Friday, April 30, 2010

Birthday Special!

Special thanks to Aimee Weinstein for this guest blog on my birthday so I don't have to write late! And it sounds sooooooo delicious!!!

Did you know that it’s Trish’s birthday today? It is – today, April 30th. I’m not telling how old she is – but she’s YOUNG! Especially compared to me. Today also happens to be my husband Marc’s birthday and every year he makes the same birthday dinner request. So in honor of Trish’s birthday, I thought I’d share the process, especially since I can’t make the dinner for Trish myself because I live in Tokyo!

Ingredients:
30 or so jumbo shrimp – prawns to be exact. Get them as big as possible! (Note from Trish: Below gives serving of 3-4 shrimp per person. Aimee throws the most fantastic parties, but if you're doing a much smaller gathering, plan accordingly. :) )
1 cup to a cup and a half of panko spread on a plate
a few eggs – beaten in a large bowl
oil
Italian red sauce – on the thin side, not too chunky
mozzarella cheese

The hard part of this procedure is peeling and de-veining the shrimp. The peels often come off in whole pieces if the shrimp are large enough, but not always. Then you have to take each shrimp and cut it in half lengthwise as evenly as possible – but DO NOT cut it all the way through. Butterfly it – cut it so it opens up and flattens out into one big piece. There is usually a big, dark vein that runs the length of the middle of the shrimp that must be removed as gently as possible to preserve the shape of the shrimp.

Heat oil in a large frying pan – but not too hot or you’ll burn the shrimp

Dip then dip each butterflied, de-veined shrimp into egg, then the panko. Some people repeat the process and double-bread it, but I do not. I like the shrimp taste too much to do it that way.

Lay the breaded shrimp in the oil in the pan and fast-fry them so the outside is golden brown, turning once.

After you take the shrimp out of the pan, lay it on a baking sheet sprayed with non-stick spray. Slather each shrimp with sauce and mozzarella cheese. Bake until the cheese melts, 5 or 6 minutes.

I serve the shrimp over or beside pasta, making a full plate for each person. In general, each person eats 3-4 shrimp. It’s a filling enterprise.

This is the dinner that Marc requests every year. I make it only once a year because it is not difficult, but time consuming. But for everything that he does for me over the year, it’s the least I can do for him on his special day.

Someday I hope to do it for Trish too! (That would be sooooo fabulous!!) Happiest of Happy Days, Trish! (Thank you, Aimee! HUGS!! Please check out Aimee's blog at tokyowriter.wordpress.com)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Introducing the DragonWriters Blog!

A good writing group can mean all the difference in a single writer's career.

dragon writers logo

I've mentioned writing groups before and what makes a good writing group… and I cannot find the link to that post. But trust me, I did!

In any case, my first professional writing group was the DragonWriters, who I met at the 2002 Dragon*Con in Atlanta, Georgia. The group of us all signed up for A. C. Crispin's writing workshop, which started a day earlier than the convention.

Since then, many of the members of our group have stayed in contact and even when some of us (like me) slip up on our critiquing returns, we do still support each other through email and instant messaging. We not only push each other to do our best, but we're also each others fans - and that is a rare balance to strike.

In addition to our special chemistry, we've also got a good mix of writers at different levels. There's a novel published, along with many short stories, and countless non-fiction pieces… and many blogs.

Oh… you want to find out more about these great reading items?

Come visit our blog!

www.dragon-writers.com

Monday, April 26, 2010

More April Adventures

OMG - is the month REALLY almost over?

Is it REALLY almost my birthday???

Didn't I just write my first April post… wow… that long ago?

Add the cliché at your own risk.

In any case:

News!

We haz podcast!!

http://broaduniverse.posterous.com/

or

http://broadpod.podbean.com/

The actual screwing around on Audacity continues to get easier with the occasional glitch of half of someone's reading going silent for no apparent reason - but was easily fixed by pasting the original over the messed-up part.

Even the time it took to figure out how to get the files smaller (with Scott's help), was easier.

Then… Podbean's server crashed.

Yes! Just my luck!

Sooooo… I moved onto Posterous, which was recommended to me from Kim Vandervort, from a friend of hers. It lets me continue my lazy addiction to doing just about EVERYTHING from my email account, and that makes me happy.

So does the 1 gig of storage space.

And then Podbean was up and running, so I reposted all the even-more-compressed files there.

Fingers totally crossed that the new site doesn't go the way of mypodcast.com and get overloaded by people wanting to use it and failing! (At least I know Podbean's been around for a while and… if push comes to shove, I may bite the bullet and ask BU to fund it for better storage space, but I'm hoping to keep this an endeavor that doesn't cost the organization anything.

In the meantime - go enjoy some fabulous fiction!

(And, because I was so busy on this compressing and stuff, stop back at the Broad Universe website and give us a donation if you like it!)

xx

This week, I'm reading poetry at the Jacob Edwards Library on April 29th (the day before my birthday!). There will be a bunch of local poets - so please come by and show your support.

I'll be reading from The Unicorn & the Old Woman… and other Poems, along with the poem that will be published in Poetry Locksmith this May!

xx

The DragonWriters, my very first writing group and a bunch of amazing writers and artists, FINALLY has our own blog! We're still working out a posting schedule, but please check us out here:

http://www.dragon-writers.com/

xx

It's 2:30 now… Can I post my blogs, have completed podcasting updates, done a food review... AND HAD A REALLY PRODUCTIVE DAY … before 3:AM???

See my answer on Twitter!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Assignment Leftovers: Aaaahhh-Almonds

As I regularly write about food, not all the really cool information I gather gets put into the articles, so I figure, why not share it with you? This installment of Assignment Leftovers comes from several articles I've done for trade magazines regarding nuts.

I love almonds!

Ok… full disclosure: For the most recent article, I did get samples of the new snacking California Almonds from Mariani Nut Company and have been using them since - which inspired me to write this article.




But, I've loved almonds for longer than I've been writing about food professionally.

Why?

They taste good. I loved almonds in candy, first, and then in trail mix, and then in savory dishes - like korma and some Thai dishes. When I first covered almonds as an export product in 2006, I had a few companies send me snacking almonds. Also most excellent!

In any case, I learned that almonds are also ridiculously healthy - the healthiest tree nut you can eat, actually. They have a shelf life of up to 2 years because of all the antioxidants in them, which make them great for your heart. Almonds also provide calcium, niacin, vitamin E, riboflavin, and iron. Additionally, they are an excellent source of fiber and protein.

Also, for you local-vores, California is the best place to get almonds. In fact, the one state provides for 80% of the world's almond consumption!

You can look up more nifty health facts at www.almondboard.com, which is the website for the California Almond Board.

Almonds make a great snack to grab for any dieter because they are filling and low in saturated fat. They are also a great ingredient in all sorts of dishes… and since I am attempting to eat healthier (and exercise more), yet still quite a dessert and snack fiend, I was extra pleased with the arrival of more almonds.

In fact, I used them for dessert tonight. Here's my healthy dessert:

1 handful of the Mariani All Natural Almonds
1 handful of Kashi cereal
1 container of Chobani honey-flavored Greek Yogurt
1 tbsp rice milk or soy milk
4 strawberries

Hardware:

2 sundae glasses

Crush up the almonds, add the cereal, crush some more.
Dollop a small bit of yogurt in the bottom of each sundae glass
Add a little less than a quarter of the crushed nut and cereal mix atop the yogurt, split the tablespoon of rice or soy milk over that. (All the Kashi cereals really need some extra liquid, and the Greek yogurt is a little too dense/thick to soften the cereal).
Split half of the remaining yogurt between the two cups, covering the cereal.
Slice one strawberry into each sundae cup (preferably the larger two strawberries.
Split the remaining crushed nut and cereal mix atop the strawberries.
Split the remaining yogurt atop the cereal
Quarter the other two strawberries and arrange them on top of the yogurt with a single whole almond.
If you've got crumbs of the cereal left, sprinkle those over the top.

