Kindle Scout For My New Book

Hello Everybody!

Starting Friday, November 17th my new book Freedom’s Fate will be listed on Kindle Scout. This link won’t be live until then, but please take a moment to check on it and nominate it after that time.

Here is a little about the book:

Freedom's Fate cover

Callie wants nothing more than to be captain of her own ship, determined to avoid the wrongs that left her orphaned on the Freedom at five years old. Through a devastating turn of events, she finds herself faltering when finally in charge. Can she gain the trust of her crew? Can she come to terms with and act upon the love she has for her friend? Most importantly, can she learn to believe in herself and her capacity to lead what could very well be the last of humanity towards a new existence?

This is my first foray into sci-fi, but I had a lot of fun writing it. It was originally going to be a lot longer, but I realized there was a nice natural spot for a split in it, breaking it into two books. This reduced it from 600 pages to about 370 pages. I haven’t finished editing the second part, but I expect it to be in that range as well. I expect to release it in a few months.

I hope you all check it out and like it. And if you think it sounds interesting at all, please go nominate it! Hey, if it is selected for publication you’ll get a free copy, so you can’t beat that!

Bye for now!

What I learned at The Writing Conference

Hi!

So I guess the title of this post tells pretty much what I’ll be talking about here. Last week I went to a writers conference at the JOCO library in Overland Park, KS. It was my first time attending one of these conferences, and it was a great experience.

But what did I learn?

First of all, be early. Very early. One of the sessions I was planning to attend was set to start at 10:00am. There was another session in that same room that didn’t end until 9:45, but I wanted to make sure I got there early because there was only room for something like 18 people in this particular one. Because of this, I went to the room at 9:50, to allow time for the attendees of the previous session to exit and allow for a minute or two of runover.

Yeah, not nearly early enough. I had no idea the place would be completely filled that early on. I got there and glanced into the room and saw that every seat was not only taken, but that they were turning people away. So I didn’t get to go to that one. Oh well, lesson learned.

The main one I wanted to attend was ‘Edit Yourself: Developmental Editing’. That was very enlightening. I actually learned quite a bit during this session. was amazed at how many things I was actually doing correctly, though.

One thing that came up, which I sort of always did just instinctively, was that you should print out your story and read it on paper, not just read and edit the digital version. It is true that pages in your hand read differently and connect to a different part of your mind than they do on a screen. One of the recommendations was The Plot Checklist, which is a short but helpful list to help you focus on your plot while writing.

The one area that actually had the biggest impact on me was just how important it is to start thinking about marketing while you write. That includes having your one sentence pitch, and how you’re going to explain the book to someone quickly, because all you have is maybe 10 seconds to get attention. I never really tried to think of that while writing, it has always been something I did at the end, but it makes sense to have that at least partially worked out in advance.

But the biggest thing I learned at this conference: I belong here.

Yes, writing is hard, but it is something that I love. This conference sort of re-energized me a little. Sometimes I get caught up in the drudgery, but things like this may help snap me out of it. Plus, I realized most of the other writers were as introverted as I was, so I shouldn’t worry about it so much. Not to mention, many of them are as nerdy as I am. Which, I guess, is kind of a duh thing. Still, these were wonderful things to see on a large scale, not just assumed because of the handful of other writers I have met in the past.

I hope you all have a lovely weekend!

Writing Conference

Hi all!

This week I’m going to attend a writing conference at the Johnson County Central Resource Library. It’ll be the first time I’ve attended a conference, so I’m excited! But also nervous. I’m not a social butterfly. No, I’m really a shrinking violet. I seriously have issues sometimes in big crowds. Like, heart palpitations and tunnel vision kind of problems. So I don’t know how it’s going to go. I guess we’ll see.

But I have no idea how many people will attend. In some ways it’s worse if there are only five of us at any particular event because it would increase the odds I’d have to interact with someone. I just want to sit in the audience and quietly watch along. I really am not great at the small talk, so it’s tough. The best thing is if there is enough people that I don’t need to talk to anyone much, but not enough people that I actually have any nervous issues. I mean I may not anyway, but I just never really know.

