Dragon Myst by Kerry Adrienne Book Tour

In this fantasy romance, the hero is the heroine!
Dragon Myst by Kerry Adrienne is coming April 17th!

RESERVE IT NOW:
US → https://amzn.to/2wQRmhf
UK → https://amzn.to/2Q6o7xW
CA → https://amzn.to/38IqtcO
AU → https://amzn.to/2Q5EquY

BLURB:

In every good quest, the hero succeeds. In every great quest, that hero is the heroine…

And for this heroine, finding The Last Druid and recovering the Orb of Oriste will be personal.

Myst Goodwind, trainer of horses and daughter of the Queen, isn’t content to watch the dragons steal the magic that once belonged to her world. As the beasts continue to drain life from the land, Myst sets out on a dangerous journey to reclaim what belongs to Oriste.

Together with a gambling fairy, a cranky centaur, and the annoying guard sent by the Queen, Myst will search for the Last Druid and the shards of the Orb of Oriste, which once held the essence of all the magic in the world. Along the way she’ll encounter creatures she never dreamed of, creatures she’s feared since she was a child, and the very same dragons that harness the magic she seeks to restore.

And though the dangers are ever-present, it will be the truths that Myst comes face-to-face with along the way that shake the foundation of everything she holds dear.

About Kerry

USA Today bestselling author Kerry Adrienne loves history, science, music and art. She’s a mom to more cats than children and she loves live music, traveling, and staying up all night. Because…vampires.

She writes romance (paranormal, m/m, historical, time travel, and more), science fiction, and fantasy.

In addition to writing books, she’s also a college instructor, artist, costumer, editor, and bad guitar player.

FIND KERRY ONLINE!
Amazon → https://amzn.to/2Q6pcEw
BookBub → http://bit.ly/2vWFFSK
Facebook → http://bit.ly/2YsifAT
Goodreads → http://bit.ly/2vXa1EA
Instagram → http://bit.ly/2Q29men
Pinterest → http://bit.ly/2w9njOB
Twitter → http://bit.ly/2VKegms
Website → https://www.kerryadrienne.com

Do Writers Need to Attend Major Conferences to Network?

Last summer I attended my first Romance Writers of America National Conference. As a relatively new member, I’d thought about going to a big conference before, and had often looked on with envy as my fellow romance writers spoke of their anticipation and experiences during the conference each year. But I’d look at the price tag of attending a major meeting and realize that I simply couldn’t justify spending the money, not at my current level in my writing career. Instead, I signed up for a lot of online courses and workshops that I never seemed to find the time to complete, and I looked around for smaller meetings where I could still learn about writing, publishing, and marketing, as well as meet fellow writers and well… network.

But two things changed my mind about going to RWA’s national conference last year: first, Ghost of a Chance was a finalist in the Bookseller’s Best Awards, and the winners were going to be announced at the conference. And then, out of the blue, I won a seat a at brunch being hosted by Carina Press Editors–and since I’d tried subbing to Carina during their open submission calls, I thought it was an opportunity to learn more about the process (as well as get a little face time with the editors) that I couldn’t turn down.

And I was right. Attending the conference in NYC was an amazing experience.

I attended all kinds of panels and meetings. I learned I need to manage my newsletter differently and how you can use cover art to rebrand yourself. I made a pitch to a publisher at an open submission thingy (it could have gone better), and took copious notes at various lectures. I caught up with people I only knew from social media, met new people at the various events, and managed to squeeze in some touristy things too, like eating a hot dog from a street vendor (man, that was good!) and taking the ferry out to Staten Island. I had a delightful brunch with Carina’s editors Stephanie Doig and Kerri Buckley, and the rest of the lucky winners in the group. I wrote about my RWA experience here.

And I made plans to go again this coming summer. One of my crit partners lives out west and was planning to attend, and it would have been a wonderful excuse to catch up with her.

But then came the fallout from the special ethics committee report on Courtney Milan and the ruling to censure her, as well as ban her from holding office within RWA. If you’re not part of the romance world, I wrote about this debacle shortly after it occurred, linking to all the relevant parts of the story at the time (The Bodies in the Backyard: Can RWA be Saved?). Since then, multiple major publishers, as well as scads of agents and editors alike have withdrawn their support of RWA, refusing to host events or maintain any support to the upcoming conference this summer. Members have resigned in protest; more are not planning to renew their membership when it comes due again. Chapters have dissolved rather than maintain affiliation with the organization as it now stands. President-elect Damon Suede and Executive Director Carol Ritter, as well as the entire Board, have resigned. The RITA awards for this year have been canceled. Several major papers have written articles trying to get to the bottom of this mess, and an independent audit was released siting numerous serious issues with how the whole thing was handled. Although the audit didn’t conclude there was any malicious intent, it did conclude that conflicting rules cobbled together ad hoc contributed to the poor handling of the situation. Several things came out of the audit that were disturbing, to say the least. The pushback from some authors who want to maintain the status quo is even more upsetting. I’m finding out belatedly that the standard which some people want RWA to uphold is romance should exist primarily between cis het white able-bodied Christian couples. Oh, and preferably excluding books written by digital-only, indie authors.

