Category Archives: Thoughts

2014 Goals. How’d I Do?

So this is it. The time of year where I look back at the goals I set for 2014 and find out how well I did at reaching them. What’s usually most interesting about this time for me is seeing how my priorities have shifted over the course of the year, the number of things which were really important to me at the beginning of 2014 which I was happy to back burner (which is totally a verb) but the end.

Also, I have a rule. I may explain failures, but not excuse them. Who wants to read a whole blog post of self-justifications and excuses? Not me LoL

So. 2014 goals. How’d I do?

bold = success

tl;dr — Overall, it was a pretty freaking awesome year 🙂

~*~

Health

  • No drinking pop. Period.
  • Lose 20 lbs
  • Lower blood pressure (bonus points if I get to reduce my medication)
  • Run 5k

Didn’t do so awesomely here. Or well at all, really. I’m still drinking a lot of pop (diet pop, for better or for worse) and my weight has remained steady. Much, much too high, Diet Dr Pepperbut steady. I *was* making (very slow) progress on that 5k run thing before plantar fasciitis reared its ugly head but once it did I was less than enthusiastic about actively stretching to relieve it or exercising in a way which didn’t aggravate it so… pretty sure that counts as an excuse, not an explanation. The only thing I did manage here was to lower my blood pressure. Alas, I did not get to reduce my medication in the process so no bonus points for me. *pout*

~*~

School

  • This degree is taking a ridonkulously long time. I need to finish another course toward completing it this year. Bonus points if I manage two, but it’s important not to lose sight of the fact that this is honestly more of a hobby than anything and it must not negatively effect my work.

I didn’t find the time to finish even one course toward this degree. In fact as of last month I became inactive in my program, which is kinda crappy but I felt like my writing and editing took off to such an extent that it would be a bad choice for me to prioritize school over them at this point in time. So what I’m saying is, I’m okay with having failed to meet this goal. I think it was the right decision.

~*~

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Editing / Publishing

  • Complete Fae and promote the hell out of it.
  • Pursue other anthology ideas
    • I am really, really, really enjoying editing anthologies right now and I’d like to have at least one more under contract with a publisher by the end of 2014.
  • Increase promotion efforts for Metastasis
    • I need to come up with a way to set actual concrete goals for promotion. Not only for Fae and Metastasis, but everything I edit and/or publish. Oh hey!
  • Figure out a way to set concrete goals for promotion. Set concrete goals for promotion.
  • Hold a successful fundraiser for Niteblade
  • Produce a NaNoLJers anthology if interest exists
  • Publish and promote A is for Apocalypse
  • Solicit writers for B is for (haha not telling yet!) and begin that process
  • Continue to edit and publish Niteblade, keeping it something I can be very proud of.
  • Complete the edits on Grammy’s book

Wow. What a year it’s been under Editing / Publishing. Going to tackle all these one at a time…

This is the audience for the launch of Fae at WWC
Audience at Fae Launch at WWC

First, I did finish FAE and I promoted it to the best of my ability. That included getting over my anxiety about holding a physical launch party, and making sure I always had copies of the book on hand at every convention I went to (and I went to three) to sell. Some of these efforts were successful (the party at When Words Collide, for example) and some, like the postcards with discount codes I printed up for World Fantasy were abject failures. Live and learn, right?

I was also successful in pursuing other anthology ideas. My goal had been to have at least one more under contract with a publisher by the end of the year, but I smashed that to bits. I have two anthologies with signed contracts which I’m even now finalizing the tables of contents for and which will be published this year. They are SCARECROW and CORVIDAE. I also have a verbal agreement to begin reading submissions for a fourth anthology for World Weaver Press (tentatively entitled SIRENS: Sea and Sky) this year and publishing it next year.

I did not find any awesome ways to increase promotion efforts for METASTASIS, but even so it earned out all its production costs and began sending small (but emotionally meaningful) donations to support cancer research.

C.S. MacCath reading from her A is for Apocalypse story at WFC 2014
C.S. MacCath reading her A is for Apocalypse story at WFC 2014

I also didn’t come up with a way to set concrete goals for promotion, but I did get far better at tracking the results of promotions, so I’m going to call that a step in the right direction.

We held another successful fundraiser for Niteblade in 2014, raising $510 and (even better for my ego) collecting a whole lot of really nice things Niteblade authors had to say about it.

I didn’t produce a NaNoLJers anthology last year, but that is because there wasn’t much in the way of interest.

A IS FOR APOCALYPSE is awesome. I did, in fact, publish it and promoted it as well as I could. I think in some ways it suffered for being launched so close to FAE but despite that sales exceeded my expectations and it has been very well-received including having stories from it on people’s top five lists, end of the year reading recommendations and getting a handful of nice reviews here, there and everywhere.