I’m actually not sure all the events I’ll attend. There are a lot of good ones, but I don’t have the time to go to all that I want to. Plus, did I mention my problems in crowds? On top of that, if even a random stranger says hi it makes me very nervous if I’m having a particularly bad day as far as nervousness. I’ll probably say something stupid back and embarrass myself completely. Which is okay, I suppose, but… well, ya know, it’s slightly terrifying.

Wow, this sounds like I’m whining. I guess I kind of am.

Ugh!

Wish me luck, everyone.

Have a good weekend!

Happy Meal Confessions & Concerns

Happy Friday!

So… I have a confession to make. It’s something I find kind of embarrassing, but it’s true. It’s something that I know many, many adults around the world do, but… it’s still embarrassing.

I still eat Happy Meals sometimes.

Not often! Just once in a while, when I really want a specific toy, or I feel the need to feel a little more kid like, or I want to do something fun, or I just need a little snack.

Oh wow, it actually sort of feels good to admit that. Like maybe I can quit feeling like it’s something I have to hide and be ashamed of. I mean come on, you know some of you do this, right?

Right?

Wow, silence. Okay then, moving on.

The current Happy Meal toys are Transformers and My Little Pony. Nice choices, actually (though I hate that stupid pony mask they keep giving me).

So the other day my wife and I went to get a Happy Meal for each of us, and I noticed something interesting and troublesome. The cashier working the counter asked if it was for a boy or a girl. And I remembered we were asked this the last time as well. In fact, it seems all the McDonald’s around here ask that. Even more, it wasn’t just the person taking the order, but when the people brought it to the table (confused because our number matched, but there were no children at the table), they said something like “two girl happy meals?” to us.

Is anyone else kind of infuriated by this?

What, so girls like the purple and pink ponies while boys only like the blue robots? Talk about sexist. This is teaching kids that there are important differences, that they better learn to like what their gender is supposed to like and not like what it’s not. It teaches girls that cute little ponies are for them, but that the seriously sci-fi robots are for the boys. Girls can’t like robots that change into cars?

What, ’cause we’re just not smart in science and stuff? We’re supposed to be all frilly and docile? That we should just play with our little dolls and stay in the kitchen?

And boys can’t like ponies? They’re supposed to be all tough and sciency? They have to play with action figures that are always at war, that they should learn to play fight so when they get older they can be tough and ready for the real thing? ‘Cause, ya know, only pansies and little girls like ponies?

News Flash: Some girls like robots and playing war! Some boys like ponies!

This is sexist. This propagates the idea that it’s girly to like pastel colors and dislike war. It propagates the idea that girls aren’t tough enough to fight or smart enough to enjoy robots. It propagates the idea that kids can’t play the same as the opposite gender.

SOME BOYS LIKE MY LITTLE PONY!

SOME GIRLS LIKE TRANSFORMERS!

McDonald’s, please stop pushing gender stereotypes on us, okay? Please.

And now I’ll step off my soap box.

Have a good weekend everyone!

The ‘This Is Just Right’ Feeling

Hi everyone!

So lately I’ve been working on a couple of different ideas in my writing. A new story, and some reworks of some I stuff I wrote a while ago, but which I’ve never published. So far things are going pretty well, I must say.

So you know that point when you’re in the middle of something and you get that feeling that, yes, this is working out? That yes, this is going to be something interesting? I’ve had it a couple of times when writing lately, and I like it. It just feels right.

There are points sometimes (not always) when I’m writing and I get this excited feeling, like something new and interested occurred when I wasn’t even paying attention. It’s like I walked into a tiny closet to look for something, but upon switching the light on I find I’m in the middle of a gigantic room full of historic treasures of every kind, where time stands still to let me explore. Something like that.

Okay, so maybe that wasn’t the best way to put that.

