Do the Thing! Run with the Inspiration

Do the thingRacheline and I have a lot of calendars and spreadsheets that keep us on track with our projects. We have so many stories we want to write, and so many stories we get to tell, that we need those things so we don’t forget what we’re working on and annoy every publisher ever. Or ourselves. Organization is important. We would not be able to do a fraction of what we do without planning.

But sometimes, things catch us by surprise. This weekend, there are a million things we’re supposed to be working on – a submission we just hit send on today, posts for the Starling blog tour (OMG it comes out in ten days!), a new short we wanted to try with a deadline that’s quickly coming up, and everything else we always have cooking in the background. Also, it’s Labor Day weekend, so Racheline was having a beach holiday with her partner and I had a friend staying at my place for the week, so it was also a See People We Like And Be Social And Relax (hah!) Before The Book Release weekend.

And then Saturday morning — I think she’d been at the beach less than 18 hours — I got 500 words of story from Racheline. It’s in a universe of ours that already exists, and about something we’d talked about writing, but it wasn’t anything we’d planned to start writing. Or really, given ALL THE DEADLINES we have to deal with this week, anything we should have been writing. I wrote another 500 words. Racheline wrote some more. Then I added even more. Then we started plotting right there in the doc, like we do sometimes when email just isn’t fast enough. It’s Monday evening and now we have a solid opening for a story that we’re not even quite sure what it is yet, except that we love it, can’t stop writing it, and it’s going to be fantastic.

This isn’t to say that discipline is useless or should always be thrown to the winds. But when it strikes, it’s worth running with, even if it means sleeping a little less some nights to do the things that do have deadlines. After all, Do the Thing! is about doing the things that you love, that you’re passionate about, and that help get you where you want to be in life.

So we want to hear about your passions, the things that you just can’t put down, and everything else you’re juggling around those lightning strikes of inspiration.

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Did the Thing! Beach Weekend

didthethingIt’s the last Friday of the month, which means it’s time to encourage you all to brag about all the cool stuff you got done this month — even when it wasn’t fun, easy, or glamorous.

Here in the U.S., it’s the start of the end of summer Labor Day weekend. My partner and I are headed to the adorable town of Ocean Grove, NJ which has the odd distinction of being both a Christian camp meeting down (hey, businesses are allowed to open on Sunday now, but you can’t go on the beach before noon) and also really, really gay.

Growing up, my grandmother lived in Bradley Beach, and my childhood summers were spent in the towns — Bradley Beach, Asbury Park, Ocean Grove — along this stretch of the Jersey shore.  They’re scenic and complicated places that have seen a revival in recent years.  In my childhood, Asbury was a dying amusement park town and in some ways it still is, although the bumper cars and the carousel are gone now.

The point of me telling you about these places isn’t just that I’m trying to get off-line and get my head together before Starling‘s release (I am, but that’s not gonna happen, because we have a lot of other deadlines and tones of blog tour and related stuff to write).  The point is that these towns are complex and filled with contradictions.  What they want you to believe about them and what they are from the eyes of one person to the next all vary.  They are liars and they just want to be loved.

They are, like you and me, just trying to do their thing. Sometimes it’s easy, sometimes it hard, sometimes it makes no sense, sometimes it works, and sometimes no one gets it.  But they keep going, because that’s what collections of people do.  It’s a lot harder when you’re on your own.

Which is why you should get down in these comments and brag.  Because we may not all be working towards the same goals.  We may have totally contradictory views of ourselves and the world.  But if we do it even semi-collectively, it’s a lot easier to keep going, to recover your energy while you ride the wave from others, and to offer support when you’ve got some spare strength to give.

So what do you get done?  Inspire us (and seriously, if you made your bed like twice all month, that’s inspiring — we’re not a bed-making household).  Hence, assume your contribution is inspiring to someone.  It almost certainly is.

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Guest Post: V.L. Locey on things that go bump in the night

Today we have guest post from one of our fellow Torquere Press authors, V.L. Locey who has a new story out in the just-released Dawg Days anthology.  V.L. is a multi-genre erotic romance author who’s here to talk about things that go bump in the night.

She writes:

Do you remember what movie first made you jump? For me, it was the classic and B-rated monster movies. As a child I would watch Scream-In with Dr. Shock, a horror host in the Philadelphia area. I loved all the old black-and-white monsters such as Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, and The Creature from the Black Lagoon. My favorite, even as a child, was Lon Chaney Jr. as The Werewolf. I`m not sure what drew me to that character so powerfully, but to this day I have a soft spot for shapeshifters.

