About Me

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Born and raised in Southern Indiana, this Hoosier transplanted herself to the Windy City after graduate school. Her passion is teaching, with writing come a close second and gaining momentum. She currently teaches College of DuPage as an adjunct professor in the physical education department and runs a martial arts studio in Naperville, IL. She holds the rank of 3rd Dan in the United States Hapkido Federation.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

GRL - Post-Con Thoughts

It's human nature to dwell upon the negative. What's the saying? "For one negative review, there are ten positive reviews that don't get written." Or "every negative review can influence ten people, who will repeat the negative, while the positive is forgotten.' Or some such sayings like that.

Of course, each and every convention can be improved every year they hold one. I'm sure this convention ran much more smoothly than say their first one. So, all that said, let me start with the positive.

The music was da BOMB! Love to dance, even though I'm not good at it and look pretty much like a beached whale writhing on the dance floor, but hell, it's fun. The costume party was the most absolute perfect way to end the convention. Had a great time at the Casino Royale as well - was fun learning how to play roulette.

The panels were fun, but much improvement to be made (see below). Great moderators and the authors were awesome to meet. The featured author signing was fun as well (didn't get to experience the supporting author one as I WAS a supporting author - but great to be asked for my autograph. Heck, maybe some day those will be worth something! LOL). I got to meet people I only knew on-line and it was great to put faces to FB profiles. Felt a little funny going up to some people, as some more than others share their lives with us on-line. To know a little more intimate details about someone you've actually never met face-to-face, then to meet them face-to-face - well, more than once I got tongue-tied and really had no idea what to say (and for those that know me, you will find that hard to believe).

I did find myself feeling a bit out of place, though, especially the first day. There were quite a few 'cliques' going on and a lot of authors had their followings. Not to say that's bad, but it did make this newbie feel like an outsider. What did I have to offer other than the two novels I'd written? Could they even be compared to the prolific works of many of the featured authors? I felt so small at first, but when people actually brought copies of my books for them to sign and also tell me how much the books meant to them ... I felt it was all worth it. By Saturday I felt much more brave and actually introduced myself to people (instead of waiting to be introduced or waiting for them to introduce themselves). I think I needed one more day and I would have sprouted into a real social butterfly. By Saturday evening I felt much more confident. Wonder of the event organizers would consider a full-week convention in the future?

So, what to improve? Well, I'm putting the book selling tax fiasco behind me. I feel bad for the authors and publishers who had to give up a large percentage, but all I could do was offer my help and it wasn't needed. Moving on.

I'm going to briefly mention the hotel, as the hotel and its staff are well beyond the control of concom. The hotel knew we were coming, yet they did not have extra staff on hand and actually were woefully understaffed. Common sense notions (like leaving four towels per room when there were four people in the room) didn't seem to be a concern. So weird for a Hilton to not leave four washcloths, four hand towels and four bathtowels at the very least when the room was made up.

Okay, so the convention. As stated above, I enjoyed listening to the authors and liked how they had Q&As, spotlights and readings. What I was disappointed about was the lack of 'general' panel Q&A topics. For example, why not have a panel on how to deal with trolls (both as an author and reader - trolls are equal-opportunity idiots you know). Or how about one on how to write a good critique or review - not just the 'OMG I love this book! You must read it!' Or one on marketing, or how to use social media, or how to find new authors to read or how to read outside your comfort zone, or ... you get the idea. This convention, to my knowledge, was created to be a readers' convention. It needs to cater to the readers a bit more and not to the authors' egos.

And why did they limit the panels to featured authors only? There was no criteria to differentiate from featured to supporting other than the money paid. I think panels could have started earlier, gone later and more of them to choose from. If the Hilton is the common size for this type of convention and the con attendance was around 500, more panels can be easily held. (I actually had been waiting throughout Aug/Sep to be asked what panels I'd like to be on - sorta like the fan cons I've gone to in the past). I didn't realize it was only featured authors that get to sit on panels.

I was also shocked that every single event was held at the hotel. While there is an expense to driving into Chicago, it has a very vibrant gay community. Why on earth were we stuck at the hotel? I'd think for a nominal fee we all could have went club hopping one evening. Rent a couple of buses so everyone can drink to their hearts' content and go out and get sweaty.