Not only did I solicit writers for B IS FOR BROKEN I’m nearly finished editing those stories and I’ve settled on the themes for the next two alphabet anthologies and let the authors know about them so they can decide to sign up, or not, in a leisurely fashion.

Niteblade had a fantastic year with me at the helm and though I’m partly saddened that 2015 will be its last year, mostly it feels like the right thing to do. End on a high note and go out in style 🙂

I completed the edits on Grammy’s book. Added the whole new section she wanted appended to the back, got it formatted, published and shipped to her in time for her to give out copies at Christmas. So, basically, I rocked it 🙂

~*~

Writing

2014 is the year of the novel. It is because I say it is, damn it!

  • Complete the novel currently known as ‘Hollow’
    • By ‘complete’ I mean have that sucker ready to start querying agents about
  • Complete the first draft of at least two other novels
    • One of these may be one of my pen name projects
  • Self-publish the zombie poetry book and complete my other plans for it
  • Write 350 words a day, five days a week. So 1,750 words a week.
    • Yes. A week. It’s not huge, but I’ve got a lot of other stuff on this list, damn it! :-p
  • Bundle up and self-publish more of my reprints
  • Complete sekkrit collaborative project
  • Participate in NovPAD and/or April PAD
  • Anything with the word ‘NaNo’ in the title is optional
    • …except NaNoLJers. Set up prompts for odd-numbered MondaysMythic_Delirium_paperback_cover-1024x760

Well, despite my intentions 2014 turned into the year of the anthology, not the novel. Hollow is done. Mostly. I had to do a whole extra draft I hadn’t counted on, but now it only needs a final spit polish and it will be ready to start querying. It’s finding the time to do that polish that is turning into a tricky thing.

I also sold my Aphanasian novel, SHADOWS, to World Weaver Press. That required a lot of re-writing and I anticipate at least one, possibly two more passes before it’s ready for release. It’s scheduled to be released some time this year though, so we’ll have to wait and see when that comes to pass 🙂

I did self-publish my zombie poetry book, and a collection of funny zombie reprints. I didn’t find time to ‘complete my other plans’ for the zombie poetry book, but who knows, perhaps a miracle will happen and I’ll find a way to do that this year LOL Could happen…

Still not finished my sekkrit collaborative project with Marge Simon, but working on it. Still working on it. Kind of like the tortoise in that story…

I participated in NovPAD and April PAD. I was not super successful at either but… I got a few poems out of them. I also participated in NaNoWriMo, however in recognition of how busy I was I re-named it MicroWriMo and aimed for 10k words. I wrote just under 8k. Meh.

Also, I had prompts set up and scheduled for odd-number Mondays for NaNoLJers and then I did something very stupid and deleted them all. So, that was a big fail right there.

~*~

Reading

  • Read at least 50 books.
    • Have 25% be non-fiction

Ocean At The End Of The LaneAccording to Goodreads I read 63 books (I really ought to keep track of how many stories I read in slush LOL) 11 of which were non-fiction. So, I surpassed the main goal but fell short on the mini one. Of those books my favourites, in no particular order, were:

~*~

Misc

  • Create a publishing website (company name, etc. but only to publish my own projects.)
  • Participate in A Month of Letters
  • Do the Blogging from A to Z Challenge
  • Blog at least once a week
  • Shoot at least one roll of analog film per month
  • Finish the ship cross stitch I started *mumble* years ago
  • Complete the top of the quilt I’m doing in memory of my mother and post it on JoFigure
  • Attend at least two writing conventions

Photo stolen from Billie Milholland --> https://www.facebook.com/billie.milhollandSo… the good news about all the things I missed on this list is that they are all still on my radar, and aside from A Month of Letters I can do them anytime. I’m surprised I missed A Month of Letters this year, so surprised I had to go and check my blog archives to make sure I really had. Weird. I do write snail mail sporadically over the course of the year anyway but historically I’ve really gotten a lot out of A Month of Letters so I’ll have to work pretty hard at re-adding that next year.

Also, I went to three conventions. When Words Collide is my new all-time favourite convention ever. Plus I also attended my second World Fantasy and went to Pure Spec here in Edmonton. The highlight of Pure Spec, for me, was the Character Death Matches (I participated and got my butt kicked. Fun!)

~*~

And there you have it. My year in review or, more specifically, a look at the goals I set last year with an eye to seeing how successful I was.

On paper I wasn’t super successful, but as I mentioned at the start of this (very long) entry, it’s always interesting to see how my priorities shift and change over the year. While my health-based priorities remain the same and I really need to devote more time, energy and effort to them I’m perfectly good with the progress I made on my other goals. Writing a lot of novels got pushed back a bit in favour of editing a lot of anthologies, for example. I’m good with that, and very proud of the results.

