ConQuesT 46 Shenanigans

conquest 46

Everything I needed for ConQuesT 46

I’m going to start this with a little honesty: I kind of suck at conventions. I’m bad at starting conversations with strangers, I’m out of shape, and I require frequent breaks from crowds. Still, I think I did pretty well at this one.

To start, my husband, Kevin, and I checked in Thursday, the night before everything started. This gave us a chance to unwind from regular life and be a little more prepared when the crazy started the next afternoon. Also, it gave us a chance to sit in the bar, pick out what we’d be drinking for the rest of the weekend, and make faces at George R.R. Martin while he did his thing on the other side of the room.

Side note: People asked me if I went and talked to him. No. He was busy. I didn’t want to interrupt. Plus, all I could think to say was “Dude. People hate it when we write about rape, don’t they?” Then I would nod sagely, like we were bros who understood the hardships of harsh criticism, and take a sip of my drink. Nope. I stayed put next to my husband and took a picture, instead. Classy.

On Friday, I had no panels I had to be on, so I floated, mostly to panels my friends were on. At one point, I had three friends on three different panels spanning two floors. First I went to listen to Holly Messinger read from her novella. After a half hour, I scooted across the hall to see Jack Campbell Jr. on a panel called “Is it REALLY Gothic?” then finally made it downstairs for the last ten minutes of “World Building–Religion and Magic” with George R.R. Martin and Brandon Sanderson. The big draw for me on that one, though, was my friend (and fellow Carina Press author) Kathleen Collins was moderating it, and I wanted to be supportive.

george r.r. martin

George R.R. Martin — I zoomed in so it looked like I was a lot closer than I was.

So, already, I was wearing myself out. You’re not supposed to do three panels in one hour. But that’s okay. There was dinner and drinks in the bar after that, so, yay! But more panels after dinner, so I wasn’t done. Some of us changed into jammies and slippers and tiaras and hit the 10 o’clock panels. Yep. Plural. The first half hour was Jack again on “Body Horror”, then Kathy again on “Things That Go Bump and Grind in the Night.” They were equally interesting panels in different ways, and well worth it.

Saturday morning we had breakfast with old friends of my husband’s, then an 11 AM panel with my friend (and editor!) Sara Lundberg, “Working Through the Bad Days.” Somehow, by noon I had my first drink in my hand (I blame the sudden appearance at the bar of Jason Arnett) and by 1 PM, I was on my first panel. Jack and Sara were doing a panel on NaNoWriMo and someone didn’t show up–so they pulled me up there with them. At 3 PM, I was on a panel called “Who Owes What to Whom.”

Dianne won! Yay!

Dianne won! Yay!

For the rest of the day, I kind of crapped out on everything and parked my butt in the bar until the masquerade contest–which earned my friend Dianne Williams an honorable mention for her fabulous and original Queen of Hearts costume. I attended the celebration in tiara, jammies, and fluffy slippers.

Sunday was brutal. Got up, made myself as presentable as possible, packed, checked out of the room, dropped our luggage at the front desk and barely made it to my 10 AM panel, “How to Navigate the Amazon.” Hero husband split off and got me coffee and a Cliff Bar so I wouldn’t die, and presented me with the coffee seconds before the panel started. It was a good panel, and I met moderator Barbara E. Hill and fellow panelist Gareth-Michael Skarka. Zipped out right after it was over so I could make it to Jack’s reading for the first half hour (I finally ate my Cliff Bar), and my own reading the second half hour.

I am pleased to tell you that my voice was loud and confident, my hands didn’t shake, and I didn’t throw up. I read my work in public and lived. Yay!

Can we just take a moment to admire my sparkly convention nails?

Can we just take a moment to admire my sparkly convention nails?

I had an hour break between my reading and my next panel, but the wait for the elevators was really bad. I was afraid I wouldn’t make it back in time. So, I hung out on that floor with my friends for an hour (alas, there was no bar), and made it in time for my last panel, “Authors (and Readers) Behaving Badly,” which was also moderated by Kathy, so we got to hang on a panel together at the end.

Kevin and I were all set to bolt out of there and go home once my last panel was done, but Sara convinced us we should all go down to the bar for one last drink. We ended up joining Gareth and his wife, Laura. Pretty sure we stayed for a couple of hours.

So. New friends. Old friends. Drinks. Celebrity spotting. Death-defying public speaking.

It was a good weekend. If you’re in the area for ConQuesT next year, come hang out with me in the bar. I guarantee you’ll find me there at least some of the time.

See you real soon!

Update Pileup

Front and back of my new business cards. What do you think?

Front and back of my new business cards. What do you think?

It’s been awhile. Whenever that happens, stuff stacks up in a teetering pile until it threatens to topple over and bury us all in all sorts of news. So, this is an extra long post.

First, let’s get this out of the way. I’m never quite comfortable talking about personal stuff, but so many of you have been there for/with me over the last year, so I think you deserve to hear how it turned out. After a very hard year, my dad passed away last week. I had high hopes that he’d improve, but the opposite proved true.

