Working Out The Kinks

Hey, lovelies!

I am slowly but surely pulling the new website into the modern era. … and learning WordPress because I have no choice. I’m not in love, but I haven’t died yet either, so we’re counting that as a win.

Have a look around. See if you can find all the Easter Eggs. And, tell me, do the newsletter signups need their own side widget or can you find them easily enough where they are (under the Contact button)?

Broken Window Theory

Originally Posted 2/21/13

There are days where turning off the computer feels like a defeat. I turn off the computer at the end of my daily writing goals. Sometimes I have a number of words to write, sometimes I’m looking to edit a certain number of pages, sometimes I’m sending queries. Whatever it is, I try to hit that goal.

There are days time flies and I find myself at 4pm staring at the computer cursing myself because my day was lost to non-writing things. I kick myself on those days not just because I haven’t done everything I wanted, but because it means I’m off schedule.

Despite my boisterous personality type I am someone who thrives on schedules. At the beginning of each school year I make a color coded schedule on Excel. It doesn’t matter that I’m not in class right now and that I set my own hours for work, the semester schedule is burned into my psyche. Invariably I stick to this schedule for a matter of hours before it all falls apart. And then I freak out.

Police have something they call the Broken Windows Theory, the belief that a community that tolerates broken windows will also be plagued by more serious crimes. Psychologists (like Gretchen Rubin whose article I linked to) have taken the Broken Windows Theory and applied it to daily life. All of us have some tiny thing that makes them feel out of control.

For me, getting off schedule is a broken window.

What is your Broken Window?

Impulse Buy Book of the Week: ELIXIR by Ruth Vincent

Ruth Vincent_Elixir - high res coverMabily “Mab” Jones is just a twenty-something, over-educated, under-employed New Yorker trying to survive as a private eye’s unpaid intern . . . or is she? Once a powerful fairy, but tricked by the Fairy Queen into human form, Mab is forced to face her changeling past when investigating a missing person case at a modern speakeasy.

Obadiah Savage bootlegs fairy Elixir to human customers thirsting for a magical fix. But when Mab and Obadiah become joint suspects in a crime they didn’t commit, the only way to prove their innocence is to travel back to the fairy realm. And when Mab confronts the Fairy Queen and learns the depth of her betrayal, she must decide if the fate of the fey world is worth destroying the lives of the humans she’s come to love.

$2.99
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Google Play | iBooks

Ruth Vincent_Author photo - full res

Ruth spent a nomadic childhood moving across the USA, culminating in a hop across the pond to attend Oxford. But wherever she wanders, she remains ensconced within the fairy ring of her imagination. Ruth recently traded the gritty urban fantasy of NYC for the pastoral suburbs of Long Island, where she resides with her roguishly clever husband and a cockatoo who thinks she’s a dog.

Ruth Vincent is the author of the CHANGELING P.I series with HarperCollins Voyager Impulse, beginning with her debut novel, ELIXIR.

Ruth loves to hear from readers. Get in touch at www.ruthvincent.com,
Facebook.com/RuthVincentAuthor or Twitter @ByRVincent.

The Strange Emptiness of Success

Decoherence 4You wouldn’t think there was a sadness attached to success. There should be elation. Perhaps celebration. There should be parades, and trumpets, joy!

But as I clean my desk tonight and tuck away the notes and scraps and post-is associated with DECOHERENCE I realize I’m burying the corpse of Jane Doe. This is the last hurrah. Our last wild ride through time. The last book under contract for Sam and Mac.

There’s a blank space on my wall now, where the plot has been for most of the year. My lists of scenes to write and word counts to hit are all gone.

They might return during the course of edits. But those are weeks away.

For now, all I have is an emptiness. A silence that needs to be filled with words.

I have ideas and plans, but nothing under contract. Nothing with a deadline. And I love my deadlines. I love being able to count the days until I must, at all cost, have a book finished by. It keeps me from wandering after every plot bunny I see, and I see many.

But… I don’t know if anyone can ever take the place of Sam and Jane Doe. They were my first real characters. The first ones who were good enough to share in a novel setting (Dr. Charm and Tabitha are special to me too).

Sam is so unlike every other character I’ve ever written. She’s so intelligent and so gentle. A caring, nurturing, forgiving person who will fight for justice, but who understands mercy. Of all my characters, she’s probably in the most danger while doing the least harm. She makes mistakes. She gets people hurt. But when faced with her greatest enemy, Sam is still willing to forgive and sit down beside them. She’s always puts others first.

