Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Y U No Poo? Elements Left Out of Worldbuilding

Hygiene and basic bodily functions tend be glossed over in World Building...unless killing someone on the john is a plot point (hiya, GRRM). Rarely does our protagonist take time away from the action to brush their teeth, wash their hands, or pee. They only head to the loo when the setting of the bathroom is important (fist-fight, clandestine meeting, assassination, hiding from an assassination, etc.). Even then, it's only one potty visit for the whole novel. There are endless memes for 24: When Does Jack Bauer Pee (pretty sure Eric Carter's going to have the same problem, fwiw).

Anyone who has kids, a vindictive bladder, or a digestive system that functions like clockwork knows where the restrooms are and visits before jumping into the next adventure. Office, gas stations, Target, rest stops, port-a-pots at the farmer's market...real world logistics are planned around potties. In SFF worldbuilding? We'll send our fearless posse into the glacial canyon, covered in eighteen pelts of wild beasts they slaughtered and skinned with their own hands...and no one is concerned about copping a squat in sub-zero temperatures.

Or toilet paper. 
How many of our fearless heroes are running the gantlet with grungy butt?

We skip that shit (literally) because readers don't want to know, unless, again, it serves a plot point.

Now, showers, on the other hand, they are the literary stars of the bathroom. Giggity-giggity.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Mind the Gap

Once again, the challenge of writing AFTER Jeffe is the same. She's very good at covering topics.

That said, I'll expound a little here.

World building is a BEAR. I mean that. It's a bear that refuses to be tamed and now and then it takes a bite to make sure you know who's in charge.

here's WHY it's a bear. Far too often I've seen writers throw their story aside for several thousand words at a time to drop roughly for trucks' worth of information at one time. Here's the shape of the closest city. These are the types of buildings. Here's the history of the Council of Wizards, complete with the painstaking methods they used to raise their tower above the city, one stone at a time. Each stone is a moment in time frozen in place, a historical note. Naturally, it's best to reflect on at least a hundred of those before we move on in the story.

Then, just for kicks, if we could describe the types of trees that are running near the river that runs to the west of the city versus the sort that are on the side of the lake to the north.

Now, of course, fashions. What are the paupers wearing? the assassins guild? The elves? The ogres from the bog down the way and how often to the ogres attack?

And then, the writer remembers that there's a guy on a horse (our main character) who has to go forward into the town and have an adventure.


That's the best way in the world to tick me off as a reader. The information is like peanut butter: better if you spread it around in a nice thin layer, rather than leaving one massive clump in the center of the bread.

How much detail to use?I'm with Jeffe. I like a lot of open spaces for interpretation. I never want to know exactly how many freckles there are on a character's shoulders and face. I don't need that much info.

Speaking of info: THIS is now available fro pre-order. BLOODSTAINED WONDERLAND is the sequel to BLOODSTAINED OZ. Order nbow if you are remotely interested as there are only 500 copies.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

What Got Left Out? Classic Misses in SFF Worldbuilding

Jeffe on the Iron Throne
I love this photo of me on the Iron Throne, the much-sought seat in George R.R. Martin's A Game of Thrones and the ensuing books in the A Song of Ice and Fire series. It's a testament to GRRM's meticulous worldbuilding (yes, I'm making it one word in this post because it should be) that people have gone to such lengths to reconstruct pieces of his imaginary world.

That's our topic this week - Children and the Elderly: what elements tend to get left out of worldbuilding?

Worldbuilding is something we talk about a lot in science fiction and fantasy (SFF - like the SFF Seven!). Arguably all fiction engages in world-building to some extent - the author must establish a reality in which the story occurs. Even a contemporary story takes place in a world of the author's construction, because salient details are included and other, hopefully unimportant ones, are discarded. This fictional world is often intended to replicate a real one, but often keen readers familiar with the reality will pick out errors and misses.

With an entirely fictional world, the author "builds" it from the ground up. Or from the core of the planet up. Or the center of the galaxy and up. You get my meaning. Even with that, details have to get glossed over. With my Sorcerous Moons series, for example, I wanted it to be an entirely alternate world. So much so that it has two moons - and I did substantial research on how two moons would look, their effect on the tides, and so forth. What I did NOT do is create an entirely new ecology. The flora and fauna are decidedly Earthlike, including the humanoid life forms.

That's not only unlikely. It's pretty much impossible. And I don't justify it. (So far no one has asked me to.) I engaged in what we fondly call "hand-waving." Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. Sometimes hand-waving is lazy writing. But often it's necessary because setting a story in an alien world where the flora and fauna - including the hero and heroine - come from an entirely different evolutionary chain would overpower it. It might be fun to do, but it wouldn't be the same story.

Any time I see a movie or read a book where the characters end up IN some author's fictional world, I want there to be huge gaps. Like no sewer system beneath the city streets. Or no day care for the infants of the tribe of male and female warriors who've all apparently gone to war. No fictional world is so complete and seamless that absolutely every detail is covered. Even GRRM, a master of the craft, has never explained the seasonality of the world in A Song of Ice and Fire. Winters and summers that last for years, okay, but what's the climate mechanism there?

GRRM pulls that off because that mechanism isn't key to understanding the thrust of the story. And, really, a great deal must be left out in creating fictional worlds and societies or it would be unreadable.

Still, it can be instructive to look at what does get left out. SFF worlds can be conspicuous in lacking people who are chronically ill or disabled. There's some classic hand-waving - they have advanced medicine so everyone is perfectly healthy! There might be purple aliens, but no variations in skin tone of the homogenously white people from Earth. Entire races seem to exist with no children - or none between infancy (the vulnerable babe-in-arms) and late teens. Even the Star Trek attempts to show children on the starships never had obnoxious toddlers throwing temper tantrums and getting into everything they shouldn't.

It's a fun game to play, for both writers and readers: What Got Left Out? Sometimes it's deliberate. Sometimes it shows an author's blind spot.

Anyone want to play?

Friday, February 24, 2017

A Place for Politics

Remember group projects in high school? Or maybe it was in a college class. Or around the meeting table at your first job. You had an idea. A good one. You started talking. Everyone was looking at you. And then one of the other people started talking. As if you weren't speaking. All those people who you thought had been paying attention blink and turn away.

No one ever asked you to finish your thought. No one ever asked to hear your idea. It's as if you didn't even exist.

If you're  better human being than I am, you don't stand up and scream, "Oh my GOD WILL YOU LET ME FINISH?"  (FYI - this rarely actually gets your ideas listened to. It may get security called. Only once did a manager laugh and tell the developer trying to talk over me that he'd earned getting yelled at.)

