Monday Musings 8-19-19

Another Comic Con in the books! I haven’t been back to Boston (now Fan Expo Boston) in a couple of years. It was great to see some old friends and make new ones. If you’ve just signed up for my mailing list, welcome to Monday Musings. Most days I wax poetic, in my own mind at least, about something personal, or dive into a writing topic, or give an update on my new releases and works-in-progress. It’s an opportunity to connect with you, and I welcome your notes in return. I love to hear from readers, friends, and fellow writers.

There’s always a highlight at a Con, and in Boston, the thoughtful, interesting, and lively discussions at the panels were that highlight. As a former teacher, I still think a lot about learning, specifically the way we can learn from each other through healthy listening and honest, respectful conversation.

It’s been my experience that aiming to discover the ‘right’ answer is far less productive than engaging earnestly with a question. When we truly listen to others, and respect that they have a perspective and life experience different from our own, real learning occurs and I think we evolve as human beings. I feel like there were several moments where that happened at, of all places, Comic Con!

Anyway, it was a great weekend, I have a ton of laundry, and I need a nap, but I still look forward to the next one!

For those of you who are new, meet our new kitten Yennefer. Old friends - she’s getting bigger!

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Monday Musings 8-12-19

I like Mondays. To me, they represent potential for the new week ahead. How I feel when I wake up on a Monday morning is a good measurement of my overall health and well-being. Usually, I wake up refreshed and ready to jump into things. Sometimes, I don’t. It might be something simple like a meeting I’m not looking forward to, but occasionally it’s more than that, and I have to pay attention.

For nearly a year, I woke up on Mondays feeling exhausted, dreading my to-do lists and projects, not because I didn’t like my work, but because I wasn’t in good physical health. That was a sign for me that I needed to get a handle on things.

A few years ago, when I knew it was time to change careers, I’d wake up on Mondays weary and apprehensive. It may have been safer and perhaps easier to stay on that path, to do the familiar job I was good at, but in my gut, I knew a change would be for the better if I had the courage to take the leap.

We all have that small, still voice inside us that let’s us know if we are on the right path. It takes courage to listen, but I believe in the end, I believe we are better off when we do.

“Your mind knows only some things. Your inner voice, your instinct, knows everything. If you listen to what you know instinctively, it will always lead you down the right path.” - Henry Winkler

In other news, I’ll be at Fan Expo Boston this weekend signing books and hosting panels. Stop by booth A703 and say hello! You can find more info on the Con schedule, tickets, and programming here: Fan Expo Boston

Here’s my panel schedule for the weekend:

Friday August 16 -  6pm in room 253B

World Building 101 

Saturday August 17 - 11:30am in room 160B

Girl Power: Exploring Themes of Feminism in Sci-Fi and Fantasy

Saturday August 17 - 1:30pm in room 253C

Exploring Real World Conflicts in Otherworldly Settings

Hope to see you there!!!

Monday Musings 8-5-19

Con season is underway. Today I am writing from a hotel room in Tampa, with one heck of a con hangover! Tampa Bay was fantastic. I spoke on five panels, signed and sold dozens of books, and got to know some really interesting, kind people. If we met this weekend, it truly was a pleasure, and I’m so glad we'll be able to stay in touch through Monday Musings. You can also follow me on Instagram and FB (Tabitha Lord), and Twitter @tlordauthor.

I use this space to share personal musings, tidbits of writing advice, and lots of pictures of my kids and cats. You’ll also be the first to hear about new releases and any projects I’m working on. Since most of you newer folks are sci-fi fans, here’s a link to a short story of mine produced by StarShipSofa and performed by the amazing Andrea Richardson: Quest Nine. On my website, tabithalordauthor.com, you can also find a list of most of my published works and all the back issues of these Monday Musing posts.

We had some great discussions on the panels this weekend. For those aspiring writers interested in more info on writing craft, check out the Inkitt Writer’s Blog. If there’s a particular topic you’d like to see covered in an article, let me know. As the managing editor, I have a little pull!

