Guest Post–Brenda Corey Dunne

Yesterday, Brenda Corey Dunne stopped by the blog to talk about her new book, Dependence.  Today, she’s here to talk about military moves.

Finding the Adventure in a Military Move

 As I write this I’m sitting on a covered porch in British Columbia, listening to the wuff of horses and enjoying a hot cup of coffee. I’m three time zones away from my house and have been staying in hotels or bed and breakfasts for eleven days. It will be seven more days before I sleep in my own bed.  Our truck is broken, delaying our departure by at least eight hours.

And wow, life is good.

Military moves are not easy. There are certainly some disadvantages to spending day after day on the road crammed in a pick up truck with three teens and sporadic air-conditioning.  The cab of our truck is getting a bit rank after eight days of summer heat. And we are a little tired of restaurant food. Our horse (yes, we’re towing a horse) is not happy with his can on wheels (A.K.A. horse trailer).

The upheaval of relocating every few years is not for the faint of heart. Leaving friends and a house you crafted into a home is hard. We move every two to three years and I don’t know how many times I’ve heard the phrase “I don’t think I could do that!” Yeah, there are times when even I wonder how we do it.  There are a lot of lemons in a move year.

But I’m generally a lemonade kind of gal. And wow, when you drive across a continent, you have a whole lot of opportunities to fill your glasses.

We have played frisbee on the Canadian prairie beside never-ending canola fields. We’ve hiked a mile and a half up into a canyon to see a huge waterfall. We’ve taken a gondola to the top of a mountain. We’ve seen a real live moose in a swamp. We’ve stayed in interesting places and met many, many wonderful people (and I’m an introvert).

Would we have done any of that this summer without military posting orders? Maybe…but unlikely.  We certainly wouldn’t have crossed the prairies. Nor would we have hiked in the Rockies. And a 3000 mile road trip would not have been on the agenda.

So right now, as my hubby sits in a service station waiting for our broken pick-up to get fixed, I’m sitting on a porch with a view that goes for miles, with a gentle breeze and my daughter beside me.  Yes, engine troubles are an inconvenience. But I think the view from here is close to the top of my list of ‘best places to write’.  And without that posting message I would never have known it existed.

When life hands you lemons?  You can make lemonade…Or even better, make lemon meringue pie.

 

 

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Author Corner–Brenda Corey Dunne

E: Hi, Brenda.  Welcome to the blog.  Care for some candies?

B: Yum! I’ll take a chocolate mint please…Delicious!

E: You have a new book coming out from Jolly Fish Press, Dependent.  What can you tell us about it?

B: Dependent is the story of a military spouse, Ellen, who has lost her sense of self—something easy to do in the military lifestyle. Through a series of events—early pregnancy, marriage at a young age, frequent moves, abuse of power by her husband’s superior officer…she becomes a dependent in the true sense of the word. The story follows Ellen as she rebuilds herself and finds her inner strength. It’s a story of love and loss and regrowth.

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E: You also have a book that you self-published, Treasure in the Flame.  What can you tell us about that one?

B: One of my favorite places is the world is a living museum on the East Coast of Canada called Kings Landing. It’s like walking into history when you walk through the gates. My kids were there for a week of summer camp—wearing traditional costume, milking cows, making butter and working in the carpentry shop. I was walking around visiting them and thinking that it would be a great place to set a story…and the story just sort of grew in my head. It became my NaNoWriMo project for the year, and I wrote the first draft in just under a month.

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E: What factors went into your decision to self-publish over traditional publishing with your first book?

B: I did start with an eye toward traditional publishing, but only sent out about five queries. Of the five, I had a full request and a partial…so I knew that the story had some merit. I also had a small market (the museum gift shop) and the desire to learn more about the publishing business. After a year of waiting for responses I decided it was time to move on, and started searching for editors, graphic designers and formatters. Treasure in the Flame was published about 8 months later.

