Writing Update: Return of the Fae 4-5

You might have noticed that the numbers changed since the last time I wrote a post. That’s a good thing!

Yes, I finished writing book 4 and sent it off to my alpha readers just this week. That means I’ll be doing edits and fixes for a while. Yeah, that’s always a thing.

In the meantime, I’m working on the outline for book 5, though I do have two chapters written already. I anticipate it going slowly at first, because it usually does. And that’s okay. It is what it is. I just hope to reach the end without having to re-plot as many times as I did for #4!

This book will have more drama, of course, though in some ways its a lot quieter than the last book. Since the war is over (spoiler), I’m going for more emotional drama in the aftermath. I’ve already managed to make Gil think I ruined his life. He’s so over-dramatic sometimes…

And for the particularly good news…

Book two is now live! That’s right, The Peril of the Fae is finished and out in the world! Woohoo!

Those of you who discovered that book 1 ended rather abruptly will be relieved to know book 2 picks up right where we left off. We get to see actual first contact (instead of mistaken identity), and ladies and gents, it is so much fun!

Anyway, I’d better get back to work, but I just wanted to give you a quick update. (Go get the book!)

Happy reading,
Marty C. Lee

© 2024 M. C. Lee LLC. All rights reserved.

Writing Update: Return of the Fae 3-4

Apparently the last time I told you how my writing was going, I was still plotting book 3 of The Return of the Fae. Well, good news! I finished book 3. My alpha readers are working through it while my beta readers work on book 2. I had a lot of fun, which is usually a good sign that you will enjoy reading it. 😉

Now I’m tangled up in a mix of plotting and drafting for book 4. I’ve already replotted at least three times, and I still have a missing chapter. Don’t ask me how I feel about this unless you enjoy grouchy noises.

But I have finished over a third of book 4 and am now knee-deep in drama. Traitors, magic, and war! And more drama is coming, I promise.

In fact, I’ve already written part of the end of the book (when I got stuck on replotting), and it is so much fun. Mwahahaha! When I stopped to return to what I was actually supposed to be doing, I left a character on their knees in shock. And I wasn’t even finished with the surprises!

This series is very different from Unexpected Heroes in at least a couple of ways. One is the subgenre. Instead of epic fantasy, Return of the Fae is contemporary fantasy with a dash of mythology and dollop of sci fi. Another is the reality check. I’ve managed to shoehorn in a LOT of real-life stuff along with the imaginary fae—although it’s possible I’ve claimed that stuff is related to the fae that, in fact, had absolutely nothing to do with it. (But it works so well…)

If you read The Return of the Fae series and find yourself double-checking the news to see what really happened, then I’ll count the books a success. 😉

Anyway, that’s the update. I’m trying to finish the first draft by the end of April or early May. Before book 2 comes out! I know you’re looking forward to that (as am I), and I want to have time to enjoy the release.

Happy reading,
Marty C. Lee

© 2024 M. C. Lee LLC. All rights reserved.

How I Ramble-Plot a Chapter

I’m trying to include more “how I” posts, even though I realize you probably do things a different way. So this time, it’s how I plot a chapter.

This comes after I have the skeleton of the book outlined, so I know sort of what happens. Yeah, sort of. To figure out what REALLY happens, I go for a walk with my voice recorder, and I talk my way through it. To demonstrate, I’ve included the transcript of an actual plot exercise for The Coming of the Fae, which is in my new series. This scene isn’t terribly spoiler-y (just a little), which is one reason I’m using it instead of something else. I cut out teensy bits for your benefit (stammering, etc), and redacted a spoiler. I stopped the session before reaching the end of the chapter.

(Hop on the treadmill, start the recording)

Okay, we’re going to try chapter 15 again. Ah, which has changed since the last time we tried it, which is all right. And it needs *more, so we need to figure out which threads we have dropped. (Yes, I talk to myself in plural when I plot, because it’s me AND my characters. Or whatever. I’m not crazy.)

So Miknon is going to catch, I guess maybe not over here, but catch some of the highborn swapping empty crates for full ones. Um, moving the food up to their deck.

Let’s see, we also need to check back in on the prince. Oh, in the last chapter with Gil, we need to make sure we have some kind of check in with his family, to see how his mother and brother are doing after the death of Grandpa.

