Today’s Passing Thought

A little poem about writing for a gray, cold December evening

I am resolved. I WILL make WIP progress today.
Despite the cat’s best efforts to drive me up a wall by howling at high volume any time I begin to concentrate.
Despite body aches & toothache & headache.
Even tho’ it’s night now & I spent the whole day playing with other things.
Gonna write.
Gonna.
Write.

After dinner.
I promise.

Hold me to it, people. Ask for evidence. Demand snippets. Whatever.

Accountability is a real motivator.

Okay. Well. Y’know, carry on.

WindyCon 45 quick report

I was feeling super-nervy & timid going into WindyCon this year, what with doing panels there for the first time and all, but it turned out totally fab.

So many amazing moments. Shared a dealer table with author friends met at Nebulas and at Gumbo Fiction AND still got to hang out with Rich at Games Plus’s  table and our WindyCon neighbor Richard from Dark River Pottery.

Talked book promotion on a panel with a traditionally published pro and someone who does promotion for a living and didn’t feel (too) overwhelmed.  Swapped stories about my favorite guilty-pleasure reads and watches on an imposing stage with someone rocking a s zebra-stripe mohawk (Kevin Roche, cosplay Guest of Honor, who has MAD costuming skills)  Got to talk about stories by Arthur C Clark, Theodore Sturgeon, Ray Bradbury, and a bunch of other classic authors I haven’t re-read in years. (all tales that left us teary-eyed.) Got to indulge my passion for end-of-the-world fiction with other like-minded souls.

ANYWAY. I digress. Staying at the con hotel even though the con was under an hour from home made a huge difference.  I had time to catch up with friends met at past cons and time to make new friends too.  Among the many people I met this year, I discovered one who lives nearby.  And I mean, RIGHT nearby. (Barbara Barnett, her book is The Apothecary’s Curse, and it’s super-neat, and she already knows one of my best friends from another walk of life. Such is the small world of synchronicity.)  Aaaand I digress again.

Chatted with readers who bought books in past years, wonderful kind people who let me talk about characters and tell me who they like best and inspire me to Just. Keep. Swimming. (so to speak)  I also gained new readers, AND I found good adoptive homes for the last few copies of my in-need-of-corrections first edition paperback. Huzzah.

So I bought myself bling, because I allow myself to buy shiny things when I send books home with people.

Tear-down with Rich for the Games Plus table went swimmingly (my big capital investment in a folding wagon TOTALLY paid for itself.) The drive home was uneventful, and now I’m cozy-comfy, with fuzzy socks on my feet, wine in a glass, and figure skating on the TV.

…and Spouseman bought me cherry pie for dessert.

:happy sigh:

Have a couple of pics of my new shinies. New book, a tee I can wear to work, gorgeous plates from Dark River, & GLOW IN THE DARK glass sparklies!

And have a few pics of Our Authors Corner of the dealer room too. It was neato-keen.

Toni Johnson, Brendan Detzner, and Alice Liddell

 

LED BUNNY
All the magic fits into these boxes
My little corner of Authorland, next to Toni’s Steampunk Cyborg Zombie series

Okay. That’s it for now.

 

HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY!

Today is the one-year release anniversary for Rough Passages.  Never has a book been more aptly named, for oh, so many reasons. Read on to get the details.

3 years ago today: I was struggling with a novel I eventually set aside, building my author website, & coping with various health troubles. Barely treading water, creatively.

2 years ago today: I was struggling with Spouseman’s major health troubles, working on a frustrating short story, and coping with the aftermath of painful dental surgery. Ugh.

1 year ago today: still mostly struggling, and I let down a lot of people, but support from friends, fellow authors, & readers kept me going. Rough Passages happened because of that support. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

I went on to finish the story-that-turned-into-a-Rough-Passages follow-up novel, and THIS year? This year, that follow-up is in revisions, I’ve completed 2 new short stories, and I’m 3/4 done with a novel draft in a different, brand-new series.

It’s a happy day indeed.

Here’s my pretty baby:

Rough Passages-Digital 1600Cover
Super-powered grandmas, doomed teens, and monster Marines.

A buy link in case you want one: get Rough Passages here

WindyCon 2018: my next adventure

November 9-11, 2018 Lombard IL. Fan-run, friendly, laid-back & fun. This’ll be my fourth one. Hard to believe it’s been 4 years since Controlled Descent & Flight Plan came out.

This year I took the big step of signing up as a programming participant, which meant gambling on life remaining calm so I wouldn’t have to back out. LIFE COOPERATED!  I will be on panels as well as hanging out in the dealer room . Without further ado, here is my schedule:

Pass the Kleenex – Friday 9:00 – 10:00 pm – Lilac D
Not all stories are upbeat and hopeful. A discussion of depressing SciFi/Fantasy stories.

