“The Poet Heroic” Sneak Peek

Hey, everybody!

I’m in the final stages of prepping The Poet Heroic, the next Kota Short – releases 12/25/2015! (available for pre-order HERE)

This book focuses on the origin story of Beathabane, the telepathic twin brother of Cruelthor, and shows how he becomes leader of the Hood rebel group in The Kota.

Here’s a first look at the opening pages!

Poet Heroic Cover FandB (2)

Dominion Newsfeed
07/08/69 22:00
Paris, Crow’s Region, Mainland-Euro
– ALERT:  Unauthorized Streaming Video Upload
…Tracking coordinates…

The room is dark. A wall of windows allows faint city light to stretch into the room, but the light only reaches far enough to reveal a skyscraper’s vacant office space.

A spotlight turns on to reveal a man in his late twenties sitting in a chair. His head is lowered so that his coat’s hood shields his face from the camera. He sits comfortably, his hands in his lap.

In a chair across from him sits a stylish woman with neon green hair. This is Kaytrine Elique, known rebel hacker-turned-reporter. A Euro woman who speaks only an illegal language, she wears a headset translating device. She also holds a paper notepad presumably filled with questions. With a smirk, she turns her head and looks into the camera.

Her headset translates in her own accented voice as she says, “We know we don’t have much time before this transmission is tracked by the monitors. And I have no doubt the Dominion is very interested to know the location of my guest tonight. His name is Vale Olander. Or as most of us know him, Beathabane. The Forgotten Son. The Tyrant Twin. So, without wasting any more time, let’s hear what my guest has to say.” She turns to the man in the chair. “Sir, thank you for agreeing to this interview.”

The man now lifts his hood from his head and pushes it back to reveal his face.

Kaytrine sucks in breath at the sight of him, but she regains her composure immediately. “I’m sorry, but you look exactly-”

“I know,” Beathabane tells her with a smile. “You’re not the first to have that reaction.” He glances at the camera nervously, then to the side, where he probably has a man positioned for security.

“I’ll get right to it,” Kaytrine tells him as she examines her notes. “Everyone knows the work you’ve been doing this past decade since…” She makes a face. “Since you came to the Mainland. You’ve helped scores of refugees. Saved hundreds of lives. But this is the first time you’ve agreed to publically speak out. Why is that?”

“I thought it was about time to show my pretty face,” Beathabane jokes. Then he takes a deep breath and sits up in his chair. “Like you say, people know the work I’ve done with my team. They’ve heard rumors about me, both from the Dominion and the rebels. I want my supporters to see my face and know for certain that I’m still alive. And I want those who distrust me to know that I’m not my twin. I want everyone to know that I’ll never stop working to make this world a better place for all of us. That’s all I want. People have no need to fear me. And I hope my example will prompt others to join us in this fight for what is right and just.”

Kaytrine taps her notepad. “As the first reporter you’ve been willing to speak to, I have to ask – what about your sister?”

Beathabane flinches in his seat, and his jaw tightens.

Kaytrine glances at the camera. “Everyone is wondering, you know. Your brother brought her into the Dominion not long after you came to the Mainland. Since then, she’s been learning to fight for the very things you’re fighting against. I have to wonder if that makes you view her as an enemy. And if not, how can you live with the fact that your sister is in the Dominion’s care? I would think, sir, that you’d do everything in your power to rescue her. Or am I wrong?”

Beathabane pauses in thought. Then he looks back at Kaytrine calmly to answer.

Yay!  I’m excited for you to read this one.  See more info on Amazon HERE

You and You and You Complete Me

They say your 20’s are meant for finding yourself and your 30’s are for sorting out and getting comfortable with what you want in life. Personally, sitting here in my 30s, I’m finding that what I want most is good relationships with people in my life.  If you knew me in my teens, this is probably kind of shocking – back then, I had a handful of people I could tolerate, let alone love.  But I’ve never been vocationally driven, creatively over-ambitious, or heard a biological clock ticking to the point of deafening every other thought.  As I’ve moved out of my teens, out of my 20’s, and now into my 30’s, PEOPLE matter most to me, and my relationships are what push and pull me in a hundred different directions so that I feel like I’m getting the most out of life.