If you've ever said "I wish *insert famous person name here* would stop talking politics and go back to . . . " you're guilty of doing to them what was to you. (Guys, help me out here - I have someone suggesting this being talked over thing only happens to women and minorities. Rebuttals??)

This is the long way of saying that my beliefs and I are a package deal. That's why if you read my books - especially my sci fi, you know my politics and most of my belief systems. If you're on my personal Facebook page, you know my politics. I won't hide because life is too short to live on mute. I mean to live my life out loud. Too much time and energy has gone to making sure other people were comfortable, whether I was or not. Maybe I'm just all out of fucks to give because my loyalty isn't to anyone party or person. It's to ideals. Rights. Equal protection for all people under the law. Very strict separation of church and state.

I think that one of the great things about living in the United States is that you are called by your civil duty to participate in the democratic process. Plenty of people abdicate that responsibility. Fine. That, too, is a right. But frankly, anyone with a pulse has the right to an opinion and the right to voice it. I suspect that when well-known people take heat for expressing their opinions, it's because someone envies the platform and reach (not to mention it's only when the opinion disagrees with someone's preconceived notions.) No one says, 'I wish famous person x would shut up.' when the opinions agree. Which is code for, 'I'm uncomfortable and I don't want to be forced to examine my thoughts and beliefs!' I get it. It's not easy. But the last time it was legit for any of us to express that kind of discomfort it was because we were doing unspeakable things to our diapers.

So you'll likely also see on my Facebook page that I don't shut down political opinions that differ from my own. Because I want my thinking challenged. Not that I'm above participating in the world wide call upon witches to spell cast Saturday. The stated goal is to bind the current US administration from doing any further harm. I prefer something more colorful, I think. Maybe a spell inspired by a new Chuck Tingle title. I'll leave the content of the spell to your imagination.

Any spell suggestions? Or requests? (Remember the genie in Aladdin - I won't kill anyone and I won't bring anyone back from the dead . . .)

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Writing About Politics

So the question on the table this week at SFFSeven is, should writers be talking about politics?
And that seems obvious to me: yes, if that's what they want to do.  I don't care what your politics are, if you want to share them, then do so.
Now, I typically don't.  That's my choice.  As I've said before, I tend not to talk about politics for the same reason that an alcoholic doesn't have just one drink.  I get caught up in reading articles and getting riled up and then I don't actually get the things I need to do done.
And other people have talking about politics well covered, often saying the things that I'm thinking better than I would say it.  So it's best that I don't.
But that's me, that's my choice.  No one should tell me not to make that choice.  And certainly, any writer, whatever their political stripe, should feel free to do the same.  And, like I said, it's not that I don't have opinions (because, oh lord, do I), but going on about them isn't my priority.
Right now my priorities are the release of The Holver Alley Crew, copy edits of Imposters of Aventil, and further work on the projects down the road.  So that's what I'm going to get on.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017


In case you've missed it...

Here is the cover reveal for Jovienne, 
which will be available May 9, 2017 
from Ragnarok Publications. LINK

Hot Topics

Recently, my ears had the displeasure of hearing some folks actually say out loud that they "wish the actors would just shut their mouths and get back to their job entertaining the rest of us." 

-insert "What you talkin' 'bout, Willis?" meme here-

Why should any citizen’s opinion be worth more or less than any other, especially when you can trade the job title ‘actor’ for any other occupation?

How can anyone be okay with silencing the political views of one group based on their job?

I mean, it’s just a step away from that to say ‘authors’ should shut up and just entertain us. Authors are people who are trained to plot ahead, to logic out the possible next steps and follow that rabbit trail to its best and worst conclusions. And, to me, only bullies and tyrants want to shut people up. Diplomats welcome the conversation because they accept the way is and will always be flawed, but are eager to make it as good as possible.

FWIW, My facebook page is mine. I put on it what I want. My facebook fan page however is strictly business, no personal stuff.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Soapboxes & Social Media: How Sturdy Is Your Platform?

Whether you're taking a public stand via social media on women's rights or Oreo-flavored Oreos, please, please, PLEASE verify your sources. Disinformation is a real thing that's been happening since the advent of news. Text wrapped around an image or video does not make whatever that text is asserting true. Statements are often taken out of context and spun to suit a narrative. A talking head behind a desk is not beholden to any vow of truth or objectivity.

The internet makes it really easy to spread good things and bad things, facts and lies. Don't assume that a post on a friend's wall comes from a reliable source. Don't assume that because it looks like a legit news site, that it isn't embedded marketing, native advertising, or straight-up cult recruitment.

If you've got a soap box, by all means, use it. Be smart, make sure it's sturdy. Don't lose your credibility in a rush to indignation or to catch a bandwagon.

As the saying goes, "Trust but Verify."

Not sure how to double-check your sources?  FactCheck.org & NPR both offer refreshers in "Is That True?"

I'm a big fan of Snopes.com and PolitiFact, plus using the Three Source and For/Against rules we learned back in grade school.

Critical thinking, folks. It's important to your sanity and your social media presence.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Should Authors Comment on Politics?

Well, I do. 

Within reason, of course. I've done it here, I've posted links here. I'll likely continue to as long as there are situations that I think need fixing.

Listen, celebrities do it all the time. You know who else does it? Politicians. And they're some of the least qualified rectal orifices I can thing of, with a few exceptions. 

I live in the US of A. United States of America. This is supposed to be the land of the free and the home of the brave, according to at least one song I can think of. And the very first right they decided needed protecting in this country is the First Amendment,  Free Speech. Pretty much in front of everything else. Now, a few people will turn around and say that it's freedom of the press not the average. I'll counter with it's the right to bear arms in order to form a militia, not to have a thousand rounds a minute and armor piercing bullets. So to those naysayers I'll just point to the Second Amendment, nod and smile. There may or may not be a finger involved. I would also point out that as it is a government by the people and for the people, we have every right to offer an opinion on how it is run. This government is SUPPOSED to run FOR us, not OVER us. 

When we do not speak up, we are not heard. When we are not heard, we are silenced. Not just with our voices, but with our words. How can we. as writers, remain silenced? 

The whole of he letter is below, but allow me to quote a man who was once insulted by copies of his books being burned, "If you are an American, you must allow all ideas to circulate freely in your community, not merely your own."--Kurt Vonnegut

Here's a reminder from one of the most powerful and significant speculative fiction writers of the last 100 years. He says his words so much better than I can on the subject that is near and dear to my heart and sums up every possible reason why the answer to our question today is "YES! A  THOUSAND TIME. YESSSS!"