I don’t know if I can write anyone else like her.

I don’t know if I need to.

Maybe what makes Sam Rose so special is that she is unique.

The Oldest Blog Post

I thought I would spice up this summer’s blogging with older posts from my previous blog (which you can still find at lianabrooks.blogspot.com). And then I read through.

It was like the archaeology of my career digging through those old posts. Updates on the first draft of EVEN VILLAINS FALL IN LOVE. The frustration of THE DAY BEFORE (back when it was JANE DOE) and querying and trying to make this whole writing thing happen. Shiny ideas were still distracting. I always leave the ending off my books in the first draft (and the 2nd, and the 3rd). I’ve always blogged in a less-than-professional=let’s-be-besties sort of way that assumes you’re not only a regular reader but that you stalk me on every other form of social media too. If you’re ever terribly bored, feel free to go digging in that put. But be prepared for baby pictures and references to many dead projects.

My past is littered with the novels I never wrote because a better idea came along.

This means I probably won’t find anything super fun to put on the blog during summer hours (which start in mid-May when the kids leave school and life as we know it ends).

But I’ll find something for you. Because you deserve something to keep you busy between now and when DECOHERENCE comes out in September. If you have any special requests… put them in the comments!

I’m Not Dead – I’m On A Deadline

The Day Before: A Time And Shadows Time-Travelling MysteryThis is a quick check-in to let you know that I’m still alive. Life is always crazy, DECOHERENCE is almost done and edited enough to let me editor read it.

You will need to read THE DAY BEFORE and CONVERGENCE POINT before DECOHERENCE so you catch everything. Reading DECOHERENCE first will 1) spoil the fun and 2) confuse the heck out of you. Sorry, there was no way around that. I just couldn’t write it as a complete stand alone. There’s too many references to past scenes.

There are 136 days between now and the release of DECOHERENCE, which is roughly 6 pages of reading a day. If you start now, you can be ready for the release of DECOHERENCE and read at a very leisurely pace. If you read like me, you can read THE DAY BEFORE and CONVERGENCE POINT on September 12th after work and pick up DECOHERENCE in the morning to read on the train. Or you can pick something in between. Whatever works for you.

Impulse Buy Books of the Week: FINAL FLIGHT by Beth Cat0 -and- THE UNRAVELING by Laurel Wanrow

Beth Cato_FinalFlight330x534Another breathtaking short story from the author of The Clockwork Dagger and The Clockwork Crown, set in the same world…

Captain Hue hoped he was rid of his troubles once Octavia Leander and Alonzo Garrett disembarked from his airship Argus. But he was quickly proved wrong when his ship was commandeered by Caskentian soldiers. He is ordered on a covert and deadly mission by the smarmy Julius Corrado, an elite Clockwork Dagger.

Now Captain Hue must start a mutiny to regain control of his airship, which means putting his entire crew at risk—including his teenage son Sheridan. As the weather worsens and time runs out, it’ll take incredible bravery to bring the Argus down… perhaps for good.

99¢
Amazon | Barnes & Nobles

 

BethCato_DeepestPoison500x330 (2)

Beth Cato is the author of the Clockwork Dagger steampunk fantasy series from Harper Voyager, which includes her Nebula-nominated novella WINGS OF SORROW AND BONE. Her short fiction is in Clockwork Phoenix 5, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and Daily Science Fiction. She’s a Hanford, California native transplanted to the Arizona desert, where she lives with her husband, son, and requisite cat. Follow her at BethCato.com and on Twitter at @BethCato.

Website | GoodReads | Twitter | FaceBook | Amazon Author Page

Impulse Buy 1

The Unraveling - Kindle copyAnnmar Masterson’s dream of opening her own illustration shop is slipping away. The city’s ruthless industrial magnate wants her, and not for anything proper. Fleeing his loathsome advances, she takes advertising work on a farm in a secluded valley.

But Annmar isn’t safe…yet. On the farm, her world turns upside down. There, the fanciful visions she’d kept secret her entire life are normal! And that’s just the beginning. The more she discovers of the hidden lives of the people in the isolated valley, the more she discovers the truth about herself. Then there is the matter of the untamed shapeshifter who stirs new and strange feelings within her.

