Monday, January 2nd, 2017
Happy New Year!
I wish you peace, joy, prosperity and health in 2017!
Also: I wish you fulfillment of all your goals.
Did I mention resolutions? Nope.
I don’t believe in resolutions. Resolutions are something most people make between the countdown to the new year and the champagne they drink at 12:01. Almost no one sticks to their resolutions. I gave up making them more than a decade ago.
Instead, I make goals for the new year. I plan — which is not to say that things never hit the fan and life is golden. Things do happen, and I miss goals, but I generally get more accomplished than if I’d not planned to begin with.
I’ve been planning 2017 for a few months now, both personally and professionally, and made a few decisions about what I’ll be concentrating on in 2016. If you haven’t done any planning yet, use January as your planning month and move forward from there. It’s not too late.
Begin by Reviewing Your 2016
Always review last year (last month, last week) to see what you accomplished and what you could do better. Here are some questions to think about:
– What major events happened in 2016?
– Finish a book? Publish a book? Attend a convention or writing retreat?
– What big and small goals did you accomplish?
– Learn how to self publish? Write cover copy? Use a new social media venue?
– What challenges did you overcome?
– Speak in public? Submit a story to an agent? Finish a short story?
– What could you have done better?
– Spent more time in the writing chair? Listened to your critique group or editor about something? Concentrate on area of writing: dialogue, grammar, scene setting?
– Have you become a better writer in any way?
– Finished more scenes? Wrote more words? Took a grammar or spelling class? Studied dialogue?
Even if you’re not a writer, you can use these questions to plan, just consider them outside the writing angle.
If you’re not a writer, consider:
– What big things happened in 2016?
– What large and small things did you accomplish?
– What did you overcome?
– What could you have done better?
– Have you become a better (husband/wife/co-worker/fill-in-the-blank) in any way?
Next, Decide What You Want to Do
Now, consider what you want to be. I know that’s a bit vague, but planning your goals will depend on what you want to be at the end of the year.
– Do you want to be a better writer? If so, what is your definition of “better?” Find your voice? Improve your grammar? Write more words? Accomplish more chapters? Finish more books?
– For non-writers (or, even for writers who want to tackle both professional and personal goals: do you want to spend more time with your family? Lose weight? Improve a particular skill? Etc.
Be specific here. You can’t plan effectively if you don’t have a specific goal.
For example: “Lose weight” is not a specific goal. Instead, consider, “Lose 10 pounds by March.” For writers, instead of “Write more,” try, “Write 10,000 words per month.”
Once you have a specific goal, you can break it down into smaller steps. Work on those steps daily, and you can accomplish great things.
Are you like me? There are too many goals on your list for this year? That’s where prioritizing comes in. I’ll write about that next week…
I hope you’ll plan with me this year. Some of my goals include:
– Increasing my word-count production by 10%
– Writing a non-fiction book (as well as the fiction and short stories!)
– Taking a class on marketing
What do you hope to accomplish this year? Leave me a note in the comments! =)
Thursday, November 24th, 2016
I’m one of the crazy travelers today! And I can’t wait to get together with my family and eat lots of terrific (and terrible for me) food! I’m bringing my eclair ring – which, after slaving over it, I won’t want to eat! (Isn’t that terrible?)
So: wishing you and yours safe travels and fabulous get-togethers! I hope the food is terrific, and the desserts even more so!
Thursday, November 3rd, 2016
Pole to Pole Publishing is hosting a Goodreads Giveaway for the book In a Cat’s Eye, edited by me and Vonnie Winslow Crist. Giveaway ends November 11.
Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016
A Blue Collar Proposition–the third book in the Charm City Darkness series–was featured over at Novelisty.com on October 1 as part of their 31 Days of Halloween!
(It’s lovely to be featured, but I wish I’d known about it! I’d have dropped a link here much sooner!)