I don’t really want to dwell on it, but I thought you should know. There’s a hole in my heart where he’s missing, but my heart is also lighter now that I don’t have to be worried and on call. It was heartbreaking to watch, but he doesn’t have to fight any more. He’s okay now. And I’ll be okay, too. Eventually.

So. That happened. Let’s move on to more cheerful news.

I’m going to be at ConQuest (science fiction and fantasy convention in Kansas City) next week from May 22-24. Three days. I will be all over the hotel getting into trouble. I’ll also be speaking on three different panels, plus I’ll be reading the first chapter of Unfinished Muse. Here’s my schedule:

Saturday 3:00 PM Who owes what to whom?
Sunday 10:00 AM How to navigate the “Amazon”
Sunday 11:30 AM Reading
Sunday 1:00 PM Authors (and Readers) Behaving Badly

So, if you’re in the area and you’re so inclined, come out and see me. If you’re there but can’t make it to where I’m speaking/reading, send me a message on my Facebook page or an email letting me know where you are. I’d love to see you. I hear there will be shenanigans, and I intend to be right in the middle of them.

And speaking of Unfinished Muse, what’s going on with that?

Well. Because of events I’ve already mentioned but don’t want to talk about anymore, I got a bit behind. But that’s okay. Sometimes you have to re-prioritize, especially when family needs you. But I should be done with the first draft before I go to ConQuesT (fingers crossed). Then it gets edited and formatted. I expect it to be out late-July or earlier.

Seriously. Late-July. How awesome is that? That’s practically tomorrow!

And guess what! I have a cover for it. It’s beautiful. And the following two books in the series, Unamused Muse (coming roughly late September) and Uninspired Muse (coming in December if all goes well) also have finished covers that go so well with the first one, I want to blow them up and hang them on my wall together. Seriously. My cover artist is amazing. You can check out some of her work here: Yocla Designs

So, where is this gorgeous cover? That’s news for another day. Because I am a tease. And the other two will have to wait even longer. Let me write those books first before I show you their covers. I don’t want to give too much away.

But I will leave you with this. Here’s the back cover copy for Unfinished Muse:

Wynter Greene is a chronic quitter—in work, in life, and in love. When she quits a job, a boyfriend, and a seemingly minor craft project all in one day, the dormant deity blood in her veins triggers a Welcome Package from the gods. A talking—and singing—houseplant named Phyllis bullies Wynter into taking a job at the Mt. Olympus Employment Agency.

Stuck with a job in the Muse department, Wynter discovers that helping others finish what they start isn’t easy, especially for someone who can’t seem to finish anything of her own. And how is Wynter supposed to focus on anything when that guy from the Dreams and Nightmares department keeps distracting her with his rippling muscles and magnetic stare?

Wynter needs to figure her job out soon. Each failure is a tick mark on her record, and if she continues to miss her deadlines, she’ll be reassigned to Hades as a dog walker.

And scooping poop for a giant three-headed dog is nobody’s ideal career.

I hope you’re as excited as I am. I’ll be back next week, and maybe I’ll be ready for a cover reveal. You never know.

See you real soon!

Phoenix Release Day!

Phoenix In My Fortune by R.L. NaquinToday is kind of a weird day for me. As of midnight (somewhere) last night, people started receiving their pre-ordered copied of Phoenix in My Fortune to their e-readers. Some people are already reading it.

Release days are always a little crazy. I’m excited a new book is out. I’m nervous people won’t like it. I’m busy with all the stuff that happens or needs to be done with a new release. Every release day is like that.

This one is a little different. It also has some sadness attached to it.

As you probably know, Monster in My Closet was the first completed book I ever wrote. Since then, I’ve spent the last four years fully immersed in the Monster Haven world. I’ve laughed and cried along with the characters as I wrote them. There were days when I wanted to shoot myself rather than have to spend another minute in that world, because I was in it for so long. Inevitably, I’d take a day off and want to come right back to it.

But now, it’s done. Zoey’s story is told, and people are reading the finale. Will they be satisfied with how I wrapped it up? Will they hate it? Will they be willing to try something new with me as I build a new world devoid of closet monsters and fairies?

Honestly, thinking about all that makes me a little queasy.

I know I won’t stay away from Zoey’s world forever, but for the next year, my imagination will be elsewhere. I’m pretty sure that’s as long as Maurice will let me stay away though. You know how pushy he can be. He’s already chattering in my head with his stories he wants me to tell.

So. It’s a bittersweet day. If you haven’t already ordered a copy of Phoenix in My Fortune, you can go here for all the links and choose your favorite place to shop.

I hope with all my heart you enjoy the finale. I’m going to spend the day making us some new friends, and trying hard not to miss the old ones.

Thanks for sticking with Zoey and me until the end of her story. All good endings are just new beginnings. There’s so much more to come.

See you real soon!

