Tidying Up

So if you visit my site often, you may have noticed some major changes going on with the site. Not only has the side menu disappeared, but the menu is all different too. Here is why I made these changes and what’s been added.

We Have Incoming

I’ve got a lot of books about to be out soon. I have two physical books available now and next year will have both Broken and The Seeking published. That’s book 2 in the Stolen series and a brand new standalone novel. I’ve been posting on this site since 2009 or so, and just like at home, you can gather a lot of clutter on a website in 10 years time. My menu was starting to get pretty clunky and nested menus were starting to be hard to navigate on some devices.

My Maps and Trains of the 1880s post is still very popular, even though all the images were very broken. All fixed now!

Thank You, Cherie

So I went through and cleaned up a bunch of things. You’ll see a new Contact Info/Press Kit link that has not only my bios, but my email/PO box as well. I’ve also got author photos listed there along with hi-resolution photos of all the covers I’ve been published in. (Whew, there were a lot!) It’s probably pretty obvious why I had to make that, but basically I’ve been doing a bunch of shows, and it was starting to take too long to dig out my Word document to copy and paste when I could just link here. (It is SUPER similar to Cherie Priest’s Contact Info page because she is a goddess and I’ve looked up to her forever. So apologies, Cherie!)

For the Fans

I also realized that I have a ton of additional information I’ve been putting out for the Stolen series. About 6 months out I start posting weekly on Instagram with the #worldofstolen hashtag, and dole out little bites of information and peeks into what’s to come when release day hits. That’s a lot of worldbuilding that just gets lost in the ether if I don’t link it, so that’s what I did. There’s now a whole World of Stolen page that links to the hashtag on Instagram, gives my stance on fanart/fanfic, links to the original short story for Stolen, and even links to the release day video. When Broken comes out in April of next year, I’ll probably be adding even more to that page. For people who want to dig into the world after reading the book, it’s a gold mine of information.

Finally, I realized that I have a lot of channels specifically for readers and fans of my work that I don’t really explain. So that’s what the For Readers page does. It explains the difference between the Facebook group, the mailing list, and shows all of the different ways I can be reached. You’ll also notice I added a section to stub out pages for the World of Kanta and the World of Carra too. I don’t have anything yet for those places, but it’s coming.

The World of Carra is for The Seeking, and yes it is scheduled for Fall 2020. Really not that far away!

What’s Next

So you might still see a few tweaks around (like the new header image!) but generally I’m pretty pleased with this instance. When Broken‘s cover gets revealed later this month, you can expect to see the color palette change here and in my mailing list too.

Have you signed up for the Cover Reveal yet?

I’m super excited for all the new things coming this way, but I wanted to make sure the site was ready to handle it all.

I also wanted to give my followers and readers a heads up – these next two books are going to be intense.

I hope you’re buckled in!

Ten Years of Blogging and the Struggle of Realness

WordPress sent me a notification recently, one I really hadn’t expected, but apparently I’ve owned this site for ten whole years!

That’s just crazy to think about.

Looking back over my first post, it took me a while to really get comfortable with what to even blog about. I was struggling to figure out how to open up, and it was difficult to even feel comfortable talking about who I was or where I was from. That kind of honesty online felt dangerous, even though now it’s an everyday thing.

When I was growing up, and the internet was the wild west it was really frightening to use your real name online. Everybody used aliases for fear of being the victim of identity theft, which wasn’t really understood at the time. You had emails for different usernames, you carefully managed what information you gave out because everything was public. Very few messageboards were behind passwords, so everything you said and did was public. Nobody knew how that would affect job prospects, or health insurance opportunities. Mental illnesses just weren’t talked about.

Then came Facebook, and you had to use your real name to get setup. You originally had to enter your real university email address to have an account. Suddenly there were potential ramifications of things you did online, or at least, you thought there were. Oh boy, things sure have changed ten years later!

I had to think of this site as a “professional online portfolio” which sounds kind of ridiculous these days, but that was the equivalent. Slowly my blog grew out of my writing experiences, my progress, my struggles, my highs and lows. Slowly I started to understand my online presence and how it reflected a unique part of me, similar to how my writing does. I grew more comfortable in my online skin, I grew more comfortable in what I could share.

Today it’s easily the hub of my author business and I work hard to keep it updated (*eyes that header image real hard haha*). It’s as natural a part of my work as my writing, as Facebook, as Instagram, and YouTube. It’s taken me a while to fully embrace it, both its more casual aspects (the blog itself), and its more professional pieces (media kits, book listings, social media links, etc). It’s had a lot of modifications in the past ten years, and several complete revamps. I feel like it’s going to get another one soon once I carve out some time.

