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.

A Look Back At 2016

January 1, 2017, marked my two-year anniversary in Alaska. I spent 2016 learning to drive on ice (and not die), dodging moose (without dying), and chasing whales (while avoiding death). There was a bit of a theme in 2016.

I only had one book published in 2016, DECOHERENCE, but there was a lot going on behind the scenes. Let’s look at the writing stats.

Total Words Written In 2016: 364,000
Total Words Edited In 2016: 1,266,000
Best Writing Month: April
Best Editing Month: September
Worst Writing Month: July
Worst Editing Month: October
Projects Finished: 1 (Decoherence)
Projects That Will Be Finished Q1 2017 – 2 (Free Fall, Bodies in Motion)

Conclusion: I survived the winter slump that crushed me in 2015, yay! But October is consistently bad for me. There’s always a crush of business things to do, and a lot going on with school and family. But, my word count is improving and if I wasn’t writing daily, I was writing consistently. Honestly, even though it wasn’t my most productive publishing year, I think it went well. My writing improved a lot over the year. I finally figured out how to write a High Concept Pitch. And I think I’ve set myself up for a very successful 2017!

So… how was 2016 for you? Did you survive, or are you only reading this post because your crypt has wifi?

 

 

A Different America

The flags were flying at half-mast today in the cold wind. Anchorage is a young town by most American standards, but it remembers Pearl Harbor all too well. There’s still remnants of the world war and the cold war laying around. Bunkers, and batteries, and old forts built into cliffs at sea.

Anchorage is also a diverse town. The schools here are the most diverse in the nation, boasting students fluent in over 99 different languages. So I suppose it wasn’t surprising that I was driving to meet a Japanese woman for lunch. Our kids are in preschool together, and we hadn’t planned on Pearl Harbor Anniversary lunch, this is the first Wednesday of the month and on the first Wednesday of the month we have brunch.

The cold wind brought a touch of snow as I pulled up to a little cafe that boasts organic, fair-trade coffee (a favorite of my friends) and reindeer sausage (a local favorite).

We weren’t there to discuss politics, but life. She asked about Thanksgiving and told me she’d never learned to make a turkey. They had sushi for Thanksgiving (I love sushi and told her to invite me next year). We talked about the kids, and how we get them to do chores, and how we’re teaching them to cook. Her boys make an excellent fried chicken, she tells me. I’ve never made fried chicken so we agree to exchange recipes: her Japanese fried chicken for my American turkey.

Seventy-five years ago this kind of exchange probably didn’t happen. I’d like to think that there was at least one sensible pair of friends who watched the news in grave horror together that day, but continued to be friends despite the war and their cultures. I hope they talked about home towns and New Years traditions like I did with my friend today.

Because I believe in a different America than the one shown in TV shows or described by political extremists who are scared of everyone who isn’t white enough.

I grew up in towns thriving on diversity and mixed heritages. I grew up playing with kids who had dark eyes and brown skin. We spoke the same language: Spanish. We loved the same food: anything Mexican. We shopped in the same town: Tijuana.

I moved to Chicago and found people of darker colors. And the pale blonde down the street with washed out blue eyes, she was Canadian. I fell somewhere in between, with sun-browned skin that stayed a shade browner than the white people’s in the winter, and fair hair than turned ever darker the longer I stayed away from the salty Pacific. The people in the Midwest ate strange foods – hamburgers, meatloaf, and peanut-butter-pickle sandwhiches- but there was a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant that made a decent horchata so it worked out. Here, English was the main language, but I heard Greek and Indian as well. My best friends were a Polish boy with too many constants in his last name, and a boy bused in from downtown Chicago. What did we have in common? Not much except a love of Calvin and Hobbes comics and Michael Crichton books (in 3rd grade… yes… we were THOSE kids).

All my life I’ve been surrounded by color. From pale white, nearly albino friends in my English class, to a friend so black they seemed to absorb light. They were unique individuals. Fascinating, fun, supportive, wonderful people. Our backgrounds didn’t matter.

The older I’ve gotten, the more people I’ve met, the more people I’ve met from outside America… and they’re all fantastic.

My Japanese friend and I spent 15 minutes debating the etymology of RURAL. Why? Because she was an English teacher before her husband’s job moved them to the states. She loves English literature and is happy to talk about books for hours. That’s what makes the USA so great… people from everywhere come together and share and become friends. We’re better because we’re different colors, come from different places, have different stories. That makes us special. That makes us strong.

Americas is great because it’s diverse. And a diverse America is the America I love.

I hope the next few years don’t destroy the America I love.

What are you working on?

