Two Questions With… Anne Raven

This week I am very happy to host my friend Anne Raven on the third round of the “Two Questions With…” blog tour.

Huge thanks to Anne for taking the time to participate. I’m really glad you came along for the ride.

Now I’m going to step out of the way and let Anne do her thing:

Thank you, Ken, for hosting me on your blog today as part of our “Two questions with…” series. I’m Anne Raven, and I write romance, anything from suspense to paranormal.

1. If you could give Past You one piece of advice, what would it be?

Embrace the writing community!

 

It took a very long time for me to find my perfect critique partners. I tried several different avenues, searching for writers with a similar critique style to me, who were not only wonderful writers who wrote books I was excited to read, but also gave honest, helpful feedback. Last year, I entered Pitch Wars, and it’s been the best way to find my community of writers. I’ve gained wonderful friends and awesome critique partners, writers who are there for me and support me no matter what.

Having a support system in place is extremely important in any situation, but I think writing can be isolating if you don’t embrace the amazing community out there, waiting to welcome you. I know it’s tough if you’re an introvert like me, but those connections can make all the difference in your writing life. I don’t know what I’d do without my writer friends. They mean the world to me.

2. What is your “Go-to” thing that you treat yourself to when you finish a first draft?

This depends, really. I’ve treated myself to reading a new book, or spending some time on a painting I’ve been putting off (I’ve been known to dabble, but nothing serious), or maybe a little baking time. Most often the treat is to get stuck into a shiny new project or dive into revisions straight away.

However, when I finished drafting my last manuscript, I treated myself to binge re-watching the entire Roswell series. Yes, the 1999 TV series. I loved it as a teen, and I’d been dying to watch it again, despite not being a huge TV person. So, the minute I wrote those final words, I dove into Roswell, and was not disappointed. It was the perfect thing to give my brain a rest, to get lost in something else, something I hadn’t created, and because I’d already seen it as a teen, I sort of knew what was going to happen. It was easy and fun, exactly what I needed after writing an emotionally taxing draft. The best part was that it refueled my creative well, and I think that’s the ideal “treat” for any writer.

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Bio

Anne Raven was born and raised along the windy coast of South Africa, and can assure everyone there are no lions roaming the streets—unless you count the feral cat next door. When not reading or writing, you’ll find her being bossed around by her adorable niece, taking freshly baked goods from the oven, or drinking too much coffee. Her romantic suspense IN THE NAME OF THE MOTHER was showcased in Pitch Wars 2017. Anne is represented by Amanda Jain at BookEnds Literary Agency.

WEBSITE
Anne Raven

BLOG

Anneraven.wordpress.com

TWITTER

@ARaven_writer

INSTAGRAM

raven_anne

PINTREST

anne6726

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Thanks for stopping by. Be sure to check out the other blogs on the tour today:

Janet Walden-West

Pat Esden

Anne Raven

 

 

 

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Writing and Authoring

Before I get into the meat of today’s post, I’d like to mention that the “Two Questions With…” blog tour will soon be heading into its third, and final week on Monday.

In case you haven’t heard,”Two Questions With…” is a blog tour where I and some amazing author friends of mine will each be answering two questions on each other’s blogs. Come join the discussion to find out what makes this small group of writers tick. It’ll be a great time.

Who are the other authors, you ask?

They are:

Janet Walden-West

Pat Esden

Anne Raven

What questions will we be answering? Well, you’ll just have to tune in and find out.

Here’s the schedule:

June 11th – Janet Walden-West and I, and Pat Esten and Anne Raven.

June 18th – Pat Esden and I, and Janet Walden-West and Anne Raven.

June 25th – Anne Raven and I, and Pat Esden and Janet Walden-West.

On with the post:

This week I’d like to talk about the difference between Writing and Authoring. You’ll sometimes hear the two words used interchangeably, but there is a dividing line between the two. Depending on where you look, this line is of varying shades of grey.

By far, my favorite definition of the two comes from Dean Wesley-Smith.

A Writer is someone who Writes.

An Author is someone who has Written.

Obviously two different hats here, right?

