Wednesday, July 3, 2019

IWSG: July and a Busy Summer

I hope your summer is going well. It only just arrived in West Michigan. We've had a long dark winter followed by a cold, dark and very wet spring. To see this mystical orb of warmth is a very welcome thing. I'm not even complaining about the heat or humidity...yet.

The garden has been enjoying all the rain, though all the flowers are about two weeks behind thanks to the lack of sun and cool temps.

This year has been very EVENT-full. (and this concludes my puns for the day). Unfortunately, many of them have been outside and as you've gathered by now, the weather hasn't been very cooperative. This weekend is one of my major events, the Lakeshore Art Festival in Muskegon, MI. We'll have twenty Michigan authors in two giant tents. If you're anywhere near the area, stop by and check out over 350 fine art and craft booths along with artisan food, interactive art, and children's activities. July 5 & 6 from 10-6.

If you're wondering where I'll be the rest of the year, check out the long list of locations over there --->

And now onward to this months' Insecure Writer's Support Group question:
If you're not familiar with 
What personal traits have you written into your character(s)?

Focusing on The Narvan, as those characters have been with my the longest, meaning we've rubbed off on one another quite a lot...

Anastassia shares my love of red wine
Vayen vents with F-bombs
Both of them drink (though more heavily than I do these days)
Anastassia tends to take over everything she touches
Vayen is always looking for ways to improve productivity
Vayen hates club music
Fa'yet likes to work alone
All of them prefer to avoid the spotlight
My wardrobe and Anastassia's are both heavy on the grey and black
Like both Anastassia and Vayen, I prefer to be in charge

and the list could go on, but you have other blogs to get to today so we'll end here. Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

IWSG: June and Ren Faire Adventures

Another month has flown by. I've been busy out promoting Trust and my other books at various events. The past couple weeks, I've ventured into Ren Faires and it was a blast. And rainy. And muddy. But fun despite all that. Got to love the erratic Spring weather in Michigan.

I also finished sewing my first dragon.  It took a lot of time, but I had no idea how much until I started keeping track with the next two that I'm working on. Once those are done I'll be bringing them to events with me to sell as my first dragon has been quite popular, but as he is my test dragon, there are things I'm doing differently with the next ones. Do you have any name suggestions? I've been taking suggestions, but I haven't picked on yet. Feel free to drop yours in the comments below.

Onward to this month's Insecure Writer's Support Group question:
If you're not familiar with 
Of all the genres you read and write, which is your favorite to write in and why?

I'm partial to writing Science Fiction, though Fantasy is a very close second. When I first really started reading as a kid, I dove into Mystery, because that's what my Mother read. It didn't take me long to wander into the Science Fiction section, probably because the kids books were all on one wall in our small indie bookstore. Horror followed soon after and then I branched into Fantasy and Paranormal.

With that mash up of inspiration, I like to incorporate aspects of all of those genres into my own writing. It's no surprise that I ended up writing speculative fiction.

Science Fiction has always been my favorite, probably because of the major what if factor and how your imagination has so much freedom to play with the answer to the question. I did read a good deal of hard sci-fi in my late teens and after, but slowly gravitated to the softer side of things and have stayed there.

And on that note, I'd point you toward Trust, my long-time sci-fi favorite project.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Penguicon is always a great time

Last year I'd heard mention of this mysterious con in one of my NaNoWriMo groups. A place with low cost, multiple tracks, and a friendly environment for everyone. And free beer.

Is it wrong that that's the detail that sold me? Come on, it's a variety of really good Michigan Craft beer.

We had such a good time last year that we headed off to Penguicon again this past weekend. This year we gathered another friend for our room. I invited some author friends too. And again, I meet a bunch of great people and reconnected with those I'd met last year. It's three days of non-stop stuff to do. I'm still catching up on sleep. All that peopling saps a lot of energy.

One of the many fun things about Penguicon is gathering ribbons for your badge. My ribbons were getting so long that I was stepping on them, at which point, it's a generally accepted practice to either start rolling them up, wear them as a scarf or start placing them sideways. I did all of those at various points. Bathroom trips are particularly precious otherwise.

Ribbons are supplied both by the con and attendees and most everyone gets into it. Elevator rides turn into ribbon swapping festivities. Panelists lure attendees up to talk to them afterwards with ribbons. You can earn ribbons from the con staff by doing things throughout the con. Many of the attendee ones are inside jokes you'll never be in on, yet they're still funny in their own way. I was a big fan of "Safety Third!?". I handed out ribbons that said "I'd rather be reading", which at a con full of introverts, was quite true for most.

There are so many different things to do throughout the day! There are panels and activities going from 9am to midnight and beyond. Everything from programming, gaming, crafts, writing, anime, to a wide array of adult-oriented programming, such as the Saturday night Burlesque show.

One thing my tongue is still recovering from is the abundance of flavors of Liquid Nitrogen Alcohol Ice Cream. Oh man, the flavors! I believe this one is Mudslide. We tried Watermelon Pucker sorbet, Peach Cider with ginger sorbet, Chocolate mint, Spicy Chocolate, Rumchatta icecream as a root beer float and so many more. That last one was amazing, by the way. They're all sooooo cold, yet so good.  

The con does a wonderful job of offering an abundance of lit panels and support for the participating authors. They provide a staffed bookstore where we can stock our books so we can go have fun all weekend rather than sitting at a table to sell them ourselves. Did I mention they do this fee free? They do. The con staff is awesome. They also had an afternoon writer's reception for us with the best cookies ever. Freshly made. The chocolate in my chocolate chocolate chunk cookie was still melty. Yum!