Serving tip: Prepare at least an hour before you plan on eating so the cereal can soak up any liquid and soften.

Enjoy!


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A Thousand Little To-Dos

I know I'm not alone in this problem…

I totally overbook myself.

This is a constant challenge for most of us over-achiever, workaholics who love to write, aim high… and spend a good part of our lives living in fantastic fantasy worlds we've created.

In fact, much like the realm of Faerie (or Narnia or The Dreaming or any other fantastical land you might know), time passes differently when navigating between those worlds. This strange kind of time dilation, along with certain healthy god or goddess complexes many of us have, makes it difficult to organize our time.

Really difficult.

I start doing laundry or dishes, which requires next to no conscious thought, and let my mind wander to whatever world or story I'm plugging away on. In my awareness, the chore takes maybe 10 or 15 minutes tops, so I'm entirely stunned (after sorting 4-5 loads of laundry and starting the first load of the day) that about half an hour has passed. Same for an overflowing sink of dishes… which requires the dishwasher to be emptied first. Forty minutes? An hour? Really? Crap! With just those two chores alone, I've lost half an hour of more of the time I thought I'd have today.

(And don't even get me started on the friggen Wii Fit which takes no less than 45 minutes to accomplish 30 minutes of logged exercise - not counting the whole rearranging of the living room that must be done first!)

I know I can type at speeds of 80-100 words per minute, so a 1000 word blog post (my average), including research… aah, that should take me - what, an hour, hour and a half? Two or three hours later I'm fighting with LiveJournal, Blogger, and Twitter to finally post and promote said blog post…

We won't even get into days where we have scheduled out-of-house errands or, worse yet, emergencies come up that require our immediate attention for the next 20 minutes that really takes 90 minutes… (Such things tend to occur a few times a month for me).

We can try to multi-task, and to an extent, we can effectively schedule (accomplish stuff between loads of laundry/dishes), but as my friend Kelly Harmon noted in her guest blog post for Rowena Cherry, we can only multi-task so far (and it's not that far) before our quality and productivity actually goes down!

The real trick, I think, is to give ourselves realistic expectations of how much time we spend on various projects and chores. It's far too easy to minimize how much time we will spend on stuff - like laundry, dishes, blog posts, email (one of the WORST time suck offenders!).

So, this is my plan… barring further "emergencies" this week:

Time myself doing chores.

I do dishes every day. I seriously need to look at a clock before I start, write down the time, and then look again when I'm done, and write down the time. Same with laundry - which I also need to break down into "initial sorting and first load" and "changeover from washer to dryer" and "hanging and hamper sortage."

I know I need to give myself 2 hours for a blog post (I'm 49 minutes into it as I write now), or 3 for one with a lot of links and research. (Today is mainly shooting from the hip and hoping it's useful to y'all.) I need to record this time. And when I make my to-do list, I need to give myself time slots for each thing.

Why?

Because:
If I've got 5 hours of scheduled tutoring, I need to give myself 6 hours = 6 hours
If I've got dishes, I need to allow myself 40 min. (pending actual time) = 40 minutes
If I'm starting laundry, 40 minutes to sort (pending actual time) = 40 minutes
20 minutes for a changeover (pending act. time) = 20 minutes
20 minutes for hanging/hamper sorting (pend.) = 20 minutes
I average 4 loads of laundry a week… or 2- 3 in one day… = 80 minutes
If I've got dinner, it's really an hour average for all prep work = 1 hour
Email… I average 200 emails a day. If I average 1 min/email = 3 hours

That is 12 hours!

Look at that again: Twelve hours!

I might condense that down to maybe 10 hours because I can respond to any emails related to tutoring while on the tutoring clock.

But really, TEN FREAKING HOURS.

I don’t tutor every day… some days it's 3 hours, not 5 (or 4 as opposed to 6)… but that gets me down to 8 hours.

Wednesdays and Fridays, I don't cook. Thursday, my mother-in-law cleans for me and by then, laundry is done… so that cuts off some time. Friday, I don't have scheduled tutoring hours. I need to document this time and use it wisely!

My little chart didn't even include paid articles that require interviews and research, editing projects… stuff I get paid for. With deadlines. And it doesn't include blogging or errands (post office, grocery shopping, doctors' appointments, renewing my bloody registration, car repairs!), volunteering, exercise…

Can you see what else it doesn't include?

Writing. Fiction.

Fiction writing. Fiction editing. Fiction writing groups. Submitting fiction. Writing query letters. Writing synopses. Promoting fiction. Promoting myself as a fiction writer.

The stuff I WANT to do! (Yes, even the query writing).

Mind you, I am "writing from the hip" now… so I hope this has been as eye-opening for you as it has for me.

What do you need to do to properly balance your thousand-or-so little projects so you can fit in your dreams? How can you or how do you battle the time dilation or faerie time in your life?

I could really use some help here…

(And… 1 hour 16 minutes to write the blog post, not proofread or post.)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Broad Universe Blog Out: KS Augustin


The last fantastic woman I get to interview in the Broad Universe Blog Out is KS Augustin, a Malaysian-born writer of science-fiction, romance, and permutations of the two. She also dabbles in fantasy and contemporary action romances from time to time. She has been nominated for a CAPA award and has been a Spectrum award finalist. She has visited, lived or worked in the UK, North America, Australia, and has now settled back in south-east Asia so she and her husband can draw breath and the kids can manage to get some education in. Also travelling with them, with species-appropriate passports, are their two fur-shedding cats, Fluff and Squeak, and their irrepressible miniature bull terrier, Sausage.


Kaz, please, tell us about your writing. What genre do you prefer to write? What books, stories, other publications that you've written are your personal favorites? Anything new coming up?

My first love was, and still is, science-fiction. I tend to read right across the genre from social SF to hard to slipstream, although my favourite is space opera, so I suppose it isn't any surprise that I tend to write space opera romance the most. While I love a good space battle as much as the next geek girl, I always thought that a bit more characterisation and interpersonal dynamics in my favourite novels would go a long way, which explains why I add romance to the mix.

I'm sure someone has already said that wherever you go, you always take yourself with you, so why would it be any different in the future or in another galaxy? You always take yourself with you--brain, heart, wishes, regrets, yearnings. Everything else is an extension of yourself, and engagement (whether positive or negative) is when an extension of one person or group meets an extension of another. Technology is merely one channel through which such engagement can play out, but it's not the only one.

And indeed, I do have something new coming out. Carina Press is the new digital-first imprint of Harlequin Enterprises and I am extremely pleased to have a novel of mine as part of their June launch. ENEMY HANDS is a hard SF romance that covers stellar mechanics, politics, a bit of pharmacology and--of course!--romance between a brilliant physicist and the savant she falls in love with. I hope there's something there for everyone, but we'll see.


What writers inspired you to become an author?

