28 April 2014

Unloading: Cleaning Your Mental Closet

I have to laugh at this theme because my mental closet has been so jammed full lately that the doors have busted and all the junk inside is falling out.

It's a busy time.

I have to keep at least two calendars running--the one hanging in the kitchen and the one on my phone--and am still worried I'll forget an important appointment.

Both of my kids are graduating from their schools this year.

A couple of big family birthdays are coming up.

Travel is on the horizon.

The house is falling apart around my ears, requiring plumbers and fix-it men galore.

I have written more books this year than any time in my life. And I'm learning how to swim in the fast-moving social media rivers. (Still a bit worried I'm going to drown.)

I am determined to get in shape--physically and mentally--which means exercising AND relaxing.

So...yes, if anyone knows how to clean out my mental closet, please let me know. Until then, I'll just keep shoveling the junk back inside.


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...

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!

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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!