Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Sometimes You Can't Control Your Reaction to Chaos

 What do I do to maintain/reestablish my equanimity when chaos abounds? 

violently rubs face

Dear readers, I'm a classic introvert who suffers greatly from general anxiety and panic attacks. It doesn't take much to destroy my equanimity. I'm a recluse by design. 

As a classic introvert, my first step toward sanity is to claim solitude. Introverts gain energy when they're alone and expend energy in groups. As such, I have to retreat from whatever social/familial demands are draining me. I know my limits and enforce my boundaries. I'm blessed with a family that totally gets it without taking offense. Acquaintances, on the other hand, consider me a haughty bitch or a total nutter. Eh, whatevs. 

Second step, hug a beastie. One of my coping aids for living with general anxiety is my dog. She's accustomed to random snuggle attacks. Aside from a grunt and "hooman, you're hot" groan, she endures until the episode passes. Puppy kisses are included in the services she provides. Dog hair is absolutely part of my regular attire.

In situations where panic is taking hold and I can't escape nor is my dog with me, then it's all about finding a safe place to park my butt, applying the cold compress I always carry with me to my wrists and nape, and practicing measured/controlled breathing. The cold compress helps assuage some of the physical symptoms, while focusing on my breathing and the sensation of cold derails the thought spiral causing the attacks. It's not 100% effective, but it's something.

While I'm easily thrown due to issues that seemingly should be under my control but totally aren't, I've learned that "powering through" often leads to a "mandatory system reset" that takes more time and effort from which to recover. Save the superhuman behavior for true emergencies. Be good to yourself every day. You deserve it. 

Monday, November 29, 2021

Managing stress

 This week's topic is one I'm very fond of, namely how to manage stress. 

Stress will do you in. It can cause writer's block, ulcers, temper tantrums, and, of course, the grumpies. None of which are recommended. 

So what do I do about it?

I read. One of my favorite pastimes.

Or I write. 

Or I pull out the Sculpey and work on a small bust of one of my characters or ideas.

The trick, near as I can figure it, is to do damned near anything to stop thinking so hard. 

Life will crush you down if it gets the chance. There are any number of obstacles between you and your daily, weekly, monthly, yearly and lifetime goals, and there always will be. what is the possible benefit of reward without challenge? Okay, let's be honest, we could all do without the challenges. But they exist just the same. the catch is not to let them crush you, and sometimes I fear we truly are our own worst enemies.

For me, the trick is to just breathe for a while Let it go and focus on one of my hobbies. I'm not all that complicated a soul, really, and I can do without the drama of real life. I'll gladly trade it for the drama of a good story, either told to me or written by me.

Sunday, November 28, 2021

A Little Stress Relief: Eight Tips


Happy Sunday! I hope you all had a great weekend with your family. This weeks's blog topic is Destress: What's One Thing You Do to Keep Or Re-establish Equanimity When Life Is Too Much? 

This is a timely post going into the new year, but I couldn't narrow it down to one thing. My go-to stress reliever since my kids were small has been a steaming hot bath. Most of the time, I just needed to de-frag and be ALONE, and we all know how hard that is with little ones. Twenty years ago, I had three, sometimes four, kiddos vying for my attention. Hot baths with the door locked saved me many times and still does, maybe because it became such a routine part of my life. Nowadays, I add some Epsom salts to my water and light a candle, and that winds me down like nothing else.

But! I have other stress relievers too. Sometimes a hot bath just isn't enough. When I need to reset my mind and return to that comfortable place I call stasis, I know that I need to either reconnect with nature or declutter/organize my house--or both. I live five minutes from every store you could imagine, and a few hundred thousand other people as well, so getting out in nature usually means I have to make a short drive. But I know when it's needed, and let me tell you, I find a trail, a stream, a park, or I go to our little spot of land on the top of a small mountain here in Tennessee and enjoy the fresh air and that lovely view.