E: What has your experience with traditional publishing been like so far?

B: I’m publishing with a small press, so there are many similarities.  There are no huge advance checks and no big-business powerhouses behind you with a small, independent press. It’s a trade off—I lost some control of things like cover design (although I had input) and publishing dates, but I gained the expertise of other like-minded book professionals.  With my publisher behind me I also gain exposure to foreign rights and things like movie rights that wouldn’t have been available to me before.

E: Have you learned anything through this process that you wish you had known with your first book?

B: I had a great experience with my first book, so I learned a lot. I know how difficult it is to get in with big box book stores, I know the work behind book publicity, and I know how a book gets put together. What I didn’t expect was the support of other publisher and agent mates, and the sense of community we have, through Facebook groups and email. I’ve met many authors (virtually) and have a wonderful source of information that I didn’t have before.

E: You have plans for a sequel to Treasure in the Flame.  Will you self-publish that one as well, or will you go for the traditional publishing route?

B: Good question. I’m in discussions with my amazing agents at Literary Counsel about the Treasure sequel and where to take it. I’m certainly not against the idea of traditionally publishing it, but the Treasure series is my little project. The feedback has been so positive for my first little story. I think with the right publisher and at the right time I’d happily sign a contract. More publishing support equals more time to write!

E: Do you have any upcoming events, book signings, etc?

B: Dependent will launch from Victoria, BC, Canada (at the Chapters on Douglas) on August 2nd. It’s going to be an amazing day! After that I’ll be doing signings and events throughout Vancouver Island, Mainland BC and the Seattle area over the summer. I’ll update my blog (brendacoreydunne.blogspot.ca) as things are finalized.

Thank you so much for allowing me to hang out on your blog, Erin! Really appreciate it. And good luck in all of your writing endeavors!

You can find Brenda on her blog, Twitter, and Facebook.

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Guest Post–Angela Hartley

Breaking Through Brick Walls

by Angela Hartley

A few years ago when I decided to become a writer, I came across the biggest obstacle I had ever seen.  I was moving right along, feeling pretty good about my progress and BAM!  A brick wall called the publishing industry popped up out of nowhere. A little gate with a Do Not Enter sign sat in front of me with guards turning away anyone without an invitation.  Facing the mighty gatekeepers was a daunting task involving a lot of growth.  It’s been a long road, and at its end, I wanted to share something profound—a single thought that would change the very fabric of our existence, but I decided our world isn’t ready for that kind knowledge yet.  So, I came up with this stuff instead.

  1. A writer needs to be committed (the definition can be taken either way).

I can’t tell you how many times I considered quitting, but then I would ask some tough questions like how important was it to share my work?  Was the payoff sufficient to scale an insurmountable mountain of “I can’t’s” and “I’m not good enough’s”? I guess it was, because walking away felt like the death of my happiness.  Giving up was far more painful than a million rejection letters.   So, I was committed… to my craft, of course. Not a mental health facility, but there are days when I wonder if it should’ve been the other way around.

  1. There are no shortcuts.

This is probably the hardest lesson for any new writer and the most embarrassing.  I spent two years developing my style and another year on the first draft.  Of course it was time to share with the world, land on the best seller list, gain a movie deal and have everybody love me, right?  WRONG!  Writing the novel is only 25%.  Two more years were wasted submitting to companies before I realized my book wasn’t publishable.  Rejections came in fast and I didn’t understand, but then I read through the chapters again and I wanted to write my own rebuttal.  How could this happen?  Someone must have snuck in overnight and replaced my best seller with a crappy novel nobody in their right mind would read on purpose. I’m not the only writer who’s experienced this phenomenon.  The first draft is like a chunk of clay needing to be molded into shape.  An artist can see the figure perfectly in their mind, but the rest of the world just sees a lump.  Step back for a while and you’ll understand.  This is where I say the dreaded word “revision.”  Revise, revise again and when it’s finally reading right, revise once more—not just the book, but the query letter too.  My novel was finally ready for submission when the last revision took only five days.  Don’t try to cut corners.  A fast and easy path can cost years in this business and taint a writer’s image for even longer.

