30 May 2011

Blessings on Memorial Day

To the brave men and women in the US Military:
Thank you for all that you do for us. I wish I could hug each and every one of you. Stay safe and come home soon.

To my American friends far and wide:
I hope you have a restful, peaceful day off.

For the rest of the international community, I borrowed this information from Wikipedia about the holiday:

"Memorial Day is a United States federal holiday that honors soldiers and is observed on the last Monday of May (May 30 in 2011). Formerly known as Decoration Day, it commemorates U.S. soldiers who died while in the military service. First enacted to honor Union and Confederate soldiers following the American Civil War, it was extended after World War I to honor Americans who have died in all wars..."

May we never forget the sacrifices made for our freedoms,
may we never have to repeat them,
and may you all have a glorious day.

If you are in the U.S. Military (past or present), or if you have relatives and loved ones who are, please chime in. I would love to honor you personally.

Kimberley Troutte

28 May 2011

Creativity, Resistance, and Fear

Writers are creative people. Of course, we aren’t the only ones. People are creative people. Except we aren’t always as creative as we want to be; as we feel, deep down, that we can be. There are as many reasons for this as there have been people. Probably more. There are many books, movies, articles, and art about getting past the fear that stops us. Two of the books are by Steven Pressfield. I got Do the Work as a free Kindle edition, then went out and the hard copies of both Do the Work and The War of Art. Why? Because these books are life changing.

We’ve all experienced some type of creative block. We have all ducked our creative natures for TV, housework, sleep. Procrastination has killed more cat stories than curiosity ever thought about. We all know we procrastinate, we joke about it. But it’s easier to stop a speeding locomotive than to get ourselves past that to the stuff that we want to do.

Pressfield calls this block “resistance,” and that’s exactly what it feels like. Like the resistance against movement in a swimming pool, or the resistance when you try to push together the same poles of a magnet. His books name this enemy and tells us, all creative people, how to fight resistance and do “our work”—the thing that is creative or that will advance us physically, spiritually, morally, ethically, etc.

Some memorable quotes, for me at least, from Do the Work are:

“Resistance is a repelling force. It’s negative. Its aim is to shove us away, distract us, prevent us from doing our work.”

“Everyone who has a body experiences Resistance.”

“Resistance’s goal is not to wound or disable. Resistance aims to kill.”

How to get past resistance?

“Forget rational thought. Play. Play like a child.”

And the opposite of resistance? Assistance.

“Assistance is the universal, immutable force of creative manifestation, whose role since the Big Bang has been to translate potential into being to convert dreams into reality.”


“When we experience panic it means we’re about to cross a threshold. We’re posed on the doorstep of a higher plane.”

And before you start thinking of me as a Pressfield fanatic (OK, a little), let me point out that he is far from the only person with a book about blocked creativity. There are many. Another life changing one for me is Ralph Keyes’s The Courage to Write. This book is in large part responsible for my being a published author. Some of my favorite quotes from this book are:

“Writers by definition talk behind other people’s backs.”

“Before they can convey honest feeling to others, writers must be honest with themselves.”

“Its psychic demands make writing an exercise in courage little different from climbing a sheer granite cliff or skiing down a steep slope.”

And my absolute favorite”

“If you’re not scared, you’re not writing.”

Have a great, creative weekend!


25 May 2011

Sgt. John Cullen & Family Benefit

Beyond the Veil fans, if you'd like to contribute something to help defray the cost of John Cullen's medical expenses:

In the Cincinnati, Ohio area, go to any Fifth/Third bank and drop off a check made out to "Friends of John Cullen." The check will be deposited into the 5/3 account.


Outside the Cincinnati area, mail a check made out to "Friends of John Cullen" to the City of Mason Police Department, 6000 Mason-Montgomery Road, Mason, OH 45040. Note on the outside of the envelope that it is for the John Cullen account.


Sgt. John Cullen & Family Fundraising Event:

All families and supporters are invited to participate in the Sgt. John Cullen & Family Fundraising Event on Wednesday, June 15th, 2011.

Everyone is invited to gather at Buffalo Wild Wings (6050 Snider Rd. Mason, OH) for lunch, dinner or a snack.

