Memory, Sorrow and Thorn Trilogy

Since the mainstreaming of books like Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones, people have been looking for other novels that reach that same quality of ‘epic story’.

Tad Williams books in the Memory, Sorrow and Thorn Trilogy reach that level of Epic.

The trilogy starts with The Dragon bone Chair.

We meet young Simon. He works in the castle of the High King. Well, he is SUPPOSE to work there but like most 14 year old boys prefers to dream of adventures and magic. Simon spends more time avoiding work. He become the apprentice of Doctor Morgenes the castle scholar. Simon thinks he will be learning magic only to find his days filled with numbers and writing. The young man is easy to identify with making it easy to follow him on his adventure.

The old king dies and his eldest son, Elias, takes the throne. Things seem to be going well until drought and plague hit the Kingdom of Osten Ard.  The king argues with his brother, Josua about one of the kings advisers. A snake of a man named Pryrates.

The adventure gets underway when Simon discovers Josua in an underground, hidden room being prepared for one of Pryrates evil rituals and Morgenes and Simon help rescue the prince.

Williams does an amazing job of taking races and characters that are familiar and giving them a new look and feel.

I don’t want to go into much more detail. The story is fantastic. It is one where you get so involved, when you come up for air the rest of the world seems surreal.

Tad Williams has a website. Be sure to stop by and check out some of his other works.

http://www.tadwilliams.com/

You can find all the Memory, Sorrow and Thorn books on Amazon.com

Happy Reading!

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#JustaGamer

It has been going on for years.

Female Gamers get mocked, harassed, abused and ridiculed.

The Geek community has made a huge launch to abolish abuse of female community members.

It is time that the Game Community join this movement.

I am a Girl. I am a mother. I am a writer. I am a Gamer.

Back in the early 80’s I would ‘role play’ Thundercats with my brothers and the other neighborhood kids. Or G.I. Joe (Gotta hand it to them for making chicks badass, too bad they were still side characters). I was very much a tom boy, out kicking ass and not taking any crap from the bullies and boys in the area. Thankfully this was not discouraged by my parents and I was never pushed to be anyone other than myself. The girl who loved make up but would kick your ass if you picked on her little brothers.

I would spend mornings before school at a friends house playing Super Mario in the NES. I knew all the tricks.

I was not formally introduced to pen and paper games until High School where a group of us discovered The World of Darkness. Vampire, Werewolf and Mage.  This was after a personal family tragedy that left me doubting my own self worth and the young, strong me was forgotten.

I would hear comments from the male gamers under their breath about how “It figures.” My character description was an attractive woman, confident in her own skin.

Introduce LARPing. OMG! I was in heaven!

A society filled with women notoriously drenched in low self esteem because they are not the Cheer Leader body type. Who have decided to handle that with an overly aggressive attitude against anyone who might threaten “Their” position as a woman among the boys and men of the group.

Women are competitive against other women by nature. It is our need to be the best possible mate match that drives us.

Some women will deny this by saying “I don’t care what other people think of me.” but when you are being honest with yourself you understand that you can’t get away from the desire to be “attractive”. Whatever that means to you as a person.

I am not fat. I am not horribly disfigured.

So naturally the aggression I received as a female in a “mans world” was from the other women who had discovered this wonderful world of make believe. Ignored, back biting, rude rumors flying.  Accusations of ‘sleeping my way to the top’ because I was friends with the guys who started the group and took time to help with the running of things.

I just wanted people to like me.

I will admit I had my own share of aggression due to feelings of social inadequacies. I know that this attitude did not help me gain friends and fellows among the other women of the group.  I like to think that when I return to a LARP community I will be able to look at the other players and say “Sup” with a friendly nod and only receive a nod and “sup” in return.  (Personal growth and all that stuff)

Enter MMORPG’s and the Wonderful World of EverQuest.

At this time I moved from Seattle Wsshington to a tiny little town called Northome Minnesota. Talk about Culture Shock!

EverQuest became my social outlet. My husband (Boyfriend at the time) and I would take turns playing on the one computer we had in 1999 early 2000.

Our son was born in May of 2000.

So new boyfriend, new place, new baby, new everything.  I was feeling disconnected from everything and escaped into EQ. My life became Work, baby, EQ.

Over the years things changed and I spent time in many other MMO’s.

Star Wars: Galaxies, Minions of Mirth, Dark Age of Camelot, EverQuest 2, World of Warcraft, Guild Wars, Asherons, Call, Anarchy Online, Star Wars: The Old Republic, E.V.E Online and I am sure I am missing some here.

As you can see I have become a fan of the MMORPG world. I love the stories. I love the social interaction with other people from all over the world. I love that we get the chance to make our own stories in these worlds and share them with others.

