Life updates and gratitude

You may remember that we bought a house recently, which was pretty awesome and all, and now I have a house and I must mow the lawn. Mowing the lawn is actually pretty nice because it’s an achievable goal that you finish, for better or worse, within about an hour usually. It’s also a great workout for your back. Pushing a mower is hard, especially when it is grumpy about making turns.

I feel like half my blog posts this year have been about life updates, which is not really surprising because there have been so many of them. This past month was the Equinox, and as a good pagan girl I was supposed to light candles and say thanks and contemplate the things that I’ve been gifted with this year, the labor and the fruits of it, the balance of one to the other. I didn’t really do that – instead I went out for drinks with friends and took a long walk under the stars. I can’t say that I was particularly introspective, but I blew off some steam, which was a good start.

So now here we are, a few weeks late, almost to Samhain, and here I am, thinking about gratitude.

I’ve let a lot of things go fallow this year. Each accomplished thing is counterbalanced by things that are not accomplished, the tradeoff of forward motion. There is a lot I feel that I have not accomplished this year, and it’s easy to get caught up in that and feel it eat away at you. I could count the things that I have lost, but I don’t know that that would be productive for a post that is supposed to be about gratitude. Suffice to say that the desire to be more and do more is a steady pressure in my chest that I’m learning to accommodate and live with instead of try to push away. I’d like to accept it for what it is – a drive and a passion that keeps me alive and innovative and always reaching. I want to be grateful for that pressure, to build on it and turn it into bedrock that I can plant my feet on.

One of the ways to do that is to recognize my accomplishments. This year, I have organized a wedding, and I’ve got to recognize that was a monumental thing that people actually get paid to do as a full-time job. I have seen places and things I’ve never experienced before, been exposed to new ideas. I bought a house, which is not even something I ever really thought I’d be able to do this early in my life, and which took a lot of coordination and concerted pressure on my part. I’ve reached what feels like a new level of ability in my writing, and gained the courage to take rejection without pain (most of the time!) And I get to fulfill one of my dreams by moderating a panel at the World Fantasy Convention in San Antonio this year, The Role of the City in Fantasy Settings.

I couldn’t have done any of those things without supportive networks, and I’ve done my best to learn to maintain those networks more thoughtfully and with greater compassion. I’ve tried to learn to forgive people for their foibles, and to forgive myself for mine. That’s been really hard, honestly, and it’s something I’m still working on. And I’ve survived the nonstop bombardment of everything going on in our nation and our world, giving myself permission to take a step away from the things I cannot change and to throw my shoulder in to move the things I can.

It’s been a long and glorious year, and a challenging one, and it’s not done yet. We have two more months of 2017, two writing events coming up, holidays to get through – there’s a lot going on. But I’m ready for it, the good and the bad. I’m ready to keep chipping away at my career, and enjoying this thing we call life.

 

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Good news

Hey friends, some updates from the world of writing!

I’ve been working on getting some appearances scheduled for next year – I believe that I will be at Roanoke Author Invasion and MystiCon again in 2018, though I’m still waiting to firm some of that up, and will be looking at other local convention options that would require less investment on my part. MystiCon is super awesome in that they cover your convention expense, but RAI is a paid event and many other book events are paid as well. This inhibits me a bit, but I’m looking to get in front of some new audiences. So be looking for those announcements as they come about.

I also just recently finished a short story prompted by seeing a very beautiful pendant circulating on the internet. I did not buy it, because I have self-control and I need to make my house payment. I did, however, make a new Pinterest board (I know, my Pinterest is getting out of hand) for short story inspiration. This short story was largely motivated by aesthetics and the desire to write the backstory for another short story that I had written a year or so ago. It was one of those stories that pretty much wrote itself, which is always a nice feeling.

Now that I’ve bought a house and stuff, things are settling down a little bit. That’s allowed me to start pulling together some query packets. Very exciting stuff. Being on submission is always a little heart-pounding, but lately I’ve developed a bit of a laissez-faire attitude about it all, which is helping.

Some of my new zen is because I took a chance recently and applied to be on the program of World Fantasy Convention 2017 and guess what? Despite the fact that I almost didn’t do it because of general impostor syndrome and self-deprecation, I got on the program!! This is such a huge deal for me, honestly. I still haven’t wrapped my head around it, and it’s going to take a lot of work from me to do it right. I’m totally ready, though.

