25 January 2023

Upcoming Appearances, 2023

At 742 North, Rock Hill, Fall 2022
So I sat down the other day and looked at my travel calendar for this year. Whew! There is a lot coming up, and I can't wait to get started.

(I have submitted applications to DragonCon and will submit to Multiverse, both in Atlanta, and if I'm successful this time, y'all will be the first to hear about it!)

First is the Atlanta Steampunk Expo, where I will be signing copies of Strid (and my other books, too), February 10-12 at the Atlanta Marriott Northeast/Emory Area. My table will be in the Decatur Exchange - come see me!

After that, I will be running up the road to hang out with one of my favorite groups of authors at 742 North's Springtime Blooms event from 10-6 on March 4th. I will have all of my books there and would love to see you if you happen to be in the Rock Hill, SC, area. 

April and May is the Georgia Renaissance Festival, and I'm hoping to get together a signing event one weekend there now that I don't really have a dog that can work with the Hounds. I'm sure that I will be traveling down there with my vaudeville partner, Anne, even if I am without hound...you can take the girl out of the rennies, but you can't take the Rennie out of the...no, that sounded better in my head. Never mind. Moving on.

April is also Camp Nanowrimo, and while that isn't an appearance, it's something that I love dearly. The second round will be in July, so if you don't hear from me during those two months, I'm likely writing.

The second book in the World of Arcstone series, Storm, is set to launch on the 15th of May, just in time to take it to the next event on the list (if I get space in Author's Alley).

The first weekend in June is ConCarolinas at the Hilton Charlotte University Place. I really consider this my home faire, and I've been an author guest there since 2020. I will definitely be an author guest and on panels, and I'm hoping for space in the juried Author's Alley to sell/sign copies of my books. The Kaylee cosplay will be returning, and I'm thinking maybe something Stargate or Star Trek related? We'll see.

July sees me heading up the road to Winston-Salem, NC, for Congregate 9. I had to bow out of Congregate 8 last year, and I'm feeling so lucky and thankful that they are having me back this year. I will be in Author Alley there at the Downtown Marriott.

August will be Back to the DayJob™️ for the most part. September 8-9, I will be setting up at the Upstate Renaissance Faire in Greer, SC, and hoping that we do NOT have weather like last year. I'm excited to decorate my tent and figure out which piece of my Rennie garb will work best for sitting in a chair and signing books. That faire is fantastic, complete with a dragon. Come visit if you're nearby!

September is also my professional development month - and I will return to the Broadleaf Writer's Association annual conference in Decatur, GA. This event always recharges my batteries and prepares me to tackle my next WIP.

November is a busy month, as I'm tentatively planning the launch of the next book in the Guardians of Orana series, Hero. It will also bring another chance to participate in the Time Traveling Authors event at the Carolina Renaissance Festival. More on that event later in the year, and next year I've already been invited to the Dahlonega Literary Festival, which I believe is in March of 2024.

I hope to see you at one or more of these events, so I can ask, "what kind of books do you like to read?" 

23 January 2023

Music Monday: We never failed to fail, it was the easiest thing to do...

This past week, the world lost an amazing musician. Rooted in the hippie counter-culture of the 1960s and 70s, David Crosby wasn't just a member of the amazingly talented group Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, but he was an example of sticking to your principles. So many of those songs were the soundtrack of my early uni days when I worked at a summer camp in Georgia, and they still bring a smile when I hear them on the radio.

Southern Cross
Crosby, Stills, and Nash

[Verse 1]
Got out of town on a boat, going to Southern islands
Sailing a reach before a following sea
She was making for the trades on the outside
And the downhill run to Papeete
Off the wind on this heading lie, the Marquesas
We got eighty feet of the waterline
Nicely making way
In a noisy bar in Avalon, I tried to call you
But on a midnight watch I realized
Why twice you ran away
(I think about)
Think about how many times I have fallen
Spirits are using me, larger voices calling
What heaven brought you and me
Cannot be forgotten (I've been around the world)

I have been around the world (Looking)
Looking for that woman-girl
(And I know she knows)
Who knows love can endure
And you know it will

[Verse 2]
When you see the Southern Cross for the first time
You understand now why you came this way
'Cause the truth you might be running from is so small
But it's as big as the promise
The promise of a coming day
So I'm sailing for tomorrow, my dreams are a-dying
And my love is an anchor tied to you
Tied with a silver chain
I have my ship
And all her flags are a-flying
She is all that I have left
And music is her name
You might also like
Miley Cyrus
Helplessly Hoping
Crosby, Stills & Nash
Emily I’m Sorry
(I think about)
Think about how many times I have fallen
Spirits are using me, larger voices calling
What heaven brought you and me
Cannot be forgotten (I've been around the world)

I have been around the world (Looking)
Looking for that woman-girl
Who knows love can endure
And you know it will
And you know it will

[Verse 3]
So we cheated and we lied and we tested
And we never failed to fail
It was the easiest thing to do
You will survive being bested
Somebody fine
Will come along, make me forget about loving you
In the Southern Cross

16 January 2023

Well, that was unexpected...