Some of you all have been following my blog since I first published my sword and sorcery short story in Short-Story.Me! (which has also had a heck of a site update over the years!) and it has gone on to get–

*squints*

A whopping 58,500 views? Holy cow!

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’ve worked real hard to figure things out through this blog, and I appreciate you all for following me on my journey. Some of you have even been with me from the very start, and I can’t express how thankful I am for your support and motivation!

Here’s to ten more years of blogging, writing, learning, and figuring out this whole author thing.

Thanks for being here. ❤

Creativity in Public Spaces and the Importance of Bookshelves

I recently read Kelley Frank’s post (my sister and BFF) on making art in public and why it’s a good idea, and it got me thinking.

Growing up I was exposed to so much creativity. There was knitting, needlepoint, piano, clarinet, cooking, and of course, painting. Besides the piano, which obviously took up a good chunk of the living room, few artistic endeavors were given dedicated space in our house. Clarinet playing happened in the bedroom, painting in the kitchen, but books were given their own room entirely. We had our own home library, with at least four bookshelves, and more stacks of books that wouldn’t fit into the shelves.

Both of my parents collected tons of books, and still do, from biographies to comic books, from advanced calculus textbooks to steamy romances, they had a ton to choose from. We didn’t have a lot of money when I was younger, but books were worth the expense. We would scour bargain bins at department stores and check out the sale racks at Barnes and Nobles. Growing up with access to that many books seemed just normal to me. I would be able to check out a book series my mom had read as a kid, or read adventure novels that my dad collected. I could read books my older sister had read when she was a kid. We had most of the Babysitter’s club, a ton of Stephen King, and at least one encyclopedia set. It was a shock when I visited my friends’ homes and found they didn’t have a library at home, or even a full bookshelf.

“I do it because I think particularly in this country people are so distanced from literature, the way it’s taught in schools, that they think that people who write are magicians on a mountaintop somewhere, […] And I think that’s one of the reasons why there’s so much illiteracy in this country. So by doing it in public, I show people it’s a job … like being a plumber or an electrician.”

Harlan Ellison

In Kelley’s post, she focuses on the importance of seeing art performed in public, and how the act of doing the artwork drew the attention of some kids on a field trip. For me as a child, everybody in my family was creative in some way. I was surrounded by it all the time. While books certainly can’t be written in public (though it has been done before!), the fact that you sacrifice precious space in your home for books is a very telling decision. It speaks to the importance of books without having to see them performed.

But what do you think?

Do you think having a bookshelf at home stuffed with books helps kids realize the importance of them? Or do you think that kind of clutter isn’t necessary? I knew kids growing up that owned only 5 books, but those books had been read 20 times at least. Ebooks add a whole different dimension to the conversation too!

BookCon and Vending as an Author

BookCon was an incredible experience.

When I say that, I don’t mean just the convention. It’s a huge event and of all the festivals and conventions I’ve attended, I felt the most at-home there as a reader than I ever have before. There were reading nooks, book giveaways, inflatable bean bags, and of course, plenty of Starbucks to be found. But what made BookCon incredible for me wasn’t just the event, it was the people.

You see, we had a group of determined indie authors get together and decide that yes, we were going to pitch in to get a booth at BookCon. And yes, we were also going to find a way to get to New York City along with a bunch of books. You know, without going broke. So we did just that. It was really a tough decision, and we all had to budget and plan and coordinate. We had to figure out what we could bring, who could bring it, where we would stay. We had flight delays, panic attacks (have you seen the traffic in New York??), parking woes, and somehow found a way for seven women to share a single bathroom.

I think when most people see an author at a convention, they’re super excited, but they don’t always understand the work that goes on behind the scenes to get there. Writing a book is a truly difficult process. Stolen was a work of love that started back in 2013, but some authors work on a book for even longer.

At these events, I have to get in front of strangers and talk to them about the books available at the booth. Most seem interested, and that lifts me every time. Others give you a polite shake of the head, say “no thanks”, and move on. Some people might internalize that kind of reaction, but you have to learn to smile and nod, understanding that every reader has different tastes.

It’s still tough though. That’s your book baby that’s been incubating for eight years. It’s a piece of yourself in physical form, a world you’ve glued together, characters crafted out of thin air, and scenes that would possibly blow people’s minds… if they gave it a chance.

