Convention Season is Here!

So…still have lots of plans hanging out in the air, but boy have I been busy!

I’m in the midst of edits on THE WONDERLAND WOES…due for release from Musa Publishing this year. This is book three of my series, that started with THE GRIMM LEGACY.

I’m also deep in the soggy middle (as every writer thinks of the middle of a manuscript) of a yet-to-be sold anywhere novel. More later…as I get the thing finished! I’ve been working on it off and on for a long time, but it keeps getting shunted aside as contracted deadlines always take precedence.

I’m working the full time job and the part time job.

And when not working…we are planning our garden for this year. The Boy and I have planted 144 plants in trays from seed, in order to try to grow a few vegetables and herbs and to save on the marigolds I buy every year (they help control the mosquitoes in the back yard, and when you have a goldfish pond, anything to cut down on the mosquitoes in the summer is a good thing!) The Boy is getting geared up for spring soccer, and we have been doing various home improvement project around the house. Husband is starting to itch to get his Model T out for the spring, but until the weather gets more consistent, it’s staying where its at.

But the biggest thing to explode is my schedule…and that’s not a bad thing! It’s time for conferences!

My first one of the year is Millenicon, which starts tomorrow.

My schedule is as follows;

Friday      9 pm   Fantasy vs. Dark Fantasy vs. Horror

Saturday 1 pm  Storytelling in Three Acts

Saturday  4 pm Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading

Sunday      12 noon Once Upon a Time in Millenicon

More appearances to come…as things get firmed up!

 

 

Updatery

I’ve been very silent on this blog, because life reached up and grabbed me by the throat, and is still not quite letting go.

This year has been one for serious ups and downs.

I got married on May 11, 2013 to the most caring, loving, funny man I could ever find. I’m so thrilled to be married to him. This is us on our wedding day.

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Yes, we had a wonderful wedding, with vintage cars and all kinds of family. I’ve got gobs and gobs of awesome photos…but I tend not to post too many pictures of other people unless they know about it…and are okay with it. The Boy was the best man, my Sister was the matron of honor, and my Nephew was the ring bearer. It was a perfect day, and I’m thrilled for it!

On the other hand, some of you may have known that I was pregnant this year as well. I had a very difficult pregnancy, diagnosed with hyperemesis gravidarum (the same thing that Kate MIddleton had, by the way…which is so not glamorous…basically consists of vomiting twenty times a day, at least for me, and losing almost twenty percent of my body weight). It did not, however, have a good outcome. My daughter, Allison Jane, was stillborn in July. By the time I was home from the hospital, I had lost 40 pounds. That, in itself, is a long and complicated story, and one of these days, I will post it, but not today.

I’ve pretty much recovered from the whole thing…including gaining back weight, you know, from eating actual food again without getting sick. We are doing well, and life has continued. We are actually even stronger as a family, as a couple, and as people…and for those of you who know me well, and know my husband, and the two of us together…know we were pretty darn strong anyway, but it is nice to know that in adversity, we turned to each other instead of away from each other.

I very much appreciate all the kind wishes and thoughts and prayers we’ve received in the meantime.

As for the writing…

I’m working on THE WONDERLAND WOES…book three of THE GRIMM LEGACY series.

I’m working on my conference schedule for next year…more to come as that firms up.

I’m also working off and on on two other novel projects…that are still really in the early early stages of messiness…one of which is about 1/3 of the way done…the other much less so, but still in the very distracting LOOK AT ME stage of cool ideas. You know…the kind that distract from what you really SHOULD be working on…

Anyway, I’m working on catching up on a whole lot of things that fell by the wayside while I was sick. I’m still behind on a lot, but I’m digging out. It helps that I’ve had some awesome friends and family who have helped out huge.

We have lots of plans and lots of things in the mix. We’ve got holidays and house projects, deadlines and other things to keep us busy for a good long time. We’ve talked with our pastor, with a counselor, and with each other until late in the night. We’re okay.

