Authoring Cons & Appearances Promotion Writing Life

2018: listing things for fun & focus

I adore lists. They aren’t useful to me in any organizational way. They don’t make me work more efficiently or help my productivity. The opposite, if anything.  I’m always leaving lists behind, or forgetting where I’ve put them, or getting distracted before finishing one and starting a new one instead…the list itself is rarely a helpful tool.

But making lists? That’s a fish of another color. I consider making a list its own reward. I love writing them.  If you think this odd, well, I also consider scrolling through the cable channel menu its own distinct activity rather than a way to find shows to watch.

I put things on list for the sheer joy of checking them off again. True story. Hey, I never said I was normal.

ANYWAY. Still here? Fab. It’s the beginning of the new year and everyone was doing lists at the end of the old year, but I was hibernating, so I’m late with mine.

Here be my list of 2018 accomplishments. I made them all on my own. They’re little, and broken, but still good. Yeah, still good. (Apologies to Lilo & Stitch for the misquote.)

1. Wrote a book. The Sharp Edge of Yesterday isn’t published yet, but I finished it & it’s finally in post-editorial revisions. (It even kinda has a pitch: Grace Reed is hiding a terrible secret and a more terrible power. that will rip her away from the family she’s sacrificed everything to keep together. )

2. Wrote most of another book. Ghost Town isn’t finished, but it’s well over 50%, and that’s something. All I’ve got for  pitch is the tongue in cheek, “She’s the new sheriff. He’s been dead a hundred years. Together, they fight crime and bicker.”

3. Attended a few too many science fiction conventions as a professional. Pro meaning I had books there to sell, wore a pro badge, and/or participated on panels and such. Woo, this means I get to make a sub-list!

  • Capricon (MY FIRST CAPRICON!)
  • Concoction (MY FIRST CONCOCTION!!)
  • C2E2 (sorta. All I did was chat w/artists & commission art. )
  • Indiana Comic Con
  • 2018 SFWA Nebula Awards Conference
  • Gen Con
  • Michigan Comic Con
  • Dragon Con
  • WindyCon

4. Wrote 2 short stories. Yes, me. Me, the person whose previous four short stories turned into novels. One of these two, Homecoming,  is a slice-of-life piece about a character who’s in Sharp Edge, and it’s a freebie for people who sign up for my mailing list. The other, Mercy Has a Bitter Taste,  I’ve had critiqued & polished & am sending off to be rejected by all the best professional markets. One down,  thirteen more to go before I trunk it.

5. Started regularly attending an incredibly supportive open mic reading group in Chicago.  Gumbo Fiction Salon. I’ve read all of Bitter Gift there, and the reception is what gave me the confidence to start sending it out.

NOTE: GBS isn’t the reading series I first expected to support. There’s another series, held at Volumes Book Cafe, that I attended once and & HIGHLY recommend. I’m v sad about never returning to it, but scheduling conflicts, life detours, and a VERY difficult location have all conspired against me getting back there. (And now I’m too embarrassed to show my face again. Sigh.)

6? I think that’s it for major writerly type achievements from 2018. I mean, yes, I commissioned new covers for books from the fantastic Rhiannon Taylor and the amazing Rachel Bostwick, I signed a contract for line edits from a phenomenal professional editor, I signed up for 2019 conventions, I ran multiple book promotions online, I got my latest novel into the WorldCat library database and on shelves in library systems in Illinois, Ohio, & Kentucky, and maybe Pennsylvania…

…but all that’s just everyday authoring stuff.

So much for 2018. Onward to 2019. Big plans in the making & big doings ahead.


Media Consumption Whimsy Writing Life

Listing my life again

What have I been doing? Writing, mostly. Now that the butterfly season & convention season are over, I’m back on a regular schedule. I’m chewing through my latest project faster than I expected ( I’m still gonna miss my self-imposed deadline, tho. Oh, well.)

And I do take time off to do Other Things. Here be the most recent Doings:


Long list this time around. For some reason I read faster when I’m writing more. Restricted access to social media also helps.