I still clearly remember reading "A Martian Odyssey" by Stanley Weinbaum as a child, and being mesmerised by it. Henry Kuttner, Isaac Asimov, Harry Harrison, Ray Bradbury, EE 'Doc' Smith, Eric Frank Russell, they were all wonderful and still are. I got made fun of at school for reading a book entitled "The Stainless Steel Rat Saves the World". Female high-school students didn't read books with such titles, but it didn't worry me too much. *That* place was where I wanted to be--ravening beams of destruction, conflicts in the oceans of Venus, high-jinks across the galaxy, interstellar puns. Why would I want to be in school where people made fun of me because I wore glasses and had different-coloured skin? I think science-fiction saved my sanity then, and I'm forever grateful to it for doing so.



What about you as a person? What do you do to relax? Favorite movies or TV shows? Hobbies?

I mostly read to relax. And I also love kite-flying. To me, there's nothing quite so exhilarating as harnessing something you have no control over (the wind) to make something you do (the kite) do what you want it to do.

I also cook. I love cooking, I adore cooking, although I don't have enough time to do much of it. In our library at home, we must have at least 200 cookbooks and I sit down and read through them in much the same way as I read a novel, from start to finish. I find it exceedingly relaxing. And it helps that my husband and children are happy to act as my guinea pigs.


What gets your creative juices going? Do you write to music, and do you want to share your playlist?

I think I'm in the minority on this one, in that I tend to appreciate silence, but I also think that's a holdover from my martial arts days. You can't be aware of what's happening around you if there's music blaring out of several loudspeakers and writing, by itself, is distracting enough. If you're talking musical tastes, then I listen to everything, from opera to techno. However, there is one sub-genre I never, ever listen to and that's Country & Western. I just can't get into it.


"All writers must have cats, especially if they write fantasy or speculative fiction." Do you have a stand on this one? Any cute pictures of your kitty or other pet?

Ah yes, I think cats are favoured because they're lower maintenance than dogs. We have both: two cats called Fluff and Squeak and a mini bull-terrier called Sausage. Each type of animal has its own characteristics that make it quite lovable. I occasionally have updates on our pets in my blog but not often enough, or so I've been told.


What organizations do you recommend for those wanting to become writers? Any advice you'd like to share about writing?

There are lots of organisations around for aspiring writers, and they even span national boundaries. The constraining factor is that you have to have access to an Internet connection in order to fully leverage the information and resources out there. To be honest, I may not be the best person to ask about such things. I sold my first novella in almost complete isolation in 2006. It was only after we left the USA that I discovered thriving writer communities in and around San Francisco. And it was only after we left Australia that I discovered the same about speculative fiction writers in Australia. I'm sure the same thing will play out after we leave Malaysia. I always tend to be behind the curve like that!

Having said that, the best advice I can share about writing is that, if you want to make a living at it, it's not enough to be JUST a writer. You have to be able to run your own small business, and that means self-discipline, multi-tasking, organisation and planning skills, and so on. And you have to realise that there's always something out there you need to know that you haven't learnt about already.


Any special appearances or events coming up that you want to mention?

It's difficult being a writer living literally on the other side of the world to North America. I often feel that I'm missing out on lots of opportunities to connect with potential readers. But still, with the interconnectedness of most of the world today, the situation is a lot better than it used to be.

For the latest news, best to read my blog, and I'm always available via email at ks [at] ksaugustin [dot] com.


How else can we find you, Kaz?

My website is http://www.ksaugustin.com And I have an opinionated blog, called "Fusion Despatches", at http://blog.ksaugustin.com where, quite unfashionably, I tend to discuss politics ... but that's only because I love the topic so much! Given enough time, I'm sure my blog will end up offending pretty much everyone in the world, so you've been warned.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Broad Universe Blog Out: Pauline Baird Jones


Welcome to the fifth day of the Broad Universe Blog Out, where it's my honor to introduce you to Pauline Baird Jones. She is the award-winning author of nine novels of science fiction romance, Steampunk, action-adventure, suspense, romantic suspense and comedy-mystery. She's written two non-fiction books, Adapting Your Novel for Film and Made-up Mayhem, and she co-wrote Managing Your Book Writing Business with Jamie Engle. Her seventh novel, Out of Time, an action-adventure romance set in World War II, is an EPPIE 2007 winner. Her eighth novel, The Key won an Independent Book Award Bronze Medal (IPPY) for 2008 and is a 2007 Dream Realm Awards Winner. She also has short stories in several anthologies. Originally from Wyoming, she and her family moved from New Orleans to Texas before Katrina.


Pauline, tell us about your writing - What genre do you prefer to write? What books, stories, other publications that you've written are your personal favorites? Anything new coming up?

I started out writing contemporary romantic suspense, but have been moving persistently into action/adventure type romances for years. I committed to paranormal AA when I wrote OUT OF TIME, a WWII time travel, then headed into space with THE KEY. For now I’m solidly into science fiction romance, with a fillip of Steampunk romance for fun. I’ve also recently had some short stories published in a variety of anthologies.

I’m a “love the book I’m writing” kind of girl, though I have to say, I’m really feeling the SFR love. It’s just a heck of a lot of fun to write about space travel, to break the bounds of gravity and head for distant galaxies. I’m hugely excited about my April release: GIRL GONE NOVA, a follow-on to THE KEY (though both books can be read stand alone).

I had so much fun writing Doc, my kick-butt genius heroine. And my hero is a redeemed, semi-bad guy from THE KEY. I did NOT plan that. He wouldn’t leave me alone until I gave him a girl to love. What’s an author to do?


What writers inspired you to become an author?

Georgette Heyer. Mary Stewart. Elizabeth Cadell. Helen McInnes. Alastair Maclean. Each of these authors delighted me when I found them and taught me important things about what needed to be in my novels.


What about you as a person? What do you do to relax? Favorite movies or tv shows? Hobbies?

Well, obviously I read, but I also like TV and movies. My current favorite shows are: HUMAN TARGET, LEVERAGE, BIG BANG THEORY and NCIS. I also like to mix a bit of reality tv into my viewing. Favs are TOP CHEF and DANCING WITH THE STARS.


What gets your creative juices going? Do you write to music, and do you want to share your playlist?

I do use playlists to gin up the creative juices. I create one for each book, because my characters have different tastes. The songs tend to filter into the book, so I have to go in and remove them when I edit, because you can’t use songs without proper permissions. I did post playlists for my last two books. Back when I wrote earlier books, I had to create my own music mixes. Wow, does that date me.


"All writers must have cats, especially if they write fantasy or speculative fiction." Do you have a stand on this one? Any cute pictures of your kitty or other pet?

We do have a cat, though technically he belongs to my son and loves only him. Me he tolerates because I feed him (and my son is now at college). He is quirky and demanding. Only likes fresh water, but won’t drink from a pet fountain. Can tell time (DST messes him up more than it messes me up!). And can whine like nobody’s business when I don’t do what he wants, when he wants it. He is bitter and suspicious, which helps us get along when the son’s not around.


Any advice you'd want to share about writing?

The advice I always give is: reject rejection. There will always be people who will tell you that you can’t, or what you shouldn’t do or how you shouldn’t do it, but this is a business littered with people who went over and around barriers to get where they wanted to do go (legally, of course!). DO YOUR RESEARCH. KNOW WHAT YOU’RE GETTING INTO, and you’ll like it better.


Are there any special appearances or events coming up that you want to mention?

I’ll be running release contests to celebrate GIRL GONE NOVA debuting in print and e. I have a contest page on my website, so check back often to see what’s going on! http://www.perilouspauline.com/


Here are more ways to find out about and meet Pauline:

http://www.perilouspauline.com/
http://twitter.com/paulinejones
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Pauline-Baird-Jones/
http://perilouslyyours.blogspot.com/
http://www.myspace.com/perilouspauline
http://worldsapage.blogspot.com/

And get this, for one lucky person who comments on the blogs for the Broad Universe Blog Out, Pauline will randomly pick someone to receive either a digital or print copy of A TEXAS BOX OF CHOCOLATES anthology!

