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

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.

Mother of Teens: Talking (photo)Shop


I’m not ashamed to say I’m part of the Google Generation, a Millennial. My first home computer was a clunky laptop my father brought home from work when I was six, it had a word processor and chess. I played Oregon Trail at school and learned how to draw colorful circles with DOS commands. I had my first email address by 13 and ran unsupervised through the chat rooms as a teen. I never had MySpace, but I asked my now-husband out on our first date over AIM.

So it shouldn’t come as a huge shock that I’m pretty okay with my kids using tech. My youngest (who is almost 5) calls the hand-me-down computer in the living room the “kid’s TV” and can’t seem to tell the difference between a computer and a smart TV. To be honest, neither can I. They both run the internet, hook up to keyboards, and play games. We’re living in a technological world that is immersive and global, and that’s why I sat down with my kids this week to have The Talk.

No, not the “sex is a healthy thing but please wait until you can comfortably discuss birth control before getting naked” talk. I have four kids. You can’t lie about pregnancy that many times, not when your kids want details every five seconds. We discussed sex, birth control, penises, vaginas, and menstrual cycles already. The younger two will get that talk again, mostly because my son thinks having a period sounds great because he knows it involves getting a candy bar. I think the whole messy blood part might have gone over his head.

But, that’s for another time. This week we talked about the art of photo manipulation, aka Photoshop.

For all my internet savvy, I grew up kind of clueless about how the models in magazines looked so flawless. I wondered how they got their eyelashes so thick and long, and it wasn’t until my 20’s that I realized all these women I saw on TV and in ads were wearing tons of makeup, fake eyelashes, wigs or extensions, and often had digital retouching done to their photos. As a kid, that dinged my fragile self worth. I was borderline anorexic for years because I was terrified of being too fat to be pretty.

And this week a fabulous teaching tool came to my attention. Enter MEITU! This fabulous photo app is actually produced by a cellphone company in China whose phones feature high-def front-facing cameras perfect for taking selfies.

Guess who can’t take a selfie to save her life? THIS GIRL!

But I was bored and decided to download the Meitu app earlier this week so I could play with it. So, here’s me first thing in the morning. It’s -20 outside, I’m wearing my Jamaican Bobsled Team shirt, some leggings, and I haven’t had breakfast. I forced a smile, and then because I didn’t like it I went to Meitu’s editing feature and slimmed my face. I pulled my cheeks in, widened my tired eyes, and picked a filter that removes the blotchy redness from my skin.

But why stop there???

With a few changes I could be Kawaii as Hello Kitty!

Tip tap, and there I go! Big eyes, rosy cheeks, shiny highlights, and adorable little stickers!!! They even added a lip tint. Sure, it doesn’t actually look like me, but I’m adorable!

My kids notice when I’m not watching them like a hawk (or maybe they noticed me giggling like a maniac) so they flocked around.

“Mom, why do you look so weird?”

… cue the discussion of international views of beauty, Batman!

Meitu is designed with a Chinese aesthetic for beauty in mind. That means a skin whitening tool (when most North Americans would prefer a tan) and a an auto-feature that makes your chin pointed (because heart-shaped faces are preferred over round ones I guess???).

I took the kids pictures and let them go to town. They slimmed their already skinny faces. They widened eyes and added makeup (one of the tools gives you a perfect cat-eye). And we talked about how this is done. About why people change who they are online.

This is something kids need to know about before they hit their teens. You need to sit down, look at a magazine together, and point out where a digital artist changed the person to fit the needs of the ad. Talk about branding. Talk about aesthetics. Talk about beauty standards and why what you see in magazines, movies, or instagram is not real. Our kids are growing up in a world where everyone can present a false front. Where you can carefully curate your existence so people see only what you want to see.

If you don’t understand that the lives you see online are photoshopped, and you start comparing to them to your unfiltered reality, the risks for depression, self-harm, and eating disorders increase. I’ve walked down that road. I don’t want my kids to. So I tore down the curtain and let them see the digital magic happening.