The thing is, if you’re going to make a career out of this, you’re going to have to figure out how to wear both hats – sometimes at the same time.

I don’t think I’ll get much push-back when I say that the Writer hat is on all the time. I know it’s always on for me. There are times where I’m more aware of it than others, but it’s always there.

I’ll get to the Author hat in just a moment, but I want to say one more thing about the Writer hat: It fits inside the Author hat. The way I’m thinking about it, it’s like the Writer hat is a Baseball hat, and the Author hat is like a batting helmet*. The Author hat is there to protect the Writer hat.

When I sit down to write, I take my Author hat off. There shouldn’t be anything between the Writing hat and the page.

When I’m done writing, I put the Author hat back on. It feels good. I like putting the Author hat back on.

Now it used to be that the Author hat was something that you’d put on, and take off as you needed it, but now-a-days, it’s becoming something that you wear just about all the time.**

As the face of publishing changes, there’s more and more work for the Author to do.

Creating and maintaining a blog? Author hat.***

Social media presence and interaction? Author hat.

Con appearances and Readings? Author hat.

Being a Writer, and being an Author are both very complicated and busy tasks. The Writer’s tasks are simple:**** Write. That’s basically it. The Writing takes different forms, up to and including staring off into space noodling over the work.

The Author’s tasks are more complex. Or, maybe it would be more accurate to say that they are more varied.

The Author is concerned with the long game. Building readership, carving out a place for yourself in the world, engaging with readers and fans. As an Author, I’m constantly on the lookout for ways that I can get myself out there. How I can reach more people and build readership. And I’ve got to figure out how to do it that doesn’t – or at least minimally – impact the Writing time.

The “Two Questions With…” blog tour that I mentioned above. Total Author hat territory.

Regardless of whether or not you decide to go the traditional publishing route, or self publish your work, more and more you’re going to need to be comfortable wearing the Author hat.

Today, publishers are looking for partnership with their authors.***** They aren’t going to have a lot of money budgeted for promotion – they may have a little – but this is you and your publisher working together as a team to do the best you can for your work.

And if you’re self-publishing? Self-promotion is part of the job description.

In either case, nobody is going to care as much about your work as you, the Author.

And this is a good thing. Remember, the Author is playing the long game: Protect the Writer so that the Writer can do their thing, promote the work, engage with the readers and fans, put on a good show at conventions and readings, and do it all without taking up the time the Writer needs to do their thing.

It’s a juggling act, and both hats will demand that you make sacrifices or, at the very least, maintain a certain level of organization.

What does the Author get out of it?

The Writer has the work and all of the awesome associated with it. Those times when the pieces fall into place, that one line of amazing dialog that just nails it, those scenes, or pieces of scenes that grab you in the emotions, all of those are for the Writer.

The Author has the readers. The people at your readings that want you to keep going, the ones that bought your work and are asking you to sign it. The evidence that you said, or did something at an appearance somewhere that had a direct impact on a sale. The Author gets to hear the good stuff first and pass it on to the Writer.

The Author gets to hang out at Bar-Con – with other Authors.

It’s becoming clear (to me at least…your mileage may vary) that the Writer and the Author are two parts of the same whole in today’s market.

The skills are different, but valuable if you’re going to make a go of this professionally.

 

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Be Sure to stop by the Freebies page for story Excerpts.

Also be sure to stop by on Monday for the Third and Final week of the “Two Questions With…” blog tour. Head on over to the Events page for the schedule and links to the other Author’s websites.

 

Time: 3:01 pm (ish)

Music: AC/DC – D.T.

* Or a cycling hat and a cycling helmet. I’m going to encourage you to take the metaphor and run with it. As long as you end up with a soft hat that fits inside a much harder piece of headgear, you’re good. You do You.

** Except when, you know, you’re actually writing.

*** No, writing your blog posts do not count as writing. Working on your current project is writing – even if you’re not actually, physically, writing.

**** Simple ain’t the same as easy. You confuse the two at your peril.

***** Unless – or until – you’re a Top-Name Writer.

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Friday Fess-Up: June 22nd

Happy Friday Everyone!! We Made it!!

