Wednesday, August 23, 2017

If I had a Reality TV Show...

I don't watch much TV. Shows of the 'reality' variety don't have any appeal to me if they are about the relationships of people because I'm just not that voyeuristic. BUT...I do occassionally love to watch a house renovation.

Long ago I was employed as the Art Director for a realty company. Later, I was an assistant to the sales staff at a home builder, then I was in training to become their sales staff. After that, I became a Realtor. There's an appreciation for homes within that calls to me. Deciding on colors, decor, furniture, art, the whole look and feel of a room and how it blends into another room to create a cozy home...ahhh, yes...I do enjoy pondering these questions and answering them. Proof provided below...

Ugly wallpaper.
Drab woodwork.
*pardon the tools*

Pale walls to match sink.
Refinished and antiqued the wood, 
added new knobs and accents.
New mirror and switchplates to match.
And yes...I did make my own stencils so 
I could do a raised stencil. Love the effect.
*have new oil rubbed bronze faucet
but that's on the honey-do list*

The closet door refinished and new knob and accents.
That fabric became the shower curtain for a pop of bold color.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Reality TV: Just The Encouraging Ones for Me

If I were to go on reality TV...entertainment would've devolved to a newer, more frightening level. Champions of Sloth wouldn't get a lot of viewers...unless there were actual fuzzy sloths involved.

I wish I had the talent and the skill to go on Face Off, Forged in Fire, or Ellen's Design Challenge. What the contestants are able to produce? The craftsmanship? The imagination? I'm in awe.

Any show that focuses on how awful humans can be, count me out. No snarky, back-stabby crap. No Masters of Emotional Manipulation. No Smile for the Sociopath. No Lord of the Flies in Paradise. No How to Ruin Your Marriage in Thirteen Episodes. No, no. No. Nope. Nu-uh. Just say no to the Art of Being Vapid and How to Out Shrew Shakespeare too.

Skill-based series, though? I'm a fan. I'm a huge fan of the shows that let us see competitors being supportive of each other, rather than tearing each other down. The Voice and So You Think You Can Dance come to mind. I enjoy the warm fuzzies of artists encouraging each other. I respect the constructive feedback of experts who want the next gen to succeed.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have The Great British Bake Off to binge-watch.

No soggy bottoms!

Monday, August 21, 2017

If I had to be on a "reality" TV show which one and why?

Well, that's actually easier than you might think. I'd be on NAKED AND AFRAID. Mostly to see how well I would do. There are no prizes, but I could easily call the time spent on the wilds research for any book I would likely write.

Also, I write horror and the idea of me naked should terrify anyone.

I seldom watch shows like that, if I'm being honest. Though when I do I'm amused. It's a matter of time spent and experiences gained for me.

This weekend I ran off to NecronomiCon in Providence, Rhode Island. it's an interesting fusion of fan convention and scholarly study of the weird fiction traditions, both old and new. I had a blast. I would recommend it to anyone who can arrange to hit the show.

I moderated a panel on Horror and Souther Gothic Fiction with panelists Ellen Datlow, Steve Rasnic Tem, Jeffrey Shaver and Michael Wehunt and had a blast, There is nothing quite as lovely as a panel with energetic and knowledgeable panelists.
Additionally I was on a panel regarding weird westerns. It's always a little unsettling when you realize that you have more knowledge than you expected about a subject. i did some work back in the day for Werewolf Wild West, the RPG from White Wolf Games, and since I did all that research--I did a LOT of research, I guess some of it stuck. Since then I've written 3/4s of a novel called BOOMTOWN that was placed on a back burner when my wife passed away. I was quite literally writing that novel when she passed.  I haven't finished the novel, but I've written several sequels to it. "Black Train Blues," "White Blank Page Songs in the Key of White)," "The Devoted," and, with Charles R. Rutledge, "What Rough Beast."  four sequels to a novel I haven't even finished yet. I suppose I should finish that novel and have pencilled it in for the end of the year. 

That's the Biltmore, where most of the programming took place. 

Sunday, August 20, 2017

The Big Reality Show Called Life

Yesterday my car rolled over to 100,000 miles! I was happy I remembered to keep an eye on the odometer and pull over to snap the pics. She's 21 now and feeling frisky!

Our topic at the SFF Seven this week is "If you had to be on a reality TV show, which one would you pick and why?"