What I don’t like is the harassment from other players telling me I am not good enough to join their group because I am not in the top 100 on my server. What I don’t like is logging into voice chat and hearing a dozen male voices go “Oh My God!” when I just say Hello.

What I don’t like is when they find out I am female they start explaining what basic terms mean or that I would be better at my job if I used THIS equipment instead of what I currently have on.

The need to correct my game play when all I want to do is figure it out without the condescension.

As a mom I also get the “We don’t want her in the group because she will have to go afk.” (SO Sorry I am interrupting you by taking care of my kids and practicing good parenting, but that is a different blog about Parenting as a Gamer)

How often has a female player made a male character in order to avoid criticisms? I know of a few.

What can we do as a community to change the Gender Bias that plagues our game play?

Should we be given social tools in game to ‘silence’ players who are offensive?  How would abuse of this be handled?

Can speaking out against the Problem help? What about the players who don’t understand what they are doing wrong? There are those who honestly do not see the damage they are doing. They really don;t understand that asking for a pic to prove you’re a female is insulting. (What does this do to a transgender person?)

Want to join the community in speaking out against Gender Bias? Join the hashtag #justagamer on Twitter and tell us your story.

What are other gamers saying about the issues we face?

Follow:

@Ever_Cae  and @EverCast_Show

http://evercae.tumblr.com/

She was the awesome behind the hashtag #justagamer.

Or

Leave a comment and link to your blog about being #justagamer.

If this post does one thing, I hope it gets you thinking about how you treat other players in your gaming community.

Most started out as a bonding of outcasts from main stream society. Now we are the Main Stream. We need to be better than bigoted Gender Bias AssHats.

Guild Master on my Resume

One of these days it will be acceptable to put Guild Master, Dungeon Master, Game Master or any variation of the Leader of a group of people involved in a fictional world setting, on your resume.

I would like to think that day is coming sooner rather than later.

That six years as an Assistant Guild Leader in World of Warcraft can actually mean something to other people.

The world of Social Media Work Experience has been limited to such things as Facebook and Twitter or other platforms of that sort. I think businesses are missing out on a huge platform with Online Gaming and MMO’s in particular.

Some companies have jumped on the bandwagon and ‘purchased’ space in places like Second Life or Anarchy Online. (At least I think that was the one with the billboards in game.)

So when is the next step in the development of our computer age? Most people my age have grown up watching the evolution of the Social Media craze. If they are like me, they have been playing MMO’s continuously for  the past 15 years.

If you have been a guild master of an online community or been the dungeon master for a local table top game, then you know how much work and time go into running such a thing.

There have been times when it is Blood, Sweat and Tears to get your team together.

The Koreans are ahead of us in the Computer Age. They have Sponsored Sports Teams of Video Game Players.

People get PAID to play video games.

There is no getting away from it.

So when will it be acceptable to put Guild Master on your Resume? What would you do if you were a business manager and saw:

Guild Master of Noctum Infernus

World of Warcraft

Gnomeragan Server

Character name: Jerix

2007-2011

That is the name of a still active guild in WoW now run by my good friend Adeatheta. My husband was/is Jerix.  We have since stopped playing WoW for personal reasons.

You can look up the information about both the character and the guild online. It will show you the guild standing, activity of the character. Damn near everything the player has done over the life of their game play.

It really is not much different than companies who check out a persons Facebook page to see what they are saying in their personal time. We have ALL heard that story.

Why not learn that the person you just interviewed has been running a top level raiding guild for the last 7 years, achieved World first or Server Firsts due to excellent skills in People management and time management?

I would be interested in learning those things. You can damn well bet that when it comes time for me to hire someone to help assist me as a writer, I am going to be asking for game experience!

EverQuest Next

EQN

Like most avid fans of the EQ franchise, I was excited to learn they were working on another.

Part of me screamed “Please God don’t let them screw this up!” remembering the fiasco we endured with Star Wars:Galaxies. A fantastic game that was essentially killed when they “revamped” the game to be class based instead of the popular profession based game that it was.

I learned that SOE Live would be streaming through Twitch.tv and made sure to log on with over 10 thousand other viewers to watch, hoping for some breadcrumb to be tossed our way about the much anticipated game.

We were not too disappointed.

John Smedley of SOE talked briefly on opening day about how excited everyone who was involved in the project was.  “I have to be honest with you. We have completely blown up the design of EverQuest Next.” (Quote found on the EverQuest Next Wikia page http://everquestnext.wikia.com/wiki/Everquest_Next)

The only snippet they offered to whet the appetites of the fan base was a brief play of the “early stages music”. Which, in my opinion, was a brilliant move on their part.

That was it.

