Browncoat in training

Psst...what's next?

Rainy day
Rainy days are sometimes my favorite kind of days. I can sit in a cozy corner to write or read a book, without the added stress of knowing that I need to complete a task outdoors. On rainy days, task outdoors are at a standstill! So on these wonderful breaks from outdoor physical activity, I can toasty and comfy in my favorite chair and read a book. Of course, I will have to take a break and actually complete some indoor task every now and then. Just to give myself the impression of not being as lazy as I actually am. :)

Cons, my two cents worth
Recently, I've read an abundance of comments related to Con attendance and most I agree with. In fact, I encourage attendance to these fun filled events as much as I can. I have happily tried to convert as many non-geek people as I can, because I believe everyone should experience the fun and excitement that I have these past twenty something years.

My first con was in Chattanooga Tennessee. It wasn't huge, or for that matter medium in size, but the people that I met there made up for the size. I was very young and attended the function on my own. Star Trek had been my first true love, one that I never deviated from. I read all the books, watched all the TV reruns and salivated over the movies. So when I heard that members of the cast would be at a Con in Chattanooga, thirty miles from home, I threw my backpack in the car and took off. I was but eighteen years old, young, naive and completely green to such gatherings.

As I stood in line for my ticket, my heart raced with excitement. Once I passed through the double doors of the convention center into the dealers' room, I wandered for hours. If I hadn't been so shy and timid, I would have squeeeeed all the time, for the dealers had everything that a new collector could dream of. After a bit of wandering around the room skirting the people in the costumes, and casting sly glances toward their way, I was noticed. A few seasoned Con vets observed my newbieness and, thank goodness for me, introduced themselves. After my initial shock at their forwardness melted away, I spent the next several hours in the midst of the most wonderful people that I had ever met. They bombarded me with information, funny stories involving past conventions, good will and friendship. It was the beginning of my love for Cons.

The next few years; I attended at least one Con each year, preferably Cons that were close to me. They were typically small, so I remained in my comfort zone. It wasn't until my mid thirties that I discovered a bigger, more dramatic Con that would change my reading habits and introduce me to another interesting genre, Fantasy. In 1991 I attended my first Con in Atlanta, what is now refferred to as Dragon Con. It was the most mind boggling Con that I had ever been to. There were people everywhere! Tons and tons of them crowded the room. People dressed in fantastic costumes roamed the halls, laughing and enjoying themselves. The dealers rooms were awesome, as well as the Art room. There were actors, comic book people, authors and attendees from every part of the US. If was fabulous! I was hooked from then on. If fact, this was the turning point for me. No longer the closet SciFi Geek, I made a promise to try and convert as many people as I could from that date forward.
And I have. :)

Since my younger years, I've always been interested in telling stories, putting them on paper. But, I never thought myself good enough to do so. However, once in college, I thought that I would give it a try. I signed up for a creative writing class. It was a dismal failure. The teacher, along with most of her class (her followers, all English majors), did not consider Science Fiction or Fantasy worth mentioning. During the first meeting, when asked what we enjoyed reading and writing about, I made a very big mistake. I responded with glee that I loved SciFi and Fantasy. The sudden quiet in the room left no doubt that I'd made a tactical mistake. The teacher, and the English students made it very evident that they did not relish the idea of having a Science Major in their vicinity, nor did they believe Science Fiction or Fantasy a legitimate endeavor. Responses from critiques and reviews of my work were engineered to deliver the most devastating of hits to my writing enjoyment, so much so, that I finally withdrew from the class and never wrote a single complete paragraph for my enjoyment for four years. They had won.

However, that all changed in 2002 when I found out about the writing classes that were being offered by A.C. Crispin at Dragon Con. I was forty years old and pregnant for the first time, six months to be precise. Anyway, I knew that I would not be able to keep up the pace at the Con that I previously had in the past, so I decided to take it easy and sit in on the Beginners Writing class that Ms. Crispin offered. I was lucky enough to have my best friend to accompany me. The class was awesome! I learned a great deal regarding the 'How to', and the 'What not to do's' and best of all, some of the attendees of the class decided to create a critique group. This group turned out to be the best thing that I'd experienced in my wannabe writing career. The group created a site on line, so that we could communicate and exchange ideas. It wasn't long before I realized that this group truly wanted to help each other.

