Let’s Be Authors! – Making It at FanX 2018

My panel: The Rise and Fall of Sega. Had a good crowd and a great discussion.

I had a discussion years ago, actually on a road trip to Portland with my author gal pals, about when someone “Makes It” in this business of writing. What is the threshold? I mean, I’m sure that once you need a personal assistant or a publicist to do things for you, you have definitely “Made It” in some way or another. Just having enough to pay your car payment each month is a huge accomplishment. It’s a hard classification, because my internal view of being an author is not what is reflected in the external view to the reader.

So the idea of “Making It” is difficult. And as I really thought about it, it’s only important to one person. . . That’s me.

In all these years of being an author, I’ve never really felt that I “Made It.” I’ve taught classes and been on panels at different writing conferences, with really, really cool people too, by the way. But I didn’t feel successful, I kinda felt like I was a cool kid, but not a success. My audience is not my peers, so writing conferences are not the best place to sell books or engage with your audience. Online sales are difficult to judge, because I have no engagement what so ever. It’s all just numbers, not people. My books are very buried in the doldrums of Amazon, and only with promotion do my books get any attention.

Booth set up, Christine and Conor being cool.

But when I really feel like an author and really feel an impact of what I’m doing, is when I physically get to place a book in someone’s hands. I’m handing them an adventure, my adventure that I’ve created for them. And when I get to personalize it? It’s the best! Because I am offering a part of me in this book, a special message just for them. It’s a special feeling.

The Green Room offers the best view of dinosaurs.

FanX 2018 offers a great way to find your fan base and connect with readers one on one. It was a different experience this year than our other times at the Con Formally Known As Salt Lake Comic Con. In previous years, I had filled the booth with other authors – last year, we had NINE authors. My ideas were to give other people a chance to shine, and make back the cost of the booth, without thinking that I would profit anything. This made for a very crowded and stressful environment.

Me, with my boothmates, Ben and Christine.

This year, I decided to do things differently. I didn’t want to be stressed. I wanted to enjoy being at this con. It should be fun. So, I scaled it way down to working with only my closest and best friends in my writing circle: authors Christine Haggerty and Ben Ireland. Each of us write for a different audience, so no competition in sales, and also, we genuinely really want each other to succeed, so selling each other’s books was easy. It’s all about the reader. That is so important, the MOST important thing we did in the booth.

“Waiting for all my rabid fans to arrive.” – Christine

We got lucky booth 1203, a corner very close to the opening doors and main staircase. We set Christine and I on opposite sides of the corner and gave Ben the front corner spot (picture above), so every book had its own place to shine. We all had something new for our booth: Christine’s Middle Grade – Lucas and the House of Lies, Ben’s third in the Blacksmith Legacy – Billy Blacksmith: The Ironsoul, and my new poetry book – Wandering Beautiful.

“Uhura, from an alternate timeline, signing a Wandering Beautiful.” – Candace

Historically, we never sold very well on the first day. Most people were waiting to buy everything on the third day. I don’t know if it was the phase of the moon or something, but once those doors opened, people found us immediately and we started selling.

“FanX was an absolutely wonderful experience. Sharing with fans who really get a show generates an energy you can’t find anywhere else. And meeting Anna Graves was an incredible bonus. She struck me as a genuine fan, and she was wonderfully gracious.” – Ben (Photo by CB Lee)

Hands down, this was the BEST year at FanX. The crowd was amazing, we had exceptional stars (I witnessed Jason Momoa, he is real, we breathe the same air, and rotate around the same sun. . . ), but the panels were amazing. Both Ben and I got to participate on panels. My retrogaming panel went amazingly, but not as fabulously as Ben’s Voltron panel. And Christine cosplayed as her pocket pin-ups and drew quite the crowd, plus a free red top hat.

