Sisyphus runs my inbox…

Seriously, I feel like the more messages and emails and texts and message and emails and whatsapps and notifications I check off the old to-do list, the farther and farther behind I lag. While I’m working on clearing some projects and activities off my plate, I’ve realized that part of the problem is not so much that I’m doing too much, insofar as it’s necessary to sometimes stop, regroup, reorganize, and then go forth.

Take the podcast, for example. I’ve been hosting On the Shelf: A Writer Reads for the past month. In that time, I’ve managed to schedule almost all of the interviews that I have planned for the first season. I’ve also standardized my promo graphic, the show template, purchased a high quality podcasting microphone (the pink one, of course), and set up a spiffy new Facebook group. My first goal of 50 subscribers is within reach, and I’m really enjoying the process. (It’s also helping me stick to my Goodreads reading challenge goals.)

However, I did not set up a process for organizing and storing episode material, i.e., audio files, headshots, bios, etc. And that is coming around to bite me in the posterior, because I’ve completed about three-quarters of the scheduled interviews, plus three more for another, future podcast I’m co-hosting and co-producing, and with all the files and material, I’m worried about losing track of something.

So far, I’ve recorded my book review rundown, added the new release guest interview, edited, and scheduled this week’s On the Shelf episode, both to air and then to post in the FB group. Next up, I’ve got some Army Reserve items to take care of (the weekend after Battle Assembly, there’s always something to follow up on), as well as hosting this week’s TWT-Co-Working event. And then, I will be sitting down and setting up a better process to take care of all of the items that I have collected for the podcasts, and putting things where they need to be, so that I can be less stressed out about it in the future.

And, finally, my last, big organizing project this week–writing out my master inventory list of writing, editing, and publishing projects so that I can track their status and my progress. That way, I can have, at a glance, a better idea of where I am, and where I can direct my attention from day to day.

Anyway, that’s about all I have on a Monday. Hope that your week goes smoothly, and that you, too, find some way to catch up on your inbox.

~~~

Thanks for reading! If you like what I’m putting out in the world, and would like to help support what I’m doing, you can buy a book, leave a review, listen to the podcast, or share content. You can also tip me on Ko-Fi, which will help keep me in books and coffee and colored pens. Enjoy!

Have you picked up a copy of Cold Run: Book 1 of the Rick Keller Project? Do you like fast-paced, gritty urban fantasy and werewolf secret agents? Well, then. Click the link!

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New mic, that’s who…

In answer to the question, of course, “New mic, who dis?” Here, let me show you:

photo of a pink microphone with the logo "blue" and in the background, a computer with a graphic for the On the shelf podcast

I was reading Podcasting Made Simple by Daniel Larson to learn some ways to approach developing, producing, and promoting a show, and in that book, they (the author is a pen name for two podcasters) recommend the Blue Yeti Mic. It’s a pretty reasonably-priced condenser mic, with a bunch of effects (that I probably won’t use), and when I posted it on my Facebook, a number of people chimed in with how much they like it.

So…of course I ignored all my adult responsibilities and immediately broke it out for a test run. Safe to say, I love it. I sound SO much better, although I should still probably invest in a angled-arm stand for the desk, as well as a pop filter. I also was intrigued to see that it has a four mic directional settings. In addition to podcasting, I could also use this to record myself playing music and singing. And I do have a bunch of songs that I haven’t recorded that I could put together…

Anyway, I am going to force myself to get back to editing, but if you have been listening to On the Shelf and you suddenly think, hey, Rachel suddenly sounds way better and more professional, well, this is the reason why.

~~~

Thanks for reading! If you like what I’m putting out in the world, and would like to help support what I’m doing, you can buy a book, leave a review, listen to the podcast, or share content. You can also tip me on Ko-Fi, which will help keep me in books and coffee and colored pens. Enjoy!

Have you picked up a copy of Cold Run: Book 1 of the Rick Keller Project? Do you like fast-paced, gritty urban fantasy and werewolf secret agents? Well, then. Click the link!

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Road trip!

If we weren’t moving this summer, I probably wouldn’t have driven to Charlotte last night. Right now, I am beyond tired, with my eyeballs drooping and just enough motivation to brew some strong, hot tea and keep pushing through.

How tired am I? I just tried to download this picture from Facebook onto my phone so that I could then upload it into Dropbox so that I could post it here, and I was getting frustrated that Facebook was glitching on my phone. It took me several minutes to remember that I could just…pull up Facebook on my computer? Download my own photo? Yeah. That’s where I am.

Seven books arrayed on a table of various titles with business cards arranged in front.
All set up and ready to go January 31 at Books & Brews at The Casual Pint (Rivergate) in Charlotte, NC.

