Random things inside my head

6. It’s confirmed! I’ll be an Attending Professional at Dragon Con in 2019. Sweet, sweet validation. (It helps balance the relentless march of zeroes in the sales reports)  I’m hoping to participate in programming for Science Fiction Literature, Fantasy, & Urban Fantasy at the least. I would love to be super-busy all four days. 

One happy bright spot in a week I’ve spent being fiercely determined not to cry about, well, EVERYTHING AND NOTHING BECAUSE LIFE IS MADE OF STRESS. Ahem. Onward. Major tooth repairs tomorrow. 

5. Holidays mean I get to hang with friends more than usual. So much catching up to do. Being a hermit whose home no one ever visits, I always fall behind. What are all the many talented, hard-working people in my immediate circle doing these days? Incredible things. Getting degrees, playing games together, working at astonishing jobs, fighting for new jobs, traveling all over the country…loads of wow.  Me? I felt awkwardly tolerated, boring, and unintentionally ruse.  You know, the usual.

Someday I should write a post about all the specific communication tools my writerfrenz and artistfrenz use to help each other cope with gathering in groups. I miss those things a lot when I’m with others.

4. Working the weekend at the library is a big change than working weeknights. All the same tasks, but the rhythm is so different.  On weeknights, the last hour is the slowest by far. Weekends? Busy. Even on a slow day. Makes for a nice change of pace.

The latest in searches:

  • free home floor plan generator
  • 19th century attitudes toward exercise
  • under 18 population Illinois 2017 census

Media update:

  •  Read: Working my way through Ardulum trilogy by J.S. Fields. Seanan McGuire recommended it, and it’s worthy. Space opera that’s careful about its science? SIGN ME UP.  
  • View: Hurricane Heist. So bad it was almost good. Okay, not really. It was just plain bad. Bad science, bad writing, bad special effects…but it was fun. Molly’s Game:  Did not finish. Sorry. I wanted to be interested, but…poker+smug people being smug+YAWN. 

3. Scooter has figured out I’m worried about his mobility. Now he lies on his side and won’t move until I pick him up and put him down gain to make sure his back legs still work.  Then he stands there and purrs and strops my legs and looks smug. CATS, y’know?

Random cat pic

2. Our official house nickname for Thanksgiving is now “The Week-long Celebration of Leftovers” And I was chastised for eating too much (read: any) of the sage dressing. It came out really well. 

1. I saw a Great Horned Owl! Spouseman heard her hooting up a storm in the middle of the night, I went to the back window to see if I could spot her in one of the neighbor’s trees, and SWOOOOOOP, she went right past the window and caught an updraft to cruise over the neighbor’s roof. So. Cool

and that’s all the all there is.

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

In other news…

I resisted as long as I could, but a Discord account has happened at last.
I’m not posting my handle yet/here…mostly because what I like most is that I don’t HAVE to “friend” the world to have enjoyable topic-based interaction.

(Also I have no freaking idea what I’m doing and want to dabble a bit before I start reaching out much.)

If we are friends IRL or close buddies online through some other social platform & you want to connect on Discord, by all means message me your handle.
BUT
Do NOT take it personally if I don’t send a friend request or respond to one. PLEASE don’t. I am easily overwhelmed & lurking is my learning zone.

My first impression overall is, it’s brilliant. Topics/servers divided into channels for smaller topics or threads of interest, with the idea of friending saved for for private, personal interaction? AND convo timelines that are reliably chronological? Yeah. I could get used to that.

It reminds me of the old-fashioned newsgroup environment, with the added conveniences of sms group chat and a voice option.
And I loved the rec.arts.sf.written newsgroup back in the Earthlink/AOL/9600 baud modem days…oy, so long ago now. (My handle there was Sarcastic Wench, btw. Truth in advertising.)

ANYway. I’m all excited about the new addition, so, I’m sharing. It’s what I do. I get excited about things, and I post about them.

Fear is the mind-killer except when it isn’t.

I’ve taken some big behind-the-scenes authoring steps recently. I’m pretty nervous about them, but they’re not the point of this post. I’m also not writing about the news being full of atrocities, nor about my nation sliding into OVERT fascism. although those are infuriating, terrible, horrifying things.

Nope. This post is about my relationship with fear as a general thing.

It’s been a while since I talked about feeling frightened most of the time, most days. That’s been going on a lot longer than the current world events, but it’s on my mind lately because it’s tangentially related to my lack of activism and also to my writing.

Most of the things about life that make me happy also terrify me. And by terror I don’t mean I get nervous or worried or fretful about outcomes. I don’t even mean hollow-bellied imposter-cloaked fear-of-failure fear.

I mean the “heart pounding, can’t breathe, feel like vomiting, just-might-piss-myself” kind of fear. This anxious panic isn’t reserved for writing. Not by a long shot.