  • Stars Are Legion, Kameron Hurley Space Opera. Organic ships & kickass protagonist.
  • Rights Of Use, Shannon Eichorn Space Opera. Aliens. Awesomeness.
  • Freelance Familiars, Daniel Potter Fantasy. Sorta portal, urban-feeling, all fun. CATS.
  • Eden’s Outcast, Kuta Marler. Urban Fantasy. Fun world & fabulous characters.
  • Fated Sky, Mary Robinette Kowal. Science-fiction. Full of humanity. MADE ME CRY.
  • Poppy War,  R. F Kuang Fantasy. Epic world-building, phenomenal mythology.
  • Spinning Silver, Naomi Novik  Fantasy with fairy tale roots. Deep & delicious.
  • Fluency,  Jennifer Foehner Wells Space Opera. Linguistics. <swoon!>
  • Sere From the Green, Lauren Jankowski: Urban fantasy. Werewolves. Wonderful richness.

I enjoyed every last one of these books immensely,  in totally different ways, and I am working through reviewing them on Amazon & Goodreads. (Amazon gets squirrely and starts refusing to post reviews when I do more than 3 at a time. I should have the last few done later this week.)


I’ve re-watched a buncha movies: Black Panther, Thor: Ragnarok, Avengers: Infinity War I, Lilo&Stitch, Spiderman: Homecoming, Moana… I think I’m in the mood for brain fluff.

That’s about it. I haven’t been watching much TV. Most of the series I’ve been following are between seasons, jumped a whole school of sharks, or have been cancelled. (Law & Order reruns do not count. They’re background noise to fall asleep watching.)

I’ll be asking for viewing recommendations in a month or so. Hibernation season is coming.

There’s new music in my life for the first time in forever. I have a new writing-time soundtrack: Hamilton. I didn’t expect to like it. I am not a big Broadway fan because the voices & songs all sound alike to me. This one? THIS ONE IS DIFFERENT. And excellent. And fabulous.

Kitchen & Garden

September is my favorite month in the garden. I have tomatoes in the freezer to turn into sauce soon, and lots of super-hot little peppers. As soon as we get a cool, damp day, I’ll start transplanting the super-tall mystery plants (some kind of prairie sunflower)  into the back of the garden and hack off the seed pods of my ever-enthusiastic senna plants.

Baking season is nearly upon us.  I am stocking up on essentials as they go on sale. The big excitement is that I get to indulge in guilt-free baking all through October. My department will be sharing space with two others next month while renovations happen, so I will have three times the usual audience. (The guilt comes from being I’m told over and over, “I shouldn’t be eating these,” / “Oh, no, I’m going to gain so much weight,” / “Oh. You baked again?” Yeah.)

So, anyway, new people to feed, yay!

And autumn is also apple season. Spouseman & I are car-pooling with some friends to take our first orchard trek of the year tomorrow. Cheese, fruit & goodies, here we come.

Yes, the pictures I tack onto my posts are sometimes reruns and mostly random. I love grouchy cats, I will not lie.


Authoring Cons & Appearances Detours Writing Life

Chugging along towards Dragon Con 2017

DRAGON CON! Atlanta. Labor Day weekend.

I’ll be there. SO EXCITING. Shoutycaps exciting, even. Two weeks away.

Also intimidating. Crowds make me frantic unless I’m standing in front of them. Put me on a stage or in front of a microphone with a purpose, and I’m a happy clam, but leave me in the middle of a big party, and it’s cat-in-the-bathtub time. Cons are multiple-day parties. So…I’ll keep myself busy.

The important things:

  • I’ll be splitting my time between the Armory (down-down-downstairs in the Hyatt, as close to a quiet zone as an event with 60k people can have) & the Bard’s Tower booth in the vendor building.
  • Yes, I will have books to sell @ Bard’s Tower. Come and buy some. They’re grrrrr-EAT!
  • I’m on a panel Saturday — details once the official schedule goes live.
  •  I will have autographing time (STOP LAUGHING) scheduled on Sunday. I’ll read to anyone who shows up to that.

Why did I do that last one? I DON’T KNOW. It seemed like a good idea at the time? “Why the hell not?” probably climbed into the engineer’s seat on that train of thought. Or something.

Spouseman will not be accompanying me.  Health & endurance are steadily improving But a week away from home+hates airline travel+HATES huge crowds?  He is not up for that much of a challenge. Yet. Maybe next year. And maybe a smaller venue first, to ease back into the swing of con-going. Maybe.

*deep breath* List time again. Lists are soothing.

