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LTUE 2014

“Use Grammarly’s plagiarism checker because a copy cat always will be declawed!”

I have been attending the LTUE fantasy and science fiction symposium for well over a decade. I attended my very first LTUE with James Dashner. We were both so new as authors, so intimidated and awed by everyone else.  A lot has happened since then, what with James becoming JAMES and me having just published my ninth novel, but I confess . . . there still is a good amount of awe to be had.

Some fun bits of advice I gleaned from my peers while speaking with them on panels and while hovering in the background of their classes as well as from my own personal experience:

  1. Never trust people you only met yesterday with embarrassing information when they will be speaking on a panel with you and will have access to the microphone *cough cough Peter Orullian!* (that might literally be the first time I’ve ever blushed)
  2. Just because you are up to date with the TV series Once Upon a Time, doesn’t mean everyone else is. Refrain from revealing spoilers, such as certain characters getting killed off, just because you have a point about how well written that particular scene was. The collective gasp of several hundred people nearly knocked me off the dais. I am sure I will receive hate mail. I am *so* sorry!
  3. A real hero makes sacrifices–Peter Orullian (who I’m quoting even though he isn’t to be trusted)
  4. Heroism has a sliding scale from little sacrifices to life altering sacrifices–Robison Wells
  5. Make sure your characters are individuals. Your twenty year old hooker will have  different speech patterns, diction, tones from your forty year old housewife.
  6. The difference between a hero and a protagonist is that the protagonist is the point of view, but the hero is the guy who gets the job done. They can be the same person, but they don’t have to be.
  7. Every novel is an act of faith–Larry Correia
  8. The most interesting character is usually the guy who has the most to lose.
  9. Making new friends is the point of conferences for writers. Hi Chad Morris! Oh, I guess hello to you too, Peter . . . 😉
  10. And connecting with old friends is like the sigh of relief that comes at the end of a very busy and stressful week. It was so good to see my dear friend Lee Modesitt. I’ve really missed that guy. I didn’t get to say hi to everyone or really talk to everyone the way I would like, but I so loved seeing you all.
  11. Sleep well before conference and plan on good sleep after conference. Do not plan on sleeping during the conference. Because if you’re sharing a hotel room with Amber Argyle and Krista Jensen, you will giggle until 4 am and end up dragging your barely warmed over corpse to the panels where you’re speaking the next morning (which might account for the lack of judgment on confessions to new friends)
  12. Jeff Savage is my hero because he uplifts everyone he comes in contact with. I wish I had that kind of personality.

The highlight of my symposium was going to lunch with Larry Correia and hearing him order a “sensuous sandwich” and then hearing him giggle like a ten year old girl. If you know Larry, you know why that’s adorable.

Scary Stories

Why is it that whenever I read a book written by one of my friends that is classified as frightening (the book, not the friend), does my power always go off, leaving me in total blackness and terror? Seriously, I am determined to hate both Jeffrey Savage with his Dark Memories, and now Dan Wells with his I am Not a Serial Killer, for providing me with moments of total and complete, mind numbing, scream-your-throat-to-raw-hamburger terror.

I hate being afraid. Seriously. Hate. It.  I don’t watch scary movies. I don’t read scary books. And I determined a long time ago that I would never WRITE anything scary.

Which is why yesterday is so baffling to me.

My brother called me with an idea for a book, one that I’d already considered and cast away because it wandered into the realm of scary, and I don’t write scary. I told him I don’t write scary and confirmed it with him several times throughout our conversation because I wanted to make sure he understood I meant it. Then we hung up.

And the idea banged around in my grey matter while I did dishes, while I vacuumed, while I got dressed, and while I sorted laundry. You see I told him that IF I were to write the story, it would have to be different from all the things that have been done before. It would have to be a YA book because I just don’t understand adults, and it would have to start out well enough to snatch the reader immediately. I gave him a long list of rules for such a book and all the things that would have to go into it.

And my mind couldn’t let go of how I could write the story and make it fit into all those rules. I called my brother back an hour later and gave him a brief synopsis of a storyline that would work.

He laughed that it only took me an hour to hammer out the storyline.

I hung up.

And wrote the first chapter.

It’s a great first chapter. It’s a great story.

Curses. I guess I do write scary stories after all.

The bad thing? The REALLY bad thing? Mr. Wright was out of town last night. I put the Wright brothers to bed and reached my hand out to turn out my bedroom light. My hand froze over the switch, hovering and shaking as though I were battling some unseen force (this force I like to call my personal irrational fear).

The personal irrational fear won over common sense. I slept with my stupid light on. I guess I write scary stories pretty well, because my first chapter scared the snot out of me.