I must say, for the first year, I was a lurker. I would provide feedback for others work, but I never submitted mine own. In fact, I had never finished anything, other than poems, and that had been prior to my bad experience in College. It wasn't until a group chat on line and a very pushy group member (you know who you are) goaded me into it, that I finally took the plunge and put pen to paper. During the chat, our leader (so to speak) gave us a writing problem: Write a story that contains the following elements: A Clown, a fight scene, and something gold. It was like the light bulb over the head moment. When I started, I couldn't stop until it was done. I posted my first finished short story to the group two years after our initial meeting. And since then, I have completed multiple others, received good reviews from editors, and am currently finishing up the first draft of my first novel. And during the entire past seven years, members of our group have been supportive and encouraging. They rock!

Though the years, more groups from Ms. Cripins writing classes have tried to obtain our status, but have, so far, failed. I thank the stars everyday for leading to that particular class. It has opened an entirely new direction for me, one that I'm enjoying immensely. Many authors have openly professed the attributes of having a supportive critique group, and I'm here to say, they are sooooo right.

So, here's the jest of my rambling in a nutshell. Cons are a wonderful way to meet really fun people and expand your comfort zone. And if you're a writer, they are a huge source of information, editor, author & agent contact, not to say all the chances in the world to actually get your career as a writer started. Whether it is for fun or to actually make money at, Cons are one of the best ways to pave your way to achieving your writing objective. And if you don't make that sell, what to do? Well, you'll sure to enjoy yourself while trying. And think of all the fodder you'll see to add to your writing! Substance for your tales is endless!!!

So get on-line and look for that next Con, it will be worth your while. And who knows, maybe we'll meet at D-con next year!

Dragon Con
It's the day after Dragon Con. Typically, the day after is kind of depressing, but not this time. I was lucky enough to catch a few of the writing seminars offered by Michael Stackpole and Aaron Allston this year. I had a blast. The classes were very informative and the authors were extremely entertaining. I left with a sense of accomplishment and the drive to get back on track. Granted, I have been writing fairly decently these past few months, but now I have a more orgarnized, more structured map to follow. I'm ready to put the ideas/tips that I learned to the test.

So, not only did I have a great time at Dcon, I also learned a lot. Yeah! 

I'm signed up for next year, and I'm looking forward to taking MS and AA's class again.  

Just a thought....
I'm getting antsy with the first draft of Alex's first book. I have scenes running through my head that involve her life after college; the second book. I'm trying to write the new scenes down as they come to me, but it's getting confusing. I think my muse has multiple personalities.

The first series is basically to help me flesh out the path that leads Alex to her new life in Atlanta. I'm actually more interested in the second part of her life, but I needed to flesh out her beginning to set guidelines for me. Irritating though it is, I believe it's mandatory for me to keep everything in perspective. Geez, I have got to get use to outlining.

Feeling the Scooby gang out
I took a moment and sat down to ask some questions, so that I could get a better feel for my characters. What is each characters driving force? Well...for Jake it's definitely Rachel. Jake is in it to protect her and be with her. Rachel? Hmmm....Rachel comes from a long line of hunters. She truly feels that it is her destiny to protect and save those less aware that are around her. It's not so much good versus evil, but more...protecting those who are not aware of other species, or dimensions that touch our own. Or better yet, she tries to keep a balance between the energies of our world and others.

Now, Jess, she's just trying to survive and make her way in the world. Her lack of self confidence will always be her undoing. Even though she has lived under the protection of King for her entire life, she knows that her world will soon be changing. As she tries to find herself, she must make the decision to either live within the clan, or outside it. Neither will be easy. She is considered less than nothing in both worlds, at least that's what she thinks. I think as her journey continues, she'll realize that there are always options available; you just have to be willing to put yourself out there, and thrust your friends.

Jason. Oh, Jason. He is sweet, lovable and intelligent. His southern drawl, full mouth and dreamy eyes, will give Alex an abundance of trials. What drives him? Well, he's attracted to Alex. He knows that she is more than what they see, or he can see. Her aura is brighter than he's ever seen, but also held in check. This abnormality drives Jason's curiosity, but so does Alex's past. His own past also drives him, drives him to seek and hunt down the murderers of young people on campus. He knows how the familys of these victims feel. His own brother was killed months before he arrived on campus. Murdered. Murdered, and no one saw or heard a thing. The killer was never found, and the knowledge that he may see his brothers murderer without even knowing it's him, drives him slowly over the edge. So his ultimate goals? Find the killers, and stop them. All of them. And hopefully, get to know Alex. Find out just who she is, or better yet, what she is.

