Read For Pixels 2017 – International Women’s Day Edition

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The Pixel Project’s ‘Read For Pixels’ (International Women’s Day Edition) is still going strong. The non-profit has reached its initial target of U$5,000 in donations, and they are hoping to hit their stretch goal of U$10,000.

The Pixel Project gathers funds and raises awareness to help end violence against women around the world. Their twice-yearly Read For Pixels campaign has online hangouts with top authors, as well as books and other prizes that you can claim as ‘perks’ with your donation.

My novel Heart Blade is in one of the donation bundles, along with 1st Edition hardcovers from bestselling YA Fantasy authors Kimberly Derting (The Taking) and Alyson Noel (Unrivalled). Last time I checked, there was only one of these bundles left! There are many other donation perks, though, like books by Kendare Blake and Karen Rose.

Check out the campaign page here.

Also, keep an eye out for the Gaming For Pixels Spring Slam 2017, a 48-hour gaming marathon fundraiser to take place on April 7th-9th. More information here.

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Write Now

Blog post title is a play on Van Halen’s ‘Right Now’. If you don’t know the song, go and look up the lyrics, and maybe watch the awesome award-winning video clip, too.

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My kitchen table ‘office’

On a writing forum I belong to, someone asked whether it was worthwhile paying to rent an office space away from home and all its distractions.

Of course, there’s no right or wrong answer to that. I know people who need a secluded spot where they can shut everything out and write. Other people need the hustle and bustle of a coffee shop to inspire them. I’ve met people with writing sheds, or who prefer (like me) the kitchen table. One memorable encounter I had with a best-selling author revealed they go on location to wherever their book is set, and spend a couple of weeks dictating the entire novel onto a recording device, to later be typed up and revised from their home office.

Hey, whatever works. (And I’m totally up for the writing on location thing, by the way. Anyone want to sponsor my next book set in, say, some nice sunny beach? I promise to Instagram all my fruity umbrella drinks writing notes.)

The discussion thread got me thinking about my own writing habits, and I realized that, for me, it was less an issue of work space, and more one of head space. Wherever you write, there will always be umbrella drinks distractions. Writing takes discipline, whether you carve out a dedicated time of day for it, or snatch spare moments whenever you can. (Look up #5amwritersclub on Twitter for inspiration!)

When I decided to start writing seriously, I had young school-age children. Afternoons were full of homework supervision, and other kid-related things. So I promised myself a couple of free hours every morning. Between 9 and 11am, I would write.

It wasn’t easy at first. There were all those darn distractions! It was so tempting to jump up and do something – anything – to escape my self-imposed BIC (butt in chair) time. There were days when even cleaning toilets seemed like a good alternative to fixing a plot hole. But I stuck with it, and over time have reached a head space where I can sit down, tell myself ‘let’s write’, and switch the world off for a few hours until hunger and the dog remind me that lunchtime has come and gone.

My point? (Besides that fruity umbrella drinks sound like a good alternative to the snow piled up outside my door?) Don’t worry too much about your writing space. Not at first, not until you’ve found your writing groove, and worked out what (and when) works best for you. Get into the head space, and you’ll figure out the rest. If you wait to find your perfect office, or café, or public library nook before you can write, you risk never finding it. And that search becomes your excuse, your distraction.

Don’t wait. Write now.

Interviews!

I was interviewed by the awesome Gwendolyn Kiste about Heart Blade and writing. Interviews are so much fun, and I had a blast answering this one.

Check it out

And if you’d like to see other interviews, you can click here for my press page.

Note: If you’re a blogger or reviewer and are interested in Heart Blade, I’d love to hear from you! Please get in touch through my contact page.

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Just for fun: Lego Alex, Ash, Del and Camille. 

What’s Your Character Watching?

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Someone asked me what my Heart Blade character Alex’s favorite TV show would be, and I immediately answered Star Wars Rebels. Because clearly when you’re an immortal vampire knight who’s taken a vow to never drink blood you’re going to be all about the Jedi, right?

Of course, I immediately thought, “Blog post!” So here it is: what shows all the Heart Blade characters like to watch.

Alex is a Star Wars Rebels fan. Kanan Jarrus is his favorite character. He’s also partial to Arrow and The Flash. He once met Stephen Amell at a convention and has the photo to prove it.

Camille loves sports. She’s a Packers fan and never misses a NHL game, especially if the Canadiens are playing. She owns all seasons of Gilmore Girls on DVD and has been known to quote lines from the show.

Diana likes to escape into Once Upon a Time. She’s also a Glee fan and has all the show songs on her playlist. She plays them loud to drown out the memory of her victims’ screams.

Rose never misses an episode of Supernatural. She’s cooled down on the show a little now she knows demons and vampires actually exist, but she can’t stay away from Sam, Dean, and Cas.

Ash loves Agents of SHIELD. He’s hoping they bring Bobbi back. She reminds him of his mom. He thought Agent Carter was really cool and doesn’t get why the network cancelled it.

Del will watch everything and anything. She’s fascinated by human TV shows and feels that with her memory loss she has a lot to make up for. One of her favorite characters is Arya Stark from Game of Thrones.

