Sunday, December 31, 2017

Three Tips for Staying Grounded in a Crazy World

Happy New Year, everyone, and welcome to 2018!

I feel confident in putting this as a fait accompli, even though I'm writing this midday on 12/31/17 because I imagine most of you will be reading this in 2018, or as near to it as functionally doesn't matter. I'm also confident that 2018 will arrive, which hasn't always been the case.

It's funny looking back at the turn of the millennium and thinking the whole banking/computer change from a two-digit year to a four-digit year was the worst thing that could happen... I look forward to the day when we can look back, shake our heads at the 2016 election, and trade our "where were you when you found out Trump was actually elected?" stories.

Until then, we do what we can to resist an increasingly authoritarian regime while still keeping our sanity. Thus, my take on this week's topic: Keeping Your Sanity: 3 Things You Do To Stay Balanced/Grounded/In Control.

While resistance is critical, so is keeping our sanity. In fact, it's important to keep grounded, in balance, and at peace with ourselves, in order to resist from a foundation of strength. There's a reason sleep-deprivation is a tried-and-true brainwashing technique: because exhaustion lowers our defenses. Being healthy and at peace is key to everything else we wish to accomplish.

I've counseled more than one friend in the following. One was having nightmares about being in a nuclear war with North Korea. Another had become depressed and anxious with all the political changes and programs being cut and destroyed entirely. So, here are three ways I keep myself balanced and grounded.

Stay Away from the News

Seriously. This is the first thing I told my friends above. I truly believe part of the reason things seem so awful is the sensationalistic news media and the echo chamber of social media. I know a lot of people regard it as their responsibility to "stay informed." There are three problems here:

  1. There are major forces wanting to control what we're informed of
  2. News shows on TV are about entertainment. They skew to shocking and exciting content
  3. This has been exacerbated by click-bait headlines and the availability of news on our phones, etc. 
The news on TV and on social media is, by its very nature, sensationalized. Choose a reliable newspaper to read. If you want news from Twitter, carefully choose who you follow for it. Look for reliable sources. I also give you permission - *waves permission wand* - not to look at all. (See Make Your Life a Paradise.) At the very least, stop reading articles on your phone to kill time. That's setting yourself up for the most sensationalized, most upsetting news without deep understanding or context. Remember when we used to see waiting rooms as an opportunity to read books? See next.

Deep Read*

That's my mom in the pic above. We spent some time over Christmas just sitting in the sun and reading. She has a lovely patio for it. But now that I'm home, I'm spending time in my favorite armchair, reading by the fire. The benefits of deep reading have been well documented. (I'm using it here to mean reading a narrative, as opposed to reading Facebook posts, Tweets, etc. I really don't think reading on a paper book vs. an ereader makes a difference, so long as I'm reading without interruption.) It's more than me being an author and being a fan of reading in general. (Buy my book!) Reading is relaxing, restorative, hones the intellect, and gives us time away from all the voices. It's also a skill that's easy to lose in our current culture of So Many Things shrieking for a piece of our attention.

I've been reading Robin Hobbs' SHIP OF MAGIC, which is *long* - 880 pages in paperback, though I'm reading in digital. At first I felt impatient with the slow, elaborate pace. As I've settled in, I'm remembering how much I loved fat books in my youth. The more pages, the better, because I could enjoy them longer. I don't have data to back it up, but I'm pretty confident in saying that my reading declined immensely with my increasing involvement with social media. Time I once spent buried in a book, I began to spend scrolling Facebook and Twitter.

Recently I've made several changes. I've removed Facebook and Twitter notifications from my phone. I've taken them both off my array of tabs to display when I open my web browser.

(I realize this is a total reversal because I used to tell people who said "I always forget to check Facebook," to make it one of their home pages. Don't. Run away. Look at it if you like, because it's still the best way to keepup with some people, but choose when.)

I've also gone back to an ereader (a paperwhite, which I'm loving) that has no functions for people to message, text or otherwise interrupt me while I'm reading. I can feel the difference in myself as my attention span relaxes.

*One note on deep reading: I've noticed, and a number of other people I've talked to have noticed, that at first it's difficult to get back into deep reading. It's as if we've lost the "muscle" for it. Start back slowly and give it time. We've all found that the more we practice, the better it feels.

Make Your Life a Paradise

Alert readers might notice I left out "in control." That's because I think control is elusive and must be judiciously sought. As far as national politics are concerned, we have very little control. We can vote and campaign for our candidates. We can donate to campaigns. We can participate in our communities. Fretting about North Korea? Not really in our control.

So, this is my best advice: take action, then walk away and work on your own life.

For example, because it's become clear to me that senators elected in other states will influence my life in profound ways - like whether or not I can afford health insurance - I donated to Doug Jones' campaign in Alabama. I felt good about that action. Immediately, however, the campaign began sending me emails - every couple of hours - with hysterical doomsday headlines. They wanted me to contribute more. But I had already taken my action. And I could feel just the subject lines upsetting me. So I labeled them spam and didn't look at another email from them. I'm delighted to report that Jones won! One small step. I took my action and got the result I wanted.

The walking away and working on my own life? That's key.

I mentioned above about turning off notifications. I'm selective about who can grab my attention. Bigger than this, however, is the idea that if each of us made ourselves and our lives a paradise, then by extension, the world would be, too.

I make a lot of choices for personal happiness. To the extent I can, I focus on doing what brings joy and beauty to both my life and the world. This includes friends, family, the organizations I volunteer for, and in the books I write. I find that if I enjoy my daily life to the utmost, I worry much less about the larger world. Which I can't control anyway.