"November 16, 1973
Dear Mr. McCarthy:
I am writing to you in your capacity as chairman of the Drake School Board. I am among those American writers whose books have been destroyed in the now famous furnace of your school.
Certain members of your community have suggested that my work is evil. This is extraordinarily insulting to me. The news from Drake indicates to me that books and writers are very unreal to you people. I am writing this letter to let you know how real I am.
I want you to know, too, that my publisher and I have done absolutely nothing to exploit the disgusting news from Drake. We are not clapping each other on the back, crowing about all the books we will sell because of the news. We have declined to go on television, have written no fiery letters to editorial pages, have granted no lengthy interviews. We are angered and sickened and saddened. And no copies of this letter have been sent to anybody else. You now hold the only copy in your hands. It is a strictly private letter from me to the people of Drake, who have done so much to damage my reputation in the eyes of their children and then in the eyes of the world. Do you have the courage and ordinary decency to show this letter to the people, or will it, too, be consigned to the fires of your furnace?
I gather from what I read in the papers and hear on television that you imagine me, and some other writers, too, as being sort of ratlike people who enjoy making money from poisoning the minds of young people. I am in fact a large, strong person, fifty-one years old, who did a lot of farm work as a boy, who is good with tools. I have raised six children, three my own and three adopted. They have all turned out well. Two of them are farmers. I am a combat infantry veteran from World War II, and hold a Purple Heart. I have earned whatever I own by hard work. I have never been arrested or sued for anything. I am so much trusted with young people and by young people that I have served on the faculties of the University of Iowa, Harvard, and the City College of New York. Every year I receive at least a dozen invitations to be commencement speaker at colleges and high schools. My books are probably more widely used in schools than those of any other living American fiction writer.
If you were to bother to read my books, to behave as educated persons would, you would learn that they are not sexy, and do not argue in favor of wildness of any kind. They beg that people be kinder and more responsible than they often are. It is true that some of the characters speak coarsely. That is because people speak coarsely in real life. Especially soldiers and hardworking men speak coarsely, and even our most sheltered children know that. And we all know, too, that those words really don’t damage children much. They didn’t damage us when we were young. It was evil deeds and lying that hurt us.
After I have said all this, I am sure you are still ready to respond, in effect, “Yes, yes–but it still remains our right and our responsibility to decide what books our children are going to be made to read in our community.” This is surely so. But it is also true that if you exercise that right and fulfill that responsibility in an ignorant, harsh, un-American manner, then people are entitled to call you bad citizens and fools. Even your own children are entitled to call you that.
I read in the newspaper that your community is mystified by the outcry from all over the country about what you have done. Well, you have discovered that Drake is a part of American civilization, and your fellow Americans can’t stand it that you have behaved in such an uncivilized way. Perhaps you will learn from this that books are sacred to free men for very good reasons, and that wars have been fought against nations which hate books and burn them. If you are an American, you must allow all ideas to circulate freely in your community, not merely your own.
If you and your board are now determined to show that you in fact have wisdom and maturity when you exercise your powers over the eduction of your young, then you should acknowledge that it was a rotten lesson you taught young people in a free society when you denounced and then burned books–books you hadn’t even read. You should also resolve to expose your children to all sorts of opinions and information, in order that they will be better equipped to make decisions and to survive.
Again: you have insulted me, and I am a good citizen, and I am very real.
Kurt Vonnegut"

I couldn't have said it better in a million years.

James A. Moore

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Should Authors Comment on Politics?

This photo didn't come out in focus - too dark - but I'm sharing it anyway because the moment of this full supermoon rising through clouds in Santa Fe during a penumbral eclipse was absolutely incredible to see. My wonderful friend, Anne Calhoun, was visiting. We climbed up onto the roof and watched the sun set and the moon rise. Neither of us got great photographs.

Too much magic, maybe,

But you're not here to listen to me talk about friendship, moonrises and magic. Or maybe you are. If you know me or follow me on social media, you'll expect this sort of thing. If you clicked on a link because you found the topic interesting, you're maybe wondering when I'll get to the point.

Eventually, my new visitor!

Because this week's subject is Hot Topics & the Author's Social Media Voice, it seems the perfect time to point out that the these three things - voice, social media, and an author's response to hot topics - are inextricable. Let me unpack that a bit.


The best explanation of "voice" that I've ever heard - that is, the one that made me understand what an author's voice is - is that it stems from our beliefs.

In the writing world we spend a lot of time discussing voice. Readers recognize it, even if they can't articulate how or why. Industry folks will almost uniformly agree that it's an author's voice that keeps readers coming back for more. Authors, especially beginning ones, work to refine their personal voice. Which isn't easy, since it's not simple to explain, define or teach. Daunting for an element so critical to being a successful author.

One thing is clear - voice cannot be faked. It takes sometimes years of writing, and likely publishing, to refine that voice to its purest form. I saw paintings the other day by a 78-year-old artist. Her recent work is distinctly hers, but she completes in a few brushstrokes what she did with thousands in her youth. I saw that and thought, wow - look at how she's honed her voice. I did a post a little while back that talks about voice more. (In looking it up, I'm amused to find a photo with it of another Santa Fe landscape. See? My voice.)

It was Jayne Ann Krentz who, in a workshop, said that voice arises from our beliefs, from who we most essentially are. She's interesting because she's reinvented herself as an author several times, and has written under several names, including that one, Jayne Castle, and Amanda Quick. Each name indicates a different genre, but many of her readers (including me) read all three because we love her voice. Many love "all three authors," not realizing they're the same person.

Hot Topics

Which leads us to what we each believe in. In talking about "hot topics," I'm not referring to the clothing store (though I totally bought the Loki dress) or about the latest celebrity gossip, I'm talking about the tremendous political upheaval we've been going through all around the world, but most pointedly for me, in the U.S. with the 2016 presidential election.

The standard social media advice for authors is to stay away from politics. And I have several friends who follow it assiduously. They never post anything publicly on which way they stand. The argument is that politics shouldn't enter into what is essentially a conversation with your readers about books. I can see that. In fact, I often follow it. For the most part I'm not all that interested in debating politics anyway.

But this last election put me to the test. I kept coming back to Edmund Burke's quote: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” That's something I believe to be true.

In a typical election, I'm not going to say much. I'm not an economist, so I don't have strong opinions on the federal deficit and so forth. To a great extent, I don't think it matters greatly if the Democrats or Republicans hold the White House, because they tend to balance each other out. I take a long view on these sorts of things. I still do.

However, I do have strongly held beliefs that are impacted by what's going on. I believe that women are people first and female second, and that the key to women having personal and financial independence and equality is access to birth control and abortion. In fact, I believe all people are people first, and the rest - gender, sexual orientation, skin color, social status - all comes after that. I believe all people deserve to be treated as people, that some people don't get better perks than others, simply because of what family or set of genes they were born into.

