eboni indie conThe last time I wrote an entry, I was telling you all about my Rone Award finalist status. Since then, I’ve put together a costume to cosplay one of my characters, Desiri Lilias (who you’ll meet in The Third Gambit), bought my first Square and cash box to take to conventions so I can sell my book, had book bling made (I’ll have pictures of that soon), will be on some author panels, will have a signing table at a convention, and… won two more awards :D.

Yeah, you know I wanted to say that last part first. The Fourth Piece, my baby, won Most Promising Series in the Red City Review Book Awards and a bronze medal for Young Adult Science Fiction in the Reader’s Favorite 2017 Book Award Contest. I received a real bronze medal (bit it and everything. It is real!) I am attending the award ceremony for Reader’s Favorite in November (it’s in Miami) and am still going to the Ind’Scribe Reader Con to attend the award ceremony for the Rone Award in a week. I’m so excited! I can’t wait to meet the authors I’ve been in contact with as we prepare for the convention. Woohoo! I’ve also lost my mind and am driving to the convention. Yes, Burbank is only six hours away, but ugh! I’m one of those annoying “Are we there yet???” people. Three hours in the car is my limit.

But wait until you hear the reason I decided not to fly–or rather, the decision was made for me. You can’t bring swords on a plane as a carry-on, not even wooden ones. Yeah, my costume has bokkens, real ones, and they are heavy! I have a back-strap carrier for them that makes me feel like Leonardo (if you don’t get that reference, you are too young to talk to me, lol).  Of course, after I bought said bokkens and realized that now I have to drive, I think “Oh, I should ask the convention leaders if I can bring these.” I can :D. And since my bokkens pass inspection, I will assume my bow and arrows will too (these are fake, but the bow looks great.)

Now that I’ve gushed about awards and swords and wigs, I want to share something else I’ve been working on: National Indie Author Day 2017. The library I work at is participating in this event for the first time, and I was given the task to organize it. It’s probably the biggest event I’ve ever had to put together. Sixteen indie authors will be in- house presenting panels and workshops. Figuring out ways to communicate and get them to communicate with each other was interesting; promoting the event was fun. I’m expecting a small article in one of the local papers about our Indie Author Day event. I can’t wait to share it with the authors involved, though I’m afraid of one thing. A photographer came out and took my picture, but didn’t let me see the shots. I’m afraid there will be a blow-up of me with my mouth half-open, eyes half-closed. Bad pictures seem to live forever.

Jumping topics again, because it’s late and my mind’s bouncing around, I want to end this with a little writing rant at myself. So, I am very excited about upcoming award ceremonies, and wish-wish-wish that I’d had it together and had my second manuscript done, so that I could maybe go to these events and say: The sequel’s coming out soon. Instead, I can’t. I wasn’t that mad about it a month ago, because I’ve really been struggling to get the story out and right. Then, I made a discovery that made me want to smack myself in the face with a brick. (Well, not really, because that’d hurt, but you get the point.) I’m writing multiple perspectives and most of the people are in different places with different arcs. When I switch perspectives, it’s almost like moving to a new story. So, every other chapter, I was writing a new story, and when I’d go back to a particular character, I’d lost touch with their arc. So why did I choose to keep jumping around? Stupid. I should have written each character’s arc straight through to the end, then shuffled the chapters like cards, so that the POV’s still alternate but I’d lose nothing. I would SO be finished by now, if I’d done that before. I’m doing it now. I smell an ending.

And all this talk of endings makes me think I should end this. It just gets more random as I go, and let me tell you, I can keep going. If you’ve read anything on this blog before, you know that last sentence is true. Pictures, of everything, to come!  But for tonight, in the words of Yakko Warner, “Goodnight everybody!” (And if you don’t get that reference, you are WAY too young to talk to me ;D ).

Take care!

 

 

philosopher-mugThe strangest conversations or random thoughts keep me up at night. Sometimes, I write the ideas down and sometimes I call somebody up and ponder with them until that person is either as confused as I am, or ready to hang up, lol. I’m the only only person I know who seems not to need sleep… until about an hour before work. So, here is the latest question that was brought up to me during a writers critique group. What is the definition of “person”? Meaning: what is considered a person and what is not?

I’m steadily working on my second book, The Third Gambit, and for all of you who’ve read or just know a little something about my series Order’s Last Play, you know most of my cast aren’t human. The Fourth Piece, the first book, takes place mostly on Earth, but this second book does not. My characters encounter, interact with, and befriend many different races of alien people. A particular scene has to do with one of the Ladreth brothers discussing the fate of another alien race, and he refers to them as people. A fellow writer said: Oh, I’m confused. I thought Devon was the only “person” in this scene. I blink, confused myself, because there are seven other characters hanging around. Come to find out that to this writer, because Devon is the only character in the scene who is at least half human, he is the only one considered to be a “person”, everyone else is a creature. Another writer said: No, they are all people in this scene because they are humanoid in appearance.

