Ways I’m Keeping Myself Sane(ish) in 2017

These aren’t New Year’s resolutions because January first is an arbitrary date and YOU CAN’T CONTROL ME, GREGORIAN CALENDAR!

But these are little things I’m doing to make me feel better about how I interact with the world. Take a look, one might be helpful to you.

Delete Twitter from my phone.
The problem is that I like Twitter. I spent a lot of time finding interesting articles, keeping up with interesting people, laughing at funny threads, and chit-chatting with friendly writers and writer friends who are far away. I like that. A lot.

What I don’t like is how much of my time was spent there. Time I could be doing the things I claim I want to do and don’t have time for. And I didn’t like how much of what I saw in my feed was inflammatory nonsense, or how people I like and respect were trolled.

I’ll still use Twitter. Just not on my phone. And that, I hope, makes me a little more purposeful about what I use my time for. Like …

Write every day.
This is one I’ve tried before, but it didn’t stick well. I still wrote, and a fair amount (see launched book here), but it was often in fits and spurts.

I find when I write every day for any significant stretch, I feel good. I’m a happier person when I write frequently. And when I write frequently, the writing comes easier. And consequently, I’m even happier.

Being happier and more productive is nice. So I’m going to do it more.

Read more.
I used to eat books like they were Girl Scout Thin Mints. (No, not straight out of the freezer; this is a metaphor, people.) But in the past few years it was life and work and blah, blah blah … we all know the things that go here because we all have those things.

And of course I’ve been reading, but not as much as I once did. And I probably won’t read as much as I once did until I retire, but I’d still like to read more than I did in 2016. So I set up a Goodreads challenge to read 40 books in 2017, but that might only happen if reading The Gruffalo over and over counts toward the total. (If it does, I definitely hit at least 100 in 2016.)

Pay for high-quality news.
I want analytical, insightful, well written information from someone who’s studied journalism. I want news that informs first, rather than entertains or placates or agitates. And I understand that to get that kind of quality, I have to pay for it. My particular choice is The Economist – it’s exceedingly well written, it’s analytical, they pay their writers as far as I can tell, and they make their slight bias clear. (All journalists and news outlets have a bias. If they tell you they don’t, they’re either lying or ignorant.)

Plus, supporting good, analytical news is important for at least two reasons:

  1. I get clear, sometimes challenging knowledge about what’s important in the world because a for-pay news service is necessarily focused on the quality of their reporting and information. (I’m trying to avoid GIGO for my brain.)
  2. Paying for news out of my pocket helps journalists focus on news. In order to keep turning a profit, “free” news services often need to focus more on keeping advertisers happy and appealing to the most people possible for good click rates and stickiness of their sites and apps. This is not conducive to thoughtful, challenging reporting.

Support causes I believe in.
I don’t have specifics here. More research is required in this, an ongoing effort to be engaged in what happens to our world and the people I care about. But a few of the many things that are important to me include supporting libraries and spreading the availability and quality of education. Certainly, there are many just and wonderful causes. But it seems to me that all those just causes will do much better when lots of people are informed, thoughtful, participants.

 

And you? What are your secrets for clinging to your sanity in 2017?

New Book Release! OUT OF THE FIRE is … um, Out!

So much going on, including celebrating the release with Evan Ronan, planning the final arc of the entire Out of the Fire series, and seeing Rogue One, that here’s just a very quick notice:

The first in a new urban fantasy thriller series is available now!

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This is a little different from our historical series (clearly), and I hope you enjoy all the adventure and danger we put these new characters through. Check it out at Amazon and let us know what you think!

 

Cover Reveal and Giveaway for a New Urban Fantasy Thriller – OUT OF THE FIRE

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Step 1: check out that gorgeous cover!

Step 2: enter to win a FREE SIGNED COPY at Goodreads!

Out of the Fire is what Evan and I call our post-apocalyptic, urban fantasy thriller. It’s the first book in a new series and will be available in print and ebook on December 16th. We’re so excited about this new cast of characters, setting, and genre, and I hope you’ll enter to win an autographed copy and add it to your to-be-read list.

Here’s the teaser:

After magic floods into the world, bringing with it unimaginable power, ex-rock star Tucker Ambrus and firefighter Andrew Byrne’s city is nearly destroyed by a devastating storm of fire.

Now, as the unlikely leaders of a desperate band of survivors, Tucker and Byrne struggle to unite and protect what’s left of a panicked, lawless public—both from themselves, and from new supernatural terrors like the mysterious eruptions of churning gray that devour everything in their path.

But when influential leaders begin disappearing and chaos splits the survivors into warring factions, Tucker and Byrne must race to uncover a secret that links a crazed murderer to the deadly surges of magic and halt them both before it’s too late … though if they succeed, they risk igniting another firestorm and tearing their homes, and their friendship, apart.

We hope you enjoy it, good luck in the giveaway, and watch for Out of the Fire on December 16th!

 

Language of the Bear ON SALE NOW – Historical Fiction for Just $0.99

Where else can you get assassination attempts through hostile wilderness for just $0.99?