So, leave Pauline or Trish a comment!

Broad Universe Blog Out: Tracy S. Morris


Tracy S. Morris is the next beautiful Broad I get to introduce you to in this Great Broad Universe Blog-Out! I had the opportunity to meet Tracy in person at Dragon*Con last year, where I heard her hilarious reading from Bride of Tranquility. I was so happy to hear a piece of it again when she sent me her recording for the Broad Universe Broad Pod of Romance. You have to listen just for the "reedeeculous Frainch acceaint" - seriously! (Just make sure you are not drinking anything over your keyboard.)

Tracy, please, tell us about your writing! What genre do you prefer to write? What books, stories, other publications that you've written are your personal favorites? Anything new coming up?

Mostly I write urban fantasy. Or more accurately, rural fantasy since the settings are generally towns in the Ozarks with smaller populations. My best known work is the Tranquility series, which is sort of what you would get if Jeff Foxworthy wrote the X-Files and set every episode in the town of Cicely, Alaska. The second book in the series, Bride of Tranquility, just received an honorable mention for the Darrell Award.

My tendency is to write offbeat, satirical genre stories.

In June, one of my short stories will be released in the Yard Dog press Rednecks vs. Zombies anthology, A Stitch in Time Saves None. This is the 5th anthology set within the Bubbas of the Apocalypse shared universe.


What inspired you to become an author?

I was a huge reader before I ever wrote, but I made the decision to write when I was about 12 years old. I can't remember just what it was that I read at the time, but I put the book down thinking that I would love to write like that and put out books and short stories.


What about you as a person? What do you do to relax? Favorite movies or tv shows? Hobbies?

I actually spend a lot of time in front of the computer. My day job involves writing content for websites. I write a lot of how-to articles, travel articles and gardening articles. No surprise that my hobbies include photography, travel and gardening. Things that I can get dirty doing, as opposed to sitting in front of a computer. If I have down time, I try to read for fun.


What gets your creative juices going? Do you write to a music, and do you want to share your playlist?

I don't write to music because it's distracting. Stirring music makes me want to jump up, run around the house, choreograph the next fight scent that I am going to write, etc. I actually carry a journal and pen with me everywhere so that I can write when the inspiration strikes. Usually it strikes when I have to be in a meeting and I'm daydreaming, so at least I can look like I'm taking notes.


"All writers must have cats, especially if they write fantasy or speculative fiction." Do you have a stand on this one? Any cute pictures of your kitty or other pet?

I'm not a cat person. I've got two Shiba Inu puppies that my husband and I adopted. They keep me company while I'm writing. Mostly they lay around getting fat. Occasionally when the mood strikes me to get in shape they will take a run with me. Dogs have friends. Cats have staff.

I used to have three ferrets, which are the inspiration behind the ferrets in my detective novels. They're partially a tip of the hat to all the great pet mysteries out there. The thing with ferrets is that they're not really focused animals. So while dog and cat detectives might help their owners out, a ferret will be off sleeping in your sock drawer or hiding your keys.


What organizations do you recommend for those wanting to become writers? Any advice you'd like to share about writing?

Writing is a process of collecting rejection letters. Don't get discouraged, because rejection is a part of it. Today was a good example for me. I checked the mailbox and found a certificate for an Honorable Mention award that I was recently given by Writers of the Future tucked in next to a rejection letter from a major publisher.

I would also suggest finding a good (emphasis on good) writing group. That kind of mentorship is invaluable to your growth as a writer. If your writers group is not helpful, or if it's just stroking your ego, it's time to move on.


Any special appearances or events coming up that you want to mention?

I will be at ConQuest in Kansas City on May 28-30, and then Soonercon in Oklahoma City June 4-6. Soonercon is helping my publisher, Yard Dog Press celebrate their 15th anniversary. They will be releasing their anthology A Stitch in Time Saves None at the convention.


How can we find out more about you, Tracy?

The best way is through my website: http://www.tracysmorris.com/
All my other accounts including, facebook, twitter, livejournal link through that.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Broad Universe Blog Out: Brenna Lyons








For our third installment of the Great Broad Universe Blog Out, I'm honored to introduce y'all to Brenna Lyons! Brenna Lyons wears many hats, sometimes all on the same day: former president of EPIC (Electronically Published Internet Connection), author of more than 80 published works, teacher, wife, mother...member of ERWA (Erotic Readers and Writers Association), MWW (Mike's Writing Workshop), IWOFA (Infinite Worlds of Fantasy Authors), MFRW (Marketing for Romance Writers), WPM (Write! Publish! Market!), AWaY (Authors Without a Yacht), and Broad Universe. In Brenna’s seven years published in novel-length, she's won two of EPIC's e-Book Awards and has finaled for 11. She's finaled for 3 PEARLS (including one honorable mention, second to Angela Knight), 2 CAPAs (Cupid and Psyche Awards), and a Dream Realm Award. The NOBODY anthology of dark fiction she's included in won Spinetingler's (UK) Book of the Year for 2007.



She writes in 21 established worlds plus stand-alones, poetry, articles, and essays. She's a bestseller in indie/e fantasy, horror, and erom. Brenna has been termed "one of the most deviant erotic minds in the publishing world...not for the weak." (Rachelle for Fallen Angels Reviews) Milieu-heavy dark work is practically Brenna's calling card, with or without the erotic content.



Even with all that amazing stuff going on, she sits down for a chat with us!

Brenna, what brought you to Broad Universe, and what do you like best about the organization?



Friends that were members highly suggested I join it, and once I became a member myself, I could see why. What do I like best? Broad Universe is focused on women in the industry. That means I see calls just for women and calls for sites that accept more evenly from both men and women. It means the promo they do focuses on women in writing. Oh…I have to mention one more thing. I adore the submission drives we have; they give me a kick in the backside to finish and submit anything I have languishing and close to done.

What do you feel is the greatest challenge and the greatest asset of being a woman author?
The greatest challenge would be editors that still hold onto the old biases that only men can (and in some cases SHOULD) write spec fic. The greatest asset? With a few rare exceptions, I think women write better, more realistic characters. Innate empathy, perhaps? Men and women both write excellent fantasy and science fiction worlds, but the characterization is there for women writers.

What writers inspired you to become an author?



Any I’ve read, in my lifetime. That said, I think all beginning writers have a couple of authors they emulate, before their own voices form fully. Mine were Stephen King and David and Leigh Eddings…and perhaps Piers Anthony. As I got older, some other voices crowed in there: James Morrow, Robert Heinlein, Joan Vinge, John Varley, and many more.



As for the “push” to become a writer, that largely came from inside. Encouragement to enter contests and submit came from my very early English teachers. Starting at about age 11, my teachers insisted on me entering anything they found for me. One even took my work to a local newspaper without telling me and suggested they publish me. When I moved from articles, essays, and short stories to writing novels, there was no question I would publish. I’d been published in recognized venues since I was 13.

Tell us about your writing - What genre do you prefer to write? What books, stories, other publications that you've written are your personal favorites? Anything new coming up?



I am a spec fic writer first and then romance or erotic romance, if it’s a cross-genre book. Even if the book is balanced 50/50 science fiction, paranormal, fantasy, or horror with romance/erom, the mood and usually the opening of the book will show that I view writing that way. People that want sunshine and roses probably aren’t looking for my books. People that like urban fantasy, grit, dark… I’m for you.



