Don’t Embrace The Boulders – Keep Chasing Your Dreams

The highway of life is filled with mole hills, bumps, potholes, and occasionally boulders. Big, fat, road-blocking boulders that fill all six lanes of your highway and stop forward momentum at fatal velocities.

Potholes are someone else’s choice interfering with your forward progression, like the CEO embezzling a few billion dollars and your company going bankrupt. You have no control over this, and it’s definitely going to throw you off your stride for a bit.

Mole hills are little things that may look big, like losing those last three pounds or remembering to get birthday cards in the mail by Friday. At the end of your life a mole hill is a trivial thing that’s easily forgotten. Bumps are also small. They rattle you, but they won’t kill you.

Boulders… those are a different beast entirely. Boulders are huge things that stop you from moving. Career-ending decisions. Dead end jobs. Addictions that throw you out of the loop of life and down to the sidelines.

Boulders take many forms. Sometimes they’re an addiction. Sometimes they’re a lifestyle choice. Sometimes the boulder is something we have very little control over, like a cancer diagnosis or clinical depression. Sometimes the boulder is something entirely of our own making.

Whatever the case, don’t embrace the boulders.

I see too many people who see a boulder on the road of life and assume it’s the end of the road.

The teen mom who’s life came to a screeching halt because she had a kid, and fourteen years later she’s never dated, never left home, never done anything but let one choice dictate her entire life. She’s embraced the boulder and refuses to move on.

Or my alcoholic uncle who has lost his family and friends to his abusive drinking, who lives on the edge of poverty because his paycheck goes straight to the liquor store, and who doesn’t understand why no one is excited that he’s decided to try home brewing. Alcoholism is his boulder. He’s embraced it. He has decided that alcohol is more important than anything else in life, and that he can’t cut back on it because being an alcoholic is what he is.

The author who throws in the towel because on publishing house rejected their novel that came over the transom. ONE. Not hundreds of rejections. Not dozens of rejections. ONE REJECTION, and the author wants to quit because Sad Author wrote the book with that publisher in mind.

It makes me want to set my hair on fire!

I get it, I really do. Some of these are very hard things to deal with. Addictions aren’t something you can always handle alone. Certainly a cancer diagnosis isn’t something you can shrug off. Depression sucks, I know, I’ve got it. But, Dude! YOU ARE NOT DEAD.

It’s a boulder. It’s blocking your way. But it is not the end of the road.

Don’t embrace the boulder. Don’t sell yourself short and let a mistake or a low point in your life define you. You are so much more than the obstacles you face. You have infinite potential to do good and help others. You have the unrivaled ability to create something wholly unique and wonderful. Don’t throw that all away because of a boulder.

Previously Published November 2012

A Season of Change

The first green of spring.

Spring break up is here, bringing black ice, snow melt, and 15-hours of daylight. I’m finally shaking off the seasonal depression and have packed my happy lamp away.

Which means it’s time to assess the damage depression has done.

We sometimes think of depression solely in terms of emotional damage. People focus on lost happiness, lost relationships, lost time… but there’s a very physical toll to depression. The lethargy and the fight to survive a period of depression means that the physical body is neglected most of the time. This results in either unhealthy weight loss or unhealthy weight gain, loss of muscle mass, loss of routine. And those things matter.

For me, it’s very stressful looking at what I’m left with physically after a bought of depression. Last fall – before the seasonal depression hit – I was walking a couple miles several times a week, my only major dislocation problems were on my right leg, and I was inching closer to my goal weight. Winter hit, I survived, but the physical toll is severely damaged ribs that have been subluxing and dislocating almost daily since December, loss of shoulder stability, and my sedentary habits of winter have led to weight gain even while I was trying to eat healthy. That’s depressing all on it’s own.

There’s also the psychological toll of depression, which for me looks like higher susceptibility to stress, anxiety, and negative self-talk.

So, while Alaska is shaking off the last chill of winter, I’m looking to take back control of my life from depression. I want to shake off the lingering ills of winter and move forward with more focus.

