Ask Me Anything: Becky

Becky asked a fantastic question using the “Ask Me Anything” submission form. Her question does contain a spoiler for Blood and Other Matter, so continue at your own risk.

You have been warned. On to the question.

Becky asks

 How does Tess come back to life at the end of “Blood and Other Matter”? I just finished the book and don’t know if I understand how she came back. Her body was cremated, so she shouldn’t have a physical form. Does the demon still have control over her in some way? What did the Estrie mean by; ‘that forms a powerful connection that, for obvious reasons, doesn’t often get explored’? Please help me understand because I love she’s back, but just don’t understand the how. Thank you! 

First of all, Becky, thank you for reading Blood and Other Matter. That’s a great question, and I’ll do my best to answer it. 🙂

The ending was intended to be a bit open ended, but the happiest interpretation is by far that Tess is back, alive and kicking. There’s a few key things in the scene and the story that allow that to be possible within the rules of the ritual, in-world magic, and the timing in the story.

Let’s start with that connection. According to the Estrie, there’s a connection that forms between a person who dies and the last person they think of. Typically, one half of that party stays dead, so it doesn’t much matter, but in Tess’s case, she thought of Derrick before being made a host for the Estrie. That link allowed the Estrie to pull on Derrick’s life-force when Tess’s wasn’t enough to fuel all the murder and mayhem. That’s why Derrick kept getting nosebleeds and passing out every time the Estrie used more of her powers than Tess could handle. It also allowed for two-way teleportation. The Estrie could always teleport to the people marked as sacrifices, but the link allowed her to return Tess to a safe, alibied location. Teleportation is specifically described by Derrick as being ripped apart and pieced back together. Both of those facts are about to matter, but first…

There are two rule of the ritual that come into play in the ending. The first is that the victims can’t be killed by the Estrie unless they consent. Tess never did. There were injuries outside of the Estrie that could have killed Tess, but up until that final night, the Estrie healed Tess before they could be fatal. So in the interpretation that Tess dies and Derrick is dreaming, the bonfire and/or pencil are her cause of death. In any other interpretation, re-inflicting the wounds was an action taken by the Estrie, so technically, Tess couldn’t die from them.

The last major detail is the timing of the ritual. The ritual didn’t start with the lighting of the match, it started with the drawing of symbols and chanting the right words at the right time. The match lighting was just a sign it worked. In order to complete the ritual, each sacrifice had to die on the first night of the lunar phase they were marked for. Though Josh was killed early ensuring the ritual couldn’t be completed, Matt was killed on time. By the rules of the ritual, that meant that the Estrie technically had possession of Tess until the first night of the full moon, when Josh was due to be killed.

Dorian’s alarm clock goes off at moonrise on the full moon. Since Josh is unable to be sacrificed, the ritual ends. Since Tess can’t be killed by the Estrie, and the connection dictates she be teleported back to Derrick when the Estrie is done with her, it’s entirely possible that when she pops up on his porch dripping wet from the ocean where Dorian scattered her ashes, that she’s in the exact same shape she was in since before the ritual began.

Or maybe by killing Josh, Derrick took his place and the Estrie is there, using Tess’s form because she knows it will get to Derrick and it’ll be that much easier to guilt him into consenting to be sacrificed.

It could go either way.

Ask Me Anything: Lauren

Lauren asks:

“I’m loving The Persephone Trilogy. I started reading it because I enjoy retellings of Greek mythology and actually have a WIP involving Demeter, so it’s perfect for me.

Here’s my question:
What advice would you give to an aspiring author on how to write an amazing query letter/synopsis and find an agent?
That’s the point I’m at right now with my completed YA fantasy novel, so any advice you have would be great. I appreciate how you open your site up to questions. I have a journalism background, but fiction writing is a whole new world for me.
Feel free to answer on the blog, or email me. Thanks, and I look forward to connecting!

Thanks so much for the question Lauren! And I’m glad you’re enjoying the Persephone trilogy :).