Before I get into the meat of today’s Fess-Up post, I’d like to mention that the “Two Questions With…” blog tour will soon be heading into its third, and final week on Monday.

In case you haven’t heard,”Two Questions With…” is a blog tour where I and some amazing author friends of mine will each be answering two questions on each other’s blogs. Come join the discussion to find out what makes this small group of writers tick. It’ll be a great time.

Who are the other authors, you ask?

They are:

Janet Walden-West

Pat Esden

Anne Raven

What questions will we be answering? Well, you’ll just have to tune in and find out.

Here’s the schedule:

June 11th – Janet Walden-West and I, and Pat Esten and Anne Raven.

June 18th – Pat Esden and I, and Janet Walden-West and Anne Raven.

June 25th – Anne Raven and I, and Pat Esden and Janet Walden-West.

On with the post:

Ok, so it looks like Five Thing Thursday is going to become a regular thing. I’ve enjoyed doing it and it keeps me on my toes during the week, looking out for awesome stuff that I might otherwise have breezed past. Win-Win for everyone. You can check out the latest Five Thing Thursday here.

I think that I might finally be on top of the whole Allergies thing. I still haven’t slept a solid eight hours since Balticon but I’m also not dripping like a leaky hose*.

Be that as it may, I still must confess to only writing two days this week out of the usual five. Getting enough rest is still paramount, but it still stings to be out of action as much as I have been.

I have discovered something new, lately: Writing by hand appears to be becoming a thing. I’ll get up in the morning, get the coffee flowing, and start by writing out two pages (ish) long hand. Apparently, I can type faster than I can think – well, now that I think about it – That’s probably not what’s going on. What I do know is that the slower flow of the words through the pen somehow allow me to get the words lined up one after the other easier.

We’ll see how it goes.

Speaking of going, I’m closing steadily on 50 k words on the current project (Working Title: Jade Moon Waning). I wasn’t sure if I’d get this far – for a number of reasons, most of them rooted in self doubt. Now I’m in a space where I was recently talking about finishing off the next 50 k words as a matter of course.

And that, friends is a good place to be in.

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Be sure to stop by on Sunday for the regular post.

Also be sure to stop by the Freebies page for story Excerpts.

Don’t forget: The third, and Final week of the Two Questions With… Blog tour kicks off Monday! Stop by the Events page for the full schedule and to get caught up with the previous questions.

 

*Now it’s more like wet concrete in my chest. I really dislike allergies

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Five Thing Thursday: June 21st

Hello Everyone! Welcome to another installment of Five Thing Thursday!

Here are five things I want you to know:

Thing #1: 

The “Two Questions With…” Blog tour will be going into its Third and Final week on Monday, June 25th

Join me, Janet Walden-West, Pat Esden,  and Anne Raven as we each answer two questions on our respective blogs!

What questions will we be answering? Well, you’ll just have to tune in and find out.

Here’s the schedule:

June 11th – Janet Walden-West and I, and Pat Esten and Anne Raven.

June 18th – Pat Esden and I, and Janet Walden-West and Anne Raven.

June 25th – Anne Raven and I, and Pat Esden and Janet Walden-West.

Come join the conversation with me and some of my amazing writer friends!!

Thing #2:

In an attempt to broaden my horizons a little bit, I challenged myself this year to read some things that I wouldn’t ordinarily read. This has led me to an interest in the biographies of Creative people.

I’m always interested in finding out how someone got their start, and the paths they took that brought them to where they are as a creative professional.

This last round of books have included some singers and the thing I want you to know is that there is a hell of a lot more to singing than meets the eye.

On some level, I knew that there was work involved, but professional level singing is so far out of my experience that the intricacies went clear over my head until I started reading about them. 90 minutes of warm up was a stunner for me. The sheer number of places in the mouth, tongue, and throat for sound to bounce off of was staggering. And pros are cognizant of this. They can target specific areas to achieve a specific kind of sound. Different kinds of illnesses can impact certain aspects of a professional’s voice while leaving others completely untouched.

