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.

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

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

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.

Making things real

I added a fictional battalion to the United States Marine Corps when I built the world for Rough Passages.

Here’s the thing about military units: they have insignia. That reality gave me a great excuse to look at unit badges and design one for the valiant second-career rollover Marines in Mercury Battalion.

I also built a Table of Organization for the Battalion, named all the companies and planted them all over the United States in proximity to the bases that support them, but that’s trivia for another post.

Here’s my take on Mercury Battalion’s Unit Badge. I swear I posted about this before now, but all I could find was a Facebook post. And those don’t count. So, Here:

Mercury Battalion insignia 4 (1)

For those interested in details:

Mercury Battalion was formed out of the 4th Marine Division in 1944, a few months after the 4th Division was pulled into emergency service after First Night.

Initially tasked only with protection of the civilian population, the 4th Division’s mission objective quickly expanded to include drafting and training hazardous rollover civilians as Marines themselves–in part as as an alternative to mass permanent incarcerations, and in part because the adage “fight fire with fire” had literal and practical application.

Over time Mercury Battalion has become the default post-rollover duty assignment for citizens whose powers are too deadly, too destructive, or too sensitive to be handled by the Department of Public Safety.

And why bother with an origin story I don’t intend to expand? Because being me, I had to come know which Division’s colors and symbols would best suit my creation.

I’m picky that way. I used units in both the 4th and 5th division as my main inspirations. If anyone is wondering.

And now to bore everyone with pictures…

Have a few glimpses of my Adventure Thursday last week.  It’s an odd collection. Things I deem picture-worthy sometimes don’t make sense to others. There are captions.

Also I didn’t take any pics during dinner or Gumbo Fiction Salon because my hands were shaky & sweaty, plus I was mildly freaking out. Galway Arms has excellent food (I had a delightful cheese & chutney plate and also sampled a scrumptious smoked salmon appetizer) and the readings were phenomenal.

You’ll have to take my word for it.

Why I took Public Transit
A shot of traffic on I-90 from Jefferson Park Transit Center, where I transferred from Metra to CTA. Drive time was 1 hr 12 min in that jam all the way. My stress-free trip: 1:37 incl. a nice walk.
Lincoln Park sign
I arrived early enough to do plenty of exploring.A lovely walk at the end of the road.
Turtle, hiding.
Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum is FREE on Thursdays to Illinois residents. This shy turtle lives at the indoor butterfly exhibit, in a water feature.
Atlas Moth
This Atlas moth is as big across as my two hands. He was snoozing right at ankle level.
Finches!
Finch! I wish we could have birds in our butterfly exhibit at Chicago Botanic Garden.
Moar Finch
Two more finches munching on millet seeds.
IMG_3765
Note to self: go here someday soon. Say, this summer, when it’s warmer. 
IMG_3766
Museum from the outside. Probably more scenic when there’s foliage.
IMG_3767
City nature. “Urbs in Horto” indeed.

 

IMG_3768
This tree is made of optimism. Pretty yellow flowers of hope. 

I hope you enjoyed this vicarious afternoon with me.

 

Achievement Unlocked

Got a fan email last week. Imma write that again so it feels real. I got fan mail. Someone bought Rough Passages at Cleveland Concoction & loved it enough to reach out personally. Yeah.

I am still processing the euphoria.

This isn’t the first vote of confidence I’ve received, far from it. That’s why I’m surprised by how much it’s affecting me. I’ve never been someone whose creative endeavors have faced massive disapproval. I’ve been tremendously lucky in my support circle.

I’m grateful for that support. That is a thing I often forget to mention because it’s so fundamental, so necessary, it’s like gravity or air to me. But I am grateful. This feels like a good time to spend a moment or three expressing that appreciation.

Some of my friends online and off have always been encouraging and supportive, and many have delivered more than their share of compliments. Thank you all! You’ve kept me going during many bleak creative droughts.

I’m even more grateful for all the friends who have taken the huge leap from telling me,  “Yeah, I liked it”  to saying “I recommend this.” I’ve made a lot of great new friends through other friends sharing their enthusiasm, and that’s a special happiness to be cherished too.

Two even call me their favorite living author  (as far as I know, I am the only living author they know personally, so take that with a grain of salt or three)  and my library asked me to get them copies to review & buy, and to keep them updated on new releases.

All big boosts. All hugely encouraging. All immensely important to me.

But an email from a total stranger, connected to me only my words alone? It deserves special mention too. I mean, I publish to reach readers, but to be gifted with PROOF that my words made someone–someone with absolutely no connection to me–laugh, cry, think?  That’s boggling.  Humbling. Exhilarating, too.

So it’s getting its own line on my list of Authorial Achievements.


**why is there a chicken in the post image? The idea of a hen mothering kittens made me smile. No other reason.