Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Envy: 10 Steps to Getting Over It

Envy, how I wish I was better than thee. Have I ever felt it? Oh gods, yes. Has anyone ever been envious of me? Uh. Hmm. ~ponders~ Maybe that time in 5th grade when I burped the entire alphabet without barfing. Boys in the class were surprisingly grumpy over that. Since then? No idea. 

That's the thing about envy, isn't it? It's an intensely felt emotion that outwardly presents as any number of other emotions. You're choking on entitlement that's been deprived, but if you've never learned to manage your emotions, you may not yet realize why you're rolling around like a seething pustule. You might even think you're simply angry. Or hurt. Or humiliated. People start avoiding you because you're unpleasant to be around, which compounds your foul mood. You start assigning blame to anyone but yourself. Then, as if summoned by the need to share misery, you attract other envious folks. Your single-pot stew expands into a big ol' cauldron that eventually boils over and burns you, badly.

On the other hand, if you've learned to acknowledge, identify, confront and modify your negative emotions, then you're prepared for the times when envy destroys your equanimity. For example, you learn someone else has achieved/acquired something you crave. Instantly, you're fangs-out pissed. Envy swirls around you like a bad genie freed from its lamp. But, before you allow your physical reactions to extend beyond your person, you take the very necessary moments for introspection. You walk yourself through the 10 steps: 

  • what am I feeling, 
  • why am I feeling it, 
  • is the reaction proportionate, 
  • is it focused, 
  • who else is impacted by it, 
  • do I wish to change my state of mind, 
  • if so, how, 
  • when,
  • for how long, 
  • and who will be affected by it?

For some, the outcome of that introspection is to let go of envy as if letting go of a balloon. For others, social distance is necessary while they make the emotional change (they know they're the problem and they're working to fix themselves). Still others are committed to the Fuck You, Burn It All Down approach.

Me? I'm straddling group 1 and group 2. I aspire to be firmly in group 1, but I'm also honest enough with myself that certain people or certain circumstances will hit me harder than others. Upside, it takes me less time than it once did to complete the mind shift. Progress. It's a good thing.

Emotional maturity is the only way to combat envy. And if you find yourself faltering, Don't Be a Dick is a worthy mantra.

Monday, February 22, 2021

The Green Eyed Monster

 Jealousy is an ugly thing, and I try not to let it get to me. ai prefer the idea of a friendly rivalry. "Oh, you sold a short story? Well, watch this!"

Seriously. In the worlds of one 9f the best writers I know, and he likely got the words from someone else, "the rising tide lifts all boats."

No, I don't get jealous, or if I do, I crush that negativity down as hard as I can. I think that's pretty easy for me because, after over twenty-five years in this business, I'm still pleasantly surprised by every success I have. 

That doesn't mean I haven't run across the green-eyed monster a few times. I have. Of course, I'd like to have the successes of a few of my peers. I've never won  Hugo, or a Stoker award, and nobody particularly cares if I'm ever the guest of honor at a convention, It just doesn't happen. I get that. I'm comfortably midlist. I'd like to be the next New York Times bestselling author, but if it doesn't happen, it simply isn't meant to be. 

Put another way, I'd rather celebrate the victories for me and my friends alike. I have sev3eral friends who started after me and have had more commercial success. It is what it is. I haven't had a movie made on my work, but I've been optioned a few times and so far Netflix isn't knocking at the door and HBO would rather do a sequel to Game of Thrones than come over and give me a fat check for Seven Forges. To a very real extent, it's the luck of the draw. Nothing of mine has stuck to the proverbial wall yet, but you never know. In the meantime, rather than fret over those things. I'll worry about whether or to I can manage the rent this month. It's a more pressing need if you see my point. 

I might get jealous, but it's nev4r for long. It's not pie. I don't have to get less because someone else gets more. Want to know another thing? The same is true in reverse.. I've run across more than a few people who thought that my success was somehow responsible for their lack of the same. I normally don't give them the time of day. On a few occasions, I've pulled them aside and we've had a chat. 

One of my favorites was a woman who could not understand why I wasn't getting her work as an editor. We'd literally met n hour earlier and apparently, she felt I should have been telling ev4ryone about her editorial services. Listen, while I will often help a person out by recommending them, I didn't know her at all. I had never dealt with her I felt no obligation to sing the gospels of her editorial services to anyone. I still don't.   Why would I then tell people how amazing her skills are?