Those of you who know me will immediately recognize that this is NOT my topic. I don't watch many TV shows - we don't have cable, so anything I see is what we stream - and reality shows are not my thing. My main associations with reality TV shows are ancient ones from MTV days where they stuck a bunch of bratty people into a house to fight with each other. Though I do love the character of Brock Hudson in She's All That - where he's recent reality show celeb, who can't stop mugging for the expected cameras. The rest of my ideas come from more current occasional You Tube videos of various surprising competitors on singing shows and several decades worth of cultural memes.

But I'll tell you what reality show almost all of us are a part of, whether we want to be or not: social media.

I know, I know - I've said things on this topic before, but it continually amazes me how some people seem to forget how many "viewers" they have. Social media is a big TV camera - or, rather, thousands upon thousands of smaller ones - aimed at us, recording our lives. We can control what we display for those cameras, but not who sees it afterwards.

And, as with the basic premise for all reality shows, the more drama, the more viewers tune in to watch.

Recently I've seen some authors complaining in "private groups" about reviews and contest scores. Inevitably a few others chime in, with sympathy or adding their own disgruntlement to the fire, and the conversation escalates. On one of those, I notice there are over 1,100 people subscribe to that "private" group. All other authors. In another, the group is smaller, but again it's a fairly rarified selection of other authors, colleagues in the same field of business.

Not only a lot of viewers, but targeted and invested ones.

Part of this complaining verged into criticizing major review outlets - who failed to review the authors' books or reviewed them unfavorably - with aspersions cast as to which are taking bribes to review other books with higher ratings.

And all I can think of is Brock Hudson, making an ass of himself, and thinking that he's accomplishing something. All the while everyone watching is shaking their heads, rubbernecking the drama.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Reader Appreciation!

I love my readers! Being able to tell my stories and put them out there, and have people want to read them is WONDERFUL!

But I'm kind of a 'write the book, put the book out there, write the next book' person. My newsletter is a basic "there's a new book out" kind of thing. I don't do freebies or giveaways in the NL, nor do I write special short stories for the newsletter audience. Short and sweet and to the point, just the facts as they used to say on the old "Dragnet" TV show. I'm just not a very newsletter-oriented person.

I do giveaways from time to time on Facebook, not very often, or on a blog hop, if I'm participating to support a group. I've given away signed books, coffee mugs, T shirts with various logos from my series, eBooks, free audiobook download codes, humorous plastic robots and faux Egyptian jewelry. When I go to signings I make sure to have pens with my Sectors logo and bookmarks. (Plus chocolate because everything goes better with chocolate in my opinion.) I have fun with it if there's a specific occasion going on.

I DO have two free things going on right now, both in connection with Embrace the Romance: Pets in Space 2, which releases on October 10th. I wrote a rock star romance set in outer space for my entry - I've always had a craving to write a rock star romance because I personally LOVE to read them, but since everything I touch turns to scifi, I didn't think I ever would. But then I did!

So we have a free coloring book that you can download here and we have a free sampler of the first chapter of all twelve new stories available on Instafreebie here.

Here's the blurb: 
The pets are back! Embrace the Romance: Pets in Space 2, featuring twelve of today’s leading Science Fiction Romance authors, brings you a dozen original stories written just for you! Join in the fun, from the Dragon Lords of Valdier to a trip aboard Award-winning author, Veronica Scott’s Nebula Zephyr, to journeying back to Luda where Grim is King, for stories that will take you out of this world! Join New York Times, USA TODAY, and Award-winning authors S.E. Smith, M.K. Eidem, Susan Grant, Michelle Howard, Cara Bristol, Veronica Scott, Pauline Baird Jones, Laurie A. Green, Sabine Priestley, Jessica E. Subject, Carol Van Natta, and Alexis Glynn Latner as they share action-packed SFR stories and help out, a charity that supports our veterans!

Friday, August 18, 2017

Rewarding Readers

When we talk about rewards, I am never clear who is rewarding whom. Frankly, I'm usually pretty stunned to find I have a reader who isn't related to me by blood or marriage. When I do find that out, I have the disconcerting tendency to say "C'mon in!" And subject said reader to cat photos on Facebook. Is that a reward?