  • Biz cards are ready.
  • Bookmarks & postcards ready.
  • Flight is booked. Got a decent deal, even. Woo!
  • Hotel room set…I think. Should check on that, maybe. One way or another I’ll have a crash space.
  • packing list in progress.
  • Hair cut accomplished. Hair coloring is holding up.

Brain is revving up near redline and the con is still two weeks away.

Argh. I can do this. I want to do this, I will do this.

If you are coming to Dragon Con and reading this, I hope to see you there!


Not tired of my words yet? My published works are available on Amazon and all the other usual online retailers.

Science-fiction thrillers, science-fiction romance, and science fantasy, full length novels and shorter works. So many choices! 

Media Consumption

Sports Movies about everything but sports

Today I’m offering a movie list for your entertainment.  I’m generous that way.

What kind of movies? SPORTS! (sort of)

I have an abiding affection for the plots driving “inspirational sports movies.” They all have these elements (among others)

  • spunky underdog facing off against a Big Name/has-been getting a second chance…
  • fraught family relationship of some kind
  • team loses faith in their leader
  • unappreciated partner sticks with/comes back to/forgives the protagonist over the course of all the conflicts and doubts
  •  Wacky Supporting Character(s) who deliver wisdom and put the protagonist’s head on straight at a critical moment
  • major setback that makes victory seem impossible
  • At last one training montage, usually two…

YOU know. Those kinds of movies. Bad News Bears, Slap Stick, League of Their Own, Rocky, The Replacements…I could rattle off a couple dozen. But that’s not what I decided to list. Me, I’ve collected all my favorite non-sport sport movies.

Why? Because I am not a sports fan. The practical aspects of sport movies leave me unmoved. Football training montage or long game tactics discussion = bathroom break. But the BEST thing about sports movie elements is how beautifully they bloom when they are taken off the playing field and planted elsewhere.*

So here’s a selection of titles complete with my skewed summaries of their plots.

  • Bottle Shock: upstart California winery enters snooty French wine competition
  • Blow Dry: “washed-up” hair dresser enters one last international competition.
  • Chef: talented culinary artist loses it all, starts over with a food truck.
  • Extract: struggling spice factory employees have to pull together to avoid being shut down
  • Kinky Boots: languishing British shoe manufacturer reinvents itself and enters big fashion show
  • Take The Lead: ballroom dance teacher takes problem students to the Big Contest
  • Slumdog Millionaire: Game show. Underdog. India. All the hearts and confetti.
  • Meatballs: rival summer camps competing for comedy and everything else
  • Today’s Special: son gets pulled into the family restaurant, has to make it succeed
  • Cutting Edge: I know figure skating is technically a sport, but it’s more a competitive art form. Also, TOE PICK!
  • Pitch Perfect: the sport of competitive singing. Sort of. Just watch it.
  • Drop Dead Gorgeous: small town beauty pageant turns deadly but remains hilarious.
  • The Hundred Foot Journey: another culinary one. Hm. This could be a sub-genre. Displaced Indian family settles in French village, opens up restaurant. A wondrous movie unfolds.

All those movies feed my sport-movie cravings without inflicting a sport on me, but it is by no means a comprehensive list. Do any of your favorite movies fit into this category? Shout ’em out. I’m always looking for new viewing.

*Aside from above my lack of interest isn’t an issue of ignorance. I enjoy spectating with fan-friends, and I have learned the basics for most sports because I always want to know how EVERYthing works. But knowledge does not passion make. I also know how toothpaste works too, but I have no interest in watching how toothpaste gets made…no, wait. Actually I would watch the hell out of a movie about toothpaste-making.

Does this post tie into my writing identity & help me promote my work?  Pfft, of course not. Only in the sense that everything comes out in the writing somehow. If you squint a little when you read my stories, you’re sure to spot some of the inspirational plot elements I listed above.

What do I write? I write Techno-adventure & Science Fantasy. You want links & excerpts? Sure Click right here. Or go straight to the 600-ton gorilla to purchase:  Amazon.

1. Storysculpting Book reviews Promotion

My Outstanding Gift Suggestions


I could list a hundred phenomenal Christmas recommendations for books, music, movies, and more. But I won’t. The interwebs are swamped with endless Best Of lists already.

Nope, my mission here is simple: showcase books that can’t be found in USA Today, the NYTimes, or in any of the Big Name Guides. Not this year, anyway. <cue inspirational music>  In years to come, we might see these names on big stack displays and movie posters. They’re good enough, they’re great enough, and gosh darn it, I like them.

