Like Urban Fantasy?

Check out the Amaranthine Chronicles! Released yesterday as a three-novella box set. For more information, keep reading!



Book Information:

Title: The Amaranthine Chronicles Box Set (3 Novellas)

Author Name: Tiffany Shand

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Release Date: January 25, 2017

Page Count: 203

Amazon:

http://amzn.to/2iCihkV

Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33642816-the-amaranthine-chronicles-complete-series

Follow the Tour to Read Reviews of The Amaranthine Chronicles:

http://saphsbookblog.blogspot.com/2017/01/review-tour-schedule-amaranthine.html

The Novellas in the Box Set:

Betrayed by Blood:

In a city of lies and deception, only one thing stands between chaos and justice. For centuries, a band of outlaws called the Amaranthine has kept the peace in Ormere and hidden in plain sight whilst the Order of Sorcerers spreads their deadly magic among the city’s inhabitants.

After losing her fiancé in bust gone wrong, Amaranthine Agent Kaylan Avilion returns home to discover that Elijah didn’t die but instead was changed by the twisted guards of the Order, who seek to find a dangerous artefact tied to Kaylan’s past and the murder of her family. When her sister goes missing and a foe from their past remerges, Kaylan knows she must save Freya before she’s poisoned by the very people who took Elijah away from her. But how will Kaylan react when she learns Elijah’s secret and can they come together to stop the Order’s plan in time?

Dark Revenge:

Darkness is sweeping through the city of Ormere as unnatural creatures stalk through the streets. People are dying and time is running out as a new evil threatens to take control of everything. The Amaranthine Order has been decimated leaving only a few of its people left to fight the coming terror.

Stunned by her sister Freya’s betrayal and plot to take over the city, Kaylan must do everything she can to find out what Freya plans to do when she finds an infamous book linked to the murder of their family. A book considered so dangerous that the last High Lord erased its location from history, the Amaranthine Chronicles are said to contain the darkest of all magics.

Kaylan is happy to finally have her ex-fiancé, Elijah, back in her life but he’s not the man she once knew and loved. After being turned into a shapeshifter, Elijah struggles to control his inner beast and his lingering feelings for Kaylan.

Can Elijah and Kaylan come together to stop Freya and uncover the secrets of the book before it’s too late?

The Final Battle:

Darkness has claimed the city of Ormere and death has become a certainty for anyone stalking its empty streets. The government is in ruins and lawlessness ensues.

After their last encounter, Kaylan and Elijah barely managed to thwart her sister, Freya’s, latest attempts to find and use the elusive Amaranthine Chronicles. But in her desperation to receive ultimate power, Freya will stop at nothing to get what she wants. Even if it means destroying the last of her family.

Kaylan and Elijah must work on their fragile relationship and put their personal feelings aside to find the book and stop Freya before it’s too late. But with their allies growing thin, and a gang of ruthless shapeshifters close on their trail, will they finally find the book and stop Freya before time runs out? And will Kaylan have to make the ultimate sacrifice to save her city and the man she loves?

Meet the Author:

Tiffany Shand started writing short stories when she was a child. After doing a creative writing course in her teens, she discovered her love of nonfiction writing and is now a freelance writer and professional editor.

She writes both non-fiction for writers and fiction, and is the author of the urban fantasy Excalibar Investigations Series. When she’s not writing, you’ll usually find her reading.

Tiffany lives in Essex, UK with her family, two very spoiled cats and a hamster.

Tiffany’s Blog

Tiffany’s Author Website

Facebook

Twitter

 

Goals, Step Two – Getting SMART

Welcome back to what is apparently going to be a little mini-series on setting goals. Last Monday, I wrote about goal setting from a place of desire–start with what you want. Get to the heart of the matter.

(Apparently, use italics to emphasize those things…)

How do we get from here to there? How do we set goals that move us from the heart to the head, and then eventually to the point of publishing those goals, both as an internal azimuth and an external document, i.e. business plan.

Keep in mind, at this point, we’re still at the strategy level. Why? Goals are strategic. Plans are tactical. We’ll get to those, eventually, but it’s hard to plan effectively if you don’t have strategic goals to focus what you’re trying to do.*

With that, one of the best models I have found is the SMART model. Namely, goals should be: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic/Relevant, and Time-Based.

