The Elephant In The Room

Summer’s here. Again. We haven’t been hit with the break-out-the-stillsuits heat (yet) but it will come. It always does. At least, this year, it looks like we might be able to breathe recycled air someplace other than our own homes.

What the world will look like for “summer vacation” and beyond is still anybody’s guess… there are just too many variables.

Regardless of the fact that the Day Job is in the educational sector, I don’t really get a “summer vacation.” It’s okay, though… with so many other folks on summer vacation, I actually tend to get quite a bit done. And it looks like the Day Job will still be remote – at least through the summer – so I have that extra commute time to be home doing not-Day-Job things.

The plan, of course, is to get a decent amount of writing done.

And get in a couple trips to the zoo.

But what about the last year?

I know a lot of folks that participated in NaNoWriMo wrote the pandemic into their novel. I understand the need for catharsis for both writer and reader, and that those stories could offer that.

But my muse doesn’t work that way.

When the RealWorldโ„ข has gone to shit, my muse basically throws it out even more completely than she normally does. You won’t find mention of the pandemic or the shelter-in-place orders in my writing because, frankly, fiction – in general – should be a safe way to escape for both reader and writer.

I know. I can hear it now:
What about Scarred Sun? What about the social issues that creep in around the fantasy? What about that one character?

Think about an escape.

If you’re escaping from a person/place/situation, odds are pretty high that person/place/situation was bad for you. Odds are pretty high that, to some extent, you didn’t want to be there.

And you do escape. You get away. You’re free.

Except for the memories… the residual pain and fear… the trauma… those don’t all go away. Some of it’s not as bad. Some of it you can actually pack up and get rid of. But other stuff stays and the best you can do is learn to cope.

While the pandemic is a staggering thing and is more likely to have a place in the history books than more pressing issues (that’s another rant I don’t feel like ranting right now), it’s not that bad. With just over three million obvious exceptions*, the whole of it can be packed up and stuck on a shelf to be forgotten… but that’s just not true for a lot of other things that defined 2020.

No more grim social commentary today. Maybe tomorrow ๐Ÿ˜‰

Until next time, friends… drink some water, stop and smell the roses, pet the dogs (with permission, of course), and soak up the Vitamin D.

You need it.

We all do. ๐ŸŒž

~+~

*3,128,962 confirmed deaths according to the World Health Organization at time of writing

Shakin Off The Rust

Actively writing.

Actively editing.

Actively formatting.

It’s almost like I might be getting my groove back.

Again. ๐Ÿ˜•

I’m trying to push out the irritating voice saying we’ll see how long it lasts, this time and just be content with the fact that it actually is happening.

For as long as it lasts.

2021 is already off to a great start – Urban Wardens: Crash & Burn released the end of February, Blood in the Water drops May 1, and there are two more books (new installments for The Rio Crew and The Heroes of Vadim) making their way to you before this year flips over into the next.

And more projects are in-progress and on track for 2022… but you’ll have to wait a little while to find out more about them.

Until next time, friends… if you can’t dance like no one’s watching, turn on your filter and do it anyway ๐Ÿ’

Summer Kick-Off

I spent last summer stuck in my house: between breaking an ankle in late May and the ever-changing status of the COVID-induced stay-at-home orders, there really wasn’t much else to do.

You’d think I’d have had a lot of time to write… or do anything, really… but it didn’t work out that way. It probably could have… but it didn’t. Like I said in my last post – 2020 was a major glitch.

Even NaNoWriMo felt glitched. The first week of November was full of travel and celebration. It was well worth the trip, mind you… and I knew I’d make up the writing time somehow.

There were days I was confident and days I definitely wasn’t, but I was too wrapped up in this particular story not to finish it.

I couldn’t tell you why when I was writing it and I still can’t… but what I can tell you is that I actually really like the way it turned out.

And, as you know, that’s not always the way of things.

I was so happy with it, in fact, that I moved it up the release time-table.

Blood in the Water will be have its own page here in the next few days and will be available on Amazon May 1.

The Kindle version is available for pre-order now and will be included in the Kindle Unlimited library.

(If this book were a TV show, it would be rated TV-14 DL — strong language & suggestive comments.)

Until next time, friends… Heart get vaccinated so we can hug next time we’re in the same place!

Well, that was pleasant…

2020 is thankfully well in the rearview. While there are always some bright spots in horrific disasters (in 2020’s case, it was officially gaining a second son), it’s hard to argue that the year – in general – was one huge glitch in everyone’s life.

I didn’t forget about you, though, and I didn’t sit idly by while the world turned upside down.

I did, in fact, get some stuff done.

So… without further ado…

The long-awaited (at least by some) sequel to Urban Wardens: Alpha to Oblivion is now available!

Urban Wardens Crash and Burn cover

That’s right!

You can grab Urban Wardens: Crash and Burn on Amazon now!

All the book pages here will be updated soon.

I don’t know what the rest of this year has in store for us but I’ve got a feeling we’ll be alright.

Until next time, friends…

Be kind. You never know the power your smile may have.

