Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Hazard Excerpt

An excerpt from Hazard is now up on my site on my Writing page.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Second Coming

I suppose the title of this post is misleading. I'm not talking about some religious event, unless, of course, you view all life as a religious experience. Which, considering the mystical wonder that is life, is probably the closest thing to true religion any of us will ever experience.

No, I'm talking about the second coming of Saturn to its natal position in my chart. For those of you not into astrology, this is called a Saturn return, which is a significant event in one's life. (Go ahead and scoff if you're not a believer, but do it quietly.) The transits of the minor heavenly bodies (the sun, the moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars) through your natal chart contribute to the day-to-day minutia of our lives, and provide fodder for those daily horoscopes you read in the paper. But the outer planets--Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune--are the ones that do the heavy lifting in our lives. And of these, none is more significant than the Great Teacher, Saturn. Uranus and Neptune, being slow and far away, are more generational type transits. They define an age (Baby Boomers, Gen-X, etc.) because they're in the same relative position for years. Jupiter, being such a huge, jolly fellow, is often though of as Fortune. People like Jupiter in much the same way as they like winners. He's the life of the party.

Saturn, on the other hand, is the dour taskmaster lurking in the corner to rap your knuckles (or worse) if you're not walking the right path. He keeps you on the straight and narrow, whether you want him to or not. You might say he's a humorless killjoy, but consider this--nothing would ever get done if we just goofed off with Jupiter all day. There's a time to work and a time to play, and a time to get on with the business of fulfilling one's destiny. And nothing drives that point home more than the Great Teacher's return to the spot where he stood when you were born.

This trek through your natal chart takes approximately 29 years, which means Saturn returns home around the ages of 29, 58, and 87. Now think about those numbers for a minute. If you're currently in your 30s (or later), think back to how tumultuous that dreaded 30th birthday was. There's a reason for that dread. It starts when you're around 28. Every hour that passes inches you closer to the day when Saturn stands on your doorstep, hands on his hips, a scowl on his face, challenging you to defend your life so far. Are you taking advantage of your innate gifts, your skills, your opportunities? Are you moving toward your goals in a positive manner, establishing a good work ethic,strong values, a clean soul? If so, Saturn smiles, pats you on the head, points out a few ways you can improve, and sets off again.

If, on the other hand, you're not progressing in a positive manner or just frittering your life away, the Great Teacher will whip out his staff and hand out a little attitude adjustment to get you back on track. Maybe you'll lose your job, maybe your significant other, maybe you'll get sick. Saturn's effect is different for everyone, but one thing is consistent--he wants to help you achieve your goals, even if it means derailing your life and forcing you to start over. After all, his motis operadi is out with the old, in with the new.

The first Saturn return is usually more noticeable than the second because it occurs during a time in your life when you're trying to establish your place in the world, both professionally and personally. You may be legally considered an adult at age 21, but 30 is the actual acknowledged age that signals your passage into adulthood. It's the age when it's time to get down to the business of figuring who and what you want to be when you grow up.

The second coming of Saturn in your life, while not as noticeable, is no less profound, particularly if you haven't been walking what you consider the perfect path (and, with maturity, you can recognize that for yourself). At 29, you were more concerned with establishing your worth to the outside world. At 58, you're turning that desire inward. And that's where I find myself now. It's not that I haven't been successful. I raised three sons into adulthood. I have a college degree, served a stint in the military, traveled around the world, bought and sold property, had careers in several fields, wrote a few books and published two. I may not have been as financially endowed as I would have liked, but I made the conscious choice to put my family ahead of my career, and I have no regrets in that regard.

But just as Saturn forces us to look forward, it also encourages us to look back. And like everyone else, there are things I still wish I had accomplished. As a Pisces with a Gemini rising, I'm not big on planning, which means I've pretty much lived by the seat of my pants. In the moment. Carpe Diem. As such, things haven't always gone the way I would have liked. For instance, I wish I'd had the luxury of pursuing a more fulfilling career. As a kid, I always wanted to be a teacher. When I got older, the dream changed to being an investigative journalist. At the root of both was a desire to do something that mattered. Instead, I did something that paid the bills. Since my motives were to provide for my family, I guess I was doing something that mattered, so while the path might have varied, the end result was the same.