“Cute little Paige was the 60th Harley Quinn I counted at FanX and she got a free copy of Lucas and the House of Lies.” – Christine

We had fun. We were everywhere. But the best part was talking with fans, fellow creators, fellow readers, who were interested in getting to know us and know what our books were about. We were an impressive force. Many people asked about who we were, how we became a group in a booth, and other authors were anxious for a spot with us next year. I sold out of two titles as well, Ben sold out of his first title. We were not expecting to sell so much. I under-prepared for the crowd, because it’s hard to haul unsold books back. It’s discouraging. I have one, small box of books now sitting in my empty garage instead of several. I’m just still stunned and impressed.

Goofing off with Julie, who helped us Friday and Saturday.

I’ve had a few days to let things settle, but my glow has not faded. As I was driving in on Day 3 of FanX, it was a little cloudy, but the sun was peeking through little breaks, making gorgeous little spots of sun. I thought those lucky people may not even know they are in this spotlight right now.

Check out this guy, he bought Ben’s series and I totally stole a picture of it.

“Making it as an author is much like being in that spot of sun, not until it has passed can you see and recognize how truly beautiful it is.”

I felt the admiration from each person who purchased my books, and those buying my friends’ books. We all felt the energy, which brought us closer as a group. We were making a difference in their lives, even for a fraction of a moment, but it is imprinted on me forever.

“Me and the new Doctor. It was a great year.” – Candace

I feel invincible and ready for any challenge. I’m feeling creative and set to finish my book. To all my new friends that I met at this conference, thank you from ALL OF US! FanX has made me the author I had always felt I could be and I will forever be grateful for the opportunity to be in that spot of sun.

An Editor’s Note: My Thoughts on Ironsoul

Act I of the Blacksmith Legacy

Ironsoul IS coming! In fact, it’s almost here. Billy Blacksmith: The Ironsoul will be release Sept. 1st and I’m super excited. Pre-order here!

A few years ago, I had a gentle conversation with a fellow author about a boy with demonblood. This character’s name is Billy Blacksmith and his author is Ben Ireland. Many people know this. I have previously blogged about this incredible experience here. It’s a unique and creative story of an unlikely hero battling enormous, demonic spiders with a baseball bat, not to mention it is so fun to read, with Ben’s witty writing and intense action.

EDITOR’S QUICK RECAP

In BILLY BLACKSMITH: THE DEMONSLAYER, the reader is introduced to Billy – this funny, overweight orphan, who finds he’s incredibly skilled at wielding a baseball bat, which comes in handy when gigantic demonic spiders want to drink his blood. As the editor, I struggled when to interfere, coming from an author background. This was my first novel as an editor. I had to let his voice become the star and I had to completely disappear.  It was a learning curve for both of us working together, and even then, sometimes I had to just trust Ben as the author, that things he hadn’t explained would resolve. Everything was leading to a much bigger story.

BILLY BLACKSMITH: THE HELLFORGED, the second in the series, was much more fun for me to edit. No more need for introduction, Ben speeds Billy on a quest to find a magical weapon. I liked the adventure of this one. I was used to Ben’s writing style and I completely trusted him, which made things easier for me. I could tell he enjoyed writing it, because of how joyful it read. And the reader gets a chance to see more of the Demonic Realm, including a Thunderdome-like fight scene, with giant, demonic pugs and hummers with machine guns attached to the top. How visually entertaining! Not to mention, the connections between his friends deepen – he’s forming a team! Pure adventure, and I just loved it.

Billy started out really fun, took me on a true adventure, I got to imagine giant pugs and demonhound puppies… The creativity of it was mind-blowing. I couldn’t guess or even imagine what Ben had in store next.

“As humans, we carry scars, everyone has them, everyone needs them.”

WHAT I HOPED FOR AND NEVER EXPECTED

I can’t believe this manuscript landed in my hands. It came to me on Christmas day, way after presents were opened. It was the winding down of the evening when I turned on my computer and saw the heading “The Ironsoul” blinking at me with a tag saying “Merry Christmas.” It was magical. I knew he was close to finishing, but I wasn’t expecting it. I read just a little bit, like when you skim the pages of new books, finding out that it was right after Christmas when this novel takes place. It was a winterscape, which I love, with Billy downtown seeing the lights of Salt Lake City, my city. It was lovely and I soaked it in.