Anyway, the reason I was in Charlotte was because there is a local Books & Brews event that a writing friend of mine started up, and I asked if I could attend as one of the writers. He cautioned me that it hadn’t really gotten a huge audience yet, but I figured that if the worst thing that happened was that I got to visit with some of my people, then it would be worth the drive.

And it was! I showed up a little early, grabbed a coffee from the Target Starbucks, and then headed over to set up. My friend and I ordered some food and I had my one drink (a darn good local sour). The event ran officially from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., although I ended up staying a few minutes later. Toward the end of the evening, I even sold some books–enough to cover the cost of dinner AND the seven beers I bought off the shelf to bring home to the spouse.

At one point, my friend apologized again for the small crowd. I told him, first, that I appreciated the opportunity to come and hang out with my friends, writing and otherwise, in a setting where we got to actually sit and have a conversation. It was a lovely time, and I really enjoy spending quality time with people I like hanging out with.

Also, I told him, when I was in high school and college, I played in a band. We would drive two hours to some shitty dive bar in the middle of nowhere on a weeknight and play for a disinterested audience of two, which was one less than the number of women in the band, and then drive back home and still call it time well spent. So this sort of occasion was kind of par for the course. And hey! I got to see another friend who I don’t get to spend a lot of time with, being that they live in Charlotte. So, wins (and drinks!) all around.

The next time I’m on the road will be to Ret-Con in Durham, the last weekend in February. I will be there with a full table of books and signage, and will also be on panels and attending panels and doing all sorts of fun things. If you happen to be in the area, stop by!

And finally, a shout out to author Patrick Dugan, my friend who invited me to the event, and presented me with these two lovelies for my girls.

Two three-D printed dragon heads laying on a table
They’ve been named Winter and Spring.

He makes and sells these at conventions, as well as on his Etsy store, Distracted Dragon 3D. Just wanted to send a shout out!

Anyway, I am hoping that some sort of energy sneaks back in. I’ve got a bunch of editing, a bunch of critiquing, and a bunch of writing and slush reading to get through. I should probably go and start making my way through the list. In the meantime, hope you enjoy the pictures, and hope to see you later next month in Durham!

~~~

Thanks for reading! If you like what I’m putting out in the world, and would like to help support what I’m doing, you can buy a book, leave a review, listen to the podcast, or share content. You can also tip me on Ko-Fi, which will help keep me in books and coffee and colored pens. Enjoy!

Have you picked up a copy of Cold Run: Book 1 of the Rick Keller Project? Do you like fast-paced, gritty urban fantasy and werewolf secret agents? Well, then. Click the link!

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Dusting Myself Off and Getting Back in the Fight

Okay, so obviously this week was a bit of a … change in all of the plans we’ve had. I was going through some emotions I didn’t even realize I could experience all at the same time. There was a lot of coffee, a lot of pacing, a lot of rearranging of my underwear drawer. There were also maybe a few tears shed, I won’t lie. Even now, I’m still pretty pissed off.

But, I’m getting over it.

First, I gotta keep working. What this has shown me was that I can’t just assume the future is going to happen the way I expected. I don’t know WHY the universe keeps sending me this lesson. Possibly, because I keep refusing to learn it. Meh. But it caused me to double down on many of the projects–work and home–that I have underway.

Is This Thing On?

First, when I wrote down my intentions for the new year, I included the fact that I wanted to do a podcast. And now…I am setting up for two. The first one is basically me talking about what I want to read, what I’m currently reading, what I’ve borrowed from the library, what I’ve purchased from authors a Cons, and to a small extent how my reading life influences the other parts of my life, including the writing. I also decided to interview authors who have new releases coming out the week each episode airs, because the younger reader in me thinks it is JUST SO COOL that not only can I host my own “radio” show, but I can also connect with and have conversations with the authors that I love reading.

Anyway, the first and second episodes are out now (the second one came out today), and you can find links to the various places you can listen on the On the Shelf Anchor site. My first guest is Nicole Givens Kurtz, who was a wonderful first author to talk to. She was very gentle and understanding as I worked through the technical glitches (the first method of recording was too glitchy, and then it took Zoom what felt like FOREVER to update so I could go with the second course of action…) But, the show is up, and I’ve got a few more interviews recorded and a bunch more scheduled.

I told my spouse that I have an excellent excuse for shirking household chores to read, as it was now part of my professional workload. I’m not sure he totally bought it, but my intention is to monetize my podcast efforts, so please click the link, listen, like, share, review–all those good things. You will be hearing about some awesome books, and I will get a couple of bucks so that I can go buy more books! It’s a win-win, my friends.

Am I In Denial?

Wow, Rachel, I imagine you saying. You seem to be doing pretty well after this week’s setbacks. Are you in denial?

Yeah, probably. Like I mentioned above, I’m still pretty upset. But you know what? There’s literally nothing to be done to change the past. So, I can sit and wallow, or I can sit with my spouse and come up with some plans of what to do next. (Kind of like when your first podcast recording technique glitches out and you go change over to another one…)

First, I looked up the website of where we’re going. There were a couple of things that made me feel much better about the move. We’re not TOO close to a bunch of things, but we are close enough that I can make a drive and have access to organizations such as the LA chapter of the Horror Writers Association. There’s a wolf sanctuary that you can visit (and I’m definitely planning to!) Living on post will be a great experience for the kids, especially. There is a sort of close-knit vibe that military posts develop, and that can be good or bad, but for my oldest child who never met a stranger only new friends, I think she is going to love that neighborhood environment. I even looked up the local community college to see if they have faculty positions open, so that might be an opportunity to pursue!

My spouse and I are incredibly lucky to have a good support structure. We were able to call our realtor for advice on what to do with the house, and then I had a good long chat with my mother-in-law, and then over in the family chat where my siblings had some jokes. Mostly at my expense. But they cheered me up. As I talked yesterday on the phone, I could feel so much stress and anger leaving. I left those phone calls with plans of what to do next as well as a sense of both acceptance and even, a little bit, eagerness. I’m not saying that I wouldn’t swing right back to Seattle in a heartbeat if the chance came up, but I’m feeling better about the move and getting back in the groove with my writing, editing, podcasting, and house cleaning/organizing ventures.

Anyway, that’s what’s happening this week. It’s been a little more nuts than usual, but hey, I guess that’s life. I’m sure sometime a few years (or months or weeks) from now, I’ll be posting again about learning my lesson about anticipating the future too closely. But until then, there’s words to write, content to share, and laundry to fold.

Peace!