These select gems are hand-crafted, artisanal, and sparkling with originality. Two series, two debut novels. I’ve read and reviewed them all in detail or in brief. Are they all right for everyone? Hell, no. That’s where your good judgment comes in. I describe. You decide.

The Devany Miller series by Jen Ponce: Horror/fantasy/romance. Yes, all three. Yes, really.  Oogy monsters and kickass women are her specialties. Not recommended for arachnophobes. The author writes across several genres. All polished, snappy reads.

 Jen Ponce on Amazon

website & blog

The Saga of Menyoral by M. A. Ray. Foul-mouthed knight and berserker boy, and oh, so much more. Coming-of-Age fantasy. Fast-moving and heart-wrenching. YA friendly if your definition of YA includes PG-13+ sexual content and R-rated language.

M.A. Ray on Amazon

M. A. Ray’s blog

The Wild Harmonic by Beth W Patterson (check out her music too!  Yes, she’s multi-talented!)  Contemporary fantasy/urban fantasy. I would compare it to War for the Oaks, because both have musical roots and a beautifully evoked sense of place, but that’s not fair to either book. The author has short stories in several anthologies and plans more novels.  (and an awesome splash ad.)

Beth W Patterson on Amazon

Website (with music! And MORE!) 

The Legacy (The Darkness Within Saga Book 1) by JD Franx. EPIC fantasy.  Viking necromancers. Nuff said, right? Also, portal fantasy. Like your fantasy worlds built big, sprawling & complex, your characters three-dimensional and your plotlines fast & tight? Yeah. Me, too. Get it here.

JD Franx on Amazon


Aaaagh. So many good things. Can’t stop. Witty-gritty Life With a Fire-Breathing Dragon and sequels by Bryan Fields. The whole delicious, steamy erotic-funny Lily Quinn succubus series by Natalie & Eric Severine. Noelle Meade’s exploding birds and changing worlds Crucible of Change series,Mirren Hogan’s wonderful Crimson Fire that I technically shouldn’t include because I haven’t finished it, but mmmm good…no…must…stop…

<takes a little break to recover>

Since you read this far, here’s a little story I call Me And Books At The Holidays: A Story. (Because I am an ego monster and everything on this blog works around to me in the end.)

For about six years after graduating from college, I worked part-time teaching high school science & math  and part-time as a pet store manager. Then I jumped off the career train entirely and got a full-time job in retail bookselling with Borders Books & Music.

And ended up teaching again anyway. But that’s a different story.

That first holiday season with Borders,  I got teased thusly by family and friends. “Hah, I guess I know what I’m getting for Christmas this year!”

Every single one of them made that same snarky remark, I swear.

Now, let it be known tolerance for teasing is not my strong suit, not even when I’m well-rested, well-fed, and unstressed. I seldom managed any one of those three conditions during the retail holiday season.  At its best Christmas with Borders was a rush, a thrill ride, and a grueling endurance test rolled up into one, an adventure shared with boon companions who made the labor a memorable joy. At its worst it was all those things smothered under a pall…but I digress. Long story short, I had no tolerance for being mocked about my gifting abilities.

“What did you get last year?” I snarled. (Every time, I snarled.)


“Did you get BOOKS, maybe? Not a hamster, or a fish bowl, or cat toys? No? Okay, I gave your cats some toys, but I got you books, didn’t I?  Of course I did. That’s what I get everyone. Every year. Why the <many expletives deleted>  would that change now I’m getting a discount? Are you trying to tell me you don’t like books? Did you not like what you got last year?”

“Errrrm. Ha-ha. No. I loved it. You alway pick good books.”

“Damned right, I do.”

Borders is gone, (RIP) but books are still my go-to gifts of choice. And the ones I’ve shared here are ones I am positive will suit someone you know. Because everyone knows someone who likes something.

What do I want for Christmas? Pssh. The same thing I want every year, Pinky. Reviews! I want DOZENS of reviews for Controlled Descent & Flight Plan. Also a pony.

And if I got THREE author wishes, the third one would be to see my book listings in WorldCat (the biggest online catalog of library collections in the world) for libraries in all fifty states of the Union.

But the second wish would still be for a pony.

Happy gift gathering and giving, everyone!