A scourge on the farm puts everyone’s lives in danger. Annmar becomes entangled in the fight. Her magic just might play a critical role in the war against an unknown enemy…but when its mysteries begin to unravel, so does Annmar’s proper world—something she isn’t prepared for.

The Unraveling is a full-length novel (368 pages) for readers 18+ (new adult and older), Volume 1 of a 3-part serialized novel, The Luminated Threads, a blend of steampunk, fantasy, shapeshifters, action and a coming-of-age romance.

on sale April 29 – May 5th $0.99 
Amazon (ebook) | Amazon (print) | Barnes & Noble (print) | Book Depository (free international shipping)

IMG_7741.JPG Laurel Wanrow loves misty mornings, the smell of freshly dug earth, petting long-haired guinea pigs and staring at the stars. She sees magic in nature and loves to photograph it.
Before kids, she studied and worked as a naturalist—someone who leads wildflower and other nature walks. During a stint of homeschooling, she turned her writing skills to fiction to share her love of the land, magical characters and fantastical settings.
When not living in her fantasy worlds, Laurel camps, hunts fossils and argues with her husband and two new adult kids over whose turn it is to clean house. Though they live on the East Coast, a cherished family cabin in the Colorado Rockies holds Laurel’s heart.

Website | Twitter | FaceBook | GoodReads | Pintrest | Tumblr | Newsletter

The Luminated Threads series so far:
The Unraveling, Volume One
The Twisting, Volume Two
The Binding, Volume Three (coming Summer 2016)

 

Impulse Buy Book of the Week: THE WORLD WEAVERS

Kelley Grant_ WorldWeavers1It has been a year since Sulis Hasifel fled to the desert, narrowly escaping death at the hands of a vengeful god. The time of the final battle, the final confrontation with the deities of her world, is nearing. Lured by the call of their long-trapped powers, the deities will descend upon the Obsidian Temple, where the Chosen await.

But the war between gods and humans has enveloped the entire land. Sulis’s twin, Kadar, joins forces with the nomadic warrior tribes of the desert. Little by little, the desert armies draw the deities away from their stronghold in the north, towards their doom.

In the face of a battle that will reshape mankind’s destiny and the face of the earth itself, old friendships will be tested and new alliances forged. In this spellbinding denouement to Desert Rising and The Obsidian Temple, Kelley Grant brings her epic trilogy to a thunderous and powerful conclusion.

$2.99
HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Kelley Grant_Desert Rising_Author Photo

Kelley Grant grew up in the hills of Ohio’s Amish country. Her best friends were the books she read, stories she created and the woods and fields that inspired her. She and her husband are owned by five cats, a dog and numerous uninvited critters. Besides writing, Kelley teaches yoga and meditation, sings kirtan with her husband, and designs brochures and media.

Website 
Twitter: @KGrantWrites
FaceBook
GoodReads

DECOHERENCE is Due in 14 Days

Ready For Another Adventure

The third (and last) Time & Shadows book is due to my editor in 14 days. Which means I am in my writing dungeon trying to make Draft 3 of DECOHERENCE actually coherent. I’ll be back to the regular blogging schedule in May after the book is turned in and my brain is working again.

<3
-Liana

 

 

Playing The Privilege Game

I had an experience today that highlighted something that we’ve been discussing on Twitter a lot, to wit, Privilege. I was at a mostly empty grocery store with two cashiers, myself, a pair of frat boys buying Sobe, chip, and beer (presumably in preparation for finals), and an elderly couple ahead of me in line buying what looked like groceries for a week of humble meals. The couple were immigrants (Korean from the few words I recognized of their exchange), and had limited English. They were trying to use coupons and between the language barrier and the confusion of the cashier, they were charged $17 more than they should have been.

The couple stepped back and waited as the cashier rung me up, and I had a choice. I could either play my Privilege cards and help, or I could walk out to leave the retirees with a clerk who looked to be between 17 and 20.