This last is the foundation of being grounded and at peace for me. It really works.

And, at the risk of being accused of having lured you here for marketing purposes... if you do want to read, Smashword’s is having a site-wide promotion!
This is only good through January 1, 2018, so I felt I should tell you now, just in case!

Friday, December 29, 2017

Star Wars Last Jedi Rant With Spoilers.

Tis the season wherein no one knows who they are, much less what day of the week it is. No one reads the blog this last week of the year. Therefore. I CAN RUN AMOK. Haha. I will bring it back around to writing/story craft, though. I promise.

If you haven't yet seen the latest Star Wars installment, The Last Jedi, TURN BACK NOW. I have seen the movie and I HAZ OPINIONS. There will be swearing. There will be spoilers. You have been warned.

Here. Have a winter sunrise to shield your tender eyes from what is to come whilst you attempt to flee this spoiler-laden rant.

All righty. Let's get straight to the geek talk. For that silent ten seconds of the most glorious and gorgeous bit of film I've seen outside of the Wonder Woman movie, I adore this film. However. I am sorry to say that the writer(s) broke faith with their story consumers. Herein lies my rant.

Can we all agree that at heart, the Star Wars franchise is Joseph Campbell's work made space opera manifest? It's a HERO'S JOURNEY. Well. When it's done correctly. And in this case, there's an entire story thread where our intrepid writers got hopelessly lost. Hopelessly. 

I'm talking about the Finn and Rose story line. I wish I could call it an arc, but that's the problem. There isn't one. An arc implies characters in need of change - they begin their story with a flaw, a flaw which prevents them from achieving a goal. You see this done very plainly with Poe, right? Leia demotes the dude because his hubris got people killed. His goal is plain, too: He wants to lead. But he can't until he learns that not every problem can be solved with a gun. What's Finn's flaw? Rose's?

Anyone? I'll wait. That's right. Neither of them HAS a flaw. How about goals? You know. Past playing fetch in order to save everyone? Nopers. Nothing there, either. No clue what either of them wants. 

So you have these two people, sent off on a wild damned goose chase that fails - not because they cannot face and conquer their failings - but because of shitty luck. Not once. Not twice. THREE TIMES they fail to do anything remotely meaningful to contribute to the theme of the story and there's no WHY to the failures.

In a hero's journey, the hero reaches for a goal and fails because internal change has not yet taken place - it's that failure that spurs change - the character must make a choice - own the flaw and mend it or don't. If they cannot mend themselves or learn their lessons, they cannot reach their goals and that character becomes the star either of a tragedy, a literary novel, or a cautionary tale. So when I talk about failures needing a why, for story to work in the Western psyche, we need that flaw/goal/antagonist cycle. These were clear for Rey and for Poe. They were totally absent for Finn and Rose. 

Note this is not the fault of the actors! This debacle rests firmly at the feet of whoever wrote that story thread. In every single case, they fail their short term goals (find the code breaker! Oh no! Arrested for parking violation! But they find a different code breaker, but they get caught because luck! So code breaker betrays everyone. Need I go on? I swear. If it weren't for bad luck, Finn and Rose would have no luck at all.)

There was no character development of these two people because neither of them changed. Neither of them were called to change. They merely went galloping off into danger because - I dunno - they'd just mainlined every last episode of the original Scooby Doo and kids cruising into danger sounded like fun? Sure, sure, we find out some backstory on Rose, but frankly, without knowing what her goal is, I have no reason to care. And those segments that followed the pair of them dragged. The scenes were hollow and wooden. They didn't resonate. Not the way scene of Poe turning away from a fight to yell at everyone to listen - and then, having learned his lesson, leading them to escape.

So anyway. I'd like to slap some sense into the Last Jedi writer(s). Years and years ago, L. Sprague de Camp and Catherine Crook de Camp put together a how to book for writing speculative fiction as they preferred to call it. They spent a chapter convincing the reader that luck and twists of cruel fate were lazy writing. If you spend pages and pages getting your character off that planet filled with man-eating iguana people, tuck the heroes safe into their get away ship only to have them hit and destroyed by an asteroid, you aren't clever. You're just a jerk. Though maybe the how to guided didn't actually use that wording. Whoever wrote the Finn and Rose story thread never read this how to guide, apparently, and subsequently robbed the characters and the viewers of the hero's journey we'd signed up for. 

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Books for a Happy 2018

So, the new year is coming, and the question is inevitably asked, "What are you looking forward to in the new year?"

And the answer for me is always: books.  But let's not talk about my books, which I certainly talk about plenty.  Instead, which books am I looking forward to reading in 2018?  Here's an incomplete list of the things on my radar, and they're all things I think you should be wanting to pick up in the coming year.  (In addition to the two I have coming out, but you've already got those wired in, yes?  Yes.)

Still So Strange by Amanda Downum
I've made no secret that Amanda is one of my favorite writers working in fantasy today, and one of my favorite people in the industry as well.  Her collection of short stories and poetry is coming out this year, and you should totally get your hands on it.

The Armored Saint by Myke Cole

Myke has been doing excellent things blending military fiction with urban, modern fantasy, and everything I've been hearing about his first dive into traditional epic fantasy has been incredible.  So I'm very excited to get my hands on this one.

Head On by John Scalzi
I've enjoyed just about everything John's written, including and especially Locked Inwhich this is the sequel to.  It's a very fascinating setting (in which a disease has rendered some people completely unable to use their bodies, but the use of robot avatars called "threeps" lets them interact with the world), and in the first book John did an excellent job of exploring the implications of the core ideas.  So I'm very intrigued to see where it goes.