I also believe that power and the pursuit of power corrupts.

If you've read my books, I suspect you'll know all of this about me because my beliefs come out in my work. That's my voice.

Social Media

The thing about social media is, we're trying to do two things at once: be our authentic selves and also promote our books. So, the theory that authors should stay away from controversial topics comes from the concern that offending readers could impact the perception and sales of our books.

Which, it could. It happens all the time. I do it myself. If I fundamentally disagree with an artist's beliefs and actions - Woody Allen comes to mind - I won't support them with my money. That's my vote and I get to do that. We all do.

Particularly in this day and age, social media is one of the primary avenues for authors to reach readers. However, as one smart literary agent, Jennifer Udden, says, "Social media is for promoting authors, not books."

And that brings us back to the sticking point. If social media is about the author, and the author's books are about their voice, and voice is about our beliefs - how can our social media presence NOT involve our beliefs?

It can be done, sure. As I said, I know some who can do it. One author friend of mine who steadfastly refuses to reveal her politics online commented to me, "Anyone who reads my books should be able to figure out where I stand." Some people, like her, are able to maintain a greater division between their public and private presence.

After long thought on the matter, I finally came to terms with the fact that this isn't me. I started out as a writer of personal essays and I've long had a greater degree of sharing my personal life and thoughts through my work. That's who I am. And it's important to me to be honest about who I am - which includes my beliefs - in a congruent way. That means in public or in private. I'm not willing to disguise those beliefs, which is what not ever commenting would amount to for me, particularly in favor of marketing my books.

In standing by my beliefs, I also accept that some people won't agree, and that they'll express that with their monetary vote. Perfectly legit. Ultimately it all comes down to personal choice.

It's probably something that's obvious by now, but - Personal choice is something I strongly believe in.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Not Green With Jealousy

I pondered what to say for this post. Now I'm as human as the next person, but I really don't have pangs of professional (or any other) type of jealousy. I mean, come on, who doesn't envy the lucky guy or gal who happened to stop at a liquor store on the way home one night and ends up with the winning lotto ticket? And is now worth millions? OK, I can get green over that for about a nanosecond and then tear up my loser ticket and move on. It was fun daydream and someone has to win. More jackpots next week!

So I reverted to my old high school term paper techniques and looked up the meaning of "jealousy." According to Wikipedia: Jealousy is an emotion, and the word typically refers to the thoughts and feelings of insecurity, fear, concern, and anxiety over an anticipated loss of status or something of great personal value, particularly in reference to a human connection.

So here’s the thing – I write what I write. No one else writes my exact novels and I don’t write exactly what anyone else does. I’m on my own journey with my books (and the rest of my life). If someone else wins an award or becomes a Best Seller or gets a movie deal, that’s their journey and accomplishment and has nothing to do with me. I had no influence over it, no one asked me to be involved, they didn’t pick his or her book instead of mine (although I’m always happy to talk movie or TV rights – Hollywood, feel free to e mail me LOL!). Romance readers are voracious about wanting new books and more books – it’s not like they’ll buy Author X’s book and that means they’ll never buy one of mine too.

I don’t suffer “insecurity, fear, concern and anxiety” over these things. Did I do my best effort? Am I satisfied with what I produced? Were there positive lessons to be learned from someone else’s success or honor or award?

Would I love to have the success equivalent to J. K. Rowling for example? Heck yes! But only if I get there with writing my own books and because readers loved them.

In the scifi romance world, we like to think someone's book will be a big breakout some day, like Fifty Shades was for its genre. The book and the time and the zeitgeist and the stars will all be in alignment and ZINGO. Would I like to be THAT author? Oh YES. Will I feel some professional jealousy if it isn't me? Oh YES. Will I wallow in it and be afraid and anxious and all that other negative stuff? NO. Because if SFR breaks out big as a genre, I have my books right there, ready to be read by the hungry new readers of SFR. The world - the galaxy - is big enough for all of us who can write a good book. Which my readers tell me, I do and I love my readers so there you have it.

I don’t know what else to say so here’s some fun news – the cover for Star Cruise: Outbreak was selected by professional booksellers as Third Place Finalist in the Judge a Book By Its Cover contest (JABBIC) this week. My amazing cover artist is Fiona Jayde and I’m so happy to collaborate with her.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Navigating Professional Jealousy

When you hear about the new bar that doesn't do wimpy little dart boards - they have axe throwing lanes - you don't just go wandering around the city hoping to stumble across the bar. You get directions.

When you're engaged in a profession that matters to you and jealousy sweeps you, you're being given directions. You can ignore them and wallow in the deep unfairness of life, the universe, and everything, or you can collect the directions and alter your course.

I have this theory that jealousy gets a bad rap. You know the lists. Emotions get labeled positive and negative. We all know anger, jealousy, fear, blah, blah, Dark Side, right? Bull, says I. Nothing is negative until you do something that makes it so. I've climbed on this soapbox before, so I'll spare you the sermon. Instead, story:

I was working at a large Seattle-area software company. I made more money than I'd ever dreamed I could make. Sure, there were pagers that went off at 2AM and there were long nights spent trying to work out why some piece of code had gone sideways, but I had a boss I gladly worked hard for. If I had any inkling that something wasn't quite right, I choked it down. This was what success meant, right? Stable work, good people, and a great paycheck? Then the amazing boss was gone. In the space of a day, the landscape shifted. A dysfunctional mad man took his place. I swear this is not political allegory. This really happened. The new guy so messed up the team that the entire technical staff walked into the managing director's office one day to quit en masse. We didn't end up quitting - the managing director removed that boss. The thing about it was that the work drama made stark how miserable I was. And had been for longer than I'd allowed myself to admit. This was not how I wanted to spend my life. Didn't know what I did want - but I knew what I didn't.

So I undertook a process of figuring out where I belonged. The advice? Look to your jealousy. Every pang of envy, every twist of jealousy, every mental wail of 'why not me?' was to be noted down over the space of a month. More if need be. Then the data were compiled and mined for a common thread. It took weeks of looking at the data over and over and wondering why I couldn't work out what it had to say - but you can likely guess. The thread was there, waiting for me to pick it up: Story telling. Every single item on my list was, at its core, about telling stories. So here I am, driven to writing by the sign posts of jealousy turned to a purpose.

Occasionally, I have days where I'm envious of that paycheck I left behind. And there are days I see someone else get the accolade I imagine I want. But there's no stewing in that. No wallowing in the bitter dregs of wishing I had what someone else has earned. When the envy grabs you by the ribs and squeezes, it's time to look the monster dead in the eye and see what it has to tell you. No. Not the 'you're not good enough, smart enough, brave enough, whatever enough.' Those are lies. Stare it in the eye and find out exactly what it signifies. Are you really envious of the attention author A is receiving? Or are you awed by this person's productivity? (There are no wrong answers - there's only the right for you answer.) Once you know, you can begin shaping your work so it comes into line with what you want. Productivity, attention, a fancy car, whatever the object of your envy.