~~~

Thanks for reading! If you like what I’m putting out in the world, and would like to help support what I’m doing, you can buy a book, leave a review, listen to the podcast, or share content. You can also tip me on Ko-Fi, which will help keep me in books and coffee and colored pens. Enjoy!

Have you picked up a copy of Cold Run: Book 1 of the Rick Keller Project? Do you like fast-paced, gritty urban fantasy and werewolf secret agents? Well, then. Click the link!

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Case of the Mondays

My fellow Internet denizens, I am just here to say that yesterday was the absolute, most Mondayest Monday that ever did Monday. I’m sitting here in my downstairs office with a cup of coffee and piles of papers and stacks of items on my to-do list, and just kind of staring at my coffee and feeling a little shell-shocked.

First things first–everyone here is well and healthy (and I just took the plague test to prove it, which will make sense if you read to the end of this digital primal scream.) But yesterday was testing every single last nerve, and so, in order to move on with my life, I’m just going to give you all the run down and then try to get back to work.

But first, sip of coffee.

Ah… Much better.

Okay, so Monday morning I wake up about a half hour after the bus has already come and gone. In fact, I’ve got about fifteen minutes to not only get out the door, but to actually drop the kids off at school. Adrenaline spikes, panic kicks in, and in a flurry of sneakers and book bags and barking dogs and slammed doors we make it to the car and down to the school in time to drop everyone off where they are supposed to be. I get back to the house and sit in the car for a moment, listening to myself talk about my new podcast.

“Well,” I thought. “Got the kids to school, and this doesn’t sound bad at all. Guess we got Monday out of the way early today!”

Ha … hahahahahaaa… Poor, sweet, unknowing me…

Then, I checked my email on my phone and realized that A Woman Unbecoming had, unfortunately, not made it onto the preliminary ballot for the Stoker Awards. It was kind of a long shot, as the Stokers are basically the Oscars of the horror world, so I wasn’t too crushed, although it’s always kind of disappointing when something like that happens. Still, I sent a note to my co-editor: “Maybe next year!”, and proceeded with Monday. Nothing’s gonna get me down!

Anyway, the day proceeds apace. I hadn’t yet taken down my Christmas decorations, so I decided that today was the day. We have a lot of cleaning and decluttering and organizing to do before the Army sends us to our next duty station, so I decided to tackle one of the big tasks. I threw on my podcast app and listened to a couple of shows while I got everything where it was supposed to go in our X-Mas bins, and stacked them upstairs to go into the attic.

Moving right along, I powered up my laptop and got ready to lead Co-Working with The Writing Tribe, when I got a message from my spouse. Don’t forget, inspectors are coming.