While this model covers everything a specific goal should include, it doesn’t prescribe a set way to write it, or go about forming it. So whether you, like me, are setting personal business goals, or whether you are working with a team to develop project goals, the goal-setting SMART model is flexible and expansible.

Last week, I sat down and wrote out a list of one- to two-word phrases that encapsulated what I want to do with Infamous Scribbler. These came from the heart, and required no further explanation–at least to myself: Entertain, Coach/Mentor, FOCUS: Veterans, Challenge, Money.

Let’s take a look at the “want” words, and see how they can be used to write draft SMART goals.

“Entertain” is pretty darn generic. While I do desire to entertain people through my fiction, this word encompasses so much in its definition that it will be hard to nail it down to its specifics. However, I’m not willing to give it up, just put it aside.

“Coach/Mentor” is more specific, in that I can point to a specific definition of the words, as well as to some specific actions that I am currently undertaking. Right now, I volunteer with a local writing group (and in fact, have just raised my hand to assist in a co-leadership position.) I also have a few clients that I been working with, and enjoying my time working with them. I think I can work this “heart” word into an actual goal.

“FOCUS: Veterans.” Right now, what I want to do is help service members and veterans tell their story. This desire comes from a place of often not seeing myself and my experience reflected in the accepted veteran stereotypes and narratives. What I would like to do is work with veterans who have a desire to tell their stories and contribute to a richer fabric of military service narratives. Hmm … that sounds like it’s getting pretty specific. And starting to touch on the rest of the SMART model.

“Challenge.” We’re back to the general, generic, not very well-thought out strategic desire. Again, I’m not necessarily going to throw this one out, I just need to do some serious thinking about what I mean by “challenge.”

“Money.” I can think of some very specific money goals, and for the purposes of my business plan, I will attach some numbers to my goals. But what I truly mean by this is that, Infamous Scribbler and Scribbler Coach should be treated like a business. I need to remember that businesses won’t survive if I work for free for everyone, and that charting growth from year to year is a good thing when it comes to determining which marketing and sales efforts are growing, and which are not.

This post is getting a little long, and giving me some food for thought about what I actually want, and how to get there. From examining my “desire” words in the light of the SMART goals model, I see that I have a couple of very helpful “wants,” and a couple that need revising or re-thinking.

I invite anyone to drop me a line as to whether or not this process is helpful. And, if you’re looking for someone to bounce ideas off of, drop me a line at infamous_scribbler ~at~ yahoo.com

Enjoy!

~ ~ ~

* This is especially true when you have a group of people who may be more experienced at planning and execution of specific campaigns, but who are used to doing so either in isolation, in reaction to circumstances rather than an overall goal set, or in accordance with goals handed down from higher.

Goals, Step One – What Do You Want?

Goals. What are they? How do they help us? Why do we need them? Why are they so hard?

If you’re reading this then, like me, you’re probably running up against a circumstance where you have to sit down and write a set of goals from scratch. Or perhaps you’re refining your goals, in preparation for submitting a business plan or grant. Perhaps you’ve read through some of the literature and seen the acronym “SMART,” and thought about what it truly means to make a goal:

Specific
Measurable
Achievable
Realistic/Relevant
Timely & Trackable.

And perhaps, also like me, you’re staring at a blank screen trying to figure out the best words to capture those goals.

Let’s start from the beginning. Grab a scrap of paper, or a large whiteboard, or have someone take some notes on a computer. You can do this by yourself, or in a large group of people. Focus on the question: WHAT DO I/WE WANT?

Here’s the time for opening your brain and shutting off your inner critic. Limit yourself to one- or two-word phrases that answer that question. For example, when setting goals for my business I wrote:

Entertain
Coach/Mentor
FOCUS: Veterans
Challenge
Money

There were a couple of other keywords in the list, but you get the idea. This is the kernel of what I want. These are the seeds of my goals.

