Friday, January 26, 2018

One Month In... How We Doin'?

We sit 6 days away from February. This is about the time resolutions fade away into a not-so-distant memory that plagues us the rest of the year and resurfaces around New Year's Eve to spur another January of effort and February of "forget about it".

They key with evolution, as I mentioned last week, is to take small, incremental steps toward an end goal. It reminds me of that old saying "failing to plan is planning to fail". I can't count how many times I heard that and rolled my eyes. I hated that stupid thing with a passion! Now, I see the wisdom in it. I still roll my eyes of course, but at least I take the implied advice.

This year I am doing something completely different. You ready? I got myself a planner. I know! Me? A pantser, planning? What?! But I did. And it's kind of awesome. Most planners I'll admit are really boring. They have the year, months, weeks, and days all broken out into slices of time that you somehow have to fit all your creativity and craziness into so it looks orderly and manageable. The people who make those planners have no idea what the life of a creative type is like. My schedule is anything and everything but consistent. Oh, you want me to eat breakfast everyday at the exact same time? Ha! You're hilarious. Oh, I'm supposed to magically turn off my imagination and fall asleep at the same time each night? I couldn't even type that without laughing.

The best solution I have found is one of the odd ball planners. I don't do product endorsements and am keenly aware that what works for one person will not work for everyone, so I'm not telling you which one I chose. I will say, however, that it breaks everyday down into goals and to-do lists. Yes, there is a timeline you can fill in, but that is a mere quarter of the daily page. The main focus is on your goals and how you are going to achieve them. At the front of the planner you list out your goals and make a plan to take the first steps toward accomplishing them. Then you carry that into every week and every day. This approach lets my creativity flourish under a little bit of control so I can get things done AND stay the wild, crazy, writer that I am.

It is true that if you have a goal, you need a plan. What's your goal? What is the first step in your plan? Have you taken it yet?

Friday, January 19, 2018

I Resolve To Evolve

Evolution is the natural process by which organisms change in tiny, unseen, gradual steps that lead to significant alterations spurring the necessity to reclassify or create a new species profile for the evolved organism. The primary point of this definition of evolution is the fact that these steps are minuscule and happen over millions of years. Nothing wakes up one morning and is completely different than they were the night before.

Bearing this in mind, my resolution for this year is to begin the process of evolving into a productive, organized, and prosperous businesswoman with regards to my novels. I think they're good, others think they're good, but all that goodness doesn't help if I never market, or sit in the chair and type the words, or take the time needed to conduct the business of being in business. That's setting me up for disaster, and failure, and a Dodgeball* style audit that I have no hope of surviving.

So, I got myself a planner that is forcing me to record my goals, the steps necessary to achieve them, and holds me accountable for my progress. And I have to say, it's pretty cool, and absolutely fucking terrifying. I'm getting organized. My week now has specific times to focus on specific tasks that step ever closer to my higher evolved self.

I am being realistic in this endeavor. I know I will stumble. There will be days when I go completely off track. There will be attempts that far embarrassingly short of the mark. Evolution is like that, just look at the mosquito. (Really, nature? I mean, seriously? A flying, biting insect that spreads disease and itchy bumps and serves no other purpose whatsoever? You're a jerk!) It may be an ugly process full of set backs and false starts. It may hurt and crush my self-esteem at times, but I can stick it out, I am strong enough to survive, and this fuzzy little worm will become a butterfly.

What are your views on resolutions? Do you make them only at the new year? Or, throughout the year?

*Dodgeball is an awesome movie that is just the perfect amount of inappropriate and random. I own nothing but an unrated version of the DVD. No copyright infringement is intended. But, if you busted out your magnifying glass to read this far, get a bigger screen, then watch the movie. Beer helps.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Excerpt - Chapter 1: The Dream

Who doesn't like a little free literature? I know I definitely do. I revealed the cover, now I give you the first chapter of my new novel, Ecotone. Enjoy! And, let me know what you think.

Chapter 1: The Dream

Dry brown grass waves in a lurid breeze across the hillside. A large barn stands halfway between the road and the manor commanding the high ground. Long slats of brown wood hold up the towering structure as I walk toward it.

Pushing the smaller door on the side open, I stride into the musky building. Tack and tools line the clean walls in orderly rows. A workshop set on one half of the building features a large countertop and a myriad of tools I can’t identify.

The single, expansive stall dominating the other half of the barn is clean with fresh hay thrown upon the dirt floor. Hung on the brown wall is a weathered oil painting of Paul Bunyan and Babe the blue ox. A silly sort of thing to adorn an otherwise ordinary livestock barn.

I turn away from the diversion and proceed up the hill. White dominates the landscape where the manor stands. Like the snow cap of a mountain, the house sits in a bed of swaying white daisies. Pristine, sterile, yet homey and inviting.

The steps remain silent as I glide up the four planks to the wide porch. The door looms before me nearly sighing when I grasp the golden handle. With a soft click it swings open on well-oiled hinges.
A large foyer opens before me filled with the style of pioneer toys one finds in an antique shop. Porcelain dolls with cherubim faces smile from a large bay window seat. Other toys lie about in an orderly invitation to make myself at home. The only one that truly tempts is a rocking horse with a smiling face and a wild yellow mane. I run a hand over its glossy, shellacked wood grain with a smile.

Light glints off something gold in a high loft above. Venturing toward the marble staircase, I let my fingers drift over anything they can reach. Knowing, somehow, that nothing will harm me here. At the top of the stairs, I look down on the room below smiling at the perfect playroom. It is every child’s dream come true.

With a contented sigh I stride toward a doorknob glinting gold in the sunlight streaming from the large window below. Though impossible for any rays to reach the loft, every surface of the home is bathed in light, as though the very paint is luminous.

