In Which Amy Laurens Steals The Blog.

Quick, everyone! Liana’s away! Let’s…. act like really civilised people and maybe read a book? HA. NOT WHAT YOU THOUGHT I WAS GOING TO SAY, IS IT. HA.

*ahem*

Aaaanyway. Liana is currently mired in the trenches of book 3 deadlines, so I’m here today to entertain you. Or at least, I’m here today to provide you with a blog post. If it entertains you, I guess that’s a bonus, but I wasn’t exactly given stringent guidelines as to the content, so you know. I quote: “I’m going to go do wordy things. Want to write me a guest post for tomorrow? On anything?” So here I am, providing a blog post on anything.

Anything is an eight-letter wo–

No. I’m not going to be that puerile, it’s okay. (OMGosh autocorrect, puerile is so a word and no I do NOT mean purple thankyouverymuch.)

Actually I thought I’d talk about the circularity of time as evidence by notable correspondence on the topic of writing in my inbox, since circular time–or just general wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey-ness–is Of Relevance to Liana’s current work. (Book 3 in the Time and Shadows mysteries series. It’s good. Even better than book 1, which, if you haven’t read, YOU SHOULD, and all the appropriate links are RIGHT HERE.) (Hacking a friend’s blog to pimp their own work on it is kinda fun, y’all. 10/10 would hack this blog again.)

Wait, I had a point. Time, circularity… YES. So I was going through my inbox yesterday (well, today, but yesterday by the time you read this, because WIBBLY-WOBBLY TIME, AMIRITE?), theoretically Doing Important Culling And Filing (but actually we know I was totally just procrastinating–procrastifiling?), and I stumbled on an amusing trend. Liana and I email each other a fair bit (though heaven knows her emails are generally more sensible than mine, she being the kind of soul who actually premeditates these things, me being the kind of soul who fires off seven single sentence emails in an hour) and in cleaning out my inbox (massively overdue since Hospital, Surgery, etc) I realised that approximately once a month, Liana and I have an almost identical conversation. The only thing that tends to change, other than minor details, is the role that each of us plays. Generally speaking, it goes like this:

L (or A, depending on the month): Woe! WOE! I am writing things, and THEY ARE AWFUL!

A (or L, depending on the month): No! NO! You are writing things, and they are AWEFUL!

L (let us assume it is her month for a breakdown): But you don’t UNDERSTAND! I have DEADLINES! And TERROR! And I AM A HACK!

A (because it’s her turn to console): But I DO! You have DEADLINES! And TERROR! And THIS IS ALL TOTALLY NORMAL.

L: Wait, what?

A: Seriously. Do you WANT me to pull out the email conversation we had about this last month? Because my inbox is in a state of epic disarray, meaning I have, like, every email sent to me ever since 2010 stored here, and I totally can if you like.

 

Now, what can we learn from this? Other than the fact that Amy really needs to learn to use the delete key, and both of us could stand to be a fraction less melodramatic about writing at times, and maybe the fact that we ought to just collate the best emails and print them out and leave them where we can see them, and…. *ahem* Look. There’s a Point In Here For All Of Us, okay? And it’s this:

ALL creative work involves risk taking. Being creative is risky; putting that creative work out there for other people to see is even riskier. So you know what? Some degree of angst (*TERROR!*) is normal. It’s okay. It’s actually perfectly fine to be terrified that you’re writing the book wrong, or that people will laugh at your picture, or that maybe people will think a tone-deaf monkey wrote your song. That fear? IT’S OKAY. We live in a culture where it’s trendy to be all, “Fear? I have no fear! I am Fearless McNoFear! Watch now I as I dive from an aeroplane sans parachute off a cliff into a shallow sea of scorpions behind held aloft by snakes NAKED WHILE OTHER PLANES SKYWRITE MY BIGGEST EMBARRASSMENTS ACROSS THE VAST BLUE YONDER FOR ALL TO SEE!” But actually, this is quackery. Fear is normal. Fear, to a certain extent, is healthy. You don’t actually have to purge yourself of all fear in order to survive.