My favorites change from day to day, depending on my mood. Usually, the favorites will either be Kegin/Kielan/Wolkin (my three Council of Worlds series), Night Warriors, Renegades, or Xxan. Those worlds, out of the 21 I write, are the ones that stick with me most, which may be why I write so much in them.



I always have new things coming up. Before this interview posts, I will likely have re-releases of the first two books in my Star Mages series: WRITTEN IN THE STARS (fantasy sensual romance from Mundania) and THE MASTER’S LOVER (a M/M…my only M/M, at the moment…fantasy erom from the Phaze side of the company). My next scheduled release is in May. It’s the first in a new series (Fire and Ice) titled MAGMON’S HUNGER, coming from Phaze. I have at least three more anticipated releases after that in 2010, which include the first of yet another new series (Angel-Wing Saga) from Phaze (SONS OF HEAVEN: BELDON), the next Night Warrior series book from Phaze (HUNTER’S MOON), and the next Kielan from Logical Lust (ANOTHER MAN’S MATE). Additionally, I’d like to get the next Xxan series story out with LooseId before the end of 2010 (MATING SEASON). All of the above is in addition to the seven releases I’ve had already this year. And yes…we’re still in March.




"All writers must have cats, especially if they write fantasy or speculative fiction." Do you have a stand on this one? Any cute pictures of your kitty or other pet?




My house is the veritable animal farm. It’s a good thing it’s a huge old 1901 or so home. At the moment we enjoy (and sometimes curse) three large dogs, five cats (well…three cats and two kittens, to be precise), two leopard geckos, and three hermit crabs. That’s what you get when you have three kids, one of which is training to be a vet. I fully agree that most authors have an affinity for animals. I’ll share some favorite pics of my fuzzy writing helpers…uh…hinderers.

What organizations do you recommend for those wanting to become writers? Any advice you'd like to share about writing?

There are a lot of great Yahoogroups out there I’d suggest. Among them:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/AvoidWritersHellChatters/
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/EPIC-eWorkshopoo.com/group/EPIC-eWorkshop
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/mikeswritingworkshop
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/PNWriters
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/writepublishmarket

If you’re writing erotic, I highly suggest joining the mailing lists that ERWA maintains.
http://www.erotica-readers.com/

Once you’re published, you can remain a member of all of the above. There are a whole bunch more that you can join then, including:
http://www.broaduniverse.org/ -$30 per year membership fee
http://epicauthors.com/ -$30 per year membership fee
http://iwofa.net/
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/MarketingForRomanceWriters
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/AuthorsAgainstE-BookTheft

Specialty industry groups I’d suggest include:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ebook-community
http://finance.groups.yahoo.com/group/pod_publishers

The advice I’d offer aspiring authors is long and pointed to various topics. The best thing to do is visit my site and go to the FOR AUTHORS portion. That’s a good place to start. If you don’t find what you’re looking for there, ask me.




Find out more about Brenna via the below links:




I’m all over the place.




Home web site- http://www.brennalyons.com/
Facebook- http://www.facebook.com/brenna.lyons
Twitter- http://twitter.com/BrennaLyons
Blog- http://brennalyonsden.blogspot.com/
MySpace- http://www.myspace.com/brennalyons

The best e-mail address to reach me at is brennalyons4168(at)gmail(dot)com, but be sure to put something like GENERAL QUESTIONS, BOOK QUESTIONS, or CHARACTER QUESTIONS in the subject line, or it may get lost in Yahoogroup mail. Since I average more than 1000 e-mail threads coming in a day, that has happened before, and I apologize profusely when it does.








Please, leave comments and questions for Brenna, and I'll get them to her. :)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Broad Universe Blog Out: Lynn Flewelling






On this second post of the Great Broad Universe Blog Out, it's my pleasure to introduce you - for a second time to Novel Friend - to Lynn Flewelling! Lynn has posted here before about loving your characters, and I'm glad to host her again.
Lynn is the author of some fabulous books and has grown a loyal fan base with her characters that challenge sexual conventions. She is also hosting a writer's workshop in a CRUISE this spring!

Lynn, what made you into a writer?
The inability to stop daydreaming when I grew up.

So, please, tell us about your writing: What genre do you prefer to write? What books, stories, other publications that you've written are your personal favorites? Anything new coming up?


I am a fantasy novelist, author of the ongoing Nightrunner Series and the Tamír Triad. I have a few short stories in anthos to my credit, but that's not my forte.

My favorite short story is "Perfection," which appears in Elemental: The Tsunami Relief Anthology. All of the contributors donated the profits to the relief efforts for the 2004 tsunami in Sri Lanka.


As far as my books go, I'm especially fond of The Bone Doll's Twin, the first book of the Tamír Triad. It's dark fantasy, it's a ghost story, it's a hidden child story, and it deals with issues of gender and identity. As for the Nightrunner Series, they're all so different that I can't really claim a favorite. I modeled the series on the Sherlock Holmes model; a series of book-length adventures loosely tied together, but complete in themselves, although some of them are duologies within the series, rather than a single long epic. The main characters are rather dashing spies who solve problems with wits as often as they do with weapons. They are both men and end up becoming lovers as well, although that is not the focus of the books, just an aspect of their characters.


My upcoming publication is the fifth book in the series, titled The White Road. That's coming out on May 25. It's the sequel to Shadows Return—one of those duologies I mentioned. At the moment I'm at work on a sixth Nightrunner book, with a seventh under contract.

What's the best or most memorable piece of fan mail you ever received? What's the worst/weirdest?

I do get a lot of fan mail from readers all over the world. For the best, I can't really narrow it down to a single letter so much as a type: many gay readers have written to thank me for Seregil and Alec, heroes they can identify with. They've used the books to get through rough times in their lives, even to come out to family and friends. When I created the characters, I never imagined anything like that.

The weirdest fan letter, if you can call it that, was definitely one I got from a man who wrote to tell me, at length, in tiny hand printing, over six sheets of paper, how I was "destroying the fabric of the American family." The return address was a state prison.

What gets your creative juices going? Do you write to a music, and do you want to share your playlist?

Tea and music, both chosen to suit my mood. Lately I've been drinking a lot of matcha and listening to Tom Waits, Apocalytica, and the sound tracks to Alice in Wonderland and Henry V.

What is your favorite guilty pleasure (be it food, a habit, a show…)? And how do you rationalize giving into it?

"Ghost Whisperer" It's on Fridays when my work week is over, and it has ghosts in it. I'll watch just about anything that has ghosts in it.

What's the best thing about being a writer? What's the worst?


The best thing is that freedom to bring the visions from inside my head out into the world to see. I love entertaining people, and the fact that the stories I tell do that is deeply satisfying, but the actual creative act is the best of it. It's not always fun, but I can't think of anything I'd rather do.

The worst part is the isolation. Years ago I worked in an office with people I liked, and the socializing was a big part of my day. Working alone all day with only the dogs for company wears on me at times. So does being the only person at a party who does what I do. I don't live around many other writers. It's such a relief to get to a convention and sit around with other writers, comparing notes, bitching and complaining about the same things, talking shop and everyone around the table is nodding and saying "Oh I know!" It's good to be among your own.

What brought you to Broad Universe, and what do you like best about the organization?


A friend told me about Broad Universe and I appreciate it as a place that supports women writers. It's a great networking site, and I've met some great women through the organization.

What do you feel is the greatest challenge and the greatest asset of being a woman author?