Other times, I need to re-organize my home. Chaos in the home = chaos in me. It took me a long time to realize this, but once I did, and once I addressed it (which was hard with kids), man was it life changing. The act of cleaning/de-cluttering/organizing is a way that I re-set back to stasis. 

Other things I do? Exercise, walk, do a little yoga, or meditate. I recently bought the Asana Rebel app, and I'm enjoying integrating a short yoga practice into my morning routine. I also listen to music for stress relief, and of course, I read. Reading can be harder though, because concentration is a necessity, whereas listening to music requires nothing but plugging in. Music stops negative thinking for me and redirects my brain into creative mode. I get a lot of writing inspiration from music, so it's a cure-all if I need to stop thinking about whatever is stressing me, and I usually get my mind back on writing in the process.

Another big tip for stress relief is something I try to do to maintain equanimity, and that's hydration, electrolytes, and rest. I've read a few studies on the topic of stress and hydration/electrolyte imbalance, but my science degree days are long past. I can, however, vouch for the fact that I just feel better when I'm properly hydrated, drinking electrolytes, and getting proper rest. Good hydration alleviated the constant headaches I used to have along with the accompanying brain fog which created more stress because I couldn't focus.

Electrolytes, for me, are needed because I try to eat anti-inflammatory foods as much as possible, but that means a lot of water loss. I have to stay hydrated and keep the electrolytes going, or I feel awful. And rest? It's critical. I used to struggle to sleep past 4:30am, so 5-6 hours a night was my norm. It wasn't enough. When I'm hydrated and exercising, even if only a 20-minute walk once a day, I rest better, and then I feel much more on top of things the following day. Our brains need hydration and good sleep as much as the rest of our body, so if you feel off-kilter, maybe take a day to get some fluids and just sleep.

The important thing is to know what works for you and then to implement those activities when needed, whether it's an emergency stress reliever or a daily activity that helps keeps stress at bay. I'm all about being preventative versus reactive, but it's important to understand what tactics keep you in stasis and what tactics bring you back to stasis once balance has been compromised. 

I hope you have your own list of stress relievers, and if not, I hope this one gives you some ideas. Stress sucks, and it can quickly siphon the enjoyment from our lives. Here's hoping that you have the tools to fight the battle, and that you win.

Friday, November 26, 2021

Shifting Traditions

Our topic this week was favorite holiday recipes. I'd like to talk about Thanksgiving specifically, instead. I'll get you a recipe or three, I promise. But I spent a lot of time thinking about the holiday this year, because I was this many years old before I discovered that Indigenous peoples view the day as a national day of mourning. I was this many years old before I found out that the traditional 'pilgrims and natives sharing a feast around the same table' was a manufactured fable and that the true historical account is, naturally, much darker. I didn't call off the holiday. We still made once-a-year food. We enjoyed it as a family. But the fact that a broad swath of our Indigenous neighbors spend the day in mourning circled my brain all day.

I don't want Thanksgiving to be rife with guilt. I don't want to cancel the holiday. I want to create a United States that changes an Indigenous Day of Mourning into reason for Indigenous people to celebrate, too. That means working for justice for Indigenous people. It means creating a system and a culture that honors and values Indigenous voices and views. It means voting and it means learning to be an ally to Indigenous activists and voices.

Changing holidays is hard. Ask anyone who's proposed not making the green bean casserole this year. Or who suggested that we don't need mashed potatoes with gravy AND sweet potatoes. Yet, just because those were the dishes that were always on grandmas table, it doesn't mean those foods were on HER grandmother's table. Asking people to change their food is as hard as asking people to change their views. But it can be done. We can acknowledge the dark and horrific history of colonization in this country, sure. But that's not really the point. The point is shifting the power dynamic. Start as small as honoring standing treaties. How'd that be for a new tradition?

