Monthly Archives: November 2014

Thanksgiving = Chessiecon

Over the weekend following Thanksgiving, the mid-Atlantic region is treated to Chessiecon, a science fiction/fantasy con presented by the Thanksgiving Science Fictions Society in Timonium, Maryland.


Sessions on many aspects of SF/F are offered across as many as 12 rooms–art, music, gaming, dance, spiritual, videos, and literature.

But best of all, one of my favorite YA authors, Tamora Pierce, was the Guest of Honor.

T Pierce at Chessiecon

Tamora has attended many of the Darkover (predecessor of Chessiecon) cons since she was Guest of Honor in 2005. The young adult author read from one of the two novels she currently has in progress. The Gift of Power goes back in time from her Wild Magic Books to trace the antics of young Arram Draper as he comes into his wizard powers, before he became known as Numair.

Tamora was asked a some great questions. A few that intrigued me:

What drives the pace of your work?

TP: Quiet. Daily readings with Bruce ( I *think* this is a crit partner). Deadlines. An exciting part of the story. Her health and emotion of the house. Currently, the kittens dropped in her airlock. It does depend on the story–a current WIP about Alana has coem easily after the idea came along.

Where do your ideas come from?

TP: I read a lot, and not just fantasy. I’m reading more science fiction these days. Thrillers, and YA when I can get my hands on it. I’m a news addict–both BBC and American. I get a lot of ideas from non-fiction reading.

You’ve had Alana for 30 years. What’s it like living with these characters?

TP: I don’t know. This is what my life is like.


I liked this last answer a lot. I  believe it’s hard for writers to think of their characters as anything but real. And speaking of ‘real people’, I  attended the Diversity in SF/F panel.

Diversity Panel

With Carl Cipra moderating, the panel of D.H. Aire, Heather Rose Jones, Timothy Liebe, and Mary Fan urged writers not to force awkward inclusion, but to think into the characters’ backgrounds to determine who they really are.

The YA Fiction panel addressed a little of the history of the YA genre and how we’ve gotten to today’s offerings.

YA Fiction Panel

With Elektra Hammond moderating, Katherine Kurtz, Tamora Pierce and Timothy Liebe reviewed their favorites:

Sara Beth Durst’s ICE


Cory Doctorow


Tom Pollock’s THE CITY’S SON


Lauren DeStefano’s WITHER


D. M. Cornish’s MONSTER BLOOD TATTOO series


The con continues Saturday (some activities until midnight!) and Sunday, Nov 29-30, 2014.

Or there is always next year:


Have a great weekend!

Snippet time!

I haven’t featured an excerpt in a month!

Keeping up with my NaNo-PAWN count on my third book while editing my first book, plus critiquing for others adds up, people! And real life is in there, too.

So here’s a little scene later in The Unraveling that I’ve just reworked after a crit partner noted I could show more emotion. In it, the  Victorian Annmar realizes her proper city upbringing has left out so much that’s important in Blighted Basin.


“Alike?” Annmar wrinkled her nose. “But you know so much about country life—”

“And you know so much about life in the city. I would be a fish out of water there, and I want so badly to visit.”

Annmar eyed the redhead. Mary Clare had a point. “Well, society is complicated, but most city dwellers do master its rules. I could teach you.”

“Just like I can teach you about the Basin. It’ll grow easier, really. Why do you doubt we’re alike?”

She should just tell her. “You also know so much about boys. And I…don’t.”

Mary Clare smiled. “Boys are easy, too.”

Annmar shifted her gaze off, flicking glances around to the groups and couples, some flirting, some showing off in hopes of flirting. It’d be years before she could do that. She sighed. Or at least months.

Mary Clare nudged her. “Step one, you talk to them. You find the one interested in the things you are.”

She glanced around again. “I can do that.”

“Good for you. Practice on Henry. He’s so young, he’s safe.” She turned. “Henry?” The blond boy turned and, with a big smile, edged closer. “Can you show Annmar the table with the cookies?”

“You bet. Need to head that way myself.”

Mary Clare gave her a little push and she followed Henry up to the bunkhouse and food tables. She felt silly nodding along to his chatter. What should she say? Then, he offered her a sugar cookie. “These are good, but my favorites of Mrs. Betsy’s are the chocolate chip raisin oatmeal. Which are yours?”

Annmar blinked. She had to say something. “I—uh—I haven’t been here long enough to have those, but I like these fine.” That answer came easily enough. She took the cookie, and suddenly her tongue loosened. “They look like the moon, though not tonight.” She held hers skyward towards the crescent moon.

“I can fix that.” Henry grinned and took a bite of his, then held out the bitten cookie.

Thanks for reading!

Good news on my PAWN writing: A fellow @NaNoWordSprints writer assures me I can count my words written in November as NaNoWriMo achievments, even though I had my world and prior Blighted Basin books written. And on that note: NaNo, take me away!

PAWN Milestone reached!

I’ve been writing every day for 14 days on my PAWN – Playing Along With Nano story – the one that isn’t really Nano credible because it’s one I’d started before Nov 1 (story here). Yet, because of my travels over the last year (another story!) I needed the daily discipline NaNo encourages in writing. Today I crossed the 40K line and am snoopy dancing with excitement! Join me? 🙂

How to reduce a photo for your NaNo profile on MAC

Have you posted a NaNo photo? Or are you floundering like I was? The instructions are blessedly clear that the photo must be 100 x 100 pixels and less than 30KB. But how to do that? I vaguely remembered my NA kid’s instructions and another writer friend and I stumbled through the steps with success.