However, I'm finding now, with the approach of my second Saturn return, that I'm saying goodbye to much of my old life, whether I want to or not. I've lost both my parents in the last year. It wasn't sudden--both had lingering illnesses--and while I thought I had prepared myself for their loss, I'm learning there are some things for which we can never be fully prepared. I kept expecting some great rush of sadness, an overwhelming grief that would crush me for awhile and then allow me to move on. And when the great crushing sadness didn't come, I thought in turns that I was either cold-hearted or just plain lucky. What I'm learning, however, is that grief is not a one-shot deal. That its initial numbness transforms into a lingering pain that comes and goes--sometimes dull and distant, and other times excruciatingly close and raw--and that it will be like that for the rest of my life. A new part of me that has been born with their deaths.

I'm also saying goodbye to the things I thought were important. I'd gone back to a traditional job in the corporate world a couple of years ago--something I swore I'd never do again because, to me, it was killing my soul. But I fell victim to the siren song of a steady paycheck, as well as all the material things that money could buy. Within a year, I realized my mistake, but now I was back on the treadmill. Bills, status, my sense of worth--all the things that accompany the nine-to-five world--were suddenly tied to a job I hated. I'd wake up every morning with dread and drag myself to work, all the while feeling unfulfilled and hollow. I wanted to do something else, even started looking, but, like most people, I got complacent. After all, there was no sense of urgency. One day just faded into the next, and before I knew it, nearly three years had gone by and I told myself I might as well stick it out until I could retire. Ah, the lure of the Matrix.

And that's when Saturn struck. With one broad stroke of his brush, my position was eliminated and I was unemployed. It had happened to me three times before in my life and had always been accompanied by a sense of panic--how was I going to support my family, pay my bills? Maybe it was a sign of maturity, but this time there was no panic, no OMG! moment. In fact, if anything, I was surprisingly calm, despite being a middle-aged, unemployed woman in a depressed economy. I had options, people offering me job leads, but I took a step back and, with the wisdom that comes with age and maturity, re-evaluated my priorities. Yes, I have bills to pay. Yes, I have obligations, but I also have a little money saved and a lot of things I still want to do. And I realized, if I have to work, why not do something I like? I'm not one of those people who tie my self worth to my bank account, so I don't need to make a lot of money.

What I do need is to be able to look myself in the mirror and feel like I've done something valuable with my day. I always wanted to be a teacher, so I decided that's what I'm going to do. Not because I have to make a living, but because I want to make a difference.

If I had been ten years younger, I probably would have jumped on the first job that was offered to me. And I would have gone on being miserable and convinced myself the ends justified the means. I knew I wasn't where I was supposed to be, but sometimes we need a little push to do something about it. If you don't believe in astrology, you can put it in other terms--everything happens for a reason, when one door closes, another one opens. In the end, it all boils down to the same thing. If the universe thinks you should be somewhere else, it'll find a way to get you there.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Mentally Wandering Writer

I know, I know. I made myself a promise I'd do a better job of keeping up with this blog, but good intentions being what they are, well...anyway, the past, as they say, is the past, and THEY always know what they're talking about, so let's move on.

Being the Grand Procrastinator that I am, I have a million excuses for not posting here, or writing anything other than an occasional email or Facebook post, for that matter. The ubiquitous flotsam and jetsam of life can always intrude if we let it, and I have been super guilty of letting it of late. In my defense, I have been passively grieving the loss of my parents, and maybe that has contributed to a little depression and angst of sorts. At the very least, it's been acting like an antihistamine on my creative juices. I wrote a little bit on Hazard, deleted it, wrote some more, and now I'm kind of stuck in limbo. So much for that goal of publishing three books this year. Not that I'm panicking (yet)--I know it will come when it's ready. I tore through the second half of Lucid in a month, though having gained some distance and gone back to read it now, maybe I should have taken a little more time with it, fleshed things out a little better, caught some of the glaring mistakes. Oh well, it's out  there now and I've moved on.

Speaking of moving, I did that again (it's become an annual ritual lately). Also took a vacation, my first in ten years. I'm waiting for the vaunted refreshed and reinvigorated benefit you hear so much about to kick in now. So far, that also seems to be eluding me as well. But we soldier on, right? In the meantime, I have a few ideas on the burner, one of which is reviving my short-lived but not forgotten ezine, Nido-zine.  That should be fun, since I can't even seem to keep up with this and my other blogs. But I'm seriously thinking alternate income streams since the day job seems to be dangling an as-yet unknown expiration date over my head--damned economy--and I'm not that crazy about sitting on my thumbs collecting unemployment. For one thing, it doesn't pay the bills.

