Category Archives: on my mind

So Here We Are

I haven’t had anything specific to blog about in a while. Oh, things have been happening on the home front, in my personal life, in the world. But wrangling the thoughts and feelings and putting them into words has eluded me. Probably not a good thing for a writer to admit, but there you go.

A lot of my author friends are finding it difficult to write this week. Hopefully we’ll be able to find the wherewithal to get back on track, to use our words to express ourselves or create a safe haven for readers. And ourselves.

Getting lost in a story can seem like an avoidance mechanism, but it’s not. We need to deal with reality, and we will, but the 24/7/365 of it can quickly wear you down. So we should take a step back when we can. And I realized there are folks being affected by events that can’t just step back. They need us more than ever now to step up. Like we should have long, long ago.

I don’t want to have a discussion here about who to blame or who did what or didn’t do what. I’m having those discussions and interactions elsewhere. This space is simply my chance to spit out a few things in a neutral manner (though believe me, I am NOT neutral).

Take care of yourselves, your family, your friends.

Make new friends with people who are looking lost or feeling scared or hopeless.

Do what you can to make someone’s world a better place.

Be kind to each other, friends.

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Busy and Grateful

At the moment, while I’m (hopefully) between contracts, I can take a small breath, but there’s lots to do and lots to think about. In three months, the second installment of my historical mystery series will be released. As always, I’m excited and terrified. But at the same time, as I’m waiting on early reviews, I’m wondering how my editor likes the third book I recently turned in, how sales are going for the first book, whether I can sell another three books, and what promotional opportunities I have to take (or have missed).

Such is the life of a writer. Constant juggling of different aspects of the business. I’m grateful for the help I get on a daily basis. There are folks at Kensington looking out for me–my editor, publicist, cover artists, sales folks, SO MANY! My agent is there when I need her. I have author friends who offer cheers or a shoulder to cry on or an ear for my rants. I’d be nowhere without them or, of course, my amazing family.

I may write alone (preferably, as I get distracted when there’s activity in the house ; P ) but there’s no way my career would have happened without the rest of my team. I’m grateful for you every day.

But perhaps the biggest shout out needs to go to readers. I can’t tell you how amazing and touching it is to get notes or read bits of reviews that tell me the story I wrote, while not perfect, at least gave someone a chance to be entertained. That keeps me going when I look at a blank page or flashing cursor.

Thank you <3

 

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Not Dead, Just Lazy

Four months since the last post? Wow. I am pathetic! But in my defense, it’s been busy. Ish. Had a kid graduate from high school, books to write and edit, committee commitments to fulfill. Yes, those are my excuses.

On the writing front, Murder on the Last Frontier, book one of the Charlotte Brody mysteries, is in its final edits. I’m going through pages now marking minor glitches. Luckily, there aren’t many. I have to remind myself to look for mechanical things, not read the story.

The first round of edits on the second book, Borrowing Death, have been turned in, and the start of book three has made it to the computer. More about them later.

In between writerly things, parenting and home life have claimed time and brain matter. DD1 heads to school in a month, so there’s that. It’s a strange  and exciting time for all of us. We spend our lives preparing our kids to go out into the world, and when it’s finally time we simultaneously rejoice and panic.

As with most things in life, with a little help, we’ll figure it out as it goes along.

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Spring is in the Air

SheridanOkay, to be honest, we haven’t really had a winter here in South Central Alaska. Seriously. A bit of snow, some cold days, a decent amount of rain, but winter? No.

The local skiers are bummed. The local ski hill operator, also bummed. The heliskiing company that comes to town each season is doing well enough, but they take clients up up up to where the snow happens to be.

On the plus side, I have barely shoveled all winter.

On the minus side, I have barely shoveled all winter, one of my prime activities that gets me off my arse. While shoveling is not great joy, it is a necessary evil that does get me outside and moving. Ah, well. There’s always next year. And I’m pretty sure next year will not be the same.

It’s nearly April and spring is in the air. That doesn’t mean we won’t get snow. It could totally happen. And lots of it. But I’d be very surprised if it was more than a few inches, really. Not the way the weather has been of late. In the meantime, I’m loving the pussy willows, the spots of green shoots, the occasional warm (well, relatively warm) day.

Bears should be waking up soon. Always a fun time to find poo along the back of the house. But it’s also fun to see the mama black bear and her cubs that live around here. Other than the occasional freezer raid, they’re pretty quiet neighbors.

Most of Alaska has had a mild winter, some areas with record-breaking lack of snow. It’s difficult to look at what we experienced this season and what the middle and eastern parts of the continent have experienced and deny there’s something wonky with the climate. But that’s a post for another time.

So, here’s to Spring, friends! May your flowers bloom and your bears stay out of your freezer : )

 

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A New Year Wish

To be honest, I don’t have a lot of complaints about the last year. There were losses suffered, professional disappointments, moments of sadness that made me cry. But all in all, 2014 was good to me and mine, and for that I’m grateful. My family and I are healthy and doing well. My writing career was nudged in a new direction. And there’s been no snow to shovel since last winter 😉 Okay, that last one might not seem like much to you, but for me it’s a big deal.

