Monday, May 21, 2018

Lady Villains Need Love Too

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Lady villains sometimes get the fuzzy end of the lollipop in terms of motivation. Jealousy over a lost love or anger at being rejected are all fine reasons to go to crazy town, but there are so many other more compelling reasons that are so much more interesting.

Fury at your family's mistreatment for one, is a pretty driving reason and it is one I tried to explore in writing my female characters in the second book of my series. 

In the Wind Reapers, Ajala is an incredibly strong, loving, and therefore shockingly ruthless character. Some might argue that she is the villain of the book, but I disagree. I think that her goals just happen to be diametrically opposed to the protagonists (Charlotte Blackburn's) but that they are not, in their purest form...diabolical or bad.

She is a woman fighting for the survival of her family and extended clan. Those vicious Reapers everyone fears came from somewhere. They weren't born on those massive walking machines that troll the Wasteland. And now, as conditions get worse and her people start dying, she has to act in the only way she knows how.

Ajala is a leader, a mother, a warrior, and a formidable negotiator. She is valiant for her own cause and it is why she was one of the most interesting characters to write...

Now, as I headed to speak with Ajala, the clank and clatter of the Wind Reaper’s legs kept time with the sway of the vast vessel. With the sun going down and hiding our location, we moved using the thermal winds to fill the craft’s massive sails. Most of the debris cleared, the fire scorched deck still showed the scars of our battle. 

Yet as I peered at the patchwork material mounted on the reconstructed masts I couldn’t help but be impressed by the speed with which the people recovered from the sky marauder attack.  Ascending the ladder to the outlook tower, I pushed through the heavy hatch.

Ajala started speaking before I pulled off my gas mask. “Beautiful, this horrible place, is it not?” She leaned, arms crossed, looking out of the cracked windows. The gold discs woven to the ends of her scarf reflected the dimming light. “All angry and red and steaming.”

“It is the stuff of nightmares.” I walked over, leaned on the opposite side. My hand twitched, wanting to scratch at the slice in my neck, but I didn’t want to give her the satisfaction. “But then again…”

“Yes, I know, you aren’t a Reaper.  We find beauty in this wasteland.”

A jagged seam glowed in the dark landscape and then flared with ignited gas that burned a dozen stories high.

Ajala’s eyes narrowed with the flash of brilliant orange and blue fire. “Myself, my people, we all were chambermaids, plantation slaves, and factory workers.”

“Before the quakes.”

She nodded. “Scratching for our piece of freedom before the hand of God smote us all.”

“And so you forged a life out here in damnation.” I let my gaze travel the ink swirls at the corners of her eyes and thought them strangely beautiful. Like the henna designs on the hands of women in India from my books. “Why…why did you leave the Texas-Louisiana Dome?”

“Texiana,” she snorted, a derisive sound that flashed heat into her eyes. “An atrocity for both states. And I did not leave voluntarily, in any case.”

Find out how Ajala's story turns out and what part she plays in the thrilling steampunk series, The Blackburn Chronicles. And don't forget to check out the #FreeReads as well!

Friday, May 18, 2018

Blood Blizzards - Trembler Weather Pt. 4

In book 2 of The Blackburn Chronicles, the Wind Reapers, Charlotte and Sheriff Riley brave the tumultuous Wasteland to secure a cure for the deadly Ashen Croup -- a devastating illness that drowns victims in their own lungs. Caught up in a storm just outside the glowing electric dome that protects the city, they find a way in through the decaying grid...

In the distance, lightning lit up the dark sky illuminating an enormous black cloud. I squinted, adjusted the violet lens of my goggles down over my right eye, and froze. A roiling mass of churning wind and ash, the dark cloud rumbled with flashes of light in its belly. It moved like a massive wave towards us.

Riley motioned and I followed him along a tacky path to an opening just ahead in the dome. The tar never could seem to set into its final hardness where the dome met the street. Lit only by the flickering pulses of the grid’s energy, we stole along the curved base of the protective covering. Behind us, the howling winds raced in from the dark, hot abyss of the wasteland. 

A deep rumble tore across the landscape as the mounting wave of ash and rain built to a colossal storm. It was far off still, but closing in. Already, frigid splatters of the Blood Blizzard flew at us. They hit the cross sections of the grid and hissed as water evaporated and ash burned to shiny hard spots on the ground. The tainted rain left red splashes on my gloves and sleeves and made me appear as if I had survived some terrible, bloody battle.

The strangely violent and unpredictable climate of the Blackburn Chronicles world was so much fun to use as a way to push the characters to the limit.  The Wasteland offered a multitude of dangers to anyone foolhardy or desperate enough to venture into the desolate lands between the domes.

Red ash from the fissure fires mixed with the water of the storm left anyone caught in the torrent dripping wet with crimson. Quite a frightening sight, but an appropriate warning for those thinking they might try the journey.

If you like dystopian thrillers with lots of adventure and strange devices, they check out The Blackburn Chronicles.

For a taste of this fantastic world, try the FREE NOVELLAS here.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

A World Gone Mad - Super Territories

In my steampunk series, The Blackburn Chronicles, a disaster fractures all of America, sends California into the ocean, and blocks off the north leaving the country in a shambles.
Powerful governors of the remaining states merged under giant electric Tesla Domes to create super territories. As a result, American rose from the quakes as The Peaceful Union, which was anything but peaceful.
Ruthless governors, created a new government. One with no central seat of power to avoid losing the President as they had in the Great Calamity. Each dome is like a separate country unto itself with its own specialty. Giant agri-factories grow what few kinds of vegetation that are left.
Some city-states control the coal factories that fuel the massive steam engines running the domes. Others house cities repaired with metal fa├žades which house the precious remnants of culture, music, and art. The frozen territories of the north keep terrible secrets locked behind icy fortress walls.
All of this was so fun to imagine, but challenging to get across to readers. However, a wonderful artist sent me this map of the Thirteen City-States of the Peaceful Union bringing The Tremblers that much more to life for me.
If you're interested in finding out more, take a look at the free novellas which offer a peek at the dangerous world of The Blackburn Chronicles.