Pubbed and Read in 2012

Just a quick review!

Rethana's Trial front

Published

SHADOWS AFTER MIDNIGHT, Book 3 in my paranormal fantasy trilogy Demons of Saltmarch.

RETHANA’S SURRENDER, Book 1 in my epic fantasy series Legends of the Light-Walkers.

RETHANA’S TRIAL, Book 2 in Legends of the Light-Walkers.
 
 
 
 

Read

The asterisks indicate particularly enjoyable reads. And I beat last year’s total. Yay readin’ me. : )

1. Fool Moon by Jim Butcher
2. Whitechapel: The Final Stand of Sherlock Holmes (Gentlemen’s Edition) by Bernard J. Schaffer
3. Into the Flames by Jessie Sanders
4. Everything’s Eventual by Stephen King
5. Recursion by Tony Ballantyne
6. The Help by Kathryn Stockett*
7. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll*
8. A Consortium of Worlds, #2 by Consortium Books, ed. Joshua Unruh and Courtney Cantrell
9. Another Fine Myth by Robert Aspirin
10. Myth Conceptions by Robert Aspirin
11. Queen of Dragons by Shana Abé
12. Throne of Jade by Naomi Novik
13. Dragondrums by Anne McCaffrey
14. Legends 3 edited by Robert Silverberg
15. Velocity by Dean Koontz
16. The Secret Woman by Victoria Holt
17. The House Next Door by Anne Rivers Siddons
18. Camouflage by Aaron Pogue
19. Jesus Manifesto by Leonard K. Sweet and Frank Viola*
20. Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede*
21. Searching for Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede
22. Calling on Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede
23. Talking to Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede
24. The Servants of Twilight by Dean Koontz
25. Passenger to Frankfurt by Agatha Christie
26. Revise Us Again by Frank Viola
27. Midnight by Dean Koontz
28. Sole Survivor by Dean Koontz
29. The Golden Key by Melanie Rawn, Jennifer Roberson, and Kate Elliott*
30. Foreign Identity by Becca J. Campbell
31. A Consortium of Worlds, #3 by Consortium Books, ed. Joshua Unruh and Courtney Cantrell
32. The Dragonbone Chair by Tad Williams
33. The Stone of Farewell by Tad Williams
34. To Green Angel Tower, Pt. 1 by Tad Williams
35. To Green Angel Tower, Pt. 2 by Tad Williams
36. Metamorphoses by Ovid (not finished)
37. The Dragonprince’s Heir (The Dragonprince Trilogy, #3) by Aaron Pogue
38. Saga of the Myth Reaver: Downfall by Joshua Unruh
39. The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer (still in progress)
40. Soft Come the Dragons / Dark of the Woods by Dean Koontz
41. Breathless by Dean Koontz
42. Your Heart Belongs to Me by Dean Koontz
43. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith*
44. A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore
45. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini*
46. The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi*
47. Karavans by Jennifer Roberson
48. The Gunslinger by Stephen King
49. The Drawing of the Three by Stephen King*
50. The Waste Lands by Stephen King
51. Wizard and Glass by Stephen King
52. Wolves of the Calla by Stephen King
53. Song of Susannah by Stephen King*
54. The Dark Tower by Stephen King*
55. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card*

Conclusion: I need to read and review more indie-pubbed and self-pubbed novels in 2013. This will slow down my progress on my to-read shelf, but oh well. There’s nothing like sacrificing for the cause, right? ; )

Happy New Year, dearest inklings!

ENJOY THE NEW YEAR’S READS!

Announcing New #Fantasy Novel: RETHANA’S TRIAL

Hile, my lovely inklings!

Here’s hoping this finds you all warmly ensconced at home, sipping hot chocolate or something of the cider variety whilst enjoying the unique bliss of post-holiday relaxation. My Christmas was two-fold: first an afternoon of fun, food, and presents with my parents on the 23rd, then two days of fun, food, presents, food, more food, and then some more food at the inlaws’ in Texas.

After I’d gained 5 lbs., we departed for the snowy north. We made it as far as Ardmore, Oklahoma, around 5:00pm Christmas Day before we conceded defeat in the face of ice and snow. A night in a cozy motel, then we finally headed home. All in all, a successful holiday — even including the snowy adventure. Even with a baby in the car, I can’t help but enjoy a good storm. ; )

NEWS

Rethana's Trial front
It’s been on Twitter and Facebook already, but this is my first chance to announce it here:

RETHANA’S TRIAL IS LIVE!

