I was so happy and grateful to be part of the 2018 Montana Book Festival in Missoula! I had two panels, both on Saturday.

The first one focused on Writing and Publishing for Young Adults and Children where I met many amazing ladies who’d written both fiction and non-fiction, ranging from pictures books to YA novels. While I don’t consider The Falling Dawn to be a young adult, part of the book is written from the protagonist’s perspective as a young girl who must rapidly mature to deal with the struggles that come her way. The discussion was fun and lively, ranging from writing techniques to time management to the state of the industry as a whole. The moderator worked at the Missoula Public Library and his enthusiasm saturated the room.

The second panel was a reading and Q&A about “Science Fiction.” While I read from The Falling Dawn, I did mention my new post-apocalyptic book that should be coming out sometime in 2019. The other three panelists were great, making me want to read their books! The Q&A consisted of inspiration, time management, and where the love or interest in science fiction originated.

Beyond my panels, I attended many discussions and readings that sparked conversation and insight. “Decolonizing the Myth of Cowboys & Indians” hit on sensitivity in writing, especially a writer’s ethics in portraying different cultures. “Portraying Different Cultures” had a similar line of thought, but also encouraged the idea that a writer’s job was to also break barriers and take risks. “The Synthetic Age” evaluated the consequences of the technology humans currently have and how it can be used to mitigate problems of our own making, philosophically asking if we have the right to use this power that can change the world. A discussion of the anthology Hearth contemplated the idea of home and fulfillment, wherever it may be found. The readings were powerful, even if the writers seemed a bit standoffish at the end. I can see it being difficult to speak on the meaning of home–whether it be a person long-lost, a home destroyed, or just places that are endangered due to climate change.

“Writing & Money” went through the financial side of publishing. I was glad they had a financial advisor to go through terminology. It actually got a little scary thinking about all that–especially when you’re suppose to be saving 10-15% for retirement out of every paycheck, you pay nearly half of what you make into taxes, and then you have to actually make a living on top of it. Handy tips included making yourself a business and assigning yourself an employee ID number. But damn, how anyone does it full-time, on their own, without the help of a partner/family gets props.

But one of the best things was the Book Trivia the last day of the festival. We won second place! Les Quizerables lost to Donde Esta La Biblioteca by ONE POINT, but it was a glorious fight, with ties nearly the whole game and great questions. Prizes were top notch, and we definitely enjoyed our bacon salted caramels with beer at Dram Shop afterwards, then spend out hard-earned Library bucks at the Used Book Section.

All in all, a fantastic weekend and a unique event to Missoula. I’m glad I was able to participate and attend. Books were sold at both locations (huzzah!) and I donated one to the Missoula Public Library.

Montana Book Festival Schedule!

Book lovers! The weekend approaches that’s full of readings, books, discussions panels! Maybe sneaking down to Caras Park for the brew fest that’s happening at the same time!

I’ll be on two panels and both of them are on Saturday, September 29, 2018:

  • Writing for Children and Young Adults: 2:00pm-3:30pm at Missoula Public Library
  • Science Fiction: 3:45pm-5:00pm at Shakespeare & Co.

Come and say hi! I’ll be attending a lot of panels over the weekend. Let’s just say there’s no way I’m going to miss Erotic Fanfiction Reading at the Union Club *wink wink*

Hope to see you all there!

I was lucky last Saturday to hold a reading at Shakespeare & Co., another independent bookstore in downtown Missoula. I had picked out three sections to fill out a half-hour slot, and tried to link the sections regarding style, place, and story consistency to avoid confusion.

A good friend made blue and gold macrons to match the book cover. My best friend made cookies that didn’t turn out right, so she showed up with wine. My grandmother made brownies. To say the least, we had a glorious spread of food for listeners.