One of the things that I do fairly regularly when not dealing with depression is yoga and meditation. For whatever reason, when I hit a depressive state I lose me-time very early on. The depression tells me I’m selfish to take time away from work and family and friends for quiet time. There’s an overwhelming guilt that always accompanies my depression, and it always becomes this crippling belief that nothing I do will ever be enough.

Depression looks different for everyone, and so recovery will look different for everyone, but for me I need to bring back the element of control to my life. I need barriers between work and home. It’s so easy to let the two lives stream together when you work from home, but it isn’t exactly healthy. At least not for me.

I need to find an end of day for work. I need specified times for writing and editing for myself and editing for clients. I need time for my kids, time for my husband, and time for myself.

But not time for dishes, because I have kids and they are old enough to clean house without me. We all have our hard limits, and that’s mine. 🙂

Obviously this is a struggle-point for me. I’m not good at managing my time and making time for myself. This is step one: setting a goal. Feel free to follow-up with me throughout the week and see if I’m actually taking time off from work.

This is the first step of recovery: recognizing the problem and making a plan to address the problem.

Wish me luck!

The Scent of Memory

It’s wrong to say I woke to the smell in the pre-dawn light, because mid-April in Anchorage means 15 hours of daylight and the sun was up well before I was. But it was the wee hours of the morning when I woke to a familiar smell. The memory of cold, wood smoke, and the lingering aroma of last night’s fajitas remind me of my grandfather’s house.

There’s a scent missing though. Under the familiar smells the bitter note of coffee is absent. I don’t drink it. I don’t like the smell of fresh coffee, but the fading scent of coffee brewed before dawn and long finished is part of my childhood.

Today, with the chill of winter crawling along the tile floor, the house smells like my grandfather’s in Texas. We always visited him in winter. A quiet Christmas on an island outside Houston where luminaries lined the walkway and chilies hung on the tree. A few years later it was Christmas in lake country outside Austin, with skittish deer leaping over frosted grass. But always the scent of wood smoke, grilled food, and the memory of coffee.

It’s been years since I traveled back to his adopted homeland to visit (grandpa was born somewhere in Europe between the wars… all he remembers is barbed wire and empty trenches). Alaska is too far away for him, although he’d love the views. Texas is a lifetime away from me, a place of blue bonnets and sorrows. But for a moment, in the cold of the morning light, our worlds touch and we share a breath even though we are a world apart.

Upcoming Events And Release Dates And a New Series!

Hello, Lovelies! There are 72 days and counting until I start packing for my wild adventure traveling from Alaska back to the Lower 48 via ever-neighborly Canada. And some of you have been asking when my next book is going to be available to read. Here’s the summer release line-up and, good news!, it includes some free reading!

UPCOMING RELEASES

April 28 – cover reveal for BODIES IN MOTION (book one in the Newton’s Laws SFR series)
June 12 – BODIES IN MOTION released on the blog as a summer serial…. new chapters will go up Monday, Wednesday, and Friday throughout June and July.
September 26 – BODIES IN MOTION will be available in ebook and print
December – LAWS OF ATTRACTION (book two of Newton’s Laws)

UPCOMING EVENTS

April 10 – I’m writing something special for the HarperVoyager Science Fair! Details will be forthcoming… Look for #HVsciencefair on Twitter.
May 30 – Last Impulse Buy email before the hiatus
June 10 – I pack up my desktop and house. I will have spotty internet for the remainder of the summer but won’t be widely available. I’m hoping to keep Twitter updated as I travel.
July 15 – With luck, and if the stars align, I move into the new house and start unpacking.
August 1 – With luck, and if the stars align, I will be back, the Impulse Buy will be back, and regular blogging will resume.

 

ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS I KNOW YOU ARE DYING TO ASK

Where are you moving? I’m leaving the frozen north and moving to the gloomy northwest… the Seattle/Tacoma area to be specific. Where exactly in that area, I don’t know, I haven’t found a house yet.