The next day at 12pm PST was the official reveal of the biggest secret in MMO history:

EverQuest Next.

And I had just won tickets to an indie writers panel in Seattle from 10am to 12pm!! Oh what a world! I made it to the panel which I will blog about later. It was worth it!

I was able to catch up via my bud and Streamer Kalbuir of Twitch.tv about the basics of what was covered at the event.

Then I found EverQuest Next on YouTube and filled myself in on everything I had missed.

Taking the stage to walk us through was Directer of Development Dave Greorgeson. (I have had the wonderful chance to chat briefly through twitter with Dave. Super nice guy! Very supportive of the fan base)

What he revealed on that stage left me in awe. They had done it again. EverQuest Next takes all of the best aspects of all of the most popular games out there today combining them in such a way as to create an experience like no other. Just like EverQuest in 1999, EverQuest Next promises to be revolutionary to the world of online video games.

Like so many others “Take My Money!”

But they didn’t stop with an amazing game. Oh no.

SOE has gone above and beyond by creating EverQuest Next: Landmark

What is Landmark?

about-landmark-header

 

 

“EverQuest Next Landmark is a Free to Play, next generation online sandbox game. Powered by the ForgeLight Engine, Landmark features cutting edge technology and tools. Build and explore a world unlike anything you’ve seen before.”

Slow your roll here…did that just say Free To Play? Say What?

Landmark is a sandbox game like Minecraft, unlike Minecraft  it is an MMO like most others you are familiar with. Head off into the world to explore the land. When you find a place you want to claim as yours, place your flag and go town! Or should I say Build your town!

For the first time in MMO history, the players are being given the chance to create the world we will be playing in. Dave explained that Landmark will have events open to the players allowing them to build, under specific needs of the devs, the buildings and places that will be part of EverQuest Next. The players vote on the buildings and the best one wins!

As a fan of Minecraft and a builder of huge stadiums in that world, I am extremely excited about this. I will definitely be online building in hopes to win the prize!

As a writer, I know that word of mouth is one of the best ways to generate a fan base. MMO’s are really no different. I hope my excitement about this new game has come through. Encouraging you to check it out and join me when Landmark opens this winter.

For more information about the game and to keep up to date on it as it developes go to http://www.everquestnext.com. Don’t forget to sign up for Beta!

Don’t forget to join me on Twitter @iniriba or my facebook page https://www.facebook.com/iniriba.greymyst

What are you most excited for with EQN? Leave a comment!

 

When gamers cry…an NPC is Born.

Do gamers cry?

Do they feel anything for their fellow players?

Who else but another gamer can understand some of the things we go through? YouMadBro? Dodging Trolls. Hours spent getting through dungeons to get that slot item or crafting the best gear! Making it to the top of the PVP lists! Mad skillz bro!

I read an article linked to Twitter today about a little girl who was honored by “MechWarrior” after she lost her fight with cancer.  A specially designed ‘mech chassie’ you can purchase for $10 was created. The money goes to the Canadian Cancer Society ( here is the link to the article http://t.co/hP1wveNIbI).

I took the time to read through the forums and found dozens of comments from gamers of all walks who shared their story of a friend, loved one, co-worker, who had been honored by their game of choice in a similar manner.

I myself have experienced 2 unexpected deaths of fellow gamers. One of which was a very dear friend of mine who I had never met in person but considered to be family.

His name was Bilin. (His given name was Chris.) He has an NPC named after him in the MMO game Dark Age of Camelot. h-Bilinhttp://camelot.allakhazam.com/db/search.html?cmob=3944

He died suddenly when his gall bladder burst. My husband and I received a phone call from his sister telling us the news. Our number had been in his favorites listed as Family.

The other was a guild member in World of Warcraft. Our guild was always thought of as our gamer family so when someone from his family took the time to log in and explain to the rest of us about his sudden passing it was like hearing a cousin or aunt had died. I was grateful that they understood how important this extended family was enough to inform us of his passing.

We RIP’ed his characters Information in the Guild Roster letting future members know his status and informing future guild leads to leave them on the roster.

I hope the the friends and family who don’t game learn what a wonderful community of people there are that play video games. That we are willing to come together in support of each other when times are difficult. Being a virtual shoulder to lean on during times of grief.

Most people see just a bunch of lazy boys sitting eating chips, doing nothing but staring at a computer or TV all day long. They don’t catch the social interaction that happened, because until just recently most of that was done through text.

Regardless of what game you happen to play, if you learn someone is also a gamer, your ideas about them shift. Gamers come from all walks of life (Take the woman who ran for political office who was a WoW player). So before you get the idea in your head that we are all lazy slobs who don’t have jobs and are too fat,ugly, stupid for society to want us, remember we are people (and some studies show we are SMART people!) Flesh and Blood Humans.