Truth be told, I had forgotten, but no matter. They showed up and in between co-hosting the session, I showed them around and explained that we have some cracks in the walls that have been getting worse lately. We’re getting ready to move this summer and wanted to be proactive and take care of the issue prior to either renting or selling the house when we move. (Look at us not waiting until the last minute! So proud of us.)

So, they started around on their inspection. Meanwhile, I got a call from Lowe’s customer service. The door that was supposed to be delivered in October, got delayed until late November, arrived and turned out to be the wrong size, got sent back, got re-ordered, got delayed, was supposed to arrive around January 20…has been delayed and will show up some time in February. Okay, not a problem. Eventually it will show up. Par for the course for a Monday.

THREE HOURS LATER…

The gentlemen doing the inspection invite me to walk around the house with them. As they begin pointing things out, they start gently. A little too gently, if you know what I mean. They start with a general caution that there has been some, ah, moisture, and the drainage is not what it could be. Oh, and here are some cracks in the foundation. Some are vertical. Some are horizontal. Whee! So much fun.

The kids get off the bus, and we all go inside. They start getting ready for after-school activities, and I sit down at the table, where the inspectors proceed to show me the photos from under the house. After the second or third one, my attempt at “hunting the good stuff” – Well, at least we’re finding out now rather than right before we move! – starts to take a few hits. By the end of the session, we’ve called my spouse and put him on speaker and made another appointment to get together and discuss in-depth a way forward.

“Wow,” I thought to myself as I saw them out the front door (the old one that hangs crooked on the hinges and doesn’t lock all the way and lets in the cold air.) “What a Monday this surely has been.”

But Wait, There’s More!

So, I get the kids in the car, and we head on out. I drop my oldest and her cousin off at dance, and then my youngest and I hit Kohl’s to return an Amazon purchase that was delivered bent in half, and then to the library, where I returned some books and renewed some others.

As we are listening to some upbeat music and turning into our street, I get a call from my spouse. I answer the phone.

“I’ve got some news!” he says. “Notification of assignments have come out!”

“Oh, that’s great!” I say, thinking, yes–finally. This is the first step in the process of him getting orders to his next duty station, and those orders are the pieces of paper that allow us to put into motion all of the things on the checklist of Army moving (scheduling transportation, getting on the wait list for housing and schools and daycare), etc.

“Well…not really.”

Let me add a bit of context here. We have really been looking forward to this move. The Army marketplace (kind of like a job board, but for the Army) opened up, and Rob listed this unit as his number one pick. After interviews and such, they listed him as their number one pick. So, logically, this meant that since it was a one-to-one pick, we’ve been planning on heading to Seattle for the past several months. I mean, buying winter clothes in large enough sizes for the girls to wear them through the next few years type of planning. Looking into Cons in the northwest and the local chapter of the HWA type of career planning (for me). My spouse was already tracking his first trip for his new job, etc. I’ve rarely allowed myself to look forward to a move with this amount of eagerness, but I was REALLY looking forward to moving to Seattle.

I’m betting that if you have any amount of familiarity with the Army, you will guess what’s coming next.

Ding, ding, ding!

You guessed it. Did that notification of assignment say Joint Base Lewis-McChord? No, it surely did not. Did it say, Fort Irwin, California, home of being smack dab in the middle of the Mojave Desert and equidistant from literally everything, being that it’s also in the middle of NOWHERE?! Yes, it did.

I won’t lie, I think I’m still in the first stage of the grieving process, namely “denial,” hoping that maybe there’s some way that this was all some paperwork SNAFU, and that it can all be sorted out so that we can go somewhere other than the ass end of nowhere. I’ve got a lot of emotions right now and no time to deal with them, and in the grand scheme of things, these are all very much solvable, first world problems. I’m already starting to look at job openings in California, as well as the fact that we’ll be close to my spouse’s family, and the desert is kind of pretty when it’s not 120 degrees in the summer. Usually these sorts of posts do have lots of things going on for the Soldiers and their families who get stationed there. And it’s the Army–you have to kind of roll with the punches. So, we’ll dust ourselves off, adjust fire, and move on to whatever is coming next.

Bad Luck Lagniappe

Which, come to think of it, sounds like a cool name for an indie folk punk band.

Anyway, I had a great conversation last night with my friend Cristel. We are looking at putting together an hour-long, conversation/interview-format podcast, and were having our first production meeting. That went really well (and about an hour longer than we expected), and so I turned off the space heater and the lights and headed upstairs to bed thinking that, you know, it’s not so bad. We’ve got this, and there’s lots to look forward to.

