We’ve reached the end of the power word series and I saved the best for last. Today’s word is FEARLESS.
While many choose to define fearless as ‘being without fear,’ I define it differently. Being fearless means to acknowledge your fears and then go out and do the thing that’s perhaps a little scary. For me, it’s anything that might result in confrontation. Public speaking is one of those things. It’s scary and this year I’ve done it far more than I’ve ever done it before.
I’m an introvert by nature. Most assume the outgoing, somewhat loud side of me they see in public means that I’m super extroverted – it’s not true. The extroverted persona I wear at conferences is me grabbing the idea of being fearless and doing what needs to be done to best represent myself as an author. At conferences that means being brave and talking to strangers and presenting ideas in classes and panels.
If you’d asked me about this years ago, the idea of attending conferences with the intent to meet as many amazing people as possible and making myself seen, would have reduced me to a pile of anxiety ridden mush. It’s taken time, experience, and lots of watching my wonderful fellow author friends show how they handle being at a conference table, or behave on a panel, or teach a class.
The key to being fearless is developing confidence. Confidence comes from deep within and must be grown over time. It’s a personal understanding that you are a person of worth and have lots to share with the world. It’s also understanding that everyone around you deserves to be treated like they are also an interesting person and letting them shine.
Check it out! I’m doing something super brave and attending FanX officially as an author for the very first time this September. If you’re headed to FanX, I’d love to see you! Search the FanX site for my profile (or just click here) to see the most up-to-date listing of the panels I will be sitting on. You can also find me hanging around the Printed Garden vendor table.
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As we plunge into the full throes of Summer, this power word holds much more significance than during other parts of the year. Serenity doesn’t mean to be surrounded by peace and a zen-like atmosphere, although I would really like that right now. Serenity means to find that peace within regardless of what’s going on around you.
Which is why I’ve chosen it as the power word for July, when school is out.
Like many people, I find great comfort in predictability. So much in life is unpredictable – the weather, the news, the rampant mouse issue in my backyard – that finding parts of my day that can stay the same, brings with it small amounts of peace. Having a schedule and routines take the guess work and stress out of the mundane things needing to be done.
Don’t get me wrong. I seek out joy in the unpredictable. I smile in the rain. I laugh at butterflies and bumblebees. These things are pleasantly unpredictable.
It’s the things I can’t predict, but must manage regardless, that cause amazing amounts of stress. While I hate to say it, that’s the definition of having multiple kids at home and trying to get work done. At any moment, a fight will break out, something will break, someone will need help, something will be lost, and I’m the one who has to fix it.
There’s a word for it – hypervigilance. It means even when you are relaxing or doing something you enjoy, you’ve got a huge part of your brain constantly monitoring for any unrest among the natives. And it’s exhausting.
Back to serenity. Deep breaths. I totally didn’t just have to leave in the middle of writing this post to deal with an argument about computer turns.
Having serenity as a power word means every time I see the word stuck to the bottom of my monitor, I take a few seconds to breathe and remind myself to find peace in the now. Every moment there isn’t a crises to be dealt with, is a mini zen moment. The more this practice is performed, the more the mind will auto regulate to seek out and acknowledge these moments of calm.
What helps you find your serenity?
Do you like routine or do you prefer to let your heart guide you?
Don’t forget! Stonebearer’s Betrayal is eligible to win a Dragon Award. The deadline for nominations is July 19th. If you’d like to help me reach my goal, head over to the nomination page, and vote for Stonebearer’s Betrayal in the Young Adult/Middle Grade Category. Anyone can do it!
There are authors, there are editors, there are mentors, and then there’s Kenny – a snarktastic bundle of the three, plus a good friend of mine. It’s a pleasure to bring her to the blog today and share more about her journey and what makes her tick.
Kenny and I have bounced around various writing events ranging from signings at the Printed Garden, to fan conventions such as Wizarding Dayz, and to writing conferences such as Fyrecon. We share a lot of the same darkly cynical humor and sarcasm so it was only a matter of time before we became fast friends.