Well, some of my aliens are not humanoid in appearance, are they then creatures? Also, one writer’s definition of “person” was that to be a person you had to be from a certain planet. Well, then to an alien’s perspective, I’m not a person and neither is the other writer. Rather than get into a debate, we moved on to another story, but it didn’t stop me from thinking about it. Especially when the other writer then said she was going to look up the definition of the word “person” for next group.

When I got home, I looked up the word “person”. The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines it as: human, individual; the body of a human being; the personality of a human being; one that is recognized by law as the subject of rights and duties. **Author’s note: This definition has been truncated due to excessive length, lol.** If I were to use the first and second definitions, my fellow writers were right in saying my non-human characters are not people or are only considered people if they appear humanoid. If I were to use the last definition, then all of my characters are people… but this last definition is troubling.

According to this definition, those who are not given rights by law are not people. In certain places in the world, and in certain time periods, there are and were individuals who are not/were not protected by law or given certain rights: slaves, women, non-Christians, the disabled, the mentally ill. Does/did that make them not people? Well, to a lot of others, they weren’t, and did these others make up definitions to exclude folks they didn’t think much of or wanted control over, yes. I would love to bite into that debatable nugget too, but I’m getting off-track. So, back to definitions and writers groups.

So, next week, I know that my fellow writer will probably come in to read to me the definition of “person” that she found in a dictionary, and I need something to combat it with. I started looking at the definition of “person” from a philosophical standpoint and took bits and pieces from others along with some of my own ideas and came up with the following. In my opinion, a person is a self-aware being in possession of higher mental facilities, capable of independent thought, reasoning, and reflection, and that has language or means of communication. Using this definition, I can conclude that all of my characters are people.

I also want to take this one step further as the subject of my first book was meant to parallel current and past equality movements. In my book, Visitors (people not native to Earth) and vulattos (offspring of Visitors and humans) are discriminated against. In the eyes of the humans who won’t accept them, they are creatures and non-people, meaning they don’t have feelings or thoughts and are not intelligent. The moral of the story is that the definition of a person is: a self-aware being in possession of higher mental facilities, capable of independent thought, reasoning, and reflection, and that has language or means of communication. Those who come from a different place and look differently than you and who may do things differently are not beneath you or so unlike you that you can regard them as things or animals, because if you’re not a person what else can you be? And all people are to be treated with dignity and respect and should be given unspoken rights to fair treatment and protected by law.

I wrote about the importance of tolerance, but used aliens as a literary device. I guess it kind of stings to hear that assessment from someone who read the first book and is now well into the second. I wanted to smack myself in the face and moan about how I failed. I wanted to say: That was the mentality I was attacking, and you didn’t get it! But I didn’t want to preach (not at the meeting anyway). Not everybody is going to get what you put on the page and why, but for those who do, and who let you know that they got it, it’s great.

So, my purpose for writing this is to give a definition of the word “person” as it relates to a speculative writer who features beings from other planets as characters. Why?–because our silly Earth dictionaries aren’t cutting it :D. I know I got on my soapbox a little bit, and got off task, because phew, a lot was said to get out that one little definition. But I feel better for having shared all this. No hard feelings toward anyone. What was said tonight really bugged me. I know it was said in innocence and I doubt the writer was thinking of equality movements or social justice, just the written terms “creatures” versus “humans” and I took it to another level. Had she used the word “human” I’d have been fine, but to say someone who feels, thinks and reacts is not a “person” just rubbed me the wrong way.

Okay, it’s late, I’m yawning, but probably won’t go to sleep for hours. Let’s see if I can be productive and maybe get some writing done. Sorry to pop back up after a month of silence with philosophy, but hey, I like being random. It keeps me interesting.

Until next time!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

mugWhat is “nicety”? Nicety, pronounced nice-stee, is a mash-up of the words “nice” and “nasty”. To be nicety means to literally kill with kindness. When someone is awful to you, you respond in your kindest tone with the sweetest look on your face, using your most proper and polite diction… with a subtle undertone of either sarcasm or condescension that some people never catch. I exercise a lot of nicety while providing customer service to difficult patrons and lately, dealing with HOA (Home Owners Association) for the condo I’m currently renting.