  1. Self-publish vs. traditional.

This is a choice every writer must make for whatever reasons they decide.  I thought about self-publishing.  I thought about it a lot.  It seemed like everybody was doing it.  They were jumping the wall to greener pastures, but I have this saying that fits this scenario perfectly: “If the grass is greener on the other side, it’s usually because the people over there are full of… manure.”  I didn’t want to jump the fence.  I wanted an invitation, anything less felt like cheating.  If the gatekeepers weren’t opening the door for me, then I wasn’t ready. It felt rude to push past anyways, and if I was serious about a career in the industry, I needed to show proper manners.

  1. “Poor me” parties are pointless.

A dramatic person like myself reaches a moment, where they stand in the middle of a rain storm, drop to their knees and cries to the heavens, “Why?!”  I was in the midst of one of these torrid moments of wallowing when I realized I was being counter-productive.  Whining didn’t change anything, neither did feeling picked on.  Our challenges do not define us, but how we face those challenges do. Each time I feel like falling into the “poor me” frame of mind, I try to remember these words:

 “The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.”

–Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture

This is one of my favorite quotes.  If you haven’t read The Last Lecture, I highly recommend it.  Handed a death sentence when doctors diagnosed him with stage 4 pancreatic cancer, Randy Pausch delivered one of the most profound and moving speeches I’ve ever had the privilege of listening to when   Carnegie Mellon University asked him to deliver the last lecture, not knowing the circumstances.  Instead of wallowing over his rotten luck, Randy decided to write a tribute to his children, so they could carry a piece of his wisdom after he was gone.  Because of his selflessness, these words have reached millions of people and touched countless lives.  “Brick walls are not there to keep us out…”

  1. Gaining admittance.

Thanks to Randy, I discovered I wanted to be writer bad enough to face the challenges of the gatekeepers.  It took time and many years of hard work, but I am happy to say the invitation has finally arrived. My debut novel, Copper Descent was released on May 25th.   I’ve been on the other side for over a month and I can honestly say the grass is greener here, but I can also see the effort so many of my predecessors have put behind these manicured lawns.  With the help of my publisher, I’ve started to cultivate my own garden and no one has tried to escort me out—at least not yet.

 

536188_2465020840214_854053515_nAngela Hartley, Author of The Sentient Chronicles

Angela Hartley spent much of her childhood being shuffled from house to house with only a book for companionship. The magic she found in the written word saved her in many ways, transporting her into worlds far more enjoyable than the one she resided in. Literature became a passion and the idea of writing carried her through years of uncertainty.

After high school, she met and married her own Prince Charming. They rode off into the sunset in his blue Toyota and a whole new world full of hope and happiness opened up. He claimed they could move mountains together, and they did.

While facing the painful realization that sometimes there are no tomorrows following her father’s tragic death in 2005, she decided it was time to follow her dreams. With the love and support of her family, she dove into another world, full of procreating angels and demon rock stars.

Her debut new adult horror novel, Copper Descent will be released on Amazon May 2014. Angela currently resides in Midway, Utah with her three children and husband. You can find her on her blog, Facebook, Goodreads, and Twitter.

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The Aftermath

The other night we got hit with some nasty storms.  I heard hail at one point and we got a text alert telling us to seek shelter immediately because of a tornado sighting.  Thankfully, the most injured things were the tree in the back yard and my veggie garden.  There was no damage to the house, garages, or shed, but the wind put a tree branch through our privacy fence.  Farther down my street, there were entire trees uprooted.  We were lucky.

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This was the scene outside of my back door.

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Log pieces just chillin’ in front of my gate.

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My side garden.

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The other side of my fence.

