Monday, October 31, 2016

Different Tone for Halloween

My regular readers know how excited I am about Samhain, the Celtic New Year. This year will take a serious turn, and what I hope is an uplifting message.

A couple of weeks ago, Moise Morancy was on the bus when he saw a man sexually assaulting a fifteen-year-old girl. No one else intervened, but Mr. Morancy did. As it seems to happen all too often, when the police arrived, the sexual predator started screaming that Mr. Morancy attacked him for no reason.

You see the predator was white and Mr. Morancy is black.

The police cuffed Mr. Morancy. But they also took statements. And listened. Mr. Morancy's actions were vindicated. He was released, and the predator arrested.

For artists, well, we deal with our emotions through our art. Mr. Morancy is no exception. He wrote "No Means No", and it's a sad, poignant, and hopeful message.

At a time when it's all too easy to do nothing, Mr. Morancy did something that made a difference in a teenage girl's life. Please support this young artist and share his story.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Freaking My Son Out

Then there's the performers I like who he detests...

Friday, October 28, 2016

Welcome to the United States of Entitlement

The epidemic has been sweeping the nation long before the current election climate. I blame the post-World War II boom. Housing and cars were more affordable. Jobs were plenty. Most white Americans wanted for little, and they thought the good times would last forever.

When the air started leaking from the economic balloon in the late Sixties, it was easier to blame blacks and women for taking jobs away from hard-working white men than to tighten their belts. When the Energy Crisis of the Seventies came, well, surely it was the fault of those damn Arabs than American dependence on cheap foreign oil. When the savings and loans collapsed and the junk bonds tanked in the Eighties, it had to be the fault of overseas banks, not American greed and the nostalgic desire to return to the flourishing post-WWII era economy. To make sure we had nicer houses and nicer cars, we racked up debt in the Nineties based over the value of our Dotcom portfolios. It wasn't our fault the tech market, which produced very little in either products or services, crashed in 2001.

Unfortunately, the Greatest Generation didn't pass on their values of thrift, hard work and sacrifice. No, their children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren only heard their stories of the good times. They simply can't understand why they don't have what Grandma and Grandpa had. And they are pissed by what they perceive as not getting their share.

I see it in the everyday interactions among the younger generations.

Little things like cutting in line at a deli counter because I'M in a hurry. Nearly running over the teenagers in the crosswalk when those kids have the light and right-of-way because I'M late for an appointment. Screaming at a barista for using regular milk not soy when he/she should know MY order because I'M here every fucking day. Muttering "rag heads" under MY breath when passing the neighbors who just moved in because they don't dress exactly like I DO.

There's something inside you that thinks, "I'm better than those people. I deserve to have more than them."

As the late, great Mark Twain once said, "The world does not owe you anything. It was here first."

But that doesn't matter to Americans. Everyone else has the good life. All we want is our share.

Our share of what exactly?

Not the 1200 sq. ft. ranch that would fit our budget and allow us to save for retirement. No, we want the 3000 sq. ft. McMansion with the granite countertops and gold-plated bathroom fixtures.

Not the tech school training to become a welder, a position that in our area starts at $50/hr. No, we want a bachelor's degree in Art History and a guaranteed six-figure salary.

Not the less prestigious job that will give us more time with our kids. No, we want the position where everybody kisses our ass and the babysitters raise our children.

I wish I was making up these examples. I really do. But these come from family, friends, and in the welding case, my dental hygentist.  Seriously, her husband's company is looking welders who are willing to put in an honest eight-hour day and can pass a fucking drug test.

(By the way, you really shouldn't be playing with acetylene while you're high.)

So before you pull out your pink Hello Kitty Glock and become a statistic on the evening news because you're pissed at the world for not giving you what you think you deserve, ask yourself this: What am I doing to change my situation?

Yeah, I know. That's not what you wanted to hear.

Kind of like my niece, Amber. She assumed when we said we'd help her with college, we would fill out all the forms and hand her $40K in cash.

No, we said we'd give her a place to stay and co-sign a student loan on the condition that she worked to earn part of her tuition and she filled out her own paperwork.

She stomped out of our place over a year ago without a word. Last, I heard she'd been arrested in Toledo in June for selling pot.