When I saw the call for submission for Dawg Days, I knew I had to pen a tale to submit. I already have one shifter book on the market, An Erie Halloween, from Torquere Press. Another in the series, An Erie Operetta, will be released in early 2015. For this anthology I wanted to do something a bit different but wasn`t sure what. Then I stumbled across some Kurdish folk music while looking for a music prompt to share with my local writers group. And there it was. The answer to what I would submit. With that beautiful music as inspiration, I crafted an M/M fantasy short story called Night of the Jackal about two jackal shifters on a world far different than ours.

dd-nightofthejackal185Night of the Jackal

Sahl and Jasim are outcasts. Alone on a world covered with shifting sands, the two males live and love day by day, eking out an existence. One night, hunger drives Jasim, the largest of the two jackal shifters, into recklessness. Leaving Sahl behind, Jasim crosses the river in the hopes of stealing food from a resting caravan.

It is Sahl that relays the story of this night. Of how he, the weaker of the pair, must face many dangers to locate, and hopefully free, his lover from a terrible fate. Can Sahl find his mate in time, or will both males end up as new pelts upon the Madr Pash drying racks?

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Excerpt:

I groom myself as I wait, seated under the cool gaze of the moon sisters. I clean my snout with my paw as a slow drum beat erupts from the Madr camp. I am not aware of when our kind left the other humans. We know hatred from the non-skin wearers caused us to move into the desert. That is all we know of it. That slight has never been forgiven. The travelling bands use us as a means to frighten their children, telling them sand jackals will carry them off if they wander from camp. I have never stolen a child. I have found their small bones in the sands and gnawed upon them, for the core is tasty. This caravan is known as Madr Pash. They are famed for being great hunters. My stomach rumbles. Oh, what I would give for a fish! A large red one such as we see rising to the surface of the river when the sun brothers kiss the moon sisters in greeting.

A shout from the Madr camp startles me. My head jerks to the side. The sound was quick, sharp, but still it lingers in the wide width of my pointed ears. I shoot to my paws. Jasim! A loud hoot bounces over the silver sands. A dark fear overtakes my heartbeat. I shake the dread away. Jasim needs my help. Even if I am the smaller one in size, I am just as stalwart as Jasim. I jump from the rock to the craggy riverbed. The going is slow, difficult. My paws slip into between the smooth, wet rocks. Across the river, voices rise in song. Clapping erupts. I pick my way along, wincing when a claw is bent backward. The moon sisters are fat. They guide me.

Vicki at Wedding

About the author

V.L. Locey loves worn jeans, belly laughs, reading and writing lusty tales, Greek mythology, the New York Rangers,  comic books, and coffee. (Not necessarily in that order.) She shares her life with her husband, her daughter, one dog, two cats, a steer named after a famous N.H.L. goalie,  a pig named after a famous President, and a flock of assorted domestic fowl.

When not writing lusty tales, she can be found enjoying her day with her menagerie in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania, fresh cup of java in hand.

V. L. Locey loves to meet new friends and fans! You can find her at-

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More V.L. Locey Torquere Press books:

“Two Guys Walk Into An Apocalypse” (Part of the He Loves Me For My Brainssss anthology), Two Guys Walk Into An Apocalypse 2: It Came From Birmingham, Love of the Hunter, Goaltender’s Penalty, All I Want for Christmas, “Every Sunday at One” (Part of the 2013 Charity Sip Anthology).

And coming soon . . .Two Guys Walk Into An Apocalypse 3: He’s A Lumberjack and He’s Undead and Early To Rise – A Toms & Tabbies Tale.

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Do the Thing! – On wanting to be rich, famous, powerful

Do the thingOnce upon a time there used to be a piano bar in New York City called Rose’s Turn.  One of the employees there regularly performed a song called, “My Simple Christmas Wish” that’s better known as “Rich, Famous, and Powerful.”

The song is a favorite of performers because it’s all about venting — about how much you hate rehearsals, high New York City rents, your competition, doing the actual work to achieve your dreams, and pretty much anything other than stomping all over people.  It’s also hilarious.

It would be very easy to make a post about how you shouldn’t be the narrator of a song who says things like “I want to be rich, famous, and powerful / step on all my enemies and never do a thing” and “I don’t want to work, struggle, or compromise / when I set a goal I want to reach it right away / And paying your dues that’s just for other guys / I want what I want and I want it all today!”

But you know what, screw that.  Because sometimes we’re all the narrator of this song. Catty? Lazy? Vengeful? Irritable about the really hard work we actually do put in all the time?  Yup.

And that’s okay!  If you manage it.  If you exercise some discretion.  If you know you’re being a little bit awful.

So many success narratives are about how you have to be a perfect, nice, grateful, humble person all the time to achieve your dreams.

Well, guess what?  That’s really hard.  And the pressure to never screw up?  Really toxic. Having to be nice all the time can make you a massive jerk really quickly.

So here’s my advice:  Obviously, don’t actually be a jerk to other people.  And if you are, work on that, and apologize when it happens.

