18 April 2014

Cobwebs and clutter

Spring cleaning is a tradition for many people. Winter ends and you throw open the windows, let in the fresh air, and start tossing out the trash, sweeping up cobwebs, and sorting through the junk that's collected over a long, cold winter.

Mentally, I've been doing the same thing. The very air seems to stimulate the creative process ... or maybe it's just the fact that the air no longer freezes my lungs. ;) But whether it's the periodic sunshine, warmer days, or budding trees, all I know is that I suddenly feel in the mood to be productive again. I want to write. I want to draw. I want to take long walks and contemplate plot holes and story ideas. I feel a deep-seated need to create.

The best way to begin is by cleaning out the mental cobwebs. First, I start plowing through that story that has been lingering for months on end. I know how it ends, but I haven't written it down yet. In my mind, it's done. In reality, it never will be if I don't initiate some self-discipline, turn off the games and write!

Once the old wip (work in progress) is finally finished, the new ideas can take deeper root. It's kind of like clearing out a closet for a new wardrobe. New characters; fresh ideas; words strung together in new ways. Yes, this is one of the truly fun parts of writing -- the beginning when every story is new and you're discovering it page by page, scene by scene.

It seems all I really needed was some fresh air and little sunlight.

Meg Allison

Indulge your senses...
http://megallisonauthor.com

17 April 2014

Other Types of Creativity -- Between the Lines

Whenever I need a writing break...

(or, rather, whenever I foolishly volunteer to help with something involving crafts and am forced to TAKE a writing break because I procrastinated like a procrastination demon)

I have become fond of committing...

(volunteering like a foolish procrastination demon)

to other types of projects that involve the arts. I find that it stimulates my writer brain...

(in that I often come up with genius ideas about my book while crafting but I can't go write them down because I foolishly procrastinated a project and I'm pulling a midnighter, as opposed to an all-nighter, which I'm too old to do anymore)

to exercise other types of creativity...

(for which I'm often ill-suited, as it turns out)

in addition to creativity with the written word.

For example, this season I volunteered...

(a long time ago, like in 2013, but funnily enough I'm not DOING the bulk of the work until just now)

to help with the costumes for my children's musical theater performance of The Little Mermaid. Normally my help extends to picking through my vintage collection in the attic...

(I also have a shopping demon who's friends with the procrastination demon, and the shopping demon loooooooves to find great deals in thrift stores on vintage or other funky clothes)

for the shows that have early 20th century settings, like last year's Bugsy Malone. This year, however, in addition to thrifting for cheap raw materials and crocheting fish hats, the theater director and costume mistress assigned me some actual sewing projects.

(And here comes the 'I'm ill suited for this' part!)

The fish hats, I have to say, were a rousing success. Like my puffer fish. Magnifique!



The sewing projects are still ongoing. But the important thing is not the costumes.

(Although the costumes are pretty darn important to the theater director, costume mistress, and kids who have to wear them, so I'd better not eff this up!)

The important thing is I will finish up this weekend and return to writing next week refreshed...

(bloody fingered)

energized in the brain...

(exhausted in the body)

and ready to take my hero and heroine on rousing adventures...

(that do not involve sewing sequins, because that might be one version of Hell on Earth.)

Do you ever find that other creative arts stimulate your writer brain?

Jody Wallace
Author, Cat Person, Amigurumist of the Apocalypse
http://www.jodywallace.com  * http://www.meankitty.com  

15 April 2014

Spring Round Up

I was going to title this "Spring Catch-up".  Oops.  Guess I shouldn't start a blog in the middle of a lunar eclipse...unless I really wanted to talk about condiments.

Nope, the only spice here is the variety of things I want to share.  First, for those of you in the Washington, DC, area, I hope you've got your tickets to Awesome Con this weekend, because it's going to be, well, awesome!

The fun starts before the con with an attempt to break the current Guinness record for the most superhero costumes in a single place.  If you want to be part of the action, bring your costumed self to the Capitol Reflecting Pool Friday April 18 at noon.  The con itself runs through the weekend at the DC Convention Center, and boasts a fabulous line-up of media and literary guests, including bleeding chunks from--er, a sizable number of cast members from The Walking Dead, friend of Beyond the Veil Gail Z. Martin, and me.

This will be my first Awesome Con, so my schedule is pretty light:

5:15-6:15 p.m., Friday, April 18
Part Time Writer, Full Time World

11:45 a.m. - 12:45 p.m., Saturday, April 19
Writing Fantasy

Which means for once I'll have time to hang out at the Silence in the Library Publishing booth and maybe even (cue the shock) see a panel or two.  It's been ages since I've been able to indulge my inner fan girl at a con, so I'm really looking forward to this.