Think she's an unusual case? No, she's not. I see just as many people my age acting the very same way.

Amber could have changed her situation. She chose not to.

Just like the people my age who hate their job. They haven't bothered to apply anywhere else. It's easier to bitch that they deserve better without bothering to look for it.

"What I deserve" is wishful thinking. Amber thought she deserved $40K The lady behind me at the deli counter thought she deserved to be waited on first. I see it with writers too. They deserve to make a million dollars on their first book just because they wrote it. "What I deserve" is ultimately self-defeating.

"What am I doing to change my situation" is proactive. Genius Kid wants a car. He's been applying at several businesses that will hire teens. He asked his dad for coaching before he had his first interview yesterday. He has a budget for saving his money. My friend Angie wants a writing career. She's been working on her craft and submitting manuscripts. She's bought the tools for creating her own ebooks. She's taking business classes specifically aimed at the publishing industry, too. Both GK and Angie are taking concrete steps to accomplish their goals. "What am I doing to change my situation" is a productive. Even if GK and Angie don't accomplish their specific goal at this time, they are both developing skills that can be used in other endeavors.

But you wanna know something? Angie's already met some of her goals. I have no doubt she'll accomplish the rest. Same thing with GK. When he's already figured out how to save money for the video games he wants, I have no doubt he'll have his own car in the garage this time next year.

So before you shoot the person you think is less deserving than you, take a good hard look in the mirror. What did you do today to change your situation?

As I've said before, you're more than welcome to cry on my shoulder about the unfairness of it all. But like your high school math teacher, I need to see your work first.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Rethinking Strategy

Back in May, I had some problems with Barnes & Noble. I won't get into all the dirty details, but it wasn't the first time, and I'd lost patience with the company's bullshit. So I pulled all my books.

And by all, I mean both my titles as well as Alter Ego's. I'd had enough even though it meant losing a significant percentage of income.

Then last Friday, I was updating links for my latest books before sending the master files to my formatter. Lo and behold, Barnes & Noble was carrying my first paperback, Justice: The Beginning.


B&N is pretty adamant about not carrying self-published books, yet they have my paperback. The discovery validated my choice to create my own publishing company.

In a HUGE way.

So after a lot of thought, I decided to put my e-books back up on B&N. Slowly. As in each book will be re-uploaded AFTER B&N lists the paper version.

I'm not rushing back into anything. So far, only Justice: The Beginning has been uploaded. We'll see what happens next.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Status Report - October 2016

It's hard to believe October is almost over! So what are the project priorities?

Priority #1
I sent the master files for Zombie Goddess to my formatter Saturday morning. I'm probably not going to have it out by my arbitrary deadline, which is the third anniversary of the release of Blood Sacrifice, aka the last new release in the Bloodlines series. So I'm shooting for Halloween provided my formatter isn't backlogged.

Priority #2
Finish writing Ravaged by Halloween. This has been a difficult story to complete because it deals with a lot of uncomfortable subjects. It doesn't help that the storyline mirrors some elements of the current U.S. political climate. I can honestly say this story was outlined well before the recent bullshit. I'm hoping to have it edited in time for a Thanksgiving release.

Priority #3
Finishing Sacrificed will be my National Novel Writing Month (aka NaNoWriMo, NaNo or November) project. Frankly I lost a day when I accidentally deleted Chapter Nine of this book without a backup. *facepalm* If I can stay on schedule, I hoping for a Christmas release.

Priority #4
I'll spend the holidays finishing Resurrected. It won't be out until late January/early February because both my formatter and my cover artist take time off to spend with their children--as they should!

Not a Priority, but You're Going to Hear About It Soon
I started a new project called The Four Soccer Moms of the Apocalypse. As a soccer mom myself, I said the only way I'd ever get a fucking mini-van is when the Four Horsemen arrive to announce the end of the world. Well, my heroine Danielle feels the same way. When a drunk driver totals her beloved pick-up, nearly killing her and her son, what does her hubby bring home as a replacement? Unfortunately in Danielle's case, it really does trigger Armageddon!

Starting the first chapter was my consolation the day I accidentally erased a chapter of Sacrificed because I was out of chocolate. (By the way, my huge order from Lindt arrived last Thursday.)