There is way more to it than I thought, and I think that’s pretty cool.

Thing #3:

The New Zealand Women’s Rugby team: The Black Ferns recently became the first professionally contracted Women’s sports team in Rugby history!

Go Ferns! Go Women’s Rugby!! I wish this were a bigger thing in the States.

Thing #4:

I am also making an attempt this year to broaden my horizons musically. I’ve spent time collecting and listening to new bands (in most cases, new to me) and I plan on mentioning them occasionally.

Unleash the Archers is a Canadian Power Metal band and they are amazing!! If you’re into power metal and you’re not listening to them…you probably should be.

Thing #5:

If you’ve been on any kind of social media this week…well, it’s a trash fire out there.  The fifth thing that I want you to know this week is this:

Whatever you are struggling with, whatever battles you are fighting, or are about to fight, I want you to know that I see you. I believe in you. Be sure to take the time you need to take care of yourself. You got this.

See you on Friday!

 

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Be sure to check out the Freebies Page for story Excerpts

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Two Questions With… Pat Esden

This week I am very happy to host my friend Pat Esden on the second round of the “Two Questions With…” blog tour.

Huge thanks to Pat for taking the time to participate. I’m really glad you came along for the ride.

Now I’m going to step out of the way and let Pat do her thing:

Hi everyone—and a huge thank you to Ken for inviting me to be here today. My name is Pat Esden. I’m the author of the Dark Heart series and the Northern Circle Coven series. My novels are contemporary paranormal for adults with a touch of darkness and strong romantic elements.

  1. What attracted you to your genre(s)?

I write fantasy set in the contemporary world because I love the idea of magic being within our grasp. What if the things we dream about or imagine are real, the dangerous and the wonderful? I also like how fantasy can empower the average person to make a huge difference, something I believe we are capable of doing with or without magic.

  1. Do you see any issues in your genre and how are you addressing them?

I wouldn’t say as much issues as the importance of keeping up with the fast sweeping changes in my chosen genres. I straddle the line between romance and fantasy. My books feature some open door sex, so things like consent, safe sex, as well as gender and sexual identity need to be considered at length when I develop my stories and characters. Today’s romance novels are not the same as the bodice rippers from the distant past, but they also are different from the romance of even five years ago. Reading newly published books and being aware of changes is beyond important.

PRE-ORDER TODAY

HIS DARK MAGIC (Northern Circle Coven series book 1)

 

 

Its power is legendary. It can fulfill every impossible magical desire. But for one young witch seeking redemption, the Northern Circle coven will challenge her skills—and her heart—beyond measure.

One tragic impulsive mistake made Chloe Winslow an outcast to her influential magic family. As a medical student, she wants to combine science with sorcery to heal those she hurt and right her wrongs. But brilliant, charismatic Devlin Marsh re-routes her plans with a once-in-eternity offer: membership in the exclusive Northern Circle, a mysterious Vermont coven known for pushing the limits.

Enthralled by Devlin and their mesmerizing mutual attraction, Chloe makes a dangerous sacrifice to help the Circle’s high priestess awaken Merlin himself—and learn his timeless cures. But a foreshadowing soon causes Chloe to doubt the Circle’s real motives, as well as Devlin’s . . .

Now Merlin’s demonic shade is loose in the human world, while Chloe and Devlin’s uneasy alliance will pit them against ancient enemies, malevolent illusions, and shattering betrayal. And with the fate of two realms in the balance, Chloe must risk her untried power against a force she can’t defeat—and a passion that could destroy her.

|BARNES & NOBLE | KOBO | IBOOKS | AMAZON |

BIO:

Pat Esden would love to say she spent her childhood in intellectual pursuits. The truth is she was fonder of exploring abandoned houses and old cemeteries. When not out on her own adventures, she can be found in her northern Vermont home writing stories about brave, smart women and the men who capture their hearts.

She is the author of the contemporary paranormal Dark Heart series from Kensington Books, and the upcoming Northern Circle Coven series. Her short fiction has appeared in a number of publications, including Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show, the Mythopoeic Society’s Mythic Circle, George Scither’sCat Tales Anthology, and the Fragments of Darkness anthology.

