Monday, December 11, 2017

Jeffe is ALMOST right

I like her answer to this week's post. Now is a very good time to live in, for all the reasons listed.

HOWEVER, if I'm being completely honest, I'd like to write in a near future where the current regime in this country has already tumbled and where several of them are doing jail time.

I'd like to live in a world where racism os once again either crushed or close to being a thing of the past and yes, where people of all gender identities can walk around comfortably.

In my perfect world everyone has healthcare, everyone is allowed to state their opinions without fear of the repercussions, and Net Neutrality is a given. In my perfect writing climate people read books and Marvel comics has decided to actually be smart about how to publish comics and stops trying to take the cheapest way possible. You know, they hire ARTISTS again, and pay them a living wage.

Yes, I am cranky. I hate the things going on in this world right now and don't like the fact that all the repairs made by POTUS 44 have now been wrecked by 45.

I want a government that is for the people, by the people, not a government sold to the highest corporate bidders. I want a country where, when the U.N. comes to look around, they aren't horrified by the poverty level of so many citizens.

But that's me. I'd rather be George Bailey than Old Man Potter.






Sunday, December 10, 2017

Why It's Great to Be a Writer Today

Jackson has on his winter coat, which makes him exceptionally leonine and add a certain air of dignity. He's no longer little-boy cat, but has become full-on man cat.

Our topic at the SFF Seven this week is if you were to be a storyteller in a different time, when would you choose and why?

I confess I have a bit of a fantasy of being a lady writer in early 20th Century England. Of course, I'd want to be upper class - even genteel poverty would probably be doable. That is, as long as I had any number of long-suffering family members willing to give me room and board. And I'd want to not die too young from some disease.

BUT, if this is a full-on fantasy, then the concept of this kind of life is beguiling. I love the idea of living in sprawling country manors, taking long walks, and writing in luscious mental silence. No social media inviting me to compare myself to other authors. No distressing political stories filling my inbox. Just birdsong, tea, a spot of lawn tennis, and the occasional walk to whatever charming village might be nearby.

That's answering the question of if I had to choose *a different time.* If I were asked to choose any time at all, I'd pick right now.

Want to know why?

Computers

Word processing programs allow me to write at a speed I could never replicate with quill and ink. More, revision is HUGELY easier with word processing. I say this as someone who spent her teens and college years having to entirely retype a revised draft of a paper.

Internet

A lot goes under this topic, so I'll break them out. One aspect is research. I can flick my finger and open a Sanskrit dictionary, search for terms, and be done inside of a minute. I might mourn the lost library at Alexandria, but I now have the information of an entire world at my fingertips.

Communication

Email, texting, phones - all of this allows near instantaneous decision-making. The electronic transfer of documents looms large. All of that investing time, money, and paper in sending manuscripts through the mail, awaiting the return of those self-addressed stamped envelopes - all vanished! It's SO much better now.

Self-Publishing Platforms

We might decry Amazon's heavy weight in this arena, or wrestle with the implications of self-published books flooding certain genres, along with the unscrupulous leveraging KU to manipulate page reads to earn money on utter crap. But the advent of this ability for authors to publish our own books relatively cheaply has made an enormous difference in being able to make a living as a writer.

At least without having to rely on lodging with long-suffering family!

Health Care

I have to remind myself, that as much as I'm annoyed about the US political shenanigans with health care - as I have to self-insure - at least I *can*. I have access to antibiotics and mammograms and surgery if my body needs repair. That's a wonderful thing.

Only two more days to get AMID THE WINTER SNOW at the preorder price of $4.99. At the break of December 12, 2017, the price goes up!