It's work. Both to pay strict attention to the signposts and to then steer by them. But when jealousy bites hard and deep, it's because it has a message for you. Do you listen?

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Ugly Head of Professional Jealousy

So, with THE HOLVER ALLEY CREW just a few weeks away, now's the time when I've really got to put a tight rein on my own bad habits.
That bad habit is become obsessed with the other books that are coming out around now and how much attention is apparently being paid to them.  
Key word there: apparently.  Because I have learned that sometimes due to the circles I pay attention to, an upcoming book can seem to be The Thing Everyone Is Talking About, but in fact, it's really not being talked about much outside of those circles.
I still feel that swell of jealousy.  It's natural, it's human, and I try not to make too much of a thing.
But there are so many ways to drive yourself crazy with this.
So here's an example.  Any given month, there's going to be a few articles here in and there (where they talk about SFF books) about the books that are coming out that month.  There are the ones that just list ALL THE BOOKS, which is about 200ish per month.  And that's JUST the professionally, traditionally published ones.  That's just a list, though, so in many ways, it's little more than noise.  No one will notice your book on that list who wasn't already looking for it.  Helpful for completists, but little more.  
But then there are the curated lists, of about ten to twelve books coming out that month.  Ten to twelve of those 200ish books.  
Any given month, there will be about three titles that will be on ALL THE LISTS.  No matter what. The big dogs of the genre.   Then there will be about ten more which will take up five to seven slots on those lists.  If you've done your math, you can tell that can be the whole list, most of the time.  Those are the essentially, "These are the books everyone's talking about this month."  And then there's a couple wild card slots.  Right now, that's my zone-- getting named on a wild card.  
This makes getting on any of those curated lists a pleasant surprise.  But it also means I pay attention to a lot of those things in any given month I have a release.  So I notice what those essential books are, and oh, does it start to burn.
But I keep it in check.  In part, because I know I'm doing all right.  And also because I like having something to strive for.  The good thing about still being a wild card is it keeps my ego in check.  Sometimes, I think that's more important.

Hey, let's not forget that there's still a few weeks to pre-order THE HOLVER ALLEY CREW.  You're going to want to get your hands on this one as soon as you can.
Mixing high fantasy and urban fantasy, The Holver Alley Crew is the first novel of Maresca’s third interconnected series set in the fantasy city of Maradaine.
The Rynax brothers had gone legit after Asti Rynax's service in Druth Intelligence had shattered his nerves, and marriage and fatherhood convinced Verci Rynax to leave his life of thievery.  They settled back in their old neighborhood in West Maradaine and bought themselves a shop, eager for a simple, honest life. Then the Holver Alley Fire incinerated their plans. With no home, no shop, and no honest income—and saddled with a looming debt—they fall back on their old skills and old friends.
With a crew of other fire victims, Asti and Verci plan a simple carriage heist, but the job spirals out of control as they learn that the fire was no accident. Lives in Holver Alley were destroyed out of a sadistic scheme to buy the land.  Smoldering for revenge, burdened with Asti's crumbling sanity, the brothers lead their crew of amateurs and washouts to take down those responsible for the fire, no matter the cost.
Goodreads Page for THE HOLVER ALLEY CREW
Available at AmazonBarnes & Noble, and more!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

5 Things Akin to Professional Jealousy

Yay me! I get to write about Jealousy on Valentine's Day! On this day of chocolates, wine, and optional companionship, here are...

5 Things Akin to Professional Jealousy:

1. Sharting. You can't help but feel it. Best for everyone if you deal with it in private.

2. Using the ice bath in the men's locker room. You come out looking smaller.

3. Swimming afoul of an alligator.  You'll either be motivated or consumed.

4. Vaping. Nobody is impressed and you look like a tool.

5. The flu. Keep your snot to yourself.  Eventually, you'll get over it.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Get to cringing

So apparently I'm supposed to write about a moment of cringeworthy jealousy and what I did about  it.

Gotta be honest, I don't remember ever getting jealous. Calm down now, I'm not saying I haven't been jealous or that I won't get jealous, but as with a lot of negative emotions I do my best to shove that stuff off to the side.

Why? Because it does no one any good.

Focus on the positive. It's better for your mental and emotional health and better for your career.

Now don't misunderstand me, I LOVE a healthy sense of competition. I hear one of my buddies has sold a book and part of me is delighted, but if i haven't sold a book myself in a while, I don't get jealous, I just set my goals and aim to sell one just as quickly as I can.

I'm a mid-list author. I make a decent living. I'm hardly buying a mansion on a cliffside, much as I might like the view. I'm just plugging away.

but the thing is, I actually AM doing what I want to do for a living. I'm writing novels. I'm having a good time. My goals tend to be more along the lines of keeping that going.

A quote from Chris Golden, who  is one of the guys I admire, call friend and occasionally have a friendly competition with: "The rising tide lifts all boats." I agree with that philosophy. If four other authors are all doing well while writing the sort of Grimdark stuff that I write, then the genre is growing stronger. If I am doing my job correctly, I get to ride the crest of that wave. If I FAIL to do my job correctly, I better get my ass in gear and figure out what I'm doing wrong.

You hear people say not to look at the reviews? I agree, unless they are a balm for your possible jealous feelings. Here are a few that soothe me.

"Gripping, horrific, and unique, James Moore continues to be a winner, whatever genre he's writing in.  Well worth your time."
Seanan McGuire, NYT-Bestselling author of the Toby Daye and InCryptid series

“James A Moore is the new prince of grimdark fantasy. His work is full of dark philosophy and savage violence, desperate warriors, and capricious gods. This is fantasy for people who like to wander nighttime forests and scream at the moon. Exhilarating as hell.”
Christopher Golden, New York Times bestselling author of Snowblind

The Last Sacrifice is brilliant, devious, dark and compelling. This is epic fantasy at its very best. Highly recommended!”
Jonathan Maberry, NY Times bestselling author of Kill Switch and Mars One"James A Moore is the new prince of grimdark fantasy. His work is full of dark philosophy and savage violence, desperate warriors and capricious gods. This is fantasy for people who like to wander nighttime forests and scream at the moon. Exhilarating as hell."
– Christopher Golden, New York times bestselling author of Snowblind