I know a great number of my friends struggled through 2014 in ways that meant getting dressed each morning was a victory, but overall, 2014 was a very good year for me. How did it treat you? Did you accomplish most of the things you set out to do? Are you happy with what you managed?

I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to see what 2015 has to offer. I’ll be making a new set of goals for myself and sharing them here in the near future. If you do the same please let me know, I like seeing the goals other people set for themselves, sometimes they help inspire mine 🙂

Dear Santa (2014)

Santa

It has become a Giftmas tradition on my blog for me to write a wishlist of gifts I’d like Santa to bring me. To be super clear, I’m not asking any of you to buy these things for me… well, with the possible exception of Jo LoL I just like making wishlists 🙂

Dear Santa,

I have worked really hard this year and been (pretty) good on top of that. I feel confident I ought to be on your Nice list, anyway. So with that in mind, this year for Giftmas I would like:

  • A white board. Not a huge one, I just want something to keep better track of anthology deadlines (ones I want to submit to and ones I’m editing LOL) and have it easily visible. Originally I wanted a chalkboard but Jo was like ‘Gah! Dust!’ so… white board?
  • As you probably know, I drink a lot of tea. I do not, however, wash a lot of dishes. I’d like the “Art Harder Mother Fucker” mug from Chuck Wendig for when my favourite mugs arLise Watiere dirty. It probably goes without saying that I’d like the larger size, but just in case…
  • I’m not following WWE as closely as I was last year, but that doesn’t mean I don’t still like their swag. I really love Dolph’s new shirtAJ’s shirt, and pretty much all of Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns’ clothes (except the women’s tee shirts because they always rip right away).
  • Lise Watier’s winter collection this year is amazing. I’d be especially grateful to see the Teal Iridescent eyeshadow in my stocking. Though really, anything from that collection aside from the lip colours (bleh) would find a very good home with me 🙂
  • I’m nearly out of the notebooks I prefer to write my first drafts in, if you’d be willing to help me restock that would be awesome. My preferred type are the ‘Journals’ with the fake leather covers from Winnable.com because awesome.
  • I’m always open to new books, more music and Dragon Age: Inquisition looks like a lot of fun (even though I still haven’t played DA: 2. But whatever.)
  • This year my favourite charity thing (because Niteblade is regularly donating to Save the Chimps and Fauna Foundation) is the Girls’ Take Home Rations from Plan. Awesome idea.
  • Oh, and Santa, you know how three years ago I said, “I could also really use some baseboards and riser thingers for my bathroom and kitchen. If we don’t finish them up soon they are just going to blend into the background and we’ll never get them done.” Well… we have some of the riser thingers (one is even installed!) but as for those baseboards… can ye help me out, dude?

Love,

Rhonda

 

And now, because it has also become a tradition, Tim Minchin everyone:

 

Giftmas Cards

house

This month I’m hoping to be able to help share people’s winter holiday stories and traditions. To that end I asked people to send me guest blogs. Today was the deadline (and I’m pre-scheduling this LoL) so I don’t actually know how many have come in. By this evening I will, though, and that will make me able to spread however many there are (*fingers crossed for lots*) over the month.

In the meantime, I wanted to start the month off in the holiday spirit 🙂

I have cards.

Around here we celebrate a secular version of Christmas I like to call Giftmas… but maybe I should call these Christmas cards, because some of them say ‘Christmas’ in them. Mostly, though, they are secular wintery, cute animaly cards. Would you like one?

I’d love to add you to my Giftmas card list, so if you send me your snail mail address by filling out the form below (which I really, really hope is working) I will send you a Giftmas card. Also, right after the envelope containing your card is addressed I promise to delete/purge/forget your address ever existed and not use it again without your permission. The exception here is if we’re already snail mail pen pals LOL

Also, it goes without saying that I won’t give your address away or sell it to anyone, right? Right.

 

Holiday Traditions

December is creeping ever nearer and I thought it might be fun to spend it sharing holiday traditions on my blog.

To that end I’m asking my friends and readers (that means you) to write a guest blog about your holiday traditions and email it to me at rhonda@jofigure.com by December 1st. What I’m hoping is that I’ll get a really nice selection of posts talking about New Year’s (Chinese and otherwise), Christmas, Giftmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Solstice and especially anything I missed.

Other than that the posts/stories you share be true and be about the winter holidays the door is pretty much wide open on these blog posts.

Want to give away a book or use them to pimp one of your ongoing projects? Please do.

Rather share a holiday story from your childhood? Yes please!

Feel like telling us all what you’re doing this year? Sounds awesome.

If you have any questions or concerns about details drop me a line (Here, there, anywhere we connect) and please consider contributing.

As my youngest niece (quoting a big purple dinosaur) has been known to say, “Sharing is caring.” so let’s do a little of both, and have some fun along with it.