Novelisty featured a “heat-rating” and a few pertinent details about the book, as well as included the back cover copy and an excerpt. If you want to read the first chapter or so, head on over to Novelisty’s 31 Days of Halloween.
Friday, October 7th, 2016
I hope you will come out to Capclave this weekend and say, “Hello!”
I’ll be around all day on Saturday and through Sunday around 2.
11:30 a.m. Autograph Table in Author’s Hall
3:00p.m. When Should You Remain Stubborn, Bethesda
10:00 pm. Broad Universe Reading, Rockville/Potomac
(I’ll likely read from my latest Charm City Darkness novel, A Blue Collar Proposition.)
Noon: Cats in Science Fiction and Fantasy, Rockville/Potomac
The noon panel is so serendipitous since the anthology I’ve recently edited, In a Cat’s Eye, is also available just this weekend.
I hope to see you!
Tuesday, September 27th, 2016
Isn’t she a beauty?
Here’s the cover for the new anthology I’m co-editing with Vonnie Winslow Crist.
Authors included are: Gail Z. Martin, Jody Lynn Nye, Alex Shvartsman, Gregory L. Norris, Steven R. Southard, Jeremy M. Gottwig, A. L. Sirois, Oliver Smith, A. L. Kaplan, Doug C. Souza, Christine Lucas, K. I. Borrowman, Joanna Hoyt, R. S. Pyne and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Wednesday, September 21st, 2016
Today’s guest post is by Pournell Ahb— Well, we don’t know his full name, since he’s a demon. That would give us too much power over him. He first turned up in the Charm City Darkness novel, A Favor for a Fiend, and has been around ever since. Lately, he parlayed himself into an alliance, of sorts, with Assumpta. He’d like to talk to you today about battling depression.
He’s got a lot on his plate. He’s a demon, after all. He’s not looking forward to the afterlife. Just because he is what he is—a demon, have I mentioned that? And because he’s a demon, he’s going to Hell when he dies—there’s no two ways about it. Like many things in life—and death—it’s not an easy thing to get over.
Here’s Pournelle to tell you about it in his own words…
It’s easy to become depressed when you’re damned to Hell—just for being born.
I’m not talking about the kind of sadness you feel when your day just falls to pieces or you don’t have enough cash to buy the latest iPhone.
I’m talking about soul-crushing depression: the kind that plagues your mind All. The. Damned. Time. You can’t think of anything else. You can’t concentrate. You want to curl up in a ball and sleep. Or eat. Or not eat, if that’s your thing.
Suicide haunts me. Tempts me. But it’s the one thing I won’t do: because I’ll wind up in Hell. Literally. And it’s the one place I don’t want to be. I can endure anything to avoid that. As long as I can keep on living, I’m good.
Assumpta helps me. She doesn’t know it, because I could never admit this to her. (Show my emotions to a human? Never.) But she’s got me practicing good will. Her way of getting what she wants from me without selling her soul, but she doesn’t even realize how beneficial it is for me.
Here’s how it works: I give her all the information she needs about what the other demons are planning down in Hell—the stuff I know, anyway—and don’t make her sign a contract ceding her soul to me. I do her this favor, asking nothing in return. I’ve created good will in my good will bank.
Now she owes me.
But the thing is, that’s not what drives me to do it. I don’t care about her owing me. It feels good to help her. (Again, I’d never tell her that. Did I tell her when I healed all her demon-wrought wounds? Lucifer’s balls! The infection alone would have killed her. No—I didn’t tell her. Punched her instead—that felt good. Healing punch. She never knew what hit her. She’s smart though—figured it out—but never throws it up in my face.)
When she finds something that will help me, whether it’s a secret or a demonic artifact gone missing—or something like that—she’ll call me. (Yeah, I gave her a calling card with my true name on it. It burns up in her hand after she reads it, and I come running—sometimes with blood all over my hands—but I’m there.) She tells me what she knows, or hands over the piece.
Scales are balanced.
Gives me a purpose. Options.