As for newbies, while I do know there was a newbie breakfast thing on Thursday morning, it would be been nice to have one in the evening (or early afternoon) on Thursday to accommodate those that came in late or for those of us who just aren't morning people.

And lastly, the meaning of 'brunch' - a late morning meal eaten instead of breakfast or lunch. Thus 'brunch' does NOT start at 8am. Brunch should start around 10a/11a (and I thought I read the on-line app schedule that said brunch started at 11a - the start time unfortunately was in grey and was hard to read on a white screen, while the end time was in blue and popped out.) If you are going to start at 8am, call it breakfast. Was a little pissed about that one as I had planned on going.

All-in-all, I was glad I went. Had an awesome time with a great group of friends at the sushi place - Kabuki in Glendale Heights. It was definitely a dinner and a show all in one.

Next year it's going to be in San Diego. California is extremely expensive and I don't see how plane fare will be much less than $500. Even if I bunk with three others again, probably looking at minimum $200-$300 for hotel and even eating conservatively at maybe $200 for the five days, looking at at least a grand to just get there, get a roof over my head and food to eat. Not to mention registration fees, pet-sitting fees back here at home and hoping I could get the time off work. <sigh> I need to win the lottery. If only I played it. Perhaps a long-lost relative will pass and give me lots of money. Or that Nigerian prince comes through. You never know.

For those on the west coast, yes, go. It is worth it, even with some of the drawbacks. It was such an honor to talk to those that have read my books (and then be asked when the next one was coming out!) 

So now I am rejuvenated. I feel like writing again. Maybe not today as I'm very sleep-deprived and there's not telling what might come out, but this week, definitely. I've got a YA novel started that I'd like to try to finish before NaNoWriMo so I can finish a vampire novel I've been working on for NaNo. (I know you're not supposed to have something started for NaNo, but my goal for the book is around 90k and I've got around 40k done, so the 50k is all new stuff for November LOL.)

For now, I bid everyone a fond adieu as I need a nap. Rocky and I are going to snuggle on the couch while the football game lulls us to sleep.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Guest Author - A. Morell

Please welcome guest author A. Morell and her new release 'Puncture Wounds!'

James is at the end of a long crusade for vengeance against the vampire clan that destroyed everything he held dear. He has Ren, the final and most dangerous of them all, cornered at last in London. But victory remains just out of reach when Ren sets a feral vampire on James and makes his escape. With no other leads, James is forced to take in the feral until he can use its connection to its sire to track down Ren. But in caring for the vampire, James sees they might not all be the monsters he thought them to be. Faced with an ugly truth, his quest for revenge becomes a war for retribution, and the discovery of what it truly means to be human. 

Puncture Wounds
by A. Morell

Happy release day! It's been a fun ride getting the story to this point, and at long last it's available to all. Join James on his journey, and help him see it through to the bitter end. Congrats to all my winners, enjoy your free copies! Read on for an excerpt and links to some exclusive sneak peeks into the story: 
James fumbled to regain control, and it took a second to realize that it wasn’t teeth he felt now—it was a soft and damp tongue. The almost constant rumbling from deep in the creature’s chest had morphed at some point, from warning growls to what sounded suspiciously like a purr. James felt his skin crawl and tore himself away, stumbling a bit when he stood too fast. 
He was reeling. Everything from the past twenty-four hours suddenly came crashing down around him at once. In so short a time, he’d had the last of his sworn enemies in the palm of his hand, let him escape, and brought a feral monster into his own house. And he’d fed it. 
James fumbled his way into the kitchen, eying the sink as he felt his stomach threaten to heave. He pushed himself to the fridge, grabbing a nutrition drink and forcing its contents down his throat along with the bile. He reminded himself that he needed it to help his blood recover, and this was all according to plan—take in the feral and get it sane enough to track the one who’d made it. 
He braced himself against the counter with both arms, repeating the plan in his head until the moment passed.
He was too busy to notice at first, but something was wrong—nothing hurt. He looked back down at his arm. 
It had completely healed.
More on Puncture Wounds:

About A. Morell:
A. Morell spent ten years writing silly things for herself, going through work, school, and a failed career path in the culinary arts before deciding it was time to submit to a publisher. She still writes silly things for herself, but now some of them get pretty-looking covers. She has never looked back. 