Lotsa stuff…Not much to talk about

There’s a lot going on over here at Chez King…

Wedding crafts are all over the place, but slowly getting completed and put back into storage.

Wordcount is slowly but surely growing on THE ANDERSEN ANCESTRY. Silent giggling is going on as I’m adding new wrinkles to the outline I already had. It’s part of the process for me…I need to have some kind of plan, but sooner or later, somewhere, somehow, I’m going to go off outline. Generally that’s a good thing. Some of the best scenes I’ve written have been off-outline, brain sparks of inspiration that just flowed. And scenes with Bert the frog tend to come out that way. However, this time, it isn’t. And that’s all I’m going to say about that. 😉

The Boy has started indoor soccer tonight, so I got writing time while BF took him to the game, and I had a cousin stop by with her daughter, who was selling Girl Scout cookies. I’ve somehow managed to resist the people selling them at work, but I couldn’t say no to her. I think I showed restraint by stopping at two boxes. Hey, I do have a wedding dress to fit into, after all!

The Fuzzy Menace is being clingy and needy these days, and has been trying new and interesting ways of attempting to fit onto my lap while I write. I swear she’s going to end up on top of the keyboard sooner or later, but it’s incredibly cute and all kinds of distracting. I am learning, however, that no matter how much lap I might have, a netbook and a fourteen pound cat is too much for my lap to hold all at once, although Elizabeth the fuzzy menace keeps trying to find a way to make it work. Right now, she’s lying across my right leg, while I have the netbook balanced on my left, and she’s leaning up against the back of my right hand, purring as loud as a diesel engine.

I’m still working on putting together a schedule of appearances, etc., for 2013, and will post them soon. There will be some online stuff coming up as well.

Needless to say, life is a lot insane lately, and not a lot of news to report, so suffice it to say that the new book is coming along, and I’ll post as I get more information that I can share.

Happiness Announcement

I do try very hard to shy away from posting a lot of personal information on the blog/social media.

It’s not that I’m ashamed of my personal life; it’s just that it is exactly that. Personal.

I, however, have taken to monitoring Facebook (and for some reason, it’s more of a problem on Facebook than any other social media…probably due to the significant outpouring of birthday wishes I got from people!) and I’ve been deleting mentions of my very big personal news in between birthday wishes. As much as I’m doing this deletion for privacy/safety/personal reasons, I need to not be playing censor on my social media accounts.

I will say that I mostly use Facebook/Twitter/this blog for writing related stuff. I’ve prosecuted some nasty cases in my time, and so I’m quiet and cautious about what I say and what I do…because I’m trying to very carefully be social and visible without jeopardizing those I love. In that end, I refer to people in my life as Mom, Dad, Brother, Sister, Nephew, Grandma, etc., to avoid drawing some of those lines…I’m not trying to be obscure, just generic. If you know me in real life, you know who I’m talking about, and if you know me only by my writing, or only by my work life, then you either already know who I’m talking about, or there’s no reason for you to know. I’m doing that to protect them.

I’ve started to refer to someone in my life on Twitter as BF, short for Boy Friend. We’ve been together since December 2011. Since we’re not teenagers anymore, talking about having a boyfriend sounded like I was in junior high, so I abbreviated.  He has an eleven year old son, whom I’ve referred to once or twice on Twitter as The Boy. BF has started to petition for a new online title, since our status has now changed, however we haven’t come up with a better online title for him yet.

SUFFICE IT TO SAY…WE GOT ENGAGED ON AUGUST 17, 2012. We are currently planning a wedding for May 2013. I kept the news off the internet as long as I could so we could tell people in person or by phone as necessary, but I think we’ve hit most of it. I apologize if we’ve missed anyone.

I’m over the moon happy. I’m ecstatic to be marrying someone who is so supportive, so sensitive, so caring, and so wonderful. I’m excited that I’m going to be a stepmother (and those who have read THE GRIMM LEGACY know how funny that is), and my future stepson is a wonderfully funny kid whom I completely adore.