To be honest, I don't think of myself in those terms most of the time. I am a writer. I write what I am moved to write and have been fortunate that my audience embraces both genders in equal measure. My agent is a woman and so is my editor. Perhaps that's smoothed my way? I don't know. As far as an asset, I think every author benefits from their own life experiences. We writers are who we are, the sum of all our parts, and we draw from it.

Any advice you'd like to share about writing?


Do it. Do the work. Write those awful stories and terrible books that you have to write on your way to becoming good. Classes and workshops can help, but you learn the most about writing by writing, and learning to look at your work with a critical eye. A good writer's group can be a wonderful resource and source of inspiration. Feedback can help you pinpoint weaknesses, and strengths in your writing. And, very importantly, when you're first starting out, don't worry whether you're "good enough." To publish? You're not. You won't be if you don't do the work. To write? All it takes is a willingness to apply pen to paper or fingers to keys on a regular basis and work on those basics: character, plot, theme, dialog, etc.

What is your favorite organizational trick for meeting all of your goals and deadlines?


Ha! I wish I had some!

What special appearances or events are coming up for you?


I'll be doing books signings at Mysterious Galaxy bookstore in San Diego on June 5, and another at some point during Comic Con, also in San Diego. In October I'll be a guest at Yaoi Con. I don't write yaoi, but because of the Nightrunner books, I have a lot of overlap with that fandom.

Most exciting of all, however, is the writing workshop I will be teaching aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship May 23-30. It's going to be a lot of fun. We'll be cruising in the Caribbean, and alternating between at sea workshop days, and four ports of call, days when people can get off the boat and explore exotic places. We still have some space in the workshop. The cruise price includes the cruise and all the amenities, including meals, and the workshop. For more information:
http://www.connectiontocruise.com/cruises/offerdetail.asp?priceid=1612862&sid=11239

Find out more about Lynn at any of these places:
Email: lbflewelling@roadrunner.com
Website: http://www.sff.net/people/lynn.flewelling
Live Journal: http://otterdance.livejournal.com/
Facebook Personal Page: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=532719346
Fan Page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lynn-Flewelling/145593970532?ref=ts
Yahoo Groups: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Flewelling
Twitter: http://twitter.com/LynnFlewelling
"The LJ is my main hangout these days, but I repost to the FB fan page, Yahoo, and Twitter, too."
Lynn also has a special treat for anyone who comments!!! She will send bookmarks to the first 10 people who comment and the eleventh person to comment will get a signed copy of her newest release, The White Road, as soon as it comes out.
So, leave comments for Lynn!! (Or me, or anything - but leave a comment! J I will count you no matter if you are on LJ, Facebook, OR Blogger!)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Broad Universe Blog Out: Jaleta Clegg



Welcome to the Broad Universe Blog-Out Tour I've been talking about!

The first bodacious Broad on this tour is the woman who had this fabulous idea to start with: Aleta Clegg. Thank you, Aleta, for being on my blog and coming up with this idea!

Aleta Clegg, who writes as Jaleta Clegg, was born some time ago. She's filled the years since dabbling in many things - cooking, sewing, rock hounding, costuming, quilting, slaughtering virtual zombies, freeing zillions of Snoods, and of course, much storytelling. Aleta caught the writing bug over fifteen years ago although she has only recently reached publication status. Her first novel, Nexus Point: The Fall of the Altairan Empire Book One, came out in December 2010. The second one is scheduled for release in early 2011.She further describes herself, "I live in Utah with a horde of my own children, my husband, and one elderly, toothless cat. Cats are required for SF/F authors, aren't they?"

How can we find you? Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc. - please share your public links.

My website is http://www.jaletac.com/, Facebook under Jaleta Clegg, Twitter under ursulasquid, and my blog, The Far Edge of Normal, on Blogspot.


Tell us about your writing - What genre do you prefer to write? What books, stories, other publications that you've written are your personal favorites? Anything new coming up?

I write mainly science fiction - space opera, where the characters and stories are the main focus. My first novel, Nexus Point came out late last year. It's a tale of desperate survival on a primitive planet. Only sort of - the main character literally crashes into the middle of a undercover investigation into drug smuggling on a planet that, for cultural reasons can't know, about advanced technology. Complicated? Yes. Add in a dash of romance to complicate everything further. It was lot of fun to write. I absolutely love the characters.

I've got several short stories in print, mostly comic horror. I'm working on a vampire story that just makes me laugh. What happens to the poor vampires when people become too medicated with high cholesterol? I love twisting things on their heads and poking fun at tradition. The first section of the vampire story is on my website as a teaser.


What is your favorite guilty pleasure (be it food, a habit, a show…)? And how do you rationalize giving into it?

Computer games like Plants vs. Zombies. Slaughtering zombies is very therapeutic. Virtual violence makes me feel so much better when I'm frustrated. I rationalize it as self-therapy. It's cartoon violence so it doesn't count, right? And the game includes levels where you get to play the zombies so it teaches empathy for the underdog. I can rationalize just about anything. I'm a fiction writer. And a mom.


What is your favorite comfort food or drink to help you write? What do you save as reward treats for meeting goals and deadlines?

Chocolate, in very large doses. Although I learned the hard way that fudgesicles and keyboards don't mix.


"All writers must have cats, especially if they write fantasy or speculative fiction." Do you have a stand on this one? Any cute pictures of your kitty or other pet?

I laugh. So many author photos include their cats you'd think it was a requirement, especially if you write speculative fiction. We own a cat, the second one recently died. Considering she was 16, it was about time. The one we have left is just as old, toothless, and a source of endless amusement. I'm not much of a pet person, though. I can kill any houseplant in a matter of weeks. How do you think pets fare? The cat belongs to my husband and kids, not me. He stole a spot in my author picture by climbing into my lap while we were shooting. As soon as the camera left, so did he. Silly animal.


What organizations do you recommend for those wanting to become writers? Any advice you'd like to share about writing?

Main advice: Just do it. Write, and write, then write more. Keep at it. Eventually you'll think, "This is good enough to be published." At that point, find some good editors who aren't necessarily your friends to read through it and rip it apart for you. If you can't handle that, you aren't ready for publication.

For those still looking for direction and help, Forward Motion (http://www.fmwriters.com/) is great, although it can be overwhelmingly large. Critters (http://www.critters.org/) is also a great resource if you're looking for feedback and aren't quite ready for the brutal editing phase.


What brought you to Broad Universe, and what do you like best about the organization?

I'm a relatively new member. I only joined last November. I ran into a group of "broads" at World Fantasy. They were doing a rapid fire reading. I loved the feeling of support and the positive enthusiasm they had. So many online groups are critical and negative, I've never felt that from Broad Universe. It's a great way to find that extra support and encouragement all authors need. It's also great to find other women who are sci-fi geeks, just like me.

Broad Universe also doesn't discriminate on the basis of your publication list. Whether you're an established author with multiple books on your resumé or a newbie who hasn't published a thing anywhere, you get the same support and friendship. I'm new to publishing so this group is just what I need.


What do you feel is the greatest challenge and the greatest asset of being a woman author?

Finding time. I seriously need a wife or at least an Alice from Brady Bunch - someone to cook, clean, schedule appointments, do the shopping, pick up the carpool, deal with the kids, clean up after the cat, etc ad naseum. I love being a wife and mom but it doesn't leave a whole lot of time for writing most days.

The greatest asset? We're few and far between in the SF field, which makes us stand out. And we have this great support group called Broad Universe. We also have a great legacy left by other women authors. Andre Norton is my writing hero. Her list of published works is more than just impressive - it's astounding. And she did it in the days when women were not supposed to have careers.


What the greatest lesson you've learned so far as an author?

