LibertyCon: Find Your Tribe

LibertyCon has come and gone. I leave my tribe after a long weekend.

It’s a science fiction and fantasy convention that has the honor of producing more lifelong friends than any other event in my entire life. It’s my tribe– a thing you should find, and keep, and have and celebrate. It’s books and games and characters, and in the halls are people who I’ve admired for forty years– and then they’re in front of me, and I get to chat with them about the books that are, in some way, the soundtrack of my life.

This year was a bit different, and by that I mean even better. I’m writing for a truly excellent person, Chris Kennedy, in a genre that I’ve loved since I was a kid– Military SciFi. Being involved with Seventh Seal Press is sort of like joining a winning team on the first day. Chris takes care of the details, big and little, and it shows. I carry this coin proudly.

For three days, I was on panels, at parties, buying books, talking about books, science, films, and anything else associated with a fandom that has given me limitless joy since I was a kid. I was exhausted but invigorated, a curious blend of wanting to do more on less sleep, and finally convincing myself I could sleep on Tuesday, because there was too much good stuff to see and do.

After leaving friends for the trip home, my thoughts return to my family and how much I’ve missed them. It’s a good drive– mountains, sun, summer heat– and I look forward to that strange sensation of coming home to people you love more than anything, even after being among people you love. It’s an embarrassment of riches, and it never gets old.

On the way. I stopped to eat in a small town, Monteagle, Tennessee. There’s an iconic place– The Smokehouse– and I went in having not set foot there since 1977. Fond memories of being a kid with my family, seeing snow for the first time, a wooden toy my grandfather bought me, soon to be scattered across the cavernous back seat of our 1972 Cadillac. Joyous thoughts, then a conclusion as I realize that of seven people at that table, only two remain, and we’re not kids anymore.

Travel is like that for me. It gives and takes. It fills up my tank, and not all of it is pure, because I’m aware of the passage of time. I eat the food slowly, processing the past three days while thinking of the next ten.

I return home to teach, write, edit. Things that are all part of my third life, the one that has bloomed unexpectedly out of a childhood love of things that didn’t exist anywhere except the books I loved– dragons, distant galaxies, starships made of light. This is the best of my three lives, and LibertyCon is the fuel.

To repeat: find your tribe.

Terry

Outlander Casting, Audiobooks, and Candy

It’s October.

That means that eating peanut butter cups every day isn’t just fun, it’s patriotic. I consider it my solemn duty to support the United States economy by consuming as much candy as possible in and around holidays where gorging on chocolate is perfectly acceptable. Did you know that Reese’s has a peanut butter cup the size of a manhole cover? It’s true. They weigh a pound. Before anyone asks, YES I have a source and YES I will be eating them, quietly in my car why I think about my life and where it’s going but it’s so good and I think I can finish before–

Anyway.

So, Outlander announced a few tidbits, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. First, they’re giving us EVEN more Culodden– which really makes sense, as the event is nothing short of apocalyptic for Claire, Jamie, and the wider world they inhabit. Some of the images are nothing short of emotional terrorism. The mood, the lighting– it’s all there.


Let me tell you– there’s nothing glorious in the dead. That image captures the desolation of the Scottish way of life, and what must be an utter horror show in Claire’s heart as she walks the killing grounds. I love the books, but the visual nature of this upcoming season will, for me, clinch this series as among my all-time favorites. To sum up: expect me to unleash my Inner Basic White Girl next season. I’ll more or less react as follows:


Another thing. Am I the only one who feels a deep sense of anger at the British Empire in general after I watch this show? I think the Queen is likely a delightful lady. Kate’s lovely, the kid are predictably cute, but reading and watching about how the Scots were gutted leaves me simmering with righteous indignation. It speaks to the power of the story and show that I can feel like I need to go back in time and personally vanquish the redcoats and their empire.


Bonus for inclusion of my manatee meme.

A few more days until Heartborn comes out in audio. Julia Whelan is unreal. Here’s her official bio:

Julia Whelan has appeared in many films and television series, most notably ABC’s Once And Again. After receiving a degree in English and Creative Writing at Middlebury College and Oxford University, Julia began narrating audiobooks. She’s recorded hundreds of novels across all genres and has received multiple Earphones and Audie Awards. She is repeatedly named one of Audiofile Magazine’s Best Voices and was Audible’s Narrator of the Year.

And, meet Julia:



So, if you’d love to hear a book come to life, I can help you out. Heartborn goes live at Audible this week.