As I lay down in bed with my latest book on Kindle cued up to get a little reading done before I fell asleep, my phone buzzed.

It was a notification from the NJ plague center–apparently during my travels to and from Arisia, my phone and I had spent some time in the vicinity of someone who tested positive for the plague.

I checked that both my alarms were sent and went to sleep.

Always Look On the Bright Side

Okay, so, like I said, things could be worse. I tested myself for plague this morning, and there was no plague! So that was good. I got the kids out the door to the bus on time, and my coffee is hot and plentiful. I’ve got some things to do that involve sending out submissions, as well as reading some submissions, and writing new material for a contract that I owe my publisher (and, it shows that I’ve made it to a certain point in my writing and publishing journey to even be able to say those things.) I’m going to take a deep breath, drink a few more cups of coffee, and get on with the rest of the week. Here’s hoping your week goes well, and I’ll catch ya later!

~~~

Thanks for reading! If you like what I’m putting out in the world, and would like to help support what I’m doing, you can buy a book, leave a review, listen to the podcast, or share content. You can also tip me on Ko-Fi, which will help keep me in books and coffee and colored pens. Enjoy!

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On the Shelf – New and Improved!

Okay, so, it’s a new year, and once again, I am working on catching up from last year, taking stock, taking down the Christmas decorations, and taking a look at what’s ahead for this year. One of the things that I posted on Facebook earlier this year was that a) I want to be more focused on creating content, writing books, etc., and b) my specific list of 2023 goals. Or maybe, let’s call them–intentions.

Without further ado, here are my 2023 intentions:

1. Finish the Rick Keller series.
2. Write my horror novel.
3. Standardize and expand my Crone Girls Press publication plan so I have a continuity document and reference trackers for myself and whoever comes on board.
4. Write two screenplays.
5. Possibly try out a writing collaboration. (I’ve been wanting to do this, but not sure if it’s right for me.)
6. Start a podcast.

Seems pretty on brand for the writing and publishing that I want to do. I also have some other goals, but when it comes to prioritizing, these are the top ones.

Start a Podcast, You Say?

Yes. I did say. In fact, check this out:

graphic that reads: On the Shelf: A Writer Reads

Yes, I have already started on this project. I’ve been thinking about what I wanted to do with my “On the Shelf” blog feature, especially since I want this blog to become, well, more bloggy and conversational and strict features seem kind of not in line what that vibe. Instead, I’m moving my conversation on what I’m reading, my Goodreads reading challenge, and the intersection of reading and writing over to podcast format. I’m even going to include a short interview with an author who is having a new release that week.

I’ve been playing around with how to set this up, as well as recording and editing. The preview episode for the show clocks in around sixteen minutes and is now available from a variety of venues. If you’d like to catch it, click On the Shelf: A Writer Reads, and then choose where you’d like to subscribe. It’s currently available on Spotify, Anchor, Apple, IHeartRadio, and Google. The first episode was definitely a learning experience; as I go on, I hope to get better and better at it.

On to the Writing

I’ve been working on Trial Run, the third book in the Rick Keller series. The first book, Cold Run, is now available on Kindle Unlimited and in paperback from Falstaff Books. If this is your first encounter with the book and/or series, a little bit of background–the series was originally published by a small press, then I got my rights back and self-pubbed it, then I took it down because I wanted to re-vamp the whole thing. Somewhere in there, I got to know the folks at Falstaff Books, got the opportunity to pitch the books to John Hartness, and ended up with a five-book contract.

cover photo for Cold Run plus quote: The forests in southern Germany were old and dark, and a wolf could find easy paths to run in the shadows against the deep, white snow.

One of the reasons I started a reading podcast (and prior to that, a reading blog feature) was because I find that when I am reading, I am also more creative and write more. When I was at Arisia Con this past weekend, I found myself in conversation with Kevin McGlaughlin, an accomplished, prolific writer. I mentioned that I was having a hard time writing a short story, in particular, one that is military science fiction. His advice: Read in the genre.

That made a lot of sense, and so as part of my writing, I am reading my way through a pile of military SF, courtesy of my local library.

Onward!

Well, that about all the business stuff going on–at least today. I’m also doing a ton of other stuff on the paperwork business side of the house (hello, January!) My office, which was my adult niece and nephew’s room for a year, has recently been reclaimed. I moved all of my crafting supplies, personal hobby and projects piles/boxes, books, and my desk and office books and supplies into the room. Slowly, I have been working to clear, organize, and set up my to-do piles, so that I will get back on the ball when it comes to my work. My intention with this blog will be to come on here and share conversational things, and not just what’s going on professionally–a little bit like my old (yikes, very old) profile on a site that began with “L” and ended with “ivejournal.” Woof. In the meantime, I’ve got some design work to do on this website, and about three feet of paperwork to sort through. Catch you later!