I actually have a template for a query letter that I’ll share below. Beyond that template, I’d highly suggest joining a writer’s group and asking for their help editing your query letter. It is so much easier to summarize someone else’s book than your own.

My second suggestion probably comes too late to help you. Write a summary before you write your story. I try tosnowflakemy stories so when the time comes to query, I have a one sentence, one paragraph, one page, and five page summary ready for my query package. It’s really hard for me to summarize my story once it’s written.

Of course that five page summary almost never gets used for my extended synopsis because I have a pathological inability to follow an outline, but I digress.

Regarding finding an agent, you’ll want to check out manuscript wishlist, or #mswl on twitter, keep an eye out on pitch contests, look at agents coming to conventions or conferences (trickier this year), or look up the agents of similar books and see if they, or anyone at their agency is accepting submissions. Make sure to research their guidelines, what they’re interested in, and how they’ve treated their authors using absolute write or query tracker.

Best of Luck!

Awesome Query Template:

Dear Awesome Agent whose name I have learned how to spell,

If you interacted with me in some fashion, thank you. Here’s a sentence or two about your bio/twitter account/interview/recent conference/manuscript wish list/or books comparable to mine that you represent to show that I didn’t just pick your name out of a hat. Because of above reasons, I’d like you to represent my ALL CAPS BOOK TITLE, a x-thousand word, genre, similar to this story and that story. ALL CAPS BOOK TITLE pitch.

Here’s my one paragraph snowflake summary about my book, including the ending.

Now I’m going to tell you a little bit about myself. Here’s my publication credits if I have any and some relatable interesting fact, haha, aren’t I funny?

I’ve attached my one-page synopsis and first x pages of my story along with whatever else you might have requested. Thank you for your time,

Author

 

 

Ask Me Anything: Dee

Dee asks,

Sorry I know I’m 3 years late on this lol, your books about the daughters of Zeus and are insightful and wonderfully written,
I really couldn’t put them down and wolfed though both trilogies. the plot twists kept me awake and leaping to the next page, I cant seem to figure something out though, how did Hades get kidnapped. Tantalus couldn’t seem to have done it as he went to the ship after he escaped the underworld, I’m thinking that was because he can just port in and out of places ? and not Medea, as she wasnt even aware of his presence in the hidden wing of the hospital so she couldn’t have summoned him
Also, mercy ask, but do Hades and Persephone work through, I was such a fan of their love, was a bummer to see him die, did they fix it somehow or we wait till Artemis’s trilogy

I’m so glad you enjoyed the books!

Thank you for your question. The demigods got to Hades the same way they got to Ares and Artemis. Teleportation and Steele. Hades was already missing before Tantalus was taken to the Underworld, which is why Ares wasn’t around to help out when Tantalus charmed Aphrodite at the campfire. Tantalus would have communicated to the island to have them drop the shield long enough to deposit Hades, but the shield casters wouldn’t have necesserily known what was brought through.
Hades and Persephone are going to be just fine. For humans, the line between the living and the dead would be an insurmountable obstacle. But for gods, particularly powerful gods, especially gods who rule the underworld, the divide isn’t as sharp. As a goddess fully vested in her powers, Persephone can interact with souls. Hypnos and Hera are both dead, too, and they’ve interacted with other characters. The biggest change for them is that he can’t leave the Underworld and as the goddess of spring, she has to spend a chunk of time there. I wrote that outcome as a callback to the original myth where the two live apart half the time. But at the end of the day, they’re just like any other couple that doesn’t spend their working hours together, albeit a couple who work in fields that require travel. Spring may bring longer business trips, but she’ll have more time off in the winter to make up for it.
I’ll definitely be exploring more of those obstacles in the Artemis trilogy, but I can promise you, relationship wise, they’re in a good place.
Hope this answered your questions. Feel free to reach back out any time.

