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#TBT: Treasure

I was digging around for something yesterday (didn’t find it, but there are more places yet to look) and unearthed some things I forgot even existed. Is it unusual for an author to forget having written something? These had completely slipped my mind:

Of course, they’re from when I was a teenager, and looking back I found them terribly overwritten. I hope I’ve gotten better since then.

I also came across this magazine from 2004, the first original short story I ever had published:

You can actually hear an audio version of this story here.

And then I discovered these from my manga and anime days:

This is only a sampling, not nearly all of what I had or still have . . . somewhere . . . My walls were plastered with these things. It’s probably why I could never get a date. But finding them reminded me of how much I love the story of Subaru and Seishirou—a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions. I went back and re-read Tokyo Babylon and the pertinent parts of X and swooned a little once again.

All the excavating, however, means I’ve been lax in my actual writing work. Still, it was a bit inspiring to go back and re-read some of this stuff. As far as my old writing in concerned, it’s nice to see how far I’ve come. And reliving Subaru’s arc reminds me of what good writing and character development can be. It makes me want to do something just as amazing. Here’s hoping.

WIP Wednesday

Here’s just a little fun I was having with Simeon, Peter and Jules:

“Peter, Peter, wherefore art thou?”

The calling startled Simeon from the paperwork he’d been trying to decipher. He looked up just in time to see a man he did not recognize come dashing around the corner from the elevators. Average height, dark and springy hair, swarthy skin… Greek, maybe? Turkish? Italian? He had no accent, and God knew he was loud enough that Simeon would have heard if he did; if not for the fact they were the only ones on the floor, Simeon would have worried about the man drawing unwanted attention. As it stood, he wondered how the man had got into the building.

“Is he in there?” the man asked, pointing at the door behind Simeon, and without waiting for an answer, the man went for the door and tried the knob.

“It’s locked,” said the man. He looked over his shoulder at Simeon. “He’s in there, I know it. You have a key?”

Simeon reached for the phone instead. “If I can just tell him who—”

“He doesn’t have someone in with him, does he?” the man went on. He slammed a fist against the heavy wood of the door. “Peter! It’s Jules!”

With a sigh, Simeon dropped the phone. No point in it now.

Peter’s door flew open. “What in God’s name, Maier?” Peter snapped. “You’re not meant to be in the country at the moment, much less here.”

Jules Maier. The name rang a bell. Simeon was sure he’d heard of him, just couldn’t remember in what context.

“Trade the old one in for a new model?” Jules asked.

“Mr. Martin is only my assistant,” Peter said matter-of-factly and, feeling their appraisal, Simeon turned in his chair for a look at the two men. Peter was taller—but then, he was taller than just about anyone—and fairer, positively angelic next to all the dark elements that comprised Jules.

Nothing good, Simeon decided. He’d heard nothing good about Jules Maier.

I was considering writing something a little steamier than my usual, maybe as a short story companion to The Fall and Rise of Peter Stoller? It remains to be seen if I’m even capable of that. Could be a fun exercise, though.

And if you haven’t read Peter yet, you should! Check my Books page or find various ebook retailers linked here.

2016 in Review

It was a bad year for a lot of people and for the world in general, or at least it seems that way. Compared to many, I think I came away relatively unscathed. I had my disappointments, to be sure. Peter did not launch the way I hoped (jury is still out on Manifesting Destiny). But the fact that I had 2 books published in 2016—nothing to sniff at. And I attended 2 writing conferences, at one of which I was a panelist and had an author table. These are the small highs of 2016 for me.

Other good things:

  • Adopted two kitty cats, Crowley and Minerva (named for Good Omens and Harry Potter respectively)
  • My family remains in relatively good health
  • I met amazing fellow writers and made many new friends
  • Won a little money in Vegas—in fact, the exact amount of the cost of one of the writing conferences I wanted to attend. How’s that for Providence?

We must be grateful for small blessings in the face of larger problems.

My birthday is coming. I’m thankful to have reached another one. In lieu of gifts, please donate to this cat sanctuary. I have enough. More than enough. I’d rather know these kitties can be spared the cold and snow. And note that I’m offering ebooks and/or writing critiques to donors. See the previous post on this site for details.

I don’t think many of us will be sorry to see the backside of 2016. Time is a false construct, though, so if you can’t wait, don’t. Start fresh now, today, as much as you can. And keep looking for all the little things, the good things. It’s the only way to make life bearable.

Free Books (kind of)

I’ve said it before, that I’m serious about my love for animals and my desire to help them. If you hang around my Facebook page at all, you’ve seen pictures and video of my cat Crowley (named for the character in Good Omens). I have a fellow writing friend who is now trying to save money to move because she’s in danger of having to evict her cats, and I’d really like to help her. I don’t have much to offer but my books, however*. So that’s what I’m doing.

Anyone who donates $10 or more to this Go Fund Me campaign can email me the receipt and let me know which of my ebooks they’d like. (You can find a list of my books on this site or on Amazon.) So the book is free, you just need to be willing to help kitties in order to get it. I hope you’ll take me up on the offer!

*I’d also be willing to look at/critique query letters and first chapters if anyone is interested in that instead.

IWSG: Not Good Enough

InsecureWritersSupportGroup It’s time again for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. Read and support writers by clicking here, and if you’re a writer you can also join!

Lately I’m having that bit of insecurity many of us have in life whether we’re writers or not: the fear of not being good enough. Sometimes it seems, no matter what I do or how hard I try, it just isn’t enough. That leads to wondering why I’m wasting all this time and energy on writing. It can be a terrible, depressing spiral.

