Packaged Dreams

He called in the sticky heat of the afternoon, when movement was the furthest thing from my mind.

“Jefferson, slow down,” I said. I could barely understand him on the best of days, let alone when he babbled like – well, like a monkey.

Eventually, I made out the word “yard” and I rushed out into the blazing sunlight. There my assistant stood, struggling with a package of some kind. I shielded my eyes and searched the area but found no evidence of a courier. Together, Jefferson and I dragged the heavy box inside.

The name of the addressee was illegible. Carefully, we cut it open. Jeff grinned up at me once the contents revealed themselves and I staggered back, falling heavily into my desk chair. “We did it, Jeff. There is no turning back now.”

He babbled excitedly again and I nodded. “Yes. The world needs to know.”

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Helper monkey, indeed.

Oh, yes. Jefferson and I would also like you to know that I will be signing copies at our local Hastings (map here) from 10 AM until at least noon on Saturday, August 1st.

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Chasing a Rumor

The rumor reached us, even in the desolation of our secluded valley. My companion and I set off early, so as to arrive before the cruel summer sun reached its zenith.

As we journeyed, the ancient byway carried us further into the barren desert. When we approached our final destination, we soon discovered all communication severed. And never did we need it more. For around the next bend in the road, he appeared:

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It was larger than the stories told. Would it whisper the mysteries of forgotten lore that we sought? I consulted the dusty tome we found in the abandoned ruins but it lent no new insights. So I asked my question…to no avail. Time grew short.

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Soon, I resorted to pleading for its wisdom. Please, great one, hear my question. I heard a mutter but perhaps ’twas only the wind. As the blistering sun beat down, I realized I had my answer.

I bid my muse a frustrated farewell and we headed back home.

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This Space Has Been Reclaimed

O what strange scribbles are these? The vagaries of a demented maniac? The rantings of a wayward soul?

No matter. Jefferson and I have claimed this forum as our own. I believe I shall keep our accounts here, lest they sink beneath the waves of obscurity.

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We shall take this world by storm, Jeff. You and I, together, or not at all.

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Book Review: Woman’s Way Home by Leela Francis

For women looking to “come home,” Leela Francis, founder of the Vividly Woman Embodied Leader Training, says that she can help. In her new self-help book, Woman’s Way Home, Francis outlines the steps so that anyone with the desire can be midwife to their own rebirth.

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Written in a clear, storyteller’s voice, this empowering work guides the reader on their journey to finding authentic self through embodied sensuality, cleansing emotions, and a higher self-truth through intuition. She calls these “power senses” and details how they relate to each other and how they can be used toward enlightened embodiment (how to truly live in a body). From the senses that correspond with emotion, to the orientation of grounding, to containing energy and focusing it into meaning and devotion: Francis details the steps both through anecdote and through easy-to-follow exercises. Stories and examples from Ms. Francis and her Vividly Woman sisters illustrate a lifetime’s worth of knowledge imparted open and honestly, as if the reader were one with them.

She teaches that to express yourself is a celebration and that the creation of personal boundaries is the expression of a healthy you and that challenges are gifts, given to us by the universe. In learning about the three tools of self-inquiry, called “lenses,” the reader learns that what we see depends entirely on how we look at things. Techniques include: asking the body for its sensual wisdom, asking the heart for lessons experiences, and asking the spirit, the intuition, how – body, heart, and soul – all of us are braided into the rest of existence.

Above all else, Francis teaches that a woman’s way “home” is all about the journey, not the destination. And Woman’s Way Home is a journey the reader will not soon forget.

Leela Francis is a compassionate and internationally known coach, trainer, and teacher. Woman’s Way Home is available via Balboa Press. You can purchase it on Amazon.com or Barnesandnoble.com. Or visit Leela at Vividly Woman online for her book, special events, training and more.

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I’ve never been in a fight…

…I’ve never gone deep sea diving, or survived a cave-in, or wrestled an alligator. I’m not an astrophysicist or a painter or a trucker. In fact, I could fill hundreds of pages with all the things I’m not and thousands with all the things I’ve never done.

Pictured: not me. (c/o Google Images)

One of the things I’ve found that I’m loving more and more about being a writer is the listening to of other people’s stories: mundane or exciting, as long as it’s something I’ve never done, I want to hear about it. Because I can never tell what will inspire me, what will spark off a new story. Though if it doesn’t set something off in my head, it’s not wasted, either.

Pictured: my husband's tactical academy training. (Not pictured: me)

See, no stories are wasted, no knowledge is useless. It’s only stored away for later use. And I want to hear it all. Not just the deep, meaningful, inspiring stuff. I want the disturbing, the silly, the depressing, and yes, even what you might think is boring. As long as it’s true (or you think it’s true), I’m interested. Lay it on me. Because only writing what you know is boring…

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Part of the Journey

I was thinking the other day about sequences of events. It’s interesting sometimes, to consider where you are now and trace it back as far as you can.