QUICK “HOW-I-EDIT”

When I do a first pass, I read the manuscript like a reader would. However, I like to annotate. I annotate any book I really love, because there are details and feelings I want to remember and highlight. I really focus on what I like, what’s good, what works, and what I want to remember, my feeling at the time. If it’s something that needs work, I might make a quick note, but nothing serious. That’s not what I’m focusing on during this pass. Mostly, it’s likes.

Second pass is the nitty-gritty, where I really dig into “Does this make sense?” “Is this working?” “I think it needs more” etc… and the continuity of the story, now that I know it from start to finish. With Ben, because our writing is so different, I ask a lot of questions and stay out of his writing as much as possible. He was a very fun, unique style that’s as identifiable as a fingerprint, so commenting let’s me focus on what needs to be addressed without interfering and lets him fill in a lot of the details. It needs to be authentic. This is my cinematographer angle, with a slow pan through the scene to see the right way to tell it. Ben will tell you that I ask for more action A LOT. It’s not a bad thing, but he writes in conversations, so painting more of the picture through words is a great way to keep your audience involved.  I’ll say, he always surprises me with his originality, and honestly, that’s why I ask, because I know it gets him pushing himself to be creative. So many times it surprises me what he comes up with.

Third pass is smoothing, and third pass is loose in translation, since it could be multiple passes over sections. The grammar, the punctuation, and the fixes. Nothing too excited here. We are getting this manuscript “reader ready” and it’s not the fun part, polishing never is.

MY FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF IRONSOUL

So, Ironsoul immediately entertained me with charming dialogue and witty situations. Chapter 3 – the first chapter with Billy, kicks the novel into high gear with a pretty intense fight scene. And then Chapter 4 made me blush all sorts of colors. But by Chapter 5, the novel takes another turn, a big one. Chapter 6, I found myself engrossed in words and situations and feelings I hadn’t felt in a long time. Feelings?! Ugh! Where did those come from? Feelings of being young and awkward, not pretty, not popular, being picked on and teased, trying so hard to fit in, walking around in a skin that didn’t fit me right. Those feelings!

“Freewill unchecked is chaos. Mr. Fingers will prove that to you before the week has ended.” Seth, Billy Blacksmith: The Ironsoul

 

Unlike the adventure of Hellforged, Ironsoul is a mystery. I kept trying to guess things. I’m not really a guesser, I don’t like spoilers, so my guesses were more hunches. The clever demon, Mr. Fingers, feeds on emotions and manipulates others to feel soul-collapsing depression and failure. All are susceptible, except those who possess an Ironsoul, or someone so strong in their convictions that they can’t be persuaded. When I got to the title chapter, which I think a lot of us look forward to, I was blown away, once again, by the depth the story was taking.

Actual Editor Annotations Throughout My First Pass:

“WHAT? What an incredible idea!”

“I like this. The whole thing. I think your concept of the Ironsoul is a beautiful aspiring trait that will be good for teens, or heck, anyone.”

“Why am I feeling this book so much?”

“AH! I love this. This is so relate-able. I mean, hasn’t everyone done this?”

“I love that you put this in. This elevates the bond for the reader. And it’s so tender. The book presses on the tender emotions we have. The crowd will really like this.”

I couldn’t believe I was handed this incredible book. Overall, I found the story inspiring, thought-provoking, and downright wonderful. It did not have the action-packed hummer-giant pug chase from Hellforged, or the creepifying gym full of spiders from Demonslayer, but instead of action, it is filled with suspense, curiosity, and a range of emotional checks and balances. Ben’s background in horror writing really shows up here, filling in the cracks with spookifying intensity. It was thrilling.