And then our reluctant hero, Alexandra Blackstone, a.k.a. Alex. Tragedy and grief shadow her past. Her mother gone by the time she was ten. Raised by a father who saw evil at every turn. After her mother's death, they traveled from city to city, using new names and creating a different past for each one. Her father spoke of an evil that she must prepare for, so he trained her, worked her, and constantly tested her, so that she would be prepared. Prepared for what, she was never sure of. Yeah, there were human monsters, and they had seen and fought their fair share of them. But there always seemed to be something else her father feared, an invisible force that weighed upon him and Alex. Her life was one of training, training to fight, to survive, and to stay aware. Her father had died before he could impart upon her the true evil that followed them, and in the long run, everything just seemed to be for nothing.
Alex had no contact with others in her family since her mother's death, and now at eighteen, her father gone, it didn't really matter. She was an adult, so she tried to manage. Unfortunately, her background didn't lend to a smooth transition into the real world, or should I say, the Social world. She tried college, but that didn't really work, so she moved from one city to the next, taking jobs here and there to keep food in her saddle bags, or put gas in her motorcycle tank. It wasn't until a suit wearing detective showed up that she even thought about her family. The slim guy informed her that her grandmother had been looking for her and wanted to make contact. She was surprised, but relented. After that, her grandmother never left her alone. She even talked her into going back to college. So, here she is. In college, meeting new friends, trying out a new life. Unfortunately, in her opinion, karma isn't being so nice. 
Now, Alex, finds a dead girl, sees a ghost, gets adopted by a group of young people who fancy themselves hunters and want her to help them track down the murderers. She also finds out that spooky stuff on TV are really spooky stuff in reality. She becomes a target of preternatural groups that believe shes a threat to their power base, God only knows why, and they want to see what she can do. She gets to meet vampires, Wolves, and Were things, some of which want to beat the crap out of her on a regular basis, but all done to prove a point of course. So, the Scooby gang (term that she uses for her friends), a representative of one of the vampire clans, the Wolf clan and a minor Were clan, pull together to help find the murderers, and thus put an end to their rampage on campus. Basically, because each of the clans have been implicated in the murders as well. To keep from being outed to the human world, they must ban together to find the culprits.
Once the murderers have been taken care off, then everyone will turn their attention back to Alex. After all, she's hiding something. She's just not sure what she's hiding. But she needs to find out before she ends up dead as well.

So there ya go. Jake's in it for love, Rachels in it for honor, Jason is in it for revenge, and maybe some loving, while our hero is in it for what? A sense of belonging? To help out her new friends? Naw, well...maybe.

I think in the beginning, it's to find out what the hell is going on and why it involves her. She doesn't want to be involved, but she is for some crazy reason. She's become involved with clans, with the Scooby gang and with the murders, and she doesn't really want to be involved with anything. I think at first she just wants to be left alone, but as she becomes close to her friends, she realizes that she's not just in it for herself anymore. She fears for her friends safety as well as her own. She also feels for the sad ghost-boy, whos murder left him trapped in a girls dormitory, or is he? Curiosity is a strong emotion, just like feeling needed, and both emotions are raging strong in Alex at the moment. What was the comment she makes when deciding if she should get involved. "Just how stupid can I be?" she asked, and then answers the obvious, "Pretty damn stupid it seems."  And so the story of Alex Blackstones new life begins. 

Weird tales in the life of me
I was finishing up a short story when something I glanced at on the TV caught my attention. It was a local channel covering some dumb ass country boy who had fell out of his boat while fishing, couldn't get back in, so decided to swim to shore while pulling his boat behind him.

Now some may think that this is an insulated incident, but I have living proof that it actually happens at least twice.

When I was around twelve or thirteen, my very expressive father decided to trade his motorcross bike for a speed boat. This unexpected trade came up the following morning after he got stuck between two trees. Dad has always done things on the spur of the moment, so when he packed the bike, me, and my mom up to travel to a little city thirty miles down the road to make a trade. We didn't think much of it.

Anyhoo, he made the trade by 9:00 am, we were in Chattanooga on the lake by 10:00, took us at least an hour to figure up how to get the thing into the lake without losing the truck with it (another story in itself), and then it quit working around 6:30. Just in time for nightfall. We spent thirty minutes trying to figure out what to do, another ten to realize that we didn't have two oars, and then at least fifteen while we waited for my dad to stop cussing, throwing things and jumping up and down.