Point is, every now and then things hit that perfect tone inside. Maybe it’s the same thing a good musician feels when all the chords come together to form a new song that that just really moves them inside? I don’t know, I have about as much musical talent as a toadstool, but I imagine they get this same feeling. So maybe it’s more like those times in school, when the teacher would be presenting something to the class and I just suddenly got it. Like a light bulb came on inside, illuminating everything and making it all clear. I don’t know, it’s been about a million years since I was in school.

Ah dark ages, I remember ye well.

Anyway, the whole point of this is that a few times lately things have just felt right. Which is good, because if I get a few of those ‘this is just right’ moments strung together it can sometimes make for a really nice outcome. Those are the times when I really feel like I am meant to write, all doubt disappearing. So I’m going to keep working on these stories, and I hope to be able to share them with you all sometime. Wish me luck!

Everyone have a good weekend!

Um… Dunno

Hi everyone!

I’m kind of having a brain dead day. I literally just feel like my head isn’t working at all. I am kind of just sitting here, trying to accomplish something (which would be write this post, in case you hadn’t guessed). Not having a lot of luck, really. I just can’t think.

It’s not all bad. Sometimes when I have days like this it leads to my best story ideas. I think what usually happens is my brain kicks into an unconscious mode. Actually, what I think may happen is that the part of my brain that comes up with the stories is taken away for a while. Like maybe little aliens zapped me, then while I was out they removed a part of my brain. So while I spend the rest of the day struggling to put together two coherent thoughts, my next story is being written by the real, alien writers. Sometime later they’ll zap me again and reinsert the part of my brain they took off with. I’ll wake up afterwards, having no idea I was ever partially abducted, and have a bunch of ideas that sound completely brilliant.

So thank you, alien writers, for choosing me to pass your stories along to the human race!

So now what do I talk about? Hmm… okay, well, I guess I could tell you we’ve been watching a really amazing Korean drama called Kill Me Heal Me. It is about a guy who has multiple personalities and the doctor who agrees to secretly be his psychiatrist. I won’t give away any more, but if you like Kdramas at all, you have to see this one.

Got some blood drawn yesterday for some lab work. I happen to have a condition called diabetes insipidus, and I have an appointment with my doctor to check in soon. It’s not the usual diabetes you think of, which is called diabetes mellitus. They share part of a name, but aren’t really related. Anyway, got poked for that yesterday, and will get poked for an allergy shot today. So basically, I’m starting to feel a bit like a pin cushion at this point.

I’ve been writing and sending out queries. I also took part in DVpit on Monday, which resulted in a couple of likes from agents. I sent my full queries out to them, so please cross your fingers for me. I guess that’s really it for now.

Have a great weekend!

Why Is This Not A Hate Crime?

I don’t think I need to tell anyone who really pays attention that LGBTQ people, and especially transgender members of our group, are at a much higher risk of violence than a lot of other people. Sometimes it’s because of others being hateful and directly violent toward LGBTQ people, sometimes it’s because they end up homeless and in a bad situation because of discrimination against them. And, to be fair, sometimes they are just plain victims like anyone else, caught as an innocent bystander or something like everyone else can.

But sometimes it’s obvious that violence is perpetrated against someone simply because of their LGBTQ status. That’s a hate crime. The reason this isn’t the same as any other violent act against just anyone is that it sends a message to all LGBTQ people to be afraid, that we aren’t wanted there, that just stepping out of the house and being ourselves is enough to incite an attack. If a gay person is beaten just outside a school because they are gay then ALL gay people will be scared to go to that school. If a transgender person is shot outside a grocery store because they were trans then trans people in that neighborhood may be afraid to go anywhere near there.

This extra fear that these crimes strike into the LGBTQ community is why it is so very important for prosecutors to charge hate crimes properly when they are committed.

Which brings me to this case in Missouri. Ally Lee Steinfeld was killed by someone, her eyes gouged out, her her genitals cut. It’s horrible. And she was trans.