On this day, 10% of ALL food purchases accompanied by the Sgt. John Cullen Benefit certificate (click the image below and print) will be donated to Sgt. John Cullen & Family.

** Sponsored by The Friends of John Cullen**

Only valid at 6050 Snider Rd, Mason. 513.398.2999.
*Alcohol purchases not included. Valid on dine-in only.

Please Note: You must present the certificate (click the image below and print) with your food purchase for BW3 to donate 10% to the benefit. Please email Jamie Van Wagner (jvanwagner@masonoh.org), Pattie Connor (pconnor@masonoh.org) or Kelli Kline (kkline@masonoh.org) for an emailed copy of the certificate. You can also pick up a hard copy at the Mason Police Department anytime BEFORE the event. These flyers cannot be passed out on BW3 property the day of the event.


They are accepting GIFT CARD donations and other items to create Raffle Baskets...If you would like to donate items for raffle baskets or door prizes, please email one of the ladies mentioned in the above paragraph. Thanks!


Life Changes--Wear a Helmet

On May 9, 2011 my husband left our house to go on a bicycle ride with our dog. It's something he does all the time. He holds the leash and the dog, a black Labrador named Winston, runs alongside him. He does not wear a helmet. My last words to John were, "Come back in one piece." Said jokingly, not realizing how prophetic those words would be.

At 6:45pm I received a call on my cell phone from an EMT telling me my husband fell off his bike and wasn't able to give them his name, then asking if I could please come down. I hopped in the car and drove less than a half a mile. The EMT's told me he probably had a concussion and were taking him to the nearest hospital. I followed after dropping the dog off at home (who was uninjured) and picking up my oldest daughter.

By the time I made it to the hospital--about a ten minute drive--I was told my husband had fractured his skull and had blood on his brain. The medi-flight helicopter was already on its way. I hopped back in the car and drove downtown to one of the best brain trauma hospitals in the country. By the time I got there, John's condition had deteriorated. He had trouble breathing and had to be put on a ventilator. Emergency surgery was performed to remove part of his skull to allow the brain to swell.

John is a police officer--a sergeant with a nearby community who worked the 3pm-11pm shift. As word spread and his fellow officers heard the news, they started appearing at the hospital. When the trauma surgeon came out to the waiting room to update us, John's entire shift suddenly appeared behind the surgeon. My first thought that these were John's warriors, ready to do battle for their friend and co-worker. They were like angels, materializing from nowhere. These warriors filled the waiting room, sitting with me until 4am when I finally got to see John. They have been by my side ever since. If I'm at the hospital late, a cruiser appears and an on-duty officer waits with me until I'm ready to leave then escorts me to my car. They appear at my front door and cut my grass. They call and text me every day. They sit by John's side if I can't be there.

John spent nine days in a drug induced coma and fourteen days in neuro ICU. He contracted a nasty case of pneumonia and pancreatitis that threatened his already teetering condition.

He has far exceeded the doctors' expectations. His nurses call him a miracle. He is awake. He is talking. He's moving all of his limbs and following simple commands. There is no way to know what the future holds for him. He could recover 100% and return to the career he loved so much. He could have mental disabilities. I prefer to believe he will return to us 100% the John that left on that fateful bike ride. I see him in there struggling to break free. He is a fighter, strong-willed and stubborn--all traits that will help him recover.

Yesterday he hugged me for the first time since May 9th and he whispered in my ear, "We will be okay."

23 May 2011

This Is What A Romantic Novelist Looks Like

Alleged journalist Claudia Connell of the Daily Mail apparently had on her granny goggles when she recently attended a RNA conference in London to report on it for the paper. All she could see, when she looked around at a room full of women of varied ages and appearances, was grannies, grannies, everywhere. "All around me," she remarks in the article, "are middle-aged and elderly women in their pearls and support tights."

Other attendees of the same conference were a little baffled by Ms. Connell's characterization. Like author Kate Johnson, age 20-something, who was also at that RNA conference, wearing a tiara and gold high heels, which Ms. Connell's granny goggles kindly re-envisioned for her so as to retain the article's wonky stereotype.

Ms. Connell went on to refer to RNA attendees as "sex-obsessed pensioners", while confessing that she found herself kind of liking them -- although she'd really rather HER mum take up a traditional old-lady pastime of gardening.

