Calico in Conversation: Getting My Name Out There with J.L. Gribble

Morgantown Poets SocietyWelcome to third and final installment of Calico In Conversation with J.L. Gribble. If you missed Parts One and Two, click below to catch up:

Part One: Boosting Confidence
Part Two: Monsters Are People

Editor’s Note: this interview was originally conducted in March through June of 2016.

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One thing I’ve admired about your writing career, to date, is how well you seem to manage all the things required of you in addition to writing. You go to lots of conventions (well, more than one to me is a LOT, since I’m lucky to manage one convention per year). Can you talk about your experiences as a small press author at conventions?

Going to multiple conventions and events per year depends on a few different variables for me, such as the reasonable traveling distance (where reasonable can refer to time driving and/or cost of plane ticket) and the price I’m willing to pay for lodging and other necessities. Money is a huge factor in both of these, because I always know going in that there’s no way I will sell enough books to cover the entire cost of the trip. Most authors I know, whether small or large press, are in a similar situation, since we are long past the days of book tours paid for by large publishing houses. In my case, I’m fortunate enough to have a day job that covers these types of expenses (again, reasonably), along with a husband who shrugs it off as the cost of what could be any other expensive hobby.

So because I know I’m going to lose money at every convention I attend, I have a pretty specific criterion about whether I will go. I just have to have the chance to get my name out there. That’s it! I’d like to be on a panel, have a reading slot, have a chance to sign books at a scheduled time, and/or participate in a workshop. Pretty simple, especially since I’m not even asking for free registration, much less lodging, meals, or travel assistance. The drawbacks to this are, of course, that I don’t go to all the conventions I could. Ironically, this means I don’t even go to the two of the conventions closest to where I live, because despite my repeated attempts to volunteer, neither have expressed an interest in including me on their schedule. However, I’ve now been a multi-year guest at a few conventions, and I’m excited to add a few more to the list this year!

My schedule for 2016:

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Introducing Calico in Conversation

I’ve been working on some SEKRIT PROJECTS the past few months, and of the two, one is finally coming to fruition!

Back in February, I put up a side bar: Authors I Know. The purpose of this was to bring some recognition to the writers who labored in the trenches with me and have managed to get out there and get their wonderful words in the hands of the public. This post gave me an idea: why stop there? Why not highlight them individually? And how would I do that?

The result: Calico in Conversation: an organic interview where I would start off each interviewee with the same question, and then see where the conversation takes us.

So it’s with great excitement, and some trepidation, that Calico in Conversation kicks off next Tuesday, June 7th, with part one of my interview with Maria V. Snyder, author of the recently published Night Study, and one of the most prolific authors I know personally.

Yes, you read that right: PART ONE. Maria and I got into chatting so much that the interview has to be broken into THREE parts, so expect additional installments on Tuesday June 14th and Tuesday June 21st! Then in July, I’ll move onto another author. In August, yet another author. And so on and so forth until 1) I get bored and/or 2) I run out of authors to torment.

I won’t claim to be a professional journalist or interviewer, and I suspect my skills will sharpen as time goes on. But it’s great to get back in touch with these friends and colleagues of mine to talk shop, motivations, inspirations, and what life looks like outside of writing! I hope you’ll have as much fun with these interviews as I have, and if you’re wondering who to expect in the future, just take a gander below: if you have any questions for these fine folks, you can either comment here for me to slip them into the interview, or comment when the interviews go live for the authors to answer themselves!

Stay tuned!!!!

A Few of My Favorite Things: Books 2015

I think there’s always a part of me that will miss having a book blog. After putting together December’s Culture Consumption, I started wondering… what WERE my favorite books of 2015? To figure that out, I pulled up my Library Thing account and started sorting by date finished, and then I started looking at the ratings. Anything four stars or higher got written down on the appropriate list: a full five stars are listed as favorites, and four and four-and-a-half stars were honorable mentions.

Why Library Thing instead of Goodreads? Because LT allows for half stars, which means when I’m rating on Goodreads, I might round up or down depending on how I want the rating to look on that site. LT is a more accurate reflection of my thoughts.

I also did not include a few of the fun, children’s type books on the list. I’m a sucker for Jeffrey Brown’s Darth Vader series, and Simon Tofield’s Simon’s Cat books are adorable. So they didn’t get counted.