And every Billy book has folklore, and this doesn’t disappoint. The depth of the backstory, that basically frames the entire series, is magnifying and I gush every time I get to the folklore, because you are getting not only one story here, but THREE – all the folklore that’s laced in with Billy’s story, plus you get to see what the princess Patricia and the ex-General of the Spider Horde Krios are up to.

What I found most surprising is the nature of this novel, tackling very deep subjects, like bullying and depression. I’ve never read anything like it in a fantasy novel. I’m still dumbstruck. It’s so powerful.

MY FINAL IMPRESSIONS

Follow Ben on Amazon here

I’m more proud than I can say. This novel was not easy for Ben to write. As authors, sometimes dive deep within ourselves to capture emotion that is true and raw in order to tell the right story. I couldn’t say Ben did this personally, not knowing much of his backstory, but the overarching theme carries a heavy understanding to the reader, a personal touch that tells them, “I know what you’re feeling. I get it. And you’re gonna be okay.” As humans, we carry scars, everyone has them, everyone needs them.

This was a difficult edit, but worth all the sweat and tears. I paced myself differently, because there needed to be a nice balance of fun without losing the integral story. I’ve found that Ben is very good about balancing intensity with witty banter. His writing is fresh, clever, and cinematic.

“Ironsoul is more than an entertaining YA novel. It’s about bad influences and bullying, spite and retaliation, loneliness and isolation, unconditional loyalty and friendship, and most of all – choosing to do the right thing, even when you think it’s impossible!” Sue, Amazon Reviewer

 

Ironsoul falls third in line in the Blacksmith Legacy, and with being a continuous story, it may see hard times before it gets to the readers it was intended for. That breaks me up a little, since I love this book so much. I wish you could just dive into it, but there is so much story, one just can’t do that. However, it didn’t take me long to know Billy was something special and something I wanted to be a part of, and it won’t take readers long either. You get hooked on Billy and it’s WORTH it! Every word.

Here is a FREE sneak peek of Chapter 5: Clatterball (demon sports are very amusing) on Ben’s website: Benirelandbooks.com

Also, if you are an artist or love fan art, check out the FAN ART COMPETITION happening now of FANDOM’s Billy page here.

This series has been part of me for the last two years. I will miss editing, but I’m ready to get writing again. This is only Billy’s ACT I (first three) of his epic saga. There are so many stories to tell and I want to read them all. #teamgreyson

Click here to join the Billyverse newsletter crew!

Wandering Beautiful – Therapeutic Poetry

Me in Seville, Spain finding inspiration in my traveling journal. This photo sums up everything, pretty much.

 

I like poetry, I always have. Several of my favorite authors also wrote poetry: Milne, Carroll, Tolkien, Poe for starters. I found them first as authors and later recognized them as poets. Though, Shel Silverstein is STILL one of my all-time favorite poets. Poetry is reflective and tricky, and the best part… it’s short.

Poetry is something I’ve always done, but never realized I did, if that makes sense. It’s been a way to express my thoughts and feelings, as I know many of us do. I’ve journaled like this since I was a teen, and oh boy, those early poem??? I’m embarrassed by the drippy/sappy/teenage angst of those early, tender writing.

And I thought poems were supposed to rhyme. My English teacher Mrs. Sawaya was the one that taught me more about the feeling of poetry is more important than straining a rhyme and ruining it completely. She said the best poems don’t rhyme. I can’t exactly agree with her, some of the old limericks have amazing composition. But this lesson taught me that a poem is more than just silly rhyming fluff, but can be a heart-driven search for understand using words, flow, and purpose. Through poems, I really found my author voice. It’s taught me how to write and that I have a poetic voice to my writing.

In my writing exercises, I use poetry as a tool to stretch my use of language. I like poetic voicing. I like using fresh words and lyrical sentencing. I have tender years of doubt, depression, insecurities, and basic figuring out who I am and what, if anything, I have to say. Poetry was a tool (is a tool) that has helped me overcome several of those hurtles.

