Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Awards-Eligible Publications for 2016!

Thanks to Cat Rambo, President of SFWA, for her encouragement to post my awards-eligible publications this year:

From January 2016:
Tales from the Weird Wild West,
Co-edited with Misty Massey
and Margaret McGraw
From eSpec books

From October 2016:
Book 1 of the Esiteddfod Chronicles
Co-written with Sarah Joy Adams
From Falstaff Books

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Watching from the Outside: A #HoldOnToTheLight Post

I do not suffer from mental illness, but I love people who do.

When I first heard of this #HoldOnToTheLight project, I was excited to support it. The most important people in my life suffer from anxiety and depression, but I cannot imagine a blinding anxiety attack or a paralyzing depression. In fact, I cannot remember a time when I didn’t believe things would be okay. The thought of losing that part of myself terrifies me.

I am not suggesting that those of us who don’t struggle with mental illness somehow suffer a much as those who do. But for many of us, knowing how to help is difficult. Do I keep telling her it will be okay? Or is that only making it worse? Do I encourage him to believe that his anxiety is misplaced or unnecessary? Or do I agree that it is scary, even if, to me, it isn’t? Or are all of my ideas for “help” useless, or worse, harmful?  

My biggest fear: what if I make it worse?

When I love someone, I want them (yes, I use the singular they and them) to be happy. When they have problems, I want to be part of their solutions. When they suffer, I want to comfort them. When they hurt, I want to heal them (and then find the person/thing that hurt them and have words).
But for those of us outside looking in—for those of us trying to help—it can seem impossible. Our culture doesn’t make it any easier, either. If my person had a broken leg, a nasty little voice in my head and heart wouldn’t whisper, Why can’t they do this? It isn’t that hard! If they just decided to [whatever]they could. Even when I know—in my heart of hearts and in my brain—that no one suffering from mental illness chooses to do so, I still sometimes get frustrated or angry.

And then, once I’m frustrated or angry, I hate myself. How can I be angry at something that this person didn’t cause? How could I be such an asshole?

Caring is exhausting. Knowing that it is an uphill fight for a person I love and that there is nothing I can do to take the burden from them is painful. If I let exhaustion take over—if I allow myself to get too tired, to spend too much energy in too many places, and ignore what I need—then I will be a shitty partner, child, friend.

I cannot fix the problems.

Accepting that is devastating. When I know that I would do anything to make the suffering stop, but there isn’t anything I can do, it is nearly impossible to not feel helpless and hopeless.   

So for those of you out there who, like me, may have found this cause because you want so badly to help someone you love, you aren’t alone. It is okay to get tired, to get frustrated, to get cranky. It is okay to get angry, too. It’s okay to take time to recharge, to focus on your own needs and not neglect them.

We know that depression and anxiety seem an impenetrable darkness. We know that they are lonely and frightening. We know that they lie.

We struggle to help our loved ones hold onto the light because we do not want to face our darkness without them, and we will not let them face their darkness alone. Even on the days we lose our tempers or our hope, we will not lose our grip on the light.

We do not suffer from mental illness. But we love people who do.

About the campaign:

#HoldOnToTheLight is a blog campaign encompassing blog posts by fantasy and science fiction authors around the world in an effort to raise awareness around treatment for depression, suicide prevention, domestic violence intervention, PTSD initiatives, bullying prevention and other mental health-related issues. We believe fandom should be supportive, welcoming and inclusive, in the long tradition of fandom taking care of its own. We encourage readers and fans to seek the help they or their loved ones need without shame or embarrassment. 
Please consider donating to or volunteering for organizations dedicated to treatment and prevention such as: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Home for the Warriors (PTSD), National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Canadian Mental Health Association, MIND (UK), SANE (UK), BeyondBlue (Australia), To Write Love On Her Arms and the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.

To find out more about #HoldOnToTheLight, find a list of participating authors, or reach a media contact, go to

Thursday, June 9, 2016

ConCarolinas 2016: Recap

I love ConCarolinas. The first time I went was in 2008—one of my first cons ever, and certainly the most influential. There I met a bunch of folks—Misty Massey, David B. Coe, Faith Hunter, Stuart Jaffe, Edmund Schubert, AJ Hartly—who really made a difference in my writing life. Through them I found Magical Words, a website that did more for my writing than practice itself.

