Wednesday, July 29, 2015

GenCon 2015!

It's that time of year again, right as summer is getting ready to turn the corner into back-to-school shopping. It's time to pack up the family and head to Indianapolis: GEN CON!

Gen Con, aka The Best Four Days in Gaming, is a giant yearly gaming con held in Indianapolis. I swear there are more people at this con than live in my entire town. And all of them are geeky. It's like having joined a commune of people the same kind of crazy as me, but only for a few days. And it starts tomorrow!

So, what am I doing this year?
Ascension! I fell in love with this game when my husband first bought me the original game a few years ago.  We've bought every expansion and addition since. It's a deck-building game, meaning that you acquire cards through play that you then utilize to defeat monsters or acquire other cards. In other words, you build your deck of cards through gameplay. In the end the player who has earned the most honor (victory points) wins!

I'll be playing in a tournament with the new set. I don't know how well I'll do as I haven't had time to play with the new cards that much yet, but I'll love it all the same. The art is beautiful and the game mechanics are smooth. It's my favorite game.

The Writer's Symposium! Gen Con's con within a con is a haven for writers, aspiring writers, and book-lovers. With sessions on craft, business of writing, and general topics of interest to writers (like body disposal, weaponry, or genre specific information), there's something for anyone with an interest in speculative fiction.

This year's featured speakers are Terry Brooks, Elizabeth Bear, and Chuck Wendig and I'm looking forward to hearing from all three of them during my time in the writing wing of things as well as authors I've met other years like Kameron Hurley, Jaym Gates, and Elizabeth Vaughan.
Shopping in the Dealer's Hall will be definitely be a highlight. It's not good for my pocketbook, but it's good for my greedy little heart to walk up and down the aisles and see table after table of things I actually want to buy. This is not my usual shopping experience. I hate shopping under most circumstances, but at GenCon I have the chance to buy books, games, clothes, and art from the passionate artists who made them!

Luckily my family is geeky, too, so I can buy my holiday gifts here. The hard part is not using up my mortgage money!

I've also left myself some unscheduled hours to people watching, catching performances by singers, taking picture of cosplayers, and eating yummy things from food trucks.  This my friends, is my kind of summer vacation!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Reviewing and Being Reviewed
Now that I've got a book out there for sale (and hopefully more to follow soon!), I've become very aware of reviews.

I need them, I'm told. So, I've been seeking them, even though the process makes me uncomfortable: pushing friends, acquaintances, professionals, and complete strangers to rate my work with stars and write a few sentences about why.

No one has heard of me. I'm not a famous writer (yet!). So, I know people are more likely to give my book a shot if they can read reviews before they plunk down their dollars. After all, when I'm the one book-shopping, I read reviews when I'm looking at a book from someone I've never read before.

Reviews more so than blurbs or even excerpts give me an idea what someone else loved or hated about a book, and thereby help me decide if it's a book for me. Sometimes what seems to be a poor review will actually sell me the book. Say, for example, that someone complains that they couldn't connect with the characters because they are so darn geeky. I'd say, "Oooh. Geeky characters!" then click that Look Inside button to see what I'm in for. Not every book is for everyone after all, and the very reason one reader hated a book may be why I come to love it.

That's made me a better reviewer, too. In my pre-publication days, I was guilty of not leaving reviews most of the time. I still doubt that my reviews matter when I'm reading Margaret Atwood or Neil Gaiman--they've "made it" already, but when it's someone more mid-list or just beginning? It really really matters. So now, I review regularly.
Of course, I don't love everything I write. Even things written by friends are not necessarily my perfect cup of tea. So, what do I write then? Well, the truth! I praise the book for what I can honestly praise it for, and also list my issues with the book. What's changed is the way I phrase that second part, trying for something helpful, something specific.

If a review says simply "This is crap!" that's not particularly helpful to the writer or the potential buyer. But if it says, "The book has a slow start and picks up later," or "I was frustrated by the unrealistic ending," that's helpful. That lets me (the reader) know if what disappointed you is something that would disappoint me, too and me (the writer) see if there's one particular theme coming up again and again that I could take note of to improve my future work.

The reviews I've received so far have a good range. Some people love my book, others, not so much. My harshest review so far still said it's well written, she just really really hated my ending. (I get it: comic book cliffhangers aren't for everyone). And I appreciate each and every review, even the ones that sting a bit. After all, a book with no readers is only half an experience.

So consider this your public service announcement of the day. When you read something, especially by one of us at the early end of our careers, review it! Even if you don't like it, if you can explain why you didn't like it, your review will help.

Going Through the Change is going through a change in price! On August 5th and 6th, the Kindle edition will be available for free as a BookBub promotion. So, if you've been waiting to check out, this is your chance. Nothing is cheaper than free!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

An Interview with K Lynn: Author of Coffee Date

Please welcome my friend, author K. Lynn, who was kind enough to answer some questions about her novel for us here at Balancing Act.  Of all my writer friends, she's the one my character Linda/Leonel Alvarez likes the best. I think you'll see why. 

·      You've written a number of transgender or gender-fluid characters over the years. What's the driving force behind that?

I have always been fascinated by both the perception of gender and the push of society to place people into specific gender roles. What does it mean to be a man or a woman? And what if you don't fit neatly into either role? Or if society has assigned you as one gender when you actually don't perceive yourself to be that gender? For my novella, Coffee Date, Alice is dealing with how society perceives her versus how she perceives herself.