On to the interview!
First of all, I’d love to get to know you better. What makes you laugh the most, and why?
Puns. The more horrible, the better. And B SciFi movies. The terrible ones with descriptions that don’t match and awful plot ideas. Airplane vs Volcano and Sharknado – like that. I think I just like bad acting and both of those fall under that category. They usually have one really good A-lister (at least 70% of the time). Those are the funniest because they know how to act well. The people acting in the show around them make them look overly dramatic or just bad themselves. It’s hilarious.
If you could choose any fictional character (including ones you have created) to have dinner with, who would you choose and why?
Carmen Sandiego – I was always a fan as a kid and she seemed like such a bad guy. The kind who knows things you can’t possibly know and will never learn. But then, Netflix flipped the script on it. So, I have to wonder, which one is the real Carmen. Besides, the adventure stories would be so much fun to write up. Ca you imagine retelling the story of stealing the Great Wall of China? Masterful.
Tell us a little about the Evolution series and your journey in writing it.
The Evolution series came about when I was writing some history curriculum. I am obsessed with World War II. While not a conspiracy theorist, I do believe it was a body double that was burned in the ditch at the end of World War II and the high ranking Nazis, some of them, escaped to South America, which is why the CIA was so involved in controlling the government in those countries in the 50’s and 60’s. The documentary series Hunting Hitler is very telling. Had Germany managed to take Britain by any amount of special circumstances, then they would have crossed to friendly countries and started over here. I am currently knee-deep in the third and what should be the final book but I feel like it doesn’t close everything up. So, I am debating changing the ending or writing a book four, for gratuitous reasons. The story develops well on its own and I don’t want to force it. This is not the first series I have written but some are published as a ghost writer. So, I can’t share those.
For as long as I’ve known you, you’ve been deeply involved in all sorts of events. What’s the most bizarre or weirdly wonderful thing you’ve encountered at a writing conference or fan oriented convention?
1 – The first KidCon I was ever involved in, we built a castle out of donated foam. My husband was the architecgt and project manager and it was some long hours. During the event, someone stole the PVC pipe holding things together on the back wall of the castle itself. It was strange and caused quite a scare as we thought the wall was completely broken and falling..
2 – Deflowering the Castle!!!! Okay, you have to understand the delirium that comes with FanX Comic Convention. It was Saturday night around 10pm and we were still breaking down KidCon. Mind you, I had spent ten hours a day at the Salt Palace since Monday helping to set up. By this time, we had seen at least 3000 kids and were just tired. Brain fried, I removed all the plastic plants from the castle walls and declared it had been deflowered! And someone else wanted to know if my husband knew I wanted something so big. Yep, I need to start a blog on stories behind the scenes working with kids. So – the second one is less family friendly than the first. Use whichever you like, or both.
I ask this question to everyone – What is the most interesting thing you keep on your desk, or bring to your writing space, and what is the story behind it.
My dolphin pen. When it falls on the floor, it will cut you with a fin. It no longer has a cap or ink but I wrote my first query letters 20 years ago with it and now, I can’t seem to let it go. It’s more of a weapon now than it was then because it literally could stab someone in so many ways. On the bad days, I contemplate trying to break it open to see if I can add ink. It sits next to my army issue typewriter which still functions by the way.
What’s next? Tell me about the next project (or projects) you are working on.
Finishing book three in the Evolution series. Then we have the Blue Quill Anthology that we are publishing through Teapots Away Media. We have an awesome idea for a podcast that will be taking things back to the 1950’s (think War of the Worlds) if the media arm can pull it off. We are compiling a set of memoir stories relating to the original versions of fairy tales that take on current issues. I am working on another dystopian scifi and a new Adult Fantasy myself and we have two authors who have submitted works to be released next year. I have short stories coming out in a charity Halloween anthology for Fyrecon and possibly with the Salt City Genre Writers.