Interesting question: if Ms. Connell had attended a conference of mostly male writers and worn grandpa goggles, do you think she'd have been as snide about their careers and their talents, or would she have noted that it must be a tough field, this genre writing thing, since the average age of the attendees spoke of years to one's hone skills and business savvy? Or would she have eschewed the grandpa goggles entirely and looked around her to see the vast assortment of faces, bodies and ages that exists at every writer's conference I've ever attended?

After further contemplation of the article, author Johnson decided to follow up her original post with a social media campaign to show the Daily Mail what a romantic novelist looks like.

You can find the Twitter hashtag of participants here: http://twitter.com/#search?q=%23thisiswhataromanticnovelistlookslike

And you can find some pictures of romantic novelists below from various members of Beyond the Veil. Let's start with me since I have that photo ready to go:

I TOTALLY fit the stereotype, right? Never mind that I was dressed as Mary Poppins for a rather vigorous tap recital I was in. I have pearls on (in my ears), a daffy hat, and "support hose" (aka dance tights). Alas, my hair has no blue rinse and that's not exactly a twinset. But close enough.

However, I usually look a lot more like this:

I had taken off my maroon steampunk jacket since it was kind of warm at the booksigning, but that is a sweater vest. That's kind of like a twinset, right?

Now let's take BTVer Carolan Ivey. She's got several splits in her romantic novelist personality as well. Sometimes she rides a Harley:

But sometimes she goes to Rennaissance Faires:

Just depends on which side of the bed she wakes up on, I guess--whether she dons the leather and chaps or the brocade and bodice. I left out the picture of her with her dogs because they're probably on both sides of the bed. Now let's have a gander at author JM Ward:

JM is on the left with the blonde hair, which she sometimes ripples with some red flame dye (sorry, no blue rinse!). Wouldn't you love a granny like that? She was busy hanging out with her friend Jen Jawidzik, keyboardist for the Cruxshadows, backstage and stuff.

Next let's peep at author Kimberly Troutte.

She's got to be, I don't know, a great grandmother with that face...a great grandmother of ideas that birth ideas that birth ideas. She probably has twenty idea grandbabies running around in her head at any time, waiting for their stories to make it to paper.

To be fair, I know a bunch of authors who are grandmothers, who have lovely grey or white hair, who can maybe afford a nice strand of pearls, and who appreciate the massaging benefits of support socks (probably not so much with the support hose since those are too much like Spanx). Some of them have been publishing for years, so their career longevity is to be worshipped -- not mocked -- while some are newer to publishing. Nobody ever said a person can't follow her dreams later in life, or earlier!

The fact is, I know a lot of romantic novelists -- and readers -- of all ages and appearances and colors, living in all parts of the world, with jobs and hobbies and families and senses of self that make every one of them unique. It would take some mighty powerful granny goggles to boil them all into a single stereotype, but Ms. Connell managed it. Perhaps the Daily Mail hands out stereotype goggles to its writers as a matter of course? After all, if you don't do much research because everything you see looks the same, you can avoid pesky things like "facts" and "truth" and instead save on money and time.

So, what do you think a romantic novelist looks like?

Jody W.
www.jodywallace.com * www.meankitty.com

20 May 2011

Things I've learned lately...

Honestly, I really didn't know what to blog about today -- hence the late hour of this post. Do take my midnight-four a.m. work schedule into account, as well. But I have been thinking about different things recently. Yes, thinking. Dangerous? I agree. ;)

Thinking and learning seem to go hand in hand, whether I'm up the challenge or not. So now, I'll share some things I've learned... conclusions I've come to... insights I've gained, over recent months.

1. The only certain things in life are death, taxes and change. Everything changes, from the weather patterns of the world to what music makes me happy. Very few things in life are constant -- but I am truly growing to appreciate those things, and people, who are.

2. Pneumonia is contagious. Yes, I'm slow, but I always heard this illness was a result of some other illness going untreated. I didn't know it was an illness in and of itself. Now I do. I also understand why it can be so dangerous to the elderly, young children and those with other health problems. It's no fun, whatsoever. :(

3. Doing whatever you want, whenever you want, is NOT the key to lasting happiness. You must utilize a healthy dose of self-control in the process or life winds up in ruins.