So this chapter, check on the prince, and maybe Miknon is an official spy. Did we already leave the fleet behind? I do not remember. (Pull up outline on phone.) Oo-hoo, do not fall off the treadmill. Ah, yes, we’ve already left the fleet behind. So we need to deal with that. Okay, so this needs to be a political chapter, pretty much.

So in the last chapter whenever it’s appropriate, we need to—we can’t find the council, so we need to keep an eye on them, so the prince asks Miknon to do it, but Miknon doesn’t want to do it. She doesn’t want to be involved in this, and Gil talks her into it, and that I guess is where we give her the friend signals.

Um, okay, so now Miknon is actually following some of them around, trying to find out what they are up to. That’s how she catches them swapping grain. Uh, some of the guards do know (spoiler redacted), dur, because they were in the room when all of this went down. But only a few of the guards. Right, right.

Okay, so, and how are they getting it through the halls—the boxes of grain— without anybody noticing. These people are up at all hours. Okay, what if they have a meeting? The council calls a meeting to update the crew on the progress of the ship and what they’ve discovered. And during the meeting– so everybody who’s awake is at the meeting, supposedly, and they’ll hold another meeting for everyone who’s asleep. And while they’re in the meeting, their cronies are sneaking down the hallway with the grain, and Miknon catches them at it. So she flies in, uh—

But we need to have a funeral, too. Too late to have a funeral, it would have already been way, way over by now. Cuz we are coming up on Mars, right?
Okay, so the meeting is to say we are approaching one of the— we’re approaching the third planet, the red one. Um, it’s half the size of our destination, but we’re going to check it out, because if it’s a possible place to live, then we’ll just move there instead. That’s a good distraction.

Okay. So a lot of backtracking to do. That’s all right, that’s why I plot ahead. (Yes, that’s in the actual recording. I try to encourage myself instead of scold.)
So when Miknon finds out, there are only a limited number of guards that she can talk to, so she has to find one of them. He’s going to pull the rest of the guards and go catch the people, who are going to throw a fit, and Kishar says, um– No, Zaidu says our deck is short on food. The guard says everyone’s deck is short on food. Oh, and Miknon can overhear this by climbing in the light sconce and pretending that she’s supposed to be there. Ha, ha, hide as a light bulb, that’s cute. Okay.

Okay, so… Zaidu says we’re short. Everybody’s short. Well, we’re more important. And ah, this is where we get to pull the (unintelligible), right? And the king promised we would be equal. Well, the king is dead. (Spoiler, sorry, but it wouldn’t make sense without it.) You promised to obey, you promised to follow the will of our leader. The leader is now the council. For now.

And the guard says, well, I can go tell all the lower decks that you’re doing this, and and what will you do then? And Zaidu says our magic is better. And the guard says, do you have enough energy to do your magic when you’re on short rations. Well, we wouldn’t be on short rations if you’d let us take the food. And Kishar says, we don’t want a riot on the ship, and lots of dead bodies would spread disease. We are almost there— he’s right you know. Do the whole Orthallen bit with this. This was a poorly, uh, we apologize for the misunderstanding, and we will put everything back. And Miknon stays in the light sconce, which she gets to, by the way, by sneaking out of the tunnel grille closest to it and gradually coming on. Ah, so she stays there, and after the guard leaves—

Ah, well, okay, so he doesn’t say everything. He says, um, we didn’t realize the other decks were as short as ours. Of course we’re sorry blah blah blah. (Yes, I really said that.) After they leave, then they say, why’d you do that. Well, we can’t afford a riot until we have enough energy to blast them with our magic. Wait until we land and recover, and then we can do whatever we want. Okay, that’s a good start. (End of session.)

I’m sure you noticed several things.

First, I backtrack and change my mind a lot. That’s okay; that’s why I do the pre-plotting.

Second, I change things in previous chapters. Also okay. The back of the embroidery is generally a mess, but the front is the point of the project. In other words, if it works out in the end, it doesn’t matter if the process is messy.

Third, I don’t add much description. That comes later, but it does come. Ditto the emotion. During these plotting sessions, I usually say things like, “He’ll be sad,” or “Insert drama blah blah.” *Shrug* It works for me.

