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  • Writer's pictureT. A. Hernandez

Indiecember Writing Tag

If you guys haven't heard already, December marks the beginning of the Indiecember reading challenge. In a nutshell, Indiecember is a reading challenge designed to raise awareness of self-published/indie books and authors. I participated last year and discovered some really great new indie books and authors, and I'm super excited to participate again this year. There are a ton of great prizes and it's just a really awesome way to support indie authors. If you want to know more, check out Megan Tennant's website here. And if you're looking for some great indie reads to fill those squares, check out my list of recommendations here.

You can also always read my books, which is what I'm here to talk about today. Megan was kind enough to tag me in her Indiecember writing tag video. In true Indiecember style, this tag will be done bingo-style. I drew some random numbers earlier and ended up with this bingo board, so those are the questions I'll be answering. Special thanks to my assassin protagonist Zira for putting on a festive hat and helping me mark my bingo squares (which she is obviously thrilled about, as you can tell by the joyous expression on her face).

2. Rudolph: Do you have any furry writing companions? Bonus points for showing them.

Unfortunately, I do not have any furry writing companions. We recently moved to a new city and could not find a rental that would allow pets, so we had to leave our cat Zoey behind with my brother-in-law. Next year we will hopefully be buying a house of our own and I will definitely be getting some furry friends.

6. Christmas lights: What character would be most likely to use Christmas lights inappropriately. Such as to tie someone up, shock someone, to rig up an explosive, you name it.

I can definitely see Burke and/or Clarence from Calico Thunder Rides Again doing something like this. All of those things - tying someone up, shocking someone, rigging an explosive, etc. I'm sure there are better tools for such things, but if Christmas lights were all they had at their disposal, they would use them.

19. Santa’s Beard: Who is your oldest character and around how old are they?

My oldest character would have to be Mei from Secrets of PEACE. She's a retired doctor and she ends up helping Zira recover from a traumatic injury but also helps her in other, more significant ways as well. Mei is in her early 70s.

16. Cutting Down Christmas Trees: Do you edit your manuscript in digital format, or printed out?

I do most of my revisions and edits digitally. It's only toward the end of the process when I'm printing proof copies and making those last little tweaks that I use a physical copy. Minimal tree murder over here.

8. Santa Baby: Which of your characters could romance presents of out Santa?

To be honest, I'm not sure I can see any of my characters romancing presents out of Santa, but if I had to pick one, it would be Grace from CTRA. Grace can be a bit of a flirt and isn't shy or embarrassed by anything, so if it took a little romance and flirtation to get some presents out of Santa, she could do it.

13. Santa’s List: How many characters are in the main cast of your most recent WIP or publication?

If we're counting the animal characters in CTRA (and we totally are because they're awesome and I love them), then there are 8 that I would consider to be the main cast. There's Jake, Grace, and Bruno on the "good guys" side, along with griffins Trigger and Bullseye and the story's titular dragon character, Calico Thunder. On the "bad guys" side we have Clarence, an ogre mobster, and his boss Vincent Burke, who has less page time but plays a big role in the story nonetheless.

15. Wrapping: What character would spend WAY too much time wrapping presents because they want it to look perfect?

Definitely Aubreigh from Secrets of PEACE. First of all because she loves beautiful things and takes pride in making things look nice and pretty. And secondly, because she likes making the people she cares about happy and would want to take time making something look nice if she was going to give it to someone else. If Christmas were a thing people still celebrated in the world of Secrets of PEACE, Aubreigh would be all over the fancy, elaborate gift-wrapping.

7. Feast: What’s your favorite food-related scene?

There are a few scenes in CTRA that take place in the cookhouse where all the circus people eat, but the first one we see there is one where Jake introduces Clarence to Grace and Bruno. Bruno and Clarence immediately butt heads and that dialogue was super fun to write, but then the scene transitions into a more reflective section where Jake is trying to decide what to do about his new predicament and we learn more about his history. I really liked getting into his head for that part, too.