I’ve always hated the line “You complete me.”  Part of this may be because I was on the Rolls-Eyes-At-Tom-Cruise bandwagon before there was a bandwagon.  Mostly, I just think it’s a horrible idea because no one person can ever completely fulfill you.  It’s a dangerous, romantic idea to invest all happiness and well-being on one person (think “Twilight” style).  That way disappointment lies.  And resentment.  Anger.  Often, divorce.  No one, no matter how wonderful and no matter how much better they make your life, is perfect all the time.  Putting that kind of pressure on a relationship of any kind – marriage, BFFs, doctor/patient – can be disastrous.

And that’s why I’ve learned that I have to let relationships be whatever they are, not what I might want them to be. You can’t  make some work, no matter how hard you try to invest and make someone an important part of your life.

  • That cool girl might not want to be your BFF, but she could be someone you enjoy immensely whenever your paths cross.
  • That person you worship as a mentor might not have time to take you under their wing, but you can still learn from what they can give.
  • That guy might not love you like you wish he would, but he could be a great friend who cares about you.

I’ve learned to let relationships be what works.  You don’t need to throw people away if they don’t completely fulfill you.  That one person might be great in one specific area that everyone else misses, so let other people be the rest of what you’d want from that person.

The reverse is true too. I’ve found I often fall into the trap of trying to be everything for someone.  I want to give someone whatever they need from me, whenever they need it.  But that can be exhausting and relationship-ending too. I grow resentful, even if I am kind of encouraging them to be emotional vampires.  Some of these relationships I’ve learned I have to back off from.  I can’t complete people all on my own any more than anyone else can complete me all on their own.  But I can be something for them – just not everything.  I can still give advice or support when an emotional vampire really, really needs it.  I can still send a joke message to that awkward friend when I find something I know he’ll enjoy.  I can exchange low-maintenance emails with that girl who’s life has moved in a different direction from mine. I can’t force these relationship be what they once might have been, but they can still mean something to me, each in their own way.

Of course there are different levels of connection, and some people complete us more than others.  I have an amazing family, and I have a close circle of friends I love dearly who feed me and love me and get me – we all have these people, I hope.  But even in this group of people who fulfill me, it’s a group effort. I get different things from different people – the strain of fulfilling a person’s needs is best passed around, I think.  I don’t go to my girl friends for advice I know I’d respect more from my parents, for example (that might seem abnormal, but there it is – my parents are awesome).  I likewise don’t expect my parents to understand memes about “New Girl.”

  • I have a friend I talk to about hairstyles.
  • I have a friend with whom I discuss religion.
  • I have a brother with whom I share more personal life angst than I dare expose anyone else to.
  • I have a friend who shares my hermit/introvert problems.
  • I have a childhood friend who gets my past and how it still affects me today.
  • I have someone I met at a party who is more supportive of my books than anyone in my day-to-day life.
  • I have an author friend who knows the writing headspace and also knows that sometimes I just need a break where we have stupid conversation for an hour.

It’s good to have people to count on.  Everyone in your “inner circle” shares something unique with you, probably. It’s good to have go-to people.  It’s good to know who can handle what level of your crazy.

For me, I also know that, no matter how much I love the people who fall into the categories above, I’m always going to need new people too.  It’s not that I get bored with people in my life too often… but it’s nice to bring in new blood and see more of humanity.

One of my favorite quotes:

“Sometimes you run into someone, regardless of age or sex, whom you know absolutely to be an independently operating part of the Whole that goes on all the time inside yourself, and the eye-motes go click and you hear the tribal tones of voice resonate, and there it is – you recognize them.” – Anne Lamott

Also, this:


And it’s these “ah-ha” kindreds, as well as these people who have something that makes them completely stand out, that maintain my faith in humanity.  I think you also have to let these people just be what they are without forcing these “single serving friends” to mean more than they can.  If you meet someone on Twitter who shares your love of Supernatural and you go on to become BFFs, great.  If someone shares a great moment with you and you never hear from them again after that day, that can be great too, if you look at it right.  Let it be what it is.

I guess all this boils down to letting go of control.  Control of other people.  Control of relationship definitions.  Control of what you think you need and what you think you need to be.  Let everyone in your life have their own space that is just theirs and don’t demand they fit the mold of some idea in your head.  With less pressure, less expectations, who knows?  You might find fulfillment from a thousand different sources.

Flight from Reality

I swear I will soon post something more serious, probably something where I gush about the people who’ve managed to put up with me this winter.  This is not that time.  We are not out of the woods yet.