Finally, I want to thank you if you bought my books this weekend. It is a joy to share my stories with readers and I truly hope you like the series! Don’t forget to leave a review:) Next stop, Boston Fan Expo August 16-18. If you’re in the area, I hope to see you there!

Below, for a Monday smile, Yennefer and Milo. Too cute for words!

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Monday Musings 7-29-19

Recently a friend sent me a panicked text message about her work-in-progress. She said something like, “Do you ever think your manuscript is just awful, and wonder why you ever thought it was a good idea in the first place? What if I’m just a girl with an idea, and not a real writer?”

Inevitably, sometime during the writing process, I experience crippling self-doubt about the particular project I’m working on, and my skills as a writer in general, but I have to put those feelings in a box and keep going.

Once upon a time, every writer was just someone with an idea. That spark of inspiration will only transform from idea to reality if we are willing to do the work, stay the course, and learn as we go along.

“The path from dreams to success does exist. May you have the vision to find it, the courage to get on to it, and the perseverance to follow it.” - Kalpana Chawla

In other news, I’ll be at Tampa Bay Comic Con from August 2-4. In addition to signing books all weekend with fellow RI authors Heather Rigney and Mike Squatrito, I’ll be presenting on several panels. Here’s a look at my schedule:

Saturday 1:30-2:30 room 22 - World Building 101

Saturday 4:30-5:30 room 5 - Feminism in Fantasy and Sci-Fi

Saturday 9:00 - 10:00 pm room 22 - Geek Out! 

Sunday 12:00 - 1:00 room 22 - Scene Building Basics

Sunday 3:00 - 4:00  room 22 - Exploring Real World Conflicts in Other Worldly Settings

For more info on the Con and details on panels and programming, you can follow the link here: Tampa Bay Comic Con.

And last but not least, here’s a little furry happiness to help start your Monday off with a smile. Yennefer loves helping with blog posts!

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Monday Musings 7-22-19

I found a picture recently that my husband took of me and our four kids when they were little. We’re piled on the bed with our new kitten. For perspective, my kids are now 26, 21, 17, and 15, and that kitty is 9 years old. I remember that particular moment, and I remember my kids being little like it was yesterday. Cliched I know, but true.

Last winter, Ray and I took a walk through our neighborhood one morning after a snowstorm. School was cancelled for our teenagers so they were in bed, and probably wouldn’t make an appearance until noon. As we wandered the empty streets, bleary eyed parents chased bundled up kids through the fresh snow. Those parents looked tired and frazzled, and we got teary-eyed. I don’t want to go back to an earlier point in my life. I’m really happy with where I am now. We’ve worked hard to get here. But with every birthday that comes and goes, I truly feel the passage of time.

When my kids saw this same picture, they made comments like how much they missed being all together now that two have moved out permanently. They feel it too, this change over time. I don’t think they necessarily want to go back either, but remembering helps us appreciate the sweetness and the ephemeral quality of those moments. Maybe remembering also helps us live more fully in the here and now.

“Mindfulness isn’t difficult, we just need to remember to do it.” - Sharon Salzberg

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Monday Musings 7-15-1

Most of you know that we lost one of our kitties a few months ago. He was a gentle soul, always right there when I needed him most. I wasn’t ready to open my heart to a new furry friend - until my kids convinced me, of course. There’s nothing quite like snuggling a tiny ball of purring fur. This little fluff muffin makes us all laugh with her playful antics. Yennefer (yes we’re Witcher fans) certainly isn’t a replacement for our beloved Bede, but she is finding her way into all hearts!

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In other news, EQUINOX is now available on audio! Grateful thanks to amazing voice actor, David Draffin, for bringing this series to life. If audible books are your thing, I hope you’ll check it out. Click on the picture for purchasing options.




Monday Musings 7-8-19

I’m a person who lives by my calendar. I keep track of my world with to-do lists and notebooks, and my workspace is OCD level tidy. When my four kids were little and I worked a full-time job, this kind of organization was necessary. By taking charge of my time, I felt proactive instead of reactive, and accomplished quite a lot every single day.