Chances are, the larger the group, the more discussion and wading and culling you will do during this goal-setting process. The thing to remember is, these are the words that are coming from you heart. This is what you want when you’re not overthinking it. These words will likely end up incorporated in the rest of your eventual business plan or organizational map, as well as your SEO optimization, future planning sessions, etc. Think of them as the focus and compass of your strategy (goals) that will inform your tactics (targeted measures to achieve those goals).

After you’ve got your goal keywords written out, then comes the next step–transforming WHAT you want into HOW to get it. It’s not a process that happens overnight. In fact, I recommend that any organization re-visit its goals and plan (the WHAT and HOW) on an annual basis to stay on track. Goals change as organizations grow and thrive, and what you might want when you’re starting out may change once you hit that measurable and trackable benchmark. Perhaps one goal is no longer relevant, or you find out you weren’t specific enough to use it to generate tactics.

Take a moment to think about what you want. Write down your keywords. Make them loud and proud, in the largest letters you can. And if you need someone to bounce some ideas off for the next step, hit me up at infamous_scribbler ~at~ yahoo.com.

Good luck!

It’s all story …

Last night, I had the good fortune to be invited to a rehearsal for Sweet Tea Shakespeare‘s production of Antony & Cleopatra, opening January 5 at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Fayetteville, NC.

Beforehand, director Jeremy Fiebig warned that this rehearsal would be less of a full run and more of a chance to get into the nitty gritty of some last details and choices in various scenes. This sounded like a great opportunity to watch a bunch of creative people hone their craft, and perhaps derive some insight into how people tell stories in different media.

First, Fiebig eased the Company’s way into rehearsal by adding a small bit of choreography to one of the pre-show songs, then moved onto another song, a cover of The Great Divide by Humming House. Drawing in the ensemble, he and music director Jacob French worked to fine-tune the arrangement, ensuring that each note was where it was supposed to be.

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Cast members William Collier, Joyce Borum, and Cerina Johnson rehearse a pre-show song for Sweet Tea Shakespeare’s production of Antony & Cleopatra.

This process reminded me a lot of my own approach to editing, or to re-entering a story to continue it when I’m writing. You need to rev the engines a little to warm them up before pulling out onto the highway. I think of it this way–if you’ve ever had to pull into traffic on I-95 with a manual transmission Jeep Wrangler, you derive a new appreciation for the acceleration lane. In the case of creative work, warm ups with low-hanging fruit, whether a song or a few edits on yesterday’s word count can get you up to speed and cruising along.

Also, it was fun to listen to.

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Jeremy Fiebig, right, gives direction as he works through a scene with the actors of Sweet Tea Shakespeare’s Antony & Cleopatra, opening January 5.

Once the actors and crew had warmed up, the cast began a deep dive into Act II, Scene II. As they progressed through the scene, the process started to seem very familiar. The underlying question seemed to be, in two parts:

  1. What was the goal of this scene?
  2. What was the actual goal of this scene?

On the surface of it, this scene is a reconciliation between Caesar and Antony, consummated by the agreement of Antony to marry Caesar’s sister, Octavia. And yet … surely Caesar, that calculating intriguer, knows that this marriage would force Antony to continue to give service to the repair of their relationship while inserting a wedge through Antony’s true desire, Cleopatra. Thus, Antony would be weakened in his power plays, even as Egypt would be weakened in its regent’s desire for the Roman, and while there remained the risk of violence between the two Empires, it would ever be Caesar and his sister with whom the Roman populace sided against the luxurious barbarians and that traitor, Antony. And yet … how could Antony say no to this offer?

How devious! How delightful…

As writers, this is what we strive for–to present one set of conflicts/goals/resolutions, and yet have these aspects mask the deeper, hidden desires of the actors in the story. In sum, we must as writers and readers look beyond the obvious goal to find the actual goal.

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Sharyn Beal, as Cleopatra, learns of the news that Antony (Jeremy Fiebig) is set to marry another woman. Sweet Tea Shakespeare’s Antony & Cleopatra opens January 5.

One last insight before this blog post goes too long, or I just devolve into a monologue on how cool it is to watch STS behind the scenes (which it is, by the way…)

 

In one of the next scenes, the Messenger (William Collier) brings news of Antony’s pending nuptials to Cleopatra (Sharyn Beal), who takes it with all the grace and poise of an extremely petulant toddler. The Messenger escapes the room with his life, but is re-summoned by Charmian (Cerina Johnson), who gets him back in the room to give her all the deets.