Once you know the full range of the digital vanities that exist you become much happier. You realize that everyone’s beautifully imperfect. And, fun as these little apps are, what’s even better is being happy off of Instagram.

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.

The Ultimate NaNo Prep Post (good for the rest of the year too)

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This is the master post for everything I recommend to get you prepped for NaNoWriMo or a Fast Draft.

Remember, each author is unique and so is each book, so be sure to play with this and make it work for you. The way I think and the steps I follow might work for you, but it’s okay if they don’t.

ALL ABOUT FAST DRAFTING
How to Write 10k A Day by Rachel Bach
Magical Cookies Scenes by Susan Dennard
25 Ways To **** With Your Characters by Chuck Wendig (language is PG-13)
25 Ways To Write A Real Page Turner by Chuck Wendig
How To Write a Book In Three Days by Michael Morecock (a short book but still…)
The Master Fiction Plot by Lester Dent
5 Things Your Book Needs by Joss Whedon
A Deep POV by Wendy Sparrow
Can We Be Honest (Why do a fast draft at all?) by Liana Brooks

BEFORE YOU WRITE
Plotting Beat Sheet (get your villains and twists first!)
Finding A Blockbuster Plot by Graeme Shimmin

NaNoWriMo BOOT CAMP
Day 1: Establish a Baseline
Day 2: Finding a Plot
3: The Antagonist
Day 4: The Protagonist
Day 5: Motivation and Inspiration
Day 6: Set The Stage

THE EPIC PLOTTING SESSIONS (for fixing lost or broken plots and not letting them break in the first place)
Plotting Session 1: Structure
Plotting Session 2: Beat Sheets
Plotting Session 3: The Epic Plotting Video

THE DOWN AND DIRTY DETAILS
Write a First Chapter That Gets Read
Subplots And How To Write Them
How To Write Endings by C.S. Lakin

GENRE TIPS AND TRICKS (Romance)
Stages of Love: Lost and Rough-Hewn Spears
Stages of Love: Attraction and Rejection
Stages of Love: Commitment and Happily Ever After
Writing Realistic Relationships (the basics)


WHEN YOU FINALLY FINISH
Grande Finales by C.S. Lakin
Writing a Killer Logline by Graeme Shimmin
Query Examples
What To Do Before You Hire An Editor Or Write A Query

*I will add to the list as time goes by because just looking at this I can see what’s missing: world building, high concept pitches, queries… this barely scratches the surface! But it’s enough to get you started!

My Readers Really Are The Best

Back in June I released the first chapter of EVEN VILLAINS FALL IN LOVE in an intro anthology from the SFR Brigade titled PORTALS:Volume 4 (we’re up to 7 now I think). I didn’t really think much of it until this week while I was in a post-book shambles. I went to the SFR Brigade with my woes (what now? what next? how shall I go on?) and along with the usual encouragement author Carysa Locke sent me this…

I have a story for you, Liana Brooks! Yesterday, I had a new 5 star review post to one of my books. The reader said she tried to stop reading and go to sleep, ad literally could not put the book down and stayed up until 4:30am reading. 

After I hugged her words to my heart and basked in the warmth of a reader loving my book, I clicked on her name to see what else she had reviewed - I do this fairly often, because sometimes if someone is enjoying my books, *I* might enjoy reading other things they've liked. I noticed she also reviewed Portals: vol 4, which you and I are both in. She mentions you specifically as THE author that brought her to Portals, and talks about the high quality of the first chapters. She is apparently a huge fan of your books, Portals brought her to mine, and now (hopefully) she will be one of my readers, too! 

My thought on it is this: CLEARLY you have some awesome readers out there who love your writing. She said in one of her reviews that your new book was next up for her, and she sounded SO excited to read it! I bet she will post a review very soon. :)

portals-volume-4First: Hooray! I have a reader who leaves reviews! Reviews are the magic pixie dust of publishing.
Second: Hooray! The PORTALS books are working and readers are finding new authors to love.
Third: Hooray! Someone stayed up late reading a book! That’s awesome!