Stone Mad by Elizabeth Bear
In another example of "Yes, more of that, please," I really enjoyed 2015's Karen Memoryso I'm looking forward to more western-steampunk adventures with Karen and her people.  I don't know if we'll get another steam-powered-sewing-machine-mecha fight, but a boy can dream.

From Unseen Fire by Cass Morris
This is the debut novel from the newest DAW Author, and it's been on my radar for a while now, so I'm quite excited to see it's going to come out this April.  It's set in an Ancient Rome With Magic, and everything I've seen from Cass Morris shows that she's really done the work in her research and worldbuilding, so I'm fascinated to see the results.  Plus, of course: she's DAW, so she's family.

Temper by Nicky Drayden
Nicky already has a follow-up to Prey of the Gods, but not a sequel.  Nicky is another one of my favorite-writers/favorite-people out there.  I swear, she once wrote a short story that was so funny it nearly killed me I was laughing so hard.  So, yeah, she writes so well, you could die.  This is definitely a book to get for next year.  It's a new book by Nicky Drayden, how could it not be?

The Monster Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson

The Traitor Baru Cormorant was a fascinating work of worldbuilding and structure and defying expectations, and exactly the sort of book I want to see more of.  So of course I want to read the sequel.  I need to know what happens next, as Baru is possibly one of the most fascinating characters in fantasy in recent years.  We've already seen how far she'll go to achieve her goals.  I'm very curious what more there can be to get the title "monster".

So, what's on your radar for 2018?

Wednesday, December 27, 2017


It is my sincere wish that you all had a blessed holiday in whatever fashion -- or lack there of  -- that suits you best. 

And yes, this will be my final post as a regular member of the line up.

A few days shy of seven years ago, I clicked the button to publish My Very First Blog Post as a member of this group, back when we were the Word-Whores. 

This is the post that went live on January 5, 2011:


I like to get the sheets dirty.


Sheets of paper, that is.

Everyone has something they are passionate about, something to which they willingly, eagerly, devote their time. Surfing. Sewing. Scrapbooking. Dumpster diving. Weight-lifting (which may be part of dumpster diving depending on what you find...). Jewelry making. Wood-working. Volunteering. Writing--ooo--that one's mine!

Sometimes these leisure pursuits make the leap into a life-long career. I've pursued this publishing dream since I was young, and I consider myself blessed to have my writing published. So yeah, I've exchanged my stories for money and that makes me a Word-Whore. That, and the fact that I love yielding my every spare moment to the intense pleasure I derive from writing.

Maybe it's masochistic...because being a Word-Whore sometimes means keeping your backside in the chair until your ass is flat because the muse has been drinking tequila and she's spewing ideas all over the place. It often means conceding that dinner won't make itself and that you don't really need it anyway because there's a pot of coffee you could finish. But it always means consenting to the daily challenge of being creative, engaging, entertaining, logical, and grammatically correct all at the same time--and on deadline.

It is not a goal for the faint-hearted. But then, I suggest that whoring in any form is not for those who are thin-skinned. Consider the fact that Word-Whores bravely release their product out into the wild world where our Johns, bloggers and reviewers will voraciously share their independent opinions...good, bad, and ugly...and writing with professional intentions surely could qualify as a kind of self-torture. (*note I've had really good reviews overall, but authors still experience a nail-biting period of time as a release looms where our inner voices speculate on what awful things they could say...)

Whether it's done for love or the thrill I get, I'm a happy Word-Whore and I hope I get to keep on putting out for happy readers. (Love all the pun-tential with our witty name!)

Your Hump-Day Word-Whore,


It was fun reconnecting with those long-ago sentiments...and to those words, I still hold. But I share them again with you now because, bittersweet, the time has come for me to go.

Leaving the blog will free up the time I spent (or didn’t) writing about the designated topics and the plan was for me to explore other writing options. But then, only days after I announced to my blog-matesmy intent to leave, I received notice that Ragnarok was dropping all contracts for 2018, including my contract for Immanence #2. 

I have to be honest, it hurt. A lot. And then it didn’t. A weight was removed from my shoulders and suddenly I realized that I didn’t owe anyone anything. I didn’t have a contract pending. I didn’t have a year’s commitment to weekly blog posts.

Now, my only commitments are to myself.


I’ve learned a great deal from being a part of this group-blog and I am grateful for the opportunity it has been. I’ll never forget my awesome blogmates, past and present.

Jeffe – It was my pleasure to hang out with you at the conventions we’ve both attended, just as it was my pleasure to watch your career blossom over the past six years. You’re smart and dedicated and I know you’re going up, up, up.

Jim – I was delighted when you joined our group because I already knew you and knew you were an awesome author and a good man. Since we run in many of the same convention circles, I know I’ll be seeing you again, and glad of it.

KAK- I will truly miss the pseudo-chocolate. We should absolutely send some to each other via messenger from time to time. Just because, yanno? Someday, we’ll cross paths at a convention and have some real chocolate together! Rock on!

Marshall – It was great to meet you at this past WFC, but wish we had more time to chat. I look forward to seeing you again at a con in the future and wish you the best with your Maradaine series.

Marcella and Veronica – Both of your websites cite that you started writing when you read through all the books to which you had access. That youthful determination to satisfy your story needs one way or another led to writing and that is something we all have in common. I hope we’ll eventually cross paths at a convention so we can talk about that, how our dads influenced our appreciation for sci-fi/fantasy, and where in the world this wild business is taking us.

I wish you all the very best in your writing careers. If you’re ever going to have to miss a post and need a fill-in, hit me up. If I’m able I’ll step in. (:


And to you, dear readers who follow this blog, I do not know who is filling my shoes, but I am confident that whoever the crew brings in will have much to offer.