Truer words were never spoken...or written...on an image...nevermind.

Lots of things have happened, and even more...haven't. There's no Music Monday today, mainly because I've been sick off and on throughout the holidays. Ho, Ho, NO. Crappy New Year. That sort of thing. But also...I'm stuck in my writing, so I haven't been able to come up with anything that really inspires me.

I'm currently revising Storm, the second in the World of Arcstone series. While manning my table at the Carolina Renaissance Festival's Time Traveling Authors event, a young man approached - one I recognized from the event in 2021. He had purchased Rift at the time and had some questions. This is amazing and terrifying as an author, but I went with it. 

I had announced elsewhere that I would publish Storm in the late spring of 2023. He was glad to hear that and made sure that I knew I needed to clear up why things happened the way they did at the end of Rift. (HEY! I didn't spoil it! Go me.) This statement kick-started my revisions because now there was a person out there that wanted to know what happened next...and it wasn't someone that I know. 

And once again, they stalled out. It isn't that I don't love Em and Lex or that I'm bored of Arcstone. Quite the opposite - if this was my game world, I'd never leave. (Norrath and Azeroth, just pretend you didn't hear that, okay?) I'm just...having trouble. So I decided it would be a good idea to re-read Rift, and maybe Em, Lex, and the others would start talking to me again. Even better - I will have my voice assistant read it!

Y'all. I am not a romance writer. Ugh. So cringey! But I've powered through, and I've found the source of the problem...I left some things untied at the end of Rift on purpose, but now I haven't even reached for those strings, let alone tied them up in Storm. So...here I am, starting again with revision.

How long till March?

31 December 2022

See You Next Year

The Intrepid Author in the Wild, CRF Time Traveling Authors 2022

So, it's a Dad Joke. See you next year - which is tomorrow. But today I wanted to talk about why that is all I will say, going forward. I hope that this may reach others with the same anxiety related unrest when this time rolls around every year.

I like to pretend that I like New Year's Eve. I mean, what's not to like? Excuse to party. Excuse to be very loud. Excuse to snog. What's not to like? 

Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen on CNN. Yes please. Jool Holland's Hootenanny. The top of my bucket list, Hogmany in Edinburgh. But those aren't all the things floating like Times Square confetti in my mind.

In all honesty, I really hate New Years Eve/Day.

I have a lot of trouble with change. I'm sure I have told the story already that my mother remembered about me (because she remembered everything about me) of how I would burst into tears at the end of TV shows and be done with my tears by the start of the next show. I didn't like the ending. I didn't like the change over to a new show.

Make that 30 minute sit-com into the end of 365 whole days and it is almost more than I can take. In looking back at my memories of past posts on social media, it isn't a coincidence how many times I've gotten sick on or just before New Year's Eve. Throw in two full years of uncertainty that came along with the pandemic and my anxiety has just moved in and started picking curtains.

But I'm aware of it, and I'm working on it...and, predictably I have a slight sore throat and even more slight fever today. Because of course I do.

So, if you have this same issue that I do...if you are more nervous than excited about the upcoming year...iI you'd rather the ball get stuck on it's way down just because you aren't sure you can handle what will happen when it hits the bottom, I'm here to remind you that it always has. It always will, and we are still here. Rather than looking ahead with resolutions that we all know will not stand, look back at 2022. Think about everything that happened, good and bad. Celebrate the good things and make a promise to do better with the bad things when they rear their heads...because you know they will. If you have to make a resolution, make one to be a better friend to yourself.

See you next year.

02 December 2022

Welcome to when The Lettuce becomes the Hiatus...

I always take December off...or try, anyway. Nanowrimo has left me with NOT MUCH IN THE TANK, and while I would love to say I don't do anything toward my writing career, but I do. I will. 

For now, though, the Lettuce is going on hiatus at least...and I'd like to invite you to join me by my virtual fireplace, listening to Christmas music (NO WHAM, ONLY INSTRUMENTAL) and trying desperately to let my mind take a break for a bit.

Yeah, I don't think it will happen either - who scheduled the world cup during my winter holidays?

Anyway...Thanks for reading all my rambling. I hope you've picked up a new song or artist, and if I've seen you at one of my signing events, thanks for coming out. See you in the new year, y'all.