Stories like this are what authors love to share. I love knowing that one of my readers found another series of books they adore. I love knowing that my friend has a new reader for her series (Carysa is the pen name for an awesome writing duo & you should read their books).I love knowing that I have a loyal fan who had read all my books and is waiting for more.

Because, at the end of the day, knowing there’s a reader waiting is what pushes me to do more. If I were writing for myself, I wouldn’t be as good an author as I am. If I were writing only for myself, I wouldn’t ever try to improve.

Thank you, Readers, for being readers. Thank you for taking a chance and picking up my books. Thank you for leaving reviews. Thank you for being there so all of us writing a book have someone to write for.

<3
– Liana

This Post Needs A Cute Title

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Around August 16th every year I write a birthday post. Sometimes witty, ofttimes personal, but always there. This is that dreaded birthday post.

I’m trying hard to think of something that’s changed in the past year, but to be honest, I feel like life has been very stagnant. My past goals were very big and obvious: survive the move, get an agent, publish a novel. Now I’m coming up on the release of the third book in the Time and Shadows trilogy and I feel… detached I suppose?

Looking at the cover of DECOHERENCE I thought I’d feel something more. A sense of loss, or a sense of wonder, or a sense of accomplishment… but I looked at it and felt nothing, really. It’s a book. I write books. It’s what I do.

Other people go to the gym at 5am, or work in an office with a suit on, or fight fires, or fly planes… I write books.

Don’t get me wrong; DECOHERENCE is a good book. It’s possibly the best I’ve written (statistically, it is because an author gets better with each book they write). But I’m in that point of life where I’m not starting a new journey or hitting the peaks with the incredible views, I’m in the slog of it. One step after the other, slowly and steadily working towards a distant goal. I’ve started, I’ve made my choices, but I’m not seeing results just yet.

That’s why DECOHERENCE doesn’t feel like a final chapter: it isn’t. It’s the last book in the Time and Shadows series, but it isn’t the last book I’ll write, or publish, or love.

And maybe that’s why this birthday doesn’t feel so special. I’m in the grind right now. I get kids to school, and I write my books, and there’s no major shake ups or changes. Everything is fairly stable – which is wonderful! – but all my goals have been set and I’m on track.

So what does this year bring? Hard work. More hard work. Hustle and bustle and work.  It’s not glamorous, but neither is being 34. It’s not inspiring, but neither is 34. The hard work needs to get done, but it doesn’t get talked about, just like 34.

So, here’s to 34! The year of working hard, doing your best, and knowing that the best is just around the corner. 🙂

Go Ahead And Trash It

I’m a firm believer in wearing clothes you can trash. Everyone needs at least one set of super comfy clothes for lounging in all day while reading a book, and one set of clothes for trashing.

We call them Grubbies.

During the first week of summer break the first project of the year is the Grubbie Shirt. Usually white, the shirt gets painted or dyed to mark the start of summer, and then it gets trashes.

Every stain, rip, and paint splotch is a memory. Summer camp friends sign the shirt. Dogs drool on the shirt. The bison at the zoo try to eat the shirt. And it doesn’t matter because THAT IS WHAT THE GRUBBIE SHIRT IS FOR!

There’s a glorious freedom in knowing there is absolutely no way to ruin a grubby shirt. Everything done to the shirt makes it better. Because the point of a grubbie shirt isn’t to be pristine, it’s to be used. It’s a shirt that’s meant to be lived in.

You know what else is meant to be lived in? LIFE

We try to hide the truth with instagram filters and overly positive FaceBook posts, but the truth is, life is messy. We get scars. We get ripped. We get torn. We make mistakes and some of them will stick with us forever. But all this bumps and hiccups don’t take anything away from us; they add something. For better or worse, everyone is an accumulation of life experiences. The good and the bad.

The more you do, the more new things you try, the more life you experience… the more you grow as a person.

So read a book. Take a hike. Paint. Sing. Dream. Create.

Real life is messy, so go ahead and get dirty.