About Kenny B Smith
Kenny likes to read, of course, and when she’s not writing, she is researching history, one of her favorite subjects. Researching allows her to rewrite history in her speculative fiction novels. Accuracy is something she values in her work.
In her spare time, she enjoys quilting and sewing, hanging out with her kids and teaching. As someone who has volunteered her time with children often, she values their creative space and loves to help them express it. She also teaches classes to adults. Her latest class is how to write an effective query letter.
Not always a teacher, she loves to learn and learn she does. She has certificates in Radio & TV Broadcasting, Private Investigation & Security and is working on one in Antiques. As history was her major, she knows how to learn about anything although research is not her favorite task.
When she’s not dreaming up new book ideas in the fantasy and speculative fiction genres, she is writing non-fiction (ghost writing), unschooling her kids, watching crime procedurals or playing Hunt A Killer with her husband. He says she has an unhealthy fascination with serial killers and their psychology, war artillery and military strategy.
Her current venture to help others – she’s started a publishing house. Not traditional, not boutique, not vanity, not just services. They are a mentor publishing house. Do we know what that means exactly? No. But if you ask her, she is always willing to explain.
D is back and now finds herself inside city walls, which is proving to be no safer for her than the comfort of her former home in Bunker Six. While Doc is determined to find more people with potential like D, others are looking to rid themselves of anyone with potential. Can D save herself and others like her?
Xayres has known for his political successes but inside the city, he is fumbling. With little knowledge of the world outside and even less practice with the skills necessary for successful missions, Xayres finds himself being saved by everyone around him. Can he learn the skills he needs to survive before it’s too late?
Erack loves his solitude but is forced into the limelight to lead the charge to find the defunct Bunker One. Can he hide enough to focus on the task at hand and get his colleagues to safety before the resistance erupts into its own civil war?
It’s not every day I get to interview a ninja who just happens to also be a warrior for teen issues and a horse enthusiast to boot. Oh, and did I mention she’s an amazing author? Ann Hunter and I go back years as authors and fellow writing convention snarky commentators (seriously, we can’t sit next to each other!).
When I asked her to come play on the blog last minute, despite being super medicated for a recent ninja related injury, she was more than eager to say yes!
Onto the interview with ANN HUNTER: Mom, writer, ninja (no, really!)
Let’s get to know you better! If you could visit any part of your past for a half an hour, what would you do?
I don’t like the idea of living with regrets or trying to go back to fix something (unless it’s a first draft!). Mistakes make us who we are. I like to say “I never lose. I win or I learn.” But I guess I would ask for a do-over at the 2018 World Taekwondo Federation National Championships. My score was pretty dang low, but I got a gold medal anyway (because I was the only one in my division). Luckily, I’m competing at State Championships in a few weeks with the hopes of qualifying and going back to Nationals and fixing that score!
Tell us about your newest release and the story behind it.
Dark Horse is the 6th book in my contemporary YA series, North Oak. It deals with the aftermath of rape, the ongoing effects of depression, and PTSD. All while being a teen. It has gotten great reviews, several angry emails (cliffhangers, gotta love them) and lots of ugly crying. I’m looking forward to getting book 7 out quickly (again, cliffhangers) Also there’s pretty ponies that go really fast! #horseracing Check out Dark Horse on Amazon
What is the randomest thing you’ve done to research something for a writing project?
With North Oak, I’m constantly researching interesting stuff. When you write what you love, researching turns into a geek fest. I have books on the aerodynamics of race riding, how it’s changed over history, and so on. I recently had to research how a jockey actually becomes a jockey (all the laws and fitness testing, etc). You’d be amazed at what they go through.
And although I love my contemporary teen series, I enjoy my fantasy writing as well– because you make your own rules.
Many of your books include horses. What is your craziest real-life horse story?
Perhaps my author bio for North Oak. I used to run around barefoot and half-naked with a herd of Arabian horses my parents bred when I was little. #truestory Those really early years was when I learned all my fundamental horsemanship– by being kicked, bitten, chased and trampled like any other naughty foal.