To those of you who have visited my posts here because you’ve enjoyed the Persephone Alcmedi series or the Immanence series, thank you, thank you, thank you. If you want to keep up on what I’m doing, please subscribe to my monthly newsletter. The sign up is on the home page of my website HERE.

Thank you Word-Whores and SFF7. It’s been a wonderful seven years with you.

Thank you, readers and fans. I promise, there’s more to come.

Blessed Be.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

A Wish at the Changing of the Year:

May we live every day of 2018 with courage, compassion, and charity ever-present in our intentions and actions. 

Monday, December 25, 2017

It's Christmas!

Go spend it with your family!

See you next year!

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Happy Holidays from Jeffe

Happy Holidays from Santa Fe! May this season be restful and joyous, and may the coming year be merry and bright.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Memorable Books I read in 2017

(Sounds like a school book report assigned for the first day back from vacation, doesn't it?)

It’s always hard to pick books for end of the year lists because I read so many and I don’t keep a spreadsheet (sorry, Jeffe!) nor record them in Goodreads or anywhere else. I also reread my favorites a LOT. Shield of Winter by Nalini Singh would be a perpetual entry on any yearly list of mine!

I have to go by which books come to mind when I start thinking about the subject of a listing (and then just check to see that I read them for the first time this year!).

So my list is ‘memorable’, in no special order.

The Shift of the Tide by Jeffe Kennedy. I love her Twelve kingdoms fantasy world, I was blown away by the details of the shifter heroine’s experiences as various types of creatures, I LOVED how the hero became more and more and MORE wonderful as the book progressed and the ending was  FABULOUS. (I love her covers too...)

Quakeland by Katherine Miles. I’m quite an earthquake buff, having been a Caltech employee (on the business side of the house at JPL), living in Southern California and having had a very famous seismologist you see all the time on TV tell me at daycare one day as we were collecting our toddlers that my house sat directly ON a fault and would go up or down by at least 18’ if that fault ‘broke’. ULP! (I don’t live in that house any more, but not because of the fault LOL.) At any rate, author Miles had new information and some of her experiences in pursuit of her story were AMAZING.

Night’s Templar: A Vampire Queen Novel by Joey W. Hill. I’ve been enjoying her books for years and this one really grabbed me. I loved the relationship between the ancient Knight Templar vampire and the Fae Lord. Just all around cool and spicy hot as always with Ms. Hill’s books. And good glimpses of other favorite characters from earlier in the series.

I just discovered Tracey Cooper-Posey’s Endurance Series, about a generation ship on its way from Earth to a new colony and was fascinated by all the world building and the twists and turns of the plot. I loved jumping a few hundred years for each book and seeing what happened next to the ship and the people (and how I knew things they didn’t). Sadly she’s suspended writing these for the moment, to focus on other genres, but if she does return to the series I’ll be right there!

Found Girl by Pauline Baird Jones has a nice military flavor, with the USAFG ‘flying’ a captured alien ship as if it was an aircraft carrie, and a fascinatingly mysterious alien heroine who learned more about herself  and what she could do on practically every page. Usually any hint of an amnesia plot sends me fleeing for the exits, but this was so well done that I was utterly hooked and can’t wait for a sequel (although rest assured there was a HFN ending.)

I enjoyed the new offerings throughout the year from Anna Hackett (Galactic Gladiators and also her Hell Squad series), Cynthia Sax (Sizzling Cyborgs) and Michelle Diener (Calling the Change). I had fun with Mars Ho by Jennifer Willis, which combined reality shows with colonizing Mars in a very effective fashion…

And I’d better stop now that the memory floodgates are opening wider and wider (aided by a look at my kindle…)

I did also love my fellow authors' stories in our USA Today Best Selling Embrace the Romance: Pets In Space 2 scifi romance anthology. It's only going to be available through January and Amazon has it on sale for $.99 right now! Here's the LINK.  The book is on all major ebook retailer platforms but the sale is only on the Zon, as far as I know...

Best wishes for a Happy Merry Jolly Holiday Season and lots of time to read!

Friday, December 22, 2017

Favorite Books

Joyous Yule, northern hemisphere! Happy Litha to the southern hemisphere!

We do this every year - we write about our favorite books of the year as if there were any hope that I had read a single book that had actually come out this year. That's because the TBR pile is deep and wide. And this year, I managed to read something that was actually published this decade, so that's progress, right? A good portion of my problem is that for ten years, I had a secret TBR stash - paper books - all hidden away from the mildewing influence of saltwater and damp. 

So my two favorite books are the first two books in a trilogy by Ilona Andrews. 

The trilogy is a paranormal mystery series. Tortured, brooding, scary hero. Plucky, resourceful heroine. Add some romance, lots of sexual tension, magic, bad guys not afraid to kill millions of people, and clues that seem to lead nowhere and you have yourself a really fun time. Super enjoyable books. Love the characters. These are stories I look at when I want to take a finely crafted, well paced story. The last book in the series is also good, but it got a little bogged down in recapping the first two books and the story lost some of its edge for me. I still bought it, mind, but if I had to stack rank the series, book 2 is the best, book 1 is a damned close second and the third book is definitely third.

The other books I read this year that I would call favorites were books I read under some really terrible circumstances. They were whatever I could get my hands on that would take my mind off what was happening. They were 1980s historical romance novels with plots I couldn't possibly recount now. Nor could I tell you the titles or the authors. It wasn't that the books were stellar. It was that by picking them up to distract myself, I discovered that I'd stopped reading over the past few years because I was having trouble seeing my Kindle. Put a paper book in my hand and magic happened. I read. And I read and I read. For two weeks straight I made it through a book a day. A little making up for lost time, I think. Just for the sheer, physical pleasure of scanning a line of text for the joy of it. And have it not be some dire health assessment for someone I love. Those books were the best books because I got to remember how much I love to read and how very much I'd missed it. 