A side-effect of my super-organized life was a lack of flexibility. There wasn’t much wiggle room to be spontaneous or take advantage of unplanned opportunities. Now, I have a much more flexible schedule. My kids are older and mostly independent, and my work life is primarily self-driven. More than ever, I need to plan my schedule or I get caught up in the work-from-home dilemma of no work actually getting done at home. But, lately, I’ve made an effort to say yes to things that weren’t previously penciled in on my calendar.

I’m finding that it’s okay to invite friends for dinner even if they see a pile of dirty laundry in the hallway. It’s okay to go to a concert on a work night. It’s fun to have a spontaneous beach day or lunch date or glass of wine on the porch with a neighbor at 2:00 on a Tuesday. I can’t do these things every day and still be a responsible adult, but I can and should do them regularly.

Some of the best memories happen when we don’t plan, when we’re simply willing to say yes to the simple, joyful opportunities that appear in front of us.

Monday Musings 7-1-19

I have reached an age when, if someone tells me to wear socks, I don't have to.” - Albert Einstein

This is my birthday week. Like many people around my age, I have mixed feelings about birthdays. I’m thrilled to have another one, because, well, the alternative isn’t too pleasant to think about. But, I’m also struggling with some of the less-fun perks of aging - like aches and pains for no reason what-so-ever, a body that needs to eat half and exercise double to stay in any sort of shape, etc.

It’s certainly easy to focus on what’s been lost through the aging process - they do call it the bloom of YOUTH for a reason. But, if I shift my lens even a little, and choose to focus instead on the full, rich life I enjoy, then my overwhelming emotion becomes gratitude. Gratitude for my health - because relatively speaking, it’s good. Gratitude for my friends - because I am blessed to have deep, meaningful friendships. Gratitude for my family, my kids, and for the flexible, satisfying home and work life that my husband and I consciously created.

Every year, after Thanksgiving, my family watches It’s a Wonderful Life. Every year, when the credits roll, my husband sniffles and says, “It truly is a wonderful life.” And it is. So this year, I am going to embrace my birthday fully - with joy and gratitude, and probably without socks.

Monday Musings 6-24-19

This morning I’m on my way to Six Flags to ride roller coasters with a few of my kids and their friends. This has always been one of my favorite start-of-summer adventures and I love that my kids still want me to do this with them.

Because I’m a little crunched for time, I’ll use today’s post to update you on my travel and signing schedule.

August 2-4 - Tampa Bay Comic Con - Three of us from the Association of RI Authors will be signing books all weekend. I’ll also be moderating and presenting on several panels and workshops. More info on that soon!

August 16-18 - Fan Expo Boston (formerly Boston Comic Con) - This was my first con and still one of my favorites. I’ll be signing all weekend.

September 25 - Lively Literati at the Greenwich Hotel in EG - This one’s local so come on down for a “literary” evening with readings, signings, and good conversation.

November 1-3 - Rhode Island Comic Con - Also local! I’ll be there all weekend!

And finally, in other news, I sold my short story Goodbye, Charlie to Tales to Terrify, an awesome podcast. This was my first attempt at writing horror and I’m thrilled someone liked it enough to produce it! I will let you know as soon as they give me an air date.

I’m off to ride Superman. Happy summer!

Monday Musings 6-17-19

One of my kids didn’t have the best school year this year. He injured himself during the first practice of his varsity football season, struggled through a couple of classes, and topped it off by getting into his first fender-bender during exam week. Sometimes, a year just needs to come to an end!

I released my third novel this year - the end of the series. I look back on the entire project with a sense of satisfaction and learning. That ending was worth celebrating.

At some point, life will bring us to our knees - whether physically or emotionally. We’ll survive those moments and be grateful when they come to an end. Some endings will be joyful. Others will be bittersweet. In any case, endings provide us with an opportunity for a clean slate. Whether we’ve learned something, accomplished something, or actually survived something, endings grant us the freedom to let go.

“Holding on is believing that there’s only a past; letting go is knowing that there’s a future.” - Daphne Rose Kingma

Monday Musings 6-10-19

One of the great things about being, ahem, a little older is the different kind of relationship I have with my adult and teen children. I know I’m their mom, but my kids really are interesting, kind human beings full of integrity. As my husband used to say to them when they were little, “It’s our job to help you become people other people want to be around.” And they are.