C’mon… you know you wanna!

😉

ETA: Okay, we’re going to relax the ‘The story you share needs to be true’ rule with one exception — if you’re a writer you can also choose to share a story about one of your character’s winter holidays. Because why not? 🙂

 

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Caboose on the A is for Apocalypse Blog Train

Tracks 'n Train photograph by Rhonda ParrishLike all good things, the A is for Apocalypse blog train had to eventually come to an end. This is the caboose on our train, and I’m sorry to see it happen but it’s been a really good run so far. If you’ve missed any of the posts, you can check them out here:

A is for Apocalypse Blog Tour:

Rhonda Parrish ~ Apocalyptic Blog Train
Pete Aldin ~ How Will The End Come?
C.S. MacCath ~ Car #3 on the A is for Apocalypse Blog Train
Simon Kewin ~ A is for Apocalypse: The Blog Train
Milo James Fowler ~ A is for Apocalypse, C is for…?
Sara Cleto ~ A is for Apocalypse Blog Train
Alexis A. Hunter ~ Apocalyptic vs Post-Apocalyptic
Alexandra Seidel ~ A is for Apocalypse Blog Train
BD Wilson ~ Car 9: It’s the End of the World As We Know It
Samantha Kymmell-Harvey ~ A is for Apocalypse Blog Train – All Aboard!
Rhonda Parrish ~ Caboose on the A is for Apocalypse Train

I feel like, as the final participant in this train I ought to have something fantastic, something mind-blowing and world-shaking to share… but I haven’t. All the people who blogged before me and talked about the appeal of apocalyptic stories, defining apocalyptic stories and gave sneak peeks at the process that went into their A is for Apocalypse story? Well, they all pretty much nailed it. I could blog about those things, but I’d largely be repeating them.

Instead, let me tell you about something that scared the crap out of me.

Some people are scared of the end of the world (or the things that cause it like natural disasters, war, climate change) and I’m not immune to all those fears but let me tell you, they don’t scare me nearly as much as editing this anthology did.

I have control issues. Big ones.

I’ve been working on them pretty hard over the past few years; handing over control of the online version of Niteblade to BD Wilson for example, or making Alexandra Seidel our poetry editor — these were very big things for me. But neither of those things came anywhere close to how I felt when it came to this anthology. I was picking 26 authors, giving them the topic of ‘Apocalypse’, a letter from the alphabet and a titling structure for their story (Letter is for Word) and then promising to buy whatever story they produced as long as it wouldn’t send me to jail.

A guaranteed acceptance.

Dude… that was tough.

Even though I had only offered spots to writer’s whose work I loved and respected, even though I would be able to edit their stories with them before they were published, even though…

It was scary. Difficult.

And it wasn’t just scary for me. I have several contributors send me notes to tell me they were finding it scarier, more difficult to write their story for A is for Apocalypse than any other thing they’d written because they knew it would be accepted. Knowing that made them put extra pressure on themselves to make it as good a story as it could be.

The results are phenomenal. I don’t think I could have gotten the variety of stories, the high-quality of stories, that are in this anthology in any other way.

Twenty seven of us were brave together and the result is A is for Apocalypse. I’m so very proud of it and of us. Every one of us.

 

A is for Apocalypse edited by Rhonda Parrish, cover design by Jonathan Parrish

Praise for A is for Apocalypse:

“In A is for Apocalypse, the world ends in both fire and ice–and by asteroid, flood, virus, symphony, immortality, the hands of our vampire overlords, and crowdfunding. A stellar group of authors explores over two dozen of the bangs and whispers that might someday take us all out. Often bleak, sometimes hopeful, always thoughtful, if A is for Apocalypse is as prescient as it is entertaining, we’re in for quite a ride.”

– Amanda C. Davis, author of The Lair of the Twelve Princesses

“A is for Apocalypse is a clever anthology that I’d recommend to anyone who is a fan of hard science fiction.”

– Astilbe, Long and Short Reviews

A is for Apocalypse

Available now at:
Amazon (Kindle)
Amazon (Paperback*)
Kobo
Smashwords
CreateSpace Paperback
And also at Goodreads

If you’ve read and enjoyed A is for Apocalypse, please consider leaving a review for us at your favourite review site (Amazon, Goodreads, LibraryThing…) or if you’re not a fan of writing reviews, even just giving a star rating would make us happy. Every little bit helps.

Thank you!

*If you purchase the paperback from Amazon you ought to be able to get the Kindle version for free.

zOctober 2014

zOctober2014badge

In October I’m going to participate in zOctober 2014 at My Book Addiction. I’m also hoping to have a few zombie-centric things going on at my blog here (though nothing quite as intense as the Summer of Zombie Blog Tour). Hopefully that will coincide with the release of my newest zombie title *fingers crossed*

This is mostly a head’s up, but if you’d like to swap some zombie-centric blog posts, provide a guest post or participate in an interview on my blog let me know 🙂

Fae Launch Party at WWC 2014

Laura VanArendonk Baugh reading from And Only the Eyes of ChildrenWe held the Canadian launch of Fae this past weekend at When Words Collide in Calgary.