Thursday, December 21, 2017

My Favorite Novel of 2017

It's the time of year when people are writing their "best of the year" lists and such.  Unfortunately, as a reader, I tend to be a bit slow and behind the times, so I'm hardly going to be able to tell you the best books from 2017 that I read. 

BUT, I'm going to tell you about one of the new releases from this past year, a spectacular debut, and definitely the book you should be looking at to give All The Awards to, and that's The Prey of the Gods by Nicky Drayden.

Now, full disclosure, I've known Nicky for a long time, and I even read Prey in rough-draft form way back when.  And I said then what I'll say now: It is delightfully batshit, and you'll enjoy the heck out of it:
In South Africa, the future looks promising. Personal robots are making life easier for the working class. The government is harnessing renewable energy to provide infrastructure for the poor. And in the bustling coastal town of Port Elizabeth, the economy is booming thanks to the genetic engineering industry which has found a welcome home there. Yes—the days to come are looking very good for South Africans. That is, if they can survive the present challenges:

A new hallucinogenic drug sweeping the country . . .
An emerging AI uprising . . .
And an ancient demigoddess hellbent on regaining her former status by preying on the blood and sweat (but mostly blood) of every human she encounters.

It’s up to a young Zulu girl powerful enough to destroy her entire township, a queer teen plagued with the ability to control minds, a pop diva with serious daddy issues, and a politician with even more serious mommy issues to band together to ensure there’s a future left to worry about.
And, I mean, look at the praise:
*A Wall Stree Journal "Summer Reading: One expert. One book" pick for 2017!
*The RT Book Reviews "June 2017: Seal of Excellence" pick!
*A B&N Sci Fi and Fantasy Blog "Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Books of 2017 So Far" pick!
*A Book Riot Best Books of 2017 Pick!

So I'm not alone in praising it.  Go get it, go read it.  You'll be glad you did.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Cthulhu Redo of 4 Holiday Classics

We are supposed to be writing about our top 5 reads of 2017...but I'm feeling like a recap of last year's Cthulhu Redo of Holiday Classics. *Consider yourself warned.* LOL

O Holy Night

O Holy night, Cthulhu now is rising 
It is the night of The Great Old One's re-birth
Long lay the world bereft of his despising
Til he appeared and the soul felt it's dearth
The daemon-sultan Azathoth rejoices
As the world breaks and people everywhere mourn
Fall on your knees!

O hear the shoggoth voices
O night malign!
When comes the shoggoth horde!
O night malign!
O night, o night malign!

And at his sight, all sanity shall cease
Sweet dirge of death in mournful chorus raise we
Dagon! The Mother of Pus! Yog-Sothoth!
Their names forever praise we

R’lyeh, R’lyeh
O night, o night malign
R’lyeh, R’lyeh
O night, o night malign
R’lyeh, R’lyeh
O night, o night malign

Cthulhu's Plunderland 

Slay bells ring, are you listening?
In the lane, entrails are glistening
Horrifying sight, we're dying tonight
Crawling in Cthuhlu’s plunderland

Gone away is the succored
Here to stay are the interred

He sings to Dagon, as we’re quartered and drawn,
Crawling in Cthuhlu’s plunderland

In the darkness we can summon D’endrrah
Then discover she is really foul
She'll say: Are you buried? We'll say: No ma’am

But you can do the job when you're in town

Later on, when things are dire
And we roast upon the fire

He’ll burst and abrade the blisters we've made
Crawling in Cthuhlu’s plunderland

In the light we can summon Tru-nembra
and dance until we have a nervous breakdown
We'll have lots of fun with him and Yog-Sapha
until they decide it’s better to let us drown

Though the snow don't stop his killing
He prefers those who are unwilling
He'll frolic and flay

the R’leyh way
Crawling in Cthuhlu’s plunderland

Crawling in Cthuhlu’s plunderland
Crawling in Cthuhlu’s plunderland

Here Comes Cxaxukluth

Here comes Cxaxukluth, here comes Cxaxukluth,
Right down Cxaxukluth lane
Ghroth and Daoloth and all the outer gods
Plannin’ a new reign
Worlds are breaking, children quaking
All are cursed with a blight
When he’s a-stalking better say your prayers
'Cause Cxaxukluth comes tonight!

Here comes Cxaxukluth, here comes Cxaxukluth,
Right down Cxaxukluth lane
He's got a chains and complete disdain
For boys and girls again
Hear those slay bells, wrangle entangle,
Oh what an amorphous sight
Blood so red you’re better off dead
'Cause Cxaxukluth comes tonight!

Here comes Cxaxukluth, here comes Cxaxukluth,
Right down Cxaxukluth lane
He doesn't care if you're rich or poor
He wants to cause you pain
Cxaxukluth knows we're Cthulhu’s minions
That makes everything right
So fill your hearts with R’leyh cheer
'Cause Cxaxukluth comes tonight!

Here comes Cxaxukluth, here comes Cxaxukluth,
Right down Cxaxukluth lane
He'll come around when the shoggoths cry out
That it's his arcane domain
Peace on earth we’ll never know
If we just follow the alt-right
So beware beware the new regime
Cause Cxaxukluth comes tonight!

O Tentacles

O Tentacles, O Tentacles!
You move just like a serpent!
O Tentacles, O Tentacles,
You move just like a serpent!