~ ~ ~

If you like what I’m putting out in the world, and would like to support what I do, you can click on the links above to grab a copy of my books, or to listen to the podcast content I’m producing. You can also drop me a tip over at my Ko-Fi page. Thanks very much for your support!

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A quick deal and some other stuff…

It’s been exactly a month since my last post, which is not the longest break between posting, but not exactly the regular blogging I keep meaning to do. Oh well. But I do have a few things to share, so let’s get started.

First, the Kindle ebook of Side Roads is currently on $0.99. If you’d like to own it for a couple bucks less than its normal price, you can check it out here.

Secondly, I’ve been chilling…perhaps a little too much. I was deathly ill the weekend prior to Halloween, with lingering effects. Then, just as I was starting to feel better, all the kids came down with the flu and passed it on to my spouse and then to me. So, that was another two weeks lost to the void. And then, when I finally started to feel better from that, it was time for family and friend obligations, and baking, and kids’ activities.

Freshly baked apple cider donuts in a pretty frame.

Speaking of baking… This time of year, I get out my recipes and cookbooks, dust them off, and start baking with a frenzy. So far, I’ve made a batch of lemon crinkle cookies, pumpkin bread, molasses drop cookies (which turned into molasses-honey-agave drop cookies when I ran out of the signature ingredient halfway through baking), chocolate chip cookies (although I don’t really like the recipe I used and am going to try another), pumpkin pie, crust, French bread rolls (note to self, don’t use that recipe for rolls–crust is too thick and hearty, and a batch of delicious bagels made the correct way (boiling in water and then baked in the oven. I plan to keep going with the cookies, as I have many more to whip up, as well as a cranberry apple pie recipe I found. Tis the season when people seem to be more willing to eat the things I make, and I really enjoy baking for people, so I’m getting my baked goods mojo going.

In addition to baking and socializing and putting books on sale, I’ve also been doing a bunch of reading. I’m within six books of my Goodreads reading challenge total, and have been enjoying a good deal of Josh Malerman (Goblin, Daphne, Black Mad Wheel and Unbury Carol), as well as Grady Hendrix (Final Girl Support Group), and others. I’ve been thinking more and more about the horror novel I’d like to write, and so I’ve been challenging myself to read longer horror works this year, especially from writers I admire in the genre. As much as I love short horror fiction, approaching a novel requires a similar-yet-different set of skills, and writing a full-length horror project bumps up that intensity times a thousand. From reading Malerman and Maberry and Iglesias and Piper and Graham Jones and Hendrix, I’m learning a lot on how to pose a question at the very beginning, and then keep the reader turning, turning, turning to find the answer at the end of the book, whether they like that answer or not.

And finally, it’s almost December, the time of month when I try to wrap up some projects and set up the next year’s worth of goals. Right now, I want to finish all of the editing for all the Crone Girls projects in the works. Next year, I want to focus on bumping up my writing progress and get a bunch of those projects complete and on their way to whichever publication path is right for them.

But for now, I’m going to get some admin to-dos completed, eat a donut, and pick a short story to start editing.

Peace!

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The end of the tunnel…

This week, I wrapped up all of the requirements for completing my MFA at Southern New Hampshire University. *pause for celebration* Yes, anyway, that’s enough pausing and celebrating. Too many things on the old to-do list for me to take too long of a break. I will lose momentum, crash, burn, and end up hiding in my blanket fort for the next six months.

For real, though. I did take some time to enjoy the end of school. However, I’m not sure if it IS the end of school. I’ve got more time and money left on the GI Bill, and it goes away at the end of 2024. I hate leaving money on the table, so I’m looking at heading into the SNHU business program and pursuing an MBA. I figure that it can’t hurt to know more about running a business, promoting and marketing, sales, and all the things I don’t have expertise in.

Also, in addition to the crushing imposter syndrome that poked its head up out of nowhere when I hit “SUBMIT” on the final draft of my thesis novel, I also had a wave of “OMG I STINK AT THIS I SHOULD GO BACK TO CORPORATE AMERICA” as I was submitting the final copy edits on Cold Run to my publisher. Why does this pop up at the end of a project (or the end of a phase in a project)? I should be thankful that imposter syndrome doesn’t raise its ugly head when I’m sitting down to write; but it’s still an annoying little beast that I have to close my eyes and navigate around whenever I’m trying to move ahead in my career. Ugh.

But the good thing is that I do have a completed draft of my thesis novel upon which I’ve done first-pass edits. I’ll be getting an edit letter from my professor, who always gives strong feedback, doing another revision pass, and then I’ll be heading into the query trenches. I’m also working on expanding the third book in the Rick Keller series from a novella to a full-length novel, which will not be as difficult as one might think, given that when I wrote the novella, I basically left out the entire middle part because I didn’t feel like writing it and going into all that character development that needs to happen… I’m currently deconstructing Trial Run in Scrivener, and will be working on that as my NaNoWriMo project.