Meanwhile, I'm delighted to announce that Hellfire Lounge 4: Reflections of Evil is now a real live book actually available for purchase.  All of us associated with the anthology are cheering.  We've been waiting over a year for the book to see print, and it's finally happened.  Kudos to editor R. Allen Leider for shepherding the book through a very scary change in publishers.

As you might guess from the title, HF4 is all about mirrors, including the most famous one of all.  It features stories by Danielle Ackley-McPhail, John L. French, C.J. Henderson, Paul Kupperberg, our fearless editor R. Allen Leider, KT Pinto, J. Brad Stahl, Patrick Thomas, Robert E. Waters, and me.  There's also a certain amount of smoke, and in the case of my story, a lot of fire.

Yep, Eddie and Ducky are at it again in "Glass Transit".  "Burning Down the House" (in Hellfire Lounge 3: Jinn Rummy) left our (anti)heroes sealed in a magic bottle.  Naturally, being sorcerers, they come up with A CUNNING PLAN to escape.  Equally naturally, being Eddie and Ducky, things go south from there--specifically south to Lakehurst, New Jersey, on May 6, 1937.  If you like things that go boom, this is definitely the story for you.

I've posted an excerpt here.  The excerpt also gives you a peek at some of the wonderful interior art done by Ed Coutts.  It's always a thrill to have Ed illustrate your work, because he reads every story he illustrates.  I love the expression he gives my Eddie.  That's our boy all over.

There's lots more going on in my little corner of the world, but the most important thing involves one of my co-contributors to HF4, C.J. Henderson.  You think you know all about the Dance Like a Monkey anthology project at Indiegogo?  We'll you ain't seen nothing yet.  As proof, I offer this video from another HF4 writer, Patrick Thomas.  And remember, you've still got two weeks to get yourself a piece of the best literary bargain around.  What are you waiting for?


Till next time!

14 April 2014

Getting Ready for Spring with New Books!

Daffodils are blooming and tulips are on their way. I saw a bunny in the park the other day and Spring feels like it's arriving day by day here in the Northeast United States. I'm also looking forward to a new batch of book releases over the next few months that has me really excited.

First, on May 5th, King's Throne comes out. There's been a little confusion because of the word "king" in the title. Some folks have just automatically assumed it's one of my sci fi stories that are named for the four kings of the tarot/playing card deck. To set the record straight - that is not the case. The title for this book was planned years ago and has to do with children's string games.

Remember when you were a kid and you took a loop of string and made different things with it using only your fingers and a series of moves? Okay, maybe you didn't. But I did. I loved playing with that simple loop of string and making the witch's broom or cat's cradle, etc.

A few years back I planned out a trilogy of books set in the same contemporary paranormal world as my Brotherhood of Blood and Tales of the Were series, only following a different group of shapeshifters in a slightly different part of the world. The shifters are all of the big cat variety - panthers, tigers, etc. And since they were all cats, I thought the string game names fit rather appropriately. Cats - string - get it?

The first of these books was Cat's Cradle. Life intervened and I didn't get a chance to get back to this series until last year, when I wrote the second book in the trilogy, King's Throne. After some behind-the-scenes publisher drama, it will finally be releasing on May 5th in both ebook and print. Huzzah!

The third book in the trilogy, which is titled Jacob's Ladder, will be out later this year. Part of my "spring cleaning" this year is to finish off a few of my ongoing series. I started in March, by releasing the last of the Resonance Mates books, Harry's Sacrifice. That brings to an end the long-planned 5-book story arc of that series. I won't say no to the possibility that I might write more of those books sometime in the future, but probably not this year. This year is all about finishing things! ;-)

So the plan for now is to finish the String of Fate trilogy by year's end. I will also be finishing the 5-book Redstone Clan sub-series within the Tales of the Were. Book 4, which is titled Bobcat, will be out in June, I believe, though I'm firming up the date as we speak. I hope to have book 5, Matt, done shortly thereafter.

And then it'll be on to re-releases of the two Sons of Amber books - Ezekiel and Michael - which are now out of print, and some ventures into outer space with my various sci fi series. I plan on releasing the last of the four kings - this one titled King of Stars - sometime this summer. After that, I hope to release a couple of new stories in the Jit'Suku Chronicles. We'll see how it goes. The plan is ambitious, but I like to aim high and see how far I can get. ;-)

10 April 2014

Spring Cleaning!