What you DO have to do is learn how fear fits into your creative process. Learn to recognise what this specific fear (as opposed to your fear of spiders, or skydiving, or rabid mouldy cheese) feels like, smells like, sounds like, so that when it inevitably rears its head when you’re creating your next piece of awesome, you can sit back, pat it on the head, and go, “You know what fear? I hear you. What we are doing here is scary. We are making ourselves vulnerable. We might not succeed at what we’re trying to do. It might be hard. It might be exhausting. People might hate it when we’re done. But you know what? I know you. You show up every time, at this stage of the game, and that’s okay. I don’t mind you being here. But you’re not going to stop me from creating something I love. Because I’ve done this before, and I know something you don’t know: finishing my creation makes it all worthwhile in the end.”

Fear is an integral, if uncomfortable, part of the creative process – and that’s okay. So get yourself a good support buddy with whom you can have the same conversation every single month, swapping roles as necessary. Save the good conversations, the hearty and uplifting bits, stick ’em up somewhere you won’t forget them, and have faith: Fear is part of the process, which means it comes, but it also goes.

Go make something awesome. You totally got this.

Go on. I dare you.

 

…………………………………………………………….

And now, because clearly it’s imperative we end this post on a serious note, I leave you with a deeply thoughtful poem in response to the question I posed on Twitter: “So, Twitter. @LianaBrooks has given me the keys to her website and a blank slate for tomorrow’s blog post. What mischief shall I wreak? O:)”

With assistance from @MichaelPallante, and **MILD HEROES & VILLAINS SPOILERS**.

There once was a hero from Cali,
Who had many a peak and a valley.
She hated her co-star,
but quite liked his word spar
(Resemblance to Arktos: uncanny!).

Impulse Buy Book of the Week: The Veil Series Box Sext by Pippa DaCosta

SPECIAL BOX SET OFFER!!!

The Impulse Buy usually features single novels, but this deal is too good to pass up. From now until April 3rd, 2016, Pippa Da Costa’s Veil Series box set is only 99¢. Three full length novels for less than a dollar. That’s a deal too good to pass up!

Pippa Dacosta_Beyond the Veil

Pippa Dacosta_Devil May Care

Pippa Dacosta_Darkest Before Dawn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Muse must decide whether to trust a Prince of Hell or the assassin sent to kill her. Little do they know, she’s more dangerous than both.

Discover the epic urban fantasy series readers describe as epic, action-packed and mind-blowing!

Includes full length novels:

Beyond The Veil, #1

Devil May Care, #2

Darkest Before Dawn, #3

“A spectacular series.”

“One of the best urban fantasies out there!”

“Reminiscent of Jessica Jones.”

Beyond The Veil

Charlie Henderson is living a lie. Her real name is Muse and her attempt at a normal life is about to go up in smoke.
When a half-demon assassin walks into her life, leaving a trail of destruction in his wake, Muse must return to the one man she hoped never to see again and ask for help. The Prince of Greed isn’t known for his charity. The price is high, and the cost could tear her apart.

Trapped between the malevolent intentions of a Prince of Hell and an assassin with ulterior motives, Muse must embrace the lure of chaos at her core; the demon inside her, in order to survive.

Devil May Care

Three dead Enforcers in three weeks, their bodies butchered. Muse has seen it before, and when she reads the metal memories in the murder weapon, she sees it all again. Her owner, Damien, is back, and he wants what is rightfully his.

Darkest Before Dawn

When Akil leaves a nine year old half-blood girl on Muse’s doorstep, it’s not long before the demons come hunting, but this time Muse isn’t the target. The Institute, Muse’s immortal brother, and the Princes of Hell, all want a piece of the little half-blood. What’s so special about Dawn, and why has Akil conveniently disappeared just as Muse needs answers?