Writing has always been a joy, like the wonderful freedom you feel when writing in the sun on the beach listening to waves and birds and rhythmic chatter. But when I became published the joy changed and become more like writing in a small closet with a sketchy swinging light bulb. This may surprise people, though I’ve talked about it before. Being published is every aspiring writer’s dream (and please don’t lose that dream, aspiring writers), but with it came a different side of publishing that I didn’t understand and had to adjust to.

There is a lot of pressure in the authoring world, things that you don’t know until you are in it, and a lot of them aren’t writing related. It’s hard being a face for your books. I have to keep and maintain a respectable media presence, I am public and need to be found EVERYWHERE. I have to sell my own work and convince others that it’s good and they want to buy it, and it’s hard when they don’t, because you KNOW they will love it. You can’t just give away books, you have to sell them. I have to be likable and sought after for cons and panels. And I always need to have my foot forward to what’s next. This to me is not writing, it’s marketing – and I’m not so great at numbers. There is a cusp for readership that when your book reaches it, the perpetual reputation of the book steamrolls into a public consciousness, so an author no longer needs to worry so much about all the things I just mentioned. Just think of your favorite books that made it to you by word-of-mouth or recommended to you on Goodreads. I have yet to steamroll into anyone’s bookshelves, I’m still climbing the monstrous hill before me. It was hard enough sharing with the world writing that was once so private. To make me push it and promote it is like dying inside. Creating is joy, but with that coin flip comes misery.

How I combat this is through poetry…

and a good group of author friends that understand the ups and downs of publishing.

Over the years since I first published, I would write poetry to keep my authentic author voice, keep my creative juices flowing, and help me through the writer’s block and other rough patches. It helped keep my sanity. The various poems have been quietly resting in different notebooks for years. I would revisit it often when I needed it, like a letter from a dear friend. A year ago I shared some of my poems with my sister to help her on a day she was particularly down. She loved them and that was very encouraging. I then shared a poem with a writing group asking for critique. I called it Flash Fiction at the time, thinking it wasn’t poetry at all. They were astonished and clearly called it ‘Poetry’ and encouraged me to seek out my poetic voice. That was when I first started thinking very differently about what I was journaling and embrace that maybe I am a poet too.

Pre-order Wandering Beautiful on Kindle here

WANDERING BEAUTIFUL is a selection of my poems that have helped me during dark moments. Some are reflective, some are silly, but all of them were inspired by writing in one form or another. Poetry is a tangible horcrux, the slivers of soul lace each stanza. It’s not easy to share, and frankly, I’m still surprised I put this thing together.

My thoughts in sharing these poems were that it might help others gently wander the paths before them.

I don’t think there is one path, I think there are several. And I don’t think one is better than the other, I just think our paths are different. I’m a cautious, but curious person. I’m exploratory. I like the forgotten paths or more mysterious, and the ones that have stories to tell.

I feel the paths I have wandered down have not been easy, but keep leading me to new paths, ones that I didn’t know were there. I have opportunities that others don’t get, because I’ve wandered. That’s what I’d like to share. We have similar feelings and fears. Let me share with you mine, in hopes it will help you with yours.

This collection is deeply personal about my talent, self-worth, and frankly, my insecurities. I don’t specifically write romantic poetry, but there are a few that might flutter your heartstrings. Mostly though, it’s about the magic of words and the power we give them.

WANDERING BEAUTIFUL will be released September 6th at the FanX Comic Convention. If ebooks are your thing, pre-orders are now being taken here for a release September 30th. Click here

FIVE YEARS! Vivatera’s Special Birthday

Fan art drawn in the original manuscript by my teenage neighbor. Thank you Beth!

As Bowie sang…

We’ve got five years, stuck on my eyes
We’ve got five years, what a surprise
We’ve got five years, my brain hurts a lot
We’ve got five years, that’s all we’ve got

Five years ago my life as an author began. I was so bright eyed, so shiny, so fresh to the world of authoring. It was a wonderful day. Now I’m seasoned, confident, and a bearer of a few battle scars… but I would never change it for anything. This has been a great adventure with still new adventures ahead.