It's Spring, and thoughts turn to Spring Cleaning.

You know, now that I'm thinking about it, I really did do that one year.  I took five whole vacation days off (I had fifteen a year back in those heady days) and cleaned everything from stem to stern.  I have to admit, it was bliss.

The next year, I took the days off to do it and slept for five days straight.

So it's a mixed bag, really.

If I had to distill everything I've learned about cleaning, organizing, developing new habits and pruning old ones, and maintaining stuff I'd say this:

I need a maid!

Ha!  Until I am in a financial place to afford one, here's what I do that works for me:

  1. Start small.  Baby steps really do work - AND tend to get done when big giant leaps get procrastinated.
  2. Avoid it.  If you don't make a mess to begin with, you don't have to clean it up.  Cultivate tidiness.
  3. Learn how to manage the everyday accumulation of things.  If you're a knitter (and who isn't??), learn how to keep your projects and stash in self-contained areas so that they aren't all over the house for the cats to massacre.
  4. Hire a maid.  No, really.  Call around and see how much it costs.  It's less than you think, and starting from a clean house makes it a helluva lot easier to want to maintain it.
  5. Be reasonable.  If you work outside the home or are a homemaker, and you want to write in addition to that, and you expect to eat, sleep, and occasionally have some fun, your home isn't going to look like a spread from Architectural Digest.  That's just facts.  Get used to what level of clutter you can live with and tell your inner Aunt Mabel the Magnificent to catch a train to Biloxi and leave you alone.
What about you?  What works for your tidy space?




--
“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.”
- E.E. Cummings

The Chicagoland Shifters series:
Book 1 BURNING BRIGHT, available from Samhain Publishing.
Book 2 TIGER TIGER, available from Samhain Publishing. An All Romance eBooks Bestseller!

The Persis Chronicles:Check out EMERALD FIRE, available from Torquere Books.
Check out "Seeking Hearts", available from Torquere Books.

Check out COOK LIKE A WRITER , available from Barnes and Noble.
Check out "Taking a Chance", available from Torquere Books!

My links: Blog | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon | LinkedIn | Pandora
Knoontime Knitting: Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Ravelry
Noon and Wilder links: Blog | Taurus and Taurus (NSFW) | Website | Facebook
The Writer Zen Garden: The Writers Retreat Blog | Forum | Facebook | Twitter | Meetup
Team Blogs: Nightlight | Nightlight FB Page | Beyond the Veil | BtV FB Page
Publishers: LooseId | Samhain Publishing | Torquere Press

06 April 2014

Are you ready to go "In the Black"?

I'm pleased to announce that on May 12th Carina Press will be releasing "In the Black", the first book in my new series, "Tales from the Edge". It's a rip-roaring adventure series with I like to explain as "Firefly" meets "Best Little Whorehouse"… but why not read an excerpt and you can judge for yourself?

***


This was the worst part of the job, the toughest thing for any captain who ran a Mercy Ship. When she’d taken over the Bonnie Belle six months ago, it’d seemed amusing— starting off the landfall with a bang, as it were. Then back to signing off on maintenance reports and reading mystery novels until the Belle was ready to head out for the next stop on their cycle.

Now this ceremony was like a hangnail catching on anything and everything without relief in sight.

Performed once a month.

For another four and a half years.

Samantha Keller stood in front of the double doors, waiting for her cue. A low beep in her ear from the transmitter signaled her to proceed. She pasted a huge smile on her face and pushed her way through the swinging double doors, making a note to swing her hips and slow the hell down.

She couldn’t run down the aisle, no matter how much she wanted to get this over with.

The black leather straps cut into the back of her heels as she strode down the center aisle. She made a mental note to toss the shoes into the garbage bin as soon as she got back to the Belle.

She’d have worn her old jump boots but Jenny insisted on her buying the stilettos on their first stop at Land’s End base, saying they matched the brand-new leather jumpsuit and that it’d be unseemly for her to make the announcements in “ragged, old, stinky” military boots.

Sam had lived and almost died in those boots and if they were good enough for that, they’d be good enough for this. The words had been on her tongue when she’d spotted the eagerness in the mechanic’s eyes.

In the end she’d bought the bloody shoes, the ones now gouging raw spots on her heels. Six months and they were nowhere near broken in.

Mind you, she only wore them for a few minutes once a month. Maybe she should have Jenny stomp around and soften them up.

The damned jumpsuit still rode up, tempting her to make some very unladylike gestures.

Sam missed her old soft, olive drab uniform.

Along with the weapons that went with it.

There was something about having a pistol at her side that made certain situations more bearable.