Last weekend Ray and I were in Chicago watching our oldest graduate from Navy boot camp. This kid got his degree, went to conservatory, and was making a go of it as an actor in NYC. A few years in, he decided that life just wasn’t right for him, so he packed up his NYC life and joined the Navy. It wasn’t an impulsive decision - anyone who knows him well wasn’t surprised. He’d always considered serving. But, it was a big decision, a brave one.

The ability to truly evaluate ourselves and our lives, and to have the courage to make changes when needed can be really hard. It might mean making ourselves uncomfortable (I’m sure boot camp was pretty uncomfortable!). But when we have the courage to follow our intuition, we grow. So proud of you, Nick. You inspire me.

“Every moment of one’s existence, one is growing into more or retreating into less.” ―Norman Mailer

Monday Musings 6-3-19

A couple of months ago, I sold a short story to a podcast. It’s an incredible experience hearing your words read and interpreted by someone else. This narrator is a British actress and singer, and wow, did she do an amazing job! I just finished listening and I can’t stop smiling.

I love writing short fiction for several reasons: I can experiment with voice, point of view, and even different genres. Short stories only take me a couple of weeks to finish, as opposed to months when I’m writing a full length novel. They force me to pay attention to every word since space is limited, but I still have the satisfaction of completing a full story arc. And, as with my longer fiction, I can explore a theme through my writing. Quest Nine asks what we humans are willing to sacrifice in order to save ourselves from extinction. I know, light reading, or listening, as the case may be!

Thank you StarShipSofa, the Hugo award-winning podcast, for producing this story, and Andrea Richardson for her incredible voice acting. Please have a listen! Quest Nine on StarShipSofa

Monday Musings 5-27-19

So today I want to talk about rejection. I haven’t gotten a rejection letter in a while, but that’s only because I haven’t submitted anything new in a while. Rejection is a part of the writer’s life. I bet every one of us has a file full of rejection letters - from agents, publishers, conference planners, etc. Or maybe the feeling of rejection comes from reviewers or poor sales numbers. Regardless, if we’re working anywhere in the arts, we’ve heard “no thank you” more than once. It’s a challenge. We’ve put our heart and soul into this creative baby of ours, and not everyone loves it like we do.

I tend to talk about sports a lot in my posts, baseball in particular. Team play teaches us many lessons, and one of the most important is how to lose graciously. Loss and rejection feel pretty similar. Sometimes, in hind site, we could have done something differently, better. But sometimes, we’ve done all we can and we don’t walk away with the win, or the signed contract, as the case may be.

Losing has taught my kids how to shake hands and congratulate the victor, respect the officials’ calls, appreciate an elevated level of play, take an honest look at where they need to work harder, and finally, let go and show up on the field again the next day. They’re good lessons, and ones I try to embrace every day.

Monday Musings 5-20-19

So, I have a new book out in the world. And there was much rejoicing. And there’s also much angst. Will it get good reviews? Will it sell enough copies? Will it satisfy my readers? The answer to those questions is a solid, “I have no idea.” Hence, the cause of my angst.

Here’s the problem - I have no control over those things. I can’t make people like my story, I can’t coerce anyone into writing good reviews, and I can’t make people buy the books.

At the end of a game, we’ll often ask one of our sons, who is a pretty competitive athlete, if he left it all on the field. Meaning, did he give it everything he had, regardless of outcome. Did he practice hard with the team, stay fit, and eat healthy. Did he bring his best attitude and best form to the game? Because those are the things he can control.

I apply a modified version of this question to my creative life. Did I do everything in my power to tell a good story? Did I do my best to bring it out into the world and promote it to readers?

A few days ago, I got to hold EQUINOX in my hands for the first time. As I browsed through the pages, reading over my favorite scenes, I had a moment of real satisfaction. I know I wrote that story to the very best of my ability. I’m constantly working to improve my writing craft, surrounding myself with professionals and learning from their expertise. I listen to feedback from trusted beta readers, and my work is well-edited. I spend time building my author platform, communicating with readers, and designing marketing plans.

