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State of the Book: Surgery, Writing, and Cons, oh my!

Book news, Conferences, Life Stuff, State of the Book, Writing

Whew! It’s been a minute.

I thought I’d take a moment and update folks on what’s going on with me.

Surgery Stuff

In February, I had rotator cuff surgery. I’d love to say that I got hurt doing something exciting or sexy, but no. It was a couch potato injury. The MRI showed a tear (there ended up being 2 tears, they discovered when they were in there), which can really only be fixed with surgery. So in I went.

I don’t recommend tearing your rotator cuff. The recovery time is forever. It is now late May and I’m still in physical therapy. I’ve gotten about 70% of my range of motion back, but we’re still working on it, and we’re just now beginning strength therapy. Do not recommend.

While I’d planned to get some writing done while recuperating, I didn’t factor in the idea that I would be on narcotics daily for two and a half months. My therapist keeps telling me to let myself off the hook for not writing that entire time, but I admit that I’m having trouble not beating myself up. It feels like a bunch of wasted time.

Which brings us to…

Writing Stuff

Yep. Blank page.

The end result is that Book Two of the Soul Cavern series — titled Visci — is still in the works. My current plan is to publish in early August (in time for Dragon Con!), with Book Three coming either at the end of the year or in early 2020.

I’m disappointed that I’m not likely to make my goal of publishing 5 books this year, but having lost almost an entire quarter to health stuff means I have to pivot and adjust my goals to reality. So I’m going to see about 3 books published this year (one, Blue Edged Soul, was released early this year and I’m hoping to count Book Three as the third book published, as I’d really like to get it done by the end of the year).

On a good note, I’ve got the cover for Visci and will be doing a reveal in a few weeks!

Convention Stuff

If you’re in or around Charlotte, NC, next weekend – May 31 through June 2, I’m a guest at ConCarolinas!

Photo: ConCarolinas

Here’s my current schedule:

Friday

3pm – How to Speak “Editor”
Most of us are years past our high school English classes. What does it mean when your editor complains about copulas? Or past-perfect tenses? What does she mean about the commas? This panel of editors will explain some of the most common editorial suggestions and help you learn the best way to handle them.

7pm – Designing a Government (moderating)
The way a land is governed colors the behavior of its citizens. Even if your character isn’t involved in government, it’s still an important aspect of world building. This panel discusses the best governing system for your story, and how to blend it into your narrative.

Saturday

10am – The Ups and Downs of Traditional and Indie Publishing (moderating)
The publishing world has seen some exciting changes in the last fifteen years, and things aren’t stopping yet. Our panel will talk about the pros and cons to both aspects of publishing.

11am – Con Survival
Tips and tricks for surviving a convention, whether it’s your first or your fiftieth.

12pm – Writing the Fight
The best stories include conflict of all kinds. Our writers talk about writing physical fights, from fisticuffs to fencing, and offer their opinions on some of the most famous fight scenes in SF/F.

1pm – Choosing an Editor
Acquiring editors, developmental editors, copyeditors… what kind of editor do you need? And how do you find one? Join the panelists to learn more about the kinds of editors, what to expect when working with an editor, and how to choose an editor that you can work with—and how to work in a situation when you don’t get to choose your own editor.

Sunday

12pm – An Hour with… Venessa Giunta & Quincy J. Allen

2pm – Book Signing with Venessa Giunta

So that’s my stuff! You can check out all the great programming here!

I hope to see you out at ConCarolinas next weekend!

State of the Book (and Arm) – February Edition

Blog news, Book news, Life Stuff

Time for another State of the Book!

The first draft of Soul Cavern 2 is almost done (I know, I’ve been saying that for weeks!). It’s so close to being done, I’ve already started revising the first part and sending it out to beta readers. I’m still hoping to get it out in April.

I’m also getting ready to commission the cover art for SC2 and SC3 before the end of the month, so should have something to show for that in the coming weeks, as well!

Obviously, I’ve done this surgery thing before…

My overall production schedule is going to slow down, though, as I am having rotator cuff surgery on 2/13. I’ve been dealing with pain since June, but more aggravated pain since November. The MRI I had last month showed a 5mm tear in one of the muscles (or tendons? Dunno) in my rotator cuff. So… surgery.

My arm will basically be immobilized for 3-4 weeks, then 4 weeks of movement therapy, and then 4 weeks of strength therapy. So, yeah, 3 months. Whee. I am not entirely sure how the immobilization is going to affect writing. I’ll be doing some work with Google Docs and their free voice to text function, but I don’t really know how well I’ll do with dictation. We’ll see.