When you’ve given something your all—and I’m talking about not just doing something but having done your very best, put blood and sweat and tears into it—the last thing you want to hear is that you still fell short of the mark. But the truth is, sometimes your best at that time won’t be quite enough. Sometimes a story (or other project) exceeds your abilities. That doesn’t mean you won’t ever be able to get it right. It just means you need to hone your craft a bit more first.

Think of it as reaching for something that’s just beyond your fingertips. Sometimes you just barely swipe it, but then it falls and crashes. What you need is a stepping stool. In this example, that stool is the hours you put into writing and getting better. You can reach farther and farther the more you write because writing = adding steps to your stool.

Not good enough is a fact of life. But it doesn’t ever mean you can’t get better. You just have to be willing to put in the work. And when you’ve put in a ton of work and it’s still not good enough? That’s hard. But know that the work you’ve put in is adding to your stepping stool—even if it’s not high enough yet, it will be eventually.

IWSG Question of the Month: In terms of your writing career, where do you see yourself five years from now, and what’s your plan to get there?

Ahahahaha! What’s the saying? “Man makes plans and God laughs”?

I think it’s important to have goals, but it’s also important to remain flexible. In five years I expect to have put out at least five more books, and hopefully they will be selling steadily. I plan to continue attending conferences, ideally as a guest author and presenter, but sometimes just as an attendee. I’d also like to be doing more signings and events. I’m currently trying to figure out that side of things by making connections with independent bookstores and event planners. (Anyone want to split a table at BookCon with me?) And I’m planning to explore the possibility of audiobooks, too.

Being a writer these days also means being a small business. You have to invest in yourself and your career, which sometimes means spending money to make money. I struggle with that, and I think a lot of other writers do, too. We don’t have a lot of money, so we have to figure out how best to use our dollars. That’s where the planning comes in. Because you do need to plan. You can’t sit and hope to be stumbled upon by readers. You need to leave a trail of breadcrumbs for them so they can find you—and with all these other writers leaving goodies, too, you’d better have the best bread in order to entice readers to your door. So I plan to get out there where people can see me, hopefully in places where readers can be found. It’s not easy. Not only because I’m shy but because I have to sell myself, and that doesn’t come naturally at all. But I’ve discovered a great community of writers at these events, people willing to help one another. If nothing else, at the end of the day I’ll have that much.

Aim high, but count every little blessing.

The PR Conundrum

So at recent writing conferences this year, I heard this a lot: “You need a publicist!”

Basically, with all the books being published and self-published, it’s becoming almost impossible to rise above the noise. So you hire a publicist to help you get noticed.

Makes sense. The only problem (for me, at least) is… It’s really expensive. And while I believe in investing in my career, and that you have to sometimes put money in to get more out, a [good] publicist is something I can’t afford. (I can’t afford a bad one, either, but for different reasons.)

So here is my chief issue with publicists: if you can afford one, you probably don’t need one, and if you can’t afford one, you probably do need one.

Sigh.

Any of my fellow authors use a publicist? If so, were you satisfied with the experience?

Best of 2016

I’ve started to see the lists popping up online. Even though there is still one month left in 2016, people are ready to call their favorites, from books to movies to television shows. So I thought about what I read and watched this year, and here are a few notables:

Books

The Gates of Evangeline by Hester Young. This pseudo-paranormal mystery set in the bayous of Louisiana is both atmospheric and fast-moving. I raced through it and enjoyed it quite a bit.

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. Not a 2016 release, but I finally got around to this one and, though long and deep, it’s so well written. Was perfect for the long flights to and from New York.

Dark Dawning by Christine Rains. A novella, first in a series, and it sets up just a very interesting world full of shape-shifters and Inuit mythology.

Lorelei’s Lyric by D.B. Sieders. A twist on mermaids/sirens.

Movies

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. A new window into the world of Harry Potter… pre-Potter.

Sing Street. Just really cute, even if it is mostly a bunch of music videos hung on a very sparse plot frame.

Snowden. An interesting perspective on how and why Edward Snowden did what he did.

The Imposter. A documentary about how a French con artist convinced a family in Texas he was their missing son/brother.

Kubo and the Two Strings. More gorgeous work from Laika.

The Nice Guys. Typical Shane Black, so if you like his stuff…

Zootopia. Above and beyond as far as children’s animated features go.

Love & Friendship. A delightful Jane Austen adaptation.

I know there’s a lot I have yet to see (I do have tickets to Rogue One!), but of the things I watched this past year, the above stand out.

Television

The Crown. I was sucked right into this drama about the start of Elizabeth II’s reign and can’t wait for more.

Westworld. I resisted, and do continue to resist on some levels, but I can’t deny that this is a well-written, well-acted, well-produced program. (I feel similarly about Game of Thrones and The Leftovers. Must be an HBO drama thing.)

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. Everything Doctor Who should be, used to be, and no longer is. In short, a whole lot of absurd fun.

Documentary Now! Fun, though the second season was not as good as the first IMHO.

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. Probably the single thing I most look forward to each week. (And now on break. *sob*)

I also watch Brooklyn Nine-Nine and am just dabbling in Superstore. Started Designated Survivor and AHS: Roanoke and Timeless and need to get back to those… Television is getting harder to keep up with because there is so much and it’s all dumped in one go instead of airing weekly. But hey, even the weekly stuff piles up on my DVR, sort of like all the books I mean to read that pile up on my nightstand or in my Kindle. The above, then, are just shows that definitely had me hooked over the year.

So what about you? Any favorites this past year? Recommendations? Anything to look forward to in 2017? Let me know in the comments!