The first time Charmian leads him in, she pushes him from behind. The second time the actors ran through the scene, Fiebig suggested a different approach. This time, Charmian–an attractive attendant on the Queen–coaxes him in with smiles until stepping aside and abandoning him in front of the still-seething Cleopatra.

What is interesting here is how this one small yet very deliberate choice COMPLETELY changed the energy of the scene. The small, comedic reprove heightened the frustrated tension of the rest of the action, ensuring that the energy didn’t remain the same throughout the scene, but rather ebbed and flowed in natural progression.

As writers, we have to be aware of these ebbs and flows, as well as the fact that everything that happens in a story is a deliberate choice. We shouldn’t be afraid of diving into the minutiae of presence and timing, and giving full attention to what might seem like minor moments. Are we pushing our audience into a scene? Or are we luring them in with promises made of smoke and mirrors?

In all, this evening was the perfect chance to watch a group of storytellers come together to bring a narrative to life, and to gain insight into the creative process. I’m looking forward to seeing the play when it opens January 5.

For tickets, contact Sweet Tea Shakespeare at (910) 420-4383. The show runs weekends through January 21.

Words complete…

And by complete, I mean that I have finished my first draft of Steel-Toed Blues, and I am fully cognizant of the fact that there is a LOT of work to do before this manuscript is beta reader-ready, let alone good to query. Still, it’s been a long road from there to here.

In November of 2013, I decided that despite the fact that I had no plot, no characters, and definitely no time–in fact I was PCS’ing from Kuwait back to Fort Bragg with some block leave in New Jersey thrown in there–I was going to do NaNoWriMo. I even wrote this blog post about how I could totally pants the thing because I was soooOOoooOOooo experienced with narrative. Of course I was going to be able to handle it…

Cue maniacal laughter. And tears. Both from future me.

Anyway, just some of the things that have happened since then:

  • Moving back to the States
  • Getting off active duty with the Army
  • Having a child
  • Starting a small business
  • Taking command in the Reserves and traveling back and forth to NJ from NC every month
  • Getting ready to have another child
  • Picking up a new instrument/Getting involved with a local theater group
  • Trying to write all the things at once.

S0, yeah… It’s a complete mystery why it took three years to finish this thing…

And yet–in some aspects, taking my time with the project has been a good thing. I’ve written a number of short stories, been involved with a few anthologies, and had a chance to let things sit and percolate and that allowed some things to intensify with the characters that wouldn’t otherwise have broken through.

One of the things I love to do is bake bread, especially bagels. Now, the important part of bread baking (other than making sure your kitchen is warm so the yeast activates well) is making sure the dough has enough time to ferment. When making bagels, you proof them in the fridge for 24 to 48 hours, just to make sure that the glutens have enough time to do their thing and get to the place where you can pop them in the boiling water and then bake them up and have a little taste of home.

And now I’m hungry. Let’s move on from this metaphor.

Back to my story. While it would have been better to write faster and be on the third or fourth novel for which I have notes floating around my desk/journal/laptop/five gajillion notebooks, this is a good time to have Steel-Toed Blues finish up.

Since I’m drinking for two, I decided to forego the normal celebratory Scotch, and instead my spouse and I took the Ladybug out to dinner, followed by some shopping at the bookstore, which is a pretty good Thursday night in my book. Tomorrow, it’s back to getting things done, cranking out words.

And also, plotting the next book, because plot outlines are awesome, no matter what the 2013 version of me told you.

Happy New Year!

Back from the hiatus!

Welcome back to me and everyone else who decided to stop by. As you can probably see by some of the lack of posting that’s been going on, I’ve been on a bit of a vacation. If, by vacation, you mean I’ve been going a million miles an hour and finally am getting back to normal.

First, I did NOT do NaNoWriMo (shame on me.) BUT — I am offering a special deal for those who did. I am available to edit your NaNo 2016 manuscript at my discount rate ($0.05/word). Deal will last until January 15, 2017, so if you’re interested, hit me up at infamous_scribbler ~at~ yahoo.com.