Video games have been a social outlet for the social outcast to the celebrity. The bonds forged in the Field of Bone on  Kunark, or the Triumph of Defeating DeathWing are made in the fires of a Dwarven Forge! Allowing people to be who they are and not judged by how they look or what job they have.

We are Gamers! We are Family!

So, Do gamers cry?

Yes, we do.

Do gamers care about flesh and blood human beings?

Yes, we do.

Racism/Sexism in Nerd/Geek Culture

I know what you’re thinking.

What?! No way are nerds/geeks racist/sexist!

Are you sure about that? I know that those public figures in our awesome fandom of geeky goodness all preach abolish hate and love thy human next to you.

Take a moment and think about racism/sexism and the last Con you where at?

Superman, Batman, Wolverine, Spiderman, Captain America, Ironman, Wonderwoman, BlackWidow, Storm. (How many of you thought that a Black Green Lantern was weird? I thought it was cool and mentally High Five’ed them for it.)

I am not saying that we should reinvent any of these Iconic figures into the “Black Version” or the ‘Chick Version” That can end up just as insulting as saying something rude and bigoted.

What we can do is ignore color/sex as we move forward. (And I am not just talking to the White Guy in his Grandmas basement either. I am talking to Every Person who claims the Title of Geek/Nerd/Dork/Human.)

Background, Life, CHARACTER. Focus there instead of highlighting the things that scream RACE. Search for things that are common across the board. (There are just as many absent white baby daddies out there. And just as many  picket fence Black Families.)

I love watching BBC programming because they have decided that it does not matter what color a person is or what their sexual orientation is. What matters is WHO a person is. Doctor Who, Primeval, Torchwood, Being Human. All these are Big Hitters for BBCAmerica television and the biggest thing I notice is that Race is Never a Problem.

What is a Problem, In my opinion is when people make it a problem.

Now I know that is a touchy subject these day but Ya know what? Get over it! Both Sides! There shouldn’t be Sides. White/Black/Yellow/Purple/Gay/Straight. It should never come into the picture. EVER.

There is Culture. Certainly there is a difference there. Maybe that is why Britain has less issue with color on TV than America does. We like to think of ourselves as a ‘melting pot of culture’ while still clinging desperately to what makes us unique. What makes us who we are. (  I am sure Britain has there share of ‘culture issues’ but I don’t live there so I don’t know.)

Maybe that should be the focus of some of the New Hero. From Great Adversity Comes Great Hero. Overcoming Terrible Things is a common theme among Superheros. Maybe the new heroes should ignore those things we seem to keep focusing on that make us diverse and start highlighting the things that make us all HUMAN.

My Favorite show for abolishing Race is Star Trek. Where RACE is E-Raced and Culture Is Highlighted. Can we be more like That?star-trek-tos

Hunted by the Others by Jess Haines

I met Jess Haines on Twitter (@Jess_Haines) when she and Yasmine Galenorn were tweeting weird vids at each other. Really Weird Vids.

We began to chat a bit and exchange a few vids. Turns out we are both RPG Gamers back in the days of Vampire: The Masquerade  and Werewolf: The Apocalypse. With that common ground we have hit it off fairly decent. Not to mention the love of all things Urban Fantasy related.

It was not until recently that I actually purchased her books. (You can find a 4 book set on Amazon here ). I went in with high hopes that a fellow Pen and Paper gamer would know how to create a great story. I was not disappointed!

Hunted by the Others is a First person story of struggling Private investigator Shiarra as she grudgingly takes a job working for Veronica, a powerful magic user, who asks her to find a statue currently owned by the local Vamp celeb Royce.

With bills screaming at her and rent over due, she takes the job.

Shia is plunged head first into the world of the Others as the plot thickens and Everyone is out to either Kill her or convert her to their cause.

This book flew by and I am so glad I purchased the 4pack set! While there are a few loose ends at the end of the book and I felt it was a bit long in closing, I have faith that Jess will bring the loose ends back into the fold through out the next few books.

If you are in need of an Urban Fantasy book, go check out Hunted by the Others. You won’t regret it.

Interview Guest: Writer/Editor Julie Butcher!

First, Thank you so much for taking the time to answer a gazillion questions for me. (Ok maybe not a gazillion, promise). As a mother of six myself, I often find the idea of trying to be a full time author a bit daunting! It is such a pleasure to be able to get some first hand knowledge from a lady who has paved that road already.

  • Tell us a bit about yourself…

Well, as you know, I have six children and I live at the center of Utter Chaos. I write, and I delete a lot more than I write so if the world implodes it will probably be my fault.