The crowd was all friends and family, but it was a lot of fun having adult storytime with them. Since The Falling Dawn came out, I’ve found it interesting that a lot of people I know don’t read fantasy, and my book is their first foray into the genre. Before I started reading, I had to let them know that sometimes the appeal of fantasy is being lost in the world, and having to discover where you’re heading by simply forging ahead in the book. It’s a time where you’ll be somewhere you’ve never been before, and might never be again. I requested that if something didn’t make sense, don’t let the frustration become overwhelming, but enjoy it for that mysterious sense of unknown.

I sold one book, but was happy to be able to share the world with everyone. There was lots of praise, lots of smiling faces, and I didn’t read too quickly (phew!). Afterwards, we had cocktails and ramen downtown. Another good day on the books.

This past Saturday, I was happy to be selling and signing books outside one of Missoula’s independent bookstores, Fact & Fiction. I started at 10am and ended at 4pm. The farmer’s market was still going strong, so it was pleasant to people-watch into the afternoon. Friends and families walked by with homegrown produce and gorgeous flowers, drinking coffee or snacking on pastries or kebobs from the many food trucks parked downtown at Caras Park.

A lot of people stopped by to ask about the book—I had a big A-frame stand with some awesome posters to draw them in—and other simply responded to my ‘hello’ and ‘good morning’ as they walked by. Yes, I was that awkward person greeting people out of nowhere that they either responded to or ignored, by luckily, Missoula is a friendly place.

I had an old wood table to display my wares, a tee-shirt with the cover on front acted as my tablecloth, and then the two small displays had my biography and the other The Falling Dawn‘s synopsis. I scattered business cards all around, and signed books with my “Slytherin” snake fountain pen.

I only had ten books on hand. My new order of books hadn’t arrived yet, but I wasn’t worried. Throughout the day, I sold everything I had.

One guy picked The Falling Dawn up and commented on how he liked how vivid the first page was and he’d been awake for 24 hours and counting, so of course he’d buy a book!

Another guy picked up the book and bought it because he liked reading my bio and that we had a similar science background.

Another couple stopped by and told me they were visiting from Austin, Texas and that they’d have to pick it up online. They loved Missoula’s little downtown, and congratulated me on the book release. The guy, who was insanely tall, said he was writing a novel, and we chatted about the pros and cons of going after your dreams.

I’m always surprised at the people who are drawn to the cover. They’re varied and all much different than I’d imagined. I loved it! A very successful outing and a shoutout to Fact & Fiction for letting me hang out in front of their store all day.

How many days did you think your dreams were dumb?

I’ve thought it quite a few times. But this past weekend at the Barnes & Noble book signing at the Gallatin Valley Mall, I pondered: was it dumb to dream about sitting in a store and selling books? I guess not, because I was radiantly happy the whole time. I was called lovely and vivacious and welcoming. Family and love surrounded me. There’s nothing like sliding into a day and understanding your purpose within it—that you don’t have to seek, and ask, and question. Instead, you’re doing what you’re meant to do.

The world revolves around data and sales and the plus and minuses of numbers, but that day I was so scared something would go wrong, smiling and bright like a sunflower. This was a day of dreams. Just sitting at the front entrance of a Barnes & Noble, saying hello to complete strangers, shaking hands and talking to those who wished to say hi, to learn more, to ask What’s it about? Don’t forget this day, I thought. Never forget this day.

I played my book trailer and delighted—delighted—in those walking by who were caught by it, watching it for seconds or full minutes. One young boy asked his mother, “What’s the soundtrack playing?” and I smiled broadly and said, “It’s my book trailer. You can check it out right around the corner.”

The staff was fantastic and so supportive. I gave a copy to one of them that kept checking on me.

My book cover stared at me from the Local Montana Author shelf, the Staff Recommended shelf (top shelf, good like liquor, right next to Stephen King’s It), back in ‘section’ which I learned meant the science fiction and fantasy section (I adore lingo), and signs at each cash register, and the Starbucks. One girl picked up the novel in section, and shakily handed the book for me to sign like I was somebody.

We sold out of books. How’s that for a number?

 

Oh, Impromptu Beach Bum Book Tour! You marvelous adventure, you!