 

WEBSITE |GOODREADS |FACEBOOK|TWITTER | BLOG |PINTEREST|

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Thanks for stopping by. Be sure to check out the other blogs on the tour today:

Janet Walden-West

Pat Esden

Anne Raven

And be sure to stop back next week for another Two Questions With…

 

 

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Revision Progress

Happy Sunday Everyone!!

Before I get into the meat of today’s post I was to take a moment to say:

Happy Father’s Day!!

Happy Father’s day to all of the dad’s out there. Thank you for doing what you do.

And Dad, if you’re reading this, I love you. Thanks for being the kind of guy that I can always look up to – no matter how tall I got.

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So this brings us to the end of the three part series on Progress.

If you recall, two weeks ago, I talked about Drafting Progress. Last week I switched gears to talk about Editing Progress.

This week, we’re going into revision.

I’m going to keep going with the sculpting metaphor here and, hopefully it stays together better than it did last week (I did warn you..).

At the end of the editing process, you’ve got your sculpture down. You’ve got your shapes, and contours, and you’ve gotten rid of all of the grossly unnecessary stuff that isn’t part of the story. You’ve also probably added stuff to your sculpture (which is where the metaphor fell apart last week), to flesh out the bits that needed it.

All of your heavy editing is done. During the revision process, you’re polishing the work, smoothing out the rough patches. This isn’t the time for hammer and chisel, this is the time for intimacy.

This is where you lay your bare hands on the work and – with increasingly fine sandpaper – you’re smoothing out localized rough patches with care. You’re adding the touches that only you can add, using fine rasp and sandpaper to get the curve of a shoulder just right, to get the feel of muscle just beneath the surface.

This kind of Progress is hard to quantify. Doing it solely by word count becomes ever more elusive. You could spend ten minutes on a single line of dialogue that doesn’t sound completely right, then change a single word, which changes the entire line to where it’s just what you wanted to say.

Do that for an hour and you’ve got 6 words which isn’t a realistic representation of that hour’s worth of work.

Pages edited isn’t an accurate counter either. This time around, you’re not starting at Page 1, word 1, and working your way through the entire work. This is all about polishing, adding texture to make the work really shine.

Since they are usually localized pieces of the work, you might be jumping around through the manuscript,* polishing here, adding texture there.

If you’re focus is on word count, I’m going to continue to recommend that you use the same technique you used during the editing process: One hour of time = an average of the usual number of words you can type during an hour of drafting.

During this phase, I’m more concerned with the total number of individual polishes that need to be made. This gives me a finite number, and I tick individual items off as they are completed.

This approach will only probably only make sense to you, since it relies a bit on internal shorthand. If I were to Tweet that I’d knocked out five revisions today, well that makes it sound like I’ve revised five manuscripts, and…well lets just say something that starts with, “Not on my best day…”

As I get more and more into the revision process, I begin to think of Progress in terms of Time spent revising.

It’s more personal – but so is revision.

 

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If you’ve stuck with me this far, I want to thank you for coming along for the ride.

Be sure to check out the Freebies page for story Excerpts.

Also, be sure to stop by Monday for the second round of the “Two Questions With…” Blog tour.

This week I’m hosting the amazing Pat Esden

For the complete schedule of the Tour and who is participating, check out the Events page.

Be Safe Y’All!!

 

Time – 12:58 pm – ish

Music: Blind Guardian – Wheel of Time

 

*Unless you’re like me – linear. In that case, you start at the first rough spot, and work your way through them in order.

 

 

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Friday Fess-Up: June 15th

Happy Friday Everyone!! We Made it!!

Before I get into the meat of today’s Fess-Up post, I’d like to mention that the “Two Questions With…” blog tour will soon be heading into its second week.

In case you haven’t heard,”Two Questions With…” is a blog tour where I and some other authors will each be answering two questions on each other’s blogs and it’ll be a great time.

 

Who are the other authors, you ask?

They are:

Janet Walden-West

Pat Esden

Anne Raven

What questions will we be answering? Well, you’ll just have to tune in and find out.