Keeps me out of Hell.
About the campaign:
#HoldOntoTheLight is a blog campaign encompassing blog posts by fantasy and science fiction authors around the world in an effort to raise awareness around treatment for depression, suicide prevention, domestic violence intervention, PTSD initiatives, bullying prevention and other mental health-related issues. We believe fandom should be supportive, welcoming and inclusive, in the long tradition of fandom taking care of its own. We encourage readers and fans to seek the help they or their loved ones need without shame or embarrassment.
Please consider donating to or volunteering for organizations dedicated to treatment and prevention such as: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Hope for the Warriors (PTSD), National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Canadian Mental Health Association, MIND (UK), SANE (UK), BeyondBlue (Australia), To Write Love On Her Arms and the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.
To find out more about #HoldOntoTheLight, find a list of participating authors, or reach a media contact, go to https://www.facebook.com/groups/276745236033627
Tuesday, September 13th, 2016
Photo by Bruce Andersen
Since I’m asked fairly regularly about the places featured in my Charm City Darkness novels, I’ve decided to share some of my research. (Yes, I do research, even in my own backyard.) When you grow up around local landmarks, you tend to pick up the basics via osmosis. But to talk intelligently in books, I find it’s best to get my facts straight…)
This is the first of a series of posts about Baltimore landmarks and locations.
The Phoenix Shot Tower
I grew up knowing the tower simply as the old Baltimore shot tower. It’s a red brick tower, 234 feet tall located in East Baltimore, nearby to Little Italy and Jonestown. It was the tallest structure in the United States when it was completed in 1828. The cornerstone was laid by Charles Carroll of Carrollton, the last surviving signer of the Declaration of Independence.
The tower was used to manufacture both drop shot—for use in pistols and rifles—and moulded shot for cannons. Molten lead was poured through a sieve at the top of the tower into a vat of cold water at the bottom of the tower to produce the drop shot. After it hardened, it was dried, polished and sorted into 25 pound bags. The tower produced 100,000 bags annually, and was capable of doubling that output if necessary. It stayed in production until 1892 when this method of producing shot became obsolete.
It remained the tallest structure in the US until 1846, when Trinity Church was erected in New York on Wall Street. It remained the tallest in Baltimore until 1875, when the spire of the First Presbyterian Church (on West Madison and Park Avenue) was completed. Still, from the top, the view of the city—and beyond—is unobstructed.
The tower is one of four that used to stand in Baltimore, and was very nearly destroyed in 1924 by the Union Oil Company. They’d purchased the land, and wanted to erect a gas station. City residents objected and raised enough money to buy back the land and present it to the City of Baltimore. It became a National Historic Landmark in 1971.
The tower is open limited hours on the weekends, though visitors haven’t been able to go to the top since about 1997, due to the safety of the staircase. This is soon to change, however! The city has designated $240,000 to fix the staircase, and estimates visitors will once again be able to walk to the top (all 305 steps) as early as mid-2017.
Although the tower is one of my favorite places in Baltimore, it’s not a prominent location in the Charm City Darkness novels. But the tower is the main location in one of my Charm City Darkness short stories—called Giving a Hand—in which Assumpta helps the tower’s resident ghost. Giving a Hand has been published in the Hides the Dark Tower Anthology, and will be available as a single later this year.
Sunday, September 11th, 2016
Thursday, July 21st, 2016
My schedule for the remainder of the year is beginning to firm up, but still includes a few tentative items. If you’d like to schedule me, please contact me as soon as possible. Thanks!
- CapClave – Tentative
October 7-9, 2016
Gaithersburg, MD, MD
- Hallowread – Confirmed
October 21-23, 2016
Havre de Grace, MD
- ChessieCon– Confirmed
November 25-27, 2016
- Carroll County Author’s Day– Tentative
November 5, 2016
- Bel Air Authors and Artists– Confirmed
December 3, 2016
Bel Air, MD