This summer I took a vacation to Hawaii to visit my mom, who lives on O’ahu. We island hopped to Kaua’i for a couple days. My ultimate goal was simple: visit as many beaches as possible and swim in the ocean as much as I could.

My mom was a little over halfway through The Falling Dawn, and thankfully, much to my apprehension of my artist soul, was enjoying it. She brought her copy along to read while we relaxed on the beach and what started as taking fun pictures for later use on this blog evolved into beach bumming with the Impromptu Beach Bum Book Tour where I beach bummed around with the book. It looks like I just wore two dresses the whole time, but I swear I had other clothes. I just wore the same two dresses to the beach. And I thank her for letting me use her book as my prop.

You can check out the Tour on Instagram. Here are the beaches we visited:

Ko’Olina

  • The sun was so bright I had to squint to see! The waves were high, but we were protected by the little cove.

Bellows Beach

  • Beautiful blue water! The waves were too rough to swim, but we stood as far as we dared, the waves pushing us over as we jumped them.

Laniakea Beach and Turtle Bay

  • North Shore fun! We saw green turtles spy-hopping and lounging on the beach. At Turtle Bay, we swam and claimed a piece of shade. We had shaved ice and shrimp!

Shipwreck Beach, Kealia Beach

  • First day on Kaua’i and we drove along the lava-rock coastline and wave-jumped on the beach. It was another hot day, and I couldn’t resist another shaved ice.

Poipu Beach and the Fern Grotto

  • Island tour which showed old foundation ruins of the ancient Hawaiians, the landing point of James Cook and finished at the Fern Grotto. Sunsets on Poipu Beach!

Napali Coast

  • Boat ride out to the Napali Coast with some goregous blue water. The guides told me an interesting tale about one of the sea caves, how the tribe would hang meat from the entrance and attract sharks. Then, they’d close the cave off with a net and the warriors had to wrestle a tiger shark. How much truth is in it? Not sure. Additionally, we saw a sperm whale while coming back into shore!

Kualoa Beach

  • With a great view of the Chinaman’s Hat, we swam and watched a storm roll in behind the green mountains.

Waikiki

  • We lost time swimming at Waikiki, and had a great time walking downtown and people watching

In the last six months, my goal to ‘Conquer the Backlist’ has nosedived into the ground. I’ve been creeping along in Adrienne Mayor’s Fossil Legends of the First Americans, and finally had some time where I was unable to work, unable to connect to the internet, and unable to write. Essentially, I had to sit around on my butt and read a goddamn book.

It was so nice. I generally don’t read a lot of nonfiction, but as this served as research purposes for the novel currently being scribbled in my spare, spare time, I wanted to dedicate some brain power to it. My future world-building was a stake. Mayor’s research had me reconnecting with the land instead, imagining a United States as an ancient boneyard covered in the remains of mastodons and dinosaurs. Mayor hypothesized that fossil legends are important to the historical understanding and enrichment of paleontological, anthropological, and archaeological studies—that many times large fossil finds correlate with specific oral legends. By using fossil mythology, not only can scientific evidence be gathered or pieced together, but those data points are pretty darn accurate.

Covering North America (but emphasizing the United States) in chunks, Mayor split up the book according to region and associated tribes, which added a unique flavor. Ideas and common threads pieced different tribal stories together—some distilled across space, others changed—showing a zoological assimilation of new data that became incorporated into legends that continued to evolve over time. Some of my favorites were fossil legends that came directly from places I’d been and considered part of my home—the place I’d gotten engaged was seeped in legend, the land my grandparents came from used to be a battleground between two giant monsters, the skeletons I’d seen in museums came from the earth of my state. It gave me new appreciation for those places and the only thing I wanted was more. More legends, more oral stories, which unfortunately had been lost.