28 November 2022

Music Monday: A Bit of Heartbreak, after a Win

 First things first, I finished Nanowrimo this weekend. The lucky thing about having it in November is that there is a holiday in there that sees me off work and full of cheese, wandering about and asking what day it is...and with plenty of time to write. The manuscript isn't done but I can slow my pace a bit.

Now, that said, the story is turning out to be a lot darker than I'd originally thought, and with that darkness comes me seeking out writing inspiration that matches. This is one of the most emotionally evocative songs I know and when it came up in my playlist I had to take a moment and just live in the feelings. The first time I heard it I think I gasped out loud in the third act. I would say enjoy, but...sit with it for a bit.

The Highwayman
by Loreena McKennitt

The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees
The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon the cloudy seas
The road was a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moon
A highwayman came riding
Riding, riding
A highwayman came riding, up to the old inn-door

He'd a french cocked hat on his forehead, a bunch of lace at his chin
A coat of glaring velvet, and breeches of brown doe skin
They fitted with never a wrinkle, his boots were up to the thigh
And he rode with a chill and a twinkle
His pistol butts a twinkle
His rapier hilt a twinkle, under the jeweled sky

And over the cobbles he clattered and clashed in the dark of night
And he tapped with his whip on the shutters, but all was locked and barred
He whistled a tune to the window, and who should be waiting there
But the landlord's black-eyed daughter
Bess, the landlord's daughter
Plaiting a long dark red love-knot into her long black hair

One kiss, my bonny sweetheart, I'm after a prize tonight
But I shall be back with the yellow gold before the morning light
Yet if they press me sharply, and harry me through the day
Then look for me by the moonlight
Watch for me by the moonlight
I'll come to thee by the moonlight, though hell should bar the way

He rose upright in the stirrups, he scarce could reach her hand
She loosened her hair in the casement, her face burnt like a brand
As the black cascade of perfume came tumbling over his breast
And he kissed its waves in the moonlight
Oh, sweet waves in the moonlight!
Then he tugged at his rein in the moonlight, and galloped away to the west

He did not come at the dawning, he did not come at noon
And out of the tawny sunset, before the rise of the moon
When the road was a gypsy's ribbon, looping the purple moon
A red-coat troop came marching
Marching, marching
King George's men came marching, up to the old inn-door

They said no word to the landlord, they drank his ale instead
But they gagged his daughter and bound her to the foot of her narrow bed
Two of them knelt at the casement, with muskets at their side
There was death at every window
Hell at one dark window
For Bess could see, through the casement
The road that he would ride

They had tied her up to attention, with many a sniggering jest
And they bound a musket beside her, with the barrel beneath her breast
Now keep good watch and they kissed her
She heard the dead man say
"Look for me by the moonlight
Watch for me by the moonlight
I'll come to thee by the moonlight, though hell should bar the way"

She twisted her hands behind her, but all the knots held good
She writhed her hands 'til her fingers were wet with sweat or blood!
They stretched and strained in the darkness and the hours crawled on by like years!
'Til, now, on the stroke of midnight
Cold, on the stroke of midnight
The tip of one finger touched it!
The trigger at least was hers

Tlot-tlot! Had they heard it? The horse-hoofs ringing clear
Tlot-tlot, in the distance, were they deaf that they did not hear?
Down the ribbon of moonlight, over the brow of the hill
The highwayman came riding
Riding, riding
The red-coats looked to their priming
She stood up straight and still

Tlot in the frosty silence, tlot, in the echoing night
Nearer he came and nearer, her face was like a light
Her eyes grew wide for a moment, she drew one last deep breath
Her finger moved in the moonlight
Her musket shot her in the moonlight
Shattered her breast in the moonlight and warned him with her death

He turned, he spurred to the west, he did not know she stood
Bowed, with her head o'er the musket, drenched with her own red blood
Not 'til the dawn he heard it, his face grew grey to hear
How Bess, the landlord's daughter
The landlord's black-eyed daughter
Watched for her love in the moonlight, and died in the darkness there

And back, he spurred like a madman, shrieking a curse to the sky
With a white rope smoking behind him and his rapier brandished high
Blood-red were the spurs inthe golden moon, wine-red was his velvet coat
When they shot him down on the highway
Down like a dog on the highway
And he lay in his blood on the highway, with a bunch of lace at his throat

Still of a winter's night, they say, when the wind is in the trees
When the moon is a ghostly galleon, tossed upon the cloudy seas
When the road is a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moon
The highwayman comes riding
Riding, riding
The highwayman comes riding, up to the old inn-door

21 November 2022

Music Monday: A little bit of Tennyson

One of my favorite painters is Waterhouse, and one of my favorites of his paintings is The Lady of Shalott, a lovely poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, that tells the tale of a woman cursed to live in a tower who can only view the world through a mirror. She weaves what she sees and is dreadfully bored but knows that if she takes her gaze from the mirror something awful will happen. It's just beautiful and this video has lyrics in it, so win-win!