Jude always tells everyone that TV shows are a waste of time. But secretly he DVRs all the Reign episodes and then marathons them all at one go over a weekend with masses of pizza and junk food.

Dan likes The Walking Dead, even though Alex teases him mercilessly about it. He feels there is something marvelously simple about a world where all humans have to fear are zombies and each other.

Deacon says he only watches sports. But anyone who frequents his house knows he always has one of those home improvement or real estate shows on in the background. He’s mildly obsessed with Tiny House Nation.

What TV shows would your favorite characters watch? Let me know in the comments!

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Boskone 54

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Last weekend I made what has become my yearly pilgrimage to Boskone. For those who have never heard of it (and if you live in New England, you’ve definitely been missing out!), Boskone is a great science fiction and fantasy convention that leans heavily toward SF/F writers and readers. The con always has a fabulous line-up of guest speakers, and the panels are varied and interesting. The overall vibe is relaxed and friendly.

This year, I didn’t manage to go to any of the kaffeeklatsches*, one of my absolute favorite things to do at Boskone. I also went to fewer panels than I usually attend, for one simple reason: this time, I was one of the panelists myself.

So, what was the view like from the other side?

Terrifying, on the first day! By the second day, however, I’d got the hang of it. I relaxed, and really enjoyed the discussion. It helps that I had fantastic co-panelists and moderators, of course. Thanks to Boskone for inviting me! I had a great time. (Check out a list of the panels I was on here.)

Some of my Boskone 54 highlights include the panel on Skullduggery and Dastardly Deeds, hilariously moderated by Scott Lynch, and the panel on Guest of Honor Brandon Sanderson’s career. It’s always encouraging to hear great writers like Sanderson talk about the beginning of their careers…

Every year I try to catch a reading, and this time I went to a great one by Lynch – a short story that will appear in the Book of Swords anthology, out in October.

However, one of the best things to do at Boskone can’t be found on the official schedule. And that’s – quite simply – conversation. I love getting a chance to chat to SF/F fans, writers, and other industry folks. It ends up being one of the high points of the con, every single time.

So here I am, two days after returning home, sitting in the middle of a pile of notes, papers, and bookmarks from this year’s Boskone, and all I can think of is: Boskone 55? Bring it on.

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Worldbuilding in Urban Fantasy

L to R: (not shown: Margaret Ronald), Robert B. Finegold M.D., myself, Adam Stemple, Leigh Perry (Moderator) – photo courtesy of Robert.

*For those who have never been to one, a kaffeeklatsch is an informal round table with someone like an author. I’ve been to several memorable ones, like the one with Myke Cole at my very first Boskone, or the one with Ginjer Buchanan that ended up being a friendly tête-à-tête after a blizzard chased most of the con goers away.

Release Day Fun

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Online launch party, in style.

Yesterday was release day for Heart Blade! I’m thrilled that I can finally share the first Blade Hunt Chronicles book with everyone.

Since I have friends and family members scattered around the world, I opted for an online launch party. I had a great time chatting about books, movies, weapon of choice, and – since it was Valentine’s Day – fave fictional romances.

There was also a scavenger hunt. I had so much fun checking out the entries. Some of them were incredibly creative! A few of my favorites:

A fairy cake for fairy (UK term; a cupcake or muffin in the US); a photo of a pet rat named Togepi for Pokemón; a bad breath microbe plush for villain; a dragon teapot for dragon (I want one!); a Darth Vader pepper shaker for villain; Wonder Woman’s invisible jet for spaceship; a board game rainbow and arrow-shaped pointer for bow and arrow; a Tardis for spaceship; a Monty Python’s Holy Grail DVD for chalice.

Besides several knights, entries for the warrior list item included Daenerys from Game of Thrones, Lurtz from Lord of the Rings, San from Princess Mononoke, and a Kachina warrior.

(The full list of scavenger items is at the bottom of the post, if you’re interested*)

As a release day bonus, I set up a quiz. (I love quizzes!) If you want to find out which Blade Hunt preternatural you are (vampire, pixie, witch, etc), take the quiz here. (Redirects to qzzr.com)

Some of the photos from the scavenger hunt:

 

And here is my own ‘entry’ which I put together just to prove it could be done. (And as an excuse  to wear a panda hat…)

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Thank you to everyone who showed up, and to those who joined the hunt!

 

*Here’s the scavenger hunt item list: 

a panda
an angel
something purple
a sword
a heart
a unicorn
a magic wand
maple syrup
a dragon
a copy of The Lord of the Rings
a feather
a Pokemón
something relating to King Arthur
chamomile tea
a map (bonus point if a map of Connecticut)
a sports trophy
a warrior
a message in a bottle
a chalice
a flag
a glass of something pink
a bow
an arrow
a Lego mini-figure
a pick-up truck
a fairy
a spaceship
a dinosaur
a villain
a llama

Heart Blade Release Day

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Happy book birthday to Heart Blade! It’s been a long and exciting journey to get here, and now I finally get to share the first of my Blade Hunt Chronicles series with everyone.

For some book launch fun, take the Blade Hunt quiz and find out what sort of preternatural you are. Vampire? Witch? Or maybe a Pixie?

Which Blade Hunt Preternatural Are You?

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