I was so nervous. SO nervous. I’d never hosted a book launch before, hell, I’d never even spoken at a convention before*. So. Freaking. Nervous.

I shouldn’t have been, it was amazing.

To start I said a (very) few words, then turned the floor over to Laura VanArendonk Baugh. Laura had come all the way from Indianapolis to attend the launch (and the convention) and it was fantastic to get to meet her and hang out. Laura read some of her amazing Fae story, And Only The Eyes of Children and definitely left the audience wanting more.

Oh! The audience. Did I mention the audience?

When Laura said she would be coming to the convention I said something like, “That would be great, but I’ve never done one of these so I don’t know how many people to expect. It could just be me, you and Adria playing pinochle.” She came anyway, and dudes? It wasn’t just the three of us. We had a full room:

This is the audience for the launch of Fae at WWC

That’s not actually everyone but it gives you an idea. Definitely not just us playing cards 🙂

One of the biggest reasons we had a great turnout is because of Adria Laycraft, here she is reading from her Fae story, Water Sense:

Adria Laycraft reading from her story, Water Sense, at the Fae launch at WWC 2014Adria was a juggernaut when it came to inviting people to the launch (both this physical one in Calgary and our online one at Facebook where she won a prize for being the person to invite the most people).

Anywho… Adria read from her story, Water Sense. She was a strong and engaging reader and though I’d (obviously) read her story several times before it was great to hear it come alive in her voice.

Adria recently co-edited an anthology called Urban Green Man with Janice Blaine, and thinking that green men and fairies go together incredibly well, I’d invited her to have some of the contributors to that anthology read as well. Thus, we were lucky enough to hear some work from it too including a poem by Peter Storey and stories from Randy McCharles and Billie Milholland.

We sold a couple copies of Fae at the launch on Friday afternoon but we also had copies available downstairs at the shared author’s table (which I understand is run by IFWA). On Saturday afternoon I got a Facebook message from Adria which said, essentially, “Rhonda, the dealer’s room is sold out of copies of Fae, do you have any more?”

I didn’t.

We sold every copy of Fae I brought with me.

OMG YAY!

(On a somewhat related note, I’m pretty sure Urban Green Man and Laura’s book Con Job: a murder mystery also sold out)

So freaking happy!

At the same time I feel bad for the people who wanted to get a copy but couldn’t. If you still need to pick up a copy, follow this link. That will take you to World Weaver Press’s Fae page. From there you can order copies directly from them or you can pick up a copy from your favourite retailer using WWP’s direct links to places it is available.

-or-

Ask your local bookstore or library to order it in.

I will also have a handful of copies at World Fantasy and Pure Spec.

In the meantime, I’m totally calling our launch of Fae at WWC a success. And who knows, maybe that’s where we’ll launch Corvidae and Scarecrow next year. You just never know 😉

Some more pictures from our launch, I apologise for the quality of these pictures but I had to choose between bringing my good camera and fewer books or my crappy camera and more books. I went with the crappy camera and more books… which we sold out, so I think I made the right choice 🙂

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*I don’t usually get nervous speaking in public, but there’s something about talking about any of my books that is a big exception to that LOL

When Words Collide Conversations

My tattoo, on the inside of my left forearm. Art by Kat Hayes.ink1I love writing conventions. I’ve only been to a few, but every time I leave feeling exhausted, but also invigorated, inspired and motivated.

During his pre-convention marketing workshop Mark Leslie spoke about serendipity and creating the opportunity to make connections by attending things like conventions and festivals. The whole time he was talking about it I was just nodding along with him. Every time I’ve attended a convention-type-thing I’ve met new people and made new friends and connections. Attending When Words Collide last weekend was no exception.

I met Laura VanArendonk Baugh and Adria Laycraft who have stories in Fae, Leslie and Megan who I’ve connected with online for what feels like forever but is actually closer to a few months, people I share tables of contents with, publishers who’ve believed in my work enough to include it in their titles, local writers who I somehow hadn’t managed to connect with before and lots of other new people (readers, writers, editors, marketers… the list goes on and on…).

And I got to re-connect with people who I only get to see at events like this.

Also? I got to have conversations like these (vagueified–which should totally be a word–anonymized and paraphrased):

~*~

Him: Can I see your tattoo?
Me: Blah blah blah… as you can see I like corvidae. In fact, I’m editing an anthology called Corvidae, and a companion anthology entitled Scarecrow.
Him: I have a scarecrow story, how would I send that to you?