I’ve left it all on the page, so to speak. What happens next is out of my hands, and that’s okay.

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Monday Musings 5-13-19

I’ve met with several new writers over the last couple of weeks. We’ve talked about the publishing industry, writing craft, building an author brand, and anything and everything else we could squeeze in over a few cups of coffee. One message I try to convey to these folks is that no matter where we are in our writing journey, we still have more to learn, and there will always be more to do! Hopefully, with every chapter we write, with every new book we release, we’ll improve our craft and learn better, more productive ways to navigate the publishing industry. I’m striving to be better at this whole endeavor tomorrow than I am today.

I’ve been working in this space for just about seven years now. In that time, I’ve published three books, sold several short stories, been hired as the managing editor for a writers blog, led workshops and panels at conferences and conventions, and taught writing craft live and through webinars. I look at my accomplishments and still think, “I don’t put out enough content every year. I need to do a better job with my marketing plan. I need to attend more conferences.” The list of things I still want to do is endless.

One thing I have that the new writers I’ve been mentoring don’t yet is the gift of perspective. I understand that I’m in this for the long game. It’s easy to become overwhelmed when we focus on all the things we haven’t done yet, and when we create an unreasonable “to-do” list in response. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of “to-do” lists. In fact, sometimes I’ll write something on my list that I’ve already finished just so I can cross it off. Don’t judge!

But, rather than look at my list as tasks that I haven’t accomplished yet, I consider them steps in the direction I want to go. It’s a subtle shift in perspective, but it can move me from feeling completely overwhelmed to feeling productive. Maybe I didn’t hit a very high word count today, but I did finish the chapter I was working on. Maybe I didn’t design an entire marketing plan, but I did spend some time updating my social media accounts and answering reader emails. Every small thing I accomplish in a day is helping to build my future career.

I understand I can’t do everything all at once, so instead I’ve made a commitment to the journey.

Monday Musings 5-6-19

It’s release week! Officially, we’re calling tomorrow the big day, but here’s a little secret - the print copy of Equinox is available now. You can get it here: EQUINOX. The digital version will follow in the next couple of days, and the audio book by the end of the month.

If you are planning to come to the release party on May 30th, you can purchase the book from me directly, or you can order a copy now and I’ll sign it for you there.

I’ve said before that one of the most wonderful and unexpected things about this writer’s life has been the amazing community. The support I’ve received from readers, fans, and fellow writers has been humbling. It motivates me when I’m stuck in a plot tangle or otherwise having a bad day, and it is sometimes the only thing that keeps me writing. The drive to create is strong, but the all around insecurity we artists struggle with is sometimes an equally powerful force. Your support, whether it’s been a conversation in person, a note via email, or your presence at an event means more than I can ever adequately express. Thank you again, and I hope you enjoy the last chapter in the Horizon series!

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Monday Musings 4-29-19

It finally feels like spring may have sprung here on the east coast. I cheated and spent last week with my sister in Folsom, where temperatures hovered around 85 degrees with sunny, blue skies every day. We even spent Saturday boating on the lake! The difference in how I feel, both mentally and physically, when there is enough daylight versus smack in the middle of winter is enormous. I do the things in wintertime to try and stay healthy, but for all that mindfulness, it’s work. One sunny day, with a few sprouting green leaves and the smell of cut grass, does more for my mindset than all the hot chocolate, warm fires, and homemade soup combined.

When the first burst of color arrives after a long, gray winter, it might not feel quite so magical if we had it all along. Don’t get me wrong, I’m slowly spending more and more time in the warm weather, and at some point, the move will become permanent, but I fully appreciate the lively birdsong after the deep silence of winter. Sometimes wading through discomfort makes the sunny moments so much sweeter. Happy spring!

Monday Musings 4-22-19

It’s official! EQUINOX, book 3 in the HORIZON series, will release on May 7th. If you’re relatively local, I’d love to see you at the release party on Thursday, May 30th. You can find more details here: EQUINOX RELEASE PARTY.