Like this one.

She spotted Huckness, the security chief, standing off to one side with two of his men, his attention not on her but on the two hundred miners spread out in front of them in the main meeting hall. He was looking for signs of trouble.

She was about to deliver it.

The second step was her undoing. Her damned shoe missed the metal strip, landing on bare wood. Her left ankle twisted outward, almost sending her crashing down the steps. Her right hand shot out and grabbed the podium’s faux wood edge.

As far as she was concerned this near-fall added one more point toward tossing the damned shoes into the incinerator as soon as she got off this stage.

A curse dangled on her lips before being pulled back and twisted into a grin, primarily because of the live mike only inches from her face.

With this crowd, it’d probably be considered foreplay.

Wolf whistles followed her every move. Two hundred hungry men waiting for her. Wanting her to deliver the goods they’d been promised.

Another dozen or so women were watching from an office somewhere. The women assigned to Branson Prime worked the administrative positions, keeping the ink flowing to keep the base alive. Only a smattering but they were potential customers and the Guild prepared for every eventuality.

They were already segregated from the men in the work areas and it continued for this presentation, allowing them to watch the show without commentary from the male staff. It wasn’t just out of politeness—it was good business. Let them see the wares without judging or being judged by their male associates.

Another day, another show.

Andrew Trainer, the foreman, stepped away from the podium. A minute later and he was in the front row of eager spectators, dressed in the same drab grey clothing as the rest of the miners. The only thing showing his rank was a black stripe on one sleeve. He wiped the sweat from his forehead on his sleeve even though the room was cool, the air-conditioning roaring over the crowd.

Sam gave him a wink, causing the dark-haired man to rock back and forth on the metal bench.

Inside she laughed. If she could get a rise out of the old guard with nothing more than a wink, she might have a damned riot on her hands by the end of the presentation.

Her lips twitched once, and then curved into a smile.

She’d enjoy a riot. It’d been a long time since she got in a good old-fashioned brawl, two landfalls ago when some idiot thought he’d jump the line when she was walking through the landing bay on the way to trade some books with the base library. If she hadn’t gotten to him first he might have not survived the rough justice being handed out by his fellow miners.

It’d been a pleasure to kick his ass. Almost as good as sex.

Speaking of—

“Hello, Branson Prime,” she purred into the microphone, grimacing as her vocal cords protested at going so low and slow. It was a necessary evil; her command voice wasn’t going to work here.

The resounding cheer was deafening. She withdrew a small data chip from her pocket and inserted it into the waiting slot on the console. The yelling subsided when she waved them down, but a low murmur continued to run through the crowd, a delicious anticipation of what was to come.

“I’m Sam Keller, Captain of the Bonnie Belle—that sweet little Mercy ship that docked with your fine manufacturing facility an hour ago. And I’m here to declare that we are—” she paused for three heartbeats, seeing the hungry eyes, “—open for business!”

The two hundred-plus miners jumped to their feet as one, stomping their booted feet in a deafening chorus. Given the sparse decorations they looked more like prisoners than potential customers. But they were buyers and she was here to sell a product.

She pointed at the large screens set around the mess hall as they flashed to life, the bright pictures drawing yells from the workers. Usually they displayed boring litanies of production quotas and the occasional sports competition piped in from the inner planets. Now they rotated through the images of the six courtesans, expertly posed and photographed to provide the most titillation for the money. No outright nudity, just a flash of skin here and a wink there. More than enough material to fuel a man’s or woman’s fantasies for those long, dark, lonely nights out here on the edge of colonized space.

“Two hundred credits an hour and you can do anything you want.” She leaned over the podium and pressed her lips to the microphone, letting the zipper on the jumpsuit “accidentally” slide down just enough to exaggerate her cleavage.

It’d taken Jenny a week of oil and sweat to loosen the zipper enough to get it to come down on cue. But it was well worth it, every time.

“Anything.” She exhaled over the black nub, drawing the word out as long as she could.

***

As you can guess the Bonnie Belle's stay doesn't go as planned… but why not plan a visit to the Belle for yourself? Make a date May 12th to come on board and see what all the fuss is about!

When Sam Keller left the military, she ran to the far end of the galaxy. Now she captains the Bonnie Belle, a spaceship full of courtesans who bring a little pleasure to hard-up men on mining colonies. When one of her girls turns up dead, it’s  Sam’s job to find out who killed her, fast.

Marshal Daniel LeClair is as tough as steel and quick on the draw. But when his vacation gets replaced by an assignment to help find the killer, he can’t help angling for a little action with the saucy, hard-charging Sam. She’s  got brains, attitude and a body he wouldn’t  mind investigating.