As a cis het white able bodied Christian woman, I believe everyone is deserving of their HEA. I think it’s past time that we acknowledge the publishing industry as a whole has artificially maintained a kind of romance standard that is exclusionary to many marginalized groups.

Some people are attempting to pick up the pieces in the hopes of salvaging RWA and making it what it should have been all along: a place for all romance authors (and their characters), regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, or physical and mental status to network about writing, publishing, and marketing. I think they have a nearly impossible task ahead of them, based on what I’ve been reading and hearing.

I canceled my plans to attend this summer’s conference. I have mixed feelings about maintaining membership in RWA. I’d just renewed my membership when all this came down, and I decided to let it ride in the hopes of retaining the right to vote in any upcoming elections. But as time passed and more and more things came to light, I’m no longer certain I want to be a member of RWA. I’m definitely certain I don’t need to be a member–at least not at this juncture in my writing career.

See, one of the extremely valuable things RWA allowed was access to agents and publishers. While it would be lovely to think of snagging a big contract and quitting the day job, that’s not likely to happen to me. It would be akin to winning the lottery: a wonderful, but unrealistic dream. What I really need is more individualized instruction, in a setting where I can ask my newbie questions without being made to feel like an idiot, especially if I’m not as tech-savvy as the rest of the audience. I need to learn what I can do to promote my work on a limited budget, finish, polish and publish my work as an indie author without the Big Dream of a major publishing contract some day. Sure, I can work toward that dream, but I need something more geared to delivering information in a manner in which I can digest it and utilize now. A smaller venue where I can have conversations with fellow authors one night and continue the association the next day without having lost them in the convention crowd.

But I recognize that while I’m good at over-committing to online workshops, I’m not good at staying the course. I also desperately need to get away from work and home to avoid getting sucked into other responsibilities that force my writing to the back burner. I began looking at other conferences to attend instead of RWA Nationals, and the vast majority of them were either already sold out, offered at a time of year I couldn’t attend, or were primarily reader events with a few headline speakers. While sorely tempted by MurderCon, (I haven’t ruled it out, but it may be sold out already), it’s geared toward the technical aspects of writing mysteries, with heavy emphasis on police procedurals. Fun, but probably not exactly what I need right now.

Which is why I’m so pleased to be going to the ATA 2020 Spring Writing Retreat. Audrey Knapp Hughey is the founder of The Write Services, LLC and the Author Transformation Alliance, specializing in teaching online marketing for writers. This is the aspect of being a published author I struggle the most with–and Audrey gives me the kind of hands-on coaching I need to wade through setting up my newsletter or maximizing my ROI with Amazon ads. This is my third year attending, and each time I’m impressed with not only the professionalism and expertise Audrey and her speakers bring to the retreat, but I’m charmed by the “whole picture” experience, too. In addition to gift bags for participants, there have been morning and evening yoga sessions, photographers to take author headshots, engaging, encouraging, and sometimes emotional workshops, and plenty of time to–gasp–actually write.

I find that I am desperately looking forward to the retreat this year because I know it will be just that: an affordable, informative getaway where I will come back renewed and enthusiastic about tackling my writing and publishing goals for the year. I’ll spend a lovely weekend getting to know my fellow authors while reconnecting with those I’ve met online or in previous years, and will have peaceful hours to write without interruption. (I’ll even have the luxury of a quiet hotel room with a comfy bed free of pet hair for a change! 🙂 ) I won’t come home thinking, “Man, I’m doing everything wrong and I’ll never make it as a writer.” I’ll come home energized about the things within my power to achieve.

And that’s the feeling a good conference should instill. So the next time you’re looking at conferences and trying to decide how to get the biggest bang for your buck, think smaller and more focused than huge and splashy. Think about the ATA Spring Retreat.

I hope you’ll join me sometime!

Love is in the Air in February, and Bishop Takes Knight is on Sale! #MFRWHooks

Have you been waiting for the right time to delve into the Redclaw Universe? Well, now may be your best shot!

Bishop Takes Knight (Redclaw Origins Book 1) is now available for just 99 cents across all platforms! Meet former socialite Henrietta (“Rhett”) Bishop as she accepts a job in desperation with the mysterious Redclaw Security firm and gets more than she bargained for! When she’s assigned to locate the elusive Dr. Peter Knight, all her skills as an independent woman in 1955 New York City are put to the test as they evade a shifter gang, deal with past lovers, and engage with the enigmatic and dangerous Rian Stirling–who happens to be searching for the same artifacts as Bishop and Knight. It’s Nick and Nora (The Thin Man) meets Warehouse-13 in this book declared Top Pick by The Romance Reviews and given a Crowned Heart of Excellence by InD’Tale Magazine, as well as a strong review by Kirkus.