So what was I doing while I was gone? I’ve successfully extricated myself from my Army Reserve company command, and will be entering the Individual Ready Reserve very shortly. (For the non-military folks, that means I will be in a status where I don’t have to drill every month, and I don’t have a specific unit I’m assigned to, but I still have the ability to participate in certain activities and can still be called up if the Big Army so desires.) With everything going on, and trying to concentrate on the number of books I intend to write in 2017, it seemed like a good decision.

I’ve also started paying a lot of attention to local politics, with the intention of becoming more involved on the state and local level. I’d love to try my hand at volunteering with a campaign, or perhaps even running myself. But likely, I will stick to volunteering. I’ve become a little more realistic with the amount of hours in a day that I actually have at my disposal.

Of course, I’m still volunteering more than I should for the things I love. Sweet Tea Shakespeare has invited me to get involved more behind the scenes, and I’m happy to oblige. I’m looking forward to spreading the word about what they do, and hopefully finding us new places to share the performances as well as recruit more people. And I also have this secret love of playing the bass that they seem to be willing to indulge, so that is another benefit. I won’t be in the upcoming performance of Antony & Cleopatra, but I’m looking forward to going and sitting in the audience, and you should come, too!

With the onset of the third trimester of Ladybug II, who will NOT be named Platypus, no matter what a certain significant other keeps lobbying for, I find that my mental concentration is going downhill. So I’ve been doing a lot of reading, trying to get it back, as well as a lot of crafting, such as knitting, spinning, sewing, etc., and baking. This way, I can MAKE something and not have to necessarily think about making it as I go.

But wait, I hear you say. Aren’t you supposed to be pursuing a writing career? Why yes! Yes, I am. And this blog post is the first in a sequence of getting back to my routine of putting words on paper, digital and otherwise. I’ve got a short story started for Writerpunk Press that needs another couple thousand words. I’ve got the last 5-7,000 words of Steel-Toed Blues to plow through. I’ve got some unnamed romance novel edits, and then another round of querying to go for that. I’ve got a non-fiction book proposal to write. I’ve got a sequel planned for Cold Run, a sequel for STB, and a zombie apocalypse novel that is in the works. Is it realistic to think that I’ll get all this done in 2017 with another new baby and a Ladybug who is in full terrible twos mode? Don’t crush my dreams. It can be done.

If you’ve made it this far, thanks for following along. Hope the holiday season doesn’t find you too crazed, and if you would like to drop me a line or visit me on Facebook, please do!

~ ~ ~

Want to support an indie author AND find a great holiday gift? I’ve got poetry and essays, urban fantasy, or suspenseful thrills — all available through Amazon!

 

Contemplating next steps…

This week I’ve been working the checklists and caffeine pretty hard, as I get ready to start traveling in order to enter the end game of my time in HHC command in the Army Reserve. It’s given me some time to contemplate what I’m doing with my life, and making a few choices to refine what needs to happen.

The process started with a simple question from friends reacting to my manic social media statuses — how are you doing everything that you do? My pat answer (checklists and caffeine) is actually pretty accurate. But I started to reflect. Am I doing a lot? Am I doing the right things? Is this what I need to be doing to achieve my long-term goals?

Some of the things, other than checklists and caffeine, that help me get things done are: 1. Extremely supportive spouse and true co-parent. I really could not do these things without him. 2. Planned (and unplanned) rest times. Sometimes I just ignore what I’m supposed to do and read a book to re-charge the batteries. But, I try to stick to the planned rest times. 3. I have reached a point in my life where I say no to anything I don’t want to do. Yes, I’ll engage in tasks that I might otherwise NOT have a preference for, but it will be in the service of a goal that I have specifically chosen for myself. I recognize this is a luxury, and I try to make what I do worthy of that choice.

However, I have realized that some of the things I’m doing, no matter how rewarding, are not working out. I have not spent quality time writing in a long time. 500, 700 words here and there are not what builds a writing career. I should be done with the first draft, first revision, second revision, and query process for Steel-Toed Blues. Instead, I’m about to write the final, climactic scene. I’ve BEEN about to write the final climactic scene for about a week now. Plus, NaNoWriMo is coming, I need to finish edits and re-query a category romantic suspense, I have a short story deadline for WriterPunk press coming up, and another novel outlined and ready to go. Something in my life has to go away so I can shoehorn in the time to write.