After he calmed down, he spent another fifteen minutes running from one side of the boat to the other, using the oar to just swing us back and forth.

Now imagine the site we made for those on the shore busy pulling their own boats out of the water.  A boat, stranded in the middle of the lake, with a woman, a child and a crazy guy running from side to side, swiping an oar at the water, cussing loudly while he did it.  The lake patrol officer came by offering help but dad refused, instead, he decided to jump into the water, tie the boats docking rope around his neck and swim us in.

After thirty minutes of the breast stroke (The patrol sat in their boat off to one side watching the whole thing, as well as a crowd of onlookers now sitting by the dock) of which got us no where, he finally relented and waved the patrol over. By this time, it was well into the evening and darkness had covered the area. By 9:00pm, we had finally pulled the boat back into it's trailer (with the help of at least six other people). By 10:00 pm, the boat was sitting the front yard of the previous owner, and we were struggling to put the motorcycle back into the back of the truck.

Now, episodes like this were very common in my household while I was growing up. I have so many bazarre and wacky tales to tell about my family tree, that I'm sure I could keep a sitcom going for at least three years.

It just goes to show, there's always someone else out there doing dumb ass stuff, and are more than likely NOT from the same working class. There's alway one guy/girl in each money bracket.

Nothing special, it's just me
I've actually had the time to spend on writing this week, and it has been wonderful! Husband is gone on a business trip and the munchkin is in school. I've let the house work go to hell and I've not felt bad at all. After I lost my job, I went through a little depression state. I let months go by without focusing on anything, but that period in my life has ended. I'm making plans and setting a path forward. Writing will play a main part in my new effort.

Dragon Con is coming, and I am totally excited about it. I get to see old friends and make new ones. But it's not only about meeting up with people I know, it's about the energy. Dragon Con pulls together an eclectic array of personalities, each contributing to a vibe that is so strong, that you can physically feel it in the air. It's exciting and extremely powerful, providing a plethora of ideas for a writer to pull from. Not to mention getting to see personalities that make you go 'weeeeeeee' inside.

There are two more weeks before the fun starts. Two weeks in which I need to finish the first draft of my book. Two weeks was the deadline that I had set myself at the end of the school year. Little did I know what my summer would be like; spending it with a six year old boy. Since this would be my first year doing so, I've cut myself some slack. In other words, I got squat done, but I'm turning a new page and I hope to be on track again soon. 

I've been trying extremely hard to work towards finishing the first draft of Alex's story. Alex is Alexandra Blackstone, aka, Blackstone wolf: hunter. I'm 40,0000 words in, basically a third of the way into the storyline, and moving on. I'm trying not to spend valuable time researching stuff every minute when I run into a problem, instead, I am using a technique Laurell Hamilton suggested. Every time I hit a snag, I simply capitalize the part, highlight it, and keep moving. I can clean the problems up during the second draft. I've got to get her story on paper first, then I'll clean it up. I believe Ms. Hamilton mentioned the 70:30 rule regarding a first draft. Seventy percent will be crap and thrity percent will be gold. The second draft is for cleaning up the 70% of crap and turning it into gold. It sounds funny, but I believe she is correct. So, now that I've greased up the thinking tool, it's time to go. Talk later.  

Insurance agencys should be burned at the stake
I am so fed up with Insurance companies and the government that I could scream. If they were ticks, they would be the size of Mt. Rushmoore. And to that point, they should be squashed, mutilated and flushed in the same manner. Blah!

Starting up again.
Phew, it's been a long couple of months. Months that I haven't been able to write. Now that the summer is winding down, and my son will be returning to school, I will get to see my computer again! I've been so antsy to get back to writing. The characters in my head are demanding to be released. The constant hum of storylines and conversations are intefering with my day life, so I might as well get a start. Off to a dark room I go, to hide and write in silence. Well...maybe not too dark, I'm clumsy to the extreme in the dark. I might drop my computer while looking for a solid surface to squat on. :)

Losing an Author
I just found out that a favorite author of mine passed away. Tom Deitz wasn't the most prolific, but he did turn out some books that I thoroughly enjoyed. I had hoped to see many more from him. Days like this, brings home just how short-lived we are. Bummer.


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