I didn’t know the person I was before I started writing. I thought I was whole as a young mom and a menial lab technician. Life was very simple and ordinary, but there was still this roaring imagination that needed to come out. It never quieted. I constantly looked at the world differently. And I would often disappear in a world that didn’t exist, all while I stood talking to other people. I was made for this, though I didn’t know it at the time, but it suits me.

Look at that SHIRT! What a babe! Thank you Julie for everything!

I had no idea what wonderful fans and fellow authors I would meet. You all have been the very best fans a gal could ask for. If you’d read through to the end of Everstar, you all know how much I love my fans. And because Vivatera started this wonderful journey, I am giving it away.

From May 9th thru May 13th, you can download Vivatera from Kindle for FREE! If you’ve read it, spread the word, gift it to others. I really want to spread the joy of writing and creating with everyone I can. Plus, Billy Blacksmith the Demonslayer, the first book I edited will also be free starting Thursday May 10th thru Sunday. This is very special, and something I never believed would happen, so you want to snatch it while you can. It’s absolute fun!

I’m also collaborating with my author friends in a giveaway. Enter the raffle for cool Vivatera gifts and a chance to win a One-Year Kindle Unlimited Subscription, for all you readers.

CLICK HERE TO ENTER RAFFLE

Portland… on a deadline. Yes, I thought I’d let you all know what a DEADLINE looks like. It ain’t pretty.

I love this job with all my heart. It’s so rewarding, and yet, sorta strange, to know people are reading something so personal you wrote. But then, if I do my job right, it becomes something personal to them as well. I’m taking them on a journey and giving them experiences. There is so much magic in that. I love being a magician. I believe imagination is so important. It gets us to believe in impossible things, to dream bigger than ourselves. If it wasn’t for the dreamers, those willing to experiment, where would we be? You were made to do impossible things… so… what are you waiting for?

Moments In Millennia – Now a Memoir

In January 2014, this little book came out. It wasn’t a thunderous crash or a lightning bolt, but just a little ripple to those involved, a gentle reception in the world of books.

As with anthologies, they introduce you to different authors and are a great way to celebrate the short stories that we love to write. Shorts don’t need to follow the rules novels do, and sometimes a writer just needs to get the creativity out. They can end without finishing, it’s not as structured. And they often are bursting with creativity, like a powerful buttermint, starting strong but over within a few minutes. They are also great ways to get publishing credits, and that means something within the world of publishing. Simply, SHORTS Rock!

Xchyler Publishing did a lot of these anthologies in the first years, building an author talent base as well as an audience. So many of my Xchyler friends went with getting short stories in anthologies in a way to get published. I however, did the opposite.

Xchyler contracted my fantasy series in November 2012. I was already an author in their library. A lot of their anthologies had to do with Steampunk, at that time I knew next to nothing about Steampunk. Even today, if you ask me, Steampunk is still out of my depth. Then they announced a fantasy anthology. Fantasy was something I could do. I don’t remember the theme of the anthology, but it sparked a thought, “Well, I have my Frankenstein story.”

Frankenstein story doesn’t sound very fantasy, but it’s not really Frankenstein, but about Re-animation.

So, several years ago I had a friend named Matt. This is someone I worked with and trained during my day job at the Blood Bank. Matt was always the kid trying to fit in, he wasn’t shy but had a hard time connecting with people, or people understanding him, but he clung to me because I was nice and helpful and liked Depeche Mode, which he was a huge fan. He had mild Tourettes, though he didn’t like people knowing. He never wanted to be treated differently. I grew fond of him because he reminded me of my younger brother. We supported each other, and he was sure I would be the next JK Rowling.

My rowdy youth with my friends at the Harry Potter 6 movie release. The best picture I have. Matt is on the left. I’m the short blonde with the glasses. (I love this picture.)