Before I review my favorites and honorable mentions, I did want to make a few points:

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Rhonda Mason: Happy Release Day!

Cover Art by Dave Palumbo
Cover Art by Dave Palumbo

This year has been chock full of friends publishing books, and I am absolutely THRILLED for them. So far, Jen Brooks released her YA Debut, In a Word Just Right, and then J.L. Gribble released her debut Urban Fantasy/Alternate History novel, Steel Victory. Today brings the Science Fiction Romance debut from Rhonda Mason: The Empress Game.

Unlike Brooks and Gribble, I didn’t beta-read Mason’s novel, so when I read my Kindle copy, it’ll be for the first time. But I’m confident it’s going to rock my world, because like Brooks, Rhonda Mason is a writer from Seton Hill’s Writing Popular Fiction Program who graduated my first term there. She was one of the very first thesis readings I attended, and to this day I still remember the AWESOME first line of that novel. No, I won’t quote it here, and no, The Empress Game is not that novel. However, it bears many similarities: a kick-ass heroine, lots of fighting, and edge-of-your-seat writing, if the small sample I gobbled up is any indication.

Believe me,  I’m looking forward to reading this book.

Happy Release Day, Rhonda!

One seat on the intergalactic Sakien Empire’s supreme ruling body, the Council of Seven, remains unfilled, that of the Empress Apparent. The seat isn’t won by votes or marriage, it’s won in a tournament of ritualized combat in the ancient tradition. Now that tournament–the Empress Game–has been called, and the females of the empire will stop at nothing to secure political domination for their homeworlds. Kayla Reinumon, a supreme fighter, is called by a mysterious stranger to battle it out in the arena.

The battle for political power isn’t contained by the tournament’s ring, however. The empire’s elite gather to forge, strengthen or betray alliances in a political dance that will shape the fate of the empire for a generation. With the empire wracked by a rising nanovirus plague and stretched thin by an ill-advised planet-wide occupation in enemy territory, everything rests on the woman who rises to the top.

Rhonda-Mason-Crop-188x300Rhonda Mason divides her time between writing, editing, bulldogs and beaching. Her writing spans the gamut of speculative fiction, from space opera to epic fantasy to urban paranormal and back again. The only thing limiting her energy for fantastical worlds is the space-time continuum.

When not creating worlds she edits for a living, and follows her marine biologist husband to the nearest beach. In between preserving sea grass and deterring invasive species, she snorkels every chance she gets. Her rescue bulldog, Grace, is her baby and faithful companion. Grace follow her everywhere, as long as she’s within distance of a couch Grace can sleep on. Rhonda is a graduate of the Writing Popular Fiction masters program at Seton Hill University, and recommends it to all genre writers interested in furthering their craft at the graduate level.

You can find Rhonda at www.RhondaMason.com.

 

Getting Into the Write Frame of Mind

Because last week wasn’t a set of four 10-hour days capped with a Writing Workday, it didn’t really occur to me until now that a progress report is due. I will say that anyone who’s wanting to follow 2015 progress can simply use the Progress Report tag to get the most recent report, or if you just want to hear whatever my rambling thoughts are on writing, especially if I change THE OFFICIAL PLAN, you can use the Writing tag to get the most up-to-date posts on that subject too.

So, for those of you keep track of my progress based on the Official Plan page, I completed items #1 and #2 on time. I’m now in #3:

Use notes and questions to determine what changes need to be made to the current draft of Codename: Telepathic Soulmates. Ultimate goal: reduce word count from 132,000 to around 115,000 words, if possible. Consider:

  • Does it need a total rewrite?
  • Does it need a partial rewrite?
  • A very surgical rewrite?
  • Or just a super-hard final polish?

Deadline: tentatively, Sunday, April 5th. Deadline dependent on what kind of rewrite/polish the draft really needs.

In looking at my goals from this point on, it’s occurred to me that I’ve gotten a little vague. How long am I taking to decide what this book needs? How long am I allowing for writing/rewrite? I can’t determine the latter until I determine the former, and the latter will then determine when I can start item #4.

So the question is this: how am I going to accomplish item #3?

If you’re reading this via email digest or on the main page, I’m putting a cut here, because I have a lot to talk about. If you’re interested, onward! Continue reading