But do find that friend you can vent to, who can hear your awful things and let you get it out of your system.  And when you find that person who has agreed to this function in your life? Complain about having to do a seventh draft of that new book!  Or that frenemy who always gets the part that you want!  Or that writer you know who sold their very first spec script!

You can’t be perfect.  So find a way to vent that doesn’t hurt others and doesn’t hurt your career.

If all else fails, rewriting the lyrics of “My Simple Christmas Wish” to fit your own ambitions and rage can be surprisingly cathartic.  And, hopefully, hilarious.

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Starling: 16 days

erinpostcards Over the weekend, Erin & I had a 14-hour writing marathon session at our Philadelphia office. After which, I had an amazing misadventure with Greyhound.

But the work day included detailed planning/scheduling of posts we need to write for the Starling blog tour, very final adjustments on a manuscript that’s going on this coming weekend, some key refocusing on the current novel, brain storming for a short we plan to crank out in the next two weeks, and a bit of chatter about a possible NaNo project we’re planning to do far more in public than we generally conduct our writing processes.  We also received the contract on something we’re really excited postcardabout but still can’t disclose the details on yet.

Those of you who follow us on other social media may have also seen that we received some of our Starling promotional materials.  Our postcards arrived, as well as a test-run at magnets (the magnets are going to be revised a bit before we place a larger order).  Buttons with some of Starling‘s particularly vivid quotes are also in the works. magnet

We have a two quotes selected for those already (Dead and famous! and I totally care about hot tubs), but want to add a few more, and will be asking for reader suggestions once you can get your hands on the book in about 16 days.

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Do the Thing! Out of order

Do the thingLately, getting things done has been hard.  It’s not that we’re not getting things done. It’s just that there is a lot going on and being linear is challenging. Marketing materials have been ordered, Starling‘s final edits are being completed, reviews are being secured, blog tours are being booked — and meanwhile we’re signing contracts and getting schedules on new things, tuning other new things up for submission, looking ahead to the Doves edit process, and are about 15K into another novel. In fact, this not very coherent list probably leaves out at least half a dozen things.

The What should I do now? question is never a matter of not having anything to do, but of having a lot to do.  A real, real lot.

It’s easy to say that the answer is multitasking. Or prioritizing.  Obviously.  Modern technology forces us to do the first, and meeting deadlines obligates us to do the second, but sometimes neither of those pressures is enough to get you focused on just getting something, anything, done.

When that’s the case, sometimes the answer is just to do what turns you on.  I don’t mean sexually (although in this business that’s a possibility), so much as I mean what excites you.  Got a deadline three days away that you can meet with an hour of work?  Well,you can actually put that off one more day if your energy is low for that task, and do the thing that’s further out but more exciting.  Doing the work you love can at times be the fuel for doing the part of the work you don’t love.

Starting at the beginning and getting to the end is great — and necessary — advice. So much about Do the Thing! is just getting people on board with the reality that we can all plod our way to success with the right combination of diligence and daring.

But sometimes diligence is hard, and it’s more important to do something than the exact thing it would be most appropriate for your schedule to do that second — again, as long as you don’t blow any deadlines.  

So this is your permission to work out of order, to write that scene that lives at the 75% mark of the novel you’re only 15% into, or to work on your marketing plan, because doing line edits feels just a little too painful today.  If you can make the parts of the work you love your reward for the parts of the work that you enjoy quite a bit less you can both satisfy your need to procrastinate and get crap done.

You are the way you are.  You don’t need to change who you are to get what you want.  You just need to figure out how to navigate it.  Sometimes, that means telling your stories out of order.  It’s generally preferable to not telling them at all.

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The Awesome Women of Love in Los Angeles, Part 5: Laura Cook

starling2And the last in this series — at least for book 1! We’ll be back with more of the fabulous women in this world as we get closer to the release of Doves in January.

Alex didn’t come out to his mom until three weeks after high school graduation, when he hugged her right before he got in his car to drive to L.A. and leave Paragon, Indiana forever.

They’ve never really talked about that moment since, but Laura was not particularly shocked. And as far as she was concerned, it was just one more reason for Alex to get the hell out of there.

Laura’s a single mom, and she raised Alex and his half-sister, Delilah, on wages from a job that she could never get enough hours at. For a lot of years, they were on welfare. The economy was tanking everywhere, and Paragon, Indiana had never been a good place.

Alex never really understands why his mom doesn’t want to leave Indiana too. To him, after all, it’s the worst place in the world. But to Laura, Indiana is the land she loves, endless corn fields, and sunsets over the hill. It’s hard work, always, but it’s the only kind of hard work she’s ever known.

When Alex was in high school, on the evenings neither of them had work, they’d sit on the porch and have a beer together while another day ended. In another family, it might have been the time when she told stories about their family and her own history. But she never did, and it’s been up to Alex to go elsewhere and make his own story.

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