Anything I've ever tried to do - tee shirts, giveaways, silly toys at signings - have felt as much like a reward for me as for anyone who wanted to buy a book, get a book signed, or just come talk to me about books in general. I have too much fun handing those things out. And, of course, there's only so much of that one person (and one pocket book) can do. So then I do my darnedest to make my readers feel special - which they are - I started looking for ways to make them a part of the writing process. Several readers generously answered my plea for beta readers. My newsletter subscribers (you can subscribe here) voted on the new cover for the re-release of Enemy Within. And yes. The cover that won is the cover I'm going with. Never ask readers' opinions and then blow them off. They know what they want. Someone remind me of that if I ever forget it, will you? Sorry. Can't post the cover here - it's still being worked on and I don't yet own the image yet.

I've been fortunate enough to trade birthday and holiday cards with readers who've become my friends. If I travel through a reader's state/town/region, I do my darnedest to meet for coffee at the very least. But again. Buying a reader a cup of coffee and a pastry is reward for me! Who else gets to do that other than a writer? Actors have stalkers. Romance writers have amazing readers we can laugh and chat and geek out with.

And that means that to this point, I have yet to find a reward for my readers that isn't a reward for me, too. Ideas? I'd love to hear them!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Rewarding the People I Do It For

Odds are, if you're reading this, you're a fan of what I do.  And I appreciate that.  I deeply, deeply do.  And I always feel I can do more for you all.  I'd love to show up to more events, for example.  Right now, I've got three more slotted for the rest of the year: FenconWorld Fantasy and OryCon.  And that will probably be it.  I'm working on having more of a presence online.  I'm leaning toward videos about writing or worldbuilding, but I'm still working on how that would work.

And, of course, I want to give you all more books.  Speaking of more books, here's two possible gifts for all of you.  As I'm sure you're aware, The Imposters of Aventil is just a few weeks away.  But you could get an ARC of it NOW.  (Well, about a week, give or take shipping times.  But still: early.)


Tweet #WhoAreTheImposters with a link to the book.  (Like this one.)  I'll pick one tweet with the hashtag at random, and that person will be the winner.  (Presuming they live in the US.  Else mailing it is a bit too much of a challenge.  Apologies to the fans in San Miguel Allende.)  IT'S THAT EASY.