The Westin Hotel is great. The rooms are quiet and the curtains actually make it dark. The beds are perfect and there are plenty of pillows. The hotel staff is super friendly and most of them get into the con by wearing fun tshirts or even getting in on the cosplay.

I presented three panels this year. One of which I didn't get a photo of, but they were all a lot of fun and well attended. We had some good discussions, and from the comments I received afterwards, offered helpful information to aspiring writers. Mission accomplished.

We also got to do readings.

As a word of warning, I highly recommend not going out to most of the room parties the night before or enjoying two nights of tongue numbing Liquid Nitrogen ice cream before doing a reading. Words are hard when you can't keep your eyes open and your tongue feels like it's twice it's size. The year before, I did my reading on Friday night and I think that was a far better plan than Sunday morning.

However, we made it through and had some laughs over my tongue tripping. People bought books later, so my performance must not have been too detrimental.

Will I be going back next year? Hell yes. If you're at all near the Southfield, MI area next year in May, I recommend you check it out too. Penguicon just might be your new favorite weekend getaway.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019


If you're not familiar with 

May. Already. While that's awesome because it's nice to finally see green outside and flowers blooming, it also feels like I'm missing several months from the year and I'm not sure where they went. Maybe they got lost in one of the many snowstorms or the heavy winds blew them away. 

I've been busy promoting Trust at lots of events. As you see, my schedule is pretty full this year. I've already marked a few events to try and some to drop from those I did this year. Keeping a hard copy calendar for this sort of thing has been a sanity saver. Usually all my organization on that front is on my phone calendar, but it's been super helpful to have something I can scribble notes on, plaster sticky notes to and get a good overall view of events I've applied for and those I've been accepted to.

Did you manage to be productive with writing over the winter? I seemed to be on a relative roll until the end of February. It's been about two months since I've reliably used my morning writing time for actual writing. While I have managed to get a couple short stories written and submitted, its mostly been promoting my new book, catching up on sleep (because I wasn't sleeping well for a while there), gathering notes for a few panels I'm speaking on next month, and organizing a couple author events I'm hosting. So productive in general, but not how I prefer to use that time.

This month's questions is: What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

When I first started writing more seriously, as in trying to learn and get better rather than just spewing out words for fun, I explored fan fiction. This was a great place to get my feet wet with trying different types of storytelling and focusing on different things while romping about in an already established world.

I've always been an action and dialogue first kind of writer. It's adding the feels and details that I have to layer in later that I'm always working on. When I threw this particular short story together, I decided to use a mute character from the cast, which meant I couldn't rely on my old standby of dialogue to carry the story. I had to drop into emotion and body language right on the first draft. It worked. I made people cry.

From that story onward, I've tried to remember and employ the tidbits I learned about getting readers emotionally invested. And to use that power wisely - rather than killing characters left and right for the fun it.  

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Book Signing Road Trip

Now it would be super cool to have a publisher foot a hotel room for an author going to do a book signing, but yeah, that's not the level of publishing I'm at. And really, hotels cost money, money that comes off of my bottom line. Have I mentioned how Dutch I am? I am. Very.

That means when I set up a book selling even or signing I'm all about the one day road trip. I pack my own food. I gas up the car, and I set the alarm for the wee hours. Yesterday, I set out at 6am for Traverse City. It an almost three hour drive, but it was a nice morning. The roads were fairly empty, and once I was on the highway, cruise control took on the pedal action. Often for these types of trips, I share a table with another author to help split expenses and to keep each other company. And I did this time too, but he had to drive separately because his later plans varied from mine. The radio kept me company. I had plenty of time to listen to some music that I don't normally get a chance to get to in my usual car rides while doing errands.

Our first stop was a craft and vendor show in Williamsburg, just outside Traverse City. We were placed in an odd little cramped pass-through spot between the two larger vendor rooms. One of those rooms had lovely bright lighting. The other was all glass along one side and the sunlight was shining in. Our room, well, it was dimly lit. However, it was the pass through between both rooms and contained the bathroom. And a bar. Too bad the bar wasn't open. It would have made things more interesting.

As you may imagine, our sales were fairly low, in our darkened surroundings as customers squinted their way into the building from the bright sunny morning and from both brightly lit rooms. It turned out to be an okay show, but not one I would drive almost three hours for again. However, I did get to meet some new readers, so that's always fun.

Once that show was over, we packed up, which takes about ten minutes - we're pretty practiced at scattering once events are done - my table buddy headed for home. I drove twenty minutes to the Grand Traverse Mall and set up in Bookbrokers, a lovely indie bookstore with a super friendly staff.

I've sat at a table in a bookstore with my books before, and at a table with my books in a mall before, but this was actually fun. Have I mentioned how great the staff was? They were. They made sure I had a comfortable chair, something to drink, and plenty of conversation between customers.

My favorite part of the day was meeting a young woman and her friend who had 'never met an author before'. Like we're some illusive mystical creature. We had a good laugh and talked a lot about writing processes. She bought a couple books. We took a picture together. Good times. 

When my time there came to an end, I packed up, went out to my car to eat and headed home with the tunes blaring. I got to see the sun rise and the sun set. I sold books. I got to meet readers. It was a good day.

I like how Doc's shirt matches my hair and his hat matches my dress.
If you're ever up in Traverse City (or down, depending on where you are in the world), do stop by Bookbrokers and say hello to Doc, the owner. Ask for a book and he'll find you something even better to read, maybe even something by a Michigan author. They have a whole wall of signed Michigan authored books! And used books. And various items by local craftspeople. Get something to drink from Kramer's Café, slip a few pieces into the community puzzle, and then settle into a comfy chair and read for a bit.