So, while I might not be linking our names on Facebook, or using their first names, it’s not because I’m hiding them, or because I’m ashamed of my personal life. It’s because I’m trying to balance my need to be cautious with people’s desire to say congratulations as they hear my news.

I appreciate your good thoughts…and will definitely need all your good wishes as I plan a wedding and try to deliver my first write-to-deadline book all at once!

Updates and Stuff

WOWZA!!

The past month or so has been off the charts awesome, both on the personal front as well as on the writing front.

There is exciting family news, exciting personal news, and exciting writing news; some of which is ready for sharing, some of which will be shared down the road, and some of which, while way awesome, isn’t really the stuff I write about here on the blog.

The best way to put it…is that the personal stuff doesn’t get posted here until I’m comfortable with it…and it’s not about personal comfort all the time…sometimes it’s just about being careful about what one posts on the internet. You know, personal security, privacy of others, etc. Suffice it to say that life is pretty darn good at the moment. More will come later, I’m sure.

The family news, well, isn’t my news. I’m kinda waiting for others to out the news on the interwebs (and I’ll take a Facebook post from them, you know who you are…) before I post it, or anything about it. I’m sure you’ll understand when you see what it is. It’s way exciting!

And on the writing front…

We are looking at MAY 25, 2012 as a release date for THE GRIMM LEGACY. It will be released as an ebook on that date, barring complications, delays, or other issues. At this point, I don’t see any on the horizon, but that’s still five months away and a lot could happen between now and then. Lots of people are asking me about print…at this point, I don’t have a good answer. I’ll post when and if I get one.

I’m working on a proposal/synopsis for another book, writing a first draft of a third, and have several short stories in various stages of completion. I’m also planning some research day trips with friends/relatives/guinea pigs to get some hands on information for stuff I’m writing…some of them are odd and cool and awesome…others are just weird. Stay tuned for more info. I’m hoping to post pictures as I go see what I need to see!

 

Holiday Time

So it’s Thanksgiving Week. Thanksgiving isn’t just a single day anymore with all the different family, work, and friend related gatherings. It’s hectic and stressful and insanity-inducing.

And when I’m overwhelmed by all the craziness?

I stop to remember how thankful I am to have a job with co-workers who want to celebrate together. I’m thankful I have SOOOOOOOOO much family that enjoys spending time together, and I’m grateful that they’re in good enough health to do so. I’m thankful for my friends, who I will see at what’s becoming the annual, “I-Ate-Too-Much-Turkey” Party.  Much fun will be had by all.

I’m grateful to be employed after all the stress of the past year.

I’m appreciative of all the early sales…I’ve got most of my Christmas shopping done already…and some big expenses for the house were TONS cheaper because of those sales. I’m especially happy that I didn’t have to stand in line in the cold and be awake at the crackiest crack of dawn to stand in line for those sales on Black Friday. I’m not a Black Friday shopper. In fact, I’m not a shopping in a crowd kind of shopper, either, unless I’m in a bookstore, and even then, I’d rather take my time and browse.

On the writing front, I’m grateful for a publisher and editor who have been genuinely enthusiastic about my book, and I’m excited to work with them. I’m grateful for writer’s groups I’ve worked with in the past, ones I work with now, beta readers and crit partners who know that it’s better to speak up (in a constructive manner) than to be nice when trying to make a book better, because it’s the only way to improve. I’m grateful for blog readers. I’m grateful for Facebook friends and Twitter followers. And I’m very thankful for the response I got from everyone when I announced that I’d signed a publishing contract. I’m still grinning a week later.

I’m grateful for opportunities, both pursued and not, because they give one choices to make in life. It’s the choices we make that shape who we are. If we don’t get those choices we don’t become someone; we stand still. Life’s not about standing still.

And then I remember that if I stand still, I’ll never get it all done.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

It’s All In The Reflexes

Tor’s got a blog up today about Big Trouble in Little China.

I thought this movie was cheesy when I first saw it, but Brother was hooked, and soon I was, too.