Here’s the schedule:

June 11th – Janet Walden-West and I, and Pat Esten and Anne Raven.

June 18th – Pat Esden and I, and Janet Walden-West and Anne Raven.

June 25th – Anne Raven and I, and Pat Esden and Janet Walden-West.

You can find Janet’s Two Questions here.

On with the post:

So I’m not going to beat around the bush this week.

I confess that I barely wrote anything this past seven days.

I also confess that I almost fell victim to one of the classic blunders. I–No I did not, in fact, get involved in a land war in Asia–I nearly counted all of my chickens before they hatched.

Let me back up a little bit and try to shed some light on things.

I have a lot of irons in the fire, as it were. It might not seem like it on the surface, but that’s because you don’t see the hustling that goes on. But it’s true.

So true, in fact, that when something happens to throw me off my game, it often derails several things for several days.

Or one thing for a few days.

That brings me to my first confession. For those of you that don’t know me, I suffer from some pretty intense seasonal allergies. Summer and Fall tend to hit me the hardest. This year…has been pretty intense.

I won’t go into detail other than to say that I’ve taken to carrying around an inhaler, just in case. This is something that I’ve never had to do before.

So, for most of the week – especially at night – I’ve been spending my time indoors and using the serious 4 to 6 hour antihistamines* to fill in the gaps that the 24 -hour stuff couldn’t cover this year.

Sleep has been, lately, a broken-into-pieces affair and I am just not built to run like that anymore.

The usual; 5:30 Am Writing time fell by the wayside in favor of getting enough rest.

Sleep in essential, and Self-Care is a must. I know these things, but when the writing suffers…

Well, there’s judging. I admit it. I can get pretty harsh with myself.

Which brings me to Thursday – yesterday – and the second confession.

One of the things I do to stay ahead of the game is to write stuff up ahead of time when I can and schedule it to post later.

So, on Thursday, I had a bit of time and I thought I’d jot some ideas down for today’s post.

While I was feeling stuffy and lousy, and my lungs were making a kind of “EEEEEE” sound when I inhaled, because I forgot the inhaler.

I’m not going to say that trying to get some ideas down while I was feeling vastly less than stellar was a mistake because I think that a great deal of what I wrote down – which won’t make it into this, or any other post – needed to come out.

I wrote until I couldn’t feel my fingers.**

At the end, I felt lighter mentally, but I didn’t want to think about Friday. It was bound to be just as lousy as Thursday was, and all I really wanted at that moment was the weekend, so I could be this snuffling hermit for the next 48 hours.

Yes, that night, I still needed the inhaler and the extra pills. Yes, I still woke myself up at two in the morning and had to re-up the pills, and hit the inhaler before settling back down to sleep. But all the extra rest, or something, started to pay dividends.

The 5:30 alarm went off and I actually got up. The gravitational pull that the bad had for most of the week was mild.

I got up and I got some work done.

And that changed the entire day for me.

It was a huge reminder that regardless of how life is going, you have to take each day as it comes. On its own.

Because you just don’t know what’s coming until it shows up. So you do your best to put your best foot forward when it does.

Sometimes it’s more of the same. Other times, it’s a chance to get your feet back under you.

 

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Be sure to check out the Freebies Page for Story Excerpts.

And don’t forget to stop by on Sunday for the usual post.

Until then…

Be safe Y’All!

 

 

 

*You know the ones I’m talking about. Where you need to provide your driver’s licence and a small vial of your blood to even look at the box.

**If you know me, it wasn’t like I was sitting there writing for hours. It was more like 15 minutes, because my wrists are utter rubbish, but the sentiment was there.

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Five Thing Thursday: June 14th

Hello everyone! Welcome to another installment of Five Thing Thursday.

Here is a list of five things that I want you to know:

Thing #1:

Chasing the light is out!

Actually, it’s been out for a couple of weeks now, and it’s doing pretty well.

Once upon a time, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Faith Hunter and award-winning authors David B. Coe and John G. Hartness agreed to mentor a group of rising authors—the Roaring Writers. Chasing the Light—with tales across the spectrum of science fiction and fantasy—is their celebration of success.