I think 2015 will be amazing. I have books to write and deadlines to make. A child graduating high school. A milestone birthday to celebrate (or cry over, not sure which yet). New babies–not mine!–will be part of my life and I’m anxious to meet them.

I know there will be the not so good times as well. I can only hope those are limited and eased by the wonderful people I have around me. And I hope I can help them in their time of need as well.

That’s what we should do, my friends. Promise to be there for each other. Not just for people you know, but for anyone in need of a helping hand, an ear to bend, or a shoulder to cry on. And if you need one or the other, don’t be afraid to ask. Most people will step up.

Be good to each other, my friends, because when we put others first, even for just a moment, we are the most beautiful things on this planet.

Happy New Year!

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Three Aspects

I bought myself this ring recently to celebrate a not-quite milestone birthday.

I was looking for something significant, something more than a pretty bauble, those they are nice too. This ring caught my eye, with its stylized female forms. When I read the description, I knew it was meant to be mine. The seller described the three figures as daughter, mother and grandmother. The three stages of womanhood.

But I look at it slightly differently. I see it as the three aspects of womanhood. (Or any “hood” really, but we’ll stick with womanhood since the figures are obviously more feminine.) I also prefer the older terms of maiden, mother and crone, with mother meaning more than producing or caring for children. Let me explain.

Maiden isn’t just sexual innocence. It’s that stage of life where we start to see the world as bigger than ourselves and we want to experience it all. It’s exciting and scary. Nothing beats the “first time,” whether it’s a kiss or traveling alone. That sense of wonder, the racing of your heart. New experiences can happen at any age, and should! This figure reminds me to see the world through less jaded eyes whenever I can.

I happen to be a mother, having given birth. But there are, of course, mothers who adopt or foster. There are mothers who haven’t raised children at all, but do something all mothers do: nurture. Mothers take care of things, see to the every day chores as well as prepare us for big events. Experienced in a bit of life, mothers use what they’ve learned to not only make their own path, but to help others find theirs.

The crone, like the mother, uses life experience to help others. Crones aren’t done with living, but the wisdom they’ve gained is critical for upcoming generations. They should be heeded, revered. The advice from a crone, from someone who’s “been there, done that” should carry weight.

We don’t necessarily move into each one, leaving the others behind. A person can embody all three aspects at any chronological age. There are wise young people. There are older folks who take on life with the excitement of a child. We are all of these aspects, in some way or another, no matter what our birth date may be.

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April? Already?

Wow! It’s been WAY too long since I posted. Busy. Yeah, that’s it! I’ve been busy….

What’s been happening? Well, lots of working at the money-making job and not as much writing as I need to happen. Typical. I’m hoping that once the school year ends I can get back on the writing track. So what track is that, you ask…

I have an Alaska-set historical mystery that I would really love to see (a) picked up, and (b) turned into a series. The research on this book has been loads of fun. I’ve learned a lot about my town, and it’s even prompted me to join the local historical society! I love weaving the information I’ve gleaned into the fictional lives of my characters.

Another story, set here as well but 200 years in the future, is coming along. It’s been interesting to write two manuscripts about the same place but nearly 300 years apart in time. What’s funny is that because this is a post apocalyptic tale, and technology is rather limited, much of the activities of the two sets of characters are rather similar.

I was thinking of finding ways to link the two stories, sort of Easter eggs, if you will. Other than their locations, I mean. Perhaps names or something? We’ll see.

As for the return to lesbian fiction, have no fear! While I don’t have anything coming out, I am working on a lesbian historical paranormal book. I just need to get my arse in gear on it ; P

Otherwise, it’s mostly working and juggling life around writing. Nothing new : )

I hope all is going swimmingly for you. Come say hi sometime!

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Playing Tourist at Home

(Gratuitous pic of adorable great-nephew : )
We traveled back to the east coast to attend graduations and visit with my family. Yes, I’m an east coaster by birth. I love my crazy family and experiencing the hustle and bustle of NYC and all, but every time I go back I’m grateful I live a more relaxed lifestyle.

New York is still *home* because my mom, siblings and their families all live there, and I’m comfortable being with all of them, but this is not where I feel *at home*, if that makes sense. I don’t know the towns like I may have 30 years ago. I don’t really feel comfortable driving on anything but the most quiet (for them) roads.

When we went into the city to visit the American Museum of Natural History (a place I hadn’t been in 15 years), we rode the train from Long Island and trekked through Penn Station to the subway platform we needed to go right to the museum. I love train/subway travel as a way to go, but I felt a bit lost in my own backyard, as it were. How could I have navigated the London Tube while escorting 14 teenagers with nary an eye twitch, yet finding the right subway at Penn made me feel like a wide-eyed…tourist?

Because that’s what I was. I can *say* I’m from New York, but I’m too far removed from living there nowadays to actually consider myself a New Yorker any longer. I’m an Alaskan.