Bishop Takes Knight is available for just 99 cents for a limited time from:

Amazon    Barnes and Noble     Apple     Kobo

 

Looking for more great reads this month? Check out the other stories in the BookHooks Hop! 

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The Internet is Killing Me but My Support is on the Internet

The modern dilemma, eh?

About 15 years ago, I started a new job, moving to a new town, where I didn’t know anyone. I’d just finished a five year run as my father’s caretaker, and I was looking to start fresh with a new life–new everything. After years of working a full time job and then spending 6 pm to midnight caring for my father with dementia, I was looking for friendships, hobbies, and hoping to meet the love of my life. All those things happened, but not the way I expected.

See, at first, I looked into joining organizations that I thought would be fun and challenging, as well as a way of meeting new people. I was still competing my horse then, so I made a few friends at the new boarding barn. I tried inviting people over for movie nights or making plans to go out together, but we all were on such different schedules that trying to coordinate a get-together was as fraught with difficulty as scheduling a Middle Eastern Peace Summit. 

I tried joining a few clubs and activities around my new town, but found it nearly impossible to attend on a regular basis. As a former actress, there was great appeal in the notion of auditioning for a play with the local theater, but again, my schedule prohibited me from committing to something like that. I began writing again, which filled my creative void, but didn’t provide the social interaction I craved, until I began posting my stories online.

All of the sudden, I had friends.

I was invited by one of them to join Live Journal, and before I knew it, I’d gotten sucked into fandom. I’d always been a geeky girl, a Trekkie and sci-fi fan, so this new and improved world of fanfiction archives and story fests was right up my alley. Even better was the fact I could participate on my own time, on my own schedule, be it 5:30 am before a 2 hour commute to work or at 1 am when I’d just finished a new story and couldn’t wait to share. Everything I learned about computers I learned from fandom, by the way: how to code html, how to embed images, how to make graphics…

Fandom expanded my horizons in other ways too. I made international friends, had attitudes adjusted, learned a greater degree of tolerance than I had growing up in my small rural towns. I found the courage to travel to meet up with my fandom friends–people who knew more about what was going on in my life than the people I saw in person every day. I was surrounded by acquaintances and coworkers in real life. My friends were mostly online. I even met my husband online through a dating service–something that I’d never have done had it not been for my time on the Internet.

But these days, the Internet is a bigger source of anxiety than it is a place of fun. Social media has become a huge part of everyone’s lives, to the extent that when you walk into a restaurant, more often then not, you see people sitting at tables across from each other with their eyes glued to their phones. I used to read a book when waiting for the bus (or waiting for anything, for that matter). Now I scroll my social media feeds. Around and around I go, from Facebook to Twitter to Instagram to What’s App and so on.

And they aren’t making me happy. The news is horrific–and most of the time, there is nothing I can do about it. Pandemics. Wildfires. Global Fascism on the rise. Ice caps melting. Species going extinct. The end of Medicare and Social Security as we know it. The impending crash of the economy. People in cages. And if it isn’t some bit of terrifying news, it’s the unconscious competition to show that your life is more exciting and successful than those around you, or the drive, drive, drive to get your book (your art, your music) noticed.

Whenever I feel this way, I’m tempted into doing a social media blackout, but I never manage it very well. After a day or two of self-imposed going off the grid, I’m back because I couldn’t help but check out my Twitter feed, or I’d committed to doing something that required my online presence.

And then there’s the fact that my support group is still largely online. There’s the rub. Because I know I can share my fears and within seconds, someone will chime in with offers of support. It might only be a virtual hug or a funny gif, but those are the kinds of things that can get you through a bad day, especially if you work in a hostile environment and virtual support is the only kind you can get.

But I’m noticing a greater tendency on my part not to want to do anything but mess around online. Stay home in front of the laptop or with the phone in hand. If I could order my groceries and do all my banking online, I’d never leave the house on my days off. It’s an effort to put the dogs in the car and take them out for a run in the national forest or go horseback riding–things I used to love doing. I keep looking at my watch and thinking, “I have this block of time I need to use for writing!” only I pick up the phone, and four hours later, I haven’t typed a single word in the WIP.

And it’s not making me happy. So when I’m done with my current commitments for the month of February, I’m going dark for a while. Taking the apps off my phone. Unplugging from the internet and tuning back into the real world around me. I doubt seriously this will hurt my writing career in the slightest. We worry about losing followers or not keeping fans happy, but honestly, I don’t think most people will even notice. Like me, they’re busy doing the rat race of running in circles on the social media wheel. If anything, I strongly suspect the time off from social media will help my writing process immensely as I find the ability to daydream and brainstorm again. But the real value will be in becoming connected to the things that matter to me.