Maybe it sounds simple in my head because the fabric of the holidays has been shifting under foot for the past several years. It started over a decade ago when the traditional turkey and oyster dressing started landing me in the ER with a blinding (literally) migraine every single year. Lemme tell you how fast I got over 'tradition'. It shifted further when Mom and I moved to a vegan Whole Food Plant-based diet. It was both an ethical shift and a health shift. I don't need cholesterol meds any more. Did the turkey we made for the guys make me regret my newish diet? Briefly, yes it did. Not enough to sneak a bite, though. Instead, we had a sheet pan dinner from Vegan Richa that includes a lentil and mushroom loaf (very tasty), dressing made from a whole grain spiced buckwheat bread we make, onion gravy, sweet potatoes, and brussels sprouts with onions and mushrooms (her recipe calls for green beans rather than brussels sprouts, but I'm in the 'green beans are a waste of valuable plate real estate' camp. I'd far rather have roasted brussels sprouts. 

And because it's not a holiday without cookies, we found a recipe from My Quiet Kitchen for a Spiced Tahini Oatmeal cookie. I know. I know. Oatmeal cookies are made of cardboard and regret. Especially if there're raisins rather than chocolate chips. These aren't. I swear they aren't. They may never replace sugar cookies and frosting on your holiday table, but for us, they magically taste like a tradition we left behind when we discovered that Mom was so allergic to peanut butter it made her pass out - peanut butter cookies. It's not exact, but damn it's close.  And with a cup of tea? Let's just say there may have been a batch of them made on Wednesday morning that didn't see sun down. Low fat? No. So they aren't likely to make rotation in our  day-to-day diet.

So I'd like my tradition to make fancy food with a heaping helping of working for justice for our Indigenous hosts.

Thursday, November 25, 2021


wood grain table with a circle of gourds and sourdough bread with the word Thankful in the center


We should be doing it every day,

and for once we're not talking about reading! We're talking about being thankful. 

We're thankful for readers, fellow writers, friends, family, fur balls, and so much more. May your day be filled with joy! 

Happy Thanksgiving, to our US readers!

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Black FaRoFriday Fantasy Romance Readathon!

Love romantic fantasy and fantasy romance? Because it's U.S. Thanksgiving - and Black Friday, the apparently now global celebration of our worldwide religion: consumerism - the FaRo gals are sponsoring a readathon!! Details here, with reading lists and templates for participating. As a bonus (and sacrifice to the deities of consumerism) all of these books are on deep sale!
My DARK WIZARD is on sale for only 0.99c! 

This is a great time to grab this first in the Bonds of Magic series as a standalone novella in the world, Familiar Winter Magic, will be out December 22 in the FIRE OF THE FROST anthology, and book 3, in the series, GREY MAGIC, now has a cover and will be out in January! 

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

New Urban Fantasy Release: THE HERALDED SPY by K.A. Krantz

I'm tickled pink--no, not by the wintry blustery winds--to share the series finale of the Immortal Spy Urban Fantasy series with you! The seventh book marks the end of the adventures of Bix and the Berserkers in what has been a fun series to write. While I'm sad to say farewell to some of my favorite characters, I have to admit to feeling pretty gosh darn good about completing the series. So, without further ado, here it is, the last book:

The Immortal Spy, Book 7, Series Finale

The heralds presage the arrival of unmitigated power.

War escalates in the Mid Worlds as the champion and caretakers fight to save their home from the onslaught of invading anti-gods. While the armies clash on battlefields, Bix targets the enemy’s leadership to negotiate their retreat for now and evermore.

Parley is the key to salvation, but the opposition refuses to answer the invitation. With her teammates abducted, her consort imprisoned, and the defense system sabotaged, Bix will finally claim every iota of her primordial magics to bring the enemy to heel…or to break them on the thorns of her wrath.

The heralds warn of fools who force the hand of the High Executioner.


Sunday, November 21, 2021

Cold Weather Tea

This week’s post topic is to share a favorite Thanksgiving food or drink recipe. I decided to share a drink that I grew up with: Fruit Tea. It’s so good, and perfect for sipping on a cold night with a book in hand. 