On Sale for 99¢ until April 3rd

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | iBooks | Kobo

 

Pippa Dacosta

Born in Tonbridge, Kent in 1979, — “Wait a second. Let’s cut to the chase. I write kick-ass urban fantasy novels with conflicted characters, breathless action, and no-holds-barred dialogue. My books may not leave you feeling all fluffy and warm inside, but they will excite you. There will be plot-twists, there will be angst, probably a few bodies, and very likely your favorite character will turn out to be the bad guy. Don’t say I didn’t warn you…”

Pippa’s family moved to the South West of England where she grew up among the dramatic moorland and sweeping coastlands of Devon & Cornwall. With a family history brimming with intrigue, complete with Gypsy angst on one side and Jewish survivors on another, she has the ability to draw from a patchwork of ancestry and use it as the inspiration for her writing. Happily married and the Mother of two little girls, she resides on the Devon & Cornwall border.

Website | Pintrest | Twitter | Facebook

A Different Kind of Parent

Recently I had a reason to look up childhood depression.

It’s exactly as depressing and heart-breaking as you imagine. And one of the themes I found running through the posts and discussions were the stories of people who struggled with depression but didn’t have familial support. People who were told that it was a mood, or to keep a stiff upper lip, or treated as if they were somehow unclean because of their illness.

It’s a common thread in the Spoonie Community. People with rare and hard to diagnosis diseases often hear from doctors, parents, and friends that the illness is all in their head. Symptoms are dismissed as bad behavior. They’re told their pain is exaggerated, or nonexistent, that they’re only faking it for attention. As hard as it is to sympathize with this abelistic abuse, it is in some ways understandable. Rare disease are really rare, and their symptoms are often bizarre and seemingly unrelated. It’s possible to see how someone with a limited education, no medical training, and an underdeveloped sense of empathy (or a history of being used by other abusive personalities) might see the people suffering from a rare disease as liars.

Depression isn’t that rare. As a disease it’s been well documented for centuries, with cures from lavender baths, to orgasms, to arsenic recommended as a cure. The idea that people with depression were dismissed by their loved ones when they were at their most vulnerable is as appalling as it was (apparently) wide spread in previous generations.

Depression carried a stigma in the past.

Even within my own family I’ve seen relatives hide the fact that someone died from losing the fight to depression. A sibling who was buried at a teen goes unnamed as the generation ages. His name is never mentioned in public. He doesn’t appear on the family tree. In every way this young man has been erased because of the fear that hovers around depression. In some parts of the family it’s taken on an almost taboo-ish face. Speaking of depression results in censure and ostracism.

When I stepped back and looked at my own cohort of parents I had a very profound realization: we will never be those parents.

Just like we don’t need help with computers because we started using them in grade school, we’ve grown up with an open discussion of depression and mental illness. Our social networks are more than gossip chains, they’re information chains connecting me to other parents raising similarly at-risk children. When my child’s friend goes to the therapist we don’t tut-tut and exchange sideways glances; we sit the kids down at the dinner table and discuss the signs of abuse, depression, and addiction.

My generation has been called many things, most not that complimentary. Undoubtedly we will make some horrific mistakes in the future. Undoubtedly some of us will get parenting wrong. But I’m optimistic for our children. I look forward to a future where the statement, “I want to be happy but it’s like my heart has a mind of it’s own and can’t be happy.” is met with a hug and support not someone turning away and denying the truth. It’s not enough. We haven’t cured depression or taken this burden from anyone yet, but we’re moving in the right direction.

For those of you in the trenches fighting these hidden diseases: call if you need backup. Depression lies. You are not alone.

For those whose love ones are fighting: Stay strong. Reach out if you need to talk. You are not alone.

You are never, ever alone.

Let’s Hit The Pause Button

Simply Writing Square 2I’m going to ask you a really hard question that will probably make you hate me for a few minutes. Are you ready? Okay…

WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS???

Every time you go to make a serious choice this is the first question you need to ask, and it’s the one that rarely shows up in publishing ( or, let’s be honest, anywhere).