Be willing to take criticism, but always with a big dose of salt. Hearing people pick your writing apart hurts. Writers want people to gush over their work with positive remarks, but most of what you hear will be criticism, what you did wrong. Learn to listen without getting defensive. But also learn which opinions matter to you. I put a lot more weight on my editor's critique than I do in a neighbor's.


What is your favorite organizational trick for meeting all of your goals and deadlines?

Buy my kids new video games. I'm guaranteed at least a few days of peace. Quiet comes only if I lock myself in my bedroom.


Any special appearances or events coming up that you want to mention?

CONduit in Salt Lake City UT the end of May. Fun local con. I do the hospitality suite. This is my first year attending as a published author not just a local fan. I'm excited for our Guest of Honor - Barbara Hambly, another one on my list of author favorites.

Priestess of the Eggstone: The Fall of the Altairan Empire Book 2 will be out early next year.


Thank you so much, Jaleta, for visiting my blog and putting together this wonderful blog tour for all of us!

Please leave a comment for Jaleta or Trish… and keep following our great Broad Blog Out tour!

Friday, April 9, 2010

More Food, and More Feminism

Foodie deadlines were about to usurp my Friday Blog, but then I read this great article on Copyblogger, and decided, "Damnit, I'm doing my blog!"

So, my blog:

I have 2 cool food deadlines today. One is about the packaging of dried fruit & nuts in the produce section, and how that caters to different demographics who buy these products. J That should be out in Produce Business in May. The other one was a most excellent food review that you can catch in Worcester Magazine next week. Hint: I refuse to use the Wii Fit until Monday due to the caloric intake.

xx

A quick, fun cooking thing to share: Dessert Pizzas.

I don't cook pizza often, and I seriously cheat with dough. The only dough that works for me (and no, they aren't paying me to say this) is the Pillsbury pizza dough. Even when it rips (like it did last night), it's the easiest to manipulate for me. I can easily spread it out in a foiled and oiled cookie sheet with minimal effort.

I made 2 pizzas last night. One of leftover deli meats, Easter dinner, peppadews, hot peppers, red onions, mushrooms and cheese. (Wicked delicious; pizza is great for leftovers in general!) The other was a dessert pizza, which I'll share with you.

1 package strawberries
2 lemons (I happened to have Meyer lemons, which are extra sweet)
handful oats
a few tablespoons vanilla sugar (sugar in which I keep vanilla bean pods for flavor).

Slice strawberries, zest and squeeze lemons into strawberries, add sugar to sweeten to your preference. Let sit about 30 minutes. Prepare pizza crust, spread strawberries and juice over pizza crust, sprinkle with more sugar and oats (to catch some of the liquid), and bake per crust instructions.

You can play with this with just about any fruit-pie filling you can dream up… and possibly plenty of others. (I can imagine a very simple cinnamon sugar topping with dollops of cream cheese.)

Surprise someone you love with dessert pizza!

xx

And for the Feminism Friday Alliteration, next week is a week's worth of guest blogs!!

Several of my wonderful colleagues and friends from Broad Universe are joining me for a great Broad Blog-Out!

I mentioned it already, but I'm all for promo-ing the **** out of this because it's so awesome, so here's a sneak peek - once again:

Jaleta Clegg will kick us off on April 11th.

"I live in Utah with a horde of my own children, my husband, and one elderly, toothless cat. Cats are required for SF/F authors, aren't they?"

Lynn Flewelling will appear on April 12th.

"The weirdest fan letter, if you can call it that, was definitely one I got from a man who wrote to tell me, at length, in tiny hand printing, over six sheets of paper, how I was 'destroying the fabric of the American family.' The return address was a state prison."

Brenna Lyons will appear on April 13th.

"Starting at about age 11, my teachers insisted on me entering anything they found for me. One even took my work to a local newspaper without telling me and suggested they publish me. […] I’d been published in recognized venues since I was 13."

Tracy Morris will appear on April 14th.

"My best known work is the Tranquility series, which is sort of what you would get if Jeff Foxworthy wrote the X-Files and set every episode in the town of Cicely, Alaska."

Pauline Baird Jones will appear on April 15th.

"I had so much fun writing Doc, my kick-butt genius heroine. And my hero is a redeemed, semi-bad guy from THE KEY. I did NOT plan that. He wouldn’t leave me alone until I gave him a girl to love. What’s an author to do?"

Kaz Augustine will appear on April 16th.

"I also cook. I love cooking, I adore cooking, although I don't have enough time to do much of it. In our library at home, we must have at least 200 cookbooks and I sit down and read through them in much the same way as I read a novel, from start to finish."

Now, each of us crazy Broads has a different style of giving good blog (as Indie Biz Chicks says). A few of us came up with our own questions we wanted answered, and others of us (like Tracy Morris) have fabulous journalism backgrounds, so they outright turned the interviews into even cooler articles.

Please peruse around and check out a little bit about each of us bodacious Broads!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Writing Community

I've said it on many occasions, but I think it's important: Writers shouldn't be islands.

I do spend many hours on my own writing when no one is around, but it's less than you might think. Just about any time I want, I can find one of my writing friends online and reach out to them if I need help, and I respond when they call on me. I belong to a lot of wonderful groups, like Broad Universe, the DragonWriters, my Smarthinking colleagues, and many wonderful individuals who I can call on via Twitter or instant messaging. Being part of this virtual community is no less powerful than being part of an in-person community – and in many ways, its better.

A few months back, the Guardian ran an article of tips from famous/accomplished writers and someone said something along the lines of it being doubtful that good writing comes from someone who has an Internet connection. I couldn't disagree more. Not only are there great writers who are very connected online – Neil Gaiman, for example – but more agents and publishers require authors to promote themselves (online is great for that!), and humans are naturally social creatures. It's just healthier – mentally, spiritually, and even physically – for us to build a community.

My online community has done some amazing stuff for me – and I'm happy to return the favors.

A true and excellent community doesn't happen overnight, or even over weeks or months. In fact, it's always changing, developing, and getting better based on your interaction. Rather than give you a big old "how to" article (because if you search, you'll find plenty of those anyway), let me share some of my community and how we relate.

My friend, Kelly Harmon, who I met through Broad Universe, just released a new short story and a novella. I loved both, so I left her reviews on Amazon. Kelly and I also trade critiques with each other semi-regularly. We got to meet in person at last year's Balticon, and I stayed at her beautiful home. When we manage to gasp breaths of freedom in our crazy schedules, we drop each other a "How are you?" note. (Hmm… Ok, that last line is true for a lot of my friends, actually…)

Aimee Weinstein, aka TokyoWriter, is someone I met through my tutoring job at Smarthinking. Because she's in Tokyo, and I'm just a night owl, we often found our schedules overlapping, so we ended up great "Do you have a minute for a second opinion on this problem?" friends. Rather than stay completely business-like, we took time to find out more about each other and ended up being friends, even after she left Smarthinking to freelance entirely. I am proud to say she's beaten me to a book deal. An idea of her writing: She sent a 2nd draft out to agents and was getting personalized rejections (not form letters) based on partial requests. Her writing is that good!

Christy Tohara, my writing partner, is my longest online-based friend. We met over some fan-fic role playing games about 8 years ago, discovered we had a fabulous writing chemistry, and have been friends and creative partners since. I met her in-person for the first time in 2008 at the Bad-Ass Faeries 2: Just Plain Bad release party – where we celebrated our first fiction publication – individually and as a team.

I met Victoria Durm under another name only a year ago at Conbust in Northampton, MA. I gave her some basic writing business advice, and she gave me (and Chris) a great review on our short story. We've since become friends and each other's cheerleaders.