Just in time for this post, I came across this old Twitter thread from former CIA personnel, Cindy Otis. (I know, right? The irony…) In in the OP talks about toxic news cycles and how to cope. She doesn’t advocate ignoring the news–and she’s right, it won’t go away. But she outlines positive steps to take to make yourself feel better. You can check out the link or follow the tips here:

  1. Take Action: Volunteer. A hard one for me, I admit because I’m already on compassion burnout as it is. But that’s why I give money when I can’t give time, and why I focus on local rather than national or international efforts. You need to see the benefits of your kindness. Do it.
  2. Accept Your Limits: The flip side of the first, true. But critical. Remember, if the O2 mask drops down on the plane, you have to put YOUR mask on first before attempting to help others. You can’t do anything if you’ve passed out from lack of air.
  3. Research before Panicking: particularly important in this age of disinformation. Check your facts before sharing that post. For all you know, the crisis you’re sharing may have already been resolved by the time you hit ‘send’. Or it may not even be true.
  4. Get up and Move: that’s right. Unplug. Turn off the phone, go outside, play with the dog, call a friend. Your body and brain needs a break from stressful content but also you need to release that negative energy. Even if you don’t feel like taking a walk, do it. You’ll feel better afterward.
  5. Set Rules: I like this one. No Social Media after a certain time. Only fiction reading at home. Whatever works best for you. Shut out the negative so you can recharge.
  6. Avoid Dark Holes: Don’t go down the rabbit hole of one bad news story after another. Don’t succumb to clickbait. Deal with one thing at a time. Don’t get yourself wound up about the coronavirus and then leap to climate change and then hyperventilate about how unprepared we are for all of this and how the next thirty years is going to break us as a society and species… Ooops. That was kind of specific, I see. You see what I mean, though.
  7. Have Fun, Darn it: Another tough one. It’s hard not to feel guilty having dinner with friends or enjoying a movie when the world is on fire. But the thing is, enjoying those little things is what life is all about. And sharing our fandom squee, or a beautiful photograph, or the joy of bringing home a new puppy or kitten doesn’t mean we’re shallow, terrible people because the world is going to hell in a handbasket and we’re not screaming about it. It’s all part of recharging. It’s all part of making sure we’re rested for the next fight.
  8. I added this one myself: Celebrate Your Wins: No matter how big or small. Because that’s what life is about too. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad for sharing about your new book or your concert tickets or pictures from that awesome vacation. Because that’s what life’s about too. The things that make us happy.

Now excuse me while I go walk the dogs. 

Why I’m taking time from my WIP to write fanfic…

I cut my writing chops in fandom. Before I even knew what fanfic was, I wrote it. Back then, there were no online archives, no message boards. I wrote stories about the continuing adventures of my favorite characters because books were magic and there was nothing more I wanted to do than to spend time with the characters that brought joy to my life. I wrote for an audience of one because I had to. It didn’t matter to me if anyone ever read the stories or not. In fact, in some cases, I preferred they remain all mine.

Fast forward many years to my adulthood: I’d put aside writing stories as something children did and boxed up my creative self to move on with the business of life. Becoming a writer was an impractical fantasy and I needed to earn a living. I thought losing your passion, that creative spark, was simply part of growing up. It wasn’t until I went through a major transition in my life that I discovered online fanfiction archives. I’d been searching for something to be passionate about, having taken a new job in a new city where I knew no one. I had things I did for fun, but nothing that drove me with the kind of dedication I saw in others. Then I fell in love with a new television show and found out there were thousands of stories about the characters I loved! I completely immersed myself in fandom, and after months of reading everything I could get my hands on, tentatively, I began writing my own fic again.

Oh man, it was bad. I was so out of practice. And at first, I thought I had to write an entire story from start to finish in one setting. I know, weird, right? I mean, intellectually, I understood War and Peace wasn’t written in a single evening, but without understanding the basic mechanics of outlining, I’d sit down at the keyboard and start pounding out words until I had a finished story. I didn’t get much sleep those days, and I wrote nothing over 5-7 K words.

Then one day I realized not only did I not have to write the entire story in one sitting, I also didn’t have to write the story in a linear fashion, either! What a liberation that was! I could write the scene I pictured the most strongly at the time it was freshest in my mind and worry about how all the scenes tied together in the end. Out of sequence writing allowed me to write my first 50 K story, and after that, I was hard-pressed to write anything shorter. It also freed me from writing boring filler scenes that got the characters from one place to another–now I was a movie director shooting only the most relevant scenes. I was a pantser, only I didn’t know it. Writing in this fashion was natural for me,  and I wrote the equivalent of a novella a month for years.