It is also a tribute honoring Melanie Otto (aka Melanie Griffin), one of the founding authors, who died unexpectedly in 2016. Melanie critiqued many of these stories at the Roaring Writers’ annual writing retreats, and the authors will never forget Melanie’s sparkling eyes and delighted laugh as she found passages she loved in each. With this collection, including stories by Melanie, the Roaring Writers share her light with readers everywhere.

This anthology is chock-full of awesome stories. I’ve got a story in there titled “The Intern.”

Click for an Excerpt

Thing #2

The Two Questions With… blog tour has begun!

Join me, Janet Walden-West, Pat Esden,  and Anne Raven as we each answer two questions on our respective blogs!

What questions will we be answering? Well, you’ll just have to tune in and find out.

Here’s the schedule:

June 11th – Janet Walden-West and I, and Pat Esten and Anne Raven.

June 18th – Pat Esden and I, and Janet Walden-West and Anne Raven.

June 25th – Anne Raven and I, and Pat Esden and Janet Walden-West.

Come join the conversation with me and some of my amazing writer friends!!

Thing #3

On May 1st, V. E. Schwab gave a Tolkien Lecture at Pembroke College, Oxford that she called “In Search of Doors.”

You can find it on You Tube here  I’ve listened to it three times so far (not all of them back to back, thank you). The talk is moving, thoughtful, and entertaining. Do yourself a favor and give it a listen. It is well worth the time.

Thing # 4

Hummingbirds!! I’ve got a feeder hanging outside on the porch, right outside my window. They’ve been coming around for the past couple of weeks and they are a joy to watch.

Thing #5

Margarita Recipe!

I don’t remember where we got this recipe from, but it’s become the default when we’re doing margaritas.

Ready? Here goes!

Start with:

  • 2 ounces of Tequila. Doesn’t matter where you get it from, just get two ounces of it.
  • 1.5 ounces of Lime Juice. Do yourself a favor and buy limes and a hand held juicer. Don’t buy that crappy, plastic lime.
  • 1.5 ounces of Simple Syrup. Sugar and Water in equal measure, bring it to a boil, done.
  • A splash – Bear in mind that your definition of “Splash” may vary from mine, but I think you get it – of Orange Liquor (We’re using Triple Sec.)

That’s it! Mix well, pour over crushed ice, and you can thank me later. Just in time for the weekend, no less.

See you next Thursday!

Until then…

Be Safe Y’All!

 

 

 

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Chasing the Light – Remembering Melanie

June 1st saw the release of an anthology titled “Chasing the Light.” I have a story in there titled “The Intern.”

Click for an Excerpt

Like all books, this one has a story behind it.

Once upon a time, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Faith Hunter and award-winning authors David B. Coe and John G. Hartness agreed to mentor a group of rising authors—the Roaring Writers. Chasing the Light—with tales across the spectrum of science fiction and fantasy—is their celebration of success.

It is also a tribute honoring Melanie Otto (aka Melanie Griffin), one of the founding authors, who died unexpectedly in 2016. Melanie critiqued many of these stories at the Roaring Writers’ annual writing retreats, and the authors will never forget Melanie’s sparkling eyes and delighted laugh as she found passages she loved in each. With this collection, including stories by Melanie, the Roaring Writers share her light with readers everywhere.

I met Melanie for the first time in 2013 at ConCarolinas. For those of you that don’t know me, I’m going to have to back up a tiny bit.

I am a massive introvert. Even with people that I know, and am friendly with, it takes a considerable amount of mental energy to go over and join a conversation. 2013 ConCarolinas was me traveling to a place I’d never visited before, alone, to see folks that I’ve never, actually, met before.

It was a little terrifying.

Melanie was one of the first folks that I met there to make me feel comfortable. She had an easy smile and a kid of joy around her that made it easier for me to get past the anxiety. It still took me two days to really get comfortable.

