romance – but plotting the Lily Quinn series was some of the greatest fun I’ve ever had.

I wrote up detailed outlines of each book for Eric and he had the entire series drafted in three months! Three! It took me a hell of a lot longer to do rewrites (where I heavily embellish Eric’s work and add between 30-50% of the final word count) and edits, then to subject beta readers to our creations.

Our other writing projects pretty much came to a screeching halt for eighteen months while we wrote, edited and released the Lily Quinn books. That was a long time to step away from our other stories, but I loved every minute of it! I love the world, the characters and all the sex they have. I adore every bit of the silly, sappy bullshit that Eric and I created together. We’ve written quite a few books by now, but Lily Quinn – for all its silliness, naughtiness and porn’s inability to ever reach the largest audiences – may be my favorite thing we’ve ever written.

So thank you for joining us on this crazy little adventure. It’s been a blast!

– Natalie Severine

Reblog: 5 Ways Your DM Can Ruin Any D&D Session

These are pretty basic, but things like not knowing the rules or your audience/players can ruin any gaming session, regardless of system.

Dungeons And Dragons is awesome and fun and crazy, but if you’re not careful, it can also be boring, awkward, and shitty. Often times the outcome is dependent on the Dungeon Master (DM). I’ve been DMing for longer than I haven’t been DMing, and a lot of people tell me I’m a great at it. I don’t believe them, but despite this, I contend that my successes are based on a few key areas I like to drill down on (as well as shortcomings I try to avoid in my travels through various roleplaying circumstances). Here’s a few areas where I think Dungeon Masters tend to fuck up, and ways they can fuck up in their attempts not to fuck up.

#5. Not Knowing The Rules

Role-playing games are for nerds*, and nerds are known for their mastery over minutia. The Dungeon Master is the Alpha Nerd* — the beginning and end of the game, the universe and the god and the world and the history and the physics engine and the set dressing and the props and all the different ways those things interact and work together. And that means knowing a ton of rules. DnD is a lot like sex: when it’s good, it’s good … when it’s bad you just want to leave, and when you’re constantly stopping to look things up it kills the mood.

*not really but just go with me for a fucking second

Read the rest of the article on Cracked >>

Rewrites completed

Howling For More headerI just finished off rewrites for Stefano’s stand-alone Lily Quinn novel, Howling For More. Just in case it’s not clear, the rewrite pass is when I go through Aron/Eric’s original manuscript and retype the whole thing with about a bazillion additions and changes. The draft he gave me was about 35,000 words. The one I’m handing back is just over 60,000.

The book isn’t finished just yet. In addition to still needing cover art, we’ve got about a dozen rounds of editing and beta reading before Howling For More is ready for publication. But the first and second drafts are the longest, most difficult part of any manuscript. We’re maybe… 80% done with the book, I think?

Don’t let that figure fool you, though. I’m SUPER excited! For one thing, it’s been a while since I finished a full-length novel. All of the Lily Quinn books fall into the category of novellas, but Howling For More is a full and proper novel.

For another, that means we’re on the downhill side of the overall process. And when I’m done with Howling For More, it’s time to get back to work on Hangman’s Cross! It’s been nearly two years now since I had to put that book down to write Lily Quinn. At the time, we weren’t sure exactly what to do with Hangman’s Cross and the second book, Burning Noose. But we’ve finished 14 books since then – HOLY SHIT! – and feel ready to tackle that story again.

I’m excited about the work I’ve finished, but even more excited about the work ahead of me. So I guess I better get to it!