A million words of fanfic later, I began writing original stories for publication. My writing style changed again, in part because I couldn’t take the writing shortcuts with world building and characterization that fanfic allows. I had to do more plotting, and my writing became more linear again. My productivity also slowed down tremendously. Comments are the currency of fanfic, but when you’re producing original works and asking people to pay for them, your standards are much higher. My output slowed dramatically as I pushed myself to write better stories, and it was harder for me to meet these new standards. My Inner Critic grew stronger and more discouraging as I put more and more pressure on myself to succeed.

One of the first decisions I made when I began publishing my own fiction was to stop writing fanfic. In part because the challenges of original fiction were more fascinating to me now, but it was also simply a matter of time. I only had so much time to devote to writing–I couldn’t afford to “waste” it.

So when I recently came across an unfinished fanfic sitting on my hard drive, it surprised me when I began tinkering with it again. I’m at the halfway point on my WIP. If I push through, I can finish it in a month or two, and polish it into a finalized form by late spring/early summer. The last thing I should do is leave it and go off to play in an old sandbox like a little kid, right?

Wrong.

I think that’s exactly what I need to do.

Lately, I’ve been struggling a bit to find the joy in life. To find purpose in a world increasingly depressing and terrifying to me. To feel that it matters if I tell my stories or not. And I think this is the right time to set aside my WIP, to let it simmer on a back burner for a bit, while I take my shovel and pail and go build sandcastles on the beach. Yes, a terrible mixing of metaphors, I know, but I don’t care.

The fun of fanfic is the lack of limitations. As long as you are true to the characters (and if you are writing an AU, you don’t even have to be that true), anything goes. I want to bang out my story without my Inner Critic hanging over my shoulder telling me I can’t do this or I shouldn’t do that. I want to post my sandcastle story as an offering to the fandom I love, knowing it will most likely be accepted with joy even if it is the most lopsided sandcastle you could ever see. And even if it is completely ignored, it will have still brought me great pleasure to have written it in the first place, just like it did for my fifteen-year-old self when I ran out of Star Trek stories to read.

I want to do it for the sheer fun of it, and Lord knows, there is a great lack of fun in the world right now.

And maybe, just maybe, I’ll learn something about having fun with my stories that I can bring back to the WIP again. It’s a win-win, either way.

So what are you doing that brings you joy today?

#MFRWHooks: Bishop Takes Knight is only 99 cents!

I’m participating in some great events coming up in February, and as such, I’ve lowered the price on Bishop Takes Knight! For the first time ever, this story is only 99 cents for a limited time. Bishop Takes Knight is the origin story for my Redclaw universe, and was named a Top Pick by The Romance Reviews, and given the Crowned Heart of Excellence by InD’Tale Magazine. Even Kirkus reviews liked it!

Now you can grab the first book in the Redclaw Origins series for only 99 cents! If you like light paranormal romance and lots of banter, this book is for you. Think Nick and Nora meets WH-13. 

Blurb: New York, 1955. Former socialite Henrietta (“Rhett”) Bishop, destitute after her father gambles away the family fortune, takes a job at Redclaw Security. But Redclaw is no ordinary operation. Part detective firm and part enforcement agency, Redclaw regulates matters involving the growing population of shifters who have emerged since the onset of the nuclear age.

Peter Knight is a nuclear scientist shattered by the death of his wife. Blacklisted by the government and scientific organizations, he drowns his sorrows while searching for the people behind his wife’s murder.

When Rhett is assigned to recruit Knight, their meeting is more than either bargained for—a rival organization will do anything to secure Knight for themselves. Following a lead to locate a missing cache of alien technology stolen from Redclaw, Rhett is thrown back into her previous glittering life with Knight as her pretend boyfriend. But when someone from the past turns up to start a bidding war on the artifacts, Bishop and Knight wind up in a fight for their very lives.

Pick up your copy at your favorite retailer for only 99 cents!

Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Kobo ~ Apple ~

For other blogs in the MFRWHooks hop, check out this list!

The 2019 Paranormal Romance Guild’s Reviewer’s Choice Awards is open for Voting!

I’m so excited! Bishop Takes Knight has been nominated for the Best Romance/Paranormal/Fantasy/Vampires & Shifters category in the PRG’s Reviewer’s Choice Awards! I’m my story is among such great books for consideration!

 

Voting opens today, Jan 10th, and runs through next Friday, Jan 24th. I hope you’ll consider voting for Bishop Takes Knight! It’s a long list of books to scroll through, with a large number of categories, but I appreciate your vote!

Here’s the link–which is a great shopping list for future buys, I might add! 

2019 Paranormal Romance Guild’s Reviewer’s Choice Awards Ballot

Eeeep! I had the wrong link, but it’s been corrected now, thanks to an eagle-eyed reader! 