Creative Writing World Building Camp

close up photo of bulldog

Photo by Adrianna Calvo on Pexels.com

Every summer, I teach creative writing camps at UGA. This year, my camp will be available online, which means you don’t have to be in Athens to go! There’s only a few spots left. Interested? Check out the description below:

Whether your story is set out of this world or closer to home, learning to create a vibrant setting, filling it with three dimensional characters, and creating rational laws for magic or far future technology will set your work apart. Join us for a week of creative writing, where you’ll learn how to world build like a pro. Each day will include a combination of hands-on activities that help us develop details, learning strategies from best-selling authors like Brandon Sanderson and Orson Scott Card, workshops with fellow writers, and of course, time to write. We will also be spending time editing and revising our pieces in one-on-one and group writing workshops, so that by the end of the week everyone in the program will have a vibrant world for their stories. No prior writing or camp experience required, but students are encouraged to come in with an outline or a story idea to expand.

When: Monday, June 15, 2020 to Friday, June 19, 2020
Where: UGA Virtual Academy
How: Sign up here! 

 

Also, Venus Rising is still on sale. Get your copy today. 

Ask Me Anything: Brendan

LauranaBrendan asks….
I stumbled across one of your older posts where you listed Laurana from Dragonlance as one of your favorite heroines. Laurana is my favorite fictional character, and I’m always interested in other’s people’s thoughts on her, so my questions to you are:
1) is she still one of your favorite heroines and if so
2) what is it about her that made her stand out to you?

Great question Brendan!

I grew up on the Dragonlance series. Twelve year old me latched on to her character because she resonated with me on more levels than, say Kit could. But she remained one of my favorite characters because she embodies so many contradictions. She’s a pretty elf, but she wasn’t hyper-sexualized like Tika. She was basically a princess, but she was treated like an inconvenience by pretty much everyone for book one. She’s an elf, which symbolically has always stood for this kind of unchangeable, old-guard mentality (particularly by Tanis, but also every other fantasy novel at the time), but she has one of the most drastic character arcs of the series.

She’s also very flawed, which is something I craved in my heroines when I was younger, and appreciate as an adult. She gets to be a hero despite being a bit desperate for attention, naive, and clingy, because she’s also brave and passionate and smart. Her strengths mirror her weaknesses in a way that make it clear one wouldn’t exist without the other. Yes, she’s a bit desperate and clingy and wants to be loved, but she’s also incredibly loyal to the friends she has and won’t leave them no matter the danger to her. Not many stories do the strengths = weaknesses as well.

She grows up on the page, and I related to the persons he was and love the person she became. And she never became one of those untouchable, unflawed, perfect strong female characters ™ in the process.

 

 

Venus Rising is on sale

Venus Rising Audiobook

Are you ready to finish the series? Venus Rising is .99 cents until the end of May. Also available on Whispersync

Aphrodite is in big trouble this time. She’s stranded on the island of the DAMNED–without powers and without her beloved Ares. Worse, she knows it’s only a matter of time before the demigods figure out she’s a goddess. If that happens, she’ll wish she were dead.

Help arrives in the form of an unlikely ally. But Medea has her own demands, and if Aphrodite wants to survive–not to mention find Hades and the weapons cache–she has to meet them.

But all their plans take a back seat when they find themselves in even more pressing danger. When Medea moved the island, she rendered it unstable. Now it’s breaking apart and sinking. In the chaos, the demigods have risen up, blaming the gods for their misfortune. Nobody is safe from the demigods . . . especially a Pantheon sympathizer like Aphrodite. And they’ve come up with a deadly test to uncover any imposters.

Aphrodite knows she can’t do this alone. It will take the whole Pantheon to get her out of this mess. Unfortunately, they’ll have to find her first . . .

Kaitlin Bevis spent her childhood curled up with a book and a pen. If the ending didn’t agree with her, she rewrote it. Because she’s always wanted to be a writer, she spent high school and college learning everything she could to achieve that goal. After graduating college with a BFA and Masters in English, Kaitlin went on to write The Daughters of Zeus series.