So, does this give me a “finished” plot?

I wish, but no. It does give me really good notes that (usually) let me get the chapter drafted before I go back and edit it. It’s still pretty likely that I will think of stuff to change or add. Again, it doesn’t matter how messy the back of the embroidery is.

What’s the point of this?

Well, first is to entertain you. I know I always like hearing the nitty-gritty details of how authors actually work. If you want a whole book about it, try The Making of Delgath, by Michael J. Sullivan.

Second is to reassure you that it doesn’t matter if your process is different from your writing buddy’s. If it’s working for you, then it’s fine. If it’s not working for you, then try something else.

And in case you missed it, this book is now out! Yay!

Happy writing,
Marty C. Lee

© 2023 M. C. Lee LLC. All rights reserved.

Character Interviews: Coming of the Fae

Today I’m interviewing a few of the characters from The Return of the Fae series, which is coming soon. On my left are Alexandria and Ian Fitch and Nikos Antonakis. On my right are Gil and Miknon… um, what were your last names again? Right, never mind. (It’s rude to ask a fae for more name than they offer.)

(Alexandria is tall, thin, and brunette. Her brother Ian is blond and short for thirteen. Nikos has black curly hair and impressive muscles. Oops, did I say that out loud? Gil also has black hair, though his is badly cut, and he’s wearing a walking cast on one leg. No, he’s not holding a blue doll on his lap; that’s his sister, Miknon, who is an actual fairy. Excuse me, pixie.)

Where do you live?

Alexandria: We’ve lived all over, because Dad’s in the military.

Nikos: I come from Greece, but I’ll be in the United States for a few years for school.

Gil: Earth. Right?

Ian giggles: Right.

But where did you originally come from, Gil and Miknon?

Gil: Another world. Seven worlds, actually. But they are gone now.

It seems all of you have moved around. What’s your favorite thing about your current location?

Alexandria: Not moving anymore.

Ian: My new family.

Gil: All the space to run around. (He taps his cast.) Soon, I mean.

Miknon: Being able to go wherever I want.

What is your job? What do you do with your days?

Alexandria, Ian, Nikos: Student.

Gil: Zookeeper.

Miknon: Light bulb.

I’m sorry, what? Do we have a translation mishap here?

Gil: No, I think she got it right. The glowing thing that lights a room, yes?

What do you consider your greatest achievement so far?

Nikos: Getting my friends away to be safe.

Alexandria: Saving my mother and brother from Dad.

Ian: Convincing Alexandria to let me keep Gil.

Gil: I’m still working on a treaty with Earth.

Miknon: Stealing two hundred children.

Gil: Sorry, wrong word. RESCUING two hundred children.

Miknon: Right. Rescuing. That’s it.

You all seem pretty good at saving people. Who would you turn to if you needed help?

Miknon: My brother, even if he’s the one who got me in trouble in the first place.

Gil: Hey, that’s not fair!

(Miknon glares at him. Gil shrugs.)

Gil: Okay, maybe that’s fair.

Alexandria: I’d turn to my family.

Ian: Alexandria. She has a list for everything.

Alexandria: Hey!

Nikos: Well, that is true. (He ducks her glare.) But she’s very competent.

Gil: So, there was this time Alexandria attacked a knife-wielding crazy man—

(Alexandria clears her throat.)

Gil: I mean, she wasn’t even armed, but—

(Alexandria folds her arms and glares. Gil shrugs and stops talking.)

So, what are your plans for the next year?

Alexandria: Get a scholarship for college and pass all my classes. I hope.

Ian: Learn a couple of languages.

Nikos: Pass my college classes.

Gil: Finish the treaty and make—someone take over for me so I can have some fun.

Miknon: Research murder trials.

Um, okay. Maybe this is a good time to end the interview. Thank you so much for talking with us today.

Happy reading,
Marty C. Lee

© 2023 M. C. Lee LLC. All rights reserved.

Writing Update: New Series

Well, to tell the truth, I’ve actually been working on TWO new series. One is adult paranormal cozy mystery (still clean, because I don’t write steamy), and it will eventually come out under a name variant. No worries; I’ll announce it. The second series wasn’t supposed to be started until after I finished the mystery trilogy, even though it’s under my usual name. I didn’t even know *what I was writing next for young adult, so it made sense to work on the other one first.