Sorry, but it doesn't work that way. Maybe she thought that was how networking is handled, but, no, thanks. Not for me.

does that sound selfish? it isn't meant to. but why would I trust the skills of someone I don't know? Why would I risk giving someone bad advice that way? I'm all for helping others mv4e forward with their careers, but not because it is demanded of me. 

That's like trying to demand a quote from Stephen King for mt next book. Good heavens, why would he? We've literally never met.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Battling Author Envy

This week at the SFF Seven we're talking about ENVY. We're asking if things have ever gotten weird between you and another author after publishing?

Yeah, they have. And it's awful and heartbreaking.

You know what else is awful and heartbreaking? Feeling that envy for other authors who seem to be more successful than we are. None of us wants to be that person, and yet none of us is immune from those green crawly fingers of professional jealousy.

So, what happened to me? It's happened a few times, with different people. The most startling cases were authors who were published before I was. I admired their books. They became friends. They were lovely and generous and helpful to me. A couple of the people I'm thinking of were ones I counted as very close friends. Women I loved. 

In every case, after I did get published and enjoyed some moderate success, they ended up just... not being my friends anymore. They essentially ghosted me on social media. One emailed me after we roomed at a convention, told me she wasn't going the next year and so I should find another roommate - then she did go, didn't tell me, and roomed with someone else. 

Did it hurt? Oh, yes, it really hurt. It still hurts to write this.

Did I wonder what I'd done to lose those friendships? Obsessively. I still think about it sometimes.

Do I know it was envy? No. It could be I said or did something. Sometimes we never know why someone stops loving us. Even if we can figure it out, there's no changing the past. 

The point of all this is that I can't control those relationships. They didn't want to be my friends anymore and I couldn't change that. I've found only one way to combat that ongoing pain, and that is to control what I can: changing myself.

I do my very best to be a good friend to others. I try to help and support other authors. I counter professional jealousy in myself any time it pricks me with its poisonous thorns. 

The best way to counter that? Flow out the opposite energy!

Read a book that you don't think is as good as yours but seems to have done better? Find something to love about it!

See an author with more followers than you have? Follow them too!

Someone is nominated for an award that you aren't? Celebrate it!

Another author is making way more money than you are? Take some of theirs!

Oh, wait...

Okay, so, it's not a perfect method. But it really does work. If you feel the pinch of professional jealousy, the most effective way to combat it is to be the opposite of that. You don't have to feel it, just act accordingly. Trust me - the feeling will follow. 

And know you're not alone. 


Dark Wizard comes out Thursday!!
Available at these Retailers

Friday, February 19, 2021

Loving Up the Backlist

 A funny thing happened at the day job last week. The manager said, "I need a Powerpoint of ALL your novels. Give me cover, reviews, awards, and a snippet of dialogue. We're trying to sell you into a gig writing character dialogue, so give me different character voices so we can play that up. Oh. And we need that NOW."

Imagine my delight then, to find this is backlist love week and I just happen to have the backlist in a neat, tidy set of slides. I'm not going to copy in an entire Powerpoint deck. I'm not that much of a monster. Usually. 

The piece of backlist I'll point up is Nightmare Ink. While searching for a snippet of dialogue that showed up a bit of character, I kept finding myself getting sucked into the story - as if I hadn't written it. That seemed like a reasonable criteria for selection. Here's the snippet and the review I found on Amazon that warmed the frosty cockles of my heart.


     “Kill it!” he wailed. “Kill it!”
     The creature shrilled in Isa’s head.
     “SHUT UP!” she shouted, yanking her hand free of Zoog’s skin. “I can’t just kill it!”
     Silence settled over the studio.
     Surprise at the pronouncement rocked her. The chill in her gut dissipated, but it took several seconds for the heat and smell of sage to drive away nausea.
     “What do you mean you can’t just kill it?” Zoog said. His voice sounded stronger.
     “It’s wounded. Bleeding. It’s a cornered animal, in pain and afraid.”
     He scowled and shook his head. “You make it sound like it’s alive, babe. This is nothing but Ink and magic, right?”
     “Who told you that?” she snapped.
     He propped himself up on his elbows and levered himself up to look her in the eye. “Daniel. While he was inking me.”
     Isa shivered. She shut out disquiet with a bracing dose of anger. “What? Daniel thinks he’s God, creating animate constructs with Ink and magic? What did you think while he was inking you, Zoog? That he’d birthed the animating force out his ass?”
     He barked a strangled laugh. “You have a way with words, Ice.”
     “Part of my charm.”
     “I know. Marry me.”
     “Sorry. I don’t like the company you keep.”
     “In part.” She smoothed damp palms down her jeans.