Saturday, December 9, 2017

Of Brush Fires and Distractions While Writing

Depositphoto 
So my week hasn’t exactly been normal, starting on Tuesday right before lunchtime when my son-in-law had to grab the baby and the cat and literally drive out of their apartment complex parking lot as fire was burning down the hillside above. (Sometimes the mandatory evacuation orders don’t arrive until a few hours after you needed to be OUT, so stay aware if you live in a brush fire zone!).  My daughter and her family sheltered here all week in my apartment and we did our best to make it as stress-free as we could, all the while wondering what the fire was doing. 0% contained for two days…fortunately the huge winds forecast for two nights ago never did materialize in our vicinity and the wonderful firefighters got a handle on the fire. I’m always supremely grateful to the men and women of the various fire departments involved when these brush fires start up. (Well grateful to them anytime, of course but especially during the grueling fire ‘season.’) Our little drama has a happy ending – the mandatory evacuation order was lifted today, the apartment complex didn’t burn and now they are back at home.

Depositphoto
The baby was resilient, as babies are, although plainly puzzled by various things, including two ‘new kitties’ (mine) who did not wish to be petted…the lack of his crib, his toys….

I got no writing done. Too much else needed doing! I did manage to keep my commitments on blogs and other activities but my hero and heroine of the next book are stuck in limbo. (I did have a new release on Monday – details below – a new series starter!).

In general, I prefer to write in silence, at my desk, with sleeping cats strategically located nearby. I could never write in a coffee shop or other public place. I like to sink into my own zone, be in the flow and just write….I can block out distractions, but I’d rather not have them there to begin with! When I was younger I used to write to a soundtrack, nothing particular, just an endless mixtape of my favorite songs, but starting a few years ago I found that was too distracting.

The blurb for the new book, Aydarr (A Badari Warriors SciFi Romance Novel): Sectors New Allies Series Book 1:
Jill Garrison, a maintenance tech at the Sectors Amarcae 7 colony, goes to sleep one night as usual only to wake up in her nightgown stranded in the middle of a forest on an unknown world. There’s no time to think as she’s stalked by carnivorous predators and rescued by genetically engineered warriors calling themselves the Badari. Turns out they and she, along with her whole colony, are now prisoners of the Khagrish, a ruthless race of alien scientists. Working for enemies of the Sectors, the Khagrish have created the Badari to be super soldiers.

Aydarr, the Badari alpha, isn’t sure he can trust Jill but his attraction to her is undeniable. He impulsively claims her as his mate to prevent her death at the hands of the Khagrish.

Can he continue to protect her from the experiments already underway?  Will his claiming her put his pack in jeopardy from their alien masters?

As Jill searches for a way to rescue her fellow humans and get them all to safety, she finds herself falling for Aydarr, despite the secrets he’s keeping. She has a few of her own.

The situation becomes dire when Aydarr and his pack are sent offplanet on a mission, leaving Jill unprotected, prey for the senior scientist. Can she escape the experiments he has in mind for her? Will she be able to thwart the Khagrish plans and liberate humans and Badari alike? How will she and Aydarr reunite?

A quick excerpt as the novel begins:
Why am I lying face down on the wet grass in the rain?
Jill rolled over, putting a hand to her forehead in an attempt to quell a ferocious headache. Opening her eyes gingerly, she blinked at the vividly colored pink, purple and blue leaves on the tree above her, which certainly had never grown on Amarcae 7. She’d been all around her home colony on various repair jobs, and nothing there had riotous leaves in these colors, much less with spikes at the tips. As she watched, one of the leaves snapped into a tight roll to capture a slow moving insect.
“Thank the Lords of Space I’m too big a bite.” Wary, nauseous, she sat up, swaying a bit, and examined her unfamiliar surroundings. She was in the midst of an old growth forest, with other forms of vegetation besides the carnivorous trees but nothing recognizable.

A loud roar in the distance gave her the shivers, and she forced herself to stand, staggering a few feet to lean on a less colorful tree’s broad trunk to stay upright. Despite the rain, her mouth was dry, and she had a hard time swallowing. “What the seven hells?”

Her mind was curiously blank, no memory of how she’d gotten to this place, or what had happened in the last few hours. She guessed it might be late afternoon here, from the glimpse she got of the white sun above the horizon, before the clouds drifted in front of the orb again. She refused to contemplate the fact that the star providing heat and light to her colony was yellow. If the sun here was white hot, the reality of where she stood, lost in the galaxy, was terrifying.