It was at the end of the con, at the end of that second day where we started talking about forming a writing group. I remember it being an animated, and exciting discussion. We were going to be a group. We were going to organize annual retreats, after the con, where we’d get together and write, and critique, and grow as writers. It sounded ideal, and I was a part of it.

Just before we all went our separate ways for the year, I was catching up with each of my new friends to say goodbye. One of the last things Melanie said to me was, “We were kinda worried about you. You know, whether you were going to come out of your shell.”

I told her that I had been worried about myself too. I told her how difficult the trip had been.

At the end, she asked if she could give me a hug. I said yes, and when the embrace was over, she said, “I’m glad you made it.”

That’s the kind of person Melanie was.

Over the next couple of years, we met at the retreats, and shared stories. She’d sent me jokes and encouraging emails during a particularly low point in my life. She encouraged me to see the light up ahead.

That’s the kind of person Melanie was.

She had a boundless energy, and a passion for the things she found cool, and my world will forever be a little darker without her in it.

That’s the kind of person Melanie was.

Although Melanie never got a chance to read the story in this anthology, I think she’d have thought it was cool.

I miss you, my friend.

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Two Questions With… Janet Walden-West

This week I am Pleased and Proud to host my friend Janet Walden-West in kicking off the “Two Questions With…” blog tour.

Huge thanks to Janet for taking the time to participate. I’m really glad you came along for the ride.

Now I’m going to step out of the way and let Janet do her thing:

Ken,

Thanks for inviting me to drop by and talk shop during the first part of the “Two Questions With…” blog hop.

 

1.What attracted you to your genre(s)?

 

Ooh, good question.

I fell into SF/F by accident. Like many kids, I was horse and dog crazy and would read anything with an animal on the cover. After I exhausted our small library’s story options, out of desperation, I picked up a couple of books with weird creatures on the cover, rationalizing that shaggy werewolf-thingys were sorta like dogs (Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain), and unicorns were sorta like horses (Jane Yolen).

Okay. This science fiction and fantasy stuff was pretty awesome. Then, I stumbled on Terri Windling’s Bordertown shared world anthologies/series and Mercedes Lackey’s Diana Tregarde mysteries. Wow, did those stories click. I’d found my writing-home in Urban Fantasy. I adore the rich mix of mythology, history, and magic, twisted and reimagined, and set against a contemporary real-world backdrop.

 

  1. If you could give Past You one piece of advice, what would it be?

 

Not that Past Me would listen, because I always do things the hard way, but don’t query too soon.

Let me repeat that.Don’t. Query. Too. Soon.

FOMO is a thing. I get it. But you only get one shot at that agent with that story. If you send in a pretty good version because it feels as if everyone else is querying or getting agents or getting publishing deals, then realize…hmmm. Your story wasn’t ready? You’ve lost a chance.

Keep your eyes on your own paper. Take your time. Send your story to CPs. Digest their notes and examine how to address anything that resonates. Revise. Send it to more CPs. Wash, rinse, and repeat. Do this as many times as necessary.

Ditto for your query. I also recommend sending queries in small batches, evaluating your request rate, and retooling and tweaking as needed.

Trust me. The agents and publishers will still be there when your promising diamond in the rough is finally a polished five-carat gem.

 

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BIO

Janet Walden-West lives in the southeast with a pack of show dogs, a couple of kids, and a husband who didn’t read the fine print.  She has an unseemly obsession with dusty artifacts, great cars, and bad coffee. A founding member of the East Tennessee Creative Writers Alliance and The Million Words craft blog, she is also a member of Romance Writers of America. She pens Urban Fantasy that escapes the neat confines of the city limits in favor of map-dot hillbilly towns, and inclusive Romantic Suspense and Contemporary Romance. A #PitchWars alum, her first short story, Road Trip, is included in the Chasing the Light anthology.

 

Find Me At:

Website: http://www.janetwaldenwest.weebly.com

Twitter: @JanetWaldenWest

Instagram: janetwaldenwest

 

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Thanks for stopping by. Be sure to check out the other blogs on the tour today:

Janet Walden-West

Pat Esden

Anne Raven

And be sure to stop back next week for another Two Questions with…

 

 

 

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