Second craziest horse story? That one was how I became a published author at age 12. For English we had to write a short story. Naturally, being the horse crazy girl I was, I chose to write about a horse. My teacher ended up flunking me because the story wasn’t written and formatted the way she wanted. My reading teacher noticed how down I was and asked what was wrong. So I told him. He asked to see the story. I gave it to him… and didn’t see it for a few weeks after.
The next thing I know I’m being called to the principal’s office. Why? Because that story had gone from the reading teacher, to the librarian, to the 8th grade English teacher (who was a published romance author) and brought to the head honcho’s attention. It got published in the paper, in full, and went on to win local awards.
I was transferred out of that flunky teacher’s class, and she later apologized to me the following year.
REGARDING NORTH OAK: I do want to say it’s not just a horse series. I set out with a mission to tackle the really hard, scary issues teens are facing today. The last few books have dealt with bullying, sexuality, depression, and suicide. The horses play more of a backdrop to the drama. Sometimes they even help teach important lessons about miracles and finding yourself.
Tell us about how you prefer to work and a little about your writing space
I don’t have a desk, per say. I typically write on a laptop in bed, or wherever I might be at the moment. Some of my favorite sessions are over lunch with other authors (I love mentoring them or even just being in their company), at Taekwondo while my kids have class– I also do martial arts and I’m just over a year away from my black belt! Or wherever I can catch a break.
I do have kind of a pimped out laptop though. I’ve stickered it to death. You can see one of my favorite stickers here:
What’s next? Tell us about what you’re working on.
Book 7 in the North Oak series, obviously. It’s going to be a bit lighter toned than the last two that dealt with some really solid issues teens are up against in this day and age. I’ve also got my first middle grade horror planned (“Zoo”, it’s going to be a cross between Jurassic Park and Jumanji), a YA standalone inspired by the song “Summer of 69”, some fairytales, and my first couple of romances for a project I’m doing with a few other authors. I’m also contemplating a book about nutrition for diabetics by a diabetic (me– macros and food are another thing I love to nerd over), and a book about getting more writing done without burnout.
About Ann Hunter
Multi-award winning author Ann Hunter is awesome. And hilarious. She is often told it must be a blast living in her brain. She argues that the voices in her head never shut up. The only way to get relief is to let them out on to the page.
She credits the voices for:
Crowns of the Twelve – A fractured fairy tale series: Moonlight, Blade of Woe, The Subtle Beauty, Fallen, A Piece of Sky
She likes cherry soda with chocolate ice cream, is a mom first and a writer second, has a secret identity, and thinks the Twilight movies are cheesier than cheez whiz (which is why they are her guilty pleasure! And Oh my goodness, have you seen Vampires Suck? Bwahaha!)
She lives in a cozy Utah home with her two awesome kids and epic husband.
Having a creative outlet in today’s busy modern life is a wonderful way to relieve stress, find greater fulfillment, and meet new people. Today we are talking to author Rachel Huffmire about how writing has influenced her life for the better.
Rachel and I met because of our mutually shared passion for the written word. We both are Immortal Works authors and we both have books coming out soon. In addition, we both are moms who work hard to find an ideal balance between filling our creative wells and spending time with our families.
Photo by Koushik Chowdavarapu on Unsplash
My big question for Rachel is:
How has writing influenced you to be a better person?
Learning to write is a great form of self-discovery! One of the first books I read about the craft was called “If you want to write” by Brenda Ueland. Ueland taught me I didn’t need to go to extraordinary lengths to be a good writer—I don’t have to spend a summer abroad, I don’t have to try Thai food (though that was a happy discovery)… I merely had to be honest about the way I saw my immediate world. So, I started to look deeper into the things I found commonplace. I realized how cool my life actually was! I grew up as a homeschooler in Utah, surrounded by wheat fields, raising a pet duck named Penelope… To me that was normal. To others, apparently, it was super interesting!