Brace Yourselves: November is Coming

National Novel Writing Month believes in the transformational power of creativity. We provide the structure, community, and encouragement to help people find their voices, achieve creative goals, and build new worldsโ€”on and off the page.

nanowrimo.org Mission Statement

As NaNoWriMo enters its 20th year (and I prepare for my 12th year of participation), it seemed the perfect time to dig a little deeper into what NaNoWriMo means not only for authors (a topic I’ve addressed fairly regularly), but also what it means for the people around them.

Without further ado:

Here Comes November

A Guide To The Care & Feeding of Your NaNoWriMo Author

What is NaNoWriMo?

According to the NaNoWriMo.org website:

“National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing.

On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 PM on November 30.

Valuing enthusiasm, determination, and a deadline, NaNoWriMo is for anyone who has ever thought about writing a novel.”

Why do authors do it?

Every author who participates has a different reason for becoming a WriMo. For some, it’s an exercise in discipline. For others, an excuse to shut out the real world in favor of creating their own. For some, like me, it’s a matter of proving to yourself that you can finish the draft.

How do authors approach the challenge?

There’s no single way to approach NaNoWriMo and nothing will ever work for everyone: but there are three basic classes of WriMo you should be familiar with:

Planner:

This is the type of author your Language Arts teacher says you’re supposed to be. Planners have detailed outlines, character sketches, and new languages and creatures already fleshed out long before November 1 comes around. They plan. They are prepared.

Pantser:

Pretty much the opposite of the Planner, a Pantser tends to look at a blank page the morning of November 1 and finally get around to deciding what to write. A pantser’s mind if full of half-baked ideas, numerous plot bunnies, and a couple killer one-liners that someone is going to use this year no matter what!

Plantser:

A newly identified class who, for many years, been confused by Planners as Pantsers and Pantsers as Planners. A Plantser typically greets November with an idea, maybe a few character sketches in skeletal format, and a collection of notes that roughly resmeble an outline.

Your Role As The Keeper of a WriMo

Regardless what class your WriMo falls into, there are certain things that you can do to help make November run just a little more smoothly.

Encourage

November can be overwhelming for your WriMo. Let’s face it: November’s not exactly a quiet month anyway. Tons of holidays are closing in, usually followed by family members & social events. Weather tends to be meh – either cold and gloomy, hot and miserable, or some other combination of factors that basically make you want to crawl into a hole and be left alone for a couple months. Adding the average daily wordcount of 1,667 to the mix is crazy-making.

And yet, WriMos do it… year after year.

There are many ways to encourage your WriMo and help them through the insanity that is November.

Take on additional chores so they don’t have to worry about them.

Screen social engagement requests to help maximize writing time.

Listen when they share their ideas. You are important enough for them to not write while they talk to you – make sure they realize they are equally important and that you appreciate the fact that you are THAT high on their list.

Nourish

Many WriMos, particularly when they are in the zone, forget to address their own basic needs. As the keeper of a WriMo, you should always take care to make sure your WriMo has adequate water in addition to any other beverage of choice they may ingest while working.

Make sure to feed your WriMo regularly, too. In most cases, you shouldn’t have to actually feed your WriMo but placing a meal or snack in easy reach will ensure they are able to maintain their strength without the danger of losing their momentum to go find and/or prepare something to eat.

Get Acquainted With Their Muse

Every WriMo has a muse and repeat WriMos tend to be familiar enough with their muse to be able to introduce you. Getting to know your WriMo’s muse may well be your single most important task as the keeper of a WriMo.

Just as every WriMo is different, every muse is different. Learning about your WriMo’s muse will prepare you to help your WriMo seduce the muse back to the story when she wanders.

To Be Continued…

It’s been a crazy couple months:
My mentor & dear friend retired from the DayJob in June and I have been going slightly mad (just very slightly mad) learning all the things I didn’t know about her job now that it’s my job.

New side projects. Plot bunnies running amok. Human sacrifice. Dogs & cats living together… wait. That’s not it.

Bear with me, folks. I’m still here… at least until November ๐Ÿ˜‰

Until next time…

Take a minute to breathe… to remember… to love.
Smell the roses, pet the dogs, and hug the people who have a place in your heart.

Hmmm…

I promised a writing update, didn’t I?

In the midst of all the other craziness life has in store, I am pretty much always writing something.

My muse, in case you were unaware, is a tad bit mercurial.

She feeds on coffee, chocolate, and booze (and chili-cheese Fritos for fight scenes) and sometimes goes silent for extended periods of time. Those periods, however, seldom coincide with the times Real Life and the Day Job need me the most. Go figure.

Bonus: my self portrait from my photography class.

True to form – since I really have no time – she’s pounding on my skull with alarming variety and frequency. So, with all the changes to the Day Job, my college courses (yes, I am skipping summer vacation in favor of education), and the normal everyday stuff… she has me working on four different projects.

Yes.

Four.

So… maybe mercurial wasn’t a strong enough word ๐Ÿ˜‰

One: Urban Wardens III

No, you didn’t miss Urban Wardens II. Editing is a slow process right now – can’t imagine why ๐Ÿ˜‰ I had quite a bit of this one done but didn’t care for one of the subplots, so I had to go back and make some adjustments.