How can a murder of a transgender woman which included slicing her genitals not be considered to be a hate crime? It appears to me, and admittedly I do not have all the evidence the prosecutor does, that the very act of slicing her genitals would tend to indicate that this had something to do with her gender identity. Killers don’t usually do that kind of thing unless they are sending some kind of message, I don’t think. Is the prosecutor (Parke Stevens Jr.) thinking the genital slicing was just an incidental act that occurred during the attack, and that the killer was not specifically targeting the genitals? I don’t know, but his response when asked about it not being charged as a hate crime was “I would say murder in the first-degree is all that matters.” and “That is a hate crime in itself.”

No, it is not all that matters, and not all murders are hate crimes. Yes, most murders have to have some element of hate on some level, but it’s different with hate crimes. They are crimes against someone specifically specifically based on a group they are a part of, such as a minority. The reason they should be charged differently are what I explained first in this post, and the federal government recognizes this.

So why not Mr. Stevens?

Please, Mr. Stevens, explain the reason this doesn’t qualify as a hate crime? Why is first degree murder all that matters?

Look, I get that all murders are murders, that victims are just as dead for any one murder as another. But if all people of Italian descent were being killed in a small town, wouldn’t people of Italian descent be just a little more scared that someone whose family came here from Ireland? It’s the same for LGBTQ people. When one of us are killed it sends a message to the rest of us. It’s especially bad for transgender people. As of this post, there have been 21 trans people murdered for being trans in the US this year, per the Human Rights Campaign. That’s just the ones that are reported.

So how many more transgender people have to die in Cabool Missouri before Mr. Stevens will start thinking it’s a hate crime?

Books I’ve Been Reading

Hey everybody, how is it going?

I thought I’d mention a couple of good books I’ve read lately, just in case anyone is looking for something new to read.

Loved, by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast

Description from Goodreads:

It’s Zoey’s eighteenth birthmas and the Nerd Herd has been scattered across the country busily adulting for almost a year when Stark calls them back to Tulsa to surprise Z. But all is not well in T-town. Strange, dark signs are appearing—could it be possible Neferet is stirring? Not willing to chance disaster striking again, Zoey calls on her newly reunited friends to circle with her and add a layer of protection over Neferet’s grotto jail. Easy-peasy, right?

Wrong. Nothing at the House of Night is ever as it seems.

With rabid red vampyres closing in, Zoey and the Nerd Herd must come together again and battle evil. But a year is a long time. Have these old friends grown too far apart?

When the world fractures and allies become enemies, will darkness devour friendships or will light save those she’s loved?

I had no clue that there was a new House of Night novel! I was under the impression that they finished up the series. I generally liked this series, so I was very happy to stumble across this one. I’m only part of the way done with this one, but so far it’s pretty good. Can’t give it a rating yet, but it’s going well.

House of Ivy & Sorrow, by Natalie Whipple

Here’s the description from Goodreads:

Josephine Hemlock has spent the last 10 years hiding from the Curse that killed her mother. But when a mysterious man arrives at her ivy-covered, magic-fortified home, it’s clear her mother’s killer has finally come to destroy the rest of the Hemlock bloodline. Before Jo can even think about fighting back, she must figure out who she’s fighting in the first place. The more truth Jo uncovers, the deeper she falls into witchcraft darker than she ever imagined. Trapped and running out of time, she begins to wonder if the very Curse that killed her mother is the only way to save everyone she loves.

I liked this one more than some of the other people who rated it, I guess. I thought it was a solid 4 out of 5. Okay, it wasn’t perfect, and it had some issues with being able to see what is coming in some areas, but it was pretty entertaining. Not a gothic style witch novel, but a fun read. Plus, it moved pretty quickly. I liked it.

The Forgetting, by Sharon Cameron

From Goodreads:

Nadia lives in the city of Canaan, where life is safe and structured, hemmed in by white stone walls and no memory of what came before. But every twelve years the city descends into the bloody chaos of the Forgetting, a day of no remorse, when each person’s memories – of parents, children, love, life, and self – are lost. Unless they have been written.

In Canaan, your book is your truth and your identity, and Nadia knows exactly who hasn’t written the truth. Because Nadia is the only person in Canaan who has never forgotten.