On a night like this, Colin Tyson didn’t care that he had been effectively exiled to Orchid Street.
Sure, he was still a captain in the Rose Street Princes, in charge of holding their territory against the Red Rabbits, but that didn’t mean a thing to him. Ain’t no one seen much of the Red Rabbits since Vee—since the Thorn—demolished the Trusted Friend, as well as the brewery where they were cooking their version of effitte. Old Man Jensett was dead—everyone presumed by the Thorn’s hand, though Colin knew better—and most of the Rabbits ended up in Quarrygate. Whoever was still left out there was staying out of sight. The Waterpath Orphans moved in on their blocks without even a scuffle, from what Colin heard.
Orchid Street—at least his block between Bush and Waterpath—had nothing worth his time. Sure, the cheese shop was nice, and The Old Canal was a decent enough place to sit with a cider and plate of sausages, but it wasn’t right. There wasn’t any business worth hustling here, nothing to draw Uni kids over to drop some coin.
The only thing this block really had that was worth taking from the Rabbits was the sew-up and his offices, but he was so damn annoying that Colin wanting to crack him across the skull. He gave them no trouble, so long as there was some bird servicing his pisswhistle, but Colin didn’t have any interest in feeding that vice. He certainly wasn’t going to turn out any of the birds in the Princes to that end.
And, of course, there was his new crew, the dullest bunch of bonecrushers he had ever met. Ment, Kiggy, Vandy, and Sella. The first three were the kind you wanted around if you had to crack some skulls, but nothing else. Not an ounce of thought or charm in the lot of them. Sella, she could scrap well enough and muster up some charm if she wanted, but most of the time she laid about the flop, dosed on the sew-up’s doph supply.
None of that mattered on a night like tonight. The streets were filled with folks from every part of Druthal, all looking to have a good time and drop plenty of coin. Every inch of wall and lamppost was plastered with paper jobs, promising food, drink, and companionship at affordable prices. The Old Canal was bustling. People stood around gawking. They were eager to experience “the real Maradaine”, whatever the blazes that meant to them.
What that meant to Colin was full pockets all around. He dropped a crate on the walkway right between the cheese shop and the sew-up and started running a five-card switch game with anyone and everyone who would dare to get close to him. He hadn’t done that in ages—wasn’t a soul living in Aventil who would fall for a five-card switch—but tonight it seemed like just the sort of classic swindle that these wander-throughs wanted.
Saints, it was like being fleeced was part of some show, and they loved it.
The two Uni girls from some southern school were eating it up.
“Come on, ladies, come on. You find the Duchess, you walk with five crowns.”
“It’s that one!” the fair-haired girl told her tall friend, pointing to the card that was torn and bent in the corner—just like the Duchess card they had seen earlier.
That one was not the Duchess.
“No, no!” the tall girl said. “You said it was that one last time and we lost!”
“I’m telling you—”
“I don’t know!”
“Ladies, tell you what,” Colin said. “I’ll take these two cards off the table.” He flipped over the two—Two Moons and The Soldier. “Now you’ve only got three cards to choose from. Surely you can find the Duchess with only three cards.”
“It’s got to be a trick,” the tall girl said.
“No trick, no trick,” Colin said. He held up his hands, flipping them back and forth. “Ain’t got nothing palmed, and nothing up my sleeves. Blazes, ladies, my sleeves are rolled up!”
They both laughed as he showed them his arms.
This was the most fun he had had in months.
“Wait,” the fair-haired girl said, her accent getting even thicker. She pointed to his tattoo. “So you’re a Rose Street Lad, right?”
“Rose Street Prince, ma’am.”
“Aren’t we on Orchid?”
“That we are. If you’re lost, though, I can see what I can do about getting you a guide through the neighborhood.”
The tall girl flipped the card with the torn corner. Man of the People.
“Not the Duchess!” Colin said. “’Fraid I keep your coin, ladies.”
The tall one was reaching into her pocket for another half-crown. She was ready for another round.
The fair-haired one grabbed her arm. “Ketara, we need to stop. Opening ceremonies are starting any moment now.”
“One more,” Ketara said. “I think I figured—saints, look at that!”
She pointed up to the top of the building behind them. The fair-haired girl gasped, and Colin glanced up—making sure to sweep up all the cards before he did. He wasn’t about to take his eyes off them, if she was trying that old shift.
“Is that the whoever we heard about?” the fair-haired girl asked. “The Thorn?”
Colin couldn’t believe it. There he was, just crouched on the roof of the sew-up’s building with a bow and a crimson cloak. Just up there, in plain view.
Colin wondered what the blazes Veranix was thinking, because it was the stupidest thing he had ever seen the boy do.
Ketara and her friend both cupped their mouths and shouted. “Woo! Thorn! Woo!”
That got his attention. He dashed out of sight. Maybe he realized how dumb it was.
“Is it true what they say about him?” Ketara asked.
“I don’t know,” Colin said. “They say a lot of crazy stuff, though.”
The girls went on for a bit, but Colin was only half listening. He was still in shock. Since the Trusted Friend, Veranix had been cautious, even prudent. The Thorn was still hitting the effitte dealers in Dentonhill, but he wasn’t making a point of being noticed. Colin had thought he had learned to lay low.
If he was getting careless again, Colin wasn’t sure what to do. He had already risked everything he had keeping his cousin safe, and now he was out here on Orchid. More than that, he was indebted in more than one way to the reverend over at Saint Julian’s.
Colin found himself saying a silent prayer that this was just a slip, and not an sign of terrible things in store for Veranix.

Forthcoming October 2017
Summer and the Grand Tournament of High Colleges have come to the University of Maradaine. If the heat and the crowds weren't enough to bring the campus and the neighborhood of Aventil to a boiling point, rumors that The Thorn is on the warpath—killing the last of the Red Rabbits—is enough to tip all of Maradaine into the fire.

Except Veranix Calbert, magic student at the University, is The Thorn, and he's not the one viciously hunting the Red Rabbits. Veranix has his hands full with his share of responsibilities for the Tournament, and as The Thorn he’s been trying to find the source of the mind-destroying effitte being sold on campus. He’s as confused as anyone about the rumors.

When The Thorn imposter publicly attacks the local Aventil constables, the Constabulary bring in their own special investigators: Inspectors Minox Welling and Satrine Rainey from the Maradaine Grand Inspectors Unit. Can Veranix find out who the imposter is and stop him before Welling and Rainey arrest him for the imposter’s crimes?