The story picks up right where the Rethana’s Surrender cliffhanger left off. So if you’ve been itching to find out what happens next, now’s your chance! Pick up your e-copy for Kindle or Nook.

Also, if you’ve given a fantasy-reading loved one an e-reader for Christmas, I’d be ever so grateful if you recommended me…or just went ahead and bought them both Rethana stories. : )

Rethana’s Trial is my fifth published novel and the second book in my Legends of the Light-Walkers (LLW) series. Rethana’s Trial is the sequel to Rethana’s Surrender, which I talk about here. (You can also click here to read all the posts tagged with the title.)

Incidentally, the paperback should be available in January 2013.

I am so excited to have this second Light-Walkers novel out in the world. From start to publication of Book 2, Rethana’s story has been 9 years in the making. Rethana herself, her adventures, and her supporting cast have been an integral part of my life for almost a decade, and —

Wow. Wait a second.

Almost a decade.

A decade.

A DECADE.

That’s a long relationship with a book, y’all. Especially in our modern era of self-pub-ten-titles-a-year, a decade is a long relationship. It’s practically a life-long marriage. It’s an über-gestation (and those of you who know me well also know that I don’t use that German “prefix” [it’s actually a preposition] lightly).

And now Rethana’s out there — all of her, not just a cliffhanging first half — and I’m both excited and a little relieved. Excited because so many of you lovely people let me know how much you enjoyed the first LLW novel, and now you can finally get your hands on the rest of Rethana’s story. Relieved because Trial has been my only writing project for most of the year. Other stories are calling me, and I’m ready to answer. I’m ready to leave Rethana to you lovelies and scribble out some new adventures for you to enjoy.

So what’s next?

Well, first I intend (finally!) to finish Elevator People, the low sci-fi I started in 2011. After that, I’ll turn my attention to the next LLW novel. And what shall this one be about? I’m not sure yet, as I’ve got a few options. There’s the story of Esau the Gray One. There’s the story of Taeven Ravenhair. Both of them get mentions in Rethana’s two-book tale. But then there’s also the story of Rowan First Cerelae. Not to mention the story of Deren…Rethana’s son.

I’m not sure which of those I’m leaning toward yet. Esau’s story at least has a ton of prewriting already under its belt. But Deren and Taeven each have several chapters already. On the other hand, Esau’s got an entire novel that I wrote between ages 17 and 21. The writing is horrendous, but at least the chunk of marble has a discernible figure carved into it.

Decisions, decisions…. *sigh*

Oh well. I don’t have to decide now. Elevator People is my next priority. I’ll ponder what’s to follow that and keep you posted. : )

In the meantime, here’s the full spread of cover art for RETHANA’S TRIAL. This complete gorgeousness is brought to you by the incredibly talented Lane Brown. Cover design is by Krysten Marshall. For some reason, WordPress isn’t letting me share a larger version with you. : ( If I can figure out how to fix this, I will.

Rethana'sTrial

Your Perusing Pleasure: #BEDAug the 1st!

So. My body is putting together a baby inside my abdomen; my brain is generating multiple things of the writing and the artsy-crafty persuasions, as well as coaching writers and acquiring fabulous stories for Consortium Books; and my spirit is continually occupied with ponderings of various natures ranging from the simplistic to the paradigm-shifting. The last thing I need is yet another project, right?

Right.

With that out of the way, I hereby announce the beginning of BEDAug: Blog-Every-Day August. On Twitter, I’ll be using the hashtag #BEDAug. I told you last week that it was coming; now, it is here. And that’s why this post exists for your perusing pleasure.

BANGERANG.

Me, I take this Addition of New Project as a sign that I am slightly unbalanced. Another such sign is my penning of short stories and editing of short story magazines, the latest of both-which (this is terrible grammar, you must know) you may find here.

This edition of A Consortium of Worlds contains my short story “The One Where Jack Loses.” When we meet Jack, he is a hapless sort of fellow completely and utterly in love with a young woman named Grace. Grace, as we quickly learn, is mentally unstable (hmmm…I’m seeing a disturbing theme here…), as evinced by her belief that she regularly crosses from one dimension into another.