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Just this weekend, get the first book in the historical adventure Tomahawk & Saber series for Kindle for less than a buck!

(You can read the full description for the book on the Amazon link above – and a billion other places on my site. So please check it out and it might just be the summer read you’re looking for!)

Free Short Story: “The Slut Buck” in Apiary Magazine

Andrew didn’t know that he’d killed the slut buck. He’d just settled to one knee, trained the crosshairs on the broadside and squeezed the trigger.

That’s the first line of my story “The Slut Buck” that appeared in Apiary Magazine a few years ago. You can read the whole thing here.

While you’re there, take a minute to check out some of the great poetry and fiction they’ve published … there’s a lot of good stuff, including one poem I really enjoyed called “Dr. Hermitcrab” by Max Webber.

Enjoy!

 

 

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Wrath of the Ice Dragon and 20 Free Books

The best sledding of my life didn’t happen on a hill. Or even on a sled.

And I tell that story over at Eileen Wiedbrauk’s website as part of Rhonda Parrish’s Giftmas Blog Tour.

So go now for a fun little story about my childhood. And while you’re there, be sure to enter for a chance to win a MASSIVE package of 20 FREE BOOKS and other swag.

And, hey. Since I know you love books and reading, be sure to take a look at the other writers and participants in the Giftmas Blog Tour. Suzanne van Rooyen offered suggested gifts for writers on my site, and there are a whole bunch of other top-notch writers on this blog tour schedule.

So please take a second to check it all out and be sure to enter the giveaway for a chance to win lots of cool stuff, including paperback copies of my two historical novels from the Tomahawk and Saber series.

Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

 

A Writer’s Christmas Wishlist – Giftmas Blog Tour

giftmas_rectangleRhonda Parrish has been here before, and she was nice enough and ambitious enough to organize and include me in her Giftmas Blog Tour. (Full explanation when you click on the above image.)

The main idea is there will be at least one blog post dedicated to the theme each day in December, hosted by a number of other writers and editors.  I’m hosting a guest today, I’ll be hosted elsewhere later, and … AND …  if you read to the bottom, you’ll find a chance to win a whole ton of prizes, including a grand prize of TWENTY FREE BOOKS.

And here, folks, is Suzanne van Rooyen’s “A Writer’s Christmas Wishlist:”

Buying Christmas presents for regular people often proves tricky or expensive, usually both. Buying Christmas presents for the writerly people in your life, doesn’t have to be either! I’ve compiled a writerly Christmas wishlist of things I’d really love for Christmas (hint hint, friends and family if you’re reading this) and think that other writers might find these useful, fun, and awesome too. You’re welcome 🙂

 1) Aquanotes

aqua-notes-homeEvery author has experienced the magic of the shower. There is no place like the shower for being struck by inspiration. Sadly, most of the brilliant ideas born beneath suds and spray end up swirling down the drain because the moment you step out of the shower, the ideas vanish. That’s why every writer needs Aquanotes, the water-proof solution to note-taking while in the shower!

 2) Space Pen

This remarkable invention writes at any angle and is perfect for those just-before-I-fall-asleep inspiration attacks that leave writers scrabbling for the notepad they always keep beside their bed. However, pens rarely write upside down and by the time the half-asleep writer has managed to adjust into a better position, the idea has disappeared. This is why the space pen is a necessity.

 3) Cute pyjamas

Never doubt the power of comfy clothes! All writers know they are far more productive on the days they spend writing in pyjamas. But each writer is different and needs their own particular brand of comfy cute. I have a strong preference for woolly Hello Kitty pjs, but I wouldn’t say no to a fleecey Snoopy onesie either. And don’t forget we write in summer too and might need some lighter yet no less comfy jammies for the warmer days spent at the computer.

 4) Snacks

Some writers like to go the healthy route, cramming handfuls of nuts and dried fruit into their mouths between paragraphs. Others among us prefer real brain-food like chocolate, M&Ms, Skittles, Smarties, cookies, marshmallows, and anything involving peanut-butter. A basket full of snacks to fuel the writer brain would be a truly fantastic gift – just don’t expect your writer friend to share.

 5) Beverages

And along with the snacks, perhaps you could throw in a few beverages of your writer’s choice. Personally, I write best when clutching a glass of delicious pinot noir. Shiraz is fine too. And don’t forget dark roasted coffee, and plenty of herbal tea for those days when the caffeine-induced jitters make typing a little too tricky. If you love your writer, you’ll supply them with exactly what they need be it coffee, wine, or something stronger.

 6) A quirky mug

Now of course we have to drink our beverage of choice out of something. Make sure you have your writer’s house correct before handing them a Ravenclaw mug when really they’re a Gryffindor and how dare you think otherwise! If you’re not too au fait with all things HP, then play it safe and stick with mugs bearing inspiring messages like ‘there, their, they’re’ – your writer will appreciate it. Also, the bigger the mug the better – obviously!

And there you have it. Now you know exactly how to fill the Christmas stocking of the writer in your life. If you have any more suggestions, please leave them in the comments and I will gratefully append them to my list!