The last couple weeks I’ve been working on a website redesign (mostly randomly) and that only takes my mouse hand, for the most part, so perhaps I’ll do more work on that! I’m really excited about it, because it’s going to be gorgeous! 🙂

And I’m set to start outlining Soul Cavern 3 this month also. ALL THE THINGS!

So there’s the State of the Book for February! Thanks for hanging with me 🙂

BackSpacing: Pulling myself up by my bra straps

Life Stuff, Writing

No Tool Time Tuesday this week. We’ll get back into it next week!

BackSpacing posts will be personal posts, just as a warning. Consider it me going, “Whoa. Backspace. Let’s figure some stuff out.”

I have been very bad about writing lately. I keep putting it off or finding other things to do that are “more important.” They’re not really more important, of course. They’re just a convenient excuse. But this is also why the blog has gotten off track.

Last year, I spent most of the year in a different state being one of the primary caregivers for my grandmother, who’d broken her neck the November before. Being a caregiver is a lot harder than you realize when you sign up. Not necessarily physically harder (though sometimes that), but definitely psychologically harder.

I spent two to three weeks of every month with her. I wouldn’t change that decision if I had to do it again. I would make the exact same choice. It was absolutely worth it. But the consequence of being away that long is that much of my life at home fell away. Drifted. My relationship with my husband is rock solid, so it wasn’t that. But it was more that my socialness suffered while I was away. And my ability to be social, the energy it takes for me to do that, suffered.

Generally, I’m a very outgoing and social person. But after last year, I found I had fewer spoons for socialness. (If you’re unfamiliar with Spoon Theory, check it out. It’s a very clever way of explaining energy.) My grandmother passed away just before Christmas and so this year has been about rebuilding my life here at home.

What does this have to do with my writing? Well, I’ve found that in times of high stress, I have a lot of trouble focusing on getting words on the page. I have little motivation to do it. And that makes getting anything done very difficult.

National Novel Writing Month is coming up. (We’re prepping at The Writing Tribe, if you want to join us!) So I need to get my crap together. This year I’ve decided that I’m going to be doing short stories, rather than a novel. My reasoning is that I need some quick wins. I have a number of novel projects in varying stages of completeness; I don’t need another novel right now.

What I do need is something that gives me a sense of accomplishment. Writing a series of short stories totally 50,000 words will also give me several pieces that I can submit to markets right away. I can get some wins under my belt. Because forward progress always creates motivation. I am in dire need of both right now.

So I’m planning my stories for NaNo and hoping for a few wins! How are you getting ready for Nano?

Travellust & the Writer – A Love Story

Life Stuff, Travel, Writing

Travellust & the Writer

That Was Then

I grew up in a small suburb, well outside of Chicago, IL. If we went into the city, it was almost always to visit my Aunt Barb, my grandmother’s sister, and all the cousins out there. There would be occasional school field trips to the Field Museum or Adler Planetarium, but mostly I stayed in my little suburb. Most of the sites in Chicago I didn’t see until I was an adult and able to travel on my own.

I tried to find a pic of me in Chicago, but couldn’t. So here’s TreeTop Park in Ft. Lauderdale 🙂

As far as travel outside of the Chicago area, most of that was for family as well. I can remember a number of trips to Indiana to visit my grandmother when she lived there, as well as a long drive to Connecticut when she was there also. And, for a long time, we’ve had family in Tennessee, so there were also the occasional trips there. The only non-family vacations I remember was a trip to the Wisconsin Dells when I was thirteen and typical moody teenager. (This was also, incidentally, the trip where I holed up in my room at the cabin and read The Stand, cover to cover. Like I said, moody.)

I’m not telling you all this for sympathy, but to explain one of the reasons I devoured books as a kid. As they are for so many people, they were an escape from a very not-interesting life. I visited London, England, and Derry, Maine. I rode the Orient Express and hid in an attic to escape the Holocaust. I solved mysteries with Nancy Drew and the Bobbsey Twins. As I got older and read more, I sweated in the Congo and helped build Hadrian’s Wall.

Books always showed me the world that I felt I would never see.

This Is Now

I’m significantly older now, of course. I’m settled in a home with my spouse. We’ve lived in this place since 2008. This is the longest I’ve lived in one dwelling my entire adult life.

Vals, Italy

I’ve traveled more — I’ve gotten a little taste of the world that I so desired when I was younger. I’ve been to almost two dozen states, one Caribbean island, and ten countries in Europe (don’t be too impressed; some of them were just drive-throughs!). And the things I’ve gotten to see have been incredibly cool.

The beauty of the world and its people have lived up to my expectations.

I know I’ve been incredibly lucky to have had these experiences. My teenage self would never have thought we’d be able to really go to London, to the Italian Alps, to Amsterdam. But we did, my teenage self and I. And it’s been glorious, seeing things that I’d only ever seen in magazines, or the encyclopedia, or, later, on the Internet.