Are you really going to be offline for a whole month? Possibly. I don’t know exactly when the movers will arrive but last time it took over four weeks for our boxes to make the trip. We were going Kansas -> Alaska in the winter, and this is a shorter boat ride to Seattle… but I still don’t know when the boxes will leave or when I’ll be able to move into the new house. Even after we move in, we have to wait to get the internet hooked up and the list of problems goes on. Four weeks is not that long when you consider I’ll be driving for about eight days.

What do you mean “Summer Serial”? There are a number of ways to release new books. There’s the classic big-ad-push that comes with big presses, there’s the targeted releases you find at small presses and from indie authors, there are soft release, and there’s serials… Serializing a story isn’t a new idea. It’s what comics do. It’s what Sir Arthur Conan Doyle did to publish Sherlock. It’s a format that appeals to devoted fans and casual readers alike because you get to try the story for free. If you don’t want to read all the chapters, you don’t need to. If you want to wait until it’s all available for free, you can. If you want to buy the book, that’s an option too.

I’ve never tried serializing a story before, and I knew I wanted to do something to make up for my online absence this summer. A serial story sounded like a good way to bridge the gap between houses. You’ll have something to read, and I’ll have your comments to look forward to when I get back. If this goes well, I may launch future series this way. If it doesn’t, that’s life. This is an experiment and you get to participate! Yay! Science!

Wait… a new series? When did this happen?  The Newton’s Laws series started while I was working on CONVERGENCE POINT and was originally intended to be stand-alone short story. Once I started world building a whole new universe unfolded and I couldn’t say no to giving these characters new novels.

 

How romance-y are we talking here? The Newton’s Laws series will not be a radical departure from my previous books. All the things you love from the Heroes and Villains series (snark, flirting, beautifully intelligent people) and Time and Shadows (murder, mystery, mayhem, tech) will be featured in this series. The romance and the tech are equally important to the plot, so the series is a Science Fiction Romance. These kinds of stories appeal to readers who love SF and don’t mind kissing, and to Romance readers who are willing to give spaceships a try.

Are you going to give us an actual blurb for this book? Yes! In April there will be a full work up with a chance to read the blurb, meet the major players, and explore this new galaxy.

What about that other title I heard you talking about? BODIES IN MOTION is my next release, but it isn’t my only project. You’ve probably heard me talking about FOUNDATION STONES (fantasy) and FREE FALL (SF). Those projects are still being worked on. FREE FALL is almost ready to shop. FOUNDATION STONES would have been finished if BODIES had stayed a short story instead of a novel. You’ll get to read them eventually.

Are you still editing for clients? I am taking editing jobs in April and May. The absolute last turn in date for full manuscripts is May 15. The last day I’ll take smaller projects (query and blurb critiques) will be June 5th. Because of the unpredictability of traveling I won’t be taking editing clients until sometime After August 1st. I will make an announcement on the blog and social media when I reopen. If you need an editor over the summer and don’t know who to turn to, feel free to email me for a list of recommendations based on your genre and budget.

No Road To Follow

Picture a field of freshly fallen snow. A blanket of powdery white that stretches between the trees. In this field you know there are two things: a road, and a perilously soft shoulder with four feet of packed snow that will eat your car like candy if you get to close.

You are armed with your memory, whatever sense of distance and direction you were born with, a set of winter tires, and a vehicle whose back end swivels like a stripper on the pole even under ideal road conditions. The visibility is poor, a fog is rolling in, and – if you are very unlucky – there will be moose.

Now…. drive.

Most sane people wouldn’t. They’d take one look at the conditions and walk away. Which makes this field of pristine snow an excellent metaphor for so many things. Faith, work, immigration, politics, publishing, illness… Most people look at the trouble in front of them and turn away. They go back where it’s safe and they stay there.

But someone has to cut through the snow.

Someone has to set a path for everyone else to follow.