Hanging from Cthulhu’s face,
Slither-squirming with an air of grace.
O Tentacles, O Tentacles,
You move just like a serpent!

O Tentacles, O Tentacles,
Your sucker cups are toothy!
O Tentacles, O Tentacles,
Your sucker cups are toothy!

Each arm doth hold many bites
Surprising me when you hold me tight.
O Tentacles, O Tentacles,
Your sucker cups are toothy!

O Tentacles, O Tentacles,
How tightly you do squeeze me!
O Tentacles, O Tentacles,
How tightly you do squeeze me!

For every breath I cannot breathe,
Brings to you so much joy and glee.
O Tentacles, O Tentacles,
How tightly you do squeeze me!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

KAK's Top 3 Most Memorable Books of 2017

For 2017's Most Memorable list, I'll start with a bit of brownnosing our Thursday blogger, Marshall.

I absolutely loved A Murder of Mages with "Tricky" and "Jinx." The mystery was crisp, the guilty party unexpected, and the world richly built without being intrusive. Most important was the character development of the detectives. Their introductions, the formation of their partnership, the conflicts inside the station and at home, all of it served the story well and made me care so much that I'm itching to dig into An Import of Intrigue, the second book in The Maradaine Constabulary prong of the larger Maradaine world. It wasn't too dark, bleak, or depressing as some of the fantasy mysteries I've recently read. It was more in the vein of Guy Ritchie's spin on Sherlock Holmes...with less snark.

American Gods by Neil Gaiman makes the list because of Shadow Moon, the protagonist. With all the hype of the show, I figured I'd read the book first (I'm weird like that). 85% of the book is told from Shadow's POV. What stuck with me after I'd finished was how Gaiman crafted Shadow to be the moral gauge while being an unmoored lackey in a divine mob war. Shadow wasn't the king of emoting. In fact, he was a bit of a wooden plank. He had a personal code from which he did not veer, and that was his sole redeemable value. It's easy to classify Shadow as a beta male, a hair's breadth from being dopey...and yet something I haven't quite identified kept him in the "stoic hero" role. Pegging how an author made a character "work" is one of the things I like to do to help me better my craft. In this story, I haven't been able to crack it; perhaps that's why American Gods remains memorable to me.

Call of the Wilde by Jenn Stark, Book 8 in her Immortal Vegas series shows the street-smart artifact hunter who inherited a crime syndicate finally taking the reins and rising to the challenge of her new position. Instead of tiptoeing along the line separating magic from magical realism, Sara Wilde becomes a bridge between the two worlds forcing parties to work together who historically tried to kill each other. It's a fun romp that shows the stakes being raised in the great War on Magic.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Jim's Five most Memorable reads of 2017

My collection or reads is always eclectic. Comics, books, anthologies, etc. So I'll try to be succinct.

I should clarify that though thee are numbered, I'm not really ranking any of them higher than the others. these are the beasts that stick out for me this year. These are the ones that caught my attention and kept me thinking long after I was done with the actual reading.

At number 5, we have DOGS OF WAR by Jonathan Maberry, the latest in the Joe Ledger series of books. I love the action and I can never get enough to the humor and suspense combination that Maberry uses. It's clear the author is having a last writing these things and that in turn makes me have a  last.

Number 4, Bracken McLeod's STRANDED is an absolute blast. I love a good twist or turn in a story and there are plenty of them in the novel. It's a rollercoaster ride, and it's fun. As an added bonus, he managed to surprise me a couple of times and that is a rarity.

Number 3, Victor LaValle's THE BALLAD OF BLACK TOM is a spectacular surprise. I'd heard LaValle was good, but he's better than that. I was absolutely dazzled by his work on this novella, which is an alternate take on H.P. Lovecraft's "The Horror At Red Hook," which, frankly, was always one of Lovecraft's weakest for me.

Number 2, After waiting FAAAAR too long for it, Dan Brereton finally came out with another book in his NOCTURNALS series, NOCTURNA
LS: THE SINISTER PATH. The story is a cool mystery and there's great characters and great storytelling as always but as an added bonus, I really think, as hard as it is for me to believe, that Brereton's actually gotten better with his artwork. Believe me, that's saying something. He has always been a favorite of mine. his comic book pages are lavish, sumptuous paintings, that happen to tell a great story in the process of being beautiful. I would gladly recommend all of Brereton's work, but he has simply improved in leaps and bounds with THE SINISTER PATH.

Number 1, ARARAT By Christopher Golden. I've noticed a trend as I've been typing this. Thus year I'm favoring the  genre blenders. A little of this, a little of that and swirl the contents together until you have something bigger and better. ARARAT is no exception. It's an adventure, it's a suspense and it's got some horror, too.  What happens when a group of explorers finds what might be Noah's Arc on Mount Ararat? Nothing gentle is what. Loved it!

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Jeffe's Five Most Memorable Reads of 2017

Our topic this week at the SFF Seven is our most memorable reads of 2017.

I've read 104 books in 2017 - a bit shy of my goal of 150. I'd say I've still got two weeks left, but I also have a book due on January 2, so who are we kidding? I might slip in a couple more, but...

I only put my favorite reads into Goodreads, and then I perused the ones I gave five stars. Of those, five stood out in my memory, so I picked those as memorable.

Ah logic.

I realize this system favors recent reads, but - hey - I never claimed this process was objective.

For the headliner, I'm picking DANGEROUS, the debut novel by Minerva Spencer. This doesn't come out until 2018, but I read an ARC because Minerva lives in Taos and has become a friend. I would say it's terribly biased for me to lead with her book, but it was *such a relief* to LOVE this book. And love it I did! It's so wonderful to read a book by someone you like, as also like what they write. Especially when it's a genre (Regency Historical Romance) that you've fallen off reading. This book has a mature heroine, a cool and supercilious hero - and reminded me of everything I love about regency romance.