My Mantra for 2020: Be Bold

It’s common for people to do a introspective analysis at this time of year. Given that we’re also starting a new decade, (depending on who you ask, that is), there has been a lot of discussion about the last ten years as well. Memes abound on social media: including the “what three things have you accomplished in 2019” as well as the 2009 vs 2019 photo meme, and people tallying their achievements for the decade.

I eluded to my frustration with this mindset in a previous post, and knew I’d come back to my thoughts about such analysis when I sat down to write this one. As I’ve said in other end-of-year posts, I dislike the year-end retrospectives. Guess what, you’re about to turn another year older. Here’s who died in the past year. Here’s what happened in the world. Here’s what I accomplished in 2019. Cheers to 2020. Rah, rah.

I guess I dislike these kinds of posts because they place such emphasis on the posts we’re already making: trips we’ve taken, achievements in our careers, heck, what we had for lunch today. The end-of-year period is usually disappointing to me because I didn’t lose 30 pounds, win the lottery, travel extensively, get nominated for a major award or hit the bestseller list. Somehow, sitting down to figure out what I did achieve stresses how little I got done besides get up, work ten hours, and come home. Day after day.

I wrote a pretty kick-ass New Year post last January, and I still enjoy it for the encouragement and hope it brought to the page. Granted, I was under the influence of large doses of Nyquil at the time, but that doesn’t negate the power of the words. Here we are nearly a year later, and the weight of “what did I achieve?” carries with it not only the chains and lockboxes of 2019, but the whole damn decade before it too. I’m Marley’s Ghost, but with mediocrity rather than money.

One of the things I usually do at the end of the year is decide what my word of phrase of power will be for the upcoming year. In the past, I’ve chosen words such as passion or joy, and I’ve held those words in my heart during the following year as reminders of how I want to live each day. The last time I chose a word, it was persistence, born out of a weary pattern of loss and a desire to attain certain goals. I had a bracelet made from My Intent.org to embody the spirit of the word and have a visible reminder in front of me.

This past year, I bought a metal stamping kit. I’ve made some ‘intention’ bracelets for friends, and want to make one for myself. Only I can’t decide on my word this year. I’m exhausted, not energized, and it’s hard to bring the right energy to the word selection as a result. “Hope” seems too passive, too fraught with the potential for disappointment. “Determined” too gritty. “Courage” and “Brave” don’t quite fit the bill either, as though I’m trying to prod myself in the right direction instead of imbuing myself with the power to get there. I’m not great with the metal stamping, but I like the idea of making my own talisman for 2020.

For the Me in 2009 vs 2019 meme, I posted pictures of Baby Yoda and Old Yoda. It seemed funny, timely, and appropriate.Then there was the thing going around Twitter where someone stated, “There is only one month left in the decade. What have YOU accomplished?” While I’m sure the OP meant for it to be an uplifting experience, I know many people found this tweet circulating on their timeline very stressful. There were calls for a different conversation, as well as people reminding others that if surviving the last decade is all you’ve managed by way of achievement, that’s accomplishment enough. 

I did look back over the last ten years, which have been a journey of heartbreak and sorrow for me, and realize there were a couple of major achievements I overlooked because the losses came more recently. I became a published author and have written and sold nearly one million words in this past decade. Not too shabby, eh?

But the best thing along these lines I’ve seen was from Andie J. Christopher (author of Not the Girl You Marry). She decided not to do the 2019  review thing as much as discuss what she was bringing to 2020 in this great Twitter thread. What I loved about it was the boldness with which she put her wildest dreams out there in the universe. I’ve done that myself in the past on super-rare occasions, and only the kind of thing I thought might be attainable, but it worked. Maybe the answer is to be bold. Tell the universe what you desire. Want more. Expect more.

I can only think of one thing to put out there for the universe to hear right now. I want to be able to make a living writing, so I can quit the day job that no longer brings me joy. In some ways, it’s not a big demand, but it would mean everything to me. It would change my life.

Christopher finishes her thread with this great statement:

Oh wait, wait. I have my word for 2020!!

 

AUDACIOUS.

I love it!

What energy are you bringing to 2020 and beyond?

The Bodies in the Backyard: Can RWA Be Saved?

Earlier this year, I attended the RWA National Conference for the first time. I’m a relatively new member to the Romance Writer’s Association, but I had a book that was a finalist in one of the awards being announced there, and made the decision to attend at the last minute. I learned a lot during the different panels, met some new and interesting people, and had so much fun that I made plans to attend the 2020 convention this coming summer in San Francisco. 

I tend not to go to the website very often, getting my information through digests instead. I avoid participating in the forums: the one time I initiated a question about how best to market something, I inadvertently ignited a controversy, with the discussion devolving into what constituted a romance–and try as I might, I was unable to get the conversation back on track. The moderator ended up shutting the discussion thread, which was mortifying for me. 