Halloween and the Savages


I survived Halloween and ALL the children who were at my house for the occasion. My boys decided to do a major sleepover so I had six male ten-year olds and four female in-and-out teenagers (who showed up and disappeared throughout the night better than any ghost and finally determined the boys were too annoying and went to sleep at another person’s house).

My house is trashed. Seriously. Trashed. But we had loads of fun. Scott dressed up as a nerd trying to be a tough guy with one of those tattoo shirts. Hilarious. Every time I looked at him, I cracked up. I wore my witchy woman shirt, which–in spite of being true all year long–is really only appropriate to wear on Halloween. Rae was a corpse bride and she looked wicked awesome! The boys were an executioner and a dead druid. They just wanted to look creepy. So I woke up early on my ONLY day of the week to sleep in and painted faces, adjusted costumes, and giggled. It was odd to say morning family prayer with my kids dressed up like casket remnants, but we’re a little odd as a family anyway. Scott and I hung out at the store together doing candy duty while our kids roamed the town and tormented our neighbors. I really love hanging out at the store with my husband. It’s just cool to have been together 21 years and to still feel a flutter in my stomach when I look at him. 

My daughter’s candy bag weighed in at just over ten pounds. And they have dental check ups next week . . . talk about bad timing–or is it good? I did make them pay the annual Troll-toll (I’m the troll . . . no big surprise to anyone 🙂 )

The above picture of my dad is after an eye surgery he had a month ago. He looked scary enough that when he came to visit and took off his sunglasses, I stepped back in literal fear. He looked Halloweenish.

Saturday night, Scott and I drove up to the northern world and went on a double date with Jeff and Jen Savage. Jeff is the author of Farworld (and no I didn’t forget my contest winners! I will be mailing those books out this week!). Jen is a kindred spirit and bosom friend. I just love these guys. I can’t say it enough. Jen is just hilarious and so much fun to be with.  It’s good to have great friends.

I don’t know that I’ll get a chance to post again this week, so remember to vote everyone!!!!

PS. My work in progress is turning out awesome! I broke 100 pages today at over 28,000 words. I love my characters and am in love with my manuscript. Thanks Again, Jeff . . .

Far World

I am reviewing Farworld by J. Scott Savage, known affectionately to me  (since I am his BFF) as Mr. Savage. This review is also a contest. I know that Mr. Savage has indicated he would be providing Advanced reader copies to the winner of my contest, however the best way to support an author  (and I like supporting authors) is to actually buy their books. So I am providing the contest winner an actual signed, hardback copy of Farworld-Waterkeep. The contest rules are: leave a comment and my ten year old (who has a farworld poster hanging over his bed) will pick your name from a boot. I chose boot because hats are so cliché.

Because J Scott Savage is currently on tour promoting his new book, Farworld, he is unavailable to interview on my blog. But I was fortunate enough to contact one of the main characters in the book and spend some time with him for the interview. His name is Bonesplinter . He had no problems in taking J Scott’s place . . . in fact, he insisted on it. The review will follow the interview.

We decided to meet in New York because Bonesplinter had never been to a Broadway play and really wanted to see Wicked while he was visiting our dimension. He showed up late to the theater, leaving us little time to talk before we hurried in to find our seats before they lowered the house lights. I admit I felt a bit of gratitude once the houselights were lowered due to the hideous twisted scar running down Bonesplinter’s face and the way his silver eyes seemed to roam as if looking for prey.

Me (whispering to Bonesplinter ): With the lights down we’ll have to wait for intermission to do the interview.

Bonesplinter: What? Wait? Nonsense! We can do it right now!

Me: Um, look the orchestra’s already started. We should really wait for intermission.

Bonesplinter: I wait for no one! Do you not know who I am?

Since he’s now yelling, someone kicks the back of my chair and hisses SSSSSHHHHHHHHH at us.

Bonesplinter: Did you hear how snakelike that man sounds? He must be a Thrathkin S’Bai. (Bonesplinter lowers his voice) Though he’s not nearly as dedicated as I am or I would have met him before now. I’ll bet he’s one of those Slacker S’bai.

Me: Yeah right. Let’s just watch the show okay? Intermission will be the best time for me to write down your answers since the lights will be up.

I assume this appeases Bonesplinter since he turns his attention to the stage. I breathe a sigh of relief since I paid hard earned money on this show and would like to actually see it. Bonesplinter might be able to make his business cards look like money, but I have to pay the old fashioned way—with real cash.