  • What was the “Yup, I’m gonna do it,” moment that started you down the road to publication?

Oh, wow. There’s been so many of those moments that it’s hard to choose. I started writing when my oldest son left for college. Suddenly, I could see a future where I wasn’t only the mom, and I needed to find my place again as a person.

  • How do you manage a day of writing amidst the chaos? Do you have a special planner, method or trick to get your writing done?

Luckily, I’ve been blessed with a supportive husband. He and the boys built a writer clubhouse in my back yard. It is eight by eight feet of pure bliss. Before that, I’d get up at three in the morning to write, or in the evening, I’d take my laptop and hide in the minivan in the garage or go to the park.  Now, as soon as I take the kids to school, I write. The housework isn’t going anywhere.

  • How do you make it through the “Everyone wants/needs Mom” days?

Some days you just can’t write. There are emergencies and sick people. The real trick is to get your children to understand that if they let you work, when you’re done, you’ll spend time just with them. I also tape a list of jobs on the door of the room I’m writing in.

BEFORE YOU KNOCK, PICK A JOB FROM THE LIST BELOW.

Kids are smart and they hate housework as much as we do. Mine know the rule, and that the only exceptions to the job list are blood or fire.

  • What is your favorite genre to read? Write? Edit?

Oh sweetie, I am a genre ‘ho. I read everything from westerns to scifi. I write YA and middle grade, and I like to edit everything. (Except erotica-I might have been doing it wrong all of these years.)

  • What advice would you give a new author on finding an Editor? Are there “red flags” to look for when hiring an editor?

Anyone who claims to be able to *fix* your book is yanking your chain. I content edit, which means that I tell people what is wrong and what doesn’t work for me. They have to fix it themselves. I would say to look for someone with a strong web presence, someone who has been around the publishing block a few times.

  • What advice would you give a new author when submitting their work to an editor?

When an agent or editor looks at your story, to them it is a first draft. I don’t care how many times you’ve re-written the thing. IT IS A FIRST DRAFT. There will be changes to make. Don’t get your panties in a bunch when they ask you to re-write.

  • How would a new writer find Beta Readers? Is it something that should be paid for?

Beta readers should be other writers that you know. If you don’t know anyone, post your story on Book Country,(One of my friends posted there and got a publishing deal.) or ask your twitter friends. I’ve had awesome advice and support from the online community. I would have quit a thousand times over if the lovely writers on twitter and facebook hadn’t had my back.

  • What is one piece of advice you could give a new writer?

Keep going and finish the first book. Then you know you can do it. Resist the urge to fix all of the things. Finish. No one can make you quit and take away your dream—except you.

  • What are you currently working on and can you give us any ’sneak peaks’?

Right now I’m revising a YA apocalyptic thriller and I just yesterday finished a middle grade time-travel proposal and sent it off to my awesome agent, Deidre Knight.

Here’s some of the thriller:

Chapter One

Water made everything better.  The mist from the fake palms at the water park cooled the already hot August morning. Angel Graves dropped her baby brother’s diaper bag on the lounge chair next to her Mom. Her other brother, Zach, squealed five-year-old joy, and barreled into the kiddie pool. “Are you sure you’ll be okay if we leave? We can stay here with you and the boys.”

Mom shook her head and laughed. “I think I can manage. I raised you, and you’re not dead.”

“I know, but they can be a handful. You’ve been working every day, and you look kind of tired.” There were dark circles under her eyes and tight lines of strain at the corners. There’d been some kind of big problem at FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, where she worked, and she hadn’t had a day off for almost two months.

“Thanks a lot, Sis, really.” Mom’s voice was droll. “Lily, please take this child and throw her someplace wet. She’s been playing mother so long that she’s forgotten how to have any fun.”

“Sure thing Mrs. G,” Lily grabbed her by the hand. “Your mom is right, Angel. Let’s do this.”

“Go on with you.” Mom bounced baby Justice on her knee until he giggled. He was only one, and chubby, and totally adorable.

“If you’re sure.” Angel’s thoughts went bubbly with freedom, and she ran with Lily to the entrance of the Lazy River ride. Even though it was only ten o’clock, the sun already burned the concrete until it shimmered with heat and scorched the soles of her feet. The Missouri sky was a bright summer blue, unmasked by even the lightest cloud.

Delightful shivers goose-bumped her skin as she stepped down into the water. She ducked the rest of her body under. Her head cleared the surface; she shook her wet hair from her eyes, and grabbed a clear inner tube. “This was the best idea ever.” She used the water’s buoyancy to bounce up and land butt first into the float.

“I know, right?” Lily arranged her tanned self to the best advantage. “It’s the only place to be when it’s this hot.”