Sword and Sorceress 31 with my story "Pig-Headed" will be out on November 2nd. In fact, Amazon is already taking pre-orders. So is Barnes & Noble. This is an independent tale and doesn't take place in any of my pre-existing worlds. All I can say is Talis, a sorceress wannabe, is having a very bad day, starting with accidentally turning her brother into a farm animal and ending with an ogre threatening to eat her best friend.

All righty, then! Time for me to get back to work!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Freaking My Son Out

Then there are the rare times when we're both singing a song at the top of our lungs with the top down on the convertible!

Until we start arguing about the actual lyrics...

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Freaking Out My Son

Then there's times I recognize one artist's voice (in this case, Kei$ha), but not the other. It makes Genius Kid feel a little superior.

Monday, October 10, 2016

I Want Fantasy For Adults!

I would like to be on a fantasy reading kick. I really would.

I'm caught up on George R.R. Martin and Jim Butcher, and only Cthulu knows when they'll finish their respective series. I'm waiting on my friend Angela Penrose's next short story. I'm trying not to finish Jonathan Moeller's Ghost in Exile series too fast, or I won't have anything to look forward to over the winter.  I've bought last year's edition of Diana Rowland's White Trash Zombie, which I'm saving for after I finish edits on Zombie Goddess or my birthday, whichever gets here first.

And therein lies the problem. I'm waiting to savor Diana and Jonathan's books because I don't have any other fantasy novels to read.

Let me amend that--I don't have any adult fantasy novels to read.

Don't get me wrong. I read some young adult. I read a lot of romance. But I'm having a hard time finding something I like in the sf/f category that isn't a young adult romance dressed in a fantasy setting.

Maybe it's part of turning fifty and being in a relationship for nearly twenty-five years. Maybe it's wanting sheer escapism in the scary atmosphere this election has created. But I want something a little more grown-up, and I'm starting to see why so many people are bitching about the rampant juvenile romance that's taken over fantasy.

It's not so much the protagonists' age as their attitudes. I want them to solve realistic problems instead of obsessing over which boy to kiss. I want adventures and excitement without the entire cast dying.

Maybe that's why I've been re-reading old favorites (please note, I'm only giving the year the first novel came out):

Edgar Rice Burroughs' John Carter of Mars, aka Barsoom, series (1912)

Sure, John marries the princess in the end, but the majority of the story is John simply trying to survive in an alien, hostile world.

Anne McCaffrey's Pern series (1968)

Again, there's a little bit of romance amidst a lot of political intrigue, but neither overrides the main problems of the first books-defending Pern against the Ninth Pass of the Red Star and Threadfall.

Katherine Kurtz's Deryni Series (1970)

Other than a little lust-at-first-sight, the focus on these novels is the political rivalry between Deryni and normal humans contrasted with the rivalry between the kingdoms of Gwynedd and Torenth.

And this is where the writer in me kicks in. I write the stories I'm looking for and can't find. So I need to finish the Bloodlines series so I can get back to Issura and ...

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Freaking Out My Son

As I pointed out to Genius Kid, I saw some of these artists on Craig Ferguson's show, and he's older than me!

Friday, October 7, 2016

Scaly Cannibalistic Llamas

I've been in what DH calls "In The Zone" for the last week. It means I can't put down the writing. As in, I wrote in the car on my phone while we made a coffee and gasoline run Tuesday.

Normally, "In The Zone" means one book at a time, but in this case, I'm essentially writing the last three books of the Bloodlines series at the same time. Sort of.

Resurrected has taken over my attention. While it's unusual for me to write a large chunk in the guys' point of view, it's primarily Tiffany's story. She does some bad things for the right reasons though her motives are pretty bad as well.

It all comes down to her anger and self-esteem issues, things that have been on display since Blood Magick, but don't really come to a head until the last book in the series. Ironically, some of the themes of motherhood and enforcer crystalized when I read an essay by Kameron Hurley last night.

I crossed the 20K mark on Resurrected yesterday. I have a feeling the writing will go even faster after consuming Ms. Hurley's wise words.

P.S. I've been posting my weekly word counts on the current WIPs at my main website if you're curious.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Freaking Out My Son

Nothing has been freaking out Genius Kid more than "Mo-o-o-om" knowing the artists and lyrics from his generation of music.