Standing Before Greatness

Standing Before Greatness

I believe in signs and omens…in great messages from beyond that point you the way you were meant to go. Maybe it’s my superstitious roots. Maybe it’s my need to believe in destiny. Who knows? The point is, I believe.

I thought that attending Apollycon this past March would be the sign I needed to regain my desire to write. While it helped, it wasn’t the push I was hoping for. It was walking through the Library of Congress that gave me that awestruck inspiration that I needed, a spark to relight the fire, if you will. The library is a monument to the writen word, adorned in art and quotations that reminded me just how important books are. Even the poorly written ones are a bound recording of a single human being’s thoughts and that, dear reader, is a precious thing.

I was awestruck. I was dumbfounded. I was filled with a sense of pride that I could call myself an author. I could count myself in those numbers. I am an author and in not writing, I am doing a disservice to the legacy those walls protect. I found more than inspiration, though.

On the first floor, in a far corner, contained behind a pane of non-reflective glass is the reason that all the words we write have traveled.

A Gutenberg Bible.

I fangirled. I cried. I touched the glass and lets its importance wash through me. It’s not because it’s a Bible, thought the importance of that fact didn’t escape me. It’s what the book represents. For the first time in the young history of the written word, it was made available to the masses, or at least to more than the few handwritten copies could reach. Information and ideas could be printed, bound and shared, blanketing across a population that had been lost in the dark, with only their cleric to help them find their way. There was nothing outside the dim cage of their lives. Then Gutenberg built his printing press. He printed one Bible. And another and another, changing the world of literature as it was known. But it was more than that. It changed the nature of human consciousness. The population once contained in the smallness of their own existences now had access to the outside world, to thoughts and concepts beyond their own. Gutenberg’s press was a way to bring people out of the darkness into the brilliance of philosophical thought, histories, fictional worlds and beyond. They saw a beacon of intellect and reason in pages that they’d never before touched. They found illumination. It started with a Bible and now whole works are shared in bookstores, libraries and online, allowing access to anyone. So many are searching in the dark, reaching out for something more than what’s right in front of them and words are a way through. We are the authors, the creators, the makers of worlds. We are the light. Don’t let it go out.

Beware the Ides of March

Beware the Ides of March

Beware the Ides of March…

It didn’t escape my attention that the month of March might be hexed. Mercury went into retrograde on the day we set the clocks forward and lost an hour of our lives to the void. And a mere week later, the Ides of March are upon us.

Et tu, Harper?

Amazingly, it hasn’t been that bad so far. I’m not sleeping, but I can’t blame that entirely on the time change. I mean.. chronic insomnia is a thing. So are night terrors which have been ASTOUNDING for the last two weeks. Still, I’m starting to feel hopeful that spring might actually come. It has to. I’m a summer person. Give me sun. Surf. Sand. I’m ready.

Still, there are changes on the horizon, all good I hope and I’m ready for a change from the endless stasis I’ve been caught in and I’m working on getting right with myself and my skills to be able to push forward when there are so many reasons to give up.

The Ides of March might have been the end for Caesar, but here’s hoping it’s a new beginning for me.

Bitter or Better?

Bitter or Better?

As a writer, have you ever read something so amazingly well written that you question all your career choices?

A book or a series that’s so well crafted, so intricate… so entirely beyond that you look at your own work and try to reason why your own drivel would even warrant a place on the author’s refrigerator?

I just did it.

Two of them, actually. One I’d read years ago, the other was new to me, but I inhaled both like I’d just come off a fast and hit a buffet line. Two whole series that have me taking a good hard look at my own work. After examining at everything in dismal resolution, I determined that I am a hack at best and a wannabe at worst.  I walked by my office, over and over again, looking at my laptop in disdain. I glared at my planner full of plot bunnies. I blatantly ignored the series I have left waiting for a new installment since 2016. The further I followed these literary wonders, the more my own books looked like the badly written prose of someone who’d had no more exposure to the written word that what’s found inside a fortune cookie.

I was at a loss.

I still am.