I read OFF THE CLOCK because it won the RITA Award for Erotic Romance, and because I'd been meaning to read Roni Loren for a long time. Loved this so much more than I expected to! Erotic, yes, but also rich, emotional, and tender.

BY THE IOWA SEA is a memoir by Joe Blair that came out in 2012. I read it with a friend who's writing a memoir and studying the craft of it. This book blew us both away. Unapologetic and unflinching in its look at the minor tragedies of a normal, middle-class, Midwestern life, this book still has me thinking.
This year I was privileged to meet Jane Yolen when she was named SFWAs Grandmaster at the Nebula Conference. She's a gracious, witty, and generous woman and I was chagrined I'd never read her. So I bought her BRIAR ROSE and had her sign it. It's an incredible, haunting story - part fairy tale, part mystery, part history. Amazing book.

I'm a huge fan of Jacqueline Carey, and of The Tempest, so I snapped up MIRANDA AND CALIBAN as soon as it released. It's magical, lovely, and heartbreaking. This is another one I'm still thinking about.

What about you all - what were your memorable reads? What did I miss??

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Picking an Era of the Past to Write In

I imagine I would have been a story teller in any era, but there probably would have been a lot of barriers to success.  In ancient Egypt for example, I could have made up great stories about the gods – just look at my series of paranormal romances set in that time frame! – but unless I’d also been trained as a scribe (unlikely) or a scribe really loved my work and wrote it down for me in flowing hieroglyphics, the stories would have been lost. Even if my mythical handsome and smitten scribe did write it down, what are the odds anyone would find an entire Sheshemetka tale intact all these centuries later? (Do you like my flowing pen name of 4000 years ago?)

Jane Austen’s time is appealing in some ways, but since the real Regency wasn’t much like the romance-y Regency with waltzing Dukes, I’m not sure how I’d have prospered there. Unless I was born into a good family situation to start with, I’d probably have been too busy trying to survive as a governess or housekeeper, or other occupation, to write. (But there would have been a Duke, we would have waltzed….uh oh, I’m digressing again…)

Actually, I can envision myself quite successfully writing ‘pulps’ at the turn of the century, maybe even on into the 1950’s. I can tell adventure stories like Tarzan and John Carter of Mars, Flash Gordon and the like just great. Not too science-y, got a romance sort of and constant action. I write fast so I could have churned those babies out. Maybe Johnny Weissmuller or Buster Crabbe could have played one of my hunky heroes in an endless cliffhanger movie serial! (Author gazes off into space, goes off into space-time wormhole, develops entire plot about fast-talking, hard-drinking, glamorous pulp author self, bleached blonde, holding her own in Hollywood and….) Oh, where was I? Errol Flynn in his prime was going to play my hero on the big screen???


I’d have had to take a male pen name of course, or one that was suitably neutral, like Andre Norton. Not that she wrote pulps – I love her books – but I would have loved to have written science fiction at a desk close to hers and compared notes a lot.

At any rate, I’m glad I write now, where the only gate keepers are the readers, and I have all the tools at hand to create my stories and transcribe them and publish them. And if I want to try my hand at something new, or cross-genre, I’m perfectly free to do so. No disapproving Egyptian priests, hoity-toity Patronesses of Almacks or anyone else to stop me. Their modern day equivalents can leave reviews of course!

Just a reminder of my new release (speaking of action, adventure, romance and scifi):

Amazon      B&N  Google   Kobo     iBooks

Friday, December 15, 2017

Richness of Time

Until today when a bunch of gits decided that the internet should rake in even more cash than already it does, this was a great time to be a writer. It still is, mostly. With a few bumps in the road, certainly. I mean, there are videos of baby otters chasing fish. There's Fiona the hippo at the Cincinnati zoo. You know. All of those underdog stories we love so well. Because hey, if a tiny, premature hippo can survive and thrive, surely I can finish one stinking manuscript, right?

It's a great time for me personally to have discovered that being warm and having sunshine makes me a pleasanter person. Being a pleasant-ish person makes writing easier. Strange but true. The video is the backyard on a sunny, windy day. Assuming the video actually works.

Do I pine for 'simpler times' or some golden age when everyone had it easier(TM)? Nah. Cause that's hindsight talking - all we see in hindsight are the successes - the results of all the angst and trials and failures. No matter what time you live in, you're experimenting - always trying things - always evaluating what you're doing and making minute course adjustments trying to get where you want to go - whether you're on a road trip or writing a novel. The grand thing about writing now is that I can look up anything online. I can connect with other writers the world over. I can reach out to other authors and I can learn whatever I do not know about the process, the business, the marketing, what ever. And ultimately, because of the technology available to me, I can bypass anyone and everyone who wants to tell me my stuff isn't good enough. It may be true - but I can choose to publish anyway and let the market place tell me I suck. Or that I don't.

Writers have a lot of freedom right now. It is both blessing and curse. It's human nature to want to know you're on 'the right path.' But with so many options available to us for publishing, there IS no right path. There are only choices.