For me, I had to go because the kids had school. It’s prosaic, but it’s reality. The kids had to get to school, so I went out on the roads, cutting a path, marking a place for the other cars to follow. I know there’s a little old man who walks his tiny dog three times a day, and he’ll walk in these ruts today. I know the retiree next door shops on Tuesdays, and their little car can’t handle deep snow, they’ll follow these ruts today.

If I go off the road, then so will the others. The ruts freeze in weather like this and it’s hard to break a car away from the path that’s been set. My choices in the field of snow will influence the choices of everyone who drives the road today. I’m the one marking the lanes. I’m the one setting the ruts. I’m the one leading the herd. For better or worse.

I make the drive four times in the morning – two out and two back – and I’ll make three more times this afternoon. The snow is still falling. The ruts will fill in. There are cars lining the ditches on the main roads. But, on our little back road, there’s a set of tracks set by my big tires. Hopefully a snow plow will come by this evening, but it can take days to clear the roads. It’s not really a winter storm. Storm is too strong a word. This is a muddle.

A muddle of snow and fog and luck.

And so we muddle along. I make a path. My neighbors follow it out and in. We clear the road with our tires as best we can, trying to make space and redefine the roads. That’s part of civilization. We make communal choices, we work together, we set the rules, and we hope we don’t drive humanity off a cliff.

Drive carefully, my lovelies.

Technical Difficulties… or why the blog has been so quiet

So, several of you have noticed that – despite this being post-winter break – I haven’t really got back to blogging full time. I’m sorry about that. I’m experiencing what you might call Technical Difficulties. And it’s not my computer that’s broken.

January saw the plague sweep through my house, complete with fevers, whiny children, and no spare time. I was trying to hit a couple of crucial book deadlines for 2017 releases and the blog was not a top priority. The plague was followed by news about a new job offer (more on that later this week), and a broken car (more about that never… unless you want to buy me a new car). Being a 1 car family with 6 people, two with jobs, and 3 with extracurricular activities has moved me from commuting 3 hours a day to commuting 7+ hours a day depending on the day.

Those lost 4 hours include blogging time.

What does this mean for you? Less content right now.

The blog is open. The Impulse Buy will continue to come out on Tuesdays (if I can remember to schedule it correctly this week 😛 ). And regular blog content will resume in the next week or so as (hopefully) my schedule evens out. If you are absolutely desperate to hear from me, feel free to check out my Twitter, FaceBook, or Tumblr.

The “I Love You” List … things you need to have in an emergency

Tragedies happen.

No one wants to think about funerals when they’re 21, but horrible things happen that can leave you incapacitated or killed at any age. This isn’t covered by high school, it’s rarely mentioned in college, but if you’re paying your own bills you need to make sure that your friends and family can take care of your accounts if the worst happens.

The I LOVE YOU box (or folder) is a quick way to gather all the information someone would need to take care of your house, pets, kids, and creative work in the event that you couldn’t be there due to death or severe injury. I know, this is morbid. No one wants to dwell on their death, especially when they’re young and healthy. You don’t want to think about leaving your pets, or your lover, or your kids. But the reality is… death won’t ignore you just because you ignore death.

Take it from someone who has sat with widows whose husbands never prepared for death, who saw a life insurance payout go to a stingy in-law rather than to the family, as someone who sat wide-eyed and shocked when the ex-wife was honored at a funeral but not the current spouse. If you don’t prepare for this, someone else will be left struggling to deal with it. For most adults who die suddenly, that means leaving a grieving partner to struggle through this (which is selfish), or allowing a distant family member to muddle through as best they can (which often ends terribly for those who knew you best).

Do a favor for the ones you love, and get the basic prep work for death handled now. Make a will. Make a will specifying what you want done with your creative works. Make sure anyone you care for (pets, kids, elderly relatives) will be provided for in the event of your death.

The bonus here is that knowing where all this information is will make everything from vacationing to paying taxes that much easier. So, get organized. You’ll thank yourself later.