The Next Accountability Plan

Rosy

Rosy

This is Rosy. Rosy is one year old and has been taking up a good portion of my living room since her arrival. We haven’t paid her off yet.

Rosy is in the Christmas tree spot. All things considered (five cats and my need for convenient exercise) it was more important to have Rosy this Christmas than a large tree. We made do with the tiny Charlie Brown tree on the mantle.

Not to harp on it, but last year was not a typical year, and lots of things were shoved down the priority list. Taking care of myself was one of those things. In fact, the second half of last year was dominated by fast food hastily eaten in the car between home and the hospital or home and the nursing home. And Rosy collected dust.

I was overweight already before all this started. And sitting all day to write hasn’t helped either.

Why am I telling you all this? Because this is a magic blog. Five years ago, I wrote my first post. I wanted to be an author, and I figured, if I wrote it on a blog and made myself accountable, I’d finally follow through.

Six novels later, it occurs to me that it worked. So, I’m writing it here for all of you to see. I’m putting Rosy on notice. I have all the things I need to pull my head out of my ass and treat myself better–healthy food, a really nice treadmill, yoga DVDs, exercise equipment, and command of my own schedule. The only thing stopping me is me–much like before I wrote my first book.

I’m not turning this into a food or fitness blog. But I will check in once in a while and let you know how I’m doing. Not because you care whether I’ve been slacking off, but because this is the magical accountability blog. If I hide my laziness, it will continue. If I have to admit it in public, it’ll stop.

In theory, anyway.

So. Just as I did with my crazy dream of becoming an author, I guess I need to outline a plan here, just to make it clear. Here it is:

1. Walk a little every day, increasing each day until walking is no longer a huge event that requires frequent stops to rest my back or knees.

2. Increase the speed a little every day until my heart and lungs no longer threaten to stop working.

3. Start using the pre-programed workouts with elevation variances.

4. Steal all the underpants.

5. Be healthier!

This plan, admittedly, falls apart earlier than the “Get Published” plan did, but that’s because banishing my sluggery isn’t complicated. I just have to get my ass out of the chair on a regular basis. We’re already eating well most of the time.

So. I’ll try not to bother you too much with the health updates, but I still have to do it to remain accountable. You can look away when it happens, if you like. Maybe I’ll post a picture of a cute animal so you can look at that instead.

Guess I’ll have to start getting dressed in the mornings. Rosy has a strict policy about wearing shoes and a bra. And once I have those on, I feel pretty silly if I don’t put on pants and a shirt.

Have a great week. See you real soon!

The Office of Dry Erase

I thought you might be interested in what goes on in my office. I try to be organized. I really do. But something unexpected always happens to throw things off.

For example, last year I had a pretty clear idea of how I wanted things to go down. This was my partially completed editorial calendar from that time period. I had a plan that stretched all the way out to 2018 and covered 18 new books. Last year’s schedule was mapped out, month by month in what might be described as a terrifying plan. I was pretty confident, though.

editorial calendar (1)

 

We’ve now reached February of the following year, and I can tell you the plan is still good. But it’s about six months behind. I did get the short story collection out last month, though, and I’ve moved on to focus hard on Unfinished Muse. Life’s curveballs only delayed me. They didn’t make me quit. Here’s what that same dry-erase poster on my office wall looks like today:

emptyedcal

 

In case you’re wondering what’s written in the upper lefthand corner, it says “Murffy was here” in my terrible handwriting. One of my oldest, bestest friends asked me to do that, since she lives too far away to do it herself. And there it will stay.

Usually, my elaborate plotting goes on the “Big Board,” but in the fall, I gave up the board so we could plan our television shows for the season. This is a throwback to the excitement of the fall lineup when we were kids. It’s not so much an organizational thing as it is the fun of planning what new shows we’ll try out and when our old shows are coming back. Don’t judge us for how much TV we watch. Honest. A lot of shows get dropped from our schedule fairly quickly.

bigboardtv

It’s wiped clean, now, awaiting the timeline I’m working on for Unfinished Muse.

I also have a bunch of smaller boards I use for brainstorming individual problems, like character traits, lists of places, names of background characters, or this. This is from when I was working on Demons in My Driveway. It’s a map of the world. No, seriously. Each blob I drew represents a continent. It’s not meant to be accurate geographically (obviously). But I needed to visualize how many Aegises I had left and where they were in the world. The line with numbers above that is the list of chapter numbers. I have no idea why that’s there. It would also be on the Big Board.

world map

 

I am a writer, not an artist.

In addition to the boards I’ve shown you, I also have two more of those dry-erase posters, only in yellow, on the wall behind me, two more mini boards, a dry-erase monthly calendar, a folding dry-erase board that looks like index cards, and an electronic Boogie Board. I take my notes and brainstorming seriously.

Really, I just like writing stuff so I can wipe it off again. And someday, if I’m very, very good, I’ll have one of those huge boards on wheels that flips over so I can write on it on both sides.

Everybody’s gotta have a dream. I’m sure you’ve got a weird one, too. Right?

See you real soon!