I've been finding this fruit tea already made in my local Publix grocery store, which is amazing. My mom actually called it Russian Tea, and after she passed, we realized we didn't have her recipe. There was a Tang recipe that floated around many years ago (and still floats around) that's similar, but it isn't the way my mom made her tea. After some digging though, I found her version. This is my slightly modified recipe from AllRecipes.Com.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 3 family-sized tea bags (Black tea is best for this recipe--I like mine strong)

  • 1 quart boiling water

  • 1½ quarts water 
  • 6 whole cloves 
  • 2 - 4 cinnamon sticks (up to you)
  • 1 (12 ounce) can pineapple juice 
  • 1.5 cups white sugar 
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 (6 ounce) can frozen orange juice concentrate 
  • 1 (6 ounce) can frozen lemonade concentrate

Steep the tea bags in boiling water for 5 minutes, then remove. Next, combine 1 1/2 quarts water, cloves, and cinnamon together in a large pot and bring to a boil. Stir brewed tea, pineapple juice, sugar, orange juice concentrate, lemonade concentrate, and allspice into the boiling water to dissolve the sugar. This recipe is great served hot, but it's also yummy served cold. I refrigerate any leftovers (with the cinnamon sticks and cloves left in for added flavor) and drink in the mornings as well! Let me know if you give this recipe a try, and Happy Thanksgiving! ~ Charissa

Thursday, November 18, 2021

A Fantasy Book Rec: A Psalm of Storms and Silence!


Book cover of A Psalm of Storms and Silence with maroon and gold filigree background and two characters standing back to back: a man in black robes on the left and a woman in a red dress and chainmail shawl on the right.

This week’s topic is one of my favorites: Book Recommendations!!! 

As I’ve mentioned before, I love suggesting books and the book cover above is one that is waiting on my nightstand because book one was such a fantastic fantasy ride. And, the covers are absolutely gorgeous.

If you enjoy fantasy with strong characters and a dash of mythology and romance, you should check this series out!

A Psalm of Storms and Silence

A Song of Wraiths and Ruin #2

Karina lost everything after a violent coup left her without her kingdom or her throne. Now the most wanted person in Sonande, her only hope of reclaiming what is rightfully hers lies in a divine power hidden in the long-lost city of her ancestors.

Meanwhile, the resurrection of Karina’s sister has spiraled the world into chaos, with disaster after disaster threatening the hard-won peace Malik has found as Farid’s apprentice. When they discover that Karina herself is the key to restoring balance, Malik must use his magic to lure her back to their side. But how do you regain the trust of someone you once tried to kill?

As the fabric holding Sonande together begins to tear, Malik and Karina once again find themselves torn between their duties and their desires. And when the fate of everything hangs on a single, horrifying choice, they each must decide what they value most—a power that could transform the world, or a love that could transform their lives.

Bookshop | B&N | Goodreads

If you haven’t had the chance to check out book one, the blurb is:

A Song of Wraiths and Ruin

Book cover for A Song of Wraiths and Ruin with dark green and gold background and a beautiful young black woman in green staring forward.

For Malik, the Solstasia festival is a chance to escape his war-stricken home and start a new life with his sisters in the prosperous desert city of Ziran. But when a vengeful spirit abducts Malik’s younger sister, Nadia, as payment into the city, Malik strikes a fatal deal—kill Karina, Crown Princess of Ziran, for Nadia’s freedom.

But Karina has deadly aspirations of her own. Her mother, the Sultana, has been assassinated; her court threatens mutiny; and Solstasia looms like a knife over her neck. Grief-stricken, Karina decides to resurrect her mother through ancient magic . . . requiring the beating heart of a king. And she knows just how to obtain one: by offering her hand in marriage to the victor of the Solstasia competition.

When Malik rigs his way into the contest, they are set on a course to destroy each other. But as attraction flares between them and ancient evils stir, will they be able to see their tasks to the death?

The first in an fantasy duology inspired by West African folklore in which a grieving crown princess and a desperate refugee find themselves on a collision course to murder each other despite their growing attraction.

Bookshop | B&N | Goodreads

You can find Roseanne online here.

If you haven't checked out this series yet, I hope you do! Happy reading!