It’s a love story, yes, and it’s kind of heart-breaking. But mostly, it’s a sci-fi story about Choice, about our concept of reality, and about the malleability of what we perceive as “linear” time.

This is also my first in a series of short stories I call my “Grace and Jack stories.” Several others are already written, so you can expect more of Grace’s sci-fi madness and Jack’s despair in the future. (Insert Fight Club reference here.)

You can get your greedy little Kindle-reading fingers on “The One Where Jack Loses” here. And as an editor of this e-mag, I also heartily endorse the other stories therein. The genres range from sci-fi to fantasy to superheroes to alternate history — so there’s something in here for everyone. Enjoy! : )

New Fantasy Novel Out: Rethana’s Surrender

Nightmares and Dreamscapes

 

When I was 15 years old, I had a dream about a yellow telephone booth.

No, that’s not a Dr. Who reference. ; ) In the dream, I was standing inside the phone booth, holding the handset. (Yes, this was a rotary phone. Let me know if you don’t know what that is. *grin*) Outside, it was dusk, and fog was rolling in. I couldn’t see any farther than about twenty feet from the phone booth. And as I watched, dozens of yellow eyes with slitted black pupils appeared in the fog.

That dream gave birth to the universe in which I set my latest novel, Rethana’s Surrender (Legends of the Light-Walkers, #1).

What’s the Because?!

If you’ve already read Rethana’s story, you’re probably wondering how in the name of all that’s good and writerly I got from {fog + yellow eyes + relatively modern phone booth} to {epic fantasy universe + magic-wielding heroine + semi-political love triangle}. Well, my dear inklings, that story is a rather long one, and tell you it would take a series of novels in which I invite you to explore this whole universe I have built and am building….

Oh. Wait. I guess that invitation would be what Legends of the Light-Walkers (LLW) is all about. ; )

So, the books themselves are the long explanation. The short version is that the phone booth dream turned into a scene in my LLW novel Legend’s Heir (working title). Chronologically, that one takes place before Rethana’s story. But I finished Legend’s Heir (working title) more than ten years ago…and, perhaps needless to say, it needs quite a bit of work before it sees the light of day. Thus, you get Rethana’s story first. Y’all seem like you’re okay with that, though.

And What’s the Big Idea?

The big idea for Rethana’s story grew from a cold, snowy visit to a small town in eastern Germany back around Christmas of 2002. The husband and I were living in Chemnitz, Saxony, then. Some friends took us to the Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas market) in a little town called Annaberg-Buchholz.

I could wax nostalgic on how much I miss the German Christmas markets, but that’s not why you dear people are here, and it would make me cry besides, so let’s just skip that part and move on.

Belltower of St. Annenkirche

On that cold, snowy evening so many years ago, our friends insisted that we visit St. Annenkirche (St. Anna’s Church; please note that I’ve linked to the German Wikipedia article because it has more pictures than the English version). Thus, we traipsed up the hill — there was much slipping, sliding, and sniggering — and entered the church building, where we proceeded to get an unexpected tour.

We ended up climbing the belltower.

If you’ve read Rethana’s story, you know where I’m going with this.

Near the top of the tower, we stepped from the wooden staircase onto a wide, circular platform spanning the width of the tower. About thirty feet above our heads was a wooden ceiling. Another staircase led up to it. The tour guide explained that we were looking at the underside of the apartment housing the bellringer and his family. And above that apartment hung the bells.

These people lived in the top of the belltower. They hauled household goods up to their apartment via lifts that had been operational for hundreds of years. They were in charge of the bells, the largest of which was named Anna.

Images flooded my mind. Characters, scenes, plots, dialogue. In my head, I saw a bellringer family in medieval dress, and I knew they were hiding from something. I saw soldiers and magic-users in the town below, and I knew they were hunting this family. I saw a mischievous young girl using her magic to tease her friends, who were sneaking up the tower staircase to play a prank on her.

All of this flashed through my head within the space of about 20 seconds. In the meantime, the tour guide was still talking. I had no idea what he was saying — but the next thing I knew, he was handing out earplugs. I stuffed them into my ears just in time.

Somebody rang Anna.

Anna of St. Annenkirche is a big girl. Even through earplugs, the noise was deafening. Without really thinking about what I was doing, I wandered over to the stone wall of the tower and laid my hand on it. The wall was vibrating with Anna’s song, and I could feel the reverberation all the way up into my shoulder. And I knew what my next story would be.