Available for Pre-order at AmazonBarnes & Noble, and more!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Value of First Readers *Guest Post by Lucy Snyder*

Hey! Look! Lucy Snyder is guest-posting for me this week. She is an amazing, award-winning (five Bram Stoker awards...FIVE!!!) author - you may know her Urban Fantasy novels (the Shotgun Sorceress series) or for Installing Linux on a Dead Badger, or maybe her collection of short stories, While the Black Stars Burn. She's a Clarion grad, a writing coach/instructor, and she's also a damn fine human being I am glad to call friend. Please give her work a look, you will not be disappointed. *More links at the bottom.* -Linda

The Value of First Readers
By Lucy A. Snyder

Very few writers are at a place in their craft and career where they can write in complete isolation, finish a story, send it off to an editor, and have that work see print. Most of us need feedback on our work before it's ready for an editor's eyes.

When you're just starting out as a writer, a good critique group is enormously helpful. But if the group is really good, your workshop partners will also be busy writing and submitting their stories ... and once you start seriously working as a writer, keeping up with everyone else's creative output can become a challenge. I've known a lot of pros who've had to drop out of productive critique groups simply due to time pressures.

Consequently, some pros who are in the middle of working on sold-on-proposal books under contracts with big publishers come to rely mainly on their editors for feedback. Which by some lights is entirely sensible: your editor is the most important person you need to please before the book or story goes to press.

But in the grand scheme, your editor may not be enough. Any good editor can give you excellent advice about fiction basics: plot tension, characterization, dialog. All hugely important. But at large houses you may find yourself assigned to an editor who may not have read widely in the particular genre you're writing in, and that otherwise excellent editor just won't realize when elements of your story veer too closely to works by other authors in the genre. That excellent editor won't be able to say "Hey, Author X did something like this in That Book I Just Read ... why don't you try this other thing instead?"

So, it's always a good idea to have other people read your works in progress. But what do you do when you're just too busy making a living as a writer to participate in a critique group?

You cultivate a group of first readers (or beta readers, if you prefer terminology borrowed from the bustling world of fan fiction).

Critique partners are always peers: fellow writers. They'll have opinions about the mechanics of your story or novel, and they may not be fans of the genre you're writing in. Critique partners are expected to be tough and honest, and they'll be coming at you from the perspective that your work ... well, it needs more work.

Your first readers, on the other hand, need not be fellow writers. They don't need to have strong opinions about the mechanics of a story or chapter -- you're a working professional writer, remember? You know how to fix this stuff on your own -- but you do need to be able to rely on them to tell you honestly when something isn't working. Their job doesn't have to be to tell you how to fix things, but you need to know that they will unfailingly draw your attention to problems. Therefore, your first readers need to be well-read in the genres you're writing in, and they need to have excellent instincts about what makes for a good story or novel.

Furthermore, they need to be fans of your work. Not in terms of thinking you're infallible as a writer, but in terms of them fundamentally getting what it is you're trying to accomplish creatively and being excited at the prospect of helping you get there. This is crucial. You're done with critique partners who can hardly hide their boredom at reading horror when they'd rather be reading literature, but with a heavy sigh they'll read your stuff because you read theirs. You have a deadline, and you need people who are enthusiastic about what you're doing, and who are willing to read your pages and give you feedback when you need it, not when the next meeting is scheduled.

Where do you find good first readers? Sometimes you'll find enthusiastic peers in the critique groups you've been involved with; it's simple courtesy to return the favor and critique their work, but typically they'll understand the whole deadline thing and they'll ask for your help when you're better able to give it. Other times, you can run into good potential first readers at conventions, or recruit well-read acquaintances.

But whatever you do, once you've recruited good first readers, treat them right. They're the best friends your fiction will have. Acknowledge them in your books, and make sure they get first dibs on your authors' copies. Gift certificates and other more substantial thank-yous don't hurt, either.

Lucy A. Snyder is the five-time Bram Stoker Award-winning author of a dozen books and 100 published short stories. Her writing has been translated into French, Russian, Italian, Czech, Spanish, and Japanese editions and has appeared in a wide range of publications. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Goddard College and is faculty in Seton Hill University’s MFA program in Writing Popular Fiction. You can learn more about her at

Twitter: @LucyASnyder