Hailing from the San Francisco Bay Area, she greatly enjoys food, baseball, shopping, tattoos, karaoke, and old bookstores. She is averse to spiders, zombies, over-used words, tardiness, inclement weather, and the misquotation of movie lines and lyrics. Her dream is to retire to Hawaii immediately. She has one cat. 

For more A. Morell, stop by the blog or twitter, or contact directly at sans.morale@gmail.com.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Guest Author - L. Blankenship

Please welcome Guest Author L. Blankenship!

Disciple is a six-part, gritty fantasy romance -- the fifth part of the series has just hit the electronic bookshelves. Kate Carpenter is a peasant girl determined to serve her homeland as a healer in wartime. She never thought the crown prince and a ne'er-do-well knight would notice her along the way.

Back cover:
Kate faces winter with a broken heart: betrayed by one lover, the other lost to her.

Kiefan will not give up on the alliance his kingdom desperately needs — even though the Caer queen refuses to speak to him.

Anders, alone and despairing, faces the Empress’s seductive offers of power and privilege.

Each of them must carry the ongoing war in their own way, whether cold, alone, or backed into a corner. Each must patch together a broken heart as best they can. Duty will throw them together soon enough and they must be ready.

On sale now!

Read Disciple, Part I for FREE

Disciple, Part VI
ends the series early next year!

Excerpt from Disciple, Part V

She walked to him on delicate feet. He managed to sit up, trembling from the cold, from the pain, from half-remembered terror. That she was a little thing, trailing a braid of black hair thick as his arm, that her lush curves would’ve whetted his appetite anywhere else — that was all a lie, he knew in his bones. She was far more than she appeared.

“Such work to save you from the Shepherd, and you race back to his arms? You judge in haste, Anders.”

“I serve my saints,” he gasped out. “I’m discipled by —”

“You are elect, and bound to the Empress.”

His resolve steadied, in rejecting that. “I am a Blessed knight of Wodenberg. Proven in battle. I belong to Saint Woden.” He had his knight’s crest as proof, loose and straggly from melted snow but proof.

The Empress stood over him, without even gooseflesh from the cold. “And what did he give you, for your service? Blessings? A sword? Your sounding does tell it truly; you were as born to the sword as to the saddle. Woden only gilded a lily, with his claim. What you truly need, la…” She crouched down, looked Anders in the eye. “That is a true shifter, to teach you art.”

His chest ached where he’d been stabbed. Anders shifted away from her, pulse pounding in his throat. “Saint Aleks taught me. He showed me how to work it out myself.”

“Saint Aleksandr,” she said, overly patiently, “was a mere stonecutter with stars in his eyes. He did harvest his shifting charms, or I’m a scullery whore.”

Anders straightened, bristling in Saint Aleks’ defense, but the Empress held up one finger in warning. The bond in his palm tingled. Anders shut his mouth.

“Do not waste my time, sir. I am empress of eight kingdoms. I take few apprentices, and spare not my enemies. But mayhaps there is one man in Wodenberg worth sparing. And what, at home, draws you?”

Kate’s name leaped to his lips, and froze there. Her hands, glowing with kir, catching Kiefan as he fell. Stemming the fountain of his blood. Anders’ eyes closed as the pain in his chest stopped his breath. The sword had hurt, too.

When his eyes opened, they swam with tears. “I have…” Kate had said she loved him. But not even a glance at his mortal wound… had their nights together been a lie? Pity?

“For they left you to die,” the Empress said, voice softer. “And I did mend you, then. Saw your worth and bound you, Elect.”

Left him to die. And now they were finally rid of him. Anders’ heart skipped in cold terror; how happy was Kate, now that he was gone? This vulture had plucked him from the Shepherd’s shadow, done what Kate wouldn’t…

“Stay, and you will master your gifts. Which none understand as your own kind do.”

There’d been none in Wodenberg who could teach him; Saint Qadeem himself had said as much. Since Saint Aleks was killed, Anders had largely been left to his own devices. He met the Empress’ eyes, and she was all the world had left for him to choose. Because without Kate…

With her betrayal tearing a ragged hole in his chest at each breath, Anders nodded.

The Empress touched his shoulder, and his aches melted away. The cold vanished. Kir flooded in, lifting his head with a deep, cleansing breath. She stood, and a small blade spun out from one hand. His knight’s crest, she gathered up in the other. With a slash, it came away and she held the handful of flaxen hair before his face. Then dropped it.

“For you are mine. Come home.”