10 days left in this Nano and this song is perfect for talking me out of my real life and letting my creative mind go roaming around...no mirror required. Enjoy.

14 November 2022

Music Monday: Terribly and Beautifully Tired

I spent the weekend back at the Carolina Renaissance Fair as one of the Time Traveling Authors and y'all, I am exhausted...but in that giddy, happy kind of way that needs a cozy bed and some cider and no responsibilities for about a week so I can just reflect. Ah well, I got the cider and the bed, two out of three? 
Anyway, I was surrounded (quite literally) all weekend by fantastic music in the spot they set up for us. So for today's Music Monday, I want to share some out-of-the-box music that I ran across on TikTok that is a happy fusion of two things I love: bagpipes and Punjabi bhangra music. This mashup version of Toss the Feathers - an Irish song - is guaranteed to get you moving. Enjoy - somewhere that you can turn the volume up. (No lyrics this week because are on the video!)

10 November 2022

An Upcoming Signing Event and a bit of Gratitude

The book that started it all, in Orana, anyway...

Once again, I will be at the Carolina Renaissance Festival for Time Traveler's Weekend, hanging out with a bunch of fellow SciFi/Fantasy authors to sell signed copies of our books. You may remember that in 2019 I was there for the first time, selling a book that I'd started during the 2010 Nanowrimo. It came into the world as a ginormous 350K manuscript called - because I'm clever like that - Superginormous_Manuscript.doc. Yeah. That became the Nature Walker Trilogy, then the Orana Chronicles which has just seen the launch of the 8th book set in the universe of Orana, The Temple.

But this post isn't about that. Not really. 

This is about working for so long at CRF and seeing the authors set up on that weekend and wishing I could be one of them. This is about finally sending the email and seeing my name listed on the CRF website as one of the authors. This is about remembering how scared I was that first weekend, and how others around me had to basically pull information from me about my books.

I'm not going to lie and say that it has gotten any easier - if anything with so many titles it has gotten worse. But here's where the gratitude comes in.

I'm not really a part of any writing groups, not formal ones. I belong to two writing/author groups on social media and I am a proud member of the Broadleaf Writers Association in Georgia...but only because I attend their annual writer's conference and want to support what they do. So that first weekend at CRF I didn't know how to be an author. I'd sold books before, but they were never mine. I think I came back home after the weekend with almost as many copies as I'd taken with me.

But that's not the point. I am more grateful than I can ever express to the authors that were there that first weekend for treating me like I belonged there. I listened to them talk to people that came up to look at their books. I practiced saying what they said and working on my elevator pitches for the two titles I had with me. I have used Tell me what you like to read? and What kind of books are you reading right now? at all of my signing events since then, and it gives me a not-so-scary way to start a conversation.

When I returned in 2021 (2020 was cancelled because the faire didn't happen) I thought I was ready, but I still listened and still learned. And now, in 2022, I'm ready to spend a weekend up there hanging out with people who get the writer side of me. People who live in fantasy worlds and have characters on their mind day in and out. And I'm going into this on my own, without a Sherpa or a sidekick, and I'm gong to keep listening and keep learning.

Come see us, won't you? We will be there cannon to cannon this Saturday and Sunday. Tickets for the faire are advance purchase now and there are only a limited number. 

I'd love to see you at my table and have you tell me what you like to read. 📚

07 November 2022

Music Monday: Nano Week Two

Y'all, the first week is always so easy. The target wordcounts are lower. The project is new. Your characters are still paying attention to what you want them to do. None of them have gone off the rails...yet. It's coming though, you know it is. And that complete nightmare happens in week two, but you need hope. Hope that the characters will finish running amok and come back home to where you want them - or that where they've gone is where the story needs to go. You've got to be unbreakable, so that at the end of the next two weeks, you remain undefeated.

(no lyrics this week because they are in the video)

01 November 2022

Nanowrimo 2022 - Here goes nothing, again.

I bet she'd told me I couldn't have any cake. Stand back...

Yeah, it's here. Allegedly I'm going to work on the next in the Orana Chronicles series, Hero, but all I have so far is the cover. Cart before the horse, I know. 

