A note of appreciation for my son

It’s hard as you get older to admit you need help. And I do get help from my kids, but in this particular post, I’m focusing on just one of them.

I must say, I don’t know what I’d do without the help of my older son. He takes care of house maintenance and small things too as well, such as (and this is the “small thing” that inspired this post) getting air in my tires for me (a difficult task even in warm weather due to arthritis – unscrewing the cap on the valve stem is so very painful to my hands and I cannot properly squat or kneel so I must oomph myself down to sit on the ground to actually put the air in the tires). And he goes beyond – for example, via the internet he is teaching himself about clock works and has gotten my grandfather clock working again.

I also love his feedback on my stories, and his help with science-y stuff. Oh yes, I do have My Very Own Physicist™, but my son jumps in to help as well. It was fun listening to them Skype and reading the compilation of messages they wrote to each other as they tried to figure out how a single ship could possibly take on a whole space fleet and break a planetary blockade (see Deuces Wild: Stacking the Deck). Yes, I still have all those conversations. Some of them actually made their way into the book.



Looking back on 2017

It’s been a wild ride this year.

So much has happened in my family. It’s not my place to say much about my children and grandchildren’s lives, but I can say I am proud of every last one of them. There has been adversity, and heartache, and tough decisions, but through it all, my “babies” (I include my children-in-law and step-grands in this as well – they’re all mine) have shown the highest quality. I pray this coming year brings them an abundant harvest with all the manure that has been dumped on some of them.

It’s been a strange up and down year for me as well. Big changes at work – struggling to fit the shoes my friend-and-boss asked me to fill when she knew she was ill and needed an extra hand at work. Losing her, and the jolt and loss that followed, but having to keep going. The pride in not only seeing our coaches rise to the challenge to keep the gym at the level of excellence she expected, but also the new owner giving his all, despite his grief, to keep her dream alive. Perhaps I say too much, am too personal, but I think it deserves to be said.

It’s also been just over three years since I lost my husband. In some ways, it’s easier. Time does that, I’m told. But that scab is still there, and gets pulled loose and bleeds. Trying to pretend the scab doesn’t bother me takes all my attention at times.

I remember how he pushed for me to get Sword’s Edge published; it wasn’t a genre he cared for, but he knew what it meant to me. A story slowly woven over time from a dream I first had in 1985. And I got it published that year. He got to see it before he died. And now, this year, book two has been published. It took a lot longer to finish than I thought it would, but you know, grief does that to you. Writing was hard for so long, a slog through icy muck up to my chin at times. So tough. Almost too tough. But, to quote from one of my late husband’s favorite movies, I “endeavored to persevere.” And I succeeded. I think he’d be proud of Children of the Enaisi. I miss him being here to tell me so. Ah well.

May you all “endeavor to persevere” and have a happy and blessed New Year.


Quotes, Easter Eggs, and Inside Jokes

 One of my favorite moments is finding a quote from one of my favorite shows tucked in as a passing comment in an article or post. I tend to laugh out loud (especially the most obscure ones because I feel good when I recognize them), then get sad because there’s no one to appreciate it with me.

 Today, while scrolling through FB (when I was supposed to writing), I saw quotes from Star Trek, Babylon 5, and Firefly. Oh, and Doctor Who. Of course, considering many of my friends are science fiction fans, as are many of the groups I belong to, I guess it’s just not that unusual. But still, it makes me happy. The ones I saw today aren’t that obscure:
“The special hell.”
“Not the One.”
“Don’t blink.”
“It’s green.”

 I also love it when someone says something innocuous but I can relate it to a fandom or some inside joke, then I hide my smile or try not to giggle because even if I explain it, they won’t find it funny.
You have to be a Babylon 5 fan to appreciate what’s funny about the “Hokey Pokey.”
To find humor in being given a restaurant pager, you would need to be a fan of the The Guild. (Fun fact: my family won’t let me hold one anymore – just because when it finally goes off I yell, “Floyd needs me!” Sheesh. Party poopers.)
Only an Alien Nation fan would understand why one might call an abusive boss “Kleezantsun.
I used to think all SF fans would know “grok,” but it seems only the older crowd do these days. Sad, that.
Of course, some shows or movies appeal to more than just the SF/F crowd; I find very few people who don’t know the source of “No Capes!”

 I don’t think I’m alone in enjoying these little inside jokes. As a matter of fact, I also tend to tuck Easter eggs or nods to some of my favorite shows or books in my writing. But I don’t know who among my readers get any of them. And that also makes me wonder, do any of my fellow writers tuck little gems in their stories? Please, do tell!



How Much Did You Pay to Get Your Book Published?

“How Much Did You Pay to Get Your Book Published?” a person asked after stopping at my author table at an event, some time ago.

“Nothing,” I replied. “Publishers pay you, you don’t pay them.”

He looked stunned, and asked more questions, then finally asked about self-publishing.

I said no, you still should not have to pay anything, unless you pay for cover art (which I do, as I have all the talent of a ferret when comes to anything artistic), or for someone to copy edit your work, or help with technical difficulties, such as making sure your document is formatted properly for a clean upload.

With places such as Smashwords (for e-books) and CreateSpace (for print books), as examples, there’s no cost to be published (unless you avail yourself of such services as editing, as I mention above).

And these places which are so kind as to offer to have you pay them to edit, publish, and market your book? They’re called vanity presses. Can we say “don’t trust them”? Sure. Try it. Please.

You don’t need them. Truly.

I highly recommend you read David Gaughran’s Basics. And bookmark it.

(BTW, I saw the man I talked to at a later author event – he was still working on his book, but had taken the information I’d given him and was prepared to publish and market his book when the time was right. Kudos! Perhaps I’ll see him at another event this year or next with his own author table. I do hope so!)