Writing also taught me to appreciate living in a whole new way. When you decide to become a creator of any kind, you absolutely must be deliberate about the way you observe, interact, and sense the world around you. In “The Artists Way” by Julia Cameron, she talks about filling up a creative well to draw from by engaging your senses while seeking out a spectrum of emotions and details around you – not just the pleasant or comfortable ones. I learned to write three daily pages of subconscious jabber to get all the inhibitions, fears, and tasks out of my way so I can produce stories without being blocked by inner negativity. In an online interview, Liz Lemon Swindle recounted how her mentor told her she could become a professional artist in ten years. Liz said she would push herself and get there in a year, but her mentor replied with “It’s not a matter of time, it’s a matter of life.” I’ve been writing consistently for seven years now, and am so grateful for the struggles, joys, and experiences that have stretched me over that time. All of it. The good, the bad, and the new.
Writing also teaches me to live life deliberately. I’m a homeschool mom to two little boys and I make sure that writing always comes second to them. If I want to be as prolific as I hope I can be, I have to be very careful not to spend too much time engaged in things that don’t matter. And finally, writing has led me to some wonderful friendships that have shaped and changed my life for the better. Writers are some of the most friendly and encouraging bunch of people you’ll ever meet. Basically, writing taught me to embrace the life around me and savor every little piece of it, then figure out how to write it down in a way that others can enjoy it too.
Rachel Huffmire works as a novelist and acquisitions editor for Immortal Works Press. You can find her in Southern California where she enjoys sand at its finest: the beach and the desert. She homeschools her two little boys, writes science fiction and fantasy novels, and reads bedtime stories to her husband every night. Her first novel, Shattered Snow, will be released on January 8, 2019.
More about Rachel’s upcoming debut novel, Shattered Snow
In 2069, time-travel is restricted to observation and research. But Keltson Grammar doesn’t mind breaking a few laws. Known only as “The Mirror”, Keltson runs an underground empire that rescues unfortunate souls throughout history. However, a single misstep could send an entire agency to reinstate his clients to their original dismal fates.
Lilia Vaschenko is a Russian mechanic surrounded by cinderblock towers, ladders she cannot climb, and a glass ceiling that holds her down like a casket. She’ll do anything to escape— even work for the world’s most wanted renegade.
Margaretha is a young countess, destined to be poisoned at twenty-one. But when she discovers a mysterious mirror in the woods that transforms the world into shadows and ice, her future shatters. Chased from her familiar home, will she ever find where she truly belongs?
Shattered Snow is a YA science-fiction retelling of Snow White. It is based on the real-life history of Margaretha von Waldeck, a sixteenth-century countess that may have inspired the Grimm brothers’ fairy tale.
Release Day for Stonebearer’s Betrayal is coming up next week! I can’t tell you how exciting it is for this day to finally come. For those of you (wonderful people!) who preordered, your copies will be shipped to you or delivered to your e-readers on Nov 13th.
Want your own copy? Head on over to Amazon or your favorite online book retailer today!
Want a signed copy? Head over to my online store!
Utah locals! Come celebrate with me at the Stonebearer’s Betrayal Launch Party next Friday, November 16th, from 7-9pm at The Printed Garden in Sandy (9445 S Union Sq, Ste A, Sandy, Utah 84070). There will be fun, food, and prizes!
Happy Labor Day everyone! I hope your day is filled with family and fun. To celebrate the holiday, here is the last of the 2011 Writer Mom series. This one looks different because while I was making it I lost the paper I was working on and ended up creating a photoshop mashup instead, which admittedly turned out pretty cool.
About two years ago, when my children did not outnumber my hands, I made an attempt at creating a series of comics. The situation hasn’t changed much, now there is a different child on my lap trying to push buttons and the other two somewhere else in the house causing untold havoc. On a unrelated note, school starts this week! Happy Dance!
I might finish this manuscript yet!
After precisely three minutes of working on the manuscript, writer mom is discovered.