Sam, six months lonely, might just indulge him. But the Guild that owns the Belle wants the case closed yesterday. With pressure coming from all quadrants, Sam and her marshal clash over false leads and who’s on top. But when the killer threatens the Belle again, romance will have to wait. It’s a captain’s job to save her crew, no matter the cost.

Pre-order "In the Black" NOW  at Amazon, B&N, iBooks and Google Play!

31 March 2014

Almost Time to Get DOWN AND DIRTY

Since I have already posted about the March theme, I decide to give you a few sneak peaks of my new books coming out in April.

DOWN AND DIRTY--SEAL EXtreme Team Short Story
Available April 10th.


Final request… SEAL Lieutenant Commander Nick Talley keeps promises, but taking care of a teammate’s sister is a vow he should’ve made. How can a man tortured by the past, help a woman fight her tough future?

Broken dreams…Ironman qualifier, Jill Connors, is counting the days until her brother brings handsome Nick home with him. But a buried IED takes her brother’s life and a drunk driver steals her competition hopes. Will Nick want a woman with only one foot?  Love has a way of healing the wounded…one muddy step at a time.  


SEALs Of Summer: Military Romance Superbundle 
Available April 21.


Ten novellas and novels by New York Times, USA Today and award-winning bestselling authors: Delilah Devlin, Sharon Hamilton, Anne Marsh, Cora Seton, Zoe York, Roxie Riviera, S.M. Butler, Kimberley Troutte, Jennifer Lowery, Elle James.


COMING IN HOT--SEAL EXtreme Team (# 1)
eBook included in the SEALS of Summer boxed set. Print book available now.



For Navy SEAL Mack Riley, rescuing a family in Colombian jungles isn’t as hard as seeing the admiral’s daughter again, but since Jenna is joining the hostage rescue team, his orders are to protect her. In the heat of battle, love breaches their defenses just as missiles lock onto their coordinates …can they save the family and get out alive?

Happy reading!

Kimberley Troutte

25 March 2014

Monkeying Around in a Good Cause...with Benefits

See this monkey here?  (No, it’s not me. I didn't grow a beard overnight. Hush!) This monkey marks the start of a new Silence in the Library project: Monkeying Around fora Good Cause: The CJ Henderson Benefit Anthology.

If it were just an anthology, Dance Like A Monkey would be awesome.  The list of contributors at the basic funding level includes some of the biggest names in the industry: Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta, Maggie Allen, Jack Dann, Ed Greenwood, Joe Haldeman, Nancy and Belle Holder, Tanya Huff (insert fan girl squee here—I’m in a book with Tanya Huff and Jack Dann!), Gail Z. Martin, Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Jean Rabe, Mike Resnik, Hildy Silverman, Janine Spendlove, Michael A. Stackpole, Anton Strout, Kelly Swails, Robert E. Vardeman, Elizabeth A. Vaughan, Bryan Young, Jean Marie Ward, Gene Wolfe, and Timothy Zahn. And, of course, CJ Henderson. 

The artists contributing to the project include Christina Yoder (who drew the wonderful dancing monkey topping this article), Alan M. Clark (who contributed the beautiful cover shown below), Mark Dos Santos, Ben Fogletto, Thomas Nackid and Matt Slay.

But wait!  Like the classic TV commercial says, there’s more!  Beyond the Veil’s own Sheryl Nantus is one of the stretch goal authors for the project. Yes! If you contribute now—and we make our stretch goals—you’ll receive another book’s worth of wonderful stories, including Sheryl’s!  And you know she writes wonderful short stories.  If you don’t believe me, check out the selection on her website.

The other stretch goal authors ain’t exactly shabby, either: Aaron Rosenberg, Alan M. Clark, Allan Gilbreath, Alma Alexander, Tera Fulbright, Cynthia Ward, Davey Beauchamp, Dylan Birtolo, James Chambers, Jeff Young, Jennifer Brozek, John Hartness, Maxwell Alexander Drake, John L. French, Jonathan Maberry, Keith R.A. DeCandido, KT Pinto, Michael Ventrella, Misty Massey, Patrick Thomas, Pete Prellwitz, Stuart Jaffe, David B. Coe (aka D.B. Jackson), Vicki Steger, and Mike McPhail. 

And every single story by every single author will feature a monkey.  Even I got in the act, as you can see from the excerpt of my story "Burning Down the House" here.

Why? One of CJ's favorite sayings is "I'll dance like a monkey for a nickel."