5. Sleigh Bells: What music do you listen to when writing?

I usually just listen to ambient sounds on Tabletop audio, or to instrumental music on YouTube. I like things like The Glitch Mob, Emancipator, movie and video game soundtracks, etc. Anything that doesn't have lyrics because I find them distracting (though I often end up making playlists of songs with lyrics for my stories anyways).

25. Naughty to Nice: Which character was on the naughty list but Santa liked them and took them off?

Zira and Jared from Secrets of PEACE could both fit this as they both have some pretty significant moral-compass realignments throughout the course of the series, but Jared's is a little more drastic and was more interesting for me to write in some ways. That also might be just because Jared is my favorite. But if he's my favorite, he could be Santa's favorite too, which is all the more reason Santa might take him off the naughty list. Right?

17. The Grinch who stole Christmas: Which of your characters is most likely to steal cookies and or gifts from Santa?

For this one, I'm going to have to say Tripp from Secrets of PEACE. He might do it as a joke, just for fun, in which case he would give them back. But he might also steal things for real and not give them back if it was something he needed or thought could be useful. Tripp is a fugitive and has had to spend much of the last fifteen years living in the shadows and just barely scraping by, so he's definitely not above stealing what he has to in order to survive.

24. Santa’s Workshop: Show us your writing space or a picture of your writing space. Bonus points if it’s a disaster zone.

My writing zone has changed a little since we moved and I'm too lazy to take a new photo of it, but it's basically the same setup as this one from our old house. I do have a desktop now instead with a great monitor that I use for digital art stuff, so that's awesome. I'm way more proud of that desk than I probably should be. I bought it at a thrift store and repainted it a few years back, and I still love how it turned out.

1. Nightmare Before Christmas: what’s a writing or book release mistake that still haunts you?

I have made SO many mistakes with writing and book releases over the years, but one thing that haunted me for years was the formatting for Secrets of PEACE (specifically the paperbacks). It was my debut novel and I did the formatting myself, and it didn't turn out bad, by any means, but it definitely could have been better. Then, with the next two books in the series, I kind of felt like I was just stuck with that mediocre formatting because I wanted them to all be consistent and didn't really have the time or energy to teach myself new formatting skills. It wasn't until this last summer that I finally realized I was being silly, spent a good couple of weeks learning those skills, and then redid the formatting for all three books. They look so much better now and it's something I wish I had taken the time to do properly the first time around.

12. Holiday parties: do you have a logline prepared for when someone asks you about your book or do you run and hide? Or do you have a masterful plan of a diversion the rest of us could use?

I have some loglines prepared for both books, but does that mean I actually use them? Of course not! I keep thinking it will get easier, but no matter how many times someone asks me about my books in person, my default response is always lots of internal panic as I try to stumble through a really crappy, short description of what the book is about. If anybody does know of an effective diversion strategy, please let me know. I'll pay you in Christmas cookies.

14. Santa’s Coming to Town: Is your protagonist naughty or nice? If you have multiple books or protagonists you can do this for multiple.

We'll look at the protagonists for both books for this. Zira in Secrets of PEACE would probably be more on the naughty side of things. I mean, she's an assassin - what did you expect? Her motives are pretty selfish and center primarily around keeping herself alive and later keeping those she cares about alive (a circle of people that is very limited), but that's about it. She has a bristly personality, she's arrogant, she angers easily, and is generally not the most likable person when we first meet her. So she hasn't done much to earn herself a place on the nice list.

Jake, on the other hand, is more of a nice character. He has his flaws and tends to place a lot of blame on others for his problems (which is honestly pretty justifiable, for the most part), but he's generally a pretty good guy. He works hard, he cares about the people under his supervision, and he's done everything he can to make sure they can continue to make a living on the circus he inherited from his father - a task that has been far from easy.

Whew! That bingo was a tough one to get. If you read this far, thanks for sticking with me. And, if you want to know more about these stories or characters, you can always read them as part of Indiecember. Here are some pictures that show the squares each one will fill.

Are you participating in Indiecember? Be sure to leave a comment and let me know so we can be excited about it together. And stay tuned, because I'm hoping to post more Indiecember stuff in the upcoming weeks.

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