Anyway, I will be updating my events page and this website soon with more details!

MystiCon schedule

Hey everyone! Taking a brief break from cover reveal stuff for a special MystiCon Schedule post!! Check out the panels, readings and signings I will be doing below.

Reading – Friday at 4:30 pm, Room 533

If you want to hear an excerpt from the upcoming Daughter of Madness, check in here! I’ll post the excerpt up on the blog the following weekend for those who can’t make it.

Panel – “It’s the End of the World”, Friday at 6:00pm, Ballroom C

We’re going to talk about apocalypses! I’ve got some fun projects I’m querying in this vein, and I LOVE dystopias, so I am very, very excited.

Signing – Saturday at 11:00 am

I’ll be taking over one of the signing tables at eleven! Come out to get free swag, sign up for the newsletter, buy a book, or chat about your favorite characters!

Panel – “Epic Scale Fiction”, Saturday at 4:00pm, Dogwood 1

I’ll probably mostly talk up the Creation Saga and the epic fantasies I have loved that have inspired it. Maybe there will be some LotR and ASOIAF references!

Panel – “I Must Create a System”, Sunday at 9:00am, Ballroom C

I actually have no clue what this panel is about or how I got on it, since I intentionally was trying not to schedule things for the morning. Wee!

Panel – “The Last Race Benders/Gender Benders”, Sunday at 11:00am, Dogwood 1

I am ridiculously excited to talk about gender/race bending in ANYTHING.

Panel – “Viewer’s Guide to Anime”, Sunday at 2:00pm, Ballroom E

Anime is the best. I will probably talk about my pet peeve of how everyone assumes all anime characters are white and obviously they are Japanese???? Unless otherwise specified??? Otherwise mostly glorious anime goofiness and how I love reverse harems. Yep.

I hope to see you all there! If you need more information, you can check out their website.

 

 

 

Daughter of Madness progress update

The subtitle of this blogpost should be: the good, the bad, the ugly, for reasons that will become apparent, but I didn’t want to bulk that up too much. Suffice to say, publishing a book, no matter how you go about it, is a complicated process. When you are self-publishing, that process becomes vastly more complicated.

I’ve talked on here previously about what exactly goes into publishing a book. This is a good chance to dig into some of that and really give you an idea of where I am and where I’m going. Stick to the end for a treat!

I started writing Daughter of Madness officially in August of 2015, so about a year and a half ago. In December, I printed out a zero draft when it became clear that, as written, DoM didn’t actually have an ending. With some major outlining and reworking, I was able to put together a functional blueprint, which I began writing to ASAP. On February 4th I finished what I would call the official rough or first draft of the long-awaited sequel to Mother of Creation. Over the next few days, I typed it up. Then I printed it off and cuddled it to my body.

This is where we take a moment to celebrate, because hell yeah. That’s right I finished that book. Damn straight.

celebration

At this point in time, DoM stands at around 93,000 words, 61 chapters, or roughly 270 pages (before formatting). That’s a lot of pages and a lot of chapters for something that is, at this moment in time, largely a labor of love. Once my euphoria wears off, it’s time to buckle down. There is still plenty of work to do.

While I’ve been rewriting the draft, I’ve also been working with my cover designer. Every good book needs a cover, and covers are not created in vacuum. I use Design for Writers for all of my novel covers, and they are absolute gems to work with. In order to create a good cover for my book, these folks sent me a giant questionnaire. I’m talking about fifty in depth questions, many of which require multiple paragraph answers. I worked on this through the month of December and have continued to work on it in January. Once I finished the questionnaire, Design for Writers used it to create the cover art for my book, giving me marketing material for its eventual release. The first part of the cover is at the bottom of this post!

In the interim, now that the book is finished it will need initial rewrites. Then it will need to sit, unseen by me, for a couple of weeks while I try to forget all about it. Think of this as a time to let the book cure, as it were. At this time, I will send it out to my alpha readers, the people who typically read something that is essentially hot off the press from me. They will tell me if the book is a hot mess or not. I will attempt to fix any glaring issues they point out after they have given me their initial critique. Alpha readers are mostly family and friends in my world, so this is not designed to be a deep edit necessarily, just a “wow that thing was a mess” read or “oh no, you’re on the right track!” Good times.