4. Trust and mutual respect are absolutely necessary for any relationship to last.

5. In politics, no one is ever happy and the other guy is never right. Yes, I am definitely guilty of thinking the latter. :)

6. When we have a problem -- a real problem that needs to be addressed and resolved, such as, oh, I don't know... budgets? Ahem. Then everyone... EVERYONE needs to be willing to make some type of sacrifice and work together without back-biting, name-calling and fear-mongering.

7. I despise bumper stickers, t-shirts, etc. that tell me what to do. No, I don't want to "Have a Nice Day" or "Save the Blue-bearded Guppies". Leave me alone!

8. Sexy shoes are for the very young. Unfortunately.

9. If you give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day. Teach him to fish, and he'll eat for a lifetime... or stay out in the boat and drink beer all day. (GGG) Seriously, though, whenever something is too easy, it's rarely worth it. Self-reliance can give us the greatest satisfaction in life.

10. The biggest realization I've come to over the last few months? I have a pretty good life, and it's time I stop whining about what I don't have and enjoy what I do. :)

Hope you're still thinking and learning, too.


Indulge your senses...

11 May 2011

Raising positive energy...

...for one of BtV's resident authors, Sharon Cullen. Her husband has been seriously injured in a bike accident and at last report was in a medically induced coma. Prayers and positive energies would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

09 May 2011

Happy Dances!

Greetings, Kittens!

I'm waist deep in edits right now and would have normally passed this day on to someone else to keep going, but I couldn't lose the chance to share a {{{Happy Dance}}} with you all over my latest contract for A WAY TO A DRAGON'S HEART.  I signed the contract yesterday and officially have a release that's coming out around Halloween.

I think every contract will come with a sigh of relief, but waiting for this one in particular held me anxious and unproductive until the day it came through. It's a story that started years ago and has been through four incarnations in total. The last version I felt strongly about. It was the story I wanted to tell and I believed I'd pulled it off. I was met with disagreement, and although I appreciated the feedback, I couldn't accept the idea that the story wasn't exactly what it's supposed to be. I looked it over and sent it out again and began the endless waiting. The day the contact offer arrived in my inbox, I was finally able to breathe again. I'd known it was ready and it meant the world for someone else to see it too. I only wish it had arrived two weeks sooner, as now I'm behind in everything I couldn't quite bring myself to progress on while the fate of this story hung in the balance.

Here is an entirely unofficial peek at the story. The cover is just a place holder that I made and the excerpt is directly from chapter one, unedited and likely comma deficient, but a lovely glimpse into the tone of the story. Enjoy.


Chapter One

“So, you like, get scaly, and big, and stuff?”

Kryssa Drake gritted her teeth and counted to five. What she wanted to do was get scaly, and big, and stuff, and eat the annoying young woman following her around the office loft, but Human Resources had warned her about doing that again. Not that she’d actually eaten the other temps, but the way that last one had hollered you’d have thought she had him half swallowed when security showed up. It’s what they got for sending irritating, yet crunchy and salty-good humans during her period. It was a conspiracy.

Firmly ignoring the too-cute, too-blond, too-perky, Barbie clone, Kryssa continued the tour to the break room, explaining the shelving and territorial marking of foodstuffs. Just when she thought the dedicated over-talking of the girl had imparted a clue to the temp, it—she—took Kryssa’s arm.

“You’re like, warm and stuff.”

Large chocolate eyes gave a slow blink as she looked at the girl. Taking that extra breath before speaking, just like they’d taught in anger management, Kryssa tucked a glossy black spiral curl behind her ear and sighed.

“The air conditioner is on low and it’s eighty-nine degrees outside, not to mention I’m Therian and run hot. What exactly is the mystery?”

The bubbly twit smiled, tilted her head, and gave an affectionate squeeze, confirming the suspicion she had indeed originated from the head cheerleading rung of hell.

“Well the whole cold-blooded thing, silly. Dragons are reptiles, right?”

Kryssa stared at the porcelain hand on her arm. It stood out against skin the color of gingersnaps, its paleness making it seem delicate and outright fragile. With that in mind, along with a clinched jaw, mental counting exercise, and thoughts of sitting through yet another Anger Management and You course, Kryssa managed not to crush the thin wrist as she removed the offensive touch.

