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[sticky post] Welcome to My Blog

Hello and welcome to my professional blog. In this blog, I will mostly write about writing, editing, publishing, slush reading and the calls for submission I am making or responding to. There will be writer advice based on whatever lesson I am relearning, interview links for current projects and random bits that relate to writing in some emotional or technical way. I have no filters and make liberal use of the tag system.

See my profile for my event appearances, book covers, bio and other such things.

My personal blog, gaaneden, is where I talk about my husband, my cats, my gaming and other randomness of everyday life. It is a lot less structured and a lot more fluff. Feel free to add my personal LJ as well.

Bubble and Squeek for 24 November 2015

(Crossposted from Jennifer Brozek)

I am home from OryCon and SF Authorfest 9. I had a fabulous time. It was so much fun. In lieu of content, here is a Bubble and Squeek.

Article: Mind Meld: More Children’s Movies that Scared the Crap Out of Us.

Podcast: LIMETOWN. If you aren't listening to this podcast, you are missing out. It reminds me of American Elsewhere and Night Vale.

Review: A Lovely review of Jazz Age Cthulhu and "Dreams of a Thousand Young" from Hauntology. I really am fond of this novelette.

For the Melissa Allen section of Bubble and Squeek...
Article: Over on Wag the Fox: Characters with a mind of their own. AKA why the sequel, Never Let Me Leave, exists.

Article: Why a Bat? Over on Damien Walter's blog, I discuss why Melissa Allen use a baseball bat when fighting monsters.

Podcast: SF Spotlight Radio from 14 Nov 2015. I talk about a lot of things. Mostly the Melissa Allen series.

OryCon Schedule and SF Authorfest 9

(Crossposted from Jennifer Brozek)

I am at OryCon in Portland, OR this weekend. If I'm not at a panel, I will be at the Apocalypse Ink Productions booth in the Dealers Room. Come say hello, buy a book, get it signed, and pick up my convention story card! Sunday early evening is SF Authorfest 9, hosted by the Cedar Hills Powell's Bookstore.

Fri Nov 20 4:00:pm, Sunstone
How to Blurb Your Novel

We all need them, we all hate them. Summing up our books may be harder than writing them in the first place! Learn techniques to write compelling book descriptions (aka "blurbs"), and hook readers.

Sat Nov 21 2:00:pm, Salem
The Softer Side of SF

What is "social science fiction"? How have authors used ideas from "soft" sciences like sociology, anthropology, and linguistics to craft convincing future scenarios, telling fascinating stories while shedding light on current human problems? Discuss authors past and present (LeGuin, etc.) who specialize in this.

Sat Nov 21 4:00:pm, Salmon
Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading

Join members of Broad Universe--an organization dedicated to women in genre fiction—for a whole bunch of really short readings crammed into one hour.

Sat Nov 21 6:00:pm, Salem
Writing and Art for the RPG Industry

A how-to workshop on what it is like to work for the RPG industry.

Sun Nov 22 11:00:am, Sunstone
Publishing Ethics

What should the relationship between publishers and writers look like, as well as writers and readers? Both situations require respect. What does that look like?

Sun Nov 22 12:00:pm, Sunstone
Writing in Other People's Worlds

The fine art of franchise writing: working with established universes like Star Trek, Star Wars and more—including the new Kindle Worlds licensed fan fiction program.


Sun Nov 22 4:00-6:00:pm, Powell’s Bookstore, Cedar Hills
SF Author Fest 9

Come see 30 authors in their natural habitat—a bookstore! Chat, buy books, and get them signed.

Tell Me - Kris Katzen

(Crossposted from Jennifer Brozek)

Greetings, and thanks, Jenn, for the most gracious invitation to Tell You… something about my writing!

Most people know the saying “write what you know,” but I prefer another common one: “write what you want to read.”

I read a pretty eclectic mix that crosses almost all styles and genres. And even though science fiction and fantasy dominate, I like to believe my writing includes a great deal of variety that runs the gamut as well. But that doesn’t preclude favorites, or preferences, or recurring themes—nor include some themes and subjects I absolutely avoid.

So . . .