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Two Great Stories to Read

This week at the SFF Seven we're throwing out some promo to other creatives in our community. I'd like to give a shoutout to two people who've been a huge help and source of insight and calm guidance to me in the last week, P.H. Lee and Phoebe Barton

Lee, who prefers not to be gendered, is a writer of mostly fantasy and science fiction, and is a member of SFWA. Lee has a number of stories you can check out, but I recommend starting with Your Own Undoing. It's a haunting and compelling take on the wizard-familiar relationship, and explores a fall from power with gut-wrenching and unflinching empathy. Lee told me it's a metaphor for an abusive relationship, which I absolutely can see. So, fair warning on that content, but if you can take that, absolutely give it a read. 

Phoebe Barton is a queer trans science fiction writer who serves on the SFWA Board of Directors as a Director at Large. You can check out her storiesgames, and nonfiction. The one I'm recommending today is The Mathematics of Fairyland. This is a delightful and mind-bending mashup of fantasy and science fiction that explores how Martians handle faeries and how a princess can access Fairyland from a space station in order to rescue her princess. It's a heartbreaking and deftly woven glimpse into the madness of grief. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Promo: The Sword of Kaigen by ML Wang

Today, I'm thrilled to promote The Sword of Kaigen, a sweeping martial arts fantasy epic by ML Wang. The 2019 winner of the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off (aka #SPFBO), Kaigen is a welcome change from European-rooted fantasy with characters you'll love to hate and weep to love. With an elemental magic system living alongside technology, the story builds on the push and pull of a mother and son against the ugly truths of tradition. For those readers looking for moms in the co-starring role, Misaki is here to deliver. 

Wholeness, she had learned, was not the absence of pain but the ability to hold it.

On a mountainside at the edge of the Kaigenese Empire live the most powerful warriors in the world, superhumans capable of raising the sea and wielding blades of ice. For hundreds of years, the fighters of the Kusanagi Peninsula have held the Empire's enemies at bay, earning their frozen spit of land the name 'The Sword of Kaigen.'

Born into Kusanagi's legendary Matsuda family, fourteen-year-old Mamoru has always known his purpose: to master his family's fighting techniques and defend his homeland. But when an outsider arrives and pulls back the curtain on Kaigen's alleged age of peace, Mamoru realizes that he might not have much time to become the fighter he was bred to be. Worse, the empire he was bred to defend may stand on a foundation of lies.

Misaki told herself that she left the passions of her youth behind when she married into the Matsuda house. Determined to be a good housewife and mother, she hid away her sword, along with everything from her days as a fighter in a faraway country. But with her growing son asking questions about the outside world, the threat of an impending invasion looming across the sea, and her frigid husband grating on her nerves, Misaki finds the fighter in her clawing its way back to the surface.

When the winds of war reach their peninsula, will the Matsuda family have the strength to defend their empire? Or will they tear each other apart before the true enemies even reach their shores?

BUY IT NOW: Amazon

Sunday, November 14, 2021

Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan


UK Edition/Waterstones
Hi all! I've been a bit MIA the last two weeks. The Witch Collector released on 11/2 and let me tell you, it was exhausting. Far more so than I expected. On top of that, my house/kitchen is mid-remodel and I attempted to participate in NaNoWriMo, so it's been fun in my world this first half of November ;)

This week's blog topic at the SFF Seven is to promote BIPOC creatives. I chose to promote a fellow debut author, the lovely Sue Lynn Tan. Can we just take a moment to be in awe of this book cover by Waterstones?? And the GREEN pages?? I had to have it the moment I saw it! The US version is just as beautiful, though. It's one of those books that I feel I need in both forms because it's just that stunning.

US Edition
Here's a little info about Sue Lynn and her beautiful debut romantic fantasy novel.


      A captivating debut fantasy inspired by the legend of Chang'e, the Chinese moon goddess, in which a young woman’s quest to free her mother pits her against the most powerful immortal in the realm.