“Regardless of what we shift into, Therians are mammals. We’re all hot-blooded.”

And hot-tempered and just plain hot when in a thriving environment, but that wasn’t here or there. Kryssa needed something to calm her nerves before she forgot herself and a simple orientation became a full blown situation. A quick rooting through the fridge produced a large tub of raw vegetables. Almost before the top was fully off, several baby carrots disappeared into her mouth.

“Ooo, you eat vegetables too?” A slow continual nodding of the head followed the question, a trait that took the temp all morning whenever something challenged her to think too hard.

Kryssa crunched louder and groaned. “We’re omnivores you idiot.” The last two words came out a mumbled wreck that bought her a little extra time for decorum.

“Oh yeah, okay, right. So, um, just between us girls, have you ever eaten anyone, Chrissie?”

Time’s up. “No, but give me a minute.”

Big blue Bambi eyes blinked over at her. “I’m sorry, I didn’t understand you.”

I’m not the only thing she doesn’t understand by a long shot. “I said give me a minute. I have to take care of something.” Kryssa backed away slowly, the way you escape from a dog you think might be rabid. Or in this case, severely mentally stunted, and therefore dangerous to your dry cleaning bill with the slobbering and the pawing.  “Get familiar with the cabinets and snack machine and I’ll be back.”

Broccoli florets, raw cauliflower, and more carrots disappeared in the hundred yard dash to a neutral corner. An open concept conference room became her refuge as she ducked through the glass double doors and hopped up on the conference table. She considered the meeting going on at the time just a minor inconvenience she could generously overlook.

“Kryssa, can we help you?”

She looked to the company’s CEO and shook her head.

“Nope. I’m good. Nice suit.” She reached out and fondled the material. “Did I buy you this one?”

The handsome, regal, professional air collapsed in on itself as he looked at her. She reached up and brushed a dark lock of hair from his forehead. It was the same glossy jet black, but had the barest wave to it, unlike the tight curls pinned back off her face and spilling down her back. She couldn’t help but smile at the face, several shades lighter with its olive hue, yet otherwise incredibly similar to her own.

“Yes you did, Kryssa. Nice jeans.”

Funny, it didn’t sound like a compliment. She looked down at the black tailored jeans, matching cropped three-quarter sleeve blazer and white lace cami, unable to find anything wrong. “What? I’m still in head to toe Armani. Classic black and white, down to the Italian ankle boots, business casual at its finest. How can you complain, Nicky?”

Dominic Drake sat back and shook his head. “My baby sister just came in eating the equivalent of an entire salad bar and sat on my conference table to crunch her way through the middle of my business negotiations. Where should my list of complaints begin?”

That didn’t leave a lot of room to argue with him but with family such a thing is hardly a deterrent to trying. She popped another carrot and looked to the oval table. “First, this is my conference table. Your conference table would be two floors above, up the hall from your office. You came to my floor, and for the next two months until my sabbatical starts and I escape this place for a while, it’ll be run my way. As Chief Liaison Officer I like to liaise in comfort so we do things rather informal here.”

She leaned across the table, smiling at the childhood friend on its other end. “You’re going to accept the merger right, Jimmy? You always were. Your sister told me last week. This is just a bit of show in order to ensure you get the east coast offices; which let me tell you, Nicky is completely prepared to give to you. So you all may as well take an early lunch, business done.”

Dominic stood abruptly and picked her up, carrying her from the room without another word. As distractions went it worked and she munched contently as he strode down the hall, giving the smallest grunt when he finally plopped her down on the receptionist desk in her outer office.

“Where’s your assistant?”

The contentment vanished and more vegetables disappeared. She muttered around the mouthful. “She’s on maternity leave, remember?”

She watched Dominic look around the office like he expected the object of his question to materialize out of nowhere. “Where’s the temp they sent over this morning?”

When she didn’t answer right away he grabbed the plastic tub. After a bit of a wrestling match, he secured it and held it out and above her reach in ransom.

“Where is the temp, Kryssa? Tell me now if we need someone from Clinic to come up.”