And yet, strangely enough, some of those words had been incorporated into the scientific names of the prehistoric animals when they were ‘officially discovered.’ The old word for thunder crept into the Brontosaurus, potentially a thunder-creature because of the sound that might’ve come from its swinging tail. Wakan denotes a supernatural or strange ambiance to the unknown. In some languages, items are identified as being animate or inanimate—rocks and earth are most definitely thrumming with life. Additionally, learning how African-American arrival had influenced southern legends, creating elephant-like creatures or long-nosed monsters, was a facet of the ‘Notes’ section that I wouldn’t have read unless I looked. Mayor, I feel, had more evidence that could populate a whole other book on the topic–the Appendix and Notes sections could very well serve as more chapters.

To say the least, I’m curious to learn more about the history of America’s Bone Wars. Enough so that other nonfiction books will flavor my to-be-read pile.

Upcoming Appearances

I’ve got some great irons in the fire to promote the release of The Falling Dawn and I’m excited to be making a small book tour around my home state of Montana. These are all fantastic opportunities where I’ll be either signing books or reading from the novel. At the end of September, I’ll be attending the Montana Book Festival in Missoula as a local author and panelist (details to come). So, if you’re around, feel free to stop by and chat!

  • August 25, 2018, 11am: Book Reading and Signing at Barnes & Noble at the Gallatin Valley Mall in Bozeman, MT
  • September 8, 2018, 10am: Book Signing outside Fact & Fiction in Missoula, MT
  • September 15, 2018, 1pm: Book Reading and Signing at Shakespeare & Co. in Missoula, MT
  • September 27-30: Montana Book Festival in Missoula, MT

It’s been almost a month since I attended my hometown’s science fiction and fantasy convention in Missoula. It was my first con where my debut novel, The Falling Dawn, was available for sale at the Fairwood Press table run by Patrick Swenson (and I’m so happy that Fairwood Press offered this opportunity, otherwise I would’ve been up the creek without a paddle).

I’d brought an overabundance of novels, anticipating I’d sell every single copy (I sold one, thank you very much, and I’m not even ashamed at how many times I walked by the table checking to see if they needed to be restocked). I had tee-shirts made up—and this was an ordeal in and of itself—with the book cover on the front and tasteful text across the shoulders. On the spur of the moment, I got my hair done up Viking-style with side braids and a huge epic braid poofed on top. My soon-to-be sister-in-law and make-up extraordinaire gave me a makeover with awesome peacock colors.

Last year’s MisCon had been inspirational and I expected this year’s to be no different. Then, most of the panels I attended had been full of useful tips of the trade that I remember to this day. It felt like a serious affair—I attended panels, dutifully took notes, and had a beautiful multi-colored schedule telling me where I had to be at the top of each hour.

This time, I was determined to have more fun. Not that panels and notes aren’t fun. Just intersperse it with hanging at the bar and attending things like villains’ trivia.

I couldn’t change my stripes completely though, and I followed Brandon Sanderson from one panel to the other, managing to learn about the three laws of magic and how to retrofit structure into a first draft. He was one of the better presenters I’d seen in a while—leading discussions, talking quickly enough that there wasn’t time to drift off, and also left time for questions.

The other panel I was excited about, but which ultimately got canceled, was a rated R panel about writing convincing sex. Curse you, time restrictions and overlapping which made the floor vendors need the room and the authors not willing to do the discussion outside! It’s okay, I found free wizard staffs and obtained a magical stick of power with seashells and a teal and gold leather handle. I have a color theme, okay??

Otherwise, it was a long weekend full of local strawberry wheat beer and tossing my newly made business cards into every table, nook, and cranny of the Con’s establishment, and getting the rush of selling one whole book to a newly-made friend.

Naming a character is like naming your first-born child. You agonize over very detail, even go so far as to pronounce the name under your breath to test the inflection. Lucky for you, you’re more concerned with how it looks on paper rather than how it sounds spoken in the real world. Who would ever have you pronounce these names out loud anyway?

So begins my guest blog post over at Outland Entertainment, whereI spoke about how I named my protagonist in my novel, The Falling Dawn: Celestial Scripts Book One. And no, I didn’t get Eos from the Canon camera or the lip balm.

Link to the Article: https://outlandentertainment.com/whats-in-a-characters-name/