A lot of normal activities (f’rex simple one-on-one human interactions with friends, loud noises, scheduled appointments, necessary hygiene) you name it, it can leave me slogging through a swamp of of fight-or-flight overload.

I didn’t ask for the quirk. It came with the brain.

I’m also an adrenaline-seeker. Didn’t ask to be, but there it is. Brain. I live for living on the edge, I hunt for things that will raise my heart rate, brighten my vision, knot my guts,, and basically freak me out. This is done on an instinctive level. I can rationalize it all I want, but it isn’t rational.

The biochemical one-two punch has allowed me to function with an appearance of normalcy most of my life. One quirk goes a long way towards balancing the other. It also means I don’t often freak out when major things happen. My baseline is already up there. There’s almost a leveling sensation.

I mastered doing regular-life things on a regular basis before adolescence. All The Things scared me but I enjoyed the experience as long as I stuck to small, manageable doses, so I achieved a dysfunctional functionality. I thrive in a high-structure environment that goes through irregular major disruptions.

Along the way to my current advanced age, I learned  the hard way that hardly anyone recognizes when I’m terrified. Even when I’m standing dizzy and sweaty right next to someone, wondering if I’m about to die RIGHT THERE, most people don’t realize how freaked out I am.

I’d always known I don’t act frightened in a typical way (enough emergency situations where I got praised for calm handling got that message across) but I never connected it with people not realizing I daily dance on a cliff’s edge of coping.

I found out that it was atypical when my life got knocked off its moorings and the terror started erupting as actual anxiety/panic attacks a few years ago. I had to find a new balance, and part of that meant communicating more openly about my feelings.

And when I mention I’m on the edge of a freakout, I get looks of surprise and doubt. Imposter syndrome is brought on  by hearing over and over again, “Oh, but you’re doing great. You don’t look scared. You look fine.” Be aware: when you say that to someone who’s over-the-top anxious, it’s not as encouraging as you think. Anxiety twists that. Seeing is believing. When you say you can’t see the fear, you’re saying you don’t believe in it–even if you do.

Looking calm is a one part survival skill for me, and one part habituation. One, being seen as calm is important for a leader, and I get steered into leadership all the time for reasons I cannot explain.  Two, that adrenaline quirk means I crave fear. So I’m used to feeling it. On edge is my go-to. Basically I am having fun...

…right up to that certain point when the fun stops. That’s when I say something. At that point any tiny little thing will bring on total meltdown. Then I’m bolting for the door of a crowded restaurant, or sneaking out of a party early because…um…fear-induced wardrobe malfunction.

If I say I’m scared, I need protection, not a pep talk.

Here’s the other shoe to drop: even without meltdowns, adrenaline is exhausting. I guard against over-stimulation to protect my balance. I have hard limits. I push them constantly, (see: risk-seeker) but I have to conserve my energy. This means I’m really good at the whole “learn to say no” advice creators get. Not so good at ducking the guilt of doing it, but that’s a different problem. Until I started studying up on it, I never realized how many of my daily behaviors were rooted in emotional self-defense.

The TL;DR: this is my friendly every-so-often reminders that I am not brave. I only play brave on the outside, and it’s hard, tiring work. The crazier the world gets, the more rips in the social contract our government makes, the more I realize how scared I always am. All. The. Time.

I’m aggravating the problem with my creativity –fear lurks everywhere writing intersects with audience. Social media or reader outreach, even mentioning I have a thing to share or that I’m feeling excited about a new story…it’s all a big swamp of scariness.  Since it’s also my happy place I cannot resist diving into that slough, but…BUT.

It’s still like jumping out of a perfectly good airplane into the open sky. (which is one thing I haven’t done, by the way, because typical risk-seeking behavior loses a lot of its appeal when basic tasks like making phone calls provide a monstrous adrenaline rush.  Who needs roller coasters? I buy groceries!)

And again I digress. As usual.

Maybe the takeaway is this: I’m skipping along the scary edge a lot lately, in a world that’s getting progressively murkier by the hour. So if I seem more withdrawn than usual, it’s because I’m a lot more exhausted than ever. I wish I wasn’t, because there’s a lot worth doing right now.

Jesus fucking Christ, there’s a lot that needs doing. There’s been a lot for decades. The surface armor of suppression and willful ignorance has been scraped off the festering ugliness, so I suppose this could lead to healing. It could lead to bleeding out.

Get angry. Get registered. If you can, get out there and fight. I’ll keep doing what little I can. For sure I’ll keep writing stories that provide a little respite from the darkness.

That’s what I can do.

As usual, the picture is a fluffy addendum with no larger purpose.

 

making the best of bad times

My professional plans for this weekend imploded in a most frustrating way, and I’m…pretty torqued about it. Sad, frustrated, disappointed, you name it.