But why CJ? Why now? And what makes this project any different than any of the other crowdsourcing projects I've been involved with recently? I think Silence in the Library publisher Ron Garner said it best:

“The purpose of this anthology is to provide...support to author CJ Henderson. Let me start off though, by saying that this is not charity. We are not simply collecting money and handing it off to a needy individual to help pay medical expenses. No, what we are doing here is endowing a grant. A grant that will allow CJ to continue to produce the kinds of stories that CJ writes. Stories with the power to entertain and captivate us all. We are making an investment in CJ."

An investment with dividends for you.  Are you an aspiring writer, or do you know one?  Bestselling author Gail Z. Martin and writer/publisher Janine Spendlove are offering mentoring programs.  Both programs include an in-depth review of the first 200 pages of your novel-length manuscript.

Or how about a short cut to immortality?  You can be Tuckerized--have your name and characteristics assigned to a character in a published story.  Monkeying Around offers three Tuckerization options.  You can get written into anthology editor Jean Rabe's next novel, The Cauldron, or Danielle Ackley-McPhail's upcoming novel, Daire's Devils.

You want more?  How about a certain author and her equally demented spouse doing their best to live up to the anthology's title?


How about making them stop?  

I thought that would do the trick. J Just so you don’t have to scroll back, the URL is: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/monkeying-around-for-a-good-cause .  

Click it.  Share it.  Help out.  I guarantee you won't be sorry.

17 March 2014

Awesome Weekend with a Bunch of Awesome Sci Fi/Fantasy Folks!

Happy St. Patrick's Day! I hope you all had as great a weekend as I did! I spent Saturday and Sunday at LunaCon in Rye, NY. It's a sci fi/fantasy con on the smaller side, but filled with great people, interesting topics of conversation, cool costumes and lots of fun. Sadly, I didn't get any photos. A week or two ago, I dropped my phone in goo and it hasn't worked quite right since. :(

I had a great time discussing the state of publishing with authors like Marc L. Abbott, David Walton and Sarah Avery. I got to hear about anthologies and magazine publishing from the creator of Clarkesworld, and the folks from BlackGate. And I got to get out and play with writers in other genres.

Having spent the past few years mostly associating with romance writers, I sometimes forget my roots. Though I write sf/fantasy romance, I've always found more acceptance among romance readers/writers than among more traditional sf/f readers/writers. I'm happy to see this is changing. While a lot of the folks at the con have never, and will never read one of my books - much less ANY romance novel of any kind - they were a lot more accepting when I admitted I wrote sf/f romance.

I was able to talk about my newest book, Harry's Sacrifice, which is straight-up sci fi mixed with erotic romance. And I also got to promote my upcoming paranormal romance, King's Throne, which is now available for pre-order and releases in ebook and print on May 5, 2014.

I think the main reason I have shied away from sf/f cons in recent years, is that I have had bad experiences in the past. A few years ago I was made the laughing stock of a few different panels I was put on with some very intolerant male sf writers. My experience is nothing new. There is a well-known connection between the sf/f world and misogyny. There has been decided resistance to females writing sf/f, which is why I found a lot more acceptance among the more female-friendly romance world.

This was sort of brought home to me in a eureka moment when we were discussing different kinds of conventions on one of the panels offering advice to novice writers. I was asked to describe what a romance con is like to some of the men in the audience and I was able to say that the mostly-female romance community is very welcoming to male writers who come to the conventions. As I said it, I was thinking to myself, the opposite is not always true - female writers aren't always that welcome at the male-dominated sf/f cons. I know, because I've experienced it.

Nowadays, I only go to nearby sf/f cons. LunaCon is the only one I plan to attend this year. It's relatively close for me - about 30 miles away - and I can commute. But most importantly - LunaCon is welcoming. Accepting. I've never been dissed there. I don't feel too terribly out of place. They're a good bunch of people.

If you want to see some photos of this year's con from an author who was a lot better prepared than I (as far as his phone actually working), go look at Michael Ventrella's facebook page. He was clicking away all weekend! :)

This weekend's experience has made me re-think my position on sf/f cons in general. I just might try to go back to a few northeast cons that I remember enjoying as a plain ol' fan. Wacky as they are, sf cons are a lot of fun!


16 March 2014

Luck of the Irish—or Lack Thereof

father and sonI don't believe much in Saints and such, but Irish blood runs through me—as evidenced by the red hair in my family. My great-great grandfather's name was Francis Marion Capps.. He came here from Ireland. Not a lot of talk in our family about our Irish (or any other) roots, but I have Irish blood from both my mother's parents. Because of that, St. Patrick's Day stirs pride in my heritage.