"With The Last Sacrifice, James A. Moore has triumphed yet again, delivering a modern sword and sorcery tale to delight old and new fans of the genre.  With its intriguing premise, stellar cast of characters, and flavorful horror elements, this is damn good stuff."
– Bookwraiths
"This was a very good read."
– Purple Owl Reviews
"Epic fantasy at its best."
– Amanda J Spedding
“Grimdark as fuck!  So in a word “’GREAT’”.
– The Blogin’ Hobgoblin
"I liked The Last Sacrifice a great deal.  I’ve always enjoyed Moore’s work and don’t see that changing anytime soon.  He just keeps getting better.  Check this one out and see."
- Adventures Fantastic
"What's Moore to say? People fighting Gods? Bring it! This is a great addition to James A. Moore's line up."
- The Book Plank
"I love it. This is a story that turns the genre story arc on its head, mixes up the motives of heroes and villains, and muddies the waters of divine intervention. A fantastic, surprising start to a major new series."
- Beauty in Ruins
"I found The Last Sacrifice to be highly engaging, magical with a distinct grimdark feel and the world herein is richly imagined and cleverly wrought and brought to life. I can’t wait to read the sequel and I am now also eager to check out the other works by this author. I highly recommend this book to all lovers of fantasy."
– Cover 2 Cover
"I'd recommend this and I'll be keeping an eye out for the next one. More evil Grakhul/He-Kisshi action please Mr Moore!"
– Ribaldry's Books
"I was just turning pages as fast as my eyes could devour the words."
– On A Dark Stormy Review
“Moore has laid the groundwork for a trilogy that promises to be loaded with terrifically grim fantasy storytelling. I might even call it epic. There is a lot of swift, merciless violence in this book, mingled with an undercurrent of very welcome, if very dark, humor. All of it together takes me back to what made me giddy about epic fantasy way back when. I’d say I’m happy to be back, but I’m not sure that’s quite the right word for a book packed with this much violent incident. Let’s say instead that I’m bloody satisfied.”
– Rich Rosell for the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog

To sum up, James throws in elements of horror, dark fantasy, low magic and some amazing world-building into this boiling mix that somehow seems to work. Spinning off the staid old genre story-lines into a new direction with this epic take on God versus Man, The Last Sacrifice is a solid start to the sordid grim-dark tale documenting the end of a bleak violent world. The lines between heroes and villains blur as Gods seek to end the world.--Smorgasbord Fantasia

The point of these quotes is to simply clarify that jealousy does no good.  It serves absolutely no positive notion. I do not covet my neighbor's wife (Though I have more than once thought a few of my neighbors were lucky so and so's). I do not covet my neighbor's book sales, either, i do my own thing and then I try to be the best at what I do. If I'm failing, cool, it gives me a goal to reach for. We should always have goals, my friends, because without them we risk stagnation. 

Jealousy is like anger, best used as a tool to improve and motivate yourself. That's my statement and I'm sticking to it. 

Sunday, February 12, 2017

On Professional Jealousy - and Three Ways to Shut It Down

Last weekend I got to visit my lovely writer friend Grace Draven - that's me enjoying the gorgeous trees in Texas hill country - and this weekend my fantastic writer friend Anne Calhoun came to visit me. As a result, I've had about ten days worth of intense writer conversation and am wrung out.

I'm also late with this post because of it. Last week I didn't do one at all, though that was largely because the topic was Flash Fiction and I just don't much like doing those. Flash fiction can be an interesting form, but my fiction-writing energy goes into my current project and I find working on anything other than that feels tangential at best and counter-productive at worst.

I am, however, blessed by having these friends to talk writing with and my well has been refilled to brimming.

And this week's topic is about writing relationships: A Cringeworthy Moment of Professional Jealousy & How You Dealt With It.

One aspect of having friends who are also writers, especially those who write in the same genre, is that competition can rear its inevitable head. It's an unfortunate aspect of the business. Even if we are not competitive by nature, the industry thrusts us into competition with each other. Who wins the award? Who made that Top Ten list? Who got a more lucrative publishing contract? And then there are the "tournaments" that well-meaning readers and bloggers construct to celebrate their favorite books. In many of these, authors are encouraged to recruit votes to get their book to "win" and even to trash-talk "rival" authors and books.

It can all be very difficult. We can intellectually understand that the business is variable, book love is subjective, and all of the fandom is good and goes toward exposure for everyone.

But the truth is that professional jealousy can be a huge problem.

It can kill friendships.

It's happened to me. It's happened to writers I know.

No matter how valiantly we may try to fend off the demons of jealousy, they are insidious and pervasive. Frankly, I would never give the advice not to be jealous or competitive. That's like advising people not to get angry at bad drivers in heavy traffic. Sometimes we can be Zen. Sometimes we lose our shit.

That's being human. And we wouldn't be human if we didn't occasionally note that the other monkey got a great big handful of berries and we didn't.


So what would be my cringeworthy moment of professional jealousy? There are so many to choose from. There was the time my crit partner who was querying at the same time as I was got a three-book deal for $30K and I didn't sell my book for two more years and then for no advance. Or when an agent who passed on my book picked someone else's and got her a six-figure deal.

Or every time a Top Ten List features a book in my genre that isn't mine.

Or every time someone recommends another author's book instead of mine.

I mean, I tell you people - I could easily spend every day in the throes of professional jealousy. There are so many opportunities to do so. There are plenty of authors who succumb to this.

And I'd be lying if I didn't admit to you that I sometimes feel it. I also sometimes suggest that other drivers do anatomically impossible actions with the brains they clearly don't have.

The key is not to pretend we don't feel it, but instead to deal productively with that energy.

1. Channel

Jealousy - or covetousness - is wanting what someone else has. Do I want that award, that contract, that spot on the Top Ten List? That's good energy that drives me to improve. I remind myself to channel it into my work to make it better. It's good to want things. It's better to work hard for them.

2. Consider the Big Picture

It's easy to covet that one thing someone else got, but I always ask myself if I'd trade places with them. A lot of times I might want that contract, but I wouldn't want their asshole of a spouse or chronically ill parent. Everyone struggles with their own pain - I make myself consider what that person's burden is, and if I'd take that along with their blessings.

3. Eyes on Your Own Work

This is one of my personal mottoes. Why am I even looking at a list I'm not on, at contract numbers for a sale that isn't mine? I learned it in school and I learn it again every day. I don't need to see how the kids next to me are doing. I have to keep my eyes on my OWN work.

Heavens know, I've got plenty to keep me occupied!

4. Celebrate Others

I'm adding this one after some online conversations, because it's been pointed out to me that I do this, too. Yes - I make a deliberate effort to celebrate the successes of others. By taking that energy and channeling it into joy, I refuse to let jealousy take hold. It becomes easier and easier to feel like when someone else - particularly a friend I love and who loves me in return - triumphs, it's my happiness, too. I'm not sure it's fair to expect anyone to do this automatically, but it's a skill in generosity of spirit that can be deliberately cultivated. Practice, practice, practice!