Writing Rethana’s Surrender

The mischievous bellringer girl became Rethana Chosardal. Anna became the sacriligiously-named Lirrenae. Annaberg turned into Saemnoth. I started writing the story for NaNoWriMo 2003.

It would take me more than 4 years to finish the first draft. By the time I was done, I had close to 230,000 words. I knew very good and well that no publisher would consider reading an unpublished author’s 200+k words, so I spent the second draft trimming. My mom read it. Another beta reader read it. Both made suggestions, and I trimmed some more. When I hit 210,000, I knew I couldn’t do anything more with the story, so I shelved it and moved on to the next project.

By now, I was living in Oklahoma again and had recently re-met Aaron Pogue, a college acquaintance and fellow writer. We fell to talking of fantasy (because really, why wouldn’t we?), and he asked to read my fantasy novel. I let him.

Aaron had feedback. Part of that feedback was that I should split the book in half so as to achieve a manageable word count. The moment he said it, I knew where: right after the fight scene in Terllach Caverns. Right after Rethana almost admits to Allasin that–

Well, I don’t want to spoil it for you if you haven’t read it. ; )

Aaron said, “That’s a doozy of a cliffhanger. Your readers will hate you for it. Or they might love you.”

Aaron might or might not have actually used the word “doozy.” Either way, I decided to take the risk. And, once he got his indie publishing company, Consortium Books, up and running, he decided to take the risk of publishing it.

So far, so good.

Rethana’s Surrender (Legends of the Light-Walkers, #1), is now available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes & Noble!

If you’ve read the novel, you can post your review at those two links as well as at Goodreads.

Stains of Grace is LIVE!

Demons and zombies and spirits, oh my!

WE HAVE A BOOK, Y’ALL!

I am beyond thrilled to announce that the Amazon sales page for Stains of Grace is live and happily awaiting your readerly clicking! Here’s a short synopsis of the novel, as well as the sales page link:

Stains of Grace (Demons of Saltmarch #3)


Anne Waylock thought she was safe. Safe from the madness of demons and the auguren who hunted them. Safe from her tumultuous feelings for the troubled Owin Moran. Safe from the pain of her best friend’s betrayal. Anne ran away from it all, and she never planned on looking back.

But when Legion and another new demon start hunting her, Anne realizes the only way to set earth, heaven, and hell right again is a return to Saltmarch — where she’ll have to face every fear she’s hidden from. But will redemption be her most terrifying enemy yet?

(Approximately 80,000 words.)

Buy now for $4.99 on Kindle!

Happy reading, sweet thangs! And don’t forget to leave a review. : )

Stains of Grace: More Music to Demon By

Novel Noveling Status Update

Oh, my dearest inklings: Stains of Grace is so, so very close to publication, I CAN TASTE ITS DONENESS.

“But alas!” you’re thinking. “Wherefore doth this much-desired tome not yet appear upon ye olde Amazon sales page?!?”

The answer, my dears, to that unhappy question is that (1) your author is pregnant and tired and (as of this writing) sleepless, and she therefore can’t write and edit and finalize as fast as she thought she could; and (2) the head of her indie publisher just yesterday completed his Master’s in Professional Writing and has been frantic to finish his studies.

We do apologize, loves. Sometimes, life just happens.

3:00pm Addendum:

Now, I am not just tasting the novel’s doneness. I HAVE CHEWED AND SWALLOWED ITS DONENESS. Stains of Grace is officially in the hands of the publisher, y’all. BANGERANG.

I CANNOT WAIT FOR YOU TO READ THIS BOOK.

So. With that out of the way, let’s move on. I anticipate our uploading the novel file to Amazon within the next 24 hours. After that, the Kindle version of Stains will hopefully go live — meaning that you can have the e-version of the book in your lovely, eager hands — no later than Monday!

In the Meantime…

You might, perhaps, recall the time I told you about the music I’ve listened to while writing the Demons of Saltmarch series. (If you don’t recall, just click on that link and check it out.) That post covered the playlists for Colors of Deception (Saltmarch #1) and Shadows after Midnight (Saltmarch #2).