So...all caught up now?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

When Support Your Local Indie Writer Falls Flat

You have to wonder how people succeed these days, especially when it comes to small and/or independent businesses. Take your local independent bookstore. There aren't many of them around any more (for that matter, there aren't many big corporate ones either as we all transition to e-readers and online buying), so you would think that those that are around would extend a hand to their fellow independent writers. After all, we're comrades in arms, so to speak.

Anyway, that's what I thought. See, we have one of those small, independent book stores here in Tampa, and as it turns out, it's within a mile of my house. On their website, they encourage people to support independent bookstores and buy the books of local writers. What they don't say is that applies only to local TRADITIONALLY PUBLISHED writers. Independent writers--meh, not so much.

I approached this bookstore about possibly doing a signing for my book, Lucid, assuring them I would supply the books and all I would ask of them is a place to host it. Their response pretty much tells me why they're a dying breed. "We're not interested is self-published writers." Guess that illustrates why we, the public, aren't all that interested in self-owned bookstores.

Hey, here's a thought: if you're a dying breed, you'd think you'd get off your high-and-mighty horse and practice a little of what you preach because the world is not going to step into a time warp and make you relevant again. Or, you can keep sucking off the teat of the industry that made you irrelevant and ask your spurned public to support your delusions.

Just saying...

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Lucid Published!

Lucid just published in paperback and on Kindle and Nook.

Monday, June 4, 2012

ePub frazzled

Formatting for ePub (Kindle, Nook, etc.) should not be this hard. I converted the manuscript for Lucid to html, downloaded Calibre to convert and view the file, and it's all jacked up. Makes me wonder how Being John Bland actually turned out since I haven't actually downloaded it (I know, shame on me).

 I want to get this book published but I'm so frustrated right now I can't even make myself look at the files. Ugh...

Sunday, April 8, 2012

On Deck...Hazard

With Lucid off in the hands of my beta readers, I've started on the sequel, Hazard. The premise of the book was inspired by the Richard Marx song of the same name; what happens when our hero--guilty of so many bad things--is accused of a crime he didn't commit? A crime that's right up his alley, so to speak. The opening scene came to me in its entirety early this morning while swinging between dreaming and consciousness. Don't you love when that happens?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

DONE!

Lucid is finished. Just running through final edits, picking up some inconsistencies, and it'll be ready for a good beta read.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

WIP Progress

The last two weeks have been a blur, writing wise. I've whipped out nearly 25,000 words and am sitting at the brink of 73,000 right now and still writing feverishly. I'm in one of those zones all writers dream about. Waking and sleeping, my mind is so caught up in this story, working out the next scene in my head, that I'm walking into walls and doing stupid stuff like brushing my teeth before I eat, which while an effective dieting technique lord knows I could use, it doesn't do much for the taste of cereal.
Go Team Laec!!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Epiphanies

As a writer, there is nothing better than that "aha!" moment when everything falls into place. You can plug away at a book, hitting all the plot points, having a vague idea of where you're going, and then one day--BAM!--the light bulb turns on and the road ahead is suddenly clear.

I had one of those moments yesterday with my current WIP, Lucid. I had reached the climatic confrontation section, the final 1/3 of the book, got my hero up to his ass in alligators, and while I had an idea of what needed to happen to get him out, I hadn't really come up with that one, final twist of the blade that would make the reader go, "Wow, I didn't see that one coming."


My college mentor once told me never put anything in a story you didn't intend to use, regardless of how insignificant or random it might be. If you're going to bother writing it, it must have a purpose. It's good advice, but rarely do writers follow it. We throw in red herrings, false leads, and random fluff all the time, either to spice up the back story, fill pages, or just to throw off readers who have gotten so sophisticated, they figure out where we're going before we do. So isn't it fun, as a writer, when you suddenly realize that one of those random bits of fluff you threw in there to fill out the back story actually turns out to be the key to pulling your entire plot together?

For me, the piece I needed was the name of the betrayer. I had been wracking my brain to come up with some elaborate scheme or conspiracy, when the answer was actually right in front of me all along. It was so simple, and yet I never even saw it coming.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Release Day, Tornadoes, and Hellhounds

I've been plugging along on Lucid, hitting 65,000 words this morning with my hero trapped in an endless corridor with two slathering hellhounds on his heels and his demonic power neutralized. Oh my!