And then I read the series’ reviews. Not everyone loved them like I did. Not everyone was mesmerized by the worlds these authors had created. Not everyone wanted to hold onto the places and the characters and never let go.

Some people hated them, in fact.

That’s when it hit me, as I prepared to pull my books out of publication. I could either be bitter about their talent and success, or I could learn from them and get better. Their stories pushed comfort zones that so many readers are insisting on now, going outside the neat little box of all enclosed HEAs, a fated pair of lovers without a triangle…quick and easy to read, wrapped in a pretty little bow. These authors wrote their stories as they appeared in their minds, testing the gritty boundaries that kept me turning the pages without worrying about how the masses may or may not approve.

That’s what I need to do.

I need to pull out all the stops. I need to get gritty. I need to write situations that have my readers gritting their teeth in frustration, but insisting on reading to see where the jagged little rabbit hole goes. I’m going to write it all. All the ugly little hiccups that make it that much more important to get the couples together. If it takes one book or seven. I’m going to get better. It’s going to get ugly.

Buckle up, Dear Reader. This is going to be a bumpy ride, but I can’t wait to see where this rabbit hole goes.

It’s Been a Long Day…

It’s Been a Long Day…

…without you, my friend. And I’m finally able to sit down and tell you all about it. I actually haven’t told you anything since August and actually, the final act of 2018 was such a whirlwind that I can’t even remember what happened to throw me so off the rails. Suffice to say Fall and Winter have tag teamed me into social media silence, but now that things are slightly calmer (barring anymore upheavals) I’m ready to take 2019 by the horns. Or the snout, as the Chinese zodiac would say.

The Chinese New Year is upon us, and 2019 is the Year of the Pig.

In Chinese mythology, the pig represents wealth, good fortune and prosperity. I believe in signs and omens, dear reader, and I choose to believe that this is the year that I will find my way, writing-wise. You see, I last published a full novel in the summer of 2016. That’s two and a half years that I have let my creative muses lie fallow and untended ground won’t yield. I’ve let too much distract and dissuade me, let too much negativity convince me that the merit I gained with The Spirit was a one off and I would never continue to write to that level. Worse, that I can’t write to the level of so many authors whose talent I admire and envy in equal measure.

However, one cannot improve one’s craft, if one abandons it.

I’m setting out in 2019 to prove to myself that I truly am an author. It’s not about sales rank or profit. For me it has always been about the story and that’s the fundamental purpose that I’m going back to. I refuse to let critics convince me that my work is sub-par, because I needed to be reminded that I don’t write for the critics. I write for me. I write for you and for anyone else who just wants to get lost in another world for a little while. I’m moving away from the marketing, algorithms and networking that seem to be vital in hitting those little orange flags. I’m moving away from the incessant cacophony of vitriol and condemnation that blasts from every social media site at every click, sucking me down into a whirlpool of “why even bother?”.  I’m going to hone my craft in The Tribe world and in other genres. I’m going to quietly submit to the judgment of traditional publishing houses as I work to tell my stories the way I damned well want to tell them.

It’s the Year of the Pig and the wealth I seek is in knowledge, self-confidence and skill. The good fortune I seek is in time without distraction to create the stories that I know I’m capable of. The prosperity I seek is the peace of knowing that I put words to paper, preserving the worlds that came from my heart in some tangible way, that you, dear reader, might one day want to read them.

It’s the Year of the Pig, and I’m ready for all it has to offer. For all of us.

Everyone Loves a Bad Boy…

Everyone Loves a Bad Boy…

Yeah, yeah. Heroes are great and all.

But today, we’re talking about villains.

They say that villains often see themselves as the heroes of the stories, which is part of what makes them so fascinating.

Today, my fellow paranormal romance authors and I are discussing our absolute favorite villains and what makes us love to hate them (or just plain love them!).

Question: Who is your favorite supernatural villain of all time and why?

Without a doubt, Klaus Mikaelson is my favorite supernatural villain. He had a compelling backstory and he was fiercely protective over the people he cared about. 