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Snowflake Flash Fiction for Winter

VS Note: I'm not a fan of writing flash fiction actually but someone in this group keeps proposing it. (Glares suspiciously at all the other Days.) I grew up in Upstate New York, so I'm very familiar with snow and winter and coldness; however, having lived in sunny Southern California for a long time, it was a bit hard to get myself into the mood.

But I said to myself sternly, I am a WRITER so I can WRITE. Here's my story:

She and her sister snowflakes drifted in the wind, to and fro, sparkling as they spun and twirled. This was her favorite part of being a snowflake – the ride through the sky, so far about everything, dancing carefree.
The swirling winds began to subside and she drifted lower and lower, but still enjoying the sensation of flying.

Music wafted from below, seeming to surround her. It was a lovely tune, repeating over and over. She saw flashes of color beneath her, where the snow had failed to settle or been brushed aside. There was a castle, with stone turrets and gallant banners waving in the same wind that cushioned her descent. A small pond lay beside the castle, frozen over, and skaters moved about in time to the music. She saw the handsome prince, heir to the kingdom, waltzing with his lovely princess, her long blue skirts and blond hair flaring out as he spun her in one giddy turn after another. Two other couples kept them company, their clothing less sumptuous but still bright and cheery on this gray afternoon.

Snowflake hoped they were warm enough but there was nothing she could do about it. The nature of winter was to be cold outside, after all.

She received an unexpected lift  from an eddy and sailed over the pond, almost wishing she could have drifted onto the princess’s gloved hand, to receive the admiration she knew she was owed, for being a unique, delicate crystalline beauty.

Apparently she was destined to land in a spiky evergreen tree, there to nestle on the branches with her sisters until the wind or an animal disturbed them. She put an extra spin into her forward motion, to make the landing as spectacular as she possibly could. If one couldn’t fly forever, one could at least demonstrate one’s superb abilities until the flight was over.

The music stopped.

“Again, Daddy, again!”

The monstrous voice filled the air and the snowflake shuddered. A moment later the wind blew from everywhere, the castle and the pond were above her for an impossible moment and then snowflake was flying way up into the sky again.

Giddy with joy, she realized her journey was starting all over. Maybe this time she could land on the princess’s hand as she waltzed to the tune the musical snow globe played.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Cold Outside - Flash Fiction for the Frozen

     Fire painted the stone walls of the throne room red. Corva Frostmache stood before her mother's throne, surrounded armed men. Dortel, the self-styled lord of the clan, sat forward, studying her, a hint of triumph in his too wide smile.
     "The charge is sedition, Corva," he said. "How do you plead?"
     "You sit upon the throne of the clans, my mother's rightful place, and you ask that question? The Gods strike you down for the murder of the queen and for usurping her throne," she replied.
     "Enough." Dortel waved a plump sausage of a hand and sat back. "Put her out."
     Elmat, a wizened skeleton of an advisor, hesitated, looking between Corva and his lord. "Sir. The vote."
     "Am I not lord here? There will be no vote. Put her out."
     "It's the frost moon!" the older man protested. "The cold . . ."
     Dortel's self-satisfied smile turned Corva's stomach. "Mayhap the cold will cool Corva's temper and her attempts to stir up treason."
     Her fists clenched. "We are the Frostmache. Justice is our call."
     "You were the Frostmache," he corrected. "A new age has come. No more will our mothers rule our clans. The might of our arms will bring riches and new glory to our age. . . Damn your plucking at my sleeve, old man! What do you want?"
     "You sought my wisdom, sir," Elmat said.
     "Speak it, then!"
     "You are young, yet. Much has been forgotten. Legend says the Forstmache draw their power from winter itself. If you mean to stamp out the line, you would do well to cut this one down where she stands."
     "This is your advice? Fairy tales and the means to make a martyr of her?" Dortal demanded. "You're older than I thought. You would give a rallying cry to those mired in a past swept away."
     "By your brutality," Corva said.
     "I will not sully the edge of my blade with her blood," he spat. "Get out and die, witch. We'll seek your corpse for burial come the thaw."
     The huge, iron-banded oak doors boomed. Snow and razor sharp crystals of ice snarled in on the wail of the wind.
     Corva lifted her chin lifted and strode for the door the usurper's soldiers held.
     Elmat met her at the door, a frown upon his lips that deepened the furrows already plowed across his brow. He held out a hand.
     A single coal from the hall fire. That much tradition they'd observe?
     Corva sneered. "Keep your pity, old fool."
     His frown deepened and he thrust the warm clay holder into her hand. "It's cold outside."
     She nodded. "Your wisdom is wasted when you speak it to one who will not hear. Cold you say? I'm counting on it."

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Cold? It mentions ice...

Many things are happening right now, so I don't have a proper blog post for today.  It's supposed to be Flash Fiction (not my forte) on "It's Cold Outside", but I live in Texas and it was 84ยบ today.
Instead, here's a little tease from my secondary Work-in-Progress.  (In other words, not A Parliament of Bodies, or anything to do with Maradaine.)  This is from the Space Opera WIP tentatively called Banshee...

“Tell us who she is!  Tell us how to defeat her!”
Hagchlek made a noise that was oddly like laughter.  You won’t.  You still do not understand what you are dealing with.  She is a human from Mars.  Do you understand what that means?
Two of the shock troops came hustling around corner.  Kengle switched her rifle to sonic mode, and fired a boom down the hall.  They dropped clutching at their heads.
She’s coming,” Hagchlek’s interrogator said.  Hagchlek kept going.
Do you know what Mars is?  It was a desolate, icy rock in the humans’ home system, and humans came and said ‘We’ll make this into a place we can live’ and by fire they did.  They did that on dead moons and toxic planets throughout their system. And then humans piled into ships that crawled slower than light and lived and died in those boxes so their great-grandchildren might find a new home on another world, and when the worlds they found were also desolate rocks, they bent them to their will.  If you think some challenge is impossible, I tell you, you haven’t met humans.”
“What is this mad species?”
“They are what you have brought on your head.  We fought them for generations and no setback, no failure could deter them.  When they collectively decide to defeat a problem, they will not be stopped.”
“But she’s just one human!”
“And one is a plague upon you.  And know this: even if you kill Samantha Kengle, all you’ll succeed in is bringing all of humanity on your head.”

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

February 2017 Flash Fiction

Its Cold Outside

The days had darkened and the frozen flakes had fallen. The rain came, creating a mist as it threatened to wash away the layer of snow but Winter fought back. The temperature dropped and now the white world wore a glistening topcoat of ice.