Bonesplinter wipes his eyes  and motions towards the stage: ~sniff~ that was just beautiful. That green skin of hers is so beautiful. It’s so hard being the bad guy you know? I really connect with her.

Me: Yeah, about that . . . What first interested you in becoming the nemesis for Marcus?

Bonesplinter: Have you not seen my master? Hello? He’s got not just one Summoner, but two! TWO! You don’t cross a guy with that kind of power. He asks you to off some kid and you do it just because he asked.

Me:  Not that I’m taking sides or anything, but did it not occur to you that the kid has already had a pretty tough life and totally deserves a break?

Bonesplinter: I offered to give him a break. I wanted to start with his arms and move on from there, but that slippery kid just disappeared on me!

Me: This might be some kind psychological need to live up to your name, don’t you think?

Bonesplinter doesn’t respond, but growls at the lady seated next to him. I look around for medical help when she passes out, but her husband drags her off. She’ll probably be fine.

Me: So . . . Broken arms. I getcha on that. Do you ever want to do anything else with your life? I mean, once all the bones are broken?

Bonesplinter: Oh sure, sure. I’m planning on being a great painter. There’s a huge untapped market who would be interested in oil on canvas done with a snake tail brush.

Me: You don’t say? That’s impressive. So you really think there’s a market for that sort of thing?

Bonesplinter: They sell elephant paintings at the zoo. A snake is vastly more interesting than an elephant.

Me: Of course. So, back to the book, do you think you and your boss have a chance to defeat this kid?

Bonesplinter: Definitely. Those elementals are a bunch of fluffy ishkabiddles. They won’t be able to help him.

The lights go down again as the second half of Wicked begins. When the witch comes on stage again Bonesplinter starts whistling. The man from behind us is kicking our chairs again.

Bonesplinter: That witch is a real looker, don’t you think?

Me: Yeah, she’s a cutie alright. Let’s watch the play and finish the interview when it’s over.

Bonesplinter  (standing on his chair and screaming): Elphaba! Will you marry me?

Me (hunkering down in my seat and wishing I could disappear like Marcus does, and wishing I’d waited for J Scott to finish his booktour so I could interview him instead of the unruly minions of his imagination): Ssshh Bonesplinter, you’re gunna get us kicked out, pal. Why don’t you sit down? We can talk after the play is over.

Bonesplinter lets out a strangled cry as the security guards come down the aisle with their flashlights and drag him out of the theater.

Bonesplinter: Jules! See if you can get her phone number for me!

I try to smile at the guy behind us who is glaring at me (as is the rest of the theater) and give Bonesplinter a thumbs up, figuring with his snake eyes, he’ll be able to see that in the dark. I try to turn back to the play, but the guard now has a hold on my arm.

Guard: Ma’am, we’ll need you to come with us for questioning.

Me: Can’t we wait until the play is over?

The guard tugs my arm up, so I guess that’s a “no.” The audience applauds as I am ushered out of the theater. Dang it. I wish I would’ve bought the cheap tickets from TKTS.


Review: Farworld is a must read for fantasy lovers of all ages. I read this in its first draft form while on a family vacation. I skipped going to the hotel pool because I couldn’t stop reading. The second and third time around were even better! My boys absolutely love it and feel I am the coolest person alive because not only do I know Mr. Savage, but I have his phone number programmed into my cell phone and he actually answers when he sees it’s me calling to whine chat.

In Farworld, everyone can perform magic–everyone buy Kyja, that is.

Other people may see thirteen-year-old Marcus Kanenas as an outcast and a nobody, but he sees himself as a survivor and a dreamer. In fact, his favorite dream is of a world far away, a world where magic is as common as air, where animals tell jokes and trees beg people to pick their fruit. He even has a name for this place — Farworld.

When Marcus magically travels to Farworld, he meets Kyja, a girl without magic in a world where spells, charms, and potions are everywhere, and Master Therapass, a master wizard who has kept a secret hidden for thirteen years, a secret that could change the fate of two worlds.

But the Dark Circle has learned of Master Therapass’s secret and their evil influence and power are growing. Farworld’s only hope is for Marcus and Kyja to find the mythical Elementals —water, land, air and fire —and convince them to open a drift between the worlds.

As Kyja and Marcus travel to Water Keep, they must face the worst the evil Dark Circle can throw at them —Summoners, who can command the living and the dead; Unmakers, invisible creatures that can destroy both body and soul; and dark mages known as Thrathkin S’Bae.

Along the way, Marcus and Kyja will discover the truth about their own heritage, the strength of their friendship, and the depths of their unique powers.

So the bottom line is: I read it, loved it, and am buying you your own copy to read and love too.