Not an experience I wanted to repeat. I tended to skim the discussions if I read them at all–when you have 800+ emails in your box every day, you have to prioritize.

But I still felt as though there was much to be learned about the business and craft of writing, so I renewed my membership when it came due. 

On Friday, I had a health emergency that screwed with my weekend. On Monday, December 23rd, I was happy just to have survived the weekend and looked forward to having a few days off from work. On Monday, December 23, however, Alyssa Day released on Twitter the bombshell news that Courtney Milan had been censured and banned from the RWA stemming from an ethics complaint against her because she, as a Chinese-American, described a book featuring a half-Chinese woman as a “fucking racist mess” on her own Twitter account, and essentially RWA decided to throw the book at her.

Romancelandia went up in arms at the news, and the backlash against RWA was so great, the organization reversed its position pending further proceedings.

And then things really got ugly.

I’m not going to list the particulars of the case: the charges made by Suzan Tisdale and Karen Lynn Davis (in roles as a publisher and an editor, which should not have been allowed as they were raised as one RWA member against another, or that the bylaws make non-RWA space such as Twitter exempt from such actions). I’m not going to go into detail about the private committee formed to come to this ruling that the general Ethics Committee knew nothing about, or that not all information was presented to the board for voting by the President-elect, Damon Suede. I’m not going to give you a timeline of events showing how, when discrepancies in procedure came to light, a large number of board members resigned in protest of the way in which things were handled, and the other egregious events now being reported: ethics complaints never making it to committee, a chapter refusing to pay AOC the going rate for speaking engagements, RWA members reporting gross failures of other members to abide by the stated rules and never getting called out or censured for it, or RWA’s lack of advocacy on behalf of the authors and contractors of Dreamspinner Press for not paying royalties and narration fees, among others.

I do need to point out, however, that in the wake of Carolyn Jewel’s resignation, Damon Suede is now acting RWA president–and supposedly (by his own admission on social media) is on very good terms with the executive officers of DSP, and is one of their bestselling authors. And that he has a book (at the time of the writing of this post) from Dreamspinner Press listed for sale on Amazon as coming out in January, 2020. If nothing else, this represents a conflict of interest. RWA has been very soft on the issues stemming from Dreamspinner’s actions, only going so far as to prohibit DSP from attending any RWA activities.

If you want all these details, including screenshots, statements from RWA and Damon Suede, and links to the rest, I’d advise you to read this excellent post: The Implosion of the RWA. Everything you need to know is there, and it appears it is being updated as events unfold. If you’re looking for the Cliff Notes version of the situation, this Twitter thread by Cate Eland is pretty spot on as well.

I’ve likened the stench coming off this collective mess to that of gases being released from the surface of a pond where bodies have been dumped for years. There’s no telling how much more will come out, or how many bodies are in there.

And the pond is in our own backyard.

I’ve been reading the posts in the RWA forums in response to this appalling situation. Predictably, the members are taking sides falling among two lines: those that support diversity and inclusion, and those who don’t.

Let me tell you, many of the people who have resigned no longer feel the need to keep silent about the workings of RWA, including the backdoor channels that have allowed certain women, women referred to as Nice White Ladies, to make their complaints, charges, and attacks without repercussion. Among the women who have taken a stand for diversity and inclusion, many have pointed out it is Courtney Milan, a woman on color, who took the blow for being a vocal proponent of change, even as white women making similar statements were not challenged.

There is a lot of anger in the forums. People are livid with the ruling, the machinations behind the scenes to bring it about, and have lost faith and trust in the RWA as a whole. The board members who resigned are all AOC, and suddenly Damon Suede is in a position to appoint a new board without having to go through the election process. People who have poured their heart and soul into making RWA a better organization for all its members are disgusted and discouraged and see no point in staying on for empty promises once again. Many people can point to Courtney Milan as the driving force behind those changes and this feels very much like a public smackdown for her doing so.

The remainder of the members speaking up on these forums have complained about the “drama” (my quotations, not theirs) and express a desire for things to go back to the way they used to be in the Good Ol’ Days when we talked about men’s chests and how to write stories with beautiful blonde-haired blue-eyed heroines. “Can’t we all be nice” is one refrain, along with tone-policing anyone who dares to call out racist, ableist, or anti-GLBT language or attitudes on these threads.

Many have indicated their intent to let their memberships lapse when time for renewal, either because they are tired of the drama or because of the lying, manipulation, and double standards being revealed in this case against Courtney Milan. Many have resigned from their role as judges in the upcoming RITA awards, while others have declared their intention to withdraw their entries from the awards themselves. Still others have made eloquent cases for staying in the organization and forcing it to make things right: petitioning for the resignation of Damon Suede and Executive Director Carol Ritter, and calling for an audit and complete transparency of the proceedings and everything leading up to this moment. Some AOC have advocated staying because leaving is exactly what the Nice White Ladies would like them to do.