That something is my Army Reserve time. These past two years since leaving active service were supposed to be spent working freelance and applying to PhD programs. That goal has shifted to working freelance and building a writing and coaching career. And also, applying to PhD programs (although I think that will happen AFTER my spouse retires and we are no longer at the whims of the Army assignment process.) But I can’t NOT put the Army computer away in order to work on my civilian career, because to me, the emails and texts and calls are not interruptions–they are Soldiers who have problems that need to be solved, or issues that need to be taken care of. And for a certain amount of time, I was okay with that. But the traveling 12 hours (one way) every month, and the other stresses that come with being a Commander have just about worn out their welcome.

So, while I love serving and have enjoyed my career, I’ve decided to take a year off and head into the Inactive Ready Reserve to re-group, write a bunch, spend more time with Ladybug, have a kid, play some more music, write a bunch more, head to some more Cons, and also write some more.

In the meantime, I’ve got some checklists, the top of which is to write this darn battle scene between Fae and Evil, so better grab some more caffeine and get to it.

Ciao!

Another Con rundown…

Before I head into today’s word sprints for Steel-Toed Blues, I thought I’d take a moment of reflection-er-procrastination and give a little bit of a rundown on the Fayetteville ComicCon 2016. For a short glimpse of how last weekend went, here are the Cliff’s Notes:

Friday: Out of town guests arrive. Prep house and items needed for Con. Get groceries. Stage equipment for performance and Con. Head out for the opening night performance of Romeo & JuliLIT at the Fainting Goat in Fuquay-Varina. Mostly remember all of the chords and notes. Finish up around 9:30, get home around 10:30, try to fall asleep.

Saturday: Get up at 6. Pack car for Con. Grab coffee and head over to set up. Spend entire day ensuring panelists get to their panels INCLUDING getting my writing track panelists in the door and comfortably situated. MODERATE a panel on military science fiction that includes John Ringo. Pause for minor fan-girling. (Okay, more than minor.) Sell a few books. Wonder where the Con Suite is, if it actually exists. Continue rest of day in like fashion. Take off at four for second Romeo & JuliLIT performance at Dirtbag Ales in Hope Mills. Play until fingers and arms cramp up in the middle of a Shakespearean cover of “Poison.” Finish and head home.

Sunday: Get up at 6, pack car. Head to Con at ~8. Find out that they’re not letting vendors in the door until 9 (WTF??). Get situated. Luck out and have a member of the writers’ group show up to take over panel wrangling duties. THANK YOU, ASHLEY!!! Sell a book or two. MODERATE and participate in a panel on self- and traditional publishing and both disseminate and learn some helpful hints and tips. Get fist bumped by Sam Jones of Flash Gordon fame. Spend rest of the day pretending to be an extroverted salesperson/author instead of an exhausted, highly-socialized introvert. Finally find out that there actually IS a Con Suite about halfway through the afternoon and take that buffet for all it’s worth. Finally pack up and head out, ready for more adventures!

Monday: Crash. Crash hard.

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The NJ Native Crew: Me and Fred Doot, co-editor and publisher of Fantasy Scroll Mag, hanging out, selling books, and shooting the breeze at FCC ’16.

It’s been a wild and crazy ride here this past month, what with hurricanes and ComicCons and playing the bass for the first time with a great group of theatrical folks. It’s going to be crazy for a little while longer as I head to NY next month to change out of command of my Army Reserve unit. That’s why I’ve specifically turned down any other obligations, save for Arisia 2017, in order to concentrate on writing, writing, and writing some more. (And also coaching and editing, if you should need some of that.)

In the meantime, stop by the site from time to time. Pick up a book. Drop me a line. See you around!

It’s been a while…

…since I posted anything up here on the ol’ bloggeroo. Some of that is because I’m a lazy blogger. This is just the truth. BUT! I’ve also had a lot of things happening.

WRITING!! Writing has been happening! The end is in sight for Steel-Toed Blues, and while I didn’t make my self-imposed deadline of finishing by the end of September, I think it will happen before NaNoWriMo. Woohoo!