In addition to all of the writing, I’m also head-down, getting ready to get caught up on editing projects for Crone Girls Press. I’ve got several publications to put together for 2023, and these are books that I really want to get out there. I’ve got a lot of excitement to share them, and need to start checking them off my to-do list. I also want to finish drafting out the soup-to-nuts publication process at CGP, mostly so I don’t forget steps, in part because I have mental blocks that keep me from moving forward, especially if I don’t have a checklist, and finally in part because someday I can see myself delegating this process to a publishing partner or associate, and want to make it as smooth a transition as I can.

And finally, I am actively on the hunt for projects that will be suited for Falstaff Dread. I’m not super worried about finding them–there are tons of great horror authors out there and wonderful novellas and novels that need a home. Somewhere, there will be projects that are a perfect Venn subset of author-project-publisher, and I’m looking forward to not only the development and publishing process, but everything that surrounds that process.

Anyway, that’s what’s going on here. If you’re reading this, I hope things are proceeding well with you, and if you’re a writer getting ready for NaNoWriMo, then I hope you are enjoying the calm before the storm, and find me over there at “Siegerat.” Happy writing!

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Multiverse Con Rundown

Okay, so buckle up, because this is going to be a long post. I will try to make it short, but there was so much awesomeness packed into one weekend, that will be impossible.

First, if you have not gotten your registration for next year, it’s never to early to head to the Multiverse site and register! Second, I was going to do this linearly, but I think I will chunk it out in a different way to try to capture everything… Let’s go!

Professional Stuff

Two pretty cool professional-type things happened for me at this Con. First, Crone Girls Press officially launched our first charity anthology, A Woman Unbecoming. This was a co-editing venture with Carol Gyzander, put together in response to the Dobbs decision that repealed the Roe v. Wade protections on reproductive healthcare. I brought 30 copies with me to Multiverse, handed out 12 to the other writers (including one for me to get signed by the folks who came!) and then set up at the Book Fair Sunday morning. By the end of the morning, every other copy was sold out. Many of the folks who came to the panels Carol and I had been on stopped by to check it out and ended up picking one up. It was a fast and furious production from soliciting submissions to editing to proofing to launching, and the response we’ve gotten made it worthwhile. A big shout out to Carol as well; without her, the book would not have happened.

As many of the AWU authors as we could corral at the Book Fair!
From L to R: Lynne Hansen, cover artist, Carol Gyzander, me (Rachel!), Bridgett Nelson, Jeff Strand, Jessica Nettles (front!), Samantha Bryant and Darin Kennedy.

The second cool thing to happen professionally was getting a chance to sit down with John G. Hartness, author of the Quincy Harker and Bubba the Monster Hunter series and founder of Falstaff Books. The topic of discussion? Falstaff’s new horror imprint, Falstaff Dread, to be headed up by yours truly. We talked number of titles per year, what year we are looking at launch, promo, marketing, and a number of questions I’ve learned to ask when taking on a new venture. There are a number of reasons why I’ve wanted to work with Falstaff Books as an author. There are ten times as many reasons why the opportunity to work with them as an editor is way too cool. It has been a career bucket list item to develop, edit, and publish full-length horror fiction, to be able to find new voices AND work with established authors, working behind the scenes on the developmental and line editor side of the house. It’s a bonus to do it with a house like Falstaff that works as hard as John and crew do to promote and market the titles they have under contract. This is going to be a lot of fun.

Programming and Activities

Multiverse Con is one of my favorites for a reason. Their programming is rich, diverse, and takes into account several streams of programming of interest to nerds, geeks, and fans of all kinds. There is a robust WRITE track, separate GEEK tracks for Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Horror (oh, the HORROR! It’s so wonderful… so many great guests and panels and art and fun…) There is a LEARN track for academics, a MEET track for get-togethers, a PLAY track for games and gaming, and a GATHER track for things like burlesque shows and Marc Gunn concerts and even a dance party. I spent some of the panels behind the dais, and several more in the audience, listening with my ears wide open as people chatted about the things that keep them happy. Sheree Renee Thomas, the guest of honor, was fantastic on the many panels I attended at which she spoke. One in particular, was a Slush Wars panel, where she and Hartness and one more editor who I am blanking on, listened as a volunteer read aloud the opening lines of several anonymized stories. Each editor would say “Stop,” when they would have stopped reading the submission. She had fantastic advice which, as an editor, I am going to put into my toolbox.