Experience Greed and This Writer

But it isn’t enough.

Me at Westminster Abbey, London, UK

This year, especially, I’ve been jonesing to travel. I want to see the rest of Italy. I want to go back to London, and I want to see other places in England. I want to hang out in a real pub in Ireland and I want to see the Scottish moors. I want to visit New Zealand and Australia. There are so many places I still want to go. So many experiences I still want to have.

It might make me greedy, but that’s okay. Because I think experiences are all we can ever really have from this world. And time is always running short.

My plan for 2018 is to travel more, particularly overseas. This means that you’re going to see a lot more from me product-wise over the rest of this year and next, from books to classes. I hope that’s okay with you. It also means you’ll be seeing more travel postings from me. More pictures of things I see.

The Quarantine House in Curacao. I’m working on a whole blog post about this place!

I want more experiences to inform my writing and my life. I want to understand other cultures, as much as I can, and live in their spaces, even if only for a little while. I want to see more of our world and I want to be able to share it.


How about you? Do you travel? Where is your favorite place that you’ve visited and why is it your favorite?

 

All images are courtesy of Arjen Jansen.

My Current Life: Crashing, Burning, and Horses

Life Stuff

Crashing and burning

I had a super productive early year. From January to April, I worked hard on a few projects that I wanted to get done. I made a lot of headway. None of those projects were writing, but I felt they were really worthwhile.

In April, I did a lot of traveling. In a span of 3 weeks, I had 3 conventions in 3 different states. Two of those were working gigs — I taught at them — the final one I was an attendee. Obviously, when I got home, I needed some time to get back on track, but I struggled. A lot.

I’m still struggling. There are a bunch of things that happened in between. A death in the family, logistics in dealing with a death from last year, family medical stuff, and a sick kitty. None of these are excuses not to get my work one, but they all contributed to my mental landscape.

And I have to face it. When I feel overwhelmed and bogged down, I become avoidant. I procrastinate, put things off, find any excuse not to do what needs to be done. I don’t think I’m alone in this behavior, either. But being in good company doesn’t really fix things, does it?

Getting back on the horse

I’m starting to come out of that funk just now. I can’t say I’m completely back on track, because I’d definitely not. But I have re-evaluated my track and have started aiming my car in that general direction. I’m not quite back in the race, but I expect that will happen soon.

I started my move toward getting out of the crash and burn phase by going back to my therapist. He’s amazing and I had stopped going in February, just because my life had gotten really chaotic and I didn’t really have the extra time to get out there. Then I was just out of the habit. This had been the first time  hadn’t seen him in more than a 3 week stretch in probably 5 years. So that was number one.

Number two was evaluating what I wanted to do. Did I want to stay on the path I was on? Did I want to diverge altogether? So I did some thinking and have made some changes based on that. Might that change again in the future? Sure. Pivoting is important. Being able to shift your direction based on changes in life or your own personal goals is an important part of living life.

As I said, I’m getting back on track, so plan to get the blog going on its regular schedule again. Thanks to the folks who reached out to check on me. It’s nice to know when you’re missed 😉

 

 

 

Unless attributed otherwise, all images are CC0 licensed.

Responsibility Means Saying No

Life Stuff

What I’m Listening To: “Smalltown Boy” by Bronksi Beat on World Shut Your Mouth

Something Cool: Con season is coming up!

One of the podcasts I’ve been listening to while I travel is the backlist of Beyond the To Do List. It’s all about creating a more productive life. I was on Episode 21, which featured Christin Taylor. It’s a good podcast ep, particularly for Millennials (of which I am not), and something she said struck me as really interesting.

Christin and her husband were at a marriage retreat, and they each took a quiz which highlighted their strengths and weaknesses. She was really surprised when one of her husband’s strengths came out as responsibility and that was not one of her own strengths from the test. She felt like she was the one always committing to things and he was the one always saying no, so she she felt like she was the more responsible.

I found this really interesting. Like a lot of people, I sometimes have trouble saying ‘no.’ I’ve done a lot better in the last several years, but especially before that, I was terrible at it. It never occurred to me that saying yes all the time didn’t make me responsible or highlight that I was responsible. It actually made me a bit irresponsible, because I’d agree to do too many things and I’d do none of them well because I was spread so thin.

I’ve always considered myself to be a responsible person, even from a very young age, so this is a bit of a paradigm shift for me. But it’s one I want to make, because I see the validity in it being more responsible to limit what your name is attached to so you can do those things well, versus attaching your name to *everything* and all of them done in a mediocre way.

How about you? Have you ever thought about responsibility in this way? Or does this kinda blow your mind the way it did mine? Let me know in the comments!