Two: The Bridesmaids Had Pockets

Not my normal sort of project, but one that’s turning out to be a lot of fun.

When I first started helping Eldest Spawn & The Boy plan their big day we had no time and less money to work with… so, with the insanity of it all still fresh in my mind (along with the Hold My Beer attitude fed by all the Plan Your Wedding in 6 Months for under $6K articles), I started a tongue-in-cheek how-to guide for wedding planning.

And yes, Eldest Spawn’s bridesmaids did, in fact, have pockets.

Three: Title Keeps Changing

Catchy, huh? Seriously, though… I’ve gone through a half dozen working titles and none of them actually work, so… hopefully I figure it out before the book’s done.

If you follow the Facebook page at all, excerpts from this one pop up on occasion: first-person, bad attitude, monster hunter. The one that parties with trolls.

Four: Untitled


This one is still very much in its infancy. It’s one of those projects where someone said something (commented on a photo, actually) and the muse wouldn’t shut up about it.

Here’s the picture.

There’s only a little groundwork on this one, so far, so I’m not going to give much here… but if you’re reading this, you’re probably a little familiar with my style so I’ll let you chew on the possibilities for a while.

There’s your update, friends. Pardon me while I go figure out how to mainline Black Silk.

Until next time:

Never give up. Never surrender.

No, seriously. Never give up.

Changing Seasons

Summer’s coming and the winds of change are actually pretty damned unpleasant this year.

The school year is ending for Youngest Spawn: she is preparing to venture forth on her first ever Music Tour.

For those unfamiliar with the practice, it is (for our school) a 5-day “family road trip” filled with musical performances, team building activities, educational side-trips, and some general fun.

This year’s trip, like everything else related to the Music Department this year, is a bitter-sweet finale to the year as it is the last such trip to be lead by the school’s much-loved music director.

There will be a new director: one who has a background with the unique entity that is our music program… and her selection as his successor brings comfort and hope that the Music Family will continue as the incredible force for good it has been since Eldest Spawn was first handed a recorder.

But wait, there’s more…

Music isn’t the only department saying goodbye at our Jr High/High School.

The lead Visual Art teacher is retiring at the end of this year. A fine, kind man who planted the seed of artistic expression in The Third, nurtured it while she was his student, and continued to nurture it even after she moved to a different school.

And… y’know… since that’s not enough… the Language Arts teacher who has kept the drama program alive is also retiring at the end of this year.

So – in case it’s not clear – our Jr High/High School is saying goodbye to its entire Fine Arts instructional staff.

As you may imagine, this is not a situation that brings me joy.

And… y’know… because being Mom isn’t enough…

Our facilities at the Day Job are being cut basically in half. My employment is not in jeopardy (parents, you can put the brakes on the panic) but the location of my desk is… well… pending.

Should I remain in my position, my desk will be moved elsewhere in the building upon completion of construction, remodeling, and reallocation of space.

But… (you knew there was one, didn’t you?)

My own beloved mentor/office manager/dear friend is retiring, too!

Should all the moving parts of our hiring process align (which is somewhere in the vicinity of if all goes according to plan), I will be taking her place.

I have done her job before (while she was away) and she has been actively training me to take over her position for a couple years. Our boss talks about me moving to that position as if he can circumvent the labyrinthine process by sheer force of will. Every member of our work unit believes I am the best person to step into that role.

But none of that changes the fact that she is retiring and, while I may indeed end up in her position, I can never take her place.

More about writing next time…

For now…

Thank you for helping pick me up after the winds of change knocked me over. As a very wise woman has told me often…

This, too, shall pass.

She’s ba-aa-aa-ack…

Unfortunately, my prediction from late February was accurate.

I had NO time for anything between my last post here and the wedding celebration.

But…

Mr & Mrs Asdell-Baize under the sword arch.
Eldest spawn and The Boy… now Mr & Mrs…

We pulled it all off and it was pretty damned amazing… if I do say so myself.

Now, after a couple weeks of down-time (or what passes for down-time in my life), it’s time to get back to doing all the rest of the things I do.

You know… four different writing projects, a couple college courses, the Day Job, the craft thing… but hey – at least I’m back.

Stay tuned, friends…

For Whom the Bell Tolls…

In case you haven’t heard, Eldest Spawn and her long-time partner in crime are going to go ahead and make it official.

The Boy proposed New Year’s 2018 – right after midnight – and they’ve been hemming and hawing about a date since then.

Now, with an impending 800 mile relocation, they decided it was best to tie the knot before they leave the homeland.

Being a fairly decent event planner, it’s ended up being my job – which is fine. It keeps the budget (super thin shoestring) in check and keeps other local wedding planners from having to deal with me as MotB.

Because seriously, friends… let’s face it… nobody wants to deal with me in full-blown, big budget, MotB mode. That’s a horror novel waiting to happen.

Sadly, this may mean I fall behind here. My plan is not to but my planning skills are being used elsewhere.

I promise not to forget you’re here and I won’t forget to write – trust me, I’m going to need the down-time.

Until next time, friends…

Celebrate love in the ways that fit your life.
The ones who love you won’t mind and the ones that do mind don’t matter.