Was my Irish luck the reason I'm published? If it is, it is the slowest luck in the world. I've written off and on most of my life, and it's only been in the last few years I've achieved any success.Is it because my writing skill is horrible? I refuse to think that. My problem was me, but that's another blog.

So, luck or skill? Both. You can be as lucky as a leprechaun sitting at the end of the rainbow, but if you have no skill as a writer you'll never get anywhere. And if you have good solid ability it still takes a bit o' luck to get ya where ya want to be.

May you find all the luck and skill you need, and have a wonderful St. Patrick's Day!

(By the way, the picture is of my red-headed grandson and his dad.)

Cheryel
www.cheryelhutton.com
www.facebook.com/cheryelhuttonauthor
Twitter: @cheryelhutton

15 March 2014

Is Winter Over Yet?

Yes, I'm am most definitely whining. :)

Our area has smashed all records for total snowfall this year! And I know exactly why - we made plans, and God laughed.

When my daughter picked a wedding date last year, the past several winters had been mild and nearly snow-less. Late February will be perfect, we said. The weather will be cool but starting to warm up, we said.

We had snow up to our arses and sub-zero cold.

Well, she said she wanted a winter wedding!

Everything went well, and I'm trying not to feel old when I say I have a son-in-law! Next thing you know they'll be plopping a grandkid in my lap. Heh.

Between spurts of wedding madness I've been watching historical documentaries on Youtube to get me in the mndset of Victorian/Civil War era characters. I have to say, the Brits really know how to produce an historical documentary. I've learned more about Victorian-era medicine (which is pretty hair-raising) than I ever thought possible. Here are a few of my favorites. Caution, they're NOT for the faint of heart!

Pain, Pus, and Poison: The Search for Modern Medicines, Part 1 - Pain
Pain, Pus, and Poison: The Search for Modern Medicines, Part 2 - Pus
Pain, Pus, and Poison: The Search for Modern Medicines, Part 3 - Poison
The Victorian Pharmacy

I also have been messing around with a new camera, and the result is a couple of new videos of my dachshunds so NOT enjoying the deep, deep snow. The first one is Fidget, the second is Heidi. Both went racing out the door in pursuit of squirrels, only to find themselves facing a long slog back to the house.



Well, time to get out my pub-crawling shoes and start applying shamrock temporary tattoos! Everyone have a safe and fun St. Patrick's Day weekend! I'll leave you with this touching Irish blessing:

"As you slide down the banister of life, may the splinters never point in the wrong direction."

Slainte!
Carolan

www.carolanivey.com
Youtube channel:  http://www.youtube.com/user/carolanivey


13 March 2014

Black Widow Movie!


I heart Jeremy Renner, I'll admit it, and I think Scarlett Johannson is a stone fox.


BTW, don't try looking up "stone fox" on Google.  ~shudder~

ANYway, apparently Ms. Johannson is going to have a baby, which I'm sure will be too cool for school and WAY to foxy for his or her own good.  BUT, the OTHER good news is that BLACK WIDOW IS GETTING HER OWN MOVIE!

According to MovieWeb, there's a strong possibility that we will get to see Scarlett reprise her role in her very own movie.  She will be playing a pivotal role in the next Avengers movie, (which shouldn't be a surprise to Avengers fans since she's, like, the Black Widow, man!), as well as the soon-to-be-released Captain America: The Winter Soldier.  I'm so excited about this franchise that I can't sit still.

I do, of course, wish Ms. Johannson well and congratulate her on her expanding family, but am even more excited about the possibility of having a complex female lead in a historically male-dominated genre of action/adventure/hero movies.  I'm not surprised, what with filmmaker, writer and director Joss Whedon involved, but I'm tickled that the Powers That Be are listening to Whedon and taking the franchise in some interesting directions.

What about you?  If you could make any movie you wanted, who would be the hero and who would you have play the hero?  (Using 'hero' in a gender-neutral sense, here, so please, don't forget the womens!)



--

“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.”
- E.E. Cummings


The Chicagoland Shifters series:
Book 1 BURNING BRIGHT, available from Samhain Publishing.
Book 2 TIGER TIGER, available from Samhain Publishing. An All Romance eBooks Bestseller!

The Persis Chronicles:Check out EMERALD FIRE, available from Torquere Books.
Check out "Seeking Hearts", available from Torquere Books.

Check out COOK LIKE A WRITER , available from Barnes and Noble.
Check out "Taking a Chance", available from Torquere Books!