Reading – Saturday 12:00-1:00 pm – 1631 (Reading Room)
12pm Deirdre Murphy 12:30pm Karen Herkes

Guilty Pleasures – Saturday 4:00-5:00 pm – Muller Grand Ballroom G
We all have them. It could be a drugstore book or a cheesy movie. Let’s admit it and share them out loud!

Hear Ye, Hear Ye! – Saturday, 11-10-2018 – 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm – Lilac C
You’ve written your book/story now you need to promote it.

Yeah, that’s right. I’ll be doing a reading, so I’d better bring my A game.  And yes, I am now secure enough in my authoring identity that I’m willing to speak about promoting books. I mean, sure, I don’t follow a lot of the “rules” but I know which ones I’m breaking and accept the consequences. That counts, right?  (Yes, right.)

Of course I’ll have copies of my books there. I’m hanging with Rich from Games Plus to help cover the store’s booth, and also pitching in to help at a table with some other fine, local authors, so… yes. THERE WIILL BE BOOKS YOU COULD OWN for the low, low price of some money.

Obligatory I-sell-books reminder made, onward to personal musings.

I love WindyCon for many reasons. First off, it’s local! (45-60 min drive, so local-ish, I suppose.) That’s always a plus. Second, a WindyCon was the second-ever fan-run con I attended as an author, and it was the first one where I sold books.

So. I am full of warm fuzzies for the kind and hard-working people who plan and run WindyCon.  (Next year, if all goes well, fingers crossed, I might be able to volunteer, too. If. Life. Cooperates.)

I am very much looking forward to seeing all the friends I met at past WindyCons and last year at Capricon, Keeping touch through social media is no substitute for hanging out in person. I’m not naming names because I would forget someone I adore and then feel horrible about it, but <waving>  HIYA, yes, I’m thinking of you! See you soon!

On reflection, that whole paragraph right there ^^^  is a matter of sudden, wondrous astonishment & joy.

I have con friends. Wow.

windycon 2018 blog topper

 

I promised a scenelet. Here it be.

A while back I asked if anyone wanted a sneak peek at Ghost Town, my new work in progress. Y’all said, “Yes,” so I of course did nothing for ages. Until now.

TL;DR version of context: She’s new on the job. He’s been dead over a century.  Together they solve crimes.

The longer spiel: Deena Davis fled her wee Illinois hometown as soon as she was old enough to enlist in the Army.  Now she’s back in Gridley as the newly-appointed police chief, just in time to catch Gridley’s first murder case in decades.

Her great-great-grandfather Fletcher was Gridley’s mayor during his lifetime. Since his death he’s been the mayor of the town’s ghostly population. He was a big fan of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and he has the ability to make himself seen by his descendants.

He is keen to help Deena solve this murder whether she wants it or not.

Also, Deena owns a retired military working dog named Bazel. (Because I wanted to write a dog, that’s why.) That’s why there’s a pic of a Malinois at the top of this post.

     Fletcher caught up to Deena while she was on her way to talk with the county clerk’s digital specialists. One minute she was checking the road behind her before changing lanes, the next, her rear view was blocked by the ghost’s smiling, whiskery face.

“Hello, granddaughter!”

Deena’s startled flinch nearly put them in the ditch before trained reflexes kicked in. The car rocked on its wheels, and gravel crunched under the right front tire, but she settled the swerve.

“Not funny!” she snapped as she regained control. “Don’t ever pop up like that when I’m driving, not ever.”

“When you’re—oh.” Fletcher took note of the scenery flashing by, and his face fell. “I didn’t think to check the physical plane ‘afore visiting. I’m right sorry, Deena. ”

His contrite expression looked sincere, but the man had been a politician. Deena wouldn’t trust him as far as she could throw him. “You’d better be sorry. This partnership will come to an abrupt and nasty end if I slam head-on into a semi.”

Bazel nosed irritably at the mayor, who was occupying much of the same space in the back seat as he was. Fletcher ignored the dog’s intrusion, his expression thoughtful in a dangerously familiar way. Deena had seen that look on her father’s face more than once when he got to yearning for grandkids.

She shouldn’t have mentioned dying. At least the ghost couldn’t set her up on blind dates. He could nag, though. Better cut that off before it starts. “And don’t even think about telling me I should settle down and start popping out kids.”

The ghost stroked his mustache and slid to the other seat to get away from the dog. “No idea what you’re on about,” he said cheerfully. “Ain’tcha going to ask why I’m here? Lemme tell you. I made inquiries last night, and I have news.”

“That’s grand,” Deena said with maximum insincerity. Just as she’d suspected, the mayor was going to hover over her and get in the way. The tires squeaked as she turned hard into the office parking lot. She found the building number and pulled into a spot nearby. “I have to interview a digitizing specialist. Learn anything relevant to that?”