~*~

Me: I’ve always wanted to write a book about THIS THING which totally falls into the same category as a lot of your work but I lack the expertise and there never seems to be enough time in the day.
Him: Do you want to write it together?
Me: Uh, lemmethinkaboutthat–YES^

~*~

Friend: Oh my god! After that panel where part of my story was read I was approached by a publisher and asked to submit!

(Note: When awesome things like this happen to your friends, it’s almost as cool as when they happen to you. It’s amazing to be there in person to help them celebrate.)

~*~

Me: I can’t wait to read your book, when does it come out?
Her: *tells me*
Me: I don’t know if I can wait that long. Do you need blurbs? If I like it as much as I think I will…
Her: Oh, that would be great. I hate asking people for blurbs!

~*~

Awesomesauce Editor, after reading & marking up the opening to Hollow^: I like this. I really like this. Close your eyes and listen to this *reads my (edited) story back to me*
Me: Wow. I didn’t know I could write that well!

~*~

Post on Facebook: Rhonda! The dealer’s room is sold out of copies of Fae, do you have any more?^

~*~

A couple different people (!!): Rhonda Parrish? I’ve heard of you… (and they didn’t mean in a bad way LoL)

~*~

Me, right before my first panel ever in life: Dude, I’m really, really, really nervous.
Fellow Panelist, who is awesome #1: Come sit over here beside me.

Me, after being on my first panel ever in life: Oh man! I made it through and I’m pretty sure I didn’t even say anything stupid! (my goal for every panel was just not to say something stupid. I think I only failed once LoL)
Fellow Panelist, who is awesome #2: You were great. Hugs!

~*~

My point? Conventions rock. I’ve never regretted attending one, and I had an especially awesome time at When Words Collide. Such a good time, in fact, that I’m already registered to attend it again next year. Maybe I’ll see you there?

 

^more on this later or much later as is appropriate given the subject

Three Things I Write & Three Things I Don’t

I didn’t know what picture to put in this blog, so I went with this dude. These are photographs I took a few weeks ago of a ghost magpie. They aren’t great but in my defense the magpie didn’t stick around long enough for me to get any awesome angles LoL Though these leucistic magpies have been spotted all over, Edmonton seems to have the largest concentration of them, and some people call it the “capital of the world” for ghost magpies. I love them. I love corvids of all types, of course, but these imperfect albino magpies are so beautiful… Also, because they are much more rare than their ‘normal’ brethren, it always, always, always makes me incredibly happy to see one. You feel… privileged. It’s almost like rarity adds value or something 😉

Anyway, I love them so much that I’ve been stalking them with my camera for a couple years now (and only have these two photographs to show for it so far — they seem a bit camera shy), and I even wrote one into the YA horror novel I’m working on, Hollow. And *that* is the connection between these photographs and this blog post, because this blog post is about three things I write and three things I don’t 🙂

Cory Cone tagged me in this blog hop and promised to be patient if I took a wee bit longer than I should to participate. Since Cory made his post back in May and I’m just doing mine now, I would say he’s been more than patient! I met Cory through Niteblade, when he sent me one of my favourite zombie stories ever, Compassion, During and After the Fall. Cory is also contributing to both A is for Apocalypse and B is for Broken and his work has been published in plenty of other places too. Because he’s awesome.

Anyway, Cory tagged me in this hop so I’m supposed to talk about three things I do write, and three things I don’t.

Three Things I Don’t Write:

I’m struggling with this one. I really am. I write a lot of things across all sorts of genres and styles… I was going to say ‘I don’t write mysteries’ but I do, I just wrap them up in a fantasy setting first. Or ‘I don’t write MG’ but I used to… and still do on occasion to give as gifts to nieces and nephews… Tricky!

I don’t write… oh my gawd. This is really *hard*!

I was going to say I don’t write 2nd person point of view, but then I remembered the website I made on Geocities way back when that was a choose your own adventure page “You find yourself in a giant library…” and so I couldn’t go with that. Then I was going to talk about how I don’t write the kind of fiction my daughter likes to read but even though it wasn’t meant to, that just sounded all self-pitying… so… what don’t I write?

Uh… I’m going to come back to this.

Three Things I Write:

I write poetry.

I write a fair amount of poetry, actually. And I’ve been paid more for and received far more recognition for my poetry than I have my prose, and yet I still don’t have the confidence to call myself a poet or to talk about my poetry in the same way as I do my prose. It’s because poetry is intimidating, dudes (I wrote a guest column about that a couple years ago). It’s scary. Scary in a way prose just isn’t. I don’t write super deep poems, and maybe that’s part of it, and (don’t tell anyone but) sometimes when I read poetry that other people love, it totally goes over my head. So maybe that’s the thing, it’s so much more subjective than prose? I don’t know…

And that has turned into a bit of a ramble, but the point is, I write poems. I’ve had a lot of them published (I think my zombie poems might be the most popular ones) and even had two nominated for awards. So there’s that.