We ended up watching it over and over and over and over again as we grew up, and I grew to love it. It’s campy and silly and fun and magical and high stakes and just an all out laugh out loud romp with non-perfect characters and crazy tropes and just FUN from the beginning to the end.

I liked Gracie, the smart, bossy, know-it-all woman who was a lawyer. (Who’d’a thunk, right? I mean, I’m the oldest, a girl, who grew up to be a lawyer. Hush it on the know-it-all connection. At ten, I’m sure I was exactly that!) But now, as an adult, and as a writer, I know I’d have more fun writing Jack Burton than Gracie, whose reactions were always predictable and stereotypical. Jack was larger than life, and took over every inch of the screen every time his character even breathed in the direction of it.

I guess that’s the lesson to take away from this movie, as a writer. Don’t just write the character that feels familiar. Write the character that feels unfamiliar. Get inside their skin. Because as cheesy and as campy as Jack Burton was, Kurt Russell pulled it off. That’s the challenge to a writer.

Oh…and for the unenlightened…or just the Jack Burton fans…here you go…

 

Tonsils and Bad Guys

So, the other night, I visited with my Nephew, who just had his tonsils out.

As can be expected, a three year old who doesn’t feel well is a bit cranky.

He informed us that he was going to walk home. (Long, LONG walk that would be!)

He got fussy. He started to cry. He wanted to GO HOME.

So he needed some distraction.

I had been in the area from attending a continuing legal education seminar that day with the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association. I’d forgotten to take my name tag off before I went into the hospital. So I asked him if he remembered what Aunt Addie does at work.

“Catch bad guys,” he said.

“Well,” I told him, “my name tag says ‘Aunt Addie, Bad Guy Locker-Upper.” (Although, I guess, technically, it should be Assistant Bad Guy Locker-Upper, since I’m not the boss.)

His eyes got real big. “OOOOHHHH.”

“I spent today with a bunch of other Bad Guy Locker-Uppers.”

“Why?” (a three-year-old’s favorite word).

“So we can learn new ways to catch bad guys.”

“Why?” (Again).

“Because if someone figures out a new way to catch bad guys, it helps if we tell others how we did it, so that they can go catch bad guy themselves.”

“Ooohhhh.”  He seemed impressed.  And then it was on to something else.

And he was distracted from his fussiness. We talked about his Mater socks. I had brought him a tractor to play with. He ate a popsicle. We talked about his Lego videogame. The nurse told him about a play area at the hospital. He asked for some iced tea. (Yeah, really. I can’t believe how much that kid likes tea.)

He’s a good kid. And he’s doing really well.

Someday, I’ll explain to him that being a prosecutor (or an assistant prosecutor) isn’t just about locking up bad guys. It’s about searching for truth, for what really happened. It’s about protecting the public. It’s about protecting victims. It’s about enforcing criminal laws. It’s about talking to victims. It’s about being ethical in following all the rules and procedures that are required in the justice system. It’s about talking to attorneys and judges and witnesses and going to court and talking to police officers and reviewing reports and writing motions and writing briefs and all kinds of other things.

I’d like him to understand that being a prosecutor isn’t about conviction rates, or trial wins, or notches on a proverbial trial “belt”, or the number of people behind bars; because it’s really not. There’s no way he’s going to get that yet.

And getting him to understand that I’m not the one “catching” them? Well, I’ve tried telling him that the police catch them and I take them to court. That doesn’t seem to be getting through. The idea of me actually trying to physically catch them? Funny, since I’m a clutz. Big time.

That’s a bit much for a three year old. We’ll stick to “catch bad guys” for now. More will come later.

Oh, and the nephew? He’s home now. He’s doing good.

How have we explained other jobs?

Well, he and I once talked about his mommy helping sick people feel better (nurse). We talked about his uncle (Brother) helping people stretch (physical therapist). We talked about Paw-Paw (my father) making food for animals (runs a feed mill and farm supply company).  I’m sure they’d explain more and more about their jobs as he gets older and better able to understand.