Speaking of writing, I’m gearing up to be a vendor, wrangler, and panel participant at Fayetteville ComicCon. I’ll be moderating a panel on military science fiction and, BTW, John Ringo will be a panelist for that. So … major mil sci-fi fan squee going on right now. I’ll also have a table set up if you want to come by, say hi, grab a book, pay for that book (otherwise, we’re going to have some issues), and talk geeky writer-y type stuff. Look for this sign:

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But wait–there’s more! Friday night is the opening night for Romeo & JuliLIT, the Sweet Tea Shakespeare season opener and fundraiser. We’ll be at the Fainting Goat in Fuqua Varina on Friday, DirtBag Ales in Hope Mills on Saturday (sold-out show), and at the Marquis Market in downtown Fayetteville on Friday, October 21. It’s going to be a kick-ass, rockin’ show, and I guarantee you will never watch Romeo & Juliet the same way ever again.

In the meantime, I’m always available for coaching, manuscript editing, or general shooting of the breeze. Drop me a line, and hopefully I’ll see you at one of these events!

Dragon*Con Rundown, II

Yesterday (the day before? All the days are going together) I posted a rundown on this year’s Dragon*Con, which was superfun and the best yet. But, in between that time and now, I drove 12 hours from North Caroline to New Jersey and as such had some time to think. So I thought of a few more things, and decided to put them here, because this is my blog, and I can do that.

First, I was thinking about feminism and allies, and how great it was to see that in action on the Violence in UF panel. Not only did Richard Kadrey do his thing, but the panelists, majority of men, felt comfortable talking about their approaches to sexual violence in nuanced ways, all of which made me feel that they had taken time to listen to women talking about their experiences and actually believed them, and incorporated women’s viewpoints into their work. Which is awesome, and not something you see in every writer’s stuff.

But, there came a counterpoint to that on the Humor in UF Fantasy panel (or it could have been a different UF panel, but it was really funny). One of the women authors, whose name is escaping me but she had shoulder-length brown hair and was super funny, mentioned in passing that she had been groped while watching the Dragon*Con parade. She explained she had turned around, given the guy a WTF? look, and he melted away in the crowd.

It made me think about some stuff, like how we handle inappropriate behavior, how someone could think that was acceptable to do to a stranger, and the fact that I have one daughter and another on the way, and even though I want them to come and join in on all the geeky, nerdy fan fun, I also am going to have to figure out how to teach them how to navigate a world that contains assholes. Right now, I’m considering muay thai and Brazilian jiu jitsu, with a side of krav maga and sabre fencing …

Some other stuff I thought about mostly had to do with writing, and how I should be doing more of it. I tried to go to some of the writing panels, but during the first one I went to, I found the participants to be more concentrating on pushing their books they had written on the topic, than on discussing in depth the topic of the panel. Afterwards, I was expressing dissatisfaction to Rob, who remarked: You always go to those writing panels, and you never really seem to find them helpful.

By contrast, when I attended the panels in my favorite genre, UF, I got excited about writing and motivated to sit down and put words in document. I even actually walked up to a publisher and asked if they accepted unsolicited manuscripts. (They did, and I really need to get STB into the “currently doing revisions” status.)

I don’t know if this means my creative process is changing, or if it just requires more discipline, or if Dragon*Con is the place for me to go and have fun and not necessarily network and think about work. But if I want to write successfully in the spec fic genre, I need to be treating the event more as the former and less as the latter. And also, I should be writing now, instead of blogging. Or surfing Facebook.

Anyway, I am hopefully entering the end of my time as an Army Reserve company commander, which will help immensely in being able to direct my mental and creative energies toward writing. Right now, when I sit down at my computer to write, I immediately feel guilty that I haven’t checked my Army computer or email or solved all of the problems that I know are waiting for me. Knowing myself and how I work, I will not be able to overcome that until I leave command, and so I have made some progress toward that end.

In the meantime, I’m going to get back to opening up STB, getting some more words in, and hopefully getting ever nearer the time when it’s ready to be pushed out into the world.

TGIF, and happy writing!