Angel pushed off the wall with one foot into the man-made current and they floated down the channel. “This is the first time I’ve been totally cooled off this month.” She leaned her head back so her hair could float behind her. “Do you have all your stuff for school? I can’t believe our senior year starts next week.”

“Yeah.” Lily drug her hand through the water, way too interested in the wake it left in the artificial blue. “I’ve been meaning to ask you something.”

“So ask already.” Angel wiggled around until she faced her friend.

“Do you still like Bobby Dean?” Her words tumbled out so quickly they jumbled together. “Because if you don’t, I think I kind of like him. He’s cute. But it’s more important that we’re friends. So…” Lily lifted a plucked eyebrow.

Angel didn’t have to think about that particular question for more than a millisecond. “You’re welcome to him, but I don’t think you’ll want him for more than an hour.” She had strong feelings about Bobby Dean Garrett and their one date, and those feelings weren’t catalogued in the “good” category.

“Well,” Lily started, frowning. “You haven’t gone out with anyone else this summer. I thought maybe you still liked him.”

“I haven’t had time to go out. I’ve been watching the kids for Mom every day. But, if I did have time, it wouldn’t be with him.” Angel closed her lips before she sounded like a whiner. Mom had needed her. Sometimes, you just had to shut up and soldier on. That’s what her dad would have said.

“Then if you don’t care, I am totally getting him to take me to senior prom.”

“Prom is like, nine months away.” Angel paddled with one hand to avoid the splatter from the fake palm fountain. “Why worry?”

Lily scooped up a handful of water and sprinkled her legs. “Seriously? You can’t leave important stuff like prom to chance.” She looked horrified at the thought. But then, Lily was the queen of planning. If Angel ever wanted to conquer a small country, her friend could organize the invasion.

“You need someone easy on the eyes because you’ll have those pictures forever.” Lily’s eyes glowed with fervor.” If you don’t want to go with him, then I will, and we’ll pick someone else for you. Maybe that lifeguard,” she said, gesturing toward the tall chair coming into view.

“Don’t even go there.” Angel splashed at her friend. The guy on the stand was cute.  His hair was dark and thick, heavy with russet streaks from the sun. She couldn’t see his eyes, hidden behind sunglasses. “I don’t know him. I’ll worry about prom after Christmas.” When she did, she’d pick someone ordinary like she was. Not a bronzed cover-model who was obviously out of her league.

“No time like the present.” Lily jumped from her float and flipped Angel’s inner-tube. With a kick, Angel escaped (before nothing but her butt framed in clear plastic could be seen by anyone and everyone) and sputtered to the surface.

A short, sharp blast of the lifeguard’s whistle hammered her ears as she wiped the water from her eyes. Even dripping wet, she felt her cheeks burn with blush. “Thanks a lot,” she hissed at Lily, who brashly smiled at the lifeguard.

“No dunking.” His voice was pleasantly low.

“I am so very sorry,” Lily bald-faced lied, and drug Angel to the stairs next to his station. “But she brought it on herself for looking better than me in a swimsuit.” He smiled, and his teeth looked impossibly white against his tanned skin. Angel’s breath hitched in her chest.

“This is Angel.” Lily didn’t loosen her grip on Angel’s arm. “I’m Lily, and you are?”

“Noble Walker,” he said with another flash of white. “But everyone just calls me Walker. Mostly because Noble is a stupid name.” He turned back to stare at the Lazy River and blew a warning toot on the whistle around his neck. “One person on a tube,” he yelled at the half a dozen kids piled on two floaters, riding dangerously low in the water.

Another lifeguard came up to Walker, tapped his shoulder, and took his place on the bank. Lily zeroed in on this fact in a millisecond. “Do you have a break now?” At his nod, she grabbed his arm, and merrily talked all the way to the snack stand.

“I’m sorry,” Angel blurted out.  “We shouldn’t be bothering you.” Seriously, who in their right mind chatted up a lifeguard? As good looking as Walker was, he probably had cute girls hitting on him all day long.

“Hey, Cherry,” Walker handed his water bottle to the older woman behind the counter.

“Two Cokes, please.” Lily dug a five out of her miniscule top.

“I don’t need anything.” Angel tugged on Lily’s arm. “Besides, he probably wants to relax on his break.”

“I’m good.” Walker grinned and removed his sun glasses. His eyes were a rich, chocolate brown. “I can’t talk to people when I’m on the stand. It’s nice to have a conversation with someone who isn’t two years old for a change.” After he’s gotten his water bottle and grabbed a tray for their drinks, he led them over to a cement table under a big red umbrella.