But when Nadia begins to use her memories to solve the mysteries of Canaan, she discovers truths about herself and Gray, the handsome glassblower, that will change her world forever. As the anarchy of the Forgetting approaches, Nadia and Gray must stop an unseen enemy that threatens both their city and their own existence – before the people can forget the truth. And before Gray can forget her.

I liked this one a lot, too. I thought it was a very interesting concept, and I thought the world building worked out great. I really did want to know why everyone was forgetting everything, really needed to know how this city came to be. It was a very good book. 5 out of 5 from me.

The Scourge, by Jennifer A. Nielsen

From Goodreads:

As a lethal plague sweeps through the land, Ani Mells is shocked when she is unexpectedly captured by the governor’s wardens and forced to submit to a test for the deadly Scourge. She is even more surprised when the test results come back positive, and she is sent to Attic Island, a former prison turned refuge—and quarantine colony—for the ill. The Scourge’s victims, Ani now among them, can only expect to live out short, painful lives there.

However, Ani quickly discovers that she doesn’t know the whole truth about the Scourge or the Colony. She’s been caught in a devious plot, and, with the help of her best friend, Weevil, Ani means to uncover just what is actually going on. But will she and Weevil survive the Scourge—and the gorvernor’s wardens—long enough to make their escape and expose the cruel plan?

I liked it a lot. It was interesting, and the world building was just enough to paint a picture, but not heavy handed. There were a couple of little issues with it, such as the beginning was a little slow, but it was very interesting and fun. 4 out of 5.

Flawed, by Cecilia Ahern

Here is the description from Goodreads:

Celestine North lives a perfect life. She’s a model daughter and sister, she’s well-liked by her classmates and teachers, and she’s dating the impossibly charming Art Crevan.

But then Celestine encounters a situation where she makes an instinctive decision. She breaks a rule and now faces life-changing repercussions. She could be imprisoned. She could be branded. She could be found flawed.

In her breathtaking young adult debut, bestselling author Cecelia Ahern depicts a society where perfection is paramount and flaws lead to punishment. And where one young woman decides to take a stand that could cost her everything.

This one was very thought provoking. I could see a lot of our current society in this book, so I wouldn’t exactly call it dystopian, but it does shed some light on the way people can sometimes act based on what they think is moral and right, and how they can judge and shun others based on just that, as well as how they will just go along with the herd and believe because someone of power says something is immoral then it must be. I see a lot of parallels in the way people are in the book with how we currently treat some others because they are from the wrong religion, the wrong country, the wrong race, or are LGBT. A lot of similarities. I definitely think people should read this one, and I give it a 5 of 5.

Everyone have a wonderful weekend!

Justice Department Now Supports Discrimination?

Hello all!

This is something that has been in the news a lot in the past few years, whether it was this case directly or some others that are similar, and I am so very disappointed that the US Justice Department is now siding with the people discriminating.

Five years ago a cake shop in Colorado refused to make a cake for a gay couple who were getting married. The shop owner claimed it was a violation of his religious beliefs, so he wouldn’t do it. The couple complained to the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, who found that the cake shop was in violation of the law, with several judges agreeing since. Now, according to the LA Times article, the cake shop owner has filed another appeal, and this time the Justice Department filed a brief in the case stating that they agree with the cake shop owner, that he should not have to violate his religious beliefs to run his business, and that he should be allowed to refuse service to gay people.

Anybody else feel like screaming right now?

This is wrong. This is very wrong. This is so wrong that the Universal Master of Interstellar Wrongness is going to bow his head in awe at how wrong this is.

**sigh**

I’ve talked about this here before, but never before has the federal government given such a statement like this. In their brief they actually are now asking the judges to carve out an exception to the anti-discrimination laws for people’s religious beliefs, but only for sexual orientation.

This is insane.

They are literally claiming that equal treatment is so important for race or sex that it overrides your religious freedom, but that sexual orientation is not. They are saying the religious beliefs of a store owner is so important that this public business, receiving all the benefits and protections of being a public business, that they can discriminate against one of the very people whose taxes pay for the roads that their customers use.