Why are you writing a book? Why do you want to be published? Why do you want to be published right now?

If the answer is money, log off and go back to college. The majority of authors do not work full-time as writers and do not earn the bulk of their income from writing. And when I say Majority I mean less than 10% of authors earn their income exclusively from writing fiction.

If the answer is that publishing has always been a dream, or you feel called, or it’s your passion I want you to stop and re-evaluate things. You might not be wrong, but dreams are a lot like clothes, sometimes you outgrow them. Do not write a book and publish because you wrote that you were going to be a famous author in a fourth grade essay. You were ten. You’ve grown up. You’ve changed. You like different things. If the dream no longer fits you, it’s like wearing pants that are three sizes too small, you’re going to be uncomfortable and look silly. Let it go, find a new dream. If you find this is still your dream, stop, re-evaluate, and remind yourself that this is going to take time. Nothing happens overnight, so leave your fears as Lost and Found and follow the path without hating the journey.

If the answer is that you just want to give publishing a try, or you’re already here and don’t know how to quit, keep going. Be open-minded, and realize you can walk away at anytime. It sounds cruel, but really, this is encouragement. There’s a freedom you can only find when you know you can choose another way at anytime. Enjoy that freedom.

If the answer is  that you really don’t want to write a book, that’s fine. Don’t write it. Take the question and apply it to the other things you do.

Whatever you do, make sure you do it because the action serves you and your future self. Make sure your actions lead you to a better place, as a person and as a citizen on Earth. Make sure your actions are in tune with your overall desire for a happier, healthier, and better world. Because anything that doesn’t lead to that goal is a thing that you don’t need, and a path you shouldn’t follow.

 

Impulse Buy Book of the Week: WHEN I’M GONE by Emily Bleeker

Emily Bleeker_When I'm GoneDear Luke,
First let me say—I love you…I didn’t want to leave you…

Luke Richardson has returned home after burying Natalie, his beloved wife of sixteen years, ready to face the hard job of raising their three children alone. But there’s something he’s not prepared for—a blue envelope with his name scrawled across the front in Natalie’s handwriting, waiting for him on the floor of their suburban Michigan home.

The letter inside, written on the first day of Natalie’s cancer treatment a year ago, turns out to be the first of many. Luke is convinced they’re genuine, but who is delivering them? As his obsession with the letters grows, Luke uncovers long-buried secrets that make him question everything he knew about his wife and their family. But the revelations also point the way toward a future where love goes on—in written words, in memories, and in the promises it’s never too late to keep.

$4.99

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Emily is a mom of four, an author and a Chicagoland native. Her first novel, WRECKAGE, was released by Lake Union Publishing March 2015. Her second book, Bleeker_Wreckage_Author PhotoWHEN I’M GONE, hit shelves March 2016. She says she’s learning to balance life as a stay-at-home mom with her life as a writer. Both come with a lot of laughter, tears and a shocking amount of Diet Coke.

Website

It’s Okay To Give The Kids Weird Names

For those who follow me on twitter you might have noticed a new hashtag in the past few weeks: #FamilyHistory.

Every spring the grade school has a family tree project. Every year I send my kids in with a bare three generations of living relatives because I’ve never sat down to research more. Since my husband’s aunt started putting together a family tree I started to try helping by combing old census records and hunting down lost relations.

You know what I’ve found? My husband’s family is obsessed with the name Francis. There’s six boys named Francis, a Frankisca, and a Frank all in one generation from one set of parents. There are so many Francis-es that I lost track of who goes where!

My side of the family has another problem: spelling. The lack of standardized spelling means trying to guess who on the census records might be related.

I’ve been lining people up by estimated birth year and hoping I found the right relatives. It’s entirely possible I stole someone else’s family tree. Which sounds about right, actually, more than one relative wound up in a penal colony. Several in Australia.