When I was 6, my mom thought I needed therapy because I constantly pretended I was She-Ra.  I look at it as indicating that my need for escapism started early.  I have always loved Story – this interest being the one thing that gave my any practical direction in college. My imagination is always on.  I frequently get bored with reality to the point that I make up more interesting stories in my head. Or, I relate whatever’s going on to something from a story.  There’s always some part of my brain that is running on another creative level.  This is just how my mind has come to work – part observation of the world around me, part shuffling and creating as I go.

I probably should see the above as an indication that I’m a bit screwed up, but I’m kinda okay with it.  I just need to remember that the reason my life is not as interesting as many of the stories I ingest (or create) is because stories are NOT reality.  They’re shaped, crafted, edited, and the best parts and moments of something based on reality.  Most books/shows/movies don’t show anyone sitting around paying pills, brushing their teeth, or doing anything necessary but mundane.  And I shouldn’t blame my friends for not being more interesting; no one really gets into scrapes like the characters in Friends.  Although I should point out that I have several carefully crafted plans for a zombie apocalypse, I should not expect things to miraculously happen to me that are amazing, entertaining, and fulfilling.  Real life is the base for stories, not the other way around.  

But I DO bring books/shows/movies into reality all the time.  We all do.  Sharing much-loved, widely accessible interests is the very easiest way to connect with someone.  “You like Firefly?  Me too! We should be friends.”  Or, sometimes there is a perfect moment to quote a line from your favorite character on Arrested Development, and suddenly you realize you have something to talk about with that weird guy to your left after all.  And, quite frankly, I am immediately won over by your wittiness if you tie a Star Wars reference into whatever I’m taking about. (Hoth, of course, has come up multiple times this winter.)

Sidenote:  While books are great (excuse me, “literature”), there is something about TV/movies that is just easier to share with people.  Books demand a lot more personal interpretation. TV/movies give us all the exact same pictures and voices.  Plus, I’ve always been a visual person, and having a bit of a photographic memory probably doesn’t hurt.  THAT means I have all this stuff floating around in my head all the time – of course I relate it to reality…right?

While real life people have (hopefully) influenced my personal development more than She-Ra, there are many fictional characters over the years who, for better or worse, have shaped me.  I learn vicariously, and this includes learning from people who don’t even exist.  I’m sure every single person reading this can come up with a list (and I’d love to see ’em!) of characters who have meant a great deal to you.  Here’s a random list of fictional characters who, for reasons great and small and important and stupid, have meant something to me:

  • She-Ra.   Probably responsible for my first subconscious idea of feminine defiance.
  • DJ Tanner (Full House).  She was an oldest child like me.  I made my first bedroom a complete replica of hers because I liked the color.
  • Claudia (The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler).  She and her brother were a lot like me and my brother.  They argued over grammar.  She needed to be different, and this was the first female book character I really remember connecting with.
  • Xena.  Possible She-Ra Part 2, definite influence on Bullseye for the Kota.
  • Rogue (X-Men, the animated series).  Probably She-Ra part 3.  And I liked that a tough tomboy could also cry.
  • Mad Martigen (Willow).  My earliest version of the perfect man.
  • Errol Flynn as Robin Hood.  Close second.
  • Jane Eyre.  Being smart and a wallflower, having nothing go right, etc. countered with patience and faith was inspiring as a teen.
  • Ms. Parker (The Pretender).  I definitely like dark female characters, which by this time I realized.  But Ms. Parker had a broken, soft side that lashed out when vulnerable, and I saw myself in that.  Plus, being mean is kinda fun.
  • Clementine (Eternal Sunshine):  It was refreshing to see a goofball who was carefree and original.  And she gave a speech about men’s expectations that completely resonated with me.
  • Lily (How I Met Your Mother). It’s okay to be cute and nice.  You can still have a dark side.  And wear fun clothes.
  • Addison (Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice).  It’s okay to have dark humor about not knowing what the hell you’re doing with your life/love life.
  • Penny (Big Bang Theory).  My friend Cat told me that her family thinks of me as Smart Penny.  (Her mother apparently went so far as to one day – out of nowhere – say, “Sunny needs a Leonard.”)  I get the character similarities, certainly the constant use of sarcasm and eye rolls.  I also like that she shows it’s perfectly okay to wear sweatpants and tank tops constantly – a wardrobe I have adopted since working from home.  