I did have a few ideas I was kicking around, but they were very different ideas, and nothing was producing plot or characters in my brain. So I kept thinking while I wrote the mysteries. I had plenty of time, right?

Then my daughter read me something off… Twitter? Facebook? Somewhere on the internet that she reads things. It was a “what if mythology is wrong” kind of thing, but I’m afraid don’t remember exactly what it said. I laughed, as one does, and quipped back about how it could be right if such-and-such.

Then I stared at her. I could write such-and-such. It would unite MOST of the ideas I’d been kicking around, which was even better than picking one or two of them. There was enough available material with lots of variety. I could have a TON of fun subverting expectations. I could mash together real-life science and history with very unreal other stuff and have a whole new (fake) history that would (incorrectly) explain so much.

So I decided to go ahead and write it.

The series is contemporary fantasy with a dash of science fiction and a great big splash of mythology, so it’s different from my first epic fantasy series but still feels close enough to be “mine.” (One of the reasons the mysteries are coming out under a pen name is because they are so different. The other is that they’re aimed at adults rather than teens.)

Anyway, that was back in early April. I did some quick concept ramblings and character picking, then I started doing research. Due to the very different sources that I’m mashing together, I had to do a lot of research. Plus, even when it probably doesn’t matter, I like being accurate. I’m nerdy like that.

Good news, though. The way I’m setting it up allows for a very long series, if I want to keep writing it and readers want to keep reading it. 😉

Then I had to do some character studies. Sure, I could just learn about my characters as I went along, like I did with my first series, but that’s a lot slower. It took me eight years to finish my first series, and four of those were just finishing the first book. I don’t want this one to take that long to get started, so I’m working more deliberately. Experience has to be good for something, after all.

Then I started plotting the major beats. That created the need for more research. Sigh.

Finally got through that (for now?), and started working on the more detailed outline. That turned up some major problems. I hate when that happens. So I worked on motivations for the past couple of weeks before returning to the outline.

As of now, I have all of book 1 outlined on my max outlining level, and one chapter for book 2, as well as over half of book 2 on the one-sentence-per-chapter level. (Book 2 volunteered…) I also got the entire prequel novella drafted, so progress is being made.

My tentative plan is to write the new series and submit it to my critique group, leaving the already-outlined mystery stories for when I’m blocked or need a break. Eventually, I’ll get them both finished.

Will it work?

I don’t know. I guess we’ll see. 🙂

Marty C. Lee

© 2022 M. C. Lee LLC. All rights reserved.

Hardcovers Available!

Okay, yes, I realize this isn’t really a writing post. But it is about things I wrote…

In case you hadn’t heard, my books are now available in hardcover from Amazon. Case laminate, which means no dust jacket to get damaged.

Books 1-5 of the Unexpected Heroes series have actually been available in hardcover for a couple of months. Book 6 is newly out.

That means you can get the entire series in regular paperback, large print paperback, or hardcover! Or ebook, of course. Or you can ask your library to order it for you so you can read it for free. 🙂

Four kinds of formats. Yay!

Hey, they’re my books. I can be excited if I want to… It’s okay if you’re excited, too. 🙂

And if you’re looking for signed books, those are also available here.

If that’s not enough goodies, remember that my direct store also has sheet music AND ringtones for the songs from the series. In a few months, it will also have some bonus goodies. 😉

And for your entertainment, if you haven’t checked out my book trailers yet, you might see what you think. 🙂 The whole series is up there already.

Happy reading,
Marty C. Lee

© 2022 M. C. Lee LLC. All rights reserved.

Next Book and Preorders—Oh My!

For the first time, I have a book going up for preorder months before publication!

Here’s a blurb for you:

You think you know the stories—12 Dancing Princesses, Snow White, Red Riding Hood, The Frog, The Stonecutter, and more…

But what if they didn’t happen that way? What if they really occurred on another world and the true tales were lost in the mists of time?

From the world of Unexpected Heroes, read the true Legends of Kaiatan.

Or if you prefer something even shorter:

Retold fairy tales set on a fantasy world of mermaids, shifters, and winged people.