A few things creep into almost all of my stories. Like cats. They’re a necessity, right? Sometimes dogs or horses, or goliaths (look it up, I dare you), or fictional furballs, but—naturally—cats rule. Ahem. All right. Putting aside the aside…

Especially in my science fiction, I infuse it with my love of all of nature.

Two of my series are diametrically opposed in that one shows people who eschew technology; and the other, people who strive to stay on the cutting edge. Yet, even the former appreciate the value of technology, and the latter still cherish nature. For example, they classify their most powerful ships as “apex” and name them after their world’s most powerful predators. Their tiny fightercraft class names: “bee”, “hornet”, and “wasp.”

Which brings me to yet another series that combines both. Exploration, a behemoth ship the size of a small planet, carries a crew of five thousand. Over the hundred-year voyage to another galaxy, that number will grow to five million—or more. Science unequalled in all of history enabled the engineers to construct the fantastic vessel, the vanguard of a fleet of three hundred. That accomplishment pales next to the true masterpiece: The Core.

The heart of the ship—actually, almost fifty percent of the ship—contains something far more spectacular: a wilderness. Almost ten million square kilometers of pristine wilderness teeming with wildlife. Untouched and self-sustaining as if it were on the surface of a planet orbiting a star. And each ship of the fleet will house a distinct biosphere: completely subterranean, or oceanic, or all swirling atmosphere like Jupiter or Saturn.

Peace. Hope. Cooperation. Upward and onward. That mindset resonates with me. Science and technology help and sustain, rather than destroy or run amuck. Combine that with “intrinsic value” regarding nature, not natural “resources.” Those stances resonate with me.

Themes I avoid: nihilism, pessimist, grit, hopelessness. If you want apocalyptic or post-apocalyptic, keep searching. Not that tons of fans don’t love the dark side. Nothing wrong with that at all. But I write more toward humor, and optimism, and pulling together rather than apart.

Not that Bad Stuff doesn’t happen. Without it, no novel. In this case, a very determined group wants to stop the intrepid explorers from even beginning, let alone finishing, their journey. But you won’t find gloom or doom or soap opera. I hope you will find diverse, appealing characters and an exciting, suspenseful adventure.

Fly off to a far-flung galaxy, and take A Little Piece of Home along for the trip. Available in print and eBook editions.

To see a complete bibliography with all the covers, as well as updates on upcoming works, please visit http://BluetrixBooks.wordpress.com


NEVER LET ME LEAVE has been released!

(Crossposted from Jennifer Brozek)

Book two of the Melissa Allen series, NEVER LET ME LEAVE, has been released! I'm really happy with the series. The first book, NEVER LET ME SLEEP, is getting great reviews.

What would you do if you found yourself locked in an underground lab with a murderous alien hunting you? Melissa Allen and her new friends know exactly how it feels. With no help from the outside and time running out, it’s up to Melissa to keep herself and the other teens safe. How can she do that when she’s not sure who she can trust?

Someone in the lab helped that alien escape. Someone human.

NEVER LET ME LEAVE almost didn't happen. This is why it did.

Tell Me - Loren Rhoads

(Crossposted from Jennifer Brozek)

Have you ever gotten out of a relationship and wondered if the other person had been in the same relationship?  Or if he had a completely different relationship with you than the one you thought he had?

That was my premise when I started Kill By Numbers.

At the end of The Dangerous Type, the first book in my space opera trilogy, Raena Zacari is free of the Imperial torturer who trained her.  She’s left the woman she’s loved most in the galaxy and the man who spent decades believing he loved Raena more than anyone.  She’s ready to start a new life on her own.

Then the nightmares attack. They begin as if she’s reliving a memory, then spin off into new directions. Almost every dream ends with her ex-lover trying to save her – and every time, she doesn’t recognize him until after she’s killed him.

So many books are written about when the characters fell in love. I wanted to explore the end of a relationship: How do you recover? What do you owe someone after everything dissolves?  What if the memories that mean so much to you meant something entirely different to your other half?  What if someone was willing to risk everything to save you, whether you wanted to be rescued or not?

