Thursday Throwdown: Adam vs. Curran (and a #Giveaway)

Welcome to Thursday Throwdown, where books or characters (or whatever else I come up with) meet head-to-head in the arena.

Today, since I recently finished a binge-read of Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series and am currently more than halfway through a binge-read of Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels series, I thought I’d match up two sexy alphas. Adam Hauptman is the alpha of the Columbia Basin (Washington) Wolf Pack, while Curran Lennart is the Beast Lord who rides herd over 1,500 or so shifters of different packs in a dystopian, magic-laced Atlanta.

Who’d win in the fighting ring? As the second or third most powerful werewolf on the planet, Adam is a formidable fighter, but in a fair fight (which is the only kind these guys would have), no way he would be able to best Curran, a werelion whose shifted form is seven feet tall. Adam could do a lot of damage, but I think Curran would ultimately prevail.

Who’d make a better mate?  Well, they’re both dead-sexy, of course. In human form, neither is a particularly big guy. Adam is dark-haired, with high cheekbones that give away his Slavic heritage, but isn’t particularly tall or heavy. Curran is only about 5-10 or so, although heavily muscled, with blond hair and golden eyes (if they get really gold, get out of his way). They’re both stubborn and bossy and, well, alpha. Both have decent social skills, but I think Adam edges Curran out in the quiet moments. So I’m giving this round to Adam.

So, weigh in with your votes, and one commenter will be chosen at random to receive a $5 Amazon gift card (or equivalent from Book Depository if outside the U.S.). The wolf or the lion?

Writing Wednesday–How NaNoWriMo Changed My Life

If you know any writers or read any of their blogs or tweets or FB posts, you’ve probably heard them talk about NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. The goal is to get writers–most of whom are master-procrastinators, including myslef–off their collective butts and get them to write 50,000 words–not quite but almost a complete novel–in the 30 days of November.

First, let’s be clear. I am not doing NaNoWriMo. I did it once. That was enough. And it had a profound effect on the way I write.

The year was 2010, and I was unpublished but on my way. My agent had sold the first two Sentinels of New Orleans books to a publisher almost a year earlier, but they had decided in their infinite wisdom that the first book, Royal Street, should sit around and collect dust for 2-1/2 years until its release date of April 2012. [In retrospect, that should have told me a lot, but I digress.]

“Write something else–stay busy,” everyone told me, so I decided to do a novel in November 2010 as part of NaNoWriMo. I had an idea about vampires and a pandemic and a woman who was drawn into the vampire world against her will; she fell in love with the head vampire but…was it real or was it Stockholm Syndrome? The title of the book would be the oh-so-clever STOCKHOLM. The hero’s name was Galen; the heroine was Beth.

November 1 rolled around and I wrote. And wrote and wrote and wrote. I finished November 30 with a “complete” 55,000-word bundle of words. It was half urban fantasy and half paranormal romance. It was a mess. It wandered. It couldn’t commit to a genre. I had seven point-of-view characters. And everyone who read an early chapter couldn’t figure out when the action would move to Sweden. (Stockholm, remember?)

But I’ll always be grateful to the mess that was STOCKHOLM because i had to pull it apart in order to figure out what wasn’t working, and why. In putting it back together, I developed a plotting system that I still use today. About half of the workshops I teach online are based on that plotting system. [And yeah, if that plot sounds kinda familiar, it became Redemption (The Penton Vampire Legacy Book 1).

My plotting system starts with what I call a “Big Idea,” (yes, I called it that before I knew John Scalzi had a blog feature with the same name). I’m about to start the plotting process for a new novel. Here’s its Big Idea:

The preternatural world is at war, and a group of rebels is caught in the middle. Can a wizard with a bounty on her head work with an undead pirate, a merman, an ambitious faery prince, and a stubborn shapeshifter stop the humans of New Orleans from becoming collateral damage in the most explosive Mardi Gras the city has ever seen?

Hmm…what book might that be? Here’s a street sign with a clue. Circle March 20 on your calendars!