I’ll even share one here. I submitted this one to one market and they said they’d publish it… except that they were closing their doors >_< Sadly, I haven’t been able to find another suitable place to send it, so I’ll post it here instead 🙂

Eowyn
She enjoys her petty power
clings to it tooth and claw,
terrified of what she’d be without it.

A wall of pride protects
her soft heart, deep insecurities,
camouflages her unique flavour of crazy.

My cat. Myself.

Ghost Magpie - Photograph by Rhonda ParrishI Write Fantasy (Mostly Dark)

This covers the bulk of what I write. Even most of my poems fall into the fantasy genre. Usually my work is on the dark side of the spectrum, but still fantasy. It’s tough, sometimes, to figure out where the line between dark fantasy and horror is and I suspect some of my stuff straddles that line while other stories stomp on it. I seem to especially love giving sentience to things that usually lack it. Fun!

I Write Horror (Including Zombies)

I don’t seem to write the sort of straight-up horror I grew up on (I wrote a book report on Stephen King’s book Christine when I was in grade three. Have I mentioned that my mother never censored what I read? LOL) but as I said above, a lot of my work falls on the dark side of the speculative spectrum (heh, spec spec) and some slips over the line between fantasy and horror. It’s not goretastic horror though. I enjoy reading that from time to time, but I don’t seem to write it much. Even when I’m dealing with zombies there isn’t very many entrails spilling from guts like slippery eels or blood spurting fountain-like from severed limbs. Sometimes… but not much.

Which, I suppose, I ought to have put under

 

Three Things I Don’t Write:

I Don’t Write A Lot Of Gore

Now, I may have to re-read my shelved zombie novel, Deadmonton (set, you guessed it, in Edmonton. Because I’m just that clever :-p) to be sure I’m not lying here… but I don’t write a whole lot of gore. I’m not averse to reading or watching it but it’s not something that makes its way into my work very often. It’s not a conscious decision, it’s just kind of how things have worked out.

I Don’t Write Science Fiction

I often feel like this is a bit of a waste, really. After all, I’m married to a freaking scientist, but I don’t write science fiction. What’s up with that? Somewhat like the poetry thing, I think I find writing science fiction intimidating. The details are SO important, and if you’re going to use real science there’s no real room for error. It’s kinda scary… So that’s probably the biggest reason I don’t write it… though I also doing think I have many sci-fi ideas, really. If I did have a fantastic story to tell that could best be told as science fiction I’d like to think I’d be brave enough to give it a shot, but so far that situation hasn’t come up.

I Don’t Write Book Reviews

I know, this one is a bit of a cop-out, but I’m going with it anyway. I don’t write book reviews. Not really. I’ve tried in the past and it’s just not a skill I have. On the surface it’s like, “C’mon, how hard can it be? You say what the book is about and then what you thought of it.” but really it’s much more complex than that. I’m not very good at it. So though on Goodreads I will occasionally give my opinion of a book I’ve just finished, I wouldn’t ever really call myself a book reviewer. Because I’m not.

 

Yay! I found three things I don’t write and I managed to refrain from posting more than three things that I do. I’m going to call that a victory 🙂

Now, to end this blog hop I get to tag some more people to participate. All my tagees (which should totally be a word) volunteered for this when I put a call out on Twitter 🙂

First up is Doug Blakeslee who wasn’t sure exactly what he was getting himself into, but was a good enough sport to volunteer anyway 😉

The lovely Ms. Alexis A. Hunter also said she’d participate. I met Alexis through Niteblade as well, when she sent us a great apocalyptic story. Later she came on staff as a slush reader (and a great one at that!) and we became friends through that and social media.

I met Warren C. Bennett on Twitter, where he has shown himself to be clever, friendly and a huge fan of tacos. What more could you possibly want?

Last, but certainly not least (and possibly ironically since she was the first to volunteer), Stephanie Faris has offered to participate in this blog hop. I met Stephanie during this years Blogging From A to Z Challenge and found her to be one of the most amazing people and bloggers. She’s the kind of blogger who even though she gets dozens of comments on every one of her posts still finds time to visit her commenter’s blogs and leave intelligent, insightful comments. My hat’s off…

Do be sure to check out their blogs over the coming weeks as they’ll each be writing about Three Things They Write and Three Things They Don’t. (Why did I capitalize those words? And perhaps more importantly, why am I writing this out rather than just going back and un-capitalizing them? #ThingsThatMakeYouGoHmm )

A Confession Regarding Zombies

The Clockwork DaggerBeth is one of my favourite people as well as being one of my favourite authors. Her steampunk novel, The Clockwork Dagger, is scheduled for release in September (Not to brag but I’ve had a sneak peek — you’re going to love it!). Just check out that cover, then click on it to add it to your ‘To-read’ shelf on Goodreads. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

Doot doot.