She graced her brother with a begrudging grin. “No, we don’t need medical personnel. I left her in the break room. She’s probably trying to figure out if the screen on the microwave gets cable.”

07 May 2011

Jean Marie’s Year in Cons, 2011 Edition

The merry month of May marks the opening of my 2011 convention season. To show you why I’m so excited about this year’s roster, I thought I’d share memories of the same conventions from years past—and advertise the dates. Can’t pass up an opportunity for shameless self-promotion, after all.

Balticon 45, May 27-30
Hunt Valley, Maryland

You never know what Maryland's regional science fiction/fantasy convention will serve in the way of entertainment—sword-wielding belly dancers, scientists and Ninjas Vs. Vampires, oh my!—and that’s a large part of its charm. That and a Masquerade which often features appearances from luminaries of the International Costumers’ Guild.

RWA National Conference: Bright Lights, Big Stories, June 28-July 1
New York, New York

RWA’s 2000 National Conference in Washington, DC, was all about the SEALs—the SEALs as written by Suzanne Brockmann (pictured), who won RITAs for her two 1999 novels, Undercover Princess and Bodyguard. Something tells me 2011 will be an even bigger year for manly men in uniform. But the lure for me isn’t more military-themed romance than a dozen editors can shake their blue pencils at; it’s the prospect of a chapter reception at the Algonquin Hotel. “Vicious Circle”, here I come!

Dragon*Con, September 2-5
Atlanta, Georgia

My favorite summer camp for wayward adults—roughly forty thousand of us at last count. Panels! Concerts! Art! Film festivals! Parties! Costumes! Swag! And a parade! What more could you ask? Heck, Frankenstein’s monster and his livid bride consider it the perfect place to honeymoon. Incidentally, the sign trailing streamers from the back of the car read “Made for each other!”

Capclave, October 14-16
Gaithersburg, Maryland

Capclave is my hometown con, specializing in short form science fiction, fantasy and horror. One of its most charming customs is the annual presentation of a commemorative painting to its guests of honor. Here, 2010 Guest of Honor Connie Willis explains the various pictorial elements drawn from her time-travel fiction, in particular, her novel To Say Nothing of the Dog. All hail Cyril—and painter L.W. Perkins who rendered Ms. Willis’s famous fictional bulldog on canvas.

So how are you planning to spend your summer—and autumn—vacation?


To learn more about my adventures at cons past, check out my Flickr page—or better yet, attend one yourself!

04 May 2011

The Mirror of Yu-Huang goes on tour!

Last month I talked about how hard it was to be interesting. I think I said it came to me because I was working on something for May. It's May, so you all can know about it now.

This month my newest book, The Mirror of Yu-Huang (Library of Athena, Book 3), is on a virtual book tour! The tour is being sponsored by Pump Up Your Book promotions. There will be interviews, reviews, excerpts, guest blog posts, and giveaways, all over the internet.

The tour has already started, but you can catch up (the beauty of a virtual tour is that it doesn't disappear) and follow along with the tour schedule at my Virtual Book Tour page.

This is my first tour with Pump Up Your Book, but my second blog tour. Honestly doing it myself was SO MUCH WORK. This time I just have to keep up with all the interviews and guest blogs and get them done on time and try to be amusing and interesting and get people to want to read the book.

Hey, with the price of gas prices, it's much cheaper to do a book tour this way. And greener!

Come on tour with me!

02 May 2011

Cutting the Dead Weight

This week I am in the take-no-prisoners mode. I’ve put on my critical eyes and sharpened my knife for the toughest part of my job—the killing part.

Too dramatic?

Maybe. But editing is serious business and a crucial part of writing a good book.

In the editing stage, I do my best to cut anything that doesn’t move the story forward and might actually weigh it down. Sounds obvious, right? Well, you might be surprised at how hard it is to kill off my darling words.

Imagine all those sparkling descriptive sentences getting sliced away like grizzled fat. How about the phrase that sings like a perfect melody flushing down the toilet? What about the witty laugh-out-loud banter? It’ll be chopped off like split-ends if it isn’t critical to the story.

There’s only one rule: No dead weight allowed.

It stings, but it’s necessary. If I want a story that lifts off and flies straight and true to readers’ hearts, there’s no other way. Snip, snip.

Those little darlings have to go.