Since you dears have all been so patient with me as I’ve scrambled to get Stains ready for you, I decided to go ahead and share its playlist with you. So here we go…

Stains of Grace Playlist

“The Strangest Party” by INXS (Anne)
“Girlfriend by” Phoenix (Peter)
“Devil Inside” by INXS
“Lights Out” by Breaking Benjamin (Polednitsa)
“Prodigal” by Porcupine Tree
“Papercut” by Linkin Park (Anne)
“I Don’t Care” by Apocalyptica (Anne)
“Burn for You” by INXS
“Suicide Blonde” by INXS (Dante)
“Living Dead Girl” by Rob Zombie
“I Will Not Bow” by Breaking Benjamin
“Afterglow” by INXS

As with the previous post, I’ve included characters’ names in parentheses. Each song has a particular meaning for that character — so, if you can’t stand the tease and you’re not afraid of a few teensy spoilers, you can look up the lyrics and get a glimpse into the thoughts and feelings of each named character.

You’ll notice that I didn’t include names for some of the songs. That’s because I didn’t want to provide you with *too* many potential spoilers. If you want to know what characters belong with these songs, you’ll just have to read the book and see if you can figure out who goes with what. If you’re really brave, you can pay close attention to the fact that the playlist follows the chronology of the story. ; )

All right, sweeties, I’m off to grab a snack and see if I can go back to sleep. It’s 5:15am, I’ve been awake since 2:30, and I think it’s time to attempt this voluntary unconsciousness thing again.

Oh, and if you just can’t stand the wait, and the playlist isn’t enough to keep you busy, pop over here for a reminder of how the Demons of Saltmarch started. It involves a vacuum cleaner.

G’night! (I hope.)

P.S. May the Fourth be with you.

Stains of Grace: Supermurgitroid Cover Art!

Hello, my dearest inklings!

Today, I start my final edits on Stains of Grace, the third and final novel in my paranormal fantasy trilogy Demons of Saltmarch. To celebrate, I’m giving you lovelies a preview of the Stains cover art, with which I am beyond thrilled. So, without further ado or adon’t, here it is:

HUGEST thanks to Julie V. Photography for the incredible artwork.

Another HUGEST thanks to Amy Nickerson Design for — as always — the superb trade dress.

These artists have done cover art and trade dress for all three Saltmarch novels. Their work blows my mind every time, and I feel that they make me look a whole lot more professional than I really am. ; )

Special thanks to the lovely Shauna, who was good enough to pose as main character Anne Waylock.

Stains of Grace is now on Goodreads, if you’d like to add it to your to-read shelf!

Specific publication date will be forthcoming. It’ll be before the end of the month, so I will keep you posted!

Being an author is so supermurgitroid, I can’t stand it. : )

Click to embiggen the cramazingness!

Books I Read in 2011

My To-Read Shelf for 2012 -- not counting ebooks!

Well, my lovelies, ’tis the last day of the year! Thus, it’s time for me to share with you the list of books I read this year.

I’m slightly disappointed in myself, because this year’s count is lower than last year’s.

In 2010, I read 58.5 books.

In 2011, I read 42.

What made the difference? Well, becoming a published author, for one. By necessity, I had to spend more time working on my own books than reading others’. There were days when I was so worn out by the time I finished my writing and editing, I had no mental capacity left over for reading. Sleep and vegging in front of Netflix had to take precedence.

I know, I know. What kind of writer am I, choosing a movie over a book? Sheesh. Mea culpa.

But another thing that cut into my writing time was becoming an acquisitions editor. When it comes to my own novels, Consortium Books is my indie publisher. But when it comes to novels by our Consortium artists, my job as acquisitions editor requires me to read each of those novels and (a) approve it for line and copy editing if it’s ready or (b) work with the writer on getting it ready if it’s not.

This, too, takes time. Sometimes, it means I’m reading the same book two or three times. Always, it means I’m reading fewer already-published works.

However, I have no complaints about devoting time to my own writing or to the writing of my cohorts. I’m helping get new works out into the world and into readers’ hands. That’s at least as valuable as reading works that are already out there, if not more so.

So, when I look at it from that perspective, I guess I’m not so disappointed in myself, after all. : )

(Not to mention the fact that a books-read count of 42 [aka answer to life, the universe, and everything] is not something I can argue with.)

Thus, without further ado or adon’t, here’s my 2011 list of books!

Books I Read in 2011

An asterisk indicates a favorite read for the year.