Done?

Good. Now go ahead and read Beth’s confession regarding zombies…

A Confession Regarding Zombies
by Beth Cato

I recently spoke to middle graders about writing. I opened my talk by summarizing my writing in a way to get their interest–“I write about a hundred different ways to end the world, and a few ways to save it.”

This caused a boy to raise his hand with the desperate need to speak about, as he termed it, “his favorite apocalypses.” He asked for my top ten and then had to talk about his all time top five. At the top of his list: zombies. “There’s just something about the walking undead,” he said, his eyes shining with delight.

Meanwhile, I was trying to hide my shudder.

I have a confession to make: I’m a speculative fiction writer who is completely squicked by zombies.

I will not watch The Walking Dead. I try to avoid most zombie movies. I rarely read zombie-themed books–and when I like it, that means it’s a pretty big endorsement on my part. (Ex-Heroes by Peter Clines is one from the past year that I definitely recommend: it’s post-apocalyptic Los Angles with superheroes AND zombies. Great stuff.)

That said, I haven’t ignored the trend entirely. I’ve made a few contributions to zombie lit–“Brains for Breakfast,” which is in Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader Presents Flush Fiction and a poem, “What Remains,” in a zombie-themed issue of Penumbra. But that’s it.

I’m not bothered by the undead in general. Liches? Awesome. I love the idea of undead wizards. Mummies are nifty, especially if they are intelligent. Really, I don’t mind animated bodies that retain some cognitive function.

That’s really the key. The thing that perturbs me about zombies is their mindlessness–no memory, no awareness, no sense of self. To me, that’s the worst fate possible, to become an empty vessel.

It’s a very real concern for me. My paternal grandfather died because of Alzheimer’s. We’ve been told, “This might run in your family. You just have to wait and see.”

I wasn’t close to that grandfather. I lived in California; he lived in Alabama. I only saw him a few times in my life, and only once after his diagnosis. It was a very sad meeting, especially for my dad who wasn’t recognized at all. My grandfather stared into space, his eyes vacant. He drooled. I never had the chance to know him, and I never would, and now he didn’t even know who I was.

And I’m left to wonder… will my own brain betray me in this way? Will I see my dad’s consciousness slowly fade from his eyes?

Zombies are the horror genre to me. The real deal. But maybe that’s exactly why people are attracted to zombies, and why they are indeed at the top of so many people’s favorite apocalypse lists. People want to understand their deepest fear. Maybe that’s why I can’t help but write about zombies sometimes, too.

***

This guest blog is part of a series of posts this month featuring zombies. I’m focusing on zombies for the month of June to celebrate the release of my book, Waste Not (And Other Funny Zombie Stories)

About My Cover

This is me and my beautiful daughter, Danica:

Rhonda and Danica ParrishPhotograph by Cindy Gannon

And this is the cover for my latest title, Waste Not (And Other Funny Zombie Stories):

Waste Not (And Other Funny Zombie Stories)

It’s not exactly a typical zombie cover, is it? You can’t even tell if there are any zombies on it. Well, since the stories inside aren’t of the scary/gorey type of zombie tales I didn’t want the cover to be like that either. Also, it just so happens that Danica is an artist. A pretty talented artist (even if I am biased to think so :-p):

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One day, on Facebook I logged in and saw this:

Mom, Please Buy Me -- art by Danica Parrish

In case you can’t read that it says, “Plz buy me this program Mom”. She’d found a drawing program that was compatible with her tablet and she wanted me to buy it for her. Now, Danica doesn’t lack for anything she needs but we do try not to just hand her everything she wants, so I told her that if she drew art work for the cover for Waste Not (And Other Funny Zombie Stories) I would pay her the exact amount of money she needed to buy that program.

I asked her for a cover with a cat, a scarecrow and a yellow brick road.

After several different mock-ups, including this one when I asked her to make something “a bit more cartoony” (my daughter is nothing if not a smart ass):

by Danica Parrish

We ended up with this as the final product:

Cover art for Waste Not (And Other Funny Zombie Stories) by Danica Parrish

I passed that on to Jo (my husband) and he played around with it, eventually turning it into the final cover for Waste Not that you see up top there.

Even though we didn’t go with the full colour version in the end, I did want to be sure and show it off because I think it’s wonderful, especially the glow from the Emerald City you can see on the horizon 🙂

The cover then was an undertaking for the whole family, which makes it pretty damn special to me, and probably pretty unique in the zombie fiction world in more ways than one LOL Not many families can say they’ve created a zombie book together, I wouldn’t think 😉