      Growing up on the moon, Xingyin is accustomed to solitude, unaware that she is being hidden from the feared Celestial Emperor who exiled her mother for stealing his elixir of immortality. But when Xingyin’s magic flares and her existence is discovered, she is forced to flee her home, leaving her mother behind. Alone, powerless, and afraid, she makes her way to the Celestial Kingdom, a land of wonder and secrets. Disguising her identity, she seizes an opportunity to learn alongside the emperor's son, mastering archery and magic, even as passion flames between her and the prince.

To save her mother, Xingyin embarks on a perilous quest, confronting legendary creatures and vicious enemies across the earth and skies. But when treachery looms and forbidden magic threatens the kingdom, she must challenge the ruthless Celestial Emperor for her dream—striking a dangerous bargain in which she is torn between losing all she loves or plunging the realm into chaos.

Daughter of the Moon Goddess begins an enchanting, romantic duology which weaves ancient Chinese mythology into a sweeping adventure of immortals and magic—where love vies with honor, dreams are fraught with betrayal, and hope emerges triumphant.

About Sue Lynn Tan:

Sue Lynn Tan writes fantasy novels inspired by the myths and legends she fell in love with as a child. Born in Malaysia, she studied in London and France, before settling in Hong Kong with her family.

Her love for stories began with a gift from her father, her first compilation of fairytales from around the world. After devouring every fable she could find in the library, she discovered fantasy books – spending much of her childhood lost in magical worlds.

Her debut, Daughter of the Moon Goddess, will be published by Harper Voyager in January 2022, with a sequel to come. It is an enchanting fantasy of love and family, immortals and magic – inspired by the beloved Chinese legend of Chang’e flying to the moon upon taking the elixir of immortality.

When not writing or reading, she enjoys exploring the many hills, lakes, and temples around her home. She is also grateful to be within reach of bubble tea and spicy food, which she unfortunately cannot cook.

Find her on Instagram and Twitter @SuelynnTan, or on her website www.suelynntan.com. She is represented by Naomi Davis of Bookends Literary Agency.

Doesn't this sound so amazing?? Here's a link to Sue Lynn's website book page because there are so many awesome purchase options. You can also add the book on Goodreads here. Remember, it releases on January 11, 2022. I cannot wait to read this tale!

Friday, November 12, 2021

Have I Heard of You


To be fair, probably not. That's okay. Now you have heard of this author. Keep an eye out for this one, please. The families of the characters in the book she's currently supposed to be writing will pay good --- uhm --- stories? for this author's safe return to the keyboard. Please. For the love of finishing a book. Even if you don't read SFR or Urban Fantasy, help us out.


Thursday, November 11, 2021

The Faceless Voice

Laptop on lap and a steaming coffee mug held up that says: One More Chapter. In the background, curled up on a pillow on the floor with his fluffy white tail over his nose, is Ullr the black and white husky pup.

This week we’re supposed to talk about how to respond when a fellow party-goer learns you’re a writer and asks: “have I heard of you?”.

I would have so much fun with that question, but since my first release came out during a pandemic there hasn’t been options for going out much less any parties. If I were to be asked that my gut reaction is like Jeffe’s, I’d find out if they’re a reader. 

I absolutely love recommending books to people and when they end up enjoying my suggestion I walk on clouds for the rest of the day! Yes, I’m a bookworm and I’m not afraid to read what I like or tell people about it. 

I’m on a roll getting people to read my fellow author’s works. High-five to myself! But I’m not very good at suggesting my audiobook. Why? Aren’t I proud of it? Don’t I want to shout it to the sky that I have an audiobook out in the world? 

I’d rather be the faceless voice that transports you 
out of the mundane, 
into heart-pounding adventure. 

So I’ll do a little practice—for, you know, that day when I eventually get invited out of the house. Let’s see…if we were to strike up a conversation this might be a good starting point:

Do you read? (note: the correct answer here is YES, but reality is most people choose watching tv over reading) 

Which leads to the second question: Do you like movies like The Martian and The Day After Tomorrow? (the correct answer would again be YES, because what’s not to love?!)

