Friday, February 13, 2015

New Book Cover

I have some VERY AMAZING cover art design to share with you guys for the book that Rachel Calish/Gold and I have written. This is the story that we've been publishing in serial form over at http://entertheunseen (and re-issuing, as it were, on WattPad as well). The cover art was designed by Rachel's friend Kristin Smith, and I really love it!  What do you think??

This is, at the moment, a GIANT TEASE because we're still in the production phase. The book, however, will (baring acts of god[s]) be available for purchase at MarCON (March 6 -8). Kristin did an amazing job with the interior as well and there will be illustrations through out from our artists Alexis Cooke and Mandie Brasington. There will be an ebook version, as well, but I have no idea when that will be available. Of course, as soon as it is, I'll link it here. I'm assuming we'll sell the print version via the usual e-bookstores, too. (This is where, once again, I'm SUPER-GRATEFUL not to have to be the only one in charge of dealing with all this, because the dealing with, etc. is never fun.)

In other news, Happy Friday the 13th.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

When Writing Breaks Us

Last year, my friend and fellow writer, Sean M. Murphy decided he needed to stop calling himself a writer. This morning, I woke up and discovered that another dear friend and colleague is considering doing the same.

This is heartbreaking to me.

I want to blame something for this, but there are, frankly, too many options.

It seems to me that it's far harder to break-in to pro markets (magazine and novel) than it was when I first started writing. A lot of people are jumping straight to self-publishing these days, and, while that seems to work well for many, it's no more a guaranteed road to success than any other. Personally, I find trying to motivate myself to write for self-publication much, much harder because of all of the extra work you have to take on yourself in order to get a finalized product out there. This why the first of my self-published books is going to be the collaboration I'm doing with Rachel. (She just went over our proofs, because I have to head off to work in about fifteen minutes! Thank gods for a co-writer!!)

But most of us struggle alone. Even Sean, who was part of a writers' group, was ultimately alone with his own sense of 'being a writer' and all the myriad ways a person can fail at that.

That's the other thing I really want to blame. Because, I think everyone realizes how hard it is to break it (and how hard it to survive once you do,) but I think we all underestimate how easy it is to undermine ourselves. Ultimately, I think Sean hit the nail on the head when he said 'writers' write' and that that should be the defining quality, but that's still a trap. Because how OFTEN does a writer need to write in order to call themselves a writer? Every day? Every week? Once a month? Once a year?

My answer is that I think we ought to expand this definition a little, give ourselves a tiny break. A writer is a writer if they have written, if they want to write, and if they write, but not necessarily all those things all the time, every day. Some days, the best we can manage is that we wanted to write. Sometimes, especially after some hard writing-related news (the publisher doesn't want to renew your contract, say,) it's enough to say, "I have written" while you take time to recuperate.

Of course, it's maybe easy for me to say. I have books on the shelf with my name on them.

But, damn it, my friends, I don't want to lose any more of you. Cut yourselves a break. You are a writer because you WILL write. You're a writer because you HAVE written. You're a writer because you WANT to write. Courage is measured in that voice that says quietly, "I will try again tomorrow."

Monday, February 09, 2015

My Partner Has this Fear of...

.. of all things, lightbulbs exploding into her face while she's changing them. She reminded of me of this fear of hers this weekend as we switched out the kitchen light. It burned out when I got up to feed the cats at o'dark thirty. At the time I thought, "Whelp, this is why they call them IRRATIONAL fears, because, really, how LIKELY is that?"

Well, I can now tell you that it's fairly likely when, say, you're idiotically fiddling around with recalcitrant lightbulb in the betta's fish tank where there is running water and electricity. Perhaps, one should have considered, say, unplugging the light, or maybe not twisting it in and out in such quick succession... but yeah, BLAMMO! It exploded in my hand. I am, not, however, writing this from the emergency room, probably only because fortune favors the foolish. In fact, I only have one Hello Kitty Band-Aid on my pointer finger.

I had to IM my Bleach fan friend, though, because, while my finger has the one obvious gash, I discovered when I started dripping blood on my keyboard, there are actually a thousand *tiny* cuts, too. Just just Senbonzakura, I'd imagine.

Because, yeah, I'm an otaku to my core.

At any rate, today is one of those days where I started out really strong but have petered out quickly. My family and I decided to blow off going to the big grocery store yesterday. All of us are really suffering from the collapse of Rainbow. None of us REALLY much liked grocery shopping at the big store much even then, but we all HATE Cub--partly because it's just not organized in a familiar way. I'm sure we'd learn it in time, but so far any excuse not to go is a good one. Though I said I didn't really want to shoulder the burden of the HUGE staple run, I'd be willing to do several really short trips to the big store over the week. Knowing myself like I do, I knew I had to pretty much drop everyone one off at their respective places and head to the store before I lost my resolve. So, that's what I did. I came home with about four bags of groceries, which seemed just about the right size for me, and, feeling super productive, also finally took care of some correspondence and a Loft teaching contract that had arrived in the mail that needed attention.

The correspondence had actually been hanging over me for several months (since last October actually.) The thing that's slowed me down is so silly too. The letter was basically fan mail, but the fan also really wanted to share their idea for a book--in that classic, I'll give you the idea, you write it sort of way. I know a lot of authors mock people like this, but I totally get the impulse and I really wanted to encourage this person to just go ahead and do it on their own. I believe, deep in my heart of hearts, that the only difference between a published and unpublished writer is drive and dream. I didn't know how to write when I started, but I was determined to learn. Similarly, when things got tough (and oh, they always do,) the dream kept me slugging away at things.

So, why did it take me almost six months to tell this poor fan that? They'd written snail mail.

I don't even have a printer at home any more, and while I kept MEANING to sit down and write and actual letter... it was so easy to forget when I started each day with the Internet to distract me...

But today I finally wrote back. Hopefully, this person won't be too angry that it too me so long.

The other thing I did today that felt very productive was that I looked through the list of Twin Cities meet-ups and I found a group that gets together to practice Japanese conversation. They say on their page that they're for Intermediate students, but I'm hoping that it will be okay for me to come and listen for a while as I keep learning. I can't go to their current meet-up, anyway, since it's on Saturday and I took the Saturday gig at the North St. Paul library all this month again. But, so I have that bookmarked and hopefully will be able to join them at some point. In the meantime I still have my class on Tuesday nights and the Japanese language podcasts that I've been listening to, which are teaching me basics like how to ask someone's name and where they're from and what they do for a living, which should be a good start to an actual conversation.

MarsCON is coming up fast (March 6 - 8). I'm going to be one of the guests there, as I'm sure I've said a few times. I'm waiting on my collaborator for a cover of School for Wayward Demons so I can get some promotional stuff ordered. But, otherwise, I'm signed up for paneling and all that. It should be a lot of fun. Hope to see you there!