The Sweet Review:

I have to say - this one surprised me. What a great concept, and unique world-building.

Isa has magic and can create Living Ink, although chooses not to do it because it's dangerous. Live ink is exactly what it sounds like. Whatever is tattooed on your body, is alive, and shares living space with you.

What she does do is bind ink on those who have live ink when it goes rogue and attempts to leave the body. How creepy is that? Especially for someone who has tattoos?

Someone is summoning all of the live ink off their host's bodies, and it's killing them and the host in the process. Isa may be one of them after a psycho kidnaps her and tattoos live ink on her unless she can stop them.

Isa is an interesting character with an interesting back story, that slowly starts to come out throughout the book. She's tough and likable, and you can't wait to see her kick some ass after what's been done to her.

I couldn't put this book down. It was action-packed from the moment I turned the first page. There is a small love interest although it doesn't really turn into much of anything until late in the book, I assume it will be full-blown in the next book.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Now that Texas has seceded and the world is spiraling into chaos...

Today, Texans are dealing with a killer winter, but not too long ago our very own Vivien Jackson introduced us to the award-winning first book in her Wanted and Wired Sci-Fi Weird Western Romance trilogy with that tantalizing teaser. That's right! It's Backlist Love week here on the blog. Time to meet Mari and Heron as they heat things up in a far-future Texas.

Wanted and Wired: Book 1

Rogue scientist * technologically enhanced * deliciously attractive
Heron Farad should be dead. But technology has made him the man he is today. Now he heads a crew of uniquely skilled outsiders who fight to salvage what's left of humanity: art, artifacts, books, ideas -- sometimes even people. People like Mari Vallejo.

Gun for hire * Texan rebel * always hits her mark
Mari has been lusting after her mysterious handler for months. But when a by-the-book hit goes horribly sideways, she and Heron land on the universal most wanted list. Someone set them up. Desperate and on the run, they must trust each other to survive, while hiding devastating secrets. As their explosive chemistry heats up, it's the perfect storm...

BUY IT NOW:  Amazon Apple Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Meet the Gatekeeper on a Mission from Hel

I mailed my backlist Valentine to the first book in The Immortal Spy Urban Fantasy Series...but with DeJoy still running the post office, it probably won't get to Bix in Old Town Alexandria, VA, until St. Paddy's day.  


Political snark aside, with the snowstorms locking down the nation more securely than the pandemic, now is a great time to meet Bix, a gatekeeper with amnesia and a vendetta; Tobek, the don't-call-me-a-Viking commander of the Berserkers; and Gurp, the walking forensics lab goblin. Oh, and did I mention Bix's best friend is a body thief and her mentor in the spy game is an electricity-wielding demigod? Go ahead, start a new adventure that will take you across this World and many others.

The Immortal Spy: Book 1

Gods. Always ready to screw you.

When Bix the Gatekeeper is summoned from exile a hundred and seventy years early by the goddess of the Norse Under World, the former Dark Ops agent knows there’s a catch. On the surface, the terms of the deal are simple. Someone attacked the pantheon’s ambassador to the Mid Worlds and left the ambassador in a coma. In exchange for early parole, Bix must identify the perpetrator and drag their soul to Hel.

It’d be a sweet contract, if not for the details. The ambassador is Bix’s ex-girlfriend, the lead suspect is the key witness from Bix’s trial, and the organization leading the official investigation is the same intelligence guild that disavowed Bix when a covert op went pear-shaped. Undeterred, Bix returns to her old stomping grounds where clues in the smoldering woods of Centralia, Pennsylvania, lead to the waterfront of Washington, DC, and Worlds beyond.