I've always tried to maximize my communication efforts in bringing the issue of LGBT representation into general mainstream markets, but there is a noted lack of transgender and gender-fluid writing within the LGBT genre compared to other explorations of sexualities. While other members of the LGBT community have seen negative stereotypes being replaced by positive ones in media works, the transgender and gender-fluid communities are still fighting to be positively represented in accessible media. Through my writing, I hope to bring more emphasis to this area.

·      How did this story come about?

It was actually originally supposed to be a submission for an anthology focusing on transgender characters, but the publisher decided to not pursue the anthology because of lagging sales on other transgender works within their house. So, I kept it and refined it, giving myself more time to explore all the ins and outs of Alice's psyche as she navigates her place in society and her own perception of who she is.

I knew that I wanted to explore Alice's feelings in this novella, and that she would have built up a wall to protect herself from the hurt she'd experienced over the years since she began her transition. What I didn't know, and what she soon showed me through revealing her story, was how deep that hurt ran and how much damage it had caused. Alice is constantly trying to match up to what she thinks she should be, what society has taught her she should be, while making herself miserable because she hasn't reached that constructed reality. In the end, what she had to learn and what we all have to learn, is that you don't have to fit into anyone's constructed categories. Be yourself, whoever that might be.

·      What's next up for you?

Besides going to graduate school while working full-time? It is a very busy few months for me in publishing. My novel His Womanly Ways released in May, my family-focused anthology story is out from Torquere Press in June, this novella is releasing in July, and then I have a novella from Dreamspinner Press also out in July that is about a blind artist and his emerging romance with a veterinarian, and I have another novella coming out later this fall that is about a noted novelist who is getting over the death of his long-time partner and not looking for love, but love finds him anyway. You can see all my releases on my website (


Alice is finally happy with her body and her life—except for the part where revealing she's trans winds up leaving her hurt and abandoned over and over again. She's decided she's done making herself miserable by looking for love.

Love finds her anyway, in the form of Hank, the new guy at her local coffee shop. He's sweet, friendly, charming... and will probably turn out like all the rest. Determined not to shatter the fantasy and lose him before she has to, Alice holds fast to her secrets.

But if the truth doesn't ruin everything, the lies will, and it seems no matter which choice she makes Alice is set for just one more heartache.

About The Book: Coffee Date
Coffee Date is a 12,000 word contemporary transgender novella that explores Alice's struggle to find acceptance, and possibly love, in a world that has not been kind to her on either front.

Read an excerpt at Less Than Three Press.

Coffee Date officially releases on July 1st, but you can pre-order it now!

About The Author: K. Lynn

K. Lynn has been an avid reader and writer since childhood. While in college, K. Lynn increased her
involvement in LGBT issues and writing within the LGBT fiction genre. She has become a long-time fan of the authors that seek to explore the commonality that exists within all sexualities and genders. Most of K. Lynn's work features LGBT characters, many of whom are in established relationships and show how love perseveres through every trial and tribulation that life holds. She also has a particular interest in seeing transgender characters gain a larger foothold within the LGBT fiction genre, hoping that the market for these works will expand in the future. Contact K. Lynn at or follow her on Twitter @WriterKLynn

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

July 26th is All or Nothing Day

Have you heard of mesothelioma? It's a deadly and preventable form of cancer, caused by exposure to asbestos (which is STILL not banned in the US and Canada). It affects the lining of the organs, especially the lungs. It's nearly always fatal within fifteen months.

I hadn't heard much about it. It's not the kind of cancer that makes the news and has fun-runs and such to support research and activism. But Heather Von St. James reached out to me, and her story is an eye-opener. Heather is a nine year survivor and mesothelioma usually takes patients within their first year of diagnosis.  She's made it her mission to spread awareness and try to make sure that this PREVENTABLE form of cancer doesn't have to change the lives of anyone else.

July 26th is All or Nothing Day, and Heather had to learn the hard way to live her life all out. So, here's a reminder to appreciate what you have and live all out. What are you waiting for?

You can learn more about Heather's story at her website.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

#IWSG Form of…A Novella!

I've written a lot of different things in my life. Poetry (all kinds: formal, informal, sonnets, villanelles, spoken word). Essays. Birthday Cards.  Eulogies. Diary Entries. Blogs. Papers for Classes. Reports. Emails. Articles. Reviews. Blurbs. Thank-you notes. Short Stories. Wedding Vows. Graduation speeches. Novels.

Me and my imagination, we're the Wonder Twins and we've activated in many different forms.

But I've never written a novella.

So, of course I was invited to be a part of an anthology and get to write a piece from the world of my novels. I, of course, accepted. It's a great opportunity. I'm excited about the company I'll be among in that anthology…which, of course, adds pressure to write something extra good (isn't that always the goal, though?). And the length: novella.
I've written a fair number of short stories now. My sweet spot for those has ranged from about 3K to about 8K.  I've completed four novels (and seen one published!) and they are all around 85ishK.  But, I've been asked for 15-20K for this story.  It's not a length I've ever tried before.

Medium-length fiction is an interesting critter.

As I've worked on it, it's been harder than I imagined it would be. I'll need more than an octopus and an ice-unicycle to get through this.

I'm not sure how big to the let the story get. Too many plot threads and the story is crowded and squashed into a closet too small to hold it. Too few, and it becomes like butter spread over too much toast.

Do you have a favorite novella? Have you ever written one? Any advice for me?
This posting is part of the Insecure Writers Support Group blog hop. To check out other posts by writers in a variety of places in their careers, check out the participant list. This group is one of the most open and supportive groups of people I have ever been associated with. You should check them out!