Ask Me Anything: Jennifer

Hello, this isn’t a question, but I wasn’t sure how best to reach out to you. I have been reading your books during this quarantine, and I just wanted to let you know that they have been a lifeline. I hope you and your loved ones are safe, and thank you for your writing! ❤ Jennifer

 

Hi Jennifer,

Thank you so much for your kind words! I’m glad my books have provided some distraction from social isolation. I’ve had a really hard time reading, which is weird for me. I can’t stay focused long enough. So I’ve been doing lots of cooking and cleaning, which is also weird for me, but it keeps me moving around and off facebook.

But other than a growing TBR pile and a sparkling clean house, I’ve been very fortunate through the virus. Me and mine are all safe and sound, I hope everyone in your life is healthy and safe as well.

Have a great Monday!

Kaitlin

 

There’s a reason they keep comparing it to the zombie apocalypse…

If you do not open the gate for me to come in,
I shall smash the door and shatter the bolt,
I shall smash the doorpost and overturn the doors,
I shall raise up the dead and they shall eat the living:
And the dead shall outnumber the living!

~The Descent of Ishtar (Gilgamesh)

If you’re feeling like you’re living out the opening montage of a post-apocolyptic thriller right now, you’re not alone. Humans have a tendency to look for patterns, especially when they’re afraid. And the hopeless outbreak plot line is one that we have repeated over and over again in popular fiction, right back to Mesopotamia.

But even back in Mesopotamia, the zombies themselves were never more than a symbol of a larger fear. Something to fight when the thing you’re afraid of is invisible, ever-present.

Sometimes that fear was gods and their unknowable tempers, or magic and its mysterious ways, monsters or extra-terrestrials, with their alien desires. Things that could change the people we loved into something unrecognizable. Something that could change us, if we weren’t careful. Then, we learned to be afraid of things like radiation, bacteria, sleeper spies,  or viruses. Subtroped within each of these fears was the certainty we’d doom ourselves by flying too close to the sun. We’d try to bring back the dead in experiments gone terribly wrong, a miraculous cure for disease would backfire, our meddling with nature would do us in somehow. 

But the thing about horror stories is they’re designed to be exercises in thought. A way to let our brains work out the what-ifs, to follow our fears to the worst possible conclusion and put down the book, safe and sound. Unfortunately, when a similar enough situation plays out in real life, your mind is going to grab on to that repeated pattern and follow it to the conclusion. So if you’re feeling a slow, creeping fear of the inevitable right now, there’s a chance you’re reacting one of the following ways.

Denial. Everyone is overreacting. Nothing is wrong. I’m going to prove it. See, look at me, out and about.

Depression. We’re all infected, what’s the point?

Panic. If you don’t have all the things, how will you and your family survive?

Anxiety. Gotta keep those eyes glued to the screen, because if you don’t know what’s coming, you don’t know how to react.

If you’re finding yourself feeling like any combination of the above, do yourself a favor and engage  in activities that aren’t plot worthy. Turn off the news. Stop reading articles. Don’t watch or read anything in the disaster genre. I get that intellectually, you know you’re not actually in a zombie movie, but subconsciously, your brain may not be convinced. The more normal (while maintaining social isolation) things you do, the less this feels like a plot line. The less this feels like a predictable plot line, the less your brain will grip that pattern.

 

Ask Me Anything: Ana

Ana sent a question through my Ask Me Anything link! If you’d like me to ask a question to answer in future blogs,click here:

Question: Hello, first of all I want to tell you that I am a big fan of yours, and that I am fascinated by the characters in your books. I have some questions for you: Do we follow the stories of Persefone and Hades? Or maybe Ares and Aphrodite too? a book of little stories about them would be great.

Answer: Hi Ana! Thank you for your kind comment! You have no idea how much it brightens my day to hear from a fan.

In general, the Persephone trilogy focuses more on Persephone and Hades myths, with other mythological characters taking supporting roles, while the Aphrodite trilogy focuses more on Aphrodite heavy myths with Persephone and Hades (among others) taking the supporting roles. In future books, Persephone and Aphrodite will take supporting roles as I explore the major myths for other goddesses, like Artemis.

So you will see more of both, likely even as point of view characters, but they won’t be the protagonists for any further stories. Just side characters.