How do you explain people’s jobs to a young kid? Got a good one? Leave it in the comments!

Gone With The Wind

When I was in the fifth grade (I’m guessing, but that sounds right to me, around ten or eleven years old), I discovered that my grandmother had a book that I very much wanted to read.

It was GONE WITH THE WIND by Margaret Mitchell.

I’d seen the movie at Grandma’s house. (Funny that I remember specific movies that we watched at her house…and so do my siblings and cousins…and we all remember the same movies…Gone With the Wind, Big Jake, Disney’s Robin Hood, and the Three Amigos are the ones we all remember.) I’d loved the movie and when I saw the book, I wanted to read it.

If you remember from my last (non-picture) post, I was the kid who read EVERYTHING.

Grandma caught me reading it when I was at her house, and told me that I was too young to understand it.

That only made me want to read it more.

For the next year or so, every time I was at Grandma’s house, I made sure that I knew where that book was. Whenever she wasn’t looking, I snuck it out of the shelf and hid in another room to read it. If I spent the night at her house, I hid it upstairs where I could stay up and read after she went to bed.

Oh, I’m sure I wasn’t as crafty as I thought I was when I was a kid. I’m sure she knew I was looking at it. I got caught a few times, and was, again, told that I wouldn’t understand it. I was too young to read it.

About a year or so later, I’d read the whole thing. I loved the book.

When I was sixteen years old, Grandma bought me a lovely, brand-new, hardcover edition of my own for Christmas, with the statement that I’d always wanted to read it so she thought it would be a good gift for me. She was right. I tried very hard to bite my tongue, but the story came out eventually…I told her I’d read the whole thing, but that I would read it again, and would savor my copy because she had gotten it for me.

You know what? She was right.

Re-reading the book at sixteen made a whole lot more sense than it had five years or so earlier.

Did that diminish my ability to read it and enjoy it when I was younger? Nope.

Would I have stuck with it if I’d been allowed to read it on my own? Good question. Honest answer is that I don’t know.

I’ve always been the contrary one. Tell me I can’t read something or learn some new skill or reach a certain goal and be darned if I’m not throwing everything I’ve got toward reaching that goal, or reading that thing, or learning that skill. Her statement that I was too young for that book meant I was going to read it come heck or high water.

Why do I bring this up?

Well, other than a great story about me, my grandma, and a wonderful book, I bring it up to illustrate the utter ineffectiveness of telling a kid what they can and can’t read.

There are some kids out there that won’t read something until you tell them they can’t. Then they will make sure they do.

The writer in me hates the idea of censorship of any kind. The reader in me feels the same way. But the memory of that eleven year old kid I used to be? Well, being told no probably lit a fire under me to do more, to push myself harder, and to push my way through parts I didn’t understand, because I didn’t want to admit that I didn’t understand them.

So you know what? Probably smart to take stock of the kid you’re talking about. There probably wasn’t a better way to motivate me to read that book than telling me I couldn’t. Another kid probably would have put it down and walked away.

And I have to admit to still being stubborn today. But that desire not to give up still burns.

Go ahead. Tell me I can’t do something. I dare you. Not that it’ll work for things like breaking the law, or being unethical. But if I’ve set a goal for myself and you tell me I can’t do it…you’ve pretty much guaranteed that I’m not giving up until I’ve done everything within my power to get there.

Oh, and telling a kid they’re not supposed to watch that movie or play that game or read that book? Pretty much guarantees they’re gonna do it anyway. Only thing forbidding it means…at least for me as a kid…was that I didn’t go talk to anyone about trying to understand the parts I didn’t get. How much more would I have understood if I’d asked about it?

Anyone else have a book like this that they read as a kid when the adults around them said no?

Kids and Reading

You know, there are some out there who believe that parents should control what their kids read. I respect that. I’m not sure it’s realistic, but I respect that. And I agree that parents should at least know what their kids are reading, whether they’ve read it cover-to-cover themselves or not.