Last week I got to read a sample chapter from EQUINOX for an interview. Generally, an author will read the first chapter from their book since the beginning should offer a tantalizing hook to lure readers in. But I like to share something about my writing process with my audience, something that shows how I solved a particular problem with plot, or how I was trying to develop a character or explore a theme. I guess it’s the teacher in me! For the podcast, I chose to read Chapter 33.

For those of you who’ve read the first two books in the HORIZON series, you know this is really Caeli’s story, even though her male counterpart, Derek, shares an equal amount of page-time. In fact, it’s actually easier for me to write Derek’s scenes. He’s often smack in the middle of a dogfight, fistfight, or undercover operation! I’m a visual person so I tend to choreograph the action in my mind, scene by scene, before translating it into the written word, making Derek’s scenes fun and easy for me to write.

Three quarters of the way through EQUINOX, I felt like I needed to shift the story back to Caeli, ramp up the tension for a dramatic finish, and somehow get Derek offstage completely for a little while. Working out how to do that took me a while, and I played with several scenarios until I finally hit on the right idea. That pivotal moment shows up in Chapter 33.

So, here’s Chapter 33 of EQUINOX . I hope it entices you to keep reading, and gives you a little insider insight into my writing process. Enjoy, and see you May 30th!



Monday Musings 4-15-19

It’s the Monday morning after a con again. I can barely keep my eyes open, my back is sore, my car is still waiting to be unloaded, and there are piles of laundry sprouting like weeds from every room in the house. But my face still hurts a little from laughing so hard all weekend. My back is partially sore because we had a mini dance party behind our booth. My mailing list is full of new names, including readers and aspiring writers I had the pleasure of meeting. And, my good friend and I outlined our new works-in-progress during the six hour drive home, both during and after our stop for Italian somewhere off the Jersey turnpike.

Cons are a place where fans, vendors, artists, writers, and celebrities share space and celebrate together. If you’ve never been to one, and your tastes don’t run toward zombies, aliens, superheroes, mythical creatures, or spaceships, you might miss the appeal. But if you have a sports team, band, or a hobby you truly love, you probably understand the enthusiasm at least. As someone who is both a fan of all things science fiction (and zombie, alien, superhero, mythical creature and spaceship related) and a creator in that world, I’m energized when I’m surrounded by others who enjoy the same things. I’m inspired by it even.

One of the best parts of spending time immersed in the fandom is doing it with my fellow authors. Sure we’re promoting our books, signing, talking to readers, and working hard. But we also have long stretches of time to discuss our craft, encourage each other, brainstorm, and of course, stay up late eating, drinking, and being merry. When I’m at these events, I am reminded how joyful it is to share something I love with a community who appreciates it.

Below, evidence of shenanigans!

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Monday Musings 4-8-19

My oldest son left for boot camp yesterday. He made the decision to join the Navy several months ago, and now he’s left for his next big adventure. I’m pretty sure no one looks forward to boot camp, but he’s a little older than the average recruit, having graduated from college and lived on his own already for a few years. He’s worked hard to get himself into shape for the specialized job he wants to do for the Navy, and he’s ready to get to it. He’s ready for the challenge.

Over the years, my perspective on facing life’s challenges has shifted somewhat. No one likes to be uncomfortable. Certainly, no one would choose to experience real pain. But difficult experiences are part of life. If we didn’t have to face them, we’d never realize our own strength or capability.

I climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro a few years ago for my birthday. It was hard - not Everest hard, but difficult enough that I considered whether or not summit day presented the same level of physical discomfort as childbirth. So, you know, it hurt. When my friends and I finished the climb, though, we knew we’d done something most people will never do.

If we’ve never survived that broken heart in high school, we’ll never understand that broken hearts heal. If we’ve never pushed through the last mile of the race, we’ll never know the satisfaction of the finish line. If we’ve never reached the summit, we’ll never see the view from above the clouds.

When I am in the midst of discomfort, whether the challenge is physical or mental, I can call up any number of moments in my life where I’m standing on the other side of that discomfort. I can remember the feeling of accomplishment, relief, or maybe even healing, and trust that I’ll find my way there again.