She remembered eating dinner in her small modular house on the edge of the colony, falling asleep watching an adventure trideo she’d seen a hundred times then…nothing.

                “And now I’m here.” She took a closer look at her left arm and did a double take. A black bracelet she’d never seen before was solid against her skin just above the wrist, with no visible hinge or fastening. As she gawked at it, prying at the edges in an increasingly desperate attempt to make the band move, flickers of red and yellow pulsed inside the cool, hard surface. The bracelet and what it might mean scared her more than the loss of short term memory or even the unknown sun above her.

                The roar came again, closer, and was answered by another. Something hunting me maybe?  Distracted from the ominous mystery of the bracelet, she was briefly tempted to try climbing the tree, but the lightheadedness persisted. Also, the smooth trunk didn’t offer anything in the way of handholds. She pushed off, realizing she was barefoot, wearing her short, pink-and-black nightgown, molded to her body by the rain. Lingerie was her secret luxury after a day spent in technician’s coveralls, but certainly not suited to this experience.

                Am I dreaming? She paused, gazing at the sky and pushing her damp hair off her face. The shower had tapered off and now the sun was shining but an ominous gray storm front was advancing. A bolt of lightning arced across the sky, and Jill broke into a zigzag run, forcing her body to respond to her terror. Standing anywhere close to a giant tree in a thunder storm was a recipe for disaster.

I’m in a nightmare, not a dream, but it’s all too real.


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Friday, December 8, 2017

Here to Breathe the Vacuum

One of my girls was diagnosed with cancer on her ear and had a bit of surgery to handle it. Here's Cuillean, post surgery with her radical ear tip. Fortunately, this was a mast cell tumor and surgery is pretty much a cure in cats. Yay.

She wants you to know the other guy (the vet) looks much worse. ;)

Writing habits.
Solitary or company for writing? Yes. Usually both at the same time. Couple of ways that goes down.
  1. 5AM while everyone else is asleep. But they ARE still present. So I'm not sure what this is, really. Vacuum or company. My only interaction is with the cats who wander through for the occasional pet.
  2. Coffee shop/tea shop where no one knows me. I'm in a public, but I create private space by holing up with my drink, my earbuds, and a screen to hid behind. And I do not make eye contact. No interaction, except with a barista for my drink. Maybe that doesn't count.
  3. The bench on the screened in porch. This is my current favorite. Everyone else has gone off to day jobs. My alarm goes off and I sit down to work in silence. Except, I'm online with a partner and we're doing an hour of writing sprints. Communication is limited to "Go", "Time", and a report on how many words we each managed during the time. It's a little like having a work out routine. You may pay money to belong to a gym, but it doesn't mean you go. If you know you have a friend or a coach waiting for you, though, you'll haul your butt out of the warm bedclothes. In this case, it's a way to be accountable to someone else about hitting your word count goals for the day. This one is the true hybrid experience. I'm alone, but still interacting with other writers. And if one of us gets really, really stuck, we schedule a Skype session to talk out the stuck bits. Works really well. 
Granted, my ultimate goal is to be able to write anywhere. Haven't achieved that, yet. All I care is that the words happen and I exercise the focus muscles. Stretch them, maybe. Writer yoga. The more focus stretches, the better and longer and stronger the focus.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

The Work Space for my Head Space

I do not have the luxury of being especially twee about my writing space.  For various logistical reasons, I do not have a permanent desk or workspace.  So I've got to be a writing nomad, moving to whatever flat surface I can find.  That's what I've gotten used to, and I've managed to make it work for me, even though it can be rather frustrating at times.

So, for me to get into the creative headspace, it takes a certain degree of focus.  Distractions or interruptions tend to knock me out, and I need to start over again.  So I do my best to minimize them.  Oddly, working in public can be a good thing for me, as long as it's a public space where I'm not expected to interact much.  Coffee shops are good.