The MUST HAVE Six:

  1. Account passwords. (where to find account and password info) 
  2. Bank Information
  3. Birth certificates
  4. Insurance Information (home, renter, VPP, auto, life, etc.)
  5. Medical Information
  6. Will

 

Below is an alphabetized list of additional items you may want to include in your box.

Appraisals for jewelry/furniture/etc.
Bank Information
Birth Certificates
Car Registration
Contact Information (next of kin, roommate, work associates, religious leader, ect)
Copies of IDs
Copy of passport/s
IEP/EFMP paperwork (Individual Education Plan/Exceptional Family Member Program paperwork for children)
Email accounts
Care Plan (this is a military thing – if you don’t know what it is, don’t worry)
List of family rules (so children have a sense of normalcy)
List of known allergies (for you, your pets, and your children)
Schedule
Special Traditions (things that would be done on birthdays or anniversaries)
Directions for handling of creative work (art, writing, poetry, ect – see This Post By Neil Gaiman)
Insurance Information (home, renter, VPP, auto, life, ect)
Marriage Certificate
Medical Information (immunizations list, list of known medical conditions for everyone in the house, doctor’s contact info, list of medications, veterinary information ect)
Medical history of close blood relatives (for doctor’s use if someone is incapacitated but not killed)
Mortgage Information
Most recent work contract/military orders/ect
Power of Attorney (general and specific allowing whomever you choose to close accounts for you or talk to banks)
Obituary Requests (where would you like it published, who should write it, ect)
Realtor Contact Number
Rental/Lease Agreement
School Information (contact numbers, school schedules, ect)
Social media accounts (including passwords and what you’d like done with your account)
Social security cards (copies or location where they are stored)
Stocks or Certificates
Vehicle titles
Vet Info For Pets
Will

What’s Ahead In 2017

If 2016 was the year I was busy behind-the-scene, 2017 is the year you get to finally see all those stories I’ve been teasing for the last twelve months. Big things are coming and I’m excited.

SPRING RELEASES
THE DARKNESS AND GOOD ANTHOLOGY – a collection short stories written by Amy Laurens and myself. Most of these stories were first published on the Darkness & Good blog. The stories in the anthology have been edited, and in some cases expanded.
BODIES IN MOTION – In war, Selena Caryll and Titan Sciarra were bitter enemies. Now that the fleet is grounded and fighting for survival these two find that the best future is the one the build together (if they don’t kill each other first). This is a SFR novella that kicks off the new Newton’s Law universe.

SUMMER RELEASES
FOUNDATION STONES – Captain Kamara of the King’s Guard would rather see the king’s nephews hang than consider any of them as a replacement for her aging, childless liege, but when one of them frames her for the murder of the king… well, the enemy of her enemy is a man she’ll at least plan a prison break with. This is a fantasy novel that will be serialized on the blog over the summer.

FALL RELEASES TBA

WINTER RELEASES
FOUNDATION STONES – After being serialized on the blog I’ll collect the chapters, run through one more edit taking into account any comments left by readers, and publish the ebook in winter 2017.

 

Where am I moving this summer??? I still have no clue. My husband’s contract up here is ending and the people we’re renting from want to sell the house in July, so one way or another, we need to move in June. We have applications in across the country (and a few overseas) but I honestly have no idea where I’ll be at the end of 2017.

When are you going to write that one book? From Even Villains 4 to questions about Prime Sensations (will Kaleb’s brother get his own story?) there have been a lot of questions about adding to existing series. EV4 is on the schedule for writing after the move, but a lot of what get published in the fall and early 2018 depends on things in the background that I’m not supposed to talk about yet. The sooner a book sale announcement is made, the sooner I have to go edit that hush-hush novel. Take that as you will.

The other major factor here is that, this fall, my youngest starts kindergarten (you have no idea how weepy and old I feel saying that). I won’t just be in a new city, but I’ll have a whole new schedule to work with, one that allows me to have interruption-free writing time (theoretically… we all know how Murphy’s Law works in these situations). I’m keeping my fall schedule open to possibility. We’ll see what happens, where I am, and what deadline have magically appeared before I make any promises.