Julie Radachy and Jen Barber are two more colleagues-become-friends from Smarthinking. Both are absolutely fantastic editors who have come to my last-minute rescue for much of my writing. Also, Jen has magical manuscript manipulation powers, and Julie is a networking/opportunity genius.

Back in 2002, I was part of A.C. Crispin's writing workshop at Dragon*Con. Our particular class became very close, and I regularly chat with Kim Stotler and Karen Schuler. We cheer each other on even beyond writing and enjoy each other's company while slogging through the less-fun aspects of writing and life.

Morven Westfield, Inanna Arthen, Phoebe Wray, Jennifer Pelland, Elaine Isaak, and Justine Graykin are all part of the most active segment of what we call the New England Broads. We all started off only knowing each other virtually through Broad Universe, but realized we were all in close enough geographic proximity to do local events together, and support each other in-person as well as online.

All of these people are those with whom I've spent many years chatting with online, and while I have had the great opportunity to finally give in-person hugs to some of them, some I have not. Many got to know me first through communities, like Broad Universe, Editorial Freelancers Association, Smarthinking, gaming groups, etc., and then we discovered we had something extra in common or that we had some sort of chemistry that made us want to spend more time together.

Now, not all of these people regularly chat with each other and are friends of each other (though some are), but we have all helped each other at least indirectly. When I promote these individuals' work, I share my community of friends with them, and they share theirs with me. Sometimes if there is a topic that I'm not as familiar with in someone's writing, I can check my community to see who would know better than I would. People who get crits from me (and in critiques I've received), more than one person has contributed – even if it's just to check a grammar rule.

Maintaining a community of writing friends enriches the life and writing of everyone in the community. It takes time to build, and a desire for mutual support and honor, but it's worth it beyond any measurement.

What kind of community are you developing around yourself?

Monday, April 5, 2010

Organizing April

If you receive my newsletter, you may have seen that I tried to keep April pretty free because of birthdays. If you don't get my newsletter… and want it… let me know, and I'll add you to my list.

Anyway, so, April. My birthday is the 30th, the H-of-A's is the 3rd… and there's a bunch in between and around. H-of-A & I throw a huge party in the middle of the month to celebrate them all. It's a very busy month… but a whole lot of fun!

It's not quite as "easy" as I planned, though.

This April, I've also got a few non-fic deadlines too, which will take some time. I'm also doing a Tarot event at Stained Glass Creations and Beyond. I've also got to do more recording for the April Broad Pod intros/summaries. And put it together. And then watch the tutorials of how to make them smaller. And try it… and post them. You get the picture.

I've also got a new adventure this month. I'm sharing a blog tour with several fabulous members of Broad Universe. I'm starting next week, and I'll open with more details for the next Manic Monday… but here's a little taste…

Jaleta Clegg will kick us off on April 11th.

"I live in Utah with a horde of my own children, my husband, and one elderly, toothless cat. Cats are required for SF/F authors, aren't they?"

Lynn Flewelling will appear on April 12th.

"The weirdest fan letter, if you can call it that, was definitely one I got from a man who wrote to tell me, at length, in tiny hand printing, over six sheets of paper, how I was 'destroying the fabric of the American family.' The return address was a state prison."

Brenna Lyons will appear on April 13th.

"Starting at about age 11, my teachers insisted on me entering anything they found for me. One even took my work to a local newspaper without telling me and suggested they publish me. […] I’d been published in recognized venues since I was 13."

Tracy Morris will appear on April 14th.

"My best known work is the Tranquility series, which is sort of what you would get if Jeff Foxworthy wrote the X-Files and set every episode in the town of Cicely, Alaska."

Pauline Baird Jones will appear on April 15th.

"I had so much fun writing Doc, my kick-butt genius heroine. And my hero is a redeemed, semi-bad guy from THE KEY. I did NOT plan that. He wouldn’t leave me alone until I gave him a girl to love. What’s an author to do?"

Kaz Augustine will appear on April 16th.

"I also cook. I love cooking, I adore cooking, although I don't have enough time to do much of it. In our library at home, we must have at least 200 cookbooks and I sit down and read through them in much the same way as I read a novel, from start to finish."

I'm wicked excited to have gotten to know these women more through these interviews - and I'm happy for the opportunity to share and spread their audiences. We've got a few different interviews floating around out there, so check out all of our blogs!

Hooray, April!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Funds, Food, Feminists… and other mostly positive F words

… because all the negative ones have been flying around all week since I have finally gotten around to do my business taxes. The Husband-of-Awesome delivered them while I made a dinner of paninis and spinach salad.

If you freelance or write, seriously, forget what I said in the interviews that will be coming out all this month…

GET AN ACCOUNTANT!!!!

My accountant is Made of Awesome.

Yes, I do a lot of work for prep… but if he hadn't guided me on how to make tax-friendly spreadsheets, my 10 or so hours of prep with no tears and minor headaches and jaw-clenching would have been 40 hours with major tears, screaming, stuck jaw, and God only knows what else.

And it's getting better every year. This year, I finally made a minor-yet-big change on my "Make Sure You Get Paid And Your 1099 Matches The Amount" spread sheets and added a "mileage" column. Sooo, when I update my pay info, I remember that I DO NOT want to spend 6-8 hours on Google maps next April as I count down hours until meeting my accountant.

Oh, and speaking of those "Make Sure You Get Paid And Your 1099 Matches The Amount" spread sheets, the super-fabulous award goes to Stephanie Sanders-Ferris, from whom I had a 1099 within the first week of January, and it perfectly matched my records, making the time-spent-for-taxes for my Massachusetts Horse work less than an 30 minutes - with 28 of said minutes being me looking up the mileage for where I drove for interviews.

Admittedly, I am blessed with a bunch of awesome editors for whom I work… but, < 30 minutes of tax reckoning means a lot to me this week.

So, perhaps, not only Get an Accountant, but get an accountant who will advise you on how to make it easier for when you will inevitably procrastinate calculating your earnings until the week in which you are scheduled to file with your accountant.

Did I mention I <3 my accountant?

I should bake him cookies…

… speaking of cookies, since it's Foodie Friday, the super Jaleta Clegg has this delicious sounding recipe I MUST TRY here.

And, you may notice, before you get to the recipe, that she has organized this WICKED COOL Blog Out for a bunch of us Broads!

Pauline Baird, who has the wonderfully titled "Perils of Pauline" blog, already has my interview up!

Here's the who-all of the lot of Broads throwing this crazy party. And I can't say I'm not doubly thrilled as it's in April - my favorite month of the year. Between mine and H-of-A's birthdays - along with most of our closest friends - and the Big-Arse Birthday Bash… Yeah, April rocks! Join us for this online party:

Jaleta Clegg, The Far Edge of Normal, http://jaletaclegg.blogspot.comLynn Flewelling, Talk in the Shadows, http://otterdance.livejournal.com/Brenna Lyons, The Lyons' Den, http://brennalyonsden.blogspot.com Trisha Wooldridge, A Novel Friend, http://www.anovelfriend.com/blog.htmTracy Morris, Rambling Roses, Purple Prose, and other Asinine Alliteration, http://writertracy.livejournal.com/Pauline Baird Jones, Perils of Pauline, http://paulinebjones.livejournal.com/
Kaz Augustin, Fusion Despatches, http://blog.ksaugustin.com/

Best part? It'll be damn near impossible for the rain to mess with this virtual party!

 
A Novel Friend © 2008 by para Você | Re-design Sweet Baby Girl