My links: Blog | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon | LinkedIn | Pandora
Knoontime Knitting: Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Ravelry
Noon and Wilder links: Blog | Website | Facebook
The Writer Zen Garden: The Writers Retreat Blog | Forum | Facebook | Twitter | Meetup
Team Blogs: Nightlight | Nightlight FB Page | Beyond the Veil | BtV FB Page
Publishers: Samhain Publishing | Torquere Press

09 March 2014

When you lose control... who holds you back?

We've all done it - lost our temper and cursed or yelled or thrown something when we've reached that breaking point, that point of no return.

And we're told or we tell ourselves over and over again that this will be the last time.

Basically we lie to ourselves.

But I don't see that as necessarily a bad thing. There's nothing wrong with trying to be better, aspire to be more in control of one's emotions and feelings especially in a society where, according to the latest headlines, you're likely to be shot for tossing popcorn into someone's face or run off the road and killed for flipping the bird to an angry driver.


When I developed the character of Rebecca Desjardin from "Blood of the Pride" I wanted to give her some sort of problem, something she couldn't control. I went with her being unable to shift on will into her Felis shape, unable to control her ability to become a cat shifter. She discovers, after years of not being able to shift, that she *can* but only under dire circumstances when she needs to do so to save her mate, Brandon. A human who, by the way, definitely can't shift. He provides an anchor in her emotional storm when she shifts in public and needs to get herself back under control before her secret is out.


I have to admit to having to depend on my husband at times to bring me "down" when I get angry - he's the rock I can hold onto when I lose my temper and he knows when to let me rant and when to pull me back. Usually before I start breaking things. *grins*

Reb still doesn't have full control over her shifting by the fourth book in the series, "Battle Scars" and she might never have the control she wishes or that the rest of her Pride wishes she had. But like all of us she'll keep on trying to stay in command of her faculties and keep on trying to be better than what she is presently.

As we move into Lent (yeah, even this really lapsed-Catholic) I'm going to try and keep better control over my emotions and my temper. Especially when knives are within reach. And I know I'll fail but darn it, I'll keep on trying.

Because it's part of being human. And no matter who or what you are there's always room for improvement. *winks*

08 March 2014

Luck or Talent? Sweet or Sour? Can I Have an And?

Is there such a thing as a true binary--a real yes/no, on/off situation--in nature or society?  Probably, but the publishing industry isn't it.

Sure, creators everywhere want to believe we'll succeed on our astounding merits.  Why keep polishing your craft if it doesn't matter?

But I only discovered my first publication thirty years after the fact.  If that isn't luck, I don't know what is.  It's not great luck, but hey, I didn't lose any money on the deal.  The publication in question was only a short poem.

My situation wasn't nearly as bad as other writers of my acquaintance--undermined by their agents, orphaned when their editors change jobs, subject to market pressures beyond their control...  Back in the days when Forthcoming Books in Print was the distribution bible for every book retailer in the country, one romance writer of my acquaintance found her first romance novel listed as a horror title.  The sales never recovered.

On the flip side, you have tales of accidental pitches in elevators resulting in fat book contracts, or manuscripts submitted "over the transom" (unrequested, unagented submissions mailed to an old school New York publisher) becoming runaway bestsellers.  My personal favorite is the tale of J.K. Rowling's first break.

Her first Harry Potter novel, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone in the U.S.) was rejected by a dozen publishers, and was in line for another rejection at Bloomsbury.  But as a lark, the company chairman gave the first chapter to his eight-year-old daughter.  She read it in one sitting and demanded more.

Luck.  That little girl's response could've just as easily gone the other way.  What if she'd been coming down with a cold, or had an argument with a boy who wore glasses the day before?  What if her father hadn't asked her to read at all?

Even so, Ms. Rowling's future was hardly secure.  The contract was for less than $15,000, and the print run was modest.  The publisher even advised Ms. Rowling to get a day job.  It was the work itself, its quality and the resonance of her seven-volume epic that cemented her place in modern literature.

That pattern is repeated over and over again.  A writer gets that all important lucky break--a first reader who loves the work, or an editor with a hole in his or her schedule that a manuscript on hand just happens to fill.  But staying power depends on the quality of the story.  We're not necessarily talking literary quality here.  The language may be simple, or the plot clich├ęd.  But something about the concept, the situation, the characters or the moment resonates with readers.

You can do it once by accident.  You can't sustain it without hard work and talent.  That's why we work so hard to hone our craft.

But it still doesn't hurt to have Lady Luck on your side.

Jean Marie Ward