So my tax money is good enough for you to gain from, as long as I don’t ask you to spread some frosting on a cake for me?

When you file all the required paperwork, and go through all the processes involved to become a registered public business, and you buy commercially zoned property, you are using government services that we all pay for. Your sidewalks outside of your store may be paid for by my tax dollars, your police protection when you are robbed or have a shoplifter are paid for by me (among every other tax payer). You have to serve me. Period! If you want to pick and choose who you associate with, do it at home. In fact, don’t even open the business at all, you ignorant jerk!

Do these people really think it’s okay to pick and choose your customer? Their religious views are so important, right? So how many birthday cakes have they sold to unwed mothers? Most religions I know of don’t take too kindly to sex outside of marriage, so by providing a cake for that person aren’t you taking part in their celebration of a sin? Have they at least turned away pregnant women seeking a wedding cake? They obviously didn’t wait until marriage.

No? So you’re saying they only want to worry about that one little thing that they think is sinful, and for all the other sins they are willing to take the customer’s money?

For the Justice Department to specifically ask for this exception to be spelled out is so insulting. I am so ashamed that these people represent my country. This is disgusting. Every person in this administration should resign in shame.

Driverless Delivery Cars

Good afternoon!

This weekend is a long weekend for many, some getting Monday off from work for Labor Day, and I hope you all have a very happy extra day to relax. Also, if you’re driving somewhere I hope the trip is safe and without any problems.

I saw on the news, and then later read an article that Dominos Pizza is testing self-driving delivery vehicles. That made me wonder exactly how this will work. I read the article, and at one place it states

To get their pizzas, customers will have to enter a number on the touchpad, then a back window will lower, revealing the pizza.

That makes me wonder how well this will be accepted. How does that work for people? If it’s pouring down rain, or a hundred and ten degrees outside, or if they’re in the middle of watching their favorite football team and there’s only two minutes left in the game, will people be willing to run out to the street to get their pizza? How long will the car wait at the curb for you to come out? I’m assuming it will have to move on at some point, surely they will have to move along to the next delivery before too long. So if it only waits maybe five minutes before leaving, what happens if you are in the restroom, or helping your kid who just banged their head, or live on the eighth floor and the elevator is busy? Does it return your pizza back to the restaurant and you still get charged for it, or will the company just take the loss?

That also makes me wonder how many other home delivery services could be adapted to something like this. Groceries? Pharmacy orders? Would you go to the curb to sign for your Fedex shipment?

I used to think it would be a very long time before they got the technology worked out well enough that we could trust self-driving cars. The things I worried about them not handling well were things like sections of road with no lines, or areas where there is construction going on and you have to actually cross over to the other side to get around it, such as when they take a 4 lane road and temporary make it 1 lane each direction while they repave one side of the road, forcing you to cross over to a lane that used to go the opposite direction. There are also situations such as roads that go one way part of the time, and one way the opposite direction another time. I don’t know if it still is that way, but I came across a road in Sandusky Ohio once that did just that.

I no longer worry about those things. I’m surprised to see how quickly the technology has overcome most of these issues. What I wonder about now more than anything is how self-driving cars will deal with human drivers of other vehicles. How many times have you been cutoff and had to slow down to prevent an accident, only able to do so because you saw them coming and were able to anticipate the dangerous move the other driver made? It happens all the time, right? These are the things I worry about now. And I really hope they overcome them quickly and can bring the cost of self-driving technology into a range that most people can afford. There are a lot of really bad, easily distracted drivers out there, and I welcome technology that will help reduce that. Besides, who wouldn’t rather be reading a book or playing a game on your phone rather than driving in heavy traffic?

The thing that just popped into my head about these self-driving delivery vehicles is how they will handle it when there are no parking spots. Will they just stop behind parked cars and block them in until the person they are delivering to comes out? And what if you were in one of those cars they were blocking? How happy would you be that there is no human being there that you can honk at in hopes they’ll move forward ten feet so you can get out?

Everyone have a wonderful three day weekend!