But you know, the single greatest thing about being alive right now? I get to call a whole slew of people I've never actually met in person my friends because we're all connected and laughing and commiserating over this thing we love to do. It happens via email, social media, and on rare occasions in person. Sure, salons happened in earlier times. Maybe I'd have been just as happy in a Parisian coffeehouse or maybe I'd have had my throat slit in some dark alley after I'd downed one too many glasses of absinthe, but I wouldn't have had access to so many people from so many nations with so many different perspectives. From that standpoint, this, for me is the richest time in history to be a writer.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Writing in the Here and Now

Every once in a while the idea crosses my mind-- what might it have been like to have been a writer in a different time and place?  Writing plays in Elizabethan England, for example?  But most of the time, I'm fairly anchored to the here and now, which is possibly the best time ever to be an SFF writer.

I'm the right age to remember how dire the SFF options were when I was young.  For me, Sci-fi and Fantasy was a single rack of shelves in the back corner of the Waldenbooks. 

Not too long ago, there was a twitter thread , talking about the fantasy genre and the tropes within it. But the whole thing addresses "fantasy novels" in the most painfully generic way. It's not about actual fantasy novels. It's more about the idea of how fantasy novels are, from people who know little more than the cliches, and outdated ones at that.

Thankfully, nowadays, so much of what that thread accused Fantasy Novels of aren't true anymore. Today, just in "mainstream", traditionally published stuff, we've got a ridiculous wealth of new Sci-fi and Fantasy, and there's so much creativity and vibrancy and variation in the genre, it's astounding.  I'm thrilled to be writing in this genre right now. 

And right now, exciting things are happening.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

What's Next? Seph or Jovienne?

Note: This post is off-topic this week. 

In many ways, 2017 has not been my best year.
Ragnarok Publications, who released my novel Jovienne (Immanence #1) this past May, has had some ups and downs. As a result, they canceled all contracts for novels for 2018. That means the second book of the Immanence series which I had started working on… now has no home.

This is a reality many other authors have faced, and not just those of us who’d been working with Ragnarok. Many small presses fell this past year. This is, sadly, for me, familiar territory. Simon & Schuster’s imprint Pocket Books decided years back that they wanted no more Persephone Alcmedi series books from me. Despite that, fans still consistently contact me. They say they just found the series and want more, or they say they loved the books when they were first released and wonder if there will be more.

I’ve started and stopped working on #7 more times than I can remember. I’ve pitched it to small presses and always garnered interest, yet, for a variety of reasons, they all fell apart before they could start. At one point recently, it was on the table with a small press and I thought a contract would finally culminate…but it just didn’t feel right. That time, I backed out.

Again, 2017 has not been my best year.

I think it’s healthy to acknowledge feelings, good and bad, but not to let them rule. So, to that end, I allowed myself wallow in the dejection of that canceled contract for a few days. And then I turned to music.

Musically speaking, 2017 was a good year. 

I composed, created, produced, mixed and mastered and released my first CD. It’s even available on Spotify and other music streaming channels. That’s a remarkable dream come true. (Spotify link HERE. If you dig any of the songs, give 'em a thumbs up please!) 

Music will bring me out of whatever slump my head thinks I’m in. I’ve been composing for another novel, an epic fantasy that is currently with an editor. It is my intention to self-publish it in 2018, so this is a good time to work on it and the themes are a lot of fun to play with. I’m enjoying this step away from writing words very much.

This, however, is not permanent. I want to finish the Persephone Alcmedi series. I want to finish the Immanence series. Both are sitting at a bit under 20k words. Realistically, I could turn to either one with equal zeal and find completion in the same amount of time.

But which one?

This is where you come in. 

Which would you be more interested in reading:

Persephone Alcmedi #7 or Immanence #2.

Please, if you have a preference at all, head over to my website HERE and use the contact form to email me your vote. The one with the higher demand will get my time and attention in 2018. And with any luck, I’ll be self-publishing two books next year.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Release Day: Amid the Winter Snow & Aydarr: A Badari Warrior

In the throes of holiday shopping?  Perhaps you're done...or maybe you're procrastinating. Treat yourself and a friend to an anthology of fantasy romances with Amid the Winter Snow or to a steamy SciFi romance with Aydarr. Why not buy both? The anthology features a story by our own Rita® Award winner Jeffe Kennedy, set in her much-beloved world of the Twelve Kingdoms. Aydarr kicks off a new series for Veronica Scott.


As the snows fall and hearths burn, four stories of Midwinter beginnings prove that love can fight its way through the chillest night…

The mark Jahna Ulfrida was born with has made her a target of the cruel and idle all her life. During the long, crowded festivities of Deyalda, there’s nowhere to escape. Until a handsome stranger promises to teach her to save herself…

THE CHOSEN, by Thea Harrison
In her visions, Lily sees two men fighting for her tiny country’s allegiance: the wolf and the tiger, each deadly, each cunning. One will bring Ys chaos and death, one a gentler path—but she’s destined to love whichever she chooses. The midwinter Masque is upon them, and the wolf is at her door…

THE STORM, by Elizabeth Hunter
When her soul mate died in a massacre of the half-angelic Irin people, Renata thought she’d never feel happiness again. She’s retreated to the snowy Dolomites to remember her hurts—until determined, irrepressible Maxim arrives to insist on joy, too. And before she can throw him out, they discover a secret the Irin have to know…

As a blizzard threatens their mountain keep, the new Queen Amelia of the Twelve Kingdoms and her unofficial consort Ash face their own storm. Ash knows a scarred, jumpy ex-convict isn’t the companion his queen needs. But when a surprise attack confines them together in their isolated sanctuary, the feast of midwinter might tempt even Ash into childlike hope…

Buy It Now:  Amazon   |   B&N   |   Kobo


If you like your romances to be out of this world, then check out our Saturday blogger, Veronica Scott's, latest SciFi romance, AYDARR.

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?

Buy It Now:   Amazon   |   B&N   |   Kobo

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?


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.


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.


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!