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.


Why I’m Indie

No, I wasn’t published through one of the Big Boys of publishing. I’m good enough. I won’t say I’m a great writer, but good enough, at least, especially considering some books I’ve read that have been published by the Big Boys. So why didn’t I go through one of them? Because I tried. They can say they want new talent, but what they’re saying is they want the next J.K. Rowling or Stephen King. Unknowns are a big gamble.

And most of the Big Boys won’t accept unsolicited queries or submissions. You must go through an agent. I nearly had an agent twice. I had the contract, but then, each time, they changed their minds. I even nearly had a publisher, but they changed their minds too.

This went on for close to fifteen years. But then two things helped me decide to go indie.

One was when my husband got cancer. It showed me that you just never know (which is part of number two, actually). He wanted to see me publish my books. Sure, I had one published already – Deuces Wild: Beginners’ Luck, but through no fault of the owner, that company had problems and closed. I pulled back the rights and published it myself.

But did I want to do that with “my” book? The one I’d been sitting on and writing and world-building and doing the history for since the mid-80s? I wanted that one to be published by one of the Big Boys. I really did. But I wanted my husband to see Sword’s Edge published, because he loved—no, he adored me, and he wanted to see my dream fulfilled.

Two was related to number one. I’m not young. I’m an experienced writer and editor. I wanted to be able to share my stories before I died, and who knows when that might be? I could get hit by a truck tomorrow. And I remember some lines of a Pink Floyd song:

You run and you run
To catch up with the sun,
But it’s sinking,
Racing around to come up behind you again.
The sun is the same in a relative way
But you’re older,
Shorter of breath,
and one day closer to death.

Every year is getting shorter,
Never seem to find the time,
Plans that either come to naught,
Or half a page of scribbled lines.

I.  Did.  Not.  Want.  That.  To.  Be.  Me.

So I went indie. I’m not Rich and Famous™, or on the NYTimes Bestseller list. But my stories are getting out there. People can read them. They like them. I get emails and messages saying they love this character or that one, and whyyyy did that have to happen, and when is the next book coming out?

I don’t think if I had a choice I’d change a thing.


“My Writing Process” blog tour

I was tagged by my good and dear writing friend Shannon McNear for a “My Writing Process” blog tour. She had been tagged by our friend Donita K. Paul, who was tagged by author Cheryl McKay, who was tagged by Rene Gutteridge, who was tagged by “Mom’s Night Out” screenwriter Andrea Nasfell, who had also tagged Cory Edwards, the screenwriter/director behind the fun, hilarious animated film “Hoodwinked” who tossed the dog that worried the cat that chased the rat that ate the cheese that – er sorry, that bit got away from me there.
Anyway, on to the questions!

1) Who are you?

Well, it depends on the day of the week, and also which planet I’m on, but mostly I’m an Overlord on a quest for galactic domination. Muahahahahahaaaaaaa! Never fear though – I’m currently on hiatus, as is the e-zine for which I’m an Overlord: Ray Gun Revival.

However, when on this planet, my mild-mannered alter ego is a wife, a mom, a homeschooler, a grandma, mummy to an adorable chihuahua, a retired martial artist, a gymnastics coach, a hippy, a gardener, and a lover capes and swords. And purple: got a thing for purple.
Oh, did I mention capes?

2) What are you working on?

I have three active works in progress. Book two of my Deuces Wild series, which is a western-in-space romp, and has no capes in it. Dang. I will have to try to work some in somehow. Hm…  (due date: October-ish*)

Also, the sequel to Sword’s Edge, a sword-and-planet science fiction novel, and it does have capes – well, cloaks, same difference: they swoosh! (due date: January-ish*)

Not that I’m an overachiever, but in addition, I have a prequel to Sword’s Edge which takes place one thousand years beforehand and has lots more of an overt science fiction element to it. And, no I haven’t found a place to put capes in it, but I’m working on it. (due date: November-ish*)

* subject to the fickleness and rudeness of Real Life™

3) How does your work differ from others of its genre?

My work has capes. Lots of capes. Besides that, well, other than the television show Firefly (and movie Serenity), I don’t know of tons of space opera with a western element to it. Have I missed lots of stuff that I’d love to read? If so, let me know, please!

Also, I really am not aware of lots of medieval meets high-tech stories like mine. The closest I can come to it is the Pern series by Anne McCaffrey – which if you haven’t read them, why not? And no, I am not comparing myself or my writings to the great Anne McCaffrey, that takes hubris beyond anything even I can imagine!

And again, I could be missing tons of stories that have a medieval meets high-tech vibe, so if I have, let me know. I only have enough on my To Be Read pile for about three millennia, so I’m always looking for more!

4) Why do you write what you do?

Because the voices in my head won’t shut up!

And I’ve always wanted to explore other planets, and since that’s just not possible, I do the next best thing: create other worlds so I can visit them. But empty planets would be boring, so I have to put lots of iiiinteresting (said in my best Bugs Bunny the Beautician voice) people on them. Oh my, yes, so many iiiinteresting people!

5) How does your writing process work?

Most of my stories have come from dreams. Literally. I will have a great dream and when I wake up, I start writing. Many times to finish the interrupted dream because dagnabbit, I want to know how that dream ended!

I generally get an overview of a story – the overall story arc – in my head, and a scene or two that are vivid (from a dream, or daydream, or some scathingly brilliant idea), and I fill in the gaps from there as if I were a reporter, following my iiiinteresting people around and chronicling the events. Sort of. Well, more or less; it’s hard to control such iiiinteresting people. At times I have to go back and rewrite to force my characters to make different decisions so they don’t totally mess up my story arc.

One still managed it however. He was to be a Tasha Yar – a red shirt (yes, I know she really didn’t wear a red shirt, because hey, that would be too obvious) who became dear to my readers then was slated to die. Instead he totally changed the story arc not just of one book but of the whole blinkin’ series! And he refuses to die. And another character has threatened to refuse to cooperate if he does die. Does anyone else have their characters extort them?

Right now, I get very little writing time, so naturally I’ve given myself three deadlines in a short time span. An author friend has stated that writers are masochists. I agree. I tend to grab writing time when I can between lots of very rude Real Life™ interruptions. But I work best with deadlines, so there you go.

Okay, my job now is to tag two other people. It was hard narrowing it down, but here I go:
Jane Lebak