For instance, here I am, in the midst of writing a tentatively planned out five-book series. One novel done, edited, and hoping for traditional publication, and another one and a half in rough draft form.

I wrote that first novel, Gilded Shadows, as a result of NaNWriMo, which in turn was a result of Ms. Sandra Bell Kirchman’s encouragement on her forums at FantasyFic (who also published two of my short stories).

I met Ms. Kirchman via another website’s forums where I’d been posting mine and my husband’s Everquest fanfic. Obviously, I’d have never written the fanfic, nor would I ever have met my husband, if I hadn’t started playing the game, so I suppose some credit can be given to the folks at Sony, as well. Also without those stories, I’d never have met the lovely and talented Karolina Seryfin, also known as the DragonSnail, who not only provided the illustration for FantasyFic’s anthology, but created gorgeous fanart sketches for mine and John’s EQ fanfic so many years ago.

One of DragonSnail's fanart pics of my cleric, Kallysti, and her father.

I can trace further…the starting on Everquest came about due to my tabletop gaming group (GURPS & DnD, mostly, and Rolemaster later on), whom I met via a lady named Denise in geology classes at CU-Boulder. And I’d have never gone to Boulder had I not failed out of the Colorado School of Mines, where I’d never have been accepted if I hadn’t done well in high school. Which, when I think about it, can easily be traced back to my mother reading out loud with us as children and beyond.

I guess the convoluted point I’m trying to make here is that you never know where this place in your life, the one you’re at now, is going to lead. Sometimes you’re in control of events, sometimes events are in control of you, but if you keep your eyes open and pay attention, you might just end up where you wanted to be all along…even if you didn’t know where that was in the beginning. Gah, I sound like a half-arsed fortune cookie here. But yeah, sometimes (often?) the point you start from is no indication of where you’ll end up.

I mean, I didn’t know I’d love and pursue writing as I am. I started out as a geology major. If I’d been an English major, would I be where I am? I can’t say. But I haven’t regretted a single step of the journey so far.

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Half Control Freak, Half Psychotherapist

Who is? Why, fiction writers, of course! Fantasy and sci-fi writers, especially. Or maybe it’s just me. I have been told I’m something of a control freak.

Here’s how I see it: there is no order in the world. Most people don’t seem to mind this. I do. And I can’t do anything about it, not in the real world. So I make my own.

In my world, I know what people do, what they think, what they’ve done, and what they’re going to do. I know their names, their cultures, their religions, their diets. I put those mountains in the world, I know where the wind blows, when it’s going to rain. I know everything. And you know what? I like that. I really, really like that.

I can sit down and write and for a while, the world makes sense to me. Because it’s mine. It’s my world. Even when I’m not sure what’s coming, which, as other writers can attest, happens often when one sits down and just writes. Some call that a muse, some say it’s their characters speaking to them, but I think we all know that, deep down, it’s the subconscious, floating up to give rise to thoughts and feelings that otherwise wouldn’t surface. It’s therapy. It’s good for us…well, it’s been good for me, anyway. And as a bonus, it lets me be the best control freak I know I can be.

I actually have a copy of this one hanging in my office.

(Plus, some writers totally use like, elves and gnomes and stuff to push their religious and/or political agendas. Don’t pretend you haven’t seen it. Even I’ve done a little, perhaps subconsciously, but still.)

So that’s my brain droppings for today.

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I Lied

I said I was going to update this every week. But I’ve never been good at keeping a diary…or a journal…or whatever place that blogs fill in the internet world now.

So here’s some news from my personal writing world:

1. I’ve been doing some “free” freelance writing for a local non-profit organization. I don’t mind it. In fact, I like helping. It’s for a cause I believe in (controlling the dog & cat population) & it just seems wrong to charge people who are doing such good in the community, you know?
2. No news is good news? That small fantasy publisher still has the sample chapters of Gilded Shadows. Cross your fingers, y’all!
3. The biggest news at the moment: we finally got Birth of a Unicron and Other Stories onto e-readers (Kindle and NOOK). I joined up on the KindleBoards to both sell copies (no luck there yet…I guess I could bitch about the cruel world not willing to give a girl a chance…but it’s more likely I could just use some advice on how to market) and also to find good books to read on my own Kindle – that, at least, has been successful.

That’s it, really. I’ll keep you all updated on other news. I don’t mind doing that much for this “blog” thing…

Thanks for reading. Here’s another picture of my kitties:

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Subjects needed!

A cute picture of my kitties to get your attention.