During the Slush Wars panel, I also got to be present when one of the entries was read in its entirety, and when the sample was complete, all three editors were smiling and applauding. Hartness invited the author to come and talk to him, and I went up afterwards to congratulate and compliment them. It’s a special kind of magic to hear something at the beginning and know it is going to be awesome, and that kind of moment is one of the reasons this Con is so cool.

I can’t NOT leave a note about the ConSuite. I was so happy that the meals were vegetarian with a vegan/gluten free option. I’m not any of those things myself, but I have a number of friends who struggle with finding options they can eat, and these were delicious!

Finally, the hotel is a great space. There is space to move, to chill around the vendor hall, to sit around outside and visit with people. And that leads me to…

I Love This Con

I had originally applied as a guest, been accepted, and then withdrawn due to various other commitments that arose. As the date approached, I decided that fuck it, I was going to Multiverse. I needed a Con, and I needed THIS Con specifically. So many of the friends in my writing and fandom communities attend, and if I didn’t get a chance to sit down and have heart-deep conversations with everyone, I did get a chance to say hi and get a hug and a quick chat. I got to meet new people and listen to music and even let Paige L. Christie drag me up to the dance party (listen, you start playing GenX bangers, and you better move over and make some room for a six-foot overly Caucasian ME.) Carol and I attended a crazy fun event where writers would read a scene from their work, and then audience members would volunteer to act it out. Again, if you invite me up on a stage, you better just stand back and let whatever is going to happen just happen because the opportunities I get to participate in improv are few and far between and I’m going all in.

Post Con, I was expecting a huge Con Drop–the crash that comes when you have to come home to real life. That hasn’t quite happened, I think because I had a frantic day of catching up with Crone Girls biz stuff, and then yesterday I drove twelve hours (ten plus traffic) up to New Jersey, where I am spending family time and finishing my MFA thesis novel. So, no drop, but I am definitely still basking in the glow of an amazing event and wonderful time spent with friends and chosen family.

A big shout out and thank you to every single one of the directors, volunteers, managers, and people who made the Con happen. It really does feel like coming home when I am there. I one hundred percent cannot wait for next year. See you next October!

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Writing, Coaching, and Editing

Woof! It has been a while, and in the time that I haven’t been here, I have been writing, finishing my MFA coursework, working on Army Reserve projects, gardening, and spending a lot of time trying to figure out what is coming next in my life. I’m still working on all of these things, but as I head into my MFA Thesis Capstone course, I think I’m ready to hang my freelance editor and writing coach out for some limited offerings.

Starting October 2022, I am opening my freelance schedule to coaching and manuscript assessment clients.

If this sounds like something you would be interested in, but have questions about whether these options would be the best for you and your work, read on.

Coaching

The coaching option would be best if you are in progress with your manuscript (or about to begin.) Some of the reasons you might be looking for a writing coach would be for assistance in: creating your author platform; developing an outline; in-progress project feedback; resources for getting un-stuck mid-project; understanding the benefits and drawbacks of different publishing paths; finding resources; accountability during the writing process; perfecting/practicing your pitch; and, developing a launch plan. If you just need a sympathetic, experienced ear off of which to bounce ideas, I can help with that, too!

Manuscript Assessment

The manuscript assessment, which to be honest, with me, will probably bleed into developmental editing, would be best if you have your first draft completed, and have either done a self-editing pass, had a beta read, or have finished and don’t know what to do next. If you are not familiar with this option, you can learn more here. That site is also an excellent resource to learn more about the difference levels of editing. If you choose this option, I will provide the edit letter, likely some in-manuscript comments/questions, and an hour session to go over the letter.

Unfortunately, while I have offered other services previously, I do not have the time right now to offer full development/content/line edits/proofreading. After the new year, I will re-visit these and see if my schedule can handle opening up to clients for these services.

Why Choose Me?

The experience I will bring to you:

  • Five years as a military journalist (plus additional experience as a civilian freelance reporter)
  • Six years of academic writing experience (grad school)
  • Ten years of experience in creative writing (More than that, really, but the anniversary of my first short story publication is October)
  • Three years of experience as the Editor-in-Chief at Crone Girls Press

I will be updating my Scribbler Coach page to include these services and rates. If you have any questions, you can hit me up here, or on my Facebook page, or via email at: unfamousscribbler ~at~ gmail dot com. Thanks very much, and I look forward to working with you soon!

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