I've been ticking off the days the past month for the March 6 release date of the next Cal Leandros novel (pre-ordered for Kindle like a good fan on Amazon), and then I learn this morning that Cal's creator, Rob Thurman, nearly lost her house in last week's tornadoes. Her entire town in Indiana was wiped out. Doubletake, the seventh book in the series, comes out tomorrow. If any of you read the Cal Leandros series (and if you don't, why not?), make this a spectacular release date for her and go buy or download the book. You know how important that first week is for writers. Rob's not only a phenomenal writer, she's a hell of a human being.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Progress on Lucid

Hit 61,000 words today and am in the stretch run. Just moved my main characters into place for the final ass-kicking showdown. Let's hope I can get at least 20,000 words out of it.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Readers wanted!

I read an editorial in the paper this morning that quoted a Robert Kantor--who fancies himself something of an expert, though of what the editorial didn't specify--as saying the average male reads only one book past high school. The writer of the editorial, like myself, wondered what that one book was, and how many books the average female reads, since Mr. Kantor didn't mention their habits.

I don't know about anyone else, but the males I know read quite a lot, and the books they read are all over the map as far as genre or content. I guess that makes them non-average or better than average, at least in Mr. Kantor's world. It does make me wonder, though, if I asked them to name only one book they could have read since high school, what would that book be, and would it be the same book Mr. Kantor's average guys are reading?  This is all academic, of course, because Mr. Kantor, self-professed expert in male reading habits, is more than likely having a joke at our expense.

Personally, I read about two books a week, unless I'm crunching a deadline. That may or may not be more than a lot of females or right on point, though I'd like to think both women and men enjoy reading as much as I do. What writer wouldn't? However, I do have a female friend who swears she hasn't read a book since high school, which makes me wonder if it's the same book the single-book-reader guys read, and if so, does that make her an average guy? This could be a life-changing question, so if anyone knows, please drop me a line.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Pirates

I was watching TV last night and a Captain Morgan commercial came on (the one where the good cap'n is sitting at a dinner table with a bunch of 18th century bores) and I thought, you know, I need to have a pirate character in a book. Or a book about pirates. Naturally, that lead to the problem of how to bring pirates into urban fantasy. I'm sure there's a way to get the two together. Maybe just have a dashing, hard-living, devil-may-care, slightly legally-challenged hero who happens to own a boat. And then what ...?

I don't think I've ever even read a pirate story, though I've watched plenty of pirates in movies. Of course, Johnny Depp comes to mind, along with the debonair, swashbuckling Errol Flynn, and my personal favorite, a youthful Tommy Lee Jones as Bully Hayes in 1983's Nate and Hayes. Then again, I'm a diehard TLJ fan, craggy face and all. But I digress...

I think this is a subject worth pondering. Maybe I'll make a list of things that remind me of pirates and find a way to weave them into a character. I'm sure all this sudden obsession with pirates is at least partially the result of the calendar. For those who may not know, February in Tampa is pirate season. That's when we begin our annual month-long siege by the dastardly Jose Gaspar and his many ribald krewes. You can't throw a rock in South Tampa this time of year without hitting a pirate or a pirate flag. And why not? Pirates stand for everything that means fun to an adult--hard partying, carefree, and irresponsible.

Yep, I'm seeing a pirate story in my future.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Plugging another indie writer

I just finished the Zero Sight series by B. Justin Shier and I have to say, this is one of the best new writers I've read. For those of you who haven't heard of or read his Zero Sight series, B (as he prefers to be known)  is a med student who writes in his spare time. I can't even imagine where he finds that spare time, but if his doctoring is as good as his writing, he'll have some lucky patients.

The series centers around Dieter Resnick, a Las Vegas kid cursed with the Sight that allows him to see what's coming before it gets there, among other things. There's a lot more to Dieter than meets the eye, and B does a great job of bringing the reader into his world.

I loved the characters in these books. So much, in fact, I read the first book, Zero Sight, in two days, then downloaded and read the second one in a single day. It helped that I was home sick at the time, but what a great way to distract me from the aches and pains of the flu.

The odd thing, for me, about reading these books is the sense of kismet I got. I'm sure other writers have had this happen to them as well. You're working on a book and you read something in another book that mirrors something in your own. In this instance, there were aspects of Dieter's character that run parallel to my own current WIP's character, Laec Matthews. It kind gave me this weird sense of deja vu for a minute.I don't want to go into details, but anyone who read both would know what I was talking about. Suffice it to say, those parts were written in my book before I read this one, so I guess I can console myself with the old adage, "great minds think alike."

If you're looking for some new urban fantasy with a new voice and a different spin, check out the Zero Sight series.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Have eReaders made you read more or less?