___

Suzanne author photoThe author of THE OTHER ME, I HEART ROBOT and the forthcoming SCARDUST, Suzanne van Rooyen is a tattooed storyteller from South Africa. She currently lives in Sweden and is busy making friends with the ghosts of her Viking ancestors. Although she has a Master’s degree in music, Suzanne prefers conjuring strange worlds and creating quirky characters. When she grows up, she wants to be an elf – until then, she spends her time (when not writing) wall climbing, buying far too many books, and entertaining her shiba inu, Lego.

You can find Suzanne on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Goodreads, and her website.

One more thing! If you like free stuff, remember to enter the giveaway below – there are lots of chances to improve your chances of winning a prize, which includes the grand prize of TWENTY BOOKS plus some more swag!

 

Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

Get Your Hands on 226 Pages of Kidnapping, Backstabbing, Bloody Mayhem (and Maybe Even a Bit of Romance)

Surprise! The paperback version of book 2 of the Tomahawk and Saber series is out a few days earlier than scheduled. So you can literally get your hands on this book now.

Through the Narrows

In this book, which some of the early readers thought was even more suspenseful than Language of the Bear, we go along with Pyke and Wolf Tongue as they … well, I’ll just give you the jacket copy:

Wolf Tongue of the Susquehannock and Lieutenant Hugh Pyke of the British Army barely survived their first mission together. Now with the French and Indian War beginning to flame around them, the frontier of the Pennsylvania Colony is restless.

When they’re called back to protect Millers Town from Indian raiders, Pyke and Wolf Tongue discover the settlement is outnumbered and there is no militia to reinforce them. Even worse, Pyke and Wolf Tongue fear the townsfolk harbor secrets just as deadly as their attackers.

As Pyke tries to build a haphazard defense with a band of farmers and children against an almost inevitable slaughter, the mysteries of the town begin to unravel. Pyke realizes his life is in danger from the very people he is duty-bound to protect—perhaps, even from the beautiful French outcast who seems to know more than she should.

With a final, crushing attack imminent, Wolf Tongue hurries to rescue a kidnapped girl who might be the only hope for the town’s survival while Pyke struggles to protect the innocent. As they carve away layers of deceit, both men must confront the terrible truths behind Millers Town to survive the dangers to their lives, their peoples, and their honor.

Through the Narrows continues the historical adventure of the Tomahawk and Saber series, filled with suspense and action that captures the deadly brutality, danger, and history of Colonial America.

So, you know. If this is the kind of stuff you like, please check it out.

And if you do like it, you’ll be happy to know there are more stories coming—Evan and I are hard at work on the next Tomahawk and Saber adventures. I think you might be surprised at some of the twists coming down the, ahem, pike.

A Quick Bit of Fiction for You: “Pretty Don’t”

FWi2Here’s a post just to spread some free fiction around.

This is a short story (flash fiction, really) that I wrote and that originally appeared in Fractured West, Issue 2, edited by Kristy Logan and Helen Sedgwick. Sadly, the journal closed in 2013, but I thought I’d share my little contribution to it. 

Hope you like it. 

Pretty Don’t

He never used to tell me I was pretty. Maybe sometimes, but then he’d say beautiful instead of pretty. Most times, he didn’t say either. He’d call me smart. I got mad cause I didn’t want to be smart. I wanted to be pretty.

Now he says it a lot, but his smile’s different. I smile too. I like being pretty. But now I miss what he used to say. I miss his old smile.

Dad still reads books at breakfast sometimes. When he gets up for more coffee, he folds the cover around back to hold his page. When he picks it up again, I can see the white scars and crinkles on the back. He says they still have all the same words in them. But I don’t like how the backs are all broken and they flop open like they’re too tired to hold everything inside anymore.

When he sees me staring, he watches me. He bites his lip like he’s waiting for something.

Sometimes he asks if I remember how he used to make me hot chocolate for breakfast. He pretended I was drinking coffee like he was. But he says I was too smart. I knew it wasn’t coffee. He always said I was too smart for him and Mom cause I read so much.

I remember lots of things before the accident. Like sitting in Dad’s big chair and reading a book he bought for me. Or pretending to drink coffee. I remember I got my license. He showed me how to drive, but he says I can’t drive now. I remember Dad used to wink and say, “Smarts last, pretty don’t.”

Now he smiles at me and it’s different. It goes away faster, like it’s too heavy to hold. But it makes me smile anyway. I can feel his fingers on the scar when he brushes my hair and says, “My little girl’s so pretty.”

***

ANOTHER Giveaway: Advance Copy of Through the Narrows

I just put a signed copy of the first novel in the Tomahawk and Saber Series in the mail to our lucky winner from New Jersey. But if that’s not you, don’t despair—you could win a paperback of the second book before it’s released!

Enter here for your chance to win a signed copy
before it’s on sale on November 3rd!

Through the Narrows

Thanks and good luck!

P.S. If you’d like to take a peek, check out the ebook, which is available now, for a free preview.