They weren’t questions I was used to seeing in science fiction.  We’re all too familiar with the damsel who needs to be saved (I’m thinking of the original Sarah Connor) – or the strong leader who falls in love in the heat of the battle. (That’s you, Princess Leia.)  So many stories end with the heroine surviving merely to settle down with the only person who understands what she’s been through.  (I’m looking at you, Katniss.)  I wanted to spin the tropes so that the protagonist never thought she needed rescuing and the “hero” wasn’t a nice guy.

One of the things that struck me as I was writing Kill By Numbers was the speculation that a nice guy does things not because he genuinely likes a girl and wants to help her, but because if he holds the door for her and makes her dinner and listens when she’s sad and treats her like a friend, she will reward him with sex.  Friendship isn’t his goal. It’s a calculated means to an end.

That theory explained so many of the relationships I had when I was younger.  It pointed up a fundamental schism in the definition of friendship between two people – and I don’t believe it breaks down simply along gender lines.

So while Kill By Numbers is about learning to fit in after all the rules have changed, and what would happen if the chief stardrive technology in the galaxy has a catastrophic flaw, and an exploration of the responsibilities and integrity of journalists, and what’s it like to recover from years of violence and manipulation to claim your survival as a triumph, it’s also a deconstruction of the end of love.

Because why jam your story into one simple box?

Loren Rhoads is the author of The Dangerous Type, Kill By Numbers, and No More Heroes — the In the Wake of the Templars trilogy — all published by Night Shade Books in 2015. You can find out more at www.lorenrhoads.com.


Tell Me - Kelly Swails

(Crossposted from Jennifer Brozek)

Today,  Kelly Swails is telling me how This May Go on Your Permanent Record came about. Kelly is an excellent author and editor. Silence in the Library does great work. I like the way this novel wormed its way into Kelly’s subconscious. 


So one day one of my work friends told me about a guy her college-aged son had heard about. (Yes, this is a “girl who knew this guy who knows this kid” story. Bear with me.) Anyway, the son attended Webster University in St. Louis, and apparently, if Webster didn’t offer the major you wanted, they’d custom-make one for you. Also apparently, a kid at Webster wanted to major in World Domination.  [Editor’s note: I really want to meet this guy and see how things turned out.]

As soon as my friend told me this my writer-brain started churning. What would a world domination program look like? Political science, obviously. But also mass communication. And science. And one can’t dominate a boardroom, let alone the world, without a working knowledge of military tactics. So after she and I joked about if this kid’s degree would be a Bachelor of Science or a Bachelor of Art (I’m still not sure of the answer to that), we went about our work day. At least my friend did. I kept thinking about World Domination.

I poked at the idea for a while. Wrote a short story with a college-aged protagonist (if you’re interested, you can read it in Time Traveled Tales). Made a curriculum. Had fun naming classes like "Know Your Nemesis" and "Monologues for the Masses". Discovered the main character (Sally) and her back story (alcoholic mother, absentee father, and a penchant for breaking the law). It wasn’t until I realized Sally wasn’t enrolled in a college program but a high-school freshman at the top-secret prep school named School for Extraordinary Youth that the story really came alive. Oh, and by the way, maybe her dad disappeared for a reason…

Ultimately, This May Go on Your Permanent Record explores power on a few different levels. The lengths people will go to in order to get power. How a secret can control your life without your realizing it. The power of trusting someone enough to call them a friend. You know what, though? To hell with themes and meaning and all that. Mostly, I had a whole lot of fun writing this book, and I’m looking forward to learning more about Sally’s world. One book at a time.

Kickstarter link: http://tiny.cc/SITLfall2015
Website: kellyswails.com
Twitter: @kellyswails


Bubble and Squeek for 20 October 2015

(Crossposted from Jennifer Brozek)

Writing, writing, writing. Here's a "Melissa Allen" themed Bubble & Squeek!

Article: On SFSignal, I write about Melissa Allen and Mental Illness.

Article: Over at Chuck Wendig's blog, I talk about Five Things I Learned While Writing Never Let Me Sleep.

PodcastYA Books Podcast, Oct 7. I talk about all kinds of stuff on this one.