So I embraced my new status of tourist. We took a brief walk through Central Park, gawked at the lights of Time Square, marveled at the huge buildings and the number of people crowed in such a tiny space. It was relaxing, in a way, to NOT have to know the area. And FYI, New York police officers are very kind and patient when giving directions : )

Another location we were able to play tourist was out at the east end of Long Island, in Montauk. The island is shaped like a fish with its head being Manhattan and the other boroughs to the west and the forks of the tail to the east. The northern fork is Orient Point. The southern is Montauk. My sister and her husband spend St. Patrick’s Day weekend at this nifty motel near the beach. For my nephew’s graduation, she got a good deal on rooms and we spent several days hanging out, barbequing and enjoying the sun and surf.

I had never, in my entire life, been out there, so it was great fun to discover the area with my own family. We borrowed my brother-in-law’s car and headed to Montauk Point lighthouse.

What a cool place! Walking up the narrow stairs wasn’t nearly as bad as I’d expected, but I don’t think I’d want to do it every day : P  Still, lots of history that was fun to learn.

I’m not sure when we’ll go back for a visit, but when we do I’m going to look into going to other places to play tourist. And I’m okay with that. Besides, it’ll get me out of having to drive alongside those crazy New Yorkers ; P

 

 

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Acknowledgements

I neglected to put an acknowledgements page in either Caught in Amber or Deep Deception. I know. I suck : P It’s not that I don’t have anyone to acknowledge. Far from it! I’m just terrible at remembering things like that. So this is my acknowledgements page.

Thanks so so very much to my Twitter pals, especially Jody Griffin, Debra Kayn, Phoebe Chase, Diane Dooley and others too numerous to name. You make me laugh and let me cry when I need it most. In one way or another, you’ve seen me through some of the best and worst times, whether you knew it or not. You’ve let me go crazy and kept me sane. For that, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

I would be absolutely nowhere in this business without my friends/critique partners/beta readers. Sharron McClellan, Jody Wallace, Alyssa Linn Palmer and Malin Larsson are some of the most talented and amazing writers I know. Each of you offers a unique perspective and approach, each provide me with honest and constructive criticism that make my stories better. Your insights as authors, your reactions as readers have given me the best feedback over the years. I couldn’t do this without you fine ladies!

Rhonda Helms, Carina editor extraordinaire! You ask all the right questions, make all the right suggestions, and at the same time allow me to tell my story my way. You have helped make these books richer. I have come running to you with issues that you sympathized with then quickly smoothed over. You have talked me down from writerly ledges and reeled me in from flitting off on wild tangents. You are the consummate professional who is easy and fun to talk to. No one could ask for a better editor.

Speaking of consummate professionals who are easy to talk to, who let me spew on their inboxes and gently lead me off ledges…Natalie Lakosil, my lovely agent, you have done all that and more. You whipped Caught in Amber into shape and has kept me on track since day one. Your market acumen, editorial suggestions, and support have been critical to my career. Thank you for sticking with me, Natalie. I’d be lost in this crazy world of publishing without you.

I owe my family a great deal for their patience and understanding. You get why I do this. You offer help on plotting or characterization or titling problems. You understand when I tell you it’s “scrounge night” because I have a deadline or ideas are flowing and I haven’t started dinner. You are the best thing that has ever happened to me in the entire ‘Verse and I love you to pieces.

There are a lot of others involved in the production and marketing of a book: copy editors, tech folks, cover artists, the reviewers. The list is long and varied. I can’t say enough about you all. Thank you for all you do!

Finally, I’d like to thank anyone who has read my stories. You took a chance on a newer author who writes in genres and subgenres that don’t get a lot of play or prestige. I hope that leap of faith was rewarded by your enjoyment of what I have to offer. And I hope you’ll stick with me as this journey continues.

Thank you all!

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Randomness

*School has begun here in the soggy, semi-far north. Actually, it started on Aug. 23. It’s nice to get back into routine, but I keep waiting for the phone to ring to be called in to sub. I have been subbing, but it’s pre-arranged for the most part. Always a chance of a surprise at 7AM.

*Waiting on the cover for Caught in Amber, my science fiction romance coming out from Carina Press in January. Got the copy blurb, which is fantastic. Still, seeing a cover for the first time is a particular thrill. Can’t wait. And yes, I will share once I get the okey-dokey from TPTB.

*The third book, Deep Deception, will be out in May. Woo hoo! Just finished the art fact sheet on that one. Another cover to giddily await.

*Meanwhile, I’m working on two other books. One is about shape shifters in Alaska. The other is a paranormal western, sort of, about two female demon hunters. Love them both, but struggles with plot and pacing on one are making me a tad twitchy. Hopefully my lovely crit partners/beta readers will see where I’m going astray.

*After a harsh winter, we were hoping for a nice summer but no. I can count on one and a half hands how many actually sunny days we had. Not all were rainy, but there was lot of cool, gray weather. *sigh* Here’s hoping for a better winter this time.

*I’ll have a few friends with books doing promo stuff here in the months to come. Can’t wait to share!

*I want a cookie (Hey, the title of the post is random. I wasn’t kidding ; )

*We have to REALLY start thinking about colleges and college prep for DD1. So much more competition out there for spots in schools and for financial aid.

*Any randomness you’d like to add?

Posted in Alaska, book coming out, Carina, on my mind | 2 Comments