Do you like a little romance in the storyline? If they give confusion-face, follow up with: Romance like Liv Tyler and Ben Affleck in Armageddon or Aragorn and Arwen in Lord of the Rings? (the correct answer would of course be YES)

Do you like medical thrillers—Outbreak, Kay Scarpetta series, Forensic Files show? (again—YES)

Then you’ll like my audiobook about a lab girl fighting to put a stop to an alien organism that’s wiping out Earth—The Mars Strain! 

Whew! Maybe that won’t be so bad after all. Now, if I can only remember what it’s like to get dressed up and go out. 

How about you? How do you answer “have I heard of you”?

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Are You a Reader?


This week at the SFF Seven, we're posing the question: How do you answer when people at parties ask “have I heard of you?”

I confess that I posed this question of the group, since I get this question frequently and I'm usually at a loss as to how to answer. So for a while there I was going around asking other authors how they handle this.

My friend, Jim Sorenson, master of the witty comeback, suggested Sam Malone's line from Cheers, "Not many people know this, but I'm kind of a big deal." I couldn't find a gif of that one though. The line is a good litmus test for how much someone is paying attention. 

But in actuality, I've ended up going with a tiered response, much like KAK suggested yesterday, only a bit less... snarky. Most of the time, I've found, people are asking the question as a rote response to discovering the person they're talking to just might be famous in some way. Where writers are concerned, the answer is almost always "no."

I have, however, found another litmus test response. I return the question by asking if they're a reader. This small-talk gambit works for a multitude of scenarios. Most of the time, the person is NOT a reader, and asking this question will elicit a - sometimes long - explanation of why they don't read. It works really well for the principle that the easiest way to engage someone in conversation is to ask about themselves. People who don't read will often talk about the last book they DID read, or how they hated being forced to read in school, or how busy their lives are. This gives rich fodder for letting them talk about their lives. If they're not actually interested in the fact that I'm a writer, this lets them gracefully never return to the topic and saves me the painful sorting of the fact that, no, they haven't heard of me.

If they ARE a reader, well! Now the conversation gets interesting. I can what genres they read and we talk books. We drill down pretty quickly to whether they read my genre and, if they haven't read my books, they usually end up by whipping out their phone and buying one. Happy outcome!

Speaking of buying books, I'm happy to report that I've finished the draft of my novella for the upcoming FIRE OF THE FROST anthology! I still need to settle on a title, but it takes place at Convocation Academy in my Bonds of Magic world, taking place at roughly the same time as DARK WIZARD. You can preorder the anthology now to have it slip into your eReader in December! (Print will be available, but you can only preorder through my website right now. Print will be available via the usual retailers on release day, just not for preorder.)

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Party Season and *That* Question

: How do I answer at parties when people say, "Have I heard of you?"

teehee, bwahaha, muuwahaha

It totally depends on my mood. Usually, I'm somewhere between polite and cheeky, fully aware that 99.999% of the population has never heard of me or my works. Here are my three answers and associated moods.

Polite: "Probably not, but life's about trying new things, right? Can I interest you in some meddlesome modern gods, a horde of dashing dragons, a grenade-eating goblin, or a fire-warrior out to destroy a kingdom?"

Cheeky: "Highly unlikely, but you look like the adventurous sort. You should give my books a try. How about spending the night with some meddlesome modern gods, a grenade-eating goblin, or a fire-warrior out to destroy a kingdom with the power of mind control?"

Raging Bitch On Shutdown Mode: "Depends entirely on whether you allow the mainstream to dictate your personal preferences."

Monday, November 8, 2021

Do I know you?

 This week's subject is "How do you answer when people ask, 'Do I know you?'"

My usual answer, if I'm being honest, is "I don't know. do you read fantasy, science fiction, or horror?"

I believe in properly chastising non-readers. :)  I will forgive them even if they only read non-fiction because at least they are reading. 

Seriously, I probably know as many people because I work at Starbucks (Several in the last fifteen years) as I do as a result of my writing. It's hard to say which pays better over the years, but I definitely enjoy the writing more. Okay, I likely have a few more readers than regulars at Starbucks. I've had over 40 novel-length works in print over the years. 