My front door broke and the woman I had to deal was snotty and rude each time I spoke to her. At one point, she snapped at me. I remained pleasant but firm in what I needed her to do. Later, I texted her with something like this: I appreciate your taking the time to work with me in rescheduling my appointment (kind and flattering). From your tone the other day, I could tell you were quite upset (kind but, here’s the nice-ty, I’m actually scolding her for being rude). I apologize for being a difficult person to work with, and hope that you don’t think badly of me (my tone sounds genuine, but I’m being sarcastic as all get out). Have a wonderful day (I wish this on everyone). Five seconds later, she calls and apologizes profusely. This is a prime example of using your words. I could have easily fussed at her, but all that would have done was escalated an already tense situation. Instead, I defused it, and made her feel guilty. :D. Nicety works!

Okay, I had to get that tangent off my chest for the moment. Now, it’s time to tell you about some author stuff. So, I made my radio debut last Sunday. You can listen here if you’re interested, but here’s what I learned. I love radio and I want a radio show! I would have YA authors come on all the time to read snippets and leave listeners on cliff hangers. Audio books on demand. ( I know, I’m such a nerd and things like that went out a lo-o-ong time ago. But I think we could bring it back.)

And, tomorrow, I’m gong to be on a plane to LAX to do an author meet and greet and book signing at a comic store near Santa Clarita. My friend’s book group read The Fourth Piece, and I get to sit in on the discussion. Hope I’m not ripped to shreds, lol, but I’m really looking forward to it. After that, I’m going to Harry Potter Land LA!

I’m going to do another blog post after the comic book store signing to talk about how it went, and to make another exciting announcement. I think things are going well for me and The Fourth Piece. I’m learning so much and when it’s time for Book II (The Third Gambit) I’ll be better prepared.

Until tomorrow!

 

 

 

plateau point

A writing plateau, I mean. A month ago, my fingers were flying over the keys. The flow of my sequel was non-stop. I couldn’t spend enough time writing. Then, I took a break to do some editing, and the flow stopped. I was very smart–because I know myself–and got the sequel to a good plot point before I stopped to edit. I did it mainly because I knew this would happen. I still have a goal of finishing before my birthday, but I am much farther behind than I’d planned to be.

I’ve got about 10 new pages now, but it’s not the flow I had before. I started scheduling writing marathons and such, wanting to meet up with people and write. I’m going to start kidnapping myself after work again and going to cafes to write. I swear my apartment is like a black hole that sucks up all energy when I arrive. I open my laptop and end up surfing the web. On a high note,  I did finish a fan fiction chapter for a story that’s been dead in the water for 6 months :D. Happy about that? Yes, I am. But is it what I’m supposed to be doing? No, lol.

I think my problem with the sequel is, as I’ve said before, that I’ve never gotten this far in the story I’m telling. I’ve always had the plan for The Fourth Piece in mind. There are so many drafts of it. But making it to Book II and knowing all the ground I have to cover? Maybe I’m intimidated. I don’t know. I really like what I have. I think it’s exciting, and I think it has the potential to be better than The Fourth Piece, but I have to deliver. It does make me nervous. I slurp in all the feedback I can get as I write The Third Gambit (Book II). I want to know how it’s doing, if it’s losing people, if I’m drowning the audience in backstory or leaving them too thirsty for knowledge.

I miss having deadlines. When I was in grad school, once a month, I had to have 25 pages of something to submit. I’m a member of multiple writers groups, but I’m cheating. I have so much of The Third Gambit already written that I have materials for two months worth of meetings. So, there’s no pressure there. But you know what, I should respect my personal deadlines the same way I’d respect an assignment’s deadline. I’m really going to shape up and do this. I will write something on my book everyday, even if it’s only a few words. Who knows, those few words might be what turns the flow back on. I still have another round of editing to do on The Fourth Piece, but this time I won’t stop writing new stuff while I’m going through edits.

New news (hah!) for The Fourth Piece. I got to do some sketching. I haven’t sketched in years, but I’m not terrible at it. My main characters, the Ladreth brothers, have strange markings on their spines that end up being very important to the story. I describe the marks, and then was asked to draw them because they might look cool on the cover. I sent over a rough sketch, which will be redesigned, and I might get to see a version of it on the new cover mock-ups. What else? Networking is awesome. I know some fabulous people and authors who are imparting me with their knowledge…and connections for promotion. It’s all so exciting!

New news (haha!) for me? I just got Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare. Somebody did spoil a little of it for me, but I’m still looking forward to reading it. I’m not quite ready to leave the world of the Shadow Hunters just yet. Do I hope to read some cameos of Magnus Bane and Alec Lightwood? Yes! Do I want to see Jem and Tessa wander into the plot and never leave? YES. But I’m also happy for a new story too. So, I’m sure I’ll love it. Other news? I’m moving to a new place! Totally renovated, which is what I like. Maybe a new space will spark some creativity (here’s for hoping!)

So, back to writing… and reading!… and editing. Until next time! 🙂