We live in strange times, where writing a book alone usually isn’t enough. You have to work to convince people that it’s good, then you have to continue writing. Wash and repeat. I personally love doing this. I love talking with fans about my work and seeing them light up when I describe the premise of Stolen. That’s the response that keeps me going. That excitement is what pushes me to keep grappling with manuscripts, whether it’s in the writing, editing, or proofing stage. That glimmer of curiosity is what motivates me when I can’t sleep and watch dawn come through the curtains of a New Jersey Airbnb on the last day of BookCon.

BookCon was an incredible experience, and I hope you’ll watch the video I’ve put together that shows what it was like. At the end, I list out all the amazing booth members and booth helpers we had, but I wanted to list them again because they were amazing. Go check out their work!

Here it is, our final day of BookCon!

Writing Goals for 2019

Every year I write out a list of the stories I’m currently working on, or stories that I’m planning to work on. It’s kind of become my New Year’s tradition to post up what I call my WIP To-Do list.

So here we go!

2019 WIP To-Do List!

Look at all those novels!

Wait, where are the short stories?

So you might notice a change from the lists I made in Jan 2016 and Jan 2017. I don’t have a section for short stories on this list. That’s because I really am just no longer focusing on them as much as I used to. I’m still writing them on occasion and granting access to my Moonlight Wanderers Facebook Group members, or to my mailing list subscribers, but I’ve really pulled back on how many short stories I work on these days. I may submit to a few anthologies on occasion (I have one pending right now actually), but I’m just not going to put a bunch of my time into that.

There are a few reasons for this. First of all, I’m really trying to get my novels off the ground. I want my stories to be front and center more often. Usually in anthologies, my work is appreciated, but doesn’t go far enough out there to get a mention in reviews, which can be tough. In my longer pieces though, readers get more engaged and I get far more comments on my work (both good and bad haha) which I appreciate.

Second of all, I just don’t have the time anymore. I used to browse prompts on Duotrope to see what could spark my interest and get the creativity flowing, but these days I have so many ideas that I’m usually juggling multiple books at once in various stages of publication. Novels and novellas take time to write, to plan, to flesh out. The world-building is far more intense than what is typically seen in a short story, so my energy is stretched pretty thin.

Finally, there’s the payment. It’s a dream goal to one day have a story picked up by a professional short story market, but in my now nine years of writing professionally, it just hasn’t happened. I’m shifting my focus to books because I feel like I can reach an equal level of happiness through that instead of writing a new story regularly to try and grab the interest of flooded professional short story markets.

I see my books as building a structure. I’m not making much right now with it, but eventually I want to. I want my books to be loved, my characters to be cared about, and for readers to fall into my worlds. I just don’t have that kind of flexibility with short stories. So now I’m focusing all my energy on novels.

Are those new books I see?

You’ll see all three books of the Stolen series up there: Stolen (coming out Jan 22!), Broken (my current WIP), and Chosen (my next WIP lol).

One Way Down (book 1 of the Colton Fen series) is probably the oldest manuscript on this list and will soon be getting quite a facelift. Smoke and Witchcraft, the sequel, will also likely be getting a huge edit either this year or next.

The Seeking is finished, I’m just waiting for some time to breathe before I submit it around lol.

Then we start getting down into my planned books, and I don’t think I’ve posted about these before. Please note that these titles are just placeholders. It takes me ages to figure out a good title haha.

Here’s a quick run-down:

  • The Two Sorceresses – A Snow White retelling that I’m keeping pretty close to the chest. Once I’m done with the Stolen series and the Colton Fen series, this is what I’m planning to tackle next.
  • Cruise Ship – A YA Horror on a cruise ship? Oh yes. And it’s the slipstream kind, so you know it’ll be fun.
  • Southern Gothic – An homage to one of my favorite comic books with a nice horror twist. This one will have many types of monsters too.
  • Mercy’s Revenge – The much asked for sequel to The She-Wolf of Kanta! I’ve had so many people want this book that I’ve lost track. I don’t know if I’ll get to this novella this year, but if not it’s definitely planned for next year.

So there you have it – my WIP to-do list for 2019! Yes, there is a lot to do, but I feel really good about this year. I’m also thrilled to share my WIP plans too, though if you follow me on Twitter you kind of got a peek at these back in December.

Happy 2019, everybody! And please let me know if you also do WIP To-Do lists! I find they’re really motivating to do each year and really help me to plan out my beats throughout the year during the writing/editing/publishing process. Cause you know it’s easy to forget about the road when you’re on the path.