Once valued for her skills creating passageways as small as a capillary or as large as a continent, Bix’s success now depends on the relationships she was forced to abandon. As she squares off against friends who betrayed her and enemies keen to destroy her, Bix follows a trail of secrets, torture, and treason that leads to the very superpowers who banished her. With her freedom on the line and revenge within reach, this highly-trained operative will take on Fates, dragons, angels, and gods to get exactly what she wants.

Hel hath no fury like a burned spy.

Overdrive (for Libraries)

Monday, February 15, 2021


 As Jeffe already pointed out, the backlist is basically all of the books an author has that are, well, frankly, older. They are not front and center. They are not about to be released, and therefore they end up on the back burner as it were. 

naa0w, the trick here, is to do something with those pieces. In the past, well, frankly you hoped someone would come along who could put them out for you. 

The past is gone. Celebrate the new norm. These days you can put them out yourself. Something I need to do with several of my titles, frankly. desperately. I have plans, of course, b8ut between life's general chaos and a year and a half of cancer treatments and recovery, I need to get my butt in gear. 

I recently, like right before I started dealing with the cancer issues, had a book come out called BOOMTOWN.

I started the novel when my first wife was dealing with hemodialysis three times a week. I put the novel on hold when my wife passed away. It was simply too much to deal with. I couldn't look at the manuscript without thinking about all of the suffering and pain both she and I dealt with as she was dying by inches. As I have been known to express previously, it is what it is. 

So I shelved the book. Then, because it was a project near and dear to me, I started writing the sequels to a boo that was not in print. Mostly it was short stories. They came to my mind and I write them for various requested projects. I had not fin9shed the tale of Jonathan Crowley, my immortal monster hunter, in the old west, but I wrote the sequels because I wanted to continue his untold tale. And I gave him a sidekick in the form of Lucas Slate, a cursed individual who had already had a life that was far from normal. 

And then, one day, when my mind decided it was time, I picked up that BOOMTOWN manuscript and started writing again. By the time it was fin9shed and sold, I decided it was time to do something with the short stories I had written and collected them in a new book, WHERE THE SUN GOES TO DIE. 

They're fun books and I had a blast with them. 

Those r4 my backlist suggestions this time around. You can find BOOMTOWN right here. And you can find WHERE THE SUN GOES TO DIE right here.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Why Do We Love Our Backlists?

This week at the SFF Seven we're giving our backlists some love. For those not in the swim of publishing lingo, the backlist is any of an author's books that aren't the front and center new release. 

It's good to send some love to those backlist aunties, the books that are not the fresh, sweet debutantes, but who truly keep the family going. When I first started out, an author told me that the key to making a living as a writer is to have a healthy backlist. That's the steady bread and butter, that passive income that keeps earning for you without additional work on your part.

It was such great advice!

So I'm giving a valentine to THE SHIFT OF THE TIDE. This is still one of my bestselling Indie novels, and remains one of my favorite covers and characters. A friend once remarked that Zynda is more like me than most of my heroines, and it's true. Which is odd because she's a shapeshifter, not human at all.

What does this say about me? Let's not go there.


ANYWAY, THE SHIFT OF THE TIDE has not only earned me the most money of any of my Indie books, it's my fourth highest Indie seller when I normalize over time, too. She's a good auntie to me!

Available at these Retailers


Or via my website store!


Released from the grip of a tyrant, the Twelve Kingdoms have thrown all that touch them into chaos. As the borders open, new enemies emerge to vie for their hard-won power—and old deceptions crumble under the strain…

The most talented shapeshifter of her generation, Zynda has one love in her life: freedom. The open air above her, the water before her, the sun on her skin or wings or fur—their sensual glories more than make up for her loneliness. She serves the High Queen’s company well, but she can’t trust her allies with her secrets, or the secrets of her people. Best that she should keep her distance, alone.

Except wherever she escapes, Marskal, the Queen’s quiet lieutenant, seems to find her. Solid, stubborn, and disciplined, he’s no more fluid than rock. Yet he knows what she likes, what thrills and unnerves her, when she’s hiding something. His lithe warrior’s body promises pleasure she has gone too long without. But no matter how careful, how tender, how incendiary he is, only Zynda can know the sacrifice she must make for her people’s future—and the time is drawing near…