Like with most new technology, I fought getting a Kindle for the longest time, falling back on the standard argument you hear from all holdouts; "but I like the feel of a book." And as with every other new technology I finally gave in to (cd and dvd players, smartphones, laptops), I don't know how I ever lived without it. I take my Kindle everywhere. It's great always having my books handy. If I finish one while I'm away from home, I can just pull up another one.

 But the best part of owning a Kindle (or any eReader) is that it encourages you to read more, something every writer should do.How else can you expose yourself to the best of what's available in the world of words? I find I read at least two books a week now, many of them indie books, because they're so accessible. I spend a couple of hours on Amazon every week trolling for new stuff and downloading samples, most of which turn into purchases for these writers. Most indie books sell for $.99 to $3.99, which, by any calculation, is a bargain worth taking a chance on. Granted, you might find the occasional stinker in there, but that's the great part about eReaders. You can read a sample before you buy. Face it, how many businesses give out free samples these days?

For the most part, I've been pleasantly surprised by both the quality and the originality of the ebooks I've read. Stuff that, ten years ago, probably never would have seen the light of day because it didn't fit into some publisher's business model. I can overlook a few typos or grammatical faux pas for a good story, especially considering that even traditionally published books aren't flawless. Think of indie writers as the garage bands of literature--raw, original, and uncensored--and eReaders the van that brings them to your hometown.

If you're still sitting on the fence about buying an eReader, you can always sample that, too. Just download Kindle for PC. It's the same interface, and you can sync it to your smartphone as well. And later, when you decide to buy (and you will), you can sync all your samples and purchases to your eReader.

As far as I'm concerned, there has never been a better time to be a reader or a writer--especially an independent writer. I've read stuff I never would have considered before because it's so easily available, and that, in turn, has influenced and enriched my writing. How about you? Does your eReader make you read more? Write better? Or are you still holding out?

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Soundtrack for the Year

I've decided this is my them song for this year - time to get off my a$$ and get stuff done!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Cover for Lucid

I just finished designing the cover for Lucid. I managed to get Laec looking just like I imagined him, and the background really gives a feel for Lower Erebus. Now my only problem will be if I decide to change the title of the book.

Cover designed by Nytshadow Designs, which happens to be my design company.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Random Mind Fluff

Sometimes it takes awhile for the flotsam and jetsam of my life to rise to the surface, so I’ve stopped being surprised when stuff like this randomly pops into my head and starts waving its arms for attention.

Last weekend my Dad and I were dropped into an alternate universe.

Yeah, I know, you’ve probably heard that before, and to be honest, it’s not as exciting as it sounds. Turns out it was just Wesley Chapel, but for a few giddy moments, I knew what it must feel like to be a starship captain. Or Christopher Columbus.

“What do you mean this isn’t India? Isabelle is going to be pissed if I don’t come back with spices!”

Once the truth of my mistake was revealed, I had one burning question: Who gave the FDOT the right to go willy-nilly changing the numbers of highways in midstream? Isn’t stuff like that chiseled in metal, like one of those truths uttered by people like Stephen Hawking and Maury Povich?

Okay, bad example.

At least I reacted responsibly and pulled into an Arby’s before bringing up Google Maps on my phone to figure out where the hell I was. Dad wisely suggested, as long we were there, we might as well go inside and use the facilities and grab something to drink, just in case the universe pulled any more funny stuff on us before we got back to his house. And I figured, as long as we were inside, I might as well verify our location with the kid behind the counter, on the off chance Google was pulling one of their hilariously refreshing practical jokes (funny the first dozen times, not so much after that). Not wanting to draw anyone else into my confusion, I kept the inquiry simple.

“Is that big road out front Hwy 54?”

The kid got a glazed look in his eyes and turned to the guy hunting and pecking at the register next to him for guidance.

“Um, yeah, I think so,” the guidance counselor answered.

Why the hell did I need to remember that now?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Kick off

Pristine territory, the first post on my new and improved Blogger blog. After the disaster that happened on WorodPress, it took me awhile to get this baby up and running. Life, work ... you know the drill.

Anyway, I wanted to make myself write, so at least I can do this every day.

Been hard at work getting Lucid finished. After taking a year off from it, it took me a couple of weeks to figure out where I was going with the story. Usually I keep better notes on stuff like that, but I've changed computers three times in the last year, lost hard drives to crashes, and have stuff scattered between two external drives, a Passport, and my Dropbox (I refuse to go through that again, so multiple backups all around). I'll probably find those notes after I finish the book.

Anyway, I plan to be around here more often now, so hopefully I can catch back up with my old readers.