I chose to stay for the moment, so I could sign the petition and also vote in any potential future elections to replace the Board. I am of mixed feelings about this. I’m not sure the RWA can be saved. I’m even less sure that it should be saved. What’s going on in RWA feels a lot like what’s been happening with Brexit and the MAGA populations among us: a division down the lines of those who want the Old Way (which always worked for them) to stay in place versus those who will no longer accept anything less than a full seat at the main table with access to the entire meal–as it should be.

I signed the petition because I want answers, and I don’t think we’re going to get them any other way.

It’s hard to justify “both sides” of an argument when one side wants to do active harm to the other. I don’t think immigrants belong in cages. I believe that POC are at higher risk of being incarcerated or killed, face steeper sentencing, and more. And like the Old Guard among the RWA, I think what we got with our current administration here in the US is (in part) a backlash against having an intelligent, articulate, and empathetic black man as President before him. I include this statement because I believe the polarization we are seeing in RWA is but a reflection of what we’re dealing with as a nation–or even the world.

See, the thing is, I fit the Nice White Lady demographic. I’m a white, middle-aged cishet woman who was raised as both a conservative and a Christian. I live in a small rural, conservative town. I live in a cultural and social cocoon that likely would have never been breached had I not discovered fanfic and broadened my narrow horizons. I’ve worked for people who don’t believe in evolution, and think the world is only six thousand years old. I have one black friend. And let me tell you, this doesn’t make me an expert on racism or prevent me from being racist. I’ll never forget the time we were planning to meet to see a movie on a snow day and she casually mentioned her street hadn’t been plowed yet because she lived in a black neighborhood.

I didn’t believe her. I thought she was being paranoid. I thought that battle had been fought and won a long time ago because she had the right to vote, sit anywhere she wanted on the bus, to attend public schools alongside me, and to marry any man she wished (I specifically didn’t say anyone here because at the time, same sex marriage wasn’t an option). I didn’t believe her because I’d never experienced the kind of racism she dealt with on a daily basis. And I never will.

So when a POC tells you, as someone outside their experience, that you’ve gotten something wrong about their experience, the last thing you should do is double down on your wrongness. You don’t point to your degree as a historian, or the amount of research you did on the story. You shouldn’t drum your heels and cry about being called out for using racist scenarios or racist language. You shouldn’t claim that because it was never your intent to be racist, it’s impossible for this to be the case.

Let me put it another way. It doesn’t matter if I intentionally bumped into someone with my car or misunderstood the rules of the road, wasn’t paying attention, or otherwise accidentally hit someone with my car. I still HIT SOMEONE WITH MY CAR. The very fact that some accident victims would still politely point out the injury I caused them is a testament to their character, but they would be completely justified in telling me off and reaming me out for my careless action, even going so far as to press charges and demand reparation for medical expenses, etc.

And if my intent wasn’t malicious, if the action was truly accidental, the victim would still not be obligated to accept my apology.

But I would be obligated to learn the effing rules of the road and abide by them.

So while I’m not yet ready to cancel my license by withdrawing membership from RWA, I’m determined to become a better driver. To educate myself on things that are so ingrained, so innate in my upbringing, that I don’t even realize they are there. Language that may be unintentionally hurtful because it excludes or maligns. Attitudes I never thought about before that impact others on a daily basis. To speak up when I see someone slighted. To welcome when my own instinct is to not make eye contact or speak to anyone I don’t know–that’s my insecurity that can’t be allowed to make someone else think it’s about them. To educate myself on my own shortcomings. To think before reacting.

I’m going to get it wrong at times. I know this because I am of the Nice White Lady demographic. I took a hard look at myself after reading this thread on Twitter by Foz Meadows explaining why NWL get so defensive when called out: it’s because their identity is tied up in being nice and to be told they aren’t nice is like waving a red flag in front of a bull. It challenges a NWL on a fundamental level. It’s most likely the basis behind the book White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo, PhD. I don’t know for sure because I haven’t read it yet.

But I will.

 

Snowfall is Featured on DirtyLittlePodcast

Love podcasts? You’ll want to check out dirtylittlepodcast.com: this week my Redclaw universe short story Snowfall is being featured. Narrator Joshua Macrae brings the characters to life with his sultry reading of this story. His dreamy voice is perfect for the main character, celebrity Nicholas Lang, who winds up stranded with workaholic Peyton Grant when his car goes into a ditch on a snowy night. Peyton’s looking for no-strings attached sex, and Nicholas is happy to comply. But when it turns out the two of them have more in common then they think, will it really end with just a one-night stand?

 

I confess, I had a specific actor in mind when I created Nicholas. I’d love it if you listen and take a guess as to who that might be!

Snowfall on dirtylittlepodcast.com