I don’t want to give anything away for anyone who hasn’t finished watching The Vampire Diaries and The Originals, but I’ll just say that he had an AMAZING character arc and I was crying like a baby during the entire last season of The Originals. Submitted by L. Danvers, Author of Blood Heirs

The only thing supernatural about her was that she was cursed to live forever, but I loved Delphine LaLaurie in American Horror Story Coven. She was a wretched, awful person who deserved everything she got in that show, but the writing was so good that I found myself feeling sorry for her at times.

As soon as I reminded myself who she was, I could wipe away any sympathy I felt for her, but she was a great villain.Submitted by Carrie Pulkinen, Author of Sweet Release 

Spike in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. He was so witty and sexy without being over-the-top evil and ended up teaming with her by the end of the season. He had feelings and motivations that made sense to me, and of course became a series regular so we got to see a lot more of him, but his villain run in season 2 with Drusilla was just a blast to watch. Those two had some insane chemistry!Submitted by Anya J Cosgrove, Author of Lost Boy

Death from Supernatural is definitely my favorite. He’s just an entity trying to do the job handed to him, and he gets a bad rap as the head reaper, when he’s really just the guardian of the natural order. He just wants to find a decent deep dish pizza and to ferry the dead where they belong, but the Winchesters are incessantly messing him up. He’s singularly unimpressed with the antics of the world around him and sees it all as inconsequential in the Grand scheme of things. I’ll spare the spoilers for those who have never seen the show, but while he might not be truly a villain, he’s a dark neutral that I adored more with every word that left his mouth.Submitted by Harper L. Jameson, Author of The Spirit

My ultimate supernatural villain is Loki. He’s so bad he’s good and I never can quite figure out if he actually has a heart of gold buried somewhere deep or will he ultimately screw Thor over.Submitted by Selena Blake, Author of Ready & Willing

My favourite super villain of all time would have to be Thanos from the Marvel Cinemas world. He destroyed half of the universe’s population with essentially just one hand. Like all villains, they believe they are the heroes of their story. Thanos believed he was making the universe a better place to live that didn’t include people not having to starve anymore because now there would be plenty of resources to go around.

But from the Marvel Comics world, he destroys half the universe to impress Death, who he has fallen in love with. So he is also a romantic at heart. Making him quite the complex fellow. Even villains need love. Submitted by Jessica Gleave, Author of Helios and Zelena, Prequel in the Sky Realm series 

Yikes! This might be harder than picking a favorite book boyfriend–I do so love me the baddies. I debated picking Loki (because, um, hello), but in the end, I have to go with the great and glorious villain who sparked my lifelong love of the bad guys: Maleficent. Everything about her, from her fierce head-horns (shared with Loki, possibly a theme?) to her raven to her brilliant, badass smile just sucked child-me right in. Here was someone fascinating. More than Prince Charmings or fairy godmothers, I imagined Maleficent’s backstory and I wondered what would have happened if she’d stayed a dragon and found herself a fire-breathing friend. And I love how the later live-action movie dug into that backstory and let Maleficent be the anti-hero I always knew her to be. Submitted by Dee J Holmes, Author of An Inheritance of Curses 

The Dog Days of Summer

The Dog Days of Summer

It’s August, right in the dead heat of the summer and this is the season I live for. The dog days of summer are my idea of heaven and it doesn’t hurt that this is also my birthday month. I don’t relish getting older, but who is going to pass up a chance at celebrating themselves?

Though the month signals that the end of the season is on the horizon, it’s not quite ready to die quietly with the fall and I’m still riding the vacation vibes from my cruise, hopefully channeling the much needed respite into a brand new lease on my career.

Onto business. We are T-23 days until Readers & Writers Author Event in Tampa! This is my first time at this event and only my second event ever as an author and I can’t wait. Of course, this one is close to home. I might have been born Appalachian but I was raised in Orlando and this is a chance to (hopefully) see a few familiar faces.

I’m back to the writing grind, anxious to dive into Tank’s book. He’s my favorite character so far, and I love him more than I can tell you. I’ve been SO impatient trying to get to his book and I hope you’re just as impatient to read it.

That’s all for now, I think. Until we meet again.