  1. The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain
  2. The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner by Stephenie Meyer
  3. *Lilith: A Snake in the Grass by Jack L. Chalker
  4. *Cerberus: A Wolf in the Fold by Jack L. Chalker
  5. *Charon: A Dragon at the Gate by Jack L. Chalker
  6. *Medusa: A Tiger by the Tail by Jack L. Chalker
  7. *Absolute All-Star Superman by Grant Morrison, Frank Quitely, Neal Adams
  8. *Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris
  9. Black: The Birth of Evil by Ted Dekker
  10. Relentless by Dean Koontz
  11. The Folk of the Fringe by Orson Scott Card
  12. Black Sun Rising by C.S. Friedman
  13. The Cure by Anthony Marais (not finished)
  14. Taliesin by Stephen R. Lawhead
  15. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen by Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill
  16. *The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
  17. Shadow’s Edge by Brent Weeks
  18. Magician: Apprentice by Raymond E. Feist
  19. Magician: Master by Raymond E. Feist
  20. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
  21. Ghost Targets: Restraint by Aaron Pogue
  22. The Walking Dead, Vol. 11 by Robert Kirkman, et al
  23. The Walking Dead, Vol. 12 by Robert Kirkman, et al
  24. The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
  25. The Dumb Bunnies’ Easter by Sue Denim and Dav Pilkey
  26. Serenity: Those Left Behind by Joss Whedon, Brett Matthews, Will Conrad
  27. Serenity: Better Days by Joss Whedon, Brett Matthews, Will Conrad
  28. *Black House by Stephen King and Peter Straub
  29. *Snow in August by Pete Hamill
  30. Conan, #1 by Robert E. Howard, L. Sprague de Camp, Lin Carter
  31. Storm Front (The Dresden Files, #1) by Jim Butcher
  32. A Consortium of Worlds, Vol. 1 (Fall Issue) by Consortium Books
  33. Death and the Dream by J. J. Brown
  34. Yesterday’s Gone, Episode 1 by Sean Platt and David Wright
  35. The Zombie Bible: Death Has Come Up into Our Windows by Stant Litore
  36. *Living Dead in Dallas by Charlaine Harris
  37. Secret Life of a TEEN Agent by Joshua Unruh
  38. Taming Fire (Dragonprince Trilogy, #1) by Aaron Pogue
  39. *The Dragonswarm (Dragonprince Trilogy, #2) by Aaron Pogue
  40. Resistance Front by Kindle All-Stars
  41. *Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson
  42. *Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

_____________________
How ’bout y’all? How many books did you read this year? What was your favorite? Tell us in the comments!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Weak Strengths or Strong Weaknesses?

Yeah, I wish this were my biceps. But it isn't.

Hey, inkling loves,

This week, I read this post by Becca J. Campbell. You really should click through and read, because Becca makes a great case for being honest with ourselves and with each other about our weaknesses…

…but especially telling ourselves the truth about our strengths.

One of my weaknesses is that I tend to be really hard on myself about my weaknesses, enough so that I’ll quietly beat myself up about them while presenting an everything’s-okay face to the people around me.

I work constantly at developing a level of transparency that will prevent me from hiding my self-doubt. It’s a lifelong growth process.

Along with that, I try to infuse into my heart a particular principle I read a few years back (sadly, I don’t remember where):

Focus on improving your weaknesses, and all you’ll end up with are strong weaknesses and weakened strengths.

Focus on building your strengths, and you’ll end up with strengths solid enough to carry you through the weaknesses.

 

My Solid Strengths

Becca’s post concerned our writing strengths specifically. So, in the interest of not beating myself up about my writing weaknesses, here are a few things I consider my writing strengths:

1. I have a good feel for language. This is one part innate talent, one part intensive training, and one part life experience. Although I don’t believe for a second that a person has to be born with a certain set of skills in order to be a writer, I did start writing when I was 8 years old. So I suspect there’s something inherited there. I am also the child of two teachers, one of whom taught English for 30 years. She sent me to school but also taught me at home, so I got it from all sides. And on top of that, I learned a foreign language (German) at age 3, which did all sorts of interesting and odd things to the way my brain processes and produces words. I bring all of that to bear on every sentence when I sit down to write.