Also, while I’m making lists, here are some of my ridiculous triggers. (This usually annoys most of my friends who don’t know what I’m talking about, but at least my brother gets it):

  • Anything about an island will make me think of Lost.
  • Whenever anyone says “odd” I will retort with, “Odd.  That is to say, Strange.” This from the TV-movie version of Alice in Wonderland.
  • If one object is moving towards another object, I will quote Galaxy Quest’s “There’s a red thingy moving toward the green thingy.  I think we’re the green thingy.” 
  • Also frequently, for no good reason, I quote Galaxy Quest’s “Is there air?! You don’t know!”
  • Anything about a system controlling anything will result in 12 Monkeys “It’s the system!”
  • Eating chicken… Fifth Element “Chicken good.”
  • Llamas… Emperor’s New Groove “Yay, I’m a llama again! Wait…”
  • (I hate that I’m admitting this)  If someone is talking about the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, I sing in my head The Hangover’s “…The three best friends that a guy could ever have…”
  • If someone doesn’t have a tattoo, I mimic Idiocracy’s “Why come you don’t gots a tattoo?”
  • Berries… Intolerable Cruelty “Everybody likes berries.”
  • Jewelry… Secret of NIMH “Ooh, a sparkly.”
  • High school… She’s the Man “Screw you guys, I hate high school.”

So, yeah. At any given moment, some part of some story is swirling around in my head.  Sometimes other people get it; sometimes I sound like a crazy person giggling to myself. But I think it’s interesting how stories can carry over into real life, sometimes shaping us more than maybe we realize. And it’s fun to see where we have overlaps.

The Perils of Writing Advice

[Taken from my Koobug blog]

My Favorite thing on Twitter might be #HorribleWriteTip, mostly because it balances out all the “real” advice authors throw around.  Some of the best: “It’s important that you mention in your query that you think you’re the next Stephen King” and “If a scene is difficult to describe, it’s ok to include a stick figure drawing.”

Now, I’m not a perfect writer.  I don’t think anyone is. Some advice is good, sound, noteworthy, and needed.  However, I think we too often spout off advice without taking into account that the same things don’t work for everybody.  And some of us are bad writers – if you aren’t good, please don’t tell me how to follow your method.  I try not to be an educated, elitist snob, but some advice runs counter to what I’ve been taught and just flat out seems like a bad idea.  Or, some advice channeled from reputable authors is only half-understood and pumped out as a quick one-liner while missing the depth of the point (see “Great Advice from Great Writers” by a fellow Koobug blogger).  Some new writers who’ve just picked up the pen within the past few years only seem to understand the eBook revolution and the ways THAT has changed readers, and they brush aside a glorious tradition and variety of writing styles that is lost on them (more on that in a future blog post).

I’ve befriended some authors who do this to me (well, not me directly, but it pains me to read blurbs of advice on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, etc.).  I know most everyone is well-meaning when they give advice.  But I really think we need to take a minute and be less sure of ourselves.  Mostly, I think we need to stop insisting that we’re right about things like:

  • “Write two pages every day” (that’s not how I or many others work creatively)
  • “Make sure your characters are interesting” (no kidding)
  • “Don’t use a prologue, fit it into your story” (maybe YOU just aren’t using prologues correctly?)

So what do I think is good advice? I really do love Stephen King’s “On Writing” and Anne Lamott’s “Bird by Bird.” I think those are good templates for how to style any advice you give. The first gives good technical ideas for writing while also staying grounded in his own experience, giving examples of how things work for him rather than insisting it’s the only way, for the most part.  The second gives excellent advice for how to stay sane as a writer, again pointing out what works for her as she uses her experiences to find her voice.

There ARE writers out there who I think have attained the right to give out useful advice – I don’t only mean bestselling authors – but I think it’s key to recognize that there is no absolute authority on how to do this.  I’m certainly not one, and you’re probably not either.  So, if you give advice, please offer it up in the context of how something works FOR YOU.  The more we try to fit everyone into the same writing molds, the less flavorful reading is going to be.

And for the love of all that’s holy, please remember, “Italics are too subtle for most readers, instead CAPSLOCK EVERYTHING IMPORTANT”  😉

This is what happens when I don’t filter my brain for interviews


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