Matt also suffered from night seizures, something we all knew. One day he came in with a huge gash on his face and he said he fell off his bed during a seizure. A few weeks before he died, Matt came to me asking for help. His seizures were getting worse and he couldn’t remember processes at work. We worked together and I coached him through some things. I did worry at that time, but he said he was fine. Two weeks later he just didn’t show up for work. Matt was gone. It was shocking.

I had known Matt had an identical twin. He often talked about his glowing brother, who working in computers and was making a fat lot of money, and how he would compare his lonely life to his amazing sibling all the time. But I only knew Matt as a single individual. People who grew up knowing them, knew them as a set, but I didn’t. At Matt’s funeral mass I met his brother and I’ve never felt so out-of-body than at the meeting. It spooked me. I saw Matt in the casket, but there was his face shaking my hand. I can’t describe it. It was like my logical brain couldn’t make sense of it. I know Matt died, but why is he standing, staring at me? I glanced at his brother several times during the mass, dwelling on the hardship of losing that other half of you. The whole situation bothered me.

Maybe he’s not dead. Maybe that was him?

That’s what my brain kept telling me. It was just a little thought, but it led me down a pathway of thought that continued the whole time I was there. I came home and wrote a quick outline of what would become Hawkweed. I called it my Frankenstein story, since it involved reanimating tissue, more importantly, 3D printing of a already programmed brain. I got really excited about this.

My first paragraph:

Jaren stood looking at his face in the casket, all the features exactly the same, the sharp nose and angled jaw—the very same features inherited from his father. Like looking in a mirror, all except for a small brown spot near the right temple, but in every other respect, identical.

I outlined it so Jaren (the brother) and Melina (the girl in-between) had their own narrative in a frozen dystopian Russia.

I decided to give it a go for NaNoWriMo and see if I could write the whole thing during that month. I intended on it becoming a full novel, even a series. I knew how I wanted to do it, but as I wrote it just became increasingly harder to do. Not just the cold and hopelessness of their situation, but it was extremely emotional and draining, and frankly, joyless. It got too hard to write at that moment in time, not long after Matt’s death. I stopped and shelved it.

It was close to two years when the anthology was announced and I thought about dusting it off. Maybe a short story. I could do that. I really liked what I had done. I liked the characters, the imagery, the frozen world, I wanted to share it. I edited it and reshaped it into the story found in this book. I’ve called it my finest work.

Melina’s Room, Petersboro

Cold, colder than usual. The frost on the window cracked near the edges on the thick panes of glass. No use in looking out at the white blizzard anymore. No one should walk in the frigid winter at this time of night, not even the soldiers. Pointless. Yet, I continued to stare.

It had been six months. Six months of cold. Not just the continual winter that blankets the world—I made it cold, like suffocating ice. I made the world colder by my existence.

I scratched a name into the glass, a name I loved. Why torture myself again? But I couldn’t help it. I took my fingernail and slowly smoothed it away until only a small square of smooth blue glass shown underneath. The hurt came back. It always returned when it was frosty like this. The memories returned, but I pushed them back. My brain shouldn’t wander there. I knew better than to dwell on my previous life.

I titled the story Hawkweed after a little resilient flower, much like a dandelion. The hawkweed doesn’t know it’s not supposed to grow where it shouldn’t, it just grows because that’s what it needs to do… it needed to live. Life continues on despite what happens to us. It’s symbolic, and I liked it. The title came organically, just like a hawkweed would.

As with many anthologies, our time is up and the rights are being released back to me. I don’t know if this will be the end of Hawkweed, but several are looking forward to reading it as a full novel. Short stories don’t need endings, and this one leaves you wanting a conclusion. In order for me to write it I need to figure out some logistics and how to tell the narrative. Big decisions like that. But I don’t see it as an end, but as a beginning, a new chapter for this story of a thousand possibilities. So, I accept it back with open arms.

To my fellow authors in this collection, I walk arm in arm with you to the end of the stage and take our last bow.

Au due!