Jenn Lyons: What I Learned Writing Blood Sin

Everything is permitted…  and everyone has their price. 

Zander Sin is the bad boy of rock-n-roll, known for his wealth, his temper tantrums, and his love of hedonism, but to K&R expert and newly born maran vampire Jackson Pastor, Zander Sin is something else: murderer, monster, and kidnapper. After Zander’s Whore of Babylon tour comes to Los Angeles, Jackson also learns that Zander Sin has a grudge with Jackson’s family that goes way beyond money or power, and stretches all the way back to ancient Rome. 

Zander may be on everyone’s hit list, human and supernatural alike, but when Jackson learns that Zander’s keeping his younger sister Monika prisoner, he finds himself face-to-face with the most objectionable of outcomes: being forced to help Zander Sin get what he wants. 

Even if it means Jackson may have to betray everyone he loves to do it.

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The Second Book In A Series Is Just As Hard As The First.

Blood Sin is my fourth book, but my first sequel. All the previous books had been in radically different genres with no connection to each other (because sticking to one genre will never be my groove.) Blood Sin, on the other hand, is the sequel to Blood Chimera, book two in an open-ended paranormal mystery series. In some ways that’s easier, since it means that there will be familiar characters and some of the world-building is already done, but everything that’s a benefit is also a constraint, because…well…the characters are familiar and the world-building is already done. I can’t just go around changing things now, or introducing concepts which should have been present in the first book. I’m locked in.

So easier in lots of ways, but also scary.

Stare Into The Abyss Of Language And The Vocabulary Stares Back.

So the monsters in my series are called ‘grendels’ — and as you might expect that translated into reading about the epic poem ‘Beowulf.’ While doing so, I discovered the word ‘aeglaeca,’ which turns out to be a bit problematic. And sexist.

Whoa now. What?

Aeglaeca is a word used to describe Grendel’s mother, and it’s usually translated as meaning ‘monstrous.’ Grendel’s mother is a monster because it says so right there. Monster. See? Print doesn’t lie. And that’s all well and good, but the same word is also often used to describe the titular hero of the story, Beowulf.

Only then the same word is typically translated as ‘heroic.’

Same word. Used the same way. The only difference between how the word is translated into modern English seems to be the gender of the subject, and that translation is one of the main pieces of evidence used to present that Grendel’s mother is a foul bitch-beast. Turns out ‘aeglaeca’ really translates as ‘epic’ or ‘fierce’ — applicable to both heroes and villains. So everything I assumed I knew about Grendel’s mother stemmed from a bunch of scholars who just couldn’t wrap their heads around the idea that a woman could try to kick the ass of the man who killed her son without also being a literal monster.

Anyway, I ended up naming a Vegas-style floor show after it, because Blood Sin’s that kind of book.

I Have To Write Faster Than My Demons.

Blood Sin was probably the most trouble-free novel I’ve written to date. I’m pretty infamous for hitting the three-fourths mark of a book and grinding to a halt so I can go back over everything I’ve done and second guess myself in crippling ways, up to and including completely radical rewrites. That didn’t happen this time. Why?

Blood Sin was also the fastest I’ve ever written a novel, and these things are not unconnected. That probably goes against someone’s rules for writing and certainly against popular conceptions of how writing should be, but I have discovered that I do my best writing when I write fast enough to trust my instincts instead of giving my brain time to second-guess my work. How fast? At least two thousand words an hour usually does the trick for me. I can’t keep that up all day — it’s exhausting — but when you’re writing that fast, you don’t need more than a few hours a day.

My Health is an Important Part of This Process.

Around six or so years ago, long before I decided to make this writing thing a permanent part of my raison d’être, I was a freelance illustrator, which fyi, is not an easy way to earn a penny. I worked myself to the ground, spent long periods of time cramming myself into poor ergonomic contortions, and ended up doing permanent damage to my health from which I’ve yet to recover. Back problems, primarily, but also weight gain from being so sedentary, which of course made the back problems worse.

I’m still paying for it.

What I’ve learned from this (besides how important diet is for my overall health and well being) is that ignoring your health is something you will absolutely regret. In some ways, the attention I now pay to my diet and exercise means I’m healthier than I’ve ever been before (especially since I’ve cut sugar out of my diet) but all it takes is one really bad back flare-up to remind me how nice it would have been if I’d done all this before it became a crippling issue. Also? It’s not easy for me to write when I’m doubled over in pain.

So don’t be me, okay?

Always Be Closing.

I work full time. I’m also a fervent gamer who enjoys table-top RPGs and MMOs. I have a lot of hobbies. And I’ve written five books in the last two years (and I’m in the middle of my sixth.) Guess what I don’t do so much anymore? (Hint: I still pay my bills.) I’ve discovered that writing books (and finishing those books) is a choice. It’s not about talent, although that certainly impacts if anyone will want to read my books later. It’s about one single thing: making writing more important than all the other activities that clamor for my free time and energy.

Writing is my BAE, my first priority, the thing I do before TV shows, video games, or hanging out with friends. When that wasn’t true? I also didn’t have any finished books. Probably some kind of connection there…

I have friends who are professional artists, and they draw all the time. ALL THE TIME. When they aren’t drawing, they are watching videos of other artists drawing or they are staring at drawn pictures of Batman pointing a finger at them and saying, “Why aren’t you drawing?”

Writing is exactly the same.

Which isn’t to say I haven’t been playing a lot of video games lately, just that I’m not making any excuses for it the way I used to do.

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Jenn Lyons lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband, three cats and a lot of opinions on anything from Sumerian creation myths to the correct way to make a martini. At various points in her life, she has wanted to be an archaeologist, anthropologist, architect, diamond cutter, fashion illustrator, graphic designer, or Batman. Turning from such obvious trades, she is now a video game producer by day, and spends her evenings writing science fiction and fantasy.

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