Lily talked and laughed like she’d known Walker for her entire life. Angel sipped on her Coke and tried not to stare. He was just so pretty—in a rugged, I-forgot-to-shave kind of way. Certainly he wasn’t a truck-driving, beer-drinking, good old boy like the guys at school.

“Do you like movies?” he asked, and the question was for her. Angel blinked and choked on the sip of pop. Seriously? Walker helpfully pounded her on the back while Lily gave her a wide-eyed stare.

“I’m okay.” Angel gasped, and then proceeded to cough and hack like she was about ninety. “It just went down the wrong pipe.” Could she sound any grosser?

“I’ll get you some water.” He hurried back to the snack stand.

“Are you out of your mind?” Lily was around the table quicker than snap and whispering in Angel’s ear. “I’ve been working like a dog here to get you set up with him. You’re not even paying attention. He’s trying to ask you out, dweeb.”

For about three seconds Angel’s brain stopped mid-spin with shock. “Why ever would he want to do that?”

“Why wouldn’t he?” Lily gave her an exasperated look. “You’re cute, you have a good figure, and you’re a nice person. Most of the time, you’re fun. The only big problem you have is that you don’t know when a nice guy likes you, and you can’t handle the bad ones.”

That was the understatement of the year. Her only date with Bobby Dean had been a disaster of epic proportions. “Are you positive about this?”

“Is the sky blue?”

Walker rushed back to the table with a bottle of water, and Angel gave him a more serious look. Not the fan-girl eye-balling you gave a handsome movie star or a gorgeous lifeguard you knew was way out of your league. Angel wasn’t an expert about guys—like Lily, but she’d picked up a few things in the years since Mom had divorced Dad.

Walker’s eyes crinkled when he smiled. She liked that. Even when he wasn’t smiling or talking, his face was set in pleasant lines. “Thank you.” She took the water bottle.

“So, about the movies…” He looked at her anxiously, and not once did his gaze move down to the rest of her—even though she was wearing a swimsuit. This was good too, respectful-like. There was something restful about Walker. He had a calm quality that reminded her of the oak trees at the farm, a timeless strength that seemed much older than his age.

“I live a long way out of the city. We’re on a farm, north of the river.” It was only fair to warn him, right? After all, he’d have to come and pick her up. Mom had strict rules about dating.

“I don’t mind.” His teeth flashed white against his tan. “I’m getting a new car this week, for college. No, not a new car.” he said, “a used car, but it’s new to me. I didn’t earn enough this summer for a new one. You don’t mind?”

“Not one little bit,” she assured him. Actually, it was a relief. Angel didn’t know one guy with a new vehicle except Bobby Dean. Besides, since Walker needed to work for a car, he probably wasn’t loaded, and maybe he wouldn’t mind so much that she lived in a farmhouse that was almost older than dirt.

A whistle blew, one long blast and two short ones, and Walker stood. “My break is over. Um…do you want to walk me to the kiddie pool and maybe give me your number?”

Still a little light-headed by the quickness of it all, Angel almost floated beside him as he wrote her number on his arm with a Sharpie. “I’ll have another break in a couple of hours. Maybe we can talk then?”

“Sure, I’d like—“.

“Sissy!” her little brother Zach made a running leap into Angel’s arms, one that nearly knocked her on her butt. “Mommy is looking for you.”

Angel’s mom hustled up with a worried crease in her forehead. “Sweetie, I’m so sorry but my boss called and I have to go into work.”

Behind Angel, Lily blew a loud sigh. “We haven’t even gone on the water slides.”

“Don’t you even start, Lily Rachelle.” Mom jumped on her attitude like a hungry duck on a June bug. “It’s not like I have a choice.”

“Call me later?” Angel asked Walker. Mom might not be saying much, but there was a faint, underlying note of fear behind her words. She didn’t know what caused it, but it wasn’t the best time to introduce Walker or to have Lily in a pout.

Only big things scared her mom.

“Did they call an alert?” Angel kept her voice low, sure that the water park noise would keep her words only for Mom’s ears. Mom jerked her head in a tiny nod, like she was strung on a wire so tightly if she bent, she’d break.

“Get your stuff,” Angel ordered Lily in her don’t mess-with-me voice. She grabbed her purse and the baby’s diaper bag. Walker was still there, and she gave him a strained smile. “We’ve got to go. Mom got called into work.” She shrugged. It wasn’t her fault.

“I’ll call tonight,” he promised, and made his way to relieve the other lifeguard who was knee deep in the baby pool.

“I’ll be there,” Angel promised. After all, it was a sure thing. If Mom had to work, then Angel would be home watching her brothers.

A low, gnawing grind of worry settled into the pit of her stomach. Homeland Security had called an alert, and Mom worked for FEMA. The Federal Emergency Management Agency only got involved if things were really bad—like call out the National Guard bad. She waved at Walker, slung the diaper bag and purse over her shoulder and picked up her baby brother, Justice.