I say that because I was the kid who read everything. And no, I’m not being facetious. I read books so fast it was hard to keep me in new ones. I read books from Mom and Dad’s pile. I read my own books. I even read my brother’s comic books. When I started earning a little money of my own, I didn’t spend it on clothes or shoes or frippery…I bought books. I read the newspaper. I read the Bible from cover to cover when I was twelve. I read magazines. I read the directions for the silly games on the back of the Cheerios box while I ate breakfast.

I’ve joked that I would read anything that wasn’t nailed down…and sometimes I read that, too.

And it wasn’t just what I read, but where I read.

I read in the car while Mom was running errands.

I read while I ran the vacuum cleaner. I once got in trouble because Mom had told me to vacuum and I didn’t want to stop reading, so I went upstairs and turned on the vacuum for the noise while I sat down on her bed and read my book. (By the way, kids, if you try that one, make sure to MOVE the vacuum around every once in a while, and watch the clock. If the vacuum’s been running for 45 minutes in the same room, and hasn’t at least sounded like it’s been moved around, you’re going to get busted.)

Once I got my driver’s license, my car became another place to stash books (NO I did not read while I drove and I don’t recommend it); some kids hid things in their cars that they didn’t want parents to see…I minimized my book buying habit by stashing books in the car. I’m sure that my parents thought I was hiding things in my car. I’m just not sure they realized it was books.

I still sometimes have books in the car. Not to read while driving down the street, but if you’re in a bank drive-through, or a fast food drive through, or a construction related traffic delay, you might catch a few minutes of reading while you’re waiting. And that means less frustration at the delay.

Mom was a teacher, but I think even she was bewildered at the amount I was reading. In fact, a lot of adults didn’t really believe me when I told them how fast I was finishing books.

When I was in the fourth grade, Pizza Hut began sponsoring the BookIt program (which is still going on, by the way…it’s changed, but still, pretty cool). I was ecstatic. I’d get to EARN something for my reading. When I was a kid, you earned rewards based on the number of books you read.

It was ON.

I really applied myself.

Needless to say, I was reporting so many books finished that my teachers didn’t really believe I was reading that much. They said something to my mother, who asked me to show her which books I had read. I handed her the stack. She picked one, read it, and quizzed me on it.

You guessed it: I answered every question she posed. And I got them right. She reported that back to the teachers, with the statement… “Yes, she really is reading that much, that fast. And yes, she understands it.”

I’m not sure my folks really had a lot of control over what I read, because I read everything.

Oh, sure. We lived out in the country. It wasn’t like I could walk to a store. I didn’t get an allowance as a kid, so until I started working part time at age 15, I didn’t have a lot of my own money to get books.

But both my parents read. They took us to public libraries. They did buy us books. There was the school library. And birthdays and Christmas. And cousins and aunts and uncles and friends to borrow, swap, or inherit books from.

There was no way they could keep up with it…they worked full time jobs, had two other kids, and other things competing for their time.

I, on the other hand, was the eighth grader who read NORTH AND SOUTH by John Jakes on the drive from Ohio to Colorado for vacation. I read ROOTS by Alex Haley on the way back. They didn’t really have to worry about me misbehaving in the back of the car if I had a book. I didn’t get motion sickness from reading in the car. It wasn’t like I could help with the driving…I wasn’t quite thirteen yet.

I’m not saying I was smarter than other kids. I got good grades but I wasn’t the smartest in the class. Because I read so much, I really had the reading thing down. The more I read, the more I liked it and the better I got at reading comprehension and the faster I got.

Because once I was beyond picture books, my parents had a choice…slow me down by making me wait until they had time to screen everything, or just keep me talking about what I was reading. If they saw a book in my hands that they had a question about, they asked about it. We talked about whatever it was that was a concern.

They gave me a gift…they trusted me enough to ask questions and let me explore and learn.

Oh, and now they borrow books from me.

Obviously this won’t work for every kid out there. Thank goodness my parents recognized what worked for a word-nerd, reading-freak, day-dreaming little geek like me.