BUT, I need the focus, and that means a good set of headphones.

Nothing is more critical in terms of centering me, regardless of where I'm working.  If I can drown out the world and give myself a good dramatic score or thumping baseline, then everything comes together.

That's it.  As long as I have the comfortable place to sit and the outside world can be shut out with a good beat?  I can work miracles.  Everything else?  That's extra.

(Not that I don't want an office of my own.  I so do.  I will also happily accept any offers for writing retreats, if anyone wants to make them.  The advantage of being a Writing Nomad is I can easily go anywhere, including a remote lakeside cabin in the mountains.  If, you know, you've got one of those.)

And speaking of, new works won't write themselves.  Time to get to work.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

I'll Stay Home, Thanks

http://www.theonering.com/galleries/the-lord-of-the-rings-movies/the-fellowship-of-the-ring/no-admittance-except-on-party-business-new-line-cinema

When it comes to writing, I can be very much like an old hobbit on party day.

In fact, I would rather write in my car than in a coffee shop.

I can work better cramped in the car, in the cold, and in the dark than I can if venture inside a warm and toasty establishment of any kind. Because PEOPLE are in there.

I've tried. But there is no avoiding those people. They talk... about their lives, their daily trials, their dirty laundry - or other people's. They bring their children, who sit far enough away from mom and dad to think they have some kind of freedom, but they either sit there doing the same noisy things or they poke each other and giggle.

Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope.

Even with earbuds, the music wanes every few minutes and I cannot avoid hearing them. Or they move about drawing my notice. Or they encroach on my bubble.

Or someone among the crowd seems...off...and I suddenly don't feel safe letting my guard down enough to focus on the work. 

To that end, many hours have passed with me in the driver's seat, laptop wedged between me and the steering wheel as I await my son to come out of either his parkour class, his acting class, the dentist, the barber, or any of the other places I have to take him. But given my druthers, I'll work in my office, thanks. Where the coffee is just how I like it. The music is just as I like it. The heater or fan is on just as I like it. And the creativity is unecumbered.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Get Away From Me: Writing in the Oubliette

I laughed when this topic came up. I am definitely one of those writers who can't deal with distractions. Writing in public places is not going to yield much of a word count. I might get a whole fifteen words written. I'm too on edge, too alert to the happenings around me to sink into the brain space of creativity.

I much prefer to write in a cave, usually a dark cave where the blackout curtains are drawn, a lone lamp lends the barest hint of light, and no people are anywhere near. None. Nope. I'm a curmudgeonly vampire in that respect...okay, in many respects. Yes, the dog will force me into the light just long enough so he can pee, but then it's back to the oubliette where I am most productive.

That's right folks; when I have a hot date with my imaginary friends, it takes a lot of alone time to get them fit for public.  Don't worry, it's not you.  It's us.


Monday, December 4, 2017

The Bell Jar

The question is which do we prefer, writing in a vacuum or writing where we can have interaction.

That is painfully easy for me. I prefer to write in silence, or with the radio playing softly I need to be alone with my thoughts as much as possible if I am going to accomplish anything, In point of fact, I have started turning off the internet to avoid the distractions.  y all means, when I'm thinking about a project, chat away. Interact. be friendly. When I am actually writing, I nee the quiet.


So Tuesday sees THE LAST SACRIFICE released as a mass market trade paperback. I'm good with that. A month later FALLEN GODS comes out I'm good with that, too!

In other news, I'm editing an anthology of horror stories with Christopher Golden, It is an open market anthology. There are no spaces reserved for marquee names. The anthology will actually have completely blind submissions. We don't know who wrote it until we accept it.

We are doing a kickstarter to work up the cash flow, because, you know what? Publishers don't buy anthologies without big names. If you are interested in submitting I'll put up the proper address when the time comes. In the meantime,, if you write horror the only guideline is 3,000 words or more and make it your best. Paying professional rates. If you are interested in contributing, the address is right here: https://www.gofundme.com/the-twisted-book-of-shadows

Keep smiling,

Jim