Though my dear NA kid thinks I’m a Luddite and nuts for posting these instructions, I know they will help someone! Sorry, I only know how to do this via MAC Preview.

Open a copy (Don’t want to mess with the original!) of your photo in Preview. Open Tools on the Menu bar and choose Adjust Size.

Screen Shot 2014-11-06 at 8.28.08 PM

In the window that opens, select ‘Custom’ in the top bar and in the below and to the right, ‘Pixels.’ Note my original photo is 163KB–no wonder it wouldn’t load!

Screen Shot 2014-11-06 at 8.30.44 PM

Next type in your desired pixel size – 100 x 100.

Screen Shot 2014-11-06 at 8.29.15 PM

Click ‘OK.’ The photo adjusts and–voila!–we have a 10KB photo! Rename this copy, with the size so you can find it at a glance.

Screen Shot 2014-11-06 at 8.31.27 PM

It loads in a snap onto the NaNoWriMo website, giving your buddies a brighter view of you!

* But finding this location is tricky, one of my CPs Nooce reminded me in the comments. On the top bar, click where it says “Hello, Your Name!” That opens your account settings. Scroll down. Under ‘Picture’, click ‘Choose file’ and then upload the photo you have renamed. Be sure to hit ‘Save’ at the bottom afterwards.

I save my various social media photos in a file. Both the original, duplicates to work with and the reductions. It’s a time saver when you open up on the next site.

Rogue Spy releases today!

I’m over-the-top-excited Rogue Spy is out! Joanna Bourne is a friend, once conference roommate, fellow Virginian, and superb writer. Don’t start one of her novels without time to finish!

Rogue Spy Cover


​​For years he’d lived a lie. It was time to tell the truth . . . even if it cost him the woman he loves …

Ten years ago he was a boy, given the name Thomas Paxton and sent by Revolutionary France to infiltrate the British Intelligence Service. Now his sense of honor brings him back to London, alone and unarmed, to confess. But instead of facing the gallows, he’s given one last impossible assignment to prove his loyalty.

Lovely, lying, former French spy Camille Leyland is dragged from her safe rural obscurity by threats and blackmail. Dusting off her spy skills, she sets out to track down a ruthless French fanatic and rescue the innocent victim he’s holding—only to find an old colleague already on the case. Pax.

Old friendship turns to new love, and as Pax and Camille’s dark secrets loom up from the past, Pax is left with a choice—go rogue from the Service or lose Camille forever…


Joanna Bourne is the author of The Black Hawk, The Forbidden Rose, and the Spymaster series including My Lord and Spymaster and The Spymaster’s Lady. She has always loved reading and writing romance. She’s drawn to Revolutionary and Napoleonic France and Regency England because, as she puts it, “It was a time of love and sacrifice, daring deeds, clashing ideals, and really cool clothing.” She’s lived in seven different countries, including England and France, the settings of the Spymaster series. Joanna lives on a mountaintop in the Appalachians with her family, a peculiar cat, and an old brown country dog.

Visit Joanna at her website.

Rogue Spy is available from Amazon in print, kindle and audiobook.
From Joanna’s local Indie bookstore, Fountain Books.
At your local Barnes&Noble or online at B&N as book and nookbook.

Congratulations, Jo!



Day 2 of NaNo: The Switch

I signed up for NaNoWriMo. Then realized I couldn’t. I’m far enough along in The Binding, my head is filled with the story. I want–I need–to write on it. For NaNo that writing can’t really count for a ‘win’, not when other NaNo writers start from scratch. So The Binding it is. I’ve decided to call my month ‘Playing Along With NaNo”…er, PAWN.

But I love those tracking graphs NaNo provides! I bet there are any number of word trackers available online, however it never occurred to me to look them up. I made a donation to NaNo and will use theirs to see if being accountable to a writing tool motivates me. Crazy? Well, convenient.

On the first day of NaNo yesterday, one of my RWA home chapters, the Washington Romance Writers, sponsored our first Write-in, complete with meals. We provided the snacks and drinks. Our wonderful hostess provided two floors of seating for 40 writers from 9 am to 9 pm. Writers could choose comfy chairs, a seat at the table, or a spot on the floor (though no one did: plenty of seating), in solitary corners or the ‘conversation room’, in seating groups or lining the dining room table.

WRW Write-in

I was writing by 10, set my timer for 15 minute sprints and took many stretching breaks, including a short walk. I had conversations also, at lunch, mid-afternoon and dinner. But mostly I sat in a great antique rocker in a lovely corner and fast drafted. (Here’s my selfie with my iPhone3–that’s why the photos aren’t the greatest.)


I accumulated far more than my goal–8K, I’m proud to say. When I entered that word count in the NaNo chart, I was amused to see at that writing rate, I should finish in 7 days.

Woo-hoo, if only it were so easy. But for my PAWN project, I’m willing to shoot for the recommended minimum each day.  Best wishes to all those undertaking the NaNoWriMo challenge!

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