My hand reaches toward the knob as the overpowering scent of fresh linen washes over my senses. A presence larger than anything I have felt materializes behind me. Safety, security, and protectiveness roll off him to settle like a warm blanket on my soul.

I feel his hand reach for me, the feeling of support nearly striking the breath from my lungs. My smile widens and my body relaxes into the knowledge that whoever he is, whatever his station in the world, I am important to him. I am valued and wanted. He knows nothing about me, but he will never let the world harm me.

Just as his massive hand settles on my slight shoulder, he takes a deep and contented breath. It feels like fate and destiny click in place. “Terry,” his voice rumbles, deeper than any man can possibly speak and with more conviction and confidence than any man could ever show.

I turn my head to gaze upon his face. A face I am certain contains a pair of sparkling, happy eyes. Instead of a smiling face and noble features, I behold the swaying limbs of an oak towering above me. The dancing leaves let slivers of sunlight through to kiss my pale skin. I take a deep breath, reveling in the clean breeze, and smile at the old dream. The same one I’ve had since childhood.
The opening strains of “The Times They Are A-Changin’” announces the abrupt end of my lunch break siesta. With slight chagrin, I liberate my lunchbox from an enterprising stampede of bugs, mostly ants, brush off my clothes, and shake out my picnic blanket to rid it of the same interlopers. Double-checking the security card is still on my person, I make the short trek up the path from the stone monument on the shore of Lake Washington in Seattle to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Western Regional campus.

I walk past the picnic area outside the cafeteria in Building 2. The motion sensor doors to Building 3 open with soft whispers. The foyer, lobby, hallways, and breakrooms I pass have the few stragglers of the lunch hour rushing to get back to work. I stroll to the stairway and hop up them two at a time.
Reaching the landing of the second floor I proceed to my office. Not so much an enclosed space with doors and windows, but a glorified cubicle with enough air to lose myself in a sea of papers and oceanic charts. Personal effects stowed in the bottom drawer of my desk, I don a lab coat and wake up my computer.

A few quick keystrokes flash the screen from forest to oceanscape. The collapsed collage of opened documents lays waiting for me to pick up where I left off. My smile fades. The whole reason I ventured to the stone garden was to clear my mind and ease away the emotional tumult of my research. As hard as I try to quell feelings of panic, the science doesn’t lie.

From wind patterns to ocean currents to salmon populations, the world is sending a vivid message. And it is, most definitely, not a thank you card.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Cover Reveal Time!

So... Remember a few months ago when I said that I was switching gears from Little Red Wolf to a new project? Well, that new project is coming along nicely and it is officially time to show you all something kind of amazing.


Here we go!

Ta-da! Isn't that awesome?!

Here's a bit about the book:

According to Merriam-Webster, “ecotone” is defined as: a transition area between two adjacent ecological communities. Etymology: ec- + Greek tonos meaning tension.
Also from Merriam-Webster: “Scientists refer to the area of overlapping landscapes where the “foreign” species encounter each other and blend together as ecotones, an apparent allusion to the tension created when competing species come together.”

This book is an anthropomorphic take on climate change. Many of the characters are natural phenomena we are well acquainted with. Readers from my neck of the woods will recognize Mount Rainier, Mount Saint Helens, and the Puget Sound. Readers everywhere will know Dover (yes, those white cliffs), Mount Everest, and Mount Fuji. Also making appearances are the River Kama in Russia, the north wind, the great redwood forest of Northern California and Southern Oregon, and a few lost civilizations whose mysterious demises are explained. Readers will learn the natural politics behind Super Storm Sandy, and why Hillary Step on Mount Everest actually fell away.
Packed with science, fantasy, and a touch of humor, this book follows the career of Doctor Ferma, a climate scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. With a knack for finding connections where others see only jumbled data, and the ability to see through the veil of magic splitting two distinct, but inseparable, worlds, she is tasked with negotiating peace. One side is oblivious to the war they are entrenched in. The other is fractured into opposing factions. Neither is willing to concede a point. And the fragile balance between magical world and human world is ever tipping toward the total destruction of both. Will humanity learn to see before it is too late? Will Mother Earth finally reveal herself? Will all the spirits of the world find a common ground?

I am currently in deep edits on this novel and am anticipating a Fall release. Keep your eyes peeled for updates and excerpts as the edits come to a close.

Also, a quick reminder that my books are no longer available in paperback. If you would like to purchase any of my novels, please save a tree by heading over to Amazon or Smashwords and downloading a digital copy. A portion of the royalties from each book sale goes toward the National Parks Foundation.

Thank you for your support!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Here's The Deal...

Alright. Here’s the deal, I don’t like blogging. I really don’t. It always seems to me a waste of time. Here I am with limited hours of writing time and multiple projects I am working on, and I need to take an hour out of that precious slice of the clock to prattle on about something inconsequential. Yeah, not so high on my priority list.

That being said, blogs are a valuable means of communication. And I do like to communicate. So here is my proposed compromise. How does everyone feel about Tuesday? I know it isn’t exactly Friday, but it is cool enough to have a few businesses claim it for promotions and brands. I can commit to one brief post every Tuesday. With a few awesome tidbits thrown in randomly because who doesn’t like spontaneity?

Tuesday will be a jumble of whatever I feel like expounding on that time. It could be a cover reveal (maybe next Tuesday? Maybe not?). It could be an excerpt from a current project. It could be a random funny conversation I had or overheard. Whatever it is, it will be consistent. 9am every Tuesday.

Sounds pretty good right? Yeah, I thought so too. So, I hope you are all having an awesome week. See you next Tuesday! Or sooner, depends on what’s going on.