I’ve been having a lot of fun with them. 🙂

What if the girl in Red Riding Hood WAS the wolf? What if a mere kiss wasn’t enough to turn a frog back into a man? What if the twelve princesses (okay, I may have tweaked that a little, too) were trapped in an underwater cave—but that part is okay because they’re mermaids?

Like I said, I’ve been having a lot of fun bending the original fairy tales to fit my own ideas. 😉 Some of them are based on different versions of the same fairy tale, some are based on similarly themed stories, while some are the result of firmly mashing together completely different tales while cackling wildly. *shrug* It was fun for ME. I hope it will be just as much fun for you.

It does sound like fun, you say? Where can you get it, you say?

I’m glad you asked! Did you notice I have a new setup for my Books page? https://mcleebooks.com/my-books/ And it has allllll the info you need. Please note that the preorder is already up at Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and Apple. Amazon will come later, but it will come, as will a bunch of other retailers that don’t do preorders. You can also ask your local library to stock it so you can read it for free. 😀 May 24th, 2022 is the magic day it will be available everywhere as an ebook. Print books will come out by the end of the year.

But you can’t wait that long?

Ooh, do I have a fun present for you! One of the stories is exclusively available through my website. I took Dick Whittington and Puss in Boots and smooshed them together into The Cat’s Fortune. And it’s FREE! (With a signup to my newsletter…)

On another world, so long ago that truth has faded into legend, a cat and a boy seek their fortune together. You think you know the story, but do you?

Orphaned and homeless, young Aktar travels to the city of Rapata for a better life.

But it seems the rumors of gold-paved streets are false. Can he find a home and a job before he starves? Maybe with the help of a foundling kitten.

A retelling of Puss in Boots and Dick Whittington, set on the fantasy world of Kaiatan, home of the Unexpected Heroes.

Click here to get the free story!

Okay, that’s all for today, folks! Enjoy the anticipation (and the free book).

Happy reading,
Marty C. Lee

© 2022 M. C. Lee LLC. All rights reserved.

Tales of Kaiatan

You might have noticed that this is a book post instead of the schedule writing post. Don’t worry, the writing post will be coming next time… One of the fun things about a new book release is getting to announce it. So…

Ta dah! My latest book is now out! Tales of Kaiatan is a collection of short stories connected to the Unexpected Heroes series. It has prequels, sequels, backstories, side stories, old characters, new characters, and minor characters who demanded to tell their own story… All are waiting for you to join them in their adventures, escapes, romances, challenges, joys, dangers, friendships, and secrets.

Four of the stories are the ones from Unexpected Tales, which hopefully you’ve already read. Fourteen of them are completely new.

Did you ever wonder why Ahjin’s father was so adamant he go along with his Presentation assignment in Wind of Choice? There’s a story for that, and it completely changed my mind about him. What about what happened to everyone Zefra left behind in the oasis in Spark of Intrigue? TWO stories for that! How about what happened before Seed of War started? Yep, it’s in here. There’s even a couple of pirate stories behind the scenes of Wave of Dreams. Cool stuff. 😉 Some of the stories are funny, some are sad. One of them made me cry on the last page, even though it has a happy ending. Several of them tie up strings you might have been wondering about in the series. 😉

Fun fact: all four novels in the series are just shy of 89-thousand words. Nobody’s Revenge is a novella at 17.5K. This book is almost 98 thousand words! I planned enough short stories for the book to be a matching length, but they grew… You may consider it a bonus for you. 😉

I had a lot of fun writing it, and I hope you have a lot of fun reading it.

Anyway, it’s available in a wide variety of retailers or in my direct store, or you can request your library to get it. The ebook is out now, and the paperback will come out in about six months or so.

Welcome back to Kaiatain!
Marty C. Lee

© 2021 M. C. Lee LLC. All rights reserved.

Wave of Dreams is available!

Celebrate with me!

My third book just came out in ebook! It’s available in many online retailers and at libraries (if you get the librarian to order it through Overdrive, Bibliotheca, or Baker & Taylor).

It’s the third in the series, though it’s more “the further adventures of” than “the continuation of the story.” It does continue the story in a way, but Wind of Choice is a complete story with no cliffhanger ending, and so is Seed of War, and so is the the new one, Wave of Dreams.