I realized I haven’t done a Catch Up! post in a while and there are people starting to email me about when the next book is out. So, so you can budget out your book buying plans for 2017, here’s what I’m up to.

newtonscradle-lgBODIES IN MOTION
The first book in this new SFR novella series follows the life of fighter pilot Selena Caryll after the war. She’s an outsider, lost and alone in a hostile world where her only friend may be the man she once tried to kill. It’s enemies-to-lovers in a world of tech implants, resource wars, and betrayal.

Right now BODIES IN MOTION is on track for a late spring release (March – May 2-17). If you liked Prime Sensations from the SFR BRIGADE ANTHOLOGY, you’ll love this series. And, no, that isn’t the cover for Book 1, that’s the cover for Book 3. There will be a call for early readers and reviewers in February or March 2017, so keep your eyes open!

 

FREE FALL
My current NaNo novel is a space heist in the style of Firefly, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Leverage (because who doesn’t love Leverage?). The crew of the Free Fall have one job: steal the Crescent Diamond for a warlord before the warlord uses them for target practice. But when another thief gets there first, the crew turns to the mercenary Kila Tyler for help. The galaxy’s fastest talkers just met the galaxy’s best shot.

The first draft of this will be going to betas December 15th, and then it’s getting shopped. When I have news of a sale, I’ll let you know, but until then… *shrug* Just hope the little book makes waves!

 

FOUNDATION STONES
Next summer I’ll be moving, and at this point we’re planning to drive through Canada. I don’t know if you’ve had a chance to look at a map, but that’s a long drive and I’ll probably be way too distracted by Tim Horton’s donuts to blog. The solution is putting up a free story on the blog that will be published as an ebook in November of 2017. FOUNDATION STONES is an epic fantasy set in a world of gods, dragons, and flying ships. Captain Kamara of the Moslyon guard must save the city from the king’s murderer, and her goddess orders her to protect a grumpy warrior named Tariq as she goes on the run.

FOUNDATION STONES is going to betas in March and may still be a little rough when it hits the blog. There will be an email address for you to send notes about typos, plot development, ect, and then it will be released in Winter 2017 after a final edit. On that note, if you spot a fabulous fantasy cover with a pair of black, sword-wielding warriors on it, let me know ASAP because I am having trouble finding an artist for this project. It isn’t Earth-based, but it also isn’t a predominantly white cast (because why should every fantasy in some made-up country have only white people?). I have several epic rants about finding black models for cover art, and the problem with all-white epic fantasy, and if you follow me on Twitter you’ve already seen those.

EVEN VILLAINS DANCE IN THE RAIN
Heroes & Villains 4… you have been so patient. Various set backs, from Breathless Press closing to tight production schedules for DECOHERENCE, have kept this one on the back burner. The trick here is bringing this series back without losing anything the fans loved, but keeping it relevant and in line with all the writing I’ve done since the series started. There are three more books to finish this series, and I want to finish it. Right now, the plan is to write this next summer while FREE FALL is being shopped and between BODIES IN MOTION and Book 2 in that series.

I’ll be looking for early readers, sensitivity readers, and reviewers in September or October. If that sounds like something you want to do, make sure you’re signed up for the monthly newsletter so you can hear about these opportunities early.

 

NaNoWriMo Is Here

brace-yourself

 

So, you might have noticed there was a flurry of blogging last weekend and this sudden radio silence once November hit. That’s because I’m actually doing NaNoWriMo this year. Not casually, like I have for several years, but actually trying to finish a 75,000 word novel before December 1st so I can hand it off to my crit partner in December.

And it’s volleyball season. And it’s honor choir season. And it’s school play season. And it’s actual winter in Alaska season. And I am one very busy human being.

I’m trying to write 3,000 words per day (and failing miserably by the way… it’s 10:30pm Friday evening and my word count for the day is 300, so…), and I’m juggling that with parenting life, offline work life, and some background publishing things that I can’t talk about yet (which is pretty standard honestly). There are a lot of things going on and the blog isn’t a priority right now.

The blog should be. I know many of you check in daily. But… right now I’m boring! I’m writing a book that I can’t say much about just yet, my garden is dead so I have no pretty flowers to photograph, and snow has all turned to deadly black ice and you really don’t need those nightmares. Usually I take a winter hiatus sometime in December, but this year the blog is going on winter hours for November as well. That means one to two posts a week instead of four or five. And I will probably take Thanksgiving week off… or post a bunch of recipes. I haven’t decided yet.

Thank you for checking in on me this week. Several people sent me pictures of them with their print copies of DECOHERENCE, and several of you have found me on the NaNoWriMo website. I love seeing your books. I love seeing you with pictures of my books. Winter is a season for rest, renewal, and coziness. I hope all of you take a deep breath, read (or write!) the book you’v been waiting for, and have a lovely November!

I’ll talk to you soon.

<3
– Liana