But…instead of seething about it, I’m giving myself a consolation prize: a Total Writing Retreat. ™

I was supposed to be out of town, so everything is set for me to be gone. It should be fun to see how much I can get written while I’m pretending I’m on the road, offline, cut off from the everyday routine & exempt from household responsibilities.

I’m still REALLY unhappy. But maybe I can make somethng of it? I dunno. I hope so.

Meanwhile, if anyone feels like helping cheer me up, you could always buy Rough Passages or one of my other books, leave an Amazon or online review for something of mine you’ve read already, send me a picture of my book in your collection or TBR stack…or heck, just post funny pictures on social media?  I’ll see ’em when I’m back online next week.

But reviews & sales would make me happiest. Yes, I am shallow and mercenary

Look. It’s simple. I  want to reach All The Readers Ever.

Each sale and especially every Amazon review causes a real and dramatic boost in my visibility. Support from you, my loyal & astonishing followers, makes the party even bigger.

And sometime bigger really is better. 4B3CA471-FCF2-4E1C-95B0-23C46338E2C3

.

Getting comfortable in my writer skin

No writers were harmed in the creation of this skin, I swear.  The comfort comes from taking two big steps towards acknowledging that this writing gig is a Real, Permanent Thing.

1. I got Dawnrigger license plates.

Yes, personalized ones. Don’t hate. There’s a story. Of course there is.

A couple of years back, the state decided that it would be rolling out a new license plate style, and that when my turn came, instead of getting a sticker for registration renewal, my old plate would be replaced for free. Huzzah, I said, because the plates I was issued Way Back When had a letter/number combo I always hated.  I never replaced them because  the fee for title transfer was low compared to the exorbitant fee for getting new plates with a new car. The Awful Old Plates went through…four title transfers, I think? Yes, I am a cheapskate.

This year, it was my turn to get free new ones! The form arrived with the link for renewing title registration online, so up to the website I went, all excited about finally being rid of my Awful Old Plates.

Whereupon the state informed me that once I completed the registration renewal they were going to send me THE SAME AWFUL LETTER/NUMBER COMBO on entirely new plates. WTF, said I, with extra exclamation points. No. Nope. Unacceptable. HELL NO, even. Cussing out the computer screen may have been involved.

Then I spotted my salvation in a sidebar on the left. An option for personalizing plates. An extra fee in addition to the renewal, but not as much as new registration.IMG_4142

So I did it. What the hell. No, they are not vanity plates. (Seriously. They aren’t. Vanity Plate was a whole ‘nother  choice on the site. Who knew license plates came in so many different flavors? I didn’t.)

Now my little car has plates that read DAWNRGR. See? Maybe no one but me will ever know what that means. But I do know, and it makes me happy.

2. The other authoring-related thing I did makes me even happier, and was much easier; I listed myself as “author at Dawnrigger Publishing” in an official directory for the first time.

It wasn’t a government form or anything.  It’s just a member directory for a organization at my college.  I’m still working as Registration Staff part-time at the Mount Prospect library and as a volunteer at the Botanic Garden. Putting the word ‘author’ in the
Primary Employment” slot on this form changes nothing at all officially, but…

I felt comfortable doing it. That changes everything.

I’m getting there. Slow & unsteady, but I’m getting there.

Come to Pittsburgh, it’ll Be FUN!

TL;DR summary: I’m going to Pittsburgh this week! Lots of amazing authors will be in Pittsburgh! You can meet them for free & get autographs!

Why Pittsburgh? So glad you asked. It’s the Nebula Awards Conference Weekend, a traveling event held annually by The Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America (aka SFWA)

There will be loads of professional development panels for authors and the big Nebula Awards Ceremony, but the reason I’m sharing  is that the event also has a super cool tradition called the Mass Autographing.

Open to the public. Here be all the official bits: https://nebulas.sfwa.org/autographing-event-sunday-may-20/

Basically if you’re within a distance of Pittsburgh where you can be at the Pittsburgh City Cetner Marriott Sunday May 20, 1-3, and you’re interested in excellent science fiction & fantasy books, you really should come to this event!

You can meet loads of authors–Nebula Award nominated, and Nebula Award WINNING authors–they’ll be there, and they’ll all have books available for purchase too.

Also there will be me. With my books. Not nominated books, and I’m not a SFWA member (not yet! SOMEDAY!) but I will be at the conference absorbing knowledge and maybe helping out if I can.

And so I will also have my excellent books for sale at the event Book Depot. In case anyone wants them.

What about next year? Will I go to the SFWA conference then? Maybe.  Depends on where it’s held, and even more it depends on whether I make enough sales to become a member. I’m not sure how long I can justify attending when I’m still not making enough sales to qualify as a member. Maybe forever? Maybe not. I get more self-conscious and nervous about it every year.

But that’s next year, and I’m not sure what next year will bring.  For sure it will be an adventure.

This year? PITTSBURGH, HERE I COME!