She’d be waiting for his call. Unless, of course, the government was right this time, and it was the end of the world—and then she wouldn’t be.

And lastly, I have to ask, what is it like being the sibling of a famous author like Jim Butcher? Do you find people compare your work to his?

It is way past wonderful being Jim’s sister. I get a kick watching readers “fan” him at signings. So far, no one has compared my work to his. But then, we don’t write for the same audience. We don’t look alike, either. 😀

It was such an honor and privilege to be able to ask some questions about writing and editing! Thank you Julie, for your time answering these questions! I am really looking forward to your YA Thriller!

You can reach Julie through various methods:

Leave a message below if you enjoyed this interview! I had a lot of fun coming up with the questions. What other authors, editors or people would you like to see interviewed?

For the love of writing.

I keep seeing people post about how you should write for the writing and not for the money.

This is awesome advice.

Hard to accept when you are not financially stable.

I watched a biography special on JK Rowling. The woman wrote because she had nothing left. It was her last hope, her way of coping when there was really no where else for her to go because financially there was nothing left.

I really connected with her position. Sometimes it isn’t even about the writing itself. Sometimes diving head first into a fantasy is the only way to keep your sanity when the world around you is falling apart. When the house is in foreclosure and the kids need new shoes.

Sometimes, we writers can find the golden sunshine spots in our lives when we create mayhem for our characters. We can think “Well at least I don’t have Zeus trying to kill me…” when the baby is running around naked and he left his stinky diaper on the floor.

Or we can discover passions we did not realize we had when writing that hot sex scene between two characters that make you want to light up after. Finding those passions keep our connection to reality. Not the other way around.

I am not ashamed to say I am going to write for the money. Everyone always says to do what you are passionate about, find a job you love, do what makes you happy. Well, my happy is writing, I hope to make money doing it. I know it will be like any other job where you start out as an entry level assistant who does all the hard parts and gets a meager paycheck in return. I am not stupid. However, I see the road ahead and it is paved in paperbacks. (Or EBooks)

One day, I will be able to say I make enough money to pay my bills and get my kids through school. For now I am going to write for the love of writing. To gain the skill I need to become a professional writer.

Write for the love of writing. Write to make yourself happy. Don’t worry about anything else. Those things can be chewed on and spit out later. When you write, let everything else fall away. Become the world you’re writing about.

This includes letting go of dreams of big paychecks and movie deals. Those are things outside of the writing. Yes, be business minded about your work, know your worth (be honest here). Business minded also means knowing when to let go of things you have no control over.

The best writing comes when you can drop out of the world you live in, no matter how difficult things are going, and ‘zone out’ into the world you are creating.

You can find the balance between writing for love of words and writing to make money. Professional writers have found that. They put in the time, paid the dues, earned the paycheck. For the love of writing they climbed their way to the top and earned the right to sit and do nothing but write all day.

It is work. Never for a minute think that it is not. You will WORK and work hard as a writer. Probably harder than you would at a ‘traditional’ job.

So when a writer says don’t do it for the money, in part they are saying don’t let that be your only motivation or you will never make enough for the amount of work that goes into being a professional writer.

Stay positive and don’t give up.

Finding my brand.

Branding.

If you have dreams of becoming a name in something you need a brand. Something that says “Hey, this is me and I am interesting.” Well, I have been narrowing down the things about me that I feel are most important to me that would be interesting to others.

For instance…

I am a gamer. I play online games. I really enjoy them. They are a part of who I am. There are millions of people all over the world who make good money playing video games, making video games, writing books about video games and so on and so forth.

I am a writer. I am a NEW writer. I just finished my first ever manuscript this past NaNoWriMo, but I have always been a writer of words. Poems, blogs, journals and random other smaller things. I have always dreamed of BEING a writer. Everything I have ever done, every class I ever took was geared toward becoming a writer. People love to read. Makes for a great relationship 😀

I am a Mom. I have 7 boys. Yes, seven. I did not mistype. I love kids. I love babies. No I am not having any more thank you very much. Each one of my kids fills me with joy and makes me think “Wow, that is one cool kid.” Yeah, they have issues. No, sometimes I am not the worlds greatest mom in the world. But I try, and that is truly what matters. My kids know I love them and that I would burn down the rainforest if it would save them from some of the crap this world will inevitable toss at them. (I am not against being green or environment or anything but I am totally in love with my family) This, I think is another interesting thing about me. People are always asking “How do you do it?” Answer: “One day at a time and with very little sleep.”

So what does all this have to do with Branding?

Iniriba – Writer, Gamer, Mom.