I’ve mentioned this before to some of you: I am not really a blogger. I don’t like writing about me and I’m not certain people want to hear about what I’m working on – which is a bit of a moot point right now as for the past two weeks I’ve done very little actual writing (I was on vacation two weeks back and I’ve been on antibiotics for an infected tooth this week – it’s getting a root canal on the 1st. And I tend to be very sensitive to any kind of medication, hence, little done got wrote).

Blogging is rather low on my list of things to do. Compound that with the fact that I’m not sure what’s entertaining to the masses. So, you masses: what would you like to hear about? More book reviews (kind of like my previous post)? My amateur writing advice & techniques? Story snippets? Or maybe some kind of writing challenges? I haven’t done any kind of “writing challenge” (like even from a writing prompt) in a while – aside from the challenge of weaving a subplot in amongst my novel.

I’m not really an entertainer, not in an “on demand” sort of way. And I don’t want to go on about my life and rants and all that. A lot of people do that already and, except for a few shining examples, it’s usually pretty boring. So, what do my legions of fans (all 3 of you), want to hear from me? This is your chance!

As a closing example, allow me to show you my novel, Gilded Shadows, elevator speech:
“In my tragically uplifting fantasy story, an assassin is sent to kill a revolutionary woman but he soon discovers that her only crime is possessing a secret that will grant equality to her people.”

Catchy, eh? Also, here’s another cute picture:

This one I just found on the internet.

I promised to do this blog thing weekly. So…help me help you! 😀

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Introverts and Networking

So, while on vacation last week, I needed something to read. I’d seen this book online a while back and, recently, someone else reinforced my interest in it by recommending it to me out of the blue. Unfortunately, it was not available on Kindle. Still, my interest in networking and marketing for introverts was piqued.

My networking preference.

Like many other writers I’ve met, I am extremely introverted. Yet a majority of the advice you see for writers is: “sell yourself,” “get your name everywhere,” “network,” and just plain “get out there.” And for someone like me? I’d rather have a root canal than go to events, mingle, and force smalltalk with strangers. It’s draining. And yet I feel obligated, forced, to do it if I want to get anywhere with my writing.

Perusing the Amazon Kindle store, I found this:

I think this was written just for me.

In the sample I read, Devora Zack says: “Introverts, the overwhelmed, and the underconnected fail at traditional networking by following advice never intended for us in the first place. […] Standard networking advice fails you, so you assume you fail at networking.”

I was hooked and shelled out the $8.95 to download the rest. As I read, I seriously felt like she was speaking directly to me, like she wrote this for my eyes only. She said that people also told her reassuringly that “Oh, no, you’re not introverted!” (as if it were an insult) because she speaks so well in front of people, etc.

I have had people – kind, well-meaning, but misguided people – reassure me that “you’re getting better” when it comes to my introversion because I speak comfortably to crowds (I even *gasp* do karaoke). But guess what? That’s not introversion! Ms. Zack addresses this, stating: “Introverts are entirely capable of being skilled public speakers. In fact, introverts prefer clearly defined roles and so may be more comfortable leading a discussion than participating in one. Many introverts are more at ease in front of a group than roaming aimlessly through a cocktail party.” Honestly? I nearly wept with relief at this (and many other statements she made). I’ve never felt so understood. In fact, here’s another quote that made me laugh:

“Q: Why do extroverts have voice mail?
A: To never miss a call.

Q: Why do introverts have voice mail?
A: To never answer the phone.”

Oh, GOD, it’s so true.

Though you really should check them now and then.

I don’t need to “get over” my introversion as if it were some kind of social handicap. Because it’s not. The book teaches that introverts are reflective (think to talk) to extroverts’ verbal (talk to think); we’re focused (go deep) to extroverts’ expansiveness (go wide); and we energize alone (self-reliant) to their energizing with others (social). There’s nothing wrong with either side. There’s nothing wrong with them. There’s nothing wrong with me. I just need to use my strengths. Why force myself to do something I hate in order to “compete” with people who do that same thing as naturally as breathing? Shouldn’t I use my own methods and what works better for me?

Because networking is not about being a “social butterfly”; it’s about making connections. I, like all introverts, make deeper, more meaningful connections (the “focused” aspect above). It’s extremely draining for me to meet a gazillion people because I unconsciously want to make deep connections with them all. For events such as the Las Vegas Writers Conference that I attended in April (and will be attending again next April), I prefer to research ahead of time and decide on the direction I’m taking, what discussions I want to hear, who I want to meet, etc. Guess what? This method works! I did indeed find a publisher interested in reading my sample chapters.

And secretly, I did feel there was something wrong with me because I needed time alone before and after social events. But it turns out that’s the introvert’s way of re-energizing. In fact, I probably don’t do it enough.

There’s nothing wrong with me. I don’t need to “get over it.” Introversion has its own strengths and we can learn to use them.

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