Anyways… there’s some lively stories in the history books. If you want to check it out, I’ll be doing #FamilyHistory on Sundays on Twitter until I run into too many dead ends. Who knows, maybe at that point I’ll start doing someone else’s family tree.

Guest Post from Stacey Agdern – Research and Writing

Stacey AgdernI’ve done research for every single book I’ve written, whether it’s been published or not.  I’ve scoured the internet, searched through library shelves and ancient card catalogs.  I adore the process.

For the last few books I’ve written, I’ve gotten help.  People I know happen to be involved with of all sorts of fascinating professions.  From them I’ve learned how to : choose a particular model of gun, write about baking techniques and how a live broadcast works .  I’ve even gotten someone who’s a bachata singer to agree to sit down and talk to me 😀

However, the coolest research I’ve done involved unexpected help.  Both a famous sports agent and a fascinating guy who’s written scripts for really cool television events agreed to answer my questions  How did this happen? Through twitter, of course.  How?   I’ll tell you.

I spoke to one during a twitter question time.  This happens all the time these days.  A person is traveling and opens themselves up to random question from their excited twitter following.   My question was brief, professional and would not in any way force the sports agent to give confidential information.  All I wanted the question to do was fix my plot.  The sports agent saw my question and answered it, even went as far as to clarify it.  His answer wasn’t what I wanted, unfortunately, but it did solidify my conflict,  When I told him I’d finished the story he’d given me the information for, he was glad to hear he’d helped me and wanted to know if he was getting a cameo.  I told him he wasn’t, but that he was getting space in the acknowledgements.  He seemed to be pleased about that J

The second happened randomly and unexpectedly.  I’d gotten to a point in my story where I needed general information about rehersals for a large event.  And so I took a chance and asked my potential source on twitter.  With twitter especially, the chances of being answered are like slim and none.  But, once again, my question was specific.  I didn’t want insider information about any specific event, or trade secrets.  I wanted general information that would help me write my story.    Long enough after I’d asked my question to make me think he wasn’t answering, I got a direct message from him with the answer to my question.

Research can be an amazing, fascinating thing.  I hope you like what I’ve put together with mine.  🙂

————————————-

Stacey Agdern is an award-winning former bookseller who has reviewed romance novels in multiple formats and given talks about various aspects of the romance genre.  She is also a romance writer.  She’s a proud member of both LIRW and RWA NYC.  She lives in New York, not far from her favorite hockey team’s practice facility.

Twitter: @nystacey

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/staceyaagdern

Website: https://staceyagdern.wordpress.com

You Say “Angry Feminist” Like It’s A Bad Thing

Last week I was in an awkward conversation where a woman said, “She’s one of those Angry Feminist types, you know?” and I couldn’t pull the lady to the side for an explanation. Was she upset about someone wanting gender equality or was she surprised that in this day and age someone who wants gender equality is angry?

Because it’s really hard not to be angry right now.

Women are constantly beaten by a barrage of media insisting we ought to sit down, shut up, and smile. Most recently we watched the only woman in the running for presidency get told by newscasters to “stop yelling and smile.” The woman is running for president of the United State, not Miss America. No one wants a national leader who will shut up and smile, but judging from the voter turn out there are a lot of us who would like a woman as president.

Women who write often find their books sidelined. Award-winning MG author Shannon Hale has a long list of schools where she went for a book reading and only the girls were excused from classes. Because she’s a “Girl Author” whose books have both male and female characters, but written by a woman, so the boys were told not to attend. Not to listen. Not to read. Of course she’s angry! Wouldn’t you be?

I’ve walked down the aisle at the local Brick ‘n Mortar bookstore, seen a man debating over books, talked shop with him, and had him say, “Oh, I don’t read books by girls. They don’t know how to write.” TO MY FACE. MULTIPLE TIMES. MULTIPLE PEOPLE. Of course I’m angry.