Up to this point, I was saying the bad words and thinking about all the cleanup to do.  I hadn’t looked closer yet.

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My poor smooshed garden.

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Those used to be my onions on the end.

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There’s the branch that steamrolled my veggies.

My garden damage was tragic but I think some of the plants are bouncing back.  But wait, where’s my grill?

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Oh, there it is, underneath half a tree.

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What’s left of my tree that isn’t laying in my yard.

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The most expensive damage came from the weather playing darts with my fence.

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Is that a tree branch sitting through my fence? Why yes, yes it is.

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So, how would you score this anyway?

 

All things being said, this could have been so much worse than minor damage and 15 hours without power.

Author Corner–Mary Borsellino

E: Hi, Mary!  Welcome to Erindipity.  I trust you found the place ok?

M: Thank you so much for having me, it’s a pleasure.

E: Your book, The Devil’s Mixtape, is being released as a second edition.  Can you tell us what’s new with this edition?

M: The new edition has fanart from readers, which is always an exciting treat for me and which I’m really glad to be able to share with everyone. There’s also a very grim little short story by me, ‘Shots and Cuts’ that felt like it fit thematically with the novel.

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E: Looking through your catalogue, the title that jumped out at me as very different from the rest is Sharpest—a tour diary.  Can you tell us a bit about it?

M: It’s funny that you say it jumps out as very different, because in many ways I feel like it’s the direct ancestor of The Devil’s Mixtape – both are about live music, physical travel, and using those things to cope with loss and darkness. Sharpest came first, and dealt with my own experiences, and then Mixtape was the translation of those themes into a fictional narrative.

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E: You have a series, The Wolf House, which deals with vampires and werewolves.  How is your series different from all the other vampire and werewolf stories?

M: It doesn’t actually have werewolves! I love werewolves, but the use of wolf in the title refers more to how the vampires are pack animals. I also wanted to invoke that little red riding hood vibe, of stepping into a place that seems welcoming but is very dangerous.

If anything, the other horror creature which appears – though only through reference, not as a character – is Victor Frankenstein’s creation.

I guess the thing which makes my series different is that I wanted to tease out the things usually only addressed in metaphor by vampire stories, and make them manifest as their actual selves rather than just as oblique references. The first book opens with a discussion about how vampires are still scary because of AIDS, but later on there’s an actual character with HIV. Queerness is present in the text, not just the subtext. One character had an eating disorder when she was alive, and that plays into how she feeds as a vampire. Things like that.

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E: You also write a lot of steamy books and stories.  What do you like best and least when working with erotica?

M: I like how easy it is to write short stories in erotica – apart from occasional anthologies, other genres of writing aren’t as big on short stories, but they’ve made up the bulk of my erotica work.

What I like least is probably the way everyone immediately asks ‘are you going to sell 70 million, like fifty shades?’ as soon as they find out I write in the genre!

E: You write for both YA and adults.  Subject matter aside, what adjustments do you make when writing for these different audiences?

M: None, really. YA appeals to me because it tends to play with broader strokes than adult fiction; all the emotions and stakes and events are bigger and louder. I don’t really have much of an interest in writing anything mundane or cynical, and I think those are what makes a book ‘grown up’. Adults can read my books, teens can read my books.

I’ve never been sure what differentiates the two audiences from one another, I think the books in the two categories tend to be more different from one another than the two groups of readers are.


E: Do you have any upcoming events, book signings, etc.?

M: I do! On 30th July at Warragul Library in Melbourne I’m giving an author talk with my friend Narrelle Harris, who also writes vampire novels. And at some point in the next few months I’ll have a launch for a novel I’ve got coming out, but I don’t know the details of that one yet – I’ll post ‘em on maryborsellino.com as soon as they’re worked out.

E: What are you currently working on?

M: I’m writing three video games right now. I’m enjoying the challenge of writing a more open-ended narrative form; the rules are different to straight up fiction, but I’m loving it so far.