As before, I  switch main characters to someone else in the group. This time, we spend the most time in Nia’s head. It’s kind of fun, I think, because Nia is full of drama and excitement. Even when other people think she should take life more seriously. I mean, where’s the fun in that?

This one is still fantasy, but I threw in a bit of romance and a treasure map to a cursed island. Oooooh… And if you ever wondered what happened to the Seals from book 2, at least part of the answer is in this book. 😉

It’s already listed in Goodreads, with at least a couple of nice reviews. Thank you, nice ARC readers! (If you want to BE a nice Advance Reader, you can sign up on my website and get free copies of my new books. Say it with me… Ooooohhhh…)

And speaking of nice reviews, here’s an endorsement for you:

Such a fun read! The characters felt real. The adventure was gripping and a thrill to read! I loved how real their problems felt, even though they had special abilities; they still had to work together to overcome the conflict. There were plenty of surprises and twists to keep me on the edge of my seat. I loved the dynamic between the characters and their flaws and unique strengths. This story was a real page-turner and enjoyable from start to finish!
— R. L. Perez, author of the Timecaster Chronicles (coming soon)

So, what’s the book about?? I’m so glad you asked…

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For sixteen-year-old Nia, the best part of becoming an adult is the party. Even while holding it on land for the sake of her gill-less friends, she can flirt with all the cute boys.

But her mom’s gift is unexpected— an old treasure map and the news that her long-lost dad might be alive.

With her friends and a cute suitor, Nia follows her missing dad’s trail across the ocean waves to a supposedly cursed island. Will she find adventure, answers, and even love?

Maybe. Unless the curse is real.

Romance and danger swirl with the tide, and undercurrents could sweep her away.

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Happy reading,
Marty C. Lee

© 2020 M. C. Lee LLC. All rights reserved.

Seed of War is out!

I try to write one book-related post each month, and one writing post. This one is supposed to be a book post, and I was struggling to come up with a topic (feel free to suggest some in the comments for the future) until I realized it’s a good time to make an announcement. I hope you’ll forgive me for making this post about a book I wrote instead of a regular book review. 🙂 I know I mentioned this last time, but this is the *official announcement!*

My second book just came out in ebook a couple of weeks ago! It’s available in many online retailers and at libraries (if you get the librarian to order it through Overdrive, Bibliotheca, or Baker & Taylor).

It’s the sequel to my first book (not so oddly), though it’s more “the further adventures of” than “the continuation of the story.” It does continue the story in a way, but Wind of Choice is a complete story with no cliffhanger ending, and so is Seed of War.

I also switch main characters to someone else in the group instead of Ahjin. Yes, we still get his POV (point of view) in a few chapters, but most of the time, we’re in Ludik’s head.

And I mash up genres just a little. It’s still definitely fantasy, but I throw in a bit of mystery. If you liked the bits and pieces of shapeshifting in book one, you should read book two, because we spend the entire book in Darrendra and meet a lot of shapeshifters!

It’s already listed in Goodreads, with at least a couple of nice reviews. (Thank you, nice ARC readers!)

And speaking of nice reviews, here’s an endorsement for you:

If you want an adventure with lots of fun banter and laugh-out-loud situations, or if you want a journey that will make you cry and think deeply about forgiveness, read Seed of War.
– M. L. Farb, author of The King’s Trial

If you want to read some of the book before you buy, you can do that with Amazon’s peek inside, or you can get a free sample at MyBookCave, StoryOrigin, or ProlificWorks. (The same applies to Wind of Choice.)

So, what’s the book about?? I’m so glad you asked…

****************************************************

Saving the world from feuding gods made eighteen-year-old Ludik miss his wedding. Now his second chance is here, and nothing will stop him from marrying his sweetheart this time.

Except maybe a dead body.

In a mad race to hunt a misguided witness, Ludik must confront a fierce wolf, follow the trail through hostile territory, and escape his own execution.

Even with the help of his outkindred friends–-a gilled translator, a fire mage, and the winged messenger of the Gods–- Ludik might not be able to prevent war from igniting between the shapeshifting kindreds.

Danger lurks among the trees, and if he can’t solve the clues, more than his marriage is on the line.

***************************************************

Happy reading,
Marty C. Lee

© 2019 M. C. Lee LLC. All rights reserved.