A Privilege is a perception or bias of the culture you are in that gives you power and influence. This are the Privilege cards I was holding:
White Privilege – in Europe and North America anyone with fair skin who can pass for European gets an automatic bonus in any social situation. I pass. I get the card.
Mom Privilege– not only had I talked to the cashier about my daughter’s birthday, I had a kid with me which makes me look responsible and trustworthy.
Valued Customer Privilege– I used a store-specific coupon card that shows how often I shop there and I get preferential treatment for being a return customer.
Big Spender/Wealth Privilege– I was buying groceries for a large family for a week, and within the tiny environs of this situation I had spent the most money. In western culture wealth is a sign of power, and so I had a dominance Privilege there because 1) I had money to spend and 2) I spent it in front of other people.
Adult Privilege– I look, act, dress, and speak like an educated, affluent adult. This means that I have the ability to bring legal punishment to those who displease me, summon a manger, or call the Better Business Bureau to report an infraction.
Health Privilege– even though I have health problems, they aren’t outwardly visible so I look like an Abled person. This matters.

In any social situation that came up, I was holding a stacked deck, and it was stacked in my favor because both cashiers and the couple were people of color (no White card) and I was the only parent. The cashiers held Authority Privilege Cards, but Valued Customer and Big Spender negate those. The cashiers couldn’t risk their jobs against the chance I’d be the Angry White PTA Mom who calls their manager because they upset me (I wouldn’t do this, but they don’t know that and need to play it safe). The frat boys had White Privilege and Male Privilege, but weren’t adults, big spenders, or using a customer card. The elderly couple had no cards in their favor.

To the Privilege cards I already held, I had specific Bonuses that meant the situation would move in my favor.

While a Privilege is something society awards you because of bias and prejudice, a Bonus is a skill you have worked to develop and that doesn’t show outwardly. My Bonuses for this situation were:
Education Bonus– not only do I have a college education, but I’ve been trained in public speaking and conflict resolution.
Situational Bonus– along with my training I had already encountered a situation like this before in either literature, class, or in person so I knew exactly how to respond without needing to think about it.
Empathy Bonus– being able to understand the emotions of others is a skill developed primarily through reading and writing and it helped me recognize there was a problem
Body Language Bonus– most people aren’t fluent in body language, especially across cultures, if you are, you have a skill others don’t
Time Bonus– I was not in a rush to anywhere so I could take the time to help someone out
Multi-lingual Bonus– I’m not fluent in many languages, but I knew enough to recognize Korean and politely intervene on the couples’ behalf.
Extrovert Bonus– I have no trouble being in front of a crowd and so don’t have the same hurdles as an introvert might in a public situation.
Mental Health Bonus– this ties into the Health Privilege. I don’t have social anxiety and that gives me an edge in confrontational situations. You can either call this a bonus, or count an anxiety issue as a negative in your total game tally.

 

There were two ways this scenario could have run… 1) I could have packed up my kid and left because this really wasn’t my problem. This was between the store and another customer and there was no reason for me to get involved. Technically, I had not right to get involved. 2) I could play my Privilege cards to give myself the right to be involved, and use my Bonus cards to resolve the situation in a way that benefited everyone (or just me if I was being selfish… but don’t do that).

After I checked out I approached the elderly couple, asked them if things were okay, and by pointing at coupons, groceries, and the receipt the gentlemen was able to communicate his concerns without English (this is the Body Language Bonus in play). I then went to the first cashier using my Privilege cards to get her attention (actually, I said, “Excuse me, miss, there’s a problem.” … but Privilege is there and in affect so even without being a bully I got attention by being born the way I am). The senior cashier was pulled in, and she wasn’t happy with needing to deal with someone who didn’t speak English. I wound up doing my best to interpret for both of them until the elderly couple had a store coupon card and their $17 back.

Given the language confusion, it’s likely the cashiers wouldn’t have done anything for the couple if someone hadn’t stepped in who was able to explain the needs of the elderly couple in a way that made it easy for the cashiers to resolve the problem.

I don’t fault the frat boys for hurrying away. They probably didn’t have the language skills, empathy, time, or training. The cashiers were both pressed for time (there were other customers in the store) and obviously didn’t understand what the elderly couple was trying to say. The couple didn’t have anyway of getting what they needed because they couldn’t make themselves understood. So, in this situation, my Privileges afforded to me by society’s biases allowed me to balance the scales, and fix the problem for everyone.

Privileges and Bonuses can be used wrong. But if you’re aware of what cards you’re playing, you can help people and make the world a better place. Check your Privilege, know what cards you’re working with, and put them to good use to help all of humanity.

 

*NOTE* There are other Privileges I carry around that didn’t apply to this situation. Gender, sexuality, relationship status, physical strength, intimidation factor, clothing… all of those factor in to how society perceives you, judges you, and awards you Privileges.