Pre-Order: Never Let Me Leave pre-order is up! Melissa Allen #2 is out in November.

Pre-Order: Never Let Me Die pre-order is up! Melissa Allen #3 is out in December.

Release: Never Let Me Sleep has been released! Lots of good buzz about it. Though, I have to admit, the first Amazon review of it is a little strange.



(Crossposted from Jennifer Brozek)

Happy book release day to me! Never Let Me Sleep, the first book of the Melissa Allen series is out now in ebook form. (The three books will be released in ebook form in Oct, Nov, Dec first, then the hard copy compilation in Jan 2016.)

Never Let Me Sleep is a disturbing glimpse into an unfolding apocalypse. This is genuine nightmare territory.” –Jonathan Maberry, New York Times bestselling author of Rot & Ruin and Fall Of Night.

What would you do if you discovered everyone in your house, on your street, and in your town dead? Then discovered you weren’t alone and what was out there was hunting you? Melissa Allen knows exactly how it feels. With only a voice on the phone for help, she must stop what is happening before the monsters find her.

Melissa, a troubled teen under house arrest, is the only person left alive in South Dakota. Unable to leave the quarantine zone and with no help except for DHS agent, David Hood, on the phone, Melissa must figure out what killed everyone and stop it from happening again before the government takes drastic action.

“It's a cliché to say ‘I couldn’t put the book down,’ but greeting the dawn at about the time I read the final words suggests to me that I really couldn’t. The situation is downright creepy, the horror rooted in tension rather than gore, and the protagonist is more than a little fascinating in her own right. Definitely hoping there's a sequel on the way.” –Ari Marmell, author of the Mick Oberon and Widdershins series.

I’m so pleased. It’s gotten some great blurbs. This series is done and I’ve told the story I wanted to tell. I likened it to if Stephen King had been writing for teenagers back in the day. I really hope people like it. I do. I’m so proud of it.

Of course, now is the time of elation mixed with terror.

Add: Here's an article I wrote for SF Signal about the main character: Melissa Allen and Mental Illness.

May the Skies Be Ever in Your Color

(Crossposted from Jennifer Brozek)

This weekend was a whirlwind trip through Port Townsend and the surrounding area. The Husband decided we needed a weekend away and we had volunteered to clear parts of Port Townsend for a mega-field (Ingress game). One of the beauties of playing Ingress while vacationing is the fact that seeking out unique portals to hack and capture leads me and the Husband to some of the neatest places.

[Quick aside about Ingress. It's an ARG—augmented reality game. Think of it as a cross between digital geocaching and capture the flag. All the portals are based on real world locations and you must be within 30 meters of it to hack or capture. Two portals can be linked. Three portals can be linked to make a field. No links can cross each other. Nothing can be linked if they are under a field. There's a lot of layers to the game. It's not for everyone, but for some people it's the bee's knees.]

This past weekend, we explored Port Townsend, Port Gamble, Fort Worden, Fort Flagler, and the surrounding areas. We followed the portals and the missions connected to them. We discovered and visited a marine, an orca museum, a couple of literal castles (Trollhaven! Castle Manresa!), crazy roadside attractions, a couple of farmer's markets and a ton of parks. We walked so much. The Husband's pedometer had him walking 27,000 steps on Saturday. I did less than that, but enough that my feet ached.

The highlight, of course, came from helping create a field so big that it covered both Seattle and Portland and stretched into Montana. We didn't do much. Cleared a couple of links but the hour of sitting in the dark, waiting for the "Go!" command was awesome. Everyone was the enemy... the teenagers sneaking out of their house and looking at their phone, the dog walkers looking at their phones, even the coyote that randomly showed up. (Another cool thing about Port Townsend--the random deer and other wildlife around.) When you play Ingress, everyone with a cellphone is a potential enemy or ally. Do you know how many people stare at their phones all the time? :)

In the end, there was elation at being part of such a big endeavor. Over 50 agents and operators in all. Satisfied with a job well done, we took the long way home on Sunday to find more interesting places that we would never have found without playing Ingress. It is a great game for people who like to travel and explore. It's even better when the op is successful.

May the skies be ever in your color. (In this case, Enlightened Green.)