“I don’t reckon so. Not even sure what that is.”

“Then wait here—or if you won’t do that, at least stay out of my sight and keep your mouth shut so I don’t look like a lunatic.”

“Hold on one goldarned second.” Fletcher did his instant-move thing to appear at Deena’s shoulder as she opened the rear door to retrieve Bazel. “Is that any way to talk to your partner? Listen here—”

“No, you listen.” Deena unlatched Bazel and looked down at the dog to avoid the talking to thin air issue. “I can’t drop everything any time you decide to show up. Maybe you have all the time in the world, but I don’t, and there is no box for ‘ghost evidence’ on the reports I have to file. This comes first.”

She looked up at the end. Fletcher met her angry gaze for long seconds. “You don’t have to be so hurtful,” he finally said.

She had been harsh. Much too harsh. She let out tension in a heavy sigh and rubbed her aching neck. Sun beat down on the pavement, and reflected heat rose up through her boots. Her ancestor looked cool and collected. Must be nice to not melt in the heat. “I’m sorry, Fletcher. You scared the daylights out of me. That gets my temper up. No disrespect. I do want to hear you out. Just—not now. Please.”

“Well, all righty. That’s a pretty explanation, and I might have a temper myself.” The ghost mayor regarded her Ford Interceptor with a thoughtful frown. “These carriages keep getting bigger and more complicated. How’s about you take me for a drive around town in it? I can give you all the news and show you the sights, and you can show me how fast it goes.”

“That’s—not a bad idea.” Nobody looked twice at drivers talking to themselves. Deena gave Bazel a quick ear scratch and straightened to see a figure at the office window duck out of view. Looked like her witness was getting nervous. “We’ll do that soon. Now go poof or whatever it is you do and let me get to work.”

“Poof?” Fletcher said. “Poof?”

She gestured extravagantly with both hands like a magician. “Poof!”

He was still sputtering when he disappeared, but he was smiling too.

Book needs blurb. Author needs hug.

Writing cover copy is a particular set of writing skills, but skills can be learned, right?   Practice makes perfect. No pressure. These are just the words that make or break a reader’s first impression of my book. IT’S FINE, REALLY.

<sobs>

Here’s my first stab at a blurb for The Sharp Edge Of Yesterday, the next novel in my Rough Passages supers series. Thoughts, anyone?

Grace Trapani is fighting for her life. The Department of Public Safety wants her behind bars, her estranged husband wants to control her body and soul, and the power in her blood makes her a threat to her own family.

She left behind everything she knows to protect her daughters, but she can’t hide from the destructive forces growing inside her. Only a dedicated group of rebels within the Department can help her escape imprisonment and death.

I know it needs something. Salt? Garlic? A swift, sharp kick? Anyway.

Also, Grace’s last name is currently up for revision. It might end up being Horn or Reed, or maybe Keiffer?  NAMES ARE HARD TOO. Ideas welcome.

To end on a less-whiny note, pretty pictures! The top image is the full-wrap cover painting. Below is a detail on the front cover. It’s coming out pale on my monitor, not sure why. It’s gorgeous, really.

I LOVE THIS COVER THOSEoY Postcard

I learned a new Kindle thing.

I am soooooooo late to the party with this one, but I’m happy about learning it, so I’m sharing my joy. Let’s start with the basics. Do you:

  • own a Kindle?
  • Use Amazon Prime?
  • Enjoy books published by independent and/or small press authors?
  • Like to support indie authors but don’t have a big entertainment budget?

DID YOU KNOW: if you answered yes to all those questions,  there’s a program that’s perfect for you? It’s called the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library (KOLL).

You can download 1 free read per month straight to your Kindle, for free, AND the author gets a per-page-read payment. That’s right. You pick from a ton of great Kindle books (like, say, one of MY titles) read it for free on your Kindle, AND the author gets money.

Everyone wins, right? You can support an author you like every month with it just by reading a book. Seems too good to be true, but IT IS TRUE!

The main catch seems to be that the title has to also be in Kindle Unlimited, but hey, there are a LOT of those. Including my sorta-romances and the big single-edition version of the Stories of the Restoration. Just saying.

Do you want to know how it works?  I did, so I hunted down details.  There’s an official how-to video on this Amazon page How to Borrow a Kindle Book through KOLL. That was enough to get me started. I brought up the Kindle store on my Kindle, looked up a book by title & author, and one touch later, it was downloading. Yay, reading!

Want to know more? Here’s a site with more information and a nice comparison of  this KOLL program and Kindle Unlimited: Some useful details about KOLL.  It’s a little out of date–there’s now Prime Borrowing to complicate matters, for one thing–but it has a bunch of basics.