That said, anyone who does this for the ego boost is likely going to get an unpleasant surprise. It's about telling tales and having a good time in the process, and as I have said before,, I'd likely be writing these stories even if I'd never been in print. It's how I express myself. 

I did have a rather unexpected surprise today, a new t-shirt from a fan (I have a few of those). 

Friday, November 5, 2021

Pandemics, Politics, and Face Plant

This photo is 100% representative of the past two years of writing for me. The picture is from July 2021. I'd just face-planted on a downtown Austin sidewalk. Fat lip. Broken nose. 

So yeah. Pandemic. Politics. Face-plants. I've been a mental and emotional train wreck since January 2020. I've finished nothing. I've barely managed to put one word in behind another on a book that should have been finished in late 2019. 


1. Lock down and unrelenting introvert exhaustion. Don't get me wrong. I love my family. Most of the time. But I need serious alone time. THERE'S BEEN NONE FOR TWO YEARS AND I'M ABOUT TO CRACK. Four adults and too many cats in one house has been crushing to this introvert. 

2. Living with someone who's immune-compromised. If you look up 'COVID-19 comorbidities' you'll find my father's photo. That's a lot of worry and a lot of pressure. It meant living in several months of fear that one of us would bring illness home and kill my father. As a result, no one went anywhere. For a really, really long time. Even past being vaccinated. To this day, no one goes anywhere unless double masked. It also means that while I used to be able to leave the house to get some alone time out in the world, you can see how THAT stopped.

3. I picked up a day job. Initially, when I picked up the technical writing gig, there was plenty of time and brain space for fiction. Then the projects at work kicked into high gear and ate my brain. 

Now, there are parts of life in these times that I cannot impact. I can't do anything about a pandemic. Nor can I do as much about politics as I'd like. But I can change how work happens and the day job is scaling back in January. I can't change the fact that life has fundamentally shifted. The parental units both need extra help and I'm having to adjust to the fact that alone time is going to be thin on the ground for the foreseeable future. 

Adapt or die. I thought it was a movie slogan. I'd never expected a bit of Jurassic Park to apply to me.

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

2021: A Good Year for Me

Our topic at the SFF Seven this week is: "It's Been A Year: Pandemic Year 2, Vaccines, New Political Administration, has it affected your writing? Better? Worse?"

I confess, this has been a good year for me. As James discussed on Monday, it's been a huge relief to me to have sanity in the White House again. Yeah, there's a lot of political stuff that's still not where I'd like it to be, but it's so much better than it was. I feel like we're at least working to solve the problems we're facing rather than digging ourselves deeper. 

I'm really happy we got vaccinated early in the year, too. My hubs and I took the opportunity to drive to Amarillo, TX to get ours. (A four-hour drive each way.) We got our second dose by March 8. That was an amazing, once in a lifetime experience (I hope!), knowing that sheer, sweet relief of being vaccinated against COVID-19. It restored a sense of safety and wellbeing that I'd missed for pretty much exactly a year.

Also, I'm one of those who became more productive in my writing during the pandemic, largely because I wasn't traveling, I think. I talk about this a lot, but having a daily writing habit carried me through even the worst of the anxiety. That habit is the foundation that allows everything else to be stable. I know this can be aggravating to people who can't write every day for various reasons, but I'm such a huge believer in the magic of ritual and building a habit that carries you through the rough patches. Still, I say this as a writer who spent many, many years not being very productive. 

This is way better.

So, though we're only 84% of the way through the year so far (and yes, I'm counting today, since it's morning for me), I'm calling it a good year for me. In particular, I'm thrilled by this graph of my income from royalties and book sales. As you can see, 2021 has been my best income-from-writing year ever, and that's with two months to go. It also doesn't count income from other sources, like teaching workshops and author coaching. 

I'm really proud of myself for the work I put in to make this happen.

How about you all - are things looking up in your neck of the woods?