Next, I will read the book one more time to make sure it makes sense. I will do read-thrus for things like: word choice and anachronisms; setting/climate consistency; timing of various events; consistency with the previous book in terms of setting and characters and plot. That part is actually not terrible, though it’s not super fun. Meanwhile I will shop around for beta readers or an editor – someone who doesn’t love me who will lay the hammer down. This person or persons will read for decent writing and plot consistency, world-building, and all the good things that make a book. Different writers use different methods for this bit, so this is what works for me. So far I don’t have a dedicated editor or beta team that I use every time. No doubt this piece of my process will evolve. Once comments come back on the semi-final draft in terms of edits or issues, those will be incorporated, or not, at my discretion, because that is how this writing thing works.

The least fun part is my last editing pass. This pass is for typos. I have a particular thing I do for this pass – I read the manuscript backwards. Aloud. It takes forever and it is miserable. I usually catch a metric boatload of typos.

At this point I hate my book, and also feel quite accomplished. I format it (this is also hard and mind-numbing, but, as is not always the case with other tasks, at least has clear signs of completion). The formatted copy goes into various epub proofing programs, which I then glance over one last time to make sure I didn’t screw anything up. I fix any issues with the cover (not the copy, but the print cover measurements) with my cover folks if I need to. Then, at last, I have a book.

At some point during all of that magic, I am marketing in some fashion (perhaps a blog tour, Facebook event, or signing, for example). For Daughter of Madness I have some cool graphics planned for Twitter and Tumblr, but that’s a ways down the road still. Right now I’m aiming for June/July as a release date, though given the wedding that may get complicated.

Hopefully I’ll have a couple of other small projects to release this year as well to tide you over, but dates are hard to firm up at this point given the whole getting married thing. Just trust that I am working away on all the things and that as soon as I have a date, you will have a date.

In the interim, I’m excited to see you all over the next few months as I travel to conventions! And no, I haven’t forgotten that I promised you a bit of cover. Are you ready?

dfw-am-dom-cover-proof2-2

Ugh, I love it so much.

Tune in next week for part two!

Updates from the homefront

Life has been pretty crazy lately.

I think I did an update not too long ago talking about how my S.O. and I had gotten engaged in April. Then there were several trainwrecks that happened – his grandmother passed away, for one, and I had some drama with my folks over the engagement. Normal life things, but they do take a lot of energy and time.

On the writing side of things I have been submitting my most recent batch of short stories. I’ve had, as expected, numerous rejections, though I’ve had two of those rejections come back slightly positive, with one being a personalized rejection and the other being short-listed before being cut. That has been encouraging. My short stories are definitely in a different place than they were even two years ago, and I can feel my style changing. I think that will be good, as long as it’s positive change that tightens the pacing and the characters, and not change that erases my voice. Also, I got new notebooks!

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The cutest notebooks! I’ve already started writing in the flower one! My favorite are the cacti.
I’ve also read some good books. Luna: New Moon has been my favorite recently, which is no surprise as it is by the master Ian McDonald. His work is amazing. I’ve started The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi on audiobook as well as Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist. The former is for running to, and the latter for listening to while driving to work. I love the voice of the narrators for both of these books, but especially the voice for Bad Feminist. She has such a rich tone. (Though I have learned more about competitive Scrabble than I ever wanted to with that book.) And I have been reading Princess Jellyfish, which is a manga – the anime was on Netflix a while ago, which is what got me into it. You can download the chapters on Comixology through your Amazon account, so that’s a pretty neat thing if you’re into graphic novels.

Lastly, I’ve been working in my garden, but the groundhog has found a way to climb over my fence and started eating everything so I need to fix that desperately. Pretty much all of my lettuce, peas, carrots and kale have been wiped out. I harvested all of the spinach and chard before she could get to it though, so at least I managed that much. I haven’t been over to the other garden to check the tomatoes and peppers, because there is construction going on around it so it makes it hard to stop in right now, and also because we have had rain every day for weeks so I’m not worried about watering the plants. The S.O. and I will probably make it by there in the morning since he is not working this weekend, which means pancakes and walks all over the neighborhood for garden checks and fruitshare pickup and getting movies for the week at the library.

Oh, and I may be switching jobs soon, which has been taking up a lot of my time and I’m very excited about for a lot of reasons, but I will tell you more about that perhaps at a later date. Suffice to say that I am only considering the move because of how amazing the position is, and if I get it I won’t have to commute anymore. Less time for audiobooks, but I’m happy for the trade if it means I’m more productive at home.