At that time, I hadn’t published anything yet—my first short story sale would come some months later. My first editing job was still a year off. The novel Sarah and I had in hand was .. well ... it's hard to find the right words. So I’ll go with the novel was so bad that, while I have a copy of it, I never want to read it again.

This year at ConCarolinas, 8 years later, I’ve edited for a small (now gone) erotica press, sold several short stories, co-edited three collections (the Big Bad, the Big Bad II, and Tales from the Weird Wild West) and a fourth one (Lawless Lands) . I’ve submitted a ton of other things—stories, novels, queries—and gotten a lot of rejections. Oh, and Sarah and I signed a four-book contract with John Hartness (who I met at a later CC!) of Falstaff Books for the Eisteddfod Chronicles. This weekend I got to give away postcards with a link to the (free!) first chapter of Changeling’s Fall, the first book in the series.

While that in and of itself was great, other things made CC incredibly special. As always, I got to see many of my writer friends from all over the US and Canada, and, as always, there wasn’t nearly enough time to hang out.

There were two panels in particular that I was on that I really enjoyed and felt were really important. The first, Impostor Syndrome moderated by David B. Coe, was about the crippling doubt that so many writers experience. John Hartness, Rod Belcher, and Andrea Judy were also on the panel with me. Everyone told raw stories about being sure that they weren’t for real—that whatever got them where they were must have been luck, or a horrible, horrible mistake that would eventually be exposed. We also talked about how we get over it. (We don’t. We find ways through it, but we’re never done feeling it!)

The second panel was called Hell Hath No Fury, and was about the (over) use of rape as a trope. The panel was well attended for 10:00 on a Saturday night, and while we were all pretty tired, we still had a great conversation. Janine K. Spendlove moderated and Misty Massey, Natania Barron, and Leigh Perry all were excellent. We determined, as Janine pointed out at the end, that rape is bad. Also bad is the use of rape without any care to the actual reality or the ramifications experienced by women. In particular, the use of rape as a means of furthering a man’s story without treating the woman as anything but a plot device, is both typical and problematic. We also agreed that eliminating rape from storylines isn’t the solution, particularly given the prominence of it in most women’s lives today.

All the panelists treated delicate and potentially volatile subjects with respect and professionalism. I was glad to be a part of both of them and hope that we continue to have conversations like this outside of convention panels, too.

ConCarolinas will always be close to my heart, both because I entered the world of writing genre fiction there and because the people make it amazing every year. So thanks to all of the organizers (and Misty Massey in particular for the Writers Track) and all the guests and all the attendees. I already can’t wait for next year! 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Falling in Love All over Again

There came a point with my first love when things went stale. The love of my life no longer set my stomach aflutter with butterflies and made my heart pound with anticipation. It’s lonely out in the world, watching others in love and excited about each new discovery. So I shifted my attention to a new beloved. Of course the energy and passion came back for a while. Then, with a plot as predictable as an 80s sitcom, I fell out of love again.

When the spark returned, I felt like Dorothy stepping out of black and white Kansas into the Technicolor world of Oz.

Changeling’s Fall, the first novel in the Eisteddfod Chronicles, is a project that my co-author (Sarah Joy Adams) and I have been working on for a long time. How long? The book is certainly old enough to cross a street all by itself, and we’d better have a birds and bees talk with it really, really soon.

So, to say that I was over it is an understatement. I couldn’t tell if the plot was thrilling, the characters interesting, or the voice compelling. I didn’t hate our book—it was worse than that. I was bored by it. 

Then, John Hartness at Falstaff Books took a chance on the book. When we got his edits, my door to Oz opened. He began with the editorial peacemaking, the gentle voice of someone trapped with a feral cat in a tiny room. He didn’t need the caveats. His edits were spot on. It was like I’d been staring at one of those weird abstract prints, and suddenly the picture snapped into view.

My characters’ stories excite me again: Deor fights to find her faerie father before her magic kills her; Rafe agonizing over the choice between his duty to the kingdom and his devotion to the king. I need to know how their stories end.

I am falling in love all over again, and it is even better than the first time.