I’m raising daughters who are taught in school to wear more clothes because bare shoulders might distract the boys or invite someone to rape them. INVITE SOMEONE TO RAPE THEM. Let that sink in. Rape is a non-consensual physical assault. By definition, you cannot INVITE someone to do something non-consensual. Inviting implies consent. The boys aren’t being told, “Don’t touch unless you have permission.” The girls are being taught, “Shut up. Sit down. Smile. Or you will be hurt and it will be your fault.” Of course I’m angry!

Who wouldn’t be angry in a climate where women are still pushing to be recognized and treated equally to men.

Feminism isn’t just for women. Gender equality means men get treated equally; with the right to have emotions, pick “traditionally female” jobs, raise children, ect. Feminism means other non-binary genders or trangendered people get treated like people, fully accepted and protected by law. Feminism doesn’t mean White Feminism only protecting the wealthy elite, but it means equality for everyone of every color, race, creed, religion, gender, and type.

And, yes, it makes me angry when I see people trashed and abused and ignored because of their gender. I hate how the media will rip apart a woman’s clothing when she’s discussing foreign policy but not say word one about the man across from her who looks like he woke up after a sleeping on a bus for six hours. I’m upset when women are told they need to calm down but men can spray spittle over the cameras as they talk about arresting thousands of people based on their religion alone.

I believe in equality and free choice. I have the right to believe what I believe, and so does everyone else. And if being angry is the only way to change the world so that everyone has a fair shot and is treated equally, than angry it is. I’ve tried calm. I’ve tried logic. I’ve tried science. I’ve tried stats. Hate is never good. Gender-based hate is always harmful to a society. So, yeah, I am a feminist and I am angry. You should be too.

 

Impulse Buy Book of the Week: DISSENSION by Stacey Berg

For four hundred years, the Church has led the remnants of humanity as they struggle for survival in the last inhabited city. Echo Hunter 367 is exactly what the Church created her to be: loyal, obedient, lethal. A clone who shouldn’t care about anything but her duty. Who shouldn’t be able to.

When rebellious citizens challenge the Church’s authority, it is Echo’s duty to hunt them down before civil war can tumble the city back into the dark. But Echo hides a deadly secret: doubt. And when Echo’s mission leads her to Lia, a rebel leader who has a secret of her own, Echo is forced to face that doubt. For Lia holds the key to the city’s survival, and Echo must choose between the woman she loves and purpose she was born to fulfill.

$2.99
Stacey Berg is a medical researcher who writes speculative fiction. Her work as a physician-scientist provides the inspiration for many of her stories. She lives with her wife in Houston and is a member of the Writers’ League of Texas. When she’s not
writing, she practices kung fu and runs half marathons. She is represented by Mary C. Moore of Kimberley Cameron &
Associates
. You can visit her at www.staceyberg.com.

Cover Reveal – MAGIC BITTER MAGIC SWEET by Charlie N. Holmberg

The peculiar tale of an enchanted baker who creates fairy tales’ darkest and most magical confections.

Maire is a baker with an extraordinary gift: she can infuse her treats with emotions and abilities, which are then passed on to those who eat them. She doesn’t know why she can do this and remembers nothing of who she is or where she came from.

When marauders raid her town, Maire is captured and sold to the eccentric Allemas, who enslaves her and demands that she produce sinister confections, including a witch’s gingerbread cottage, a living cookie boy, and size-altering cakes.

During her captivity, Maire is visited by Fyel, a ghostly being who is reluctant to reveal his connection to her. The more often they meet, the more her memories return, and she begins to piece together who and what she really is—as well as past mistakes that yield cosmic consequences.

 

From the author of the Paper Magician series comes a haunting and otherworldly tale of folly and consequence, forgiveness and redemption.
Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet is available for preorder on Amazon and B&N. Ebook, audiobook, and paperback release from 47North June 28th!
You can also preview the novel on Goodreads.
~*~

 

Born in Salt Lake City, Charlie N. Holmberg was raised a Trekkie alongside three sisters who also have boy names. She graduated from BYU, plays the ukulele, owns too many pairs of glasses, and hopes to one day own a dog.