I mean, I have a rough idea, but as a die-hard pantser I really don't have an outline. As my poor mother could have told you, "Nancy doesn't work well with an outline unless it is filled out after she's done writing." Sorry Mom.

Anyway, so I'm off and away today on this month long, coffee fueled expedition that I have taken every November since 2010, when I was here visiting my family from the UK and happened to hear about Nanowrimo somewhere. I thought I'd give it a go, and the bare bones of the Nature Walker Trilogy was born. 

Very bare bones. Like strung together with duct tape and bandanas and hope. 

I like to think back on that, though, when I am getting frustrated and starting to believe that the impostor syndrome is speaking for the collective universe when it says I need to give up this writing thing.

Another thing my mother could have told you is how stubborn her eldest daughter is. So I will be thinking of you this month, Mom, and how you believed that all you had to do to get your Nancy up and moving was suggest that maybe she couldn't do something. I will try, once again, to prove that wrong...and make you proud.

31 October 2022

Music Monday: Mad [Author's]World

Well, that sums it up, doesn't it? The first time I heard this one I thought that it was spot on, what with everything going on in the world these days, but then I listened to it through the lens of a writer/creative...and it meant so much more. We want to scream our pain and break away from the dark. Yes. YES. Enjoy that last day before Nano starts, won't you?

(No lyrics because they are in the video.)

24 October 2022

Music Monday: But where IS home?

I may have already featured this song on Music Mondays past, but it is such a favorite and a good writing inspiration that I'm going to do it again. I make no secret of my love for both Genesis and Phil Collins as a solo act, and this song was on my radar way back in 1995 when my family and I spent six weeks living abroad in the UK. I can't hear it now without cringing at how much I ignored all of the fantastic things I had to learn in favor of six weeks of homesickness and longing for friends far away. Spoiler alert: all those things were still there when I got back, but I won't ever live in that house with my parents and my sister again. So now I listen to this and I think of home as where you need to be at that moment in time, with those that you are meant to have around you...just as my main character will discover in the Nano project that starts in...JUST OVER A WEEK. WHAT?

Take Me Home
by: Phil Collins

Take that look of worry, I'm an ordinary man
They don't tell me nothing, so I find out all I can
There's a fire that's been burning right outside my door
I can't see but I feel it and it helps to keep me warm

So, I... I don't mind
No, I... I don't mind

Seems so long I've been waiting, still don't know what for
There's no point in escaping, I don't worry anymore
I can't come out to find you, I don't like to go outside
They can turn off my feelings like they're turning off the light

But, I... I don't mind
No, I... I don't mind
Oh, I... I don't mind
No, I... I don't mind

So take, take me home
'Cause I don't remember, take, take me home
'Cause I don't remember, take, take me home, oh Lord

'Cause I've been a prisoner all my life, and I can say to you

Take that look of worry, mine's an ordinary life
Working when it's daylight, and sleeping when it's night
I've got no far horizons, I don't wish upon a star
They don't think that I listen, oh, but I know who they are

And, I... I don't mind
No, I... I don't mind
Oh, I... I don't mind
No, I... I don't mind

So take, take me home
'Cause I don't remember, take, take me home
'Cause I don't remember, take, take me home
'Cause I don't remember, take, take me home, oh Lord

Well, I've been a prisoner all my life, and I can say to you
But I don't remember

Take, take me home
'Cause I don't remember, take, take me home
'Cause I don't remember, take, take me home
'Cause I don't remember, take, take me home

'Cause I don't remember, take, take me home
'Cause I don't remember, take, take me home
'Cause I don't remember, take, take me home
'Cause I don't remember, take, take me home

'Cause I don't remember...

17 October 2022

Music Monday: Peak Autumn

Well, I don't know about you, but all that this piece of music is missing is a comfy blanket, a good book, a steaming mug of cider, and a cabin in a autumnal colored wood to hold it all. I'm seeing retellings of fairy tales and epic battles and...well, the rest would be a spoiler, wouldn't it? Roll on, Nanowrimo 2022. (No lyrics because it is purely instrumental.)

10 October 2022

Music Monday: Talk to Me

 Oh, the Nano prep is swinging into high gear, and while I think I know where this year's project is going (never mind the whole OVERHAUL and REDO process), I don't ever really know until 1 November. Until then, all the characters yammer on inside this writer's brain, hoping to be able to join the fun next month. In that vein...I discovered this song while building out my playlist and it is stirring the muse a bit. Lzzy Hale never disappoints. (No need for lyrics this week - they're in the video!)

Upcoming Appearances, 2023

At 742 North, Rock Hill, Fall 2022 So I sat down the other day and looked at my travel calendar for this year. Whew! There is a lot coming u...