In the darkened forest, the bare branches were bowed from the weight, but reflecting the moonlight, the trees glimmered like ghosts. Zaiera viewed it from her open window, raising the fur-lined hood to cover her head. She did not want to mar the unbroken beauty of this crystal-covered ground, but leaving footprints was unavoidable.

She lowered her pack, then moved to sit on the sill.

She was going. The best they could do was follow. But they could not stop her.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Flash Fiction: Baby, It's Not Cold Outside

Seven inches. There should have been a minimum of seven inches of fresh snow on the ground. Those seven inches should have been layered atop ten more, minus two for melt and refreeze. The weather frogs had promised. It was February, after all.

Instead, flowers had not only germinated, they'd begun to bloom.

The only seven inches he'd loll in this year was in his orthopedic bed. The canvas cover had worn to a softness that cradled his aching hips and shoulders. He winced as the degenerative disks in his lower back sent spasms down his left leg.

Next year then. Maybe next year he'd mush across fields blanketed in thick snow. The frigid winds ripping through his coat. The snowflakes clinging to his face, giving the world a lovely haze. The pure silence of a breathless wonderland waiting to echo his call. ...

Next year. Maybe. If the drugs kept the pain at bay. If the next stroke didn't take mobility from both legs. Maybe next year.

With a grunt and a grumble, the old husky shook in his harness and boots and went back inside.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

I Am The Interviewer

Jake the Cat does not do interviews BTW.
Our topic this week is remedies for stale interviews.

Well, I'm the Interviewer an awful lot of the time because I interview authors for the USA Today Happy Ever After blog, so perhaps my perspective on this will be a bit different. My day job nowadays is fulltime author but I also love contributing to the HEA blog, and especially discussing scifi and fantasy romance. Occasionally I interview an author like JoAnn Ross or Barbara Delinsky, someone who has always been one of my favorites as a reader, but whose writing lies primarily outside the scifi romance genre, and that's fun too.

I typically ask about five questions in one of my interviews. I always read the book first - and wow, it is fun to get one of Nalini Singh's, Ilona Andrews's or Jeffe's books in the Advance Review Copy format, months before the book is released. I've stayed up a few nights reading straight through when one of those treasures hits my kindle! If the author is someone who's been interviewed many times before, I go out and research their interviews because I don't want to ask all the same stuff if I can help it. I take it as a personal challenge, especially if they have a list of Q&A on their blog or website that covers all the standard questions. If I have a book related question that I find someone else has asked before me, I pass and try to dig deeper. I usually end up with about ten questions I'd love to ask but some of them are too nitty gritty, or purely from the author standpoint - something about how the book is written, versus things that might interest a non-author reader. So I may want to know the answer, but it's not general enough to put on HEA.

A couple of my interviews that I did by phone have turned into me-as-an-author asking another author all kinds of craft questions and sharing experiences a little. I did that with John Scalzi and also with Michelle Lovretta, the creator, Executive Producer and writer for the TV show "Killjoys." (Both of them were kind enough to indulge me, within a set time limit, and those interviews were truly hilites of life for me.) All I can do then is laugh at myself and extract the answers from my copious notes that I hope will interest readers most.

So I narrow down my piles of questions, mostly by asking myself what other readers might really like to know about the behind the scenes of a book they love. I have to be respectful of the time the authors can devote to this, even for USA Today, because they have a LOT of promo to do, and other writing commitments.

I do ask some typical questions, like what the author's office looks like, or if they have a pet, because our readers find that of interest.

There's a time and place for those quick and dirty questions - you know the ones I mean: "tea or coffee," "Star Trek or Star Wars", "cats or dogs"? If someone is interviewing me and that's what they feel their readers want to know, then I'll answer.

But my trick I learned a long time ago, is that you do NOT have to answer the question you're asked. You can always turn the answer in a direction you want it to go. "Well, actually, Blog Host Person, "Aliens" is my favorite movie franchise and here's why." Or "what an excellent question but you know the thing to me is..." and off I go to talk about whatever I actually want to talk about. You can watch celebrities do this all the time on TV, very adroitly. (Not that I'm a celebrity but they do have the technique down pat.)

And in other news, pivoting adroitly here, my science fiction romance novels Star Cruise: Outbreak and Hostage to the Stars received SFR Galaxy Awards this past week! (CRUISE got two actually...). The Pets In Space anthology also received two. I as really honored and excited! Here's the website if you'd like to check out the entire list: http://sfrgalaxyawards.blogspot.com/ 

Friday, February 3, 2017

Interview Tips and Tricks

Have you ever been in a play? One that had an actual run - you know - you had to show up and perform every day for a week or more and twice on Sunday? Did you learn how to approach the show and your character as something new each time for the sake of each new audience? Maybe your director or stage manager gave the cast The Pep Talk: "You've done this show a hundred times now between rehearsals and performance, but for this audience, it's the first time. Invest."

Interviews are the same thing. No matter how many you do, no matter how many times you answer the same question over and over again, it may be old hat for you, but it is new to the people reading about you. It helps to approach interviews as a privilege - something you get to do rather than something you have to do. Well. It helps me. Because I still haven't gotten over being tickled to death about someone else actually wanting to talk to the socially awkward geek girl. So yeah. I do have a list of suggestions for anyone undertaking interviews:

1. It's about the honesty of your story telling.
2. Be willing to tell your truth.
3. Be willing to be vulnerable and even a little bit afraid.
4. Your life and your process are only uninteresting to you because they're yours.
5. When all else fails, channel your characters and answer from their voices.

By now, everyone who reads this blog knows the story about my first ever writing project - the princess who was an expert swordswoman and horsewoman who could take down an entire ship full of pirates. Oh. And who had a black panther named Scott for a pet. (Yeah, I dunno. I was twelve.) Let's be honest, that's a pretty embarrassing story, but it's a rich story because most of us have these kinds of stories from when we were kids. Even if the particulars of my story are totally laughable (some of them are and I'm fine with that) everyone can relate.

Relating to people is the whole reason for interviews. It really is a question of being willing to open a vein and invite readers to come swim in the blood of your story (and possibly your life). If you're thinking about it from that perspective, I doubt you'll ever be bored. Terrified, maybe, but bored? Probably not.

PS. If you haven't read James' amazing post about his mother and what she taught him, you should. Because James went on such an eloquent and well considered political bender, I kick my soap box back under the table and sit back nodding in agreement with him. Fight for what you want, people. Not against what you don't. Where your focus goes, so too does your energy. And there are some bastages who do not deserve the tiniest mote of your energy.