2. I see scenes, characters, and actions as picture sequences in my head. If you read Becca’s post (which I think you should), you’ll see that I share this in common with her, and she calls it being a “visual writer.” When I’m crafting a story, I feel as though I’m watching a movie inside my head and simply writing down everything I see, hear, feel, and taste. Sometimes, a scene is blurry, and that’s when I know not to force too much detail into a scene. When it’s clear with crisp edges, I know it’s time to divulge more of what I’m seeing. I rarely have to rack my brains to figure out what something looks like.

3. I’ve experienced Not Writing. If you’ve read my posts tagged “confessions”, you know that there was a period of years during which I forgot that I was created to create. I forgot that I was allowed to be a writer. I sank into horrid darkness and turned bitter, sorrow-filled, and hostile. But now that I’m out of that, I’ve gained a deeper appreciation for the gifts of creativity, freedom, time, and support. I know where I’ve been; I know I never want to go back; and I know that the best way to give thanks for the gifts (and to declare the One who gave them to me) is to apply myself to writerdom with uncompromising passion.

4. I don’t believe in “writer’s block.” Strength #3 pretty much takes care of this for me. I practice gratitude and passion by not allowing “writer’s block” to stop me. When I experience the I-don’t-wanna lassitude or the words-just-aren’t-there frustration, I know that my reaction cannot be simply to stop writing. When “writer’s block” hits, I know it’s a challenge to think and work harder. Is my attitude the problem? Is the story broken somewhere? Do I need to change writing locations? (For more on writing locations, read this post.)
“Writer’s block” never means that I can’t write. It only means I need to rethink, review, revise, or relocate.

5. I have a keen awareness of cause-and-effect (aka “what’s the because?).
Cause: My mom did not go with my dad when his quartet, The Four Naturals, made a recording in Nashville in 1966.
Effect: The Four Naturals didn’t get my mom’s “managerial” advice while in Nashville, so they never went pop, and my family ended up moving to Germany in 1980.
Cause: In 1940, Frances Hair eloped with Wilborn Weger instead of going to college.
Effect: I exist.
Cause: Aaron and I played Rockband together at a church party in May 2009.
Effect: I’m published.
Cause: In my WIP (Elevator People), side character Joplin giggles when main character Went says the word “pickpocket.”
Effect: Ten chapters later, they end up battling a psychopath and a vampire on a planet in another dimension.
And so forth.
Cause-and-effect are what you might call “essential” to life. And to a story’s development. ; )

_______________________
So! There are a few of my writing strengths. What are some of yours? Share in the comments! Or, even better, write your own blog post about your writing strengths and share the link with us!

Making this list required some clear thinking and deep analysis on my part: honest reflection and a stern refusal to let myself slip into self-deprecation mode. Yes, this was all focused on writing…but it was also an act of kindness toward myself as a person. If you’re reading this, and you’re not a writer, I encourage you to make a list of your own strengths in whatever area you like. Let yourself accentuate the positive; show your Self some love.

If you can demonstrate compassion toward You in this way, you’ll be able to do the same for people around you. And blessing others with compassion is a strength worth solidifying in each of us.

SHADOWS AFTER MIDNIGHT live at Amazon!

Hello, my dears! I know it’s been a stupid long time since you’ve heard anything substantial from me here. I am so very sorry! But it’s because I’ve been working hard to get you this:

The paperback of SHADOWS AFTER MIDNIGHT is now available at Amazon. Click here to buy your copy, and happy reading!

For those of you who want a little more detail:

Peter Townsend is not normal and doesn’t play well with normals. He belongs to the ancient line of auguren, demon hunters with only one goal: Protect ordinary humans from their demonic tempters.

But last year, protecting Holly Idaho shattered Peter’s world. When Dante Mullins, the demon hunting Holly, spirited her away to the infernal realm of Saltmarch, Peter went through hell to save her. Falling in love with her wasn’t part of the plan. Neither was leaving Dante alive.

Now Dante is back, and Holly is missing. Holly’s friends Anne and Owin insist on joining Peter in the furious search. But when a new demon enters the fray, one that makes Dante look angelic, its nightmarish power threatens to consume them all.

The loyalties of friendship might be more help than Peter can deal with. This time, saving Holly might just cost him his soul.

BUY NOW:
SHADOWS AFTER MIDNIGHT (Demons of Saltmarch 2)

Many thanks to Julie V. Photography, Amy Nickerson Design, and model Andy Sawatzky for the cramazing cover art!

And do click to embiggen. It’s way cool. : )