Time to write. And maybe eat candy. All at once.

Cheers!
Terry

How I Spent My Summer: By Terry

What a fantastic summer.

It can be summed up as follows:

Lots of book events.

Many new friends.

Pie. 

Coffee.

Running.

Repeat as necessary.

As evidence, I offer the following:



Because glasses are serious business in Wisconsin.


This is The Katy. She runs a blog, writes, and smiles. It’s her thing.


Kristine is a writer who asked me to be on her book cover as a gambler named Dallas. I don’t have a beard, and could not grow one overnight. I was rather let down by my own limitations.


Also, if you blather on about pie enough, readers and friends bring you pie. I’m not sure my life can get any better. 


Friends also tell you about barbecue so good you want to high-five the staff. (Bucky Bee’s, Cave City, KY!)

And, of course, cheese curds in Wisconsin. *highfive*

It’s been a darn fine summer. Lots of new faces, old friends, and great books. Look for two new audiobooks this fall (Heartborn and Halfway Hunted), performed by the excellent Julia Whelan (Gone Girl) and Erin Spencer (The Black Key). I’m shocked at how good they are. Acting is hard. Doing so through a microphone is just magical.

Heartborn is here, if you haven’t picked it up. Heartborn: Her Guardian Angel Was Pushed

Alo, if you’re watching Poldark, or want to chat books, weather, pumpkin spice things or anything else, stop by and say hello. Tweet Terry!


Cheers for now!
Terry



Outlander Finale: Gutted.

Amazing.

I ran out of superlatives about thirty minutes into the episode, and didn’t really process everything until some time later. The key to Outlander is making fictional people as real as the historical figures they’re surrounded by.

Case in point: Bonnie Prince Charlie.

Survey says– throat punch. Good Lord, how did someone like that ever aspire to be anything other than a professional coward? Kudos to Andrew Gower for taking a role playing someone so reviled.

 
And– lest I forget to give credit where it’s due– 

I was on the fence about Sophie Skelton as Brianna. After watching her performance ( and that of Roger Mac, too) I’m all in. Additional fun fact: I was born in 1968, and up until this episode,  I sort of thought people in the 60’s were hairy, kind of stinky, and prone to odd rebellion. It’s delightful to see then characterized as civilized people who enjoy whiskey, soap, and tweed. I was even able to get over her rather normal height of 5’8″.



So, I teach history, and maybe that’s why Outlander has such an emotional punch. I mean, I’m a middle-aged male, I don’t cry during movies, unless it’s Patton or Midway or maybe Godzilla once but dammit that was sad wen I thought he was dead and–

Never mind, the point is that Outlander has an enormous emotional wallop. It seems to be populated with people that I might actually know, despite them being Scottish, and born before me, and wholly fictional. That’s the beauty of it. Outlander also reinforces some stereotypes that, while unfair, certainly do make sense when we see them on camera.



Also, it’s really difficult not to paint the entire United Kingdom as a giant bowl of dicks. They really had a way with people for the past thousand years or so, didn’t they? The windswept heartbreak of Culloden in the modern shots with Claire are haunting– I think that Cait’s acting was supreme. How could you not cry telling the life story of your one true love while on the bones of real people who died screaming in cannon fire? 

For the hundredth time: glad I’m not an actor. 

I’d have to run naked and scream for a week to get rid of the psychic stain of that performance, and in turn, would scar any number of people who saw me naked and screaming. It’s a vicious cycle, people, and I won’t let it happen.

So, now we wait, right? Sigh. Yeah, that’s what I thought. 

I’m going to go write another book or two. I’ve got three planned for this year, three for next. That means I can run and re-listen to the excellent performance of Davina Porter in the Outlander audiobooks. If you haven’t listened, you don’t know what you’re missing!

Have you gotten my newest in the Halfway Witchy series? Why not? How am I going to pay for my giraffe? Get it here!

Help Terry Get His Giraffe, And Stuff.

See you in a week or so with the new cover! I’ve got a new series this September, and I love the characters. The tagline: “Her guardian angel didn’t fall. He was pushed.” Interested? 

Cheers!
Terry

Outlander: No memes. No jokes this week.

What I learned this week:
1. Cait won the Emmy.
2. That episode makes everyone reconsider their own (often painful) history.

I wrote this in 1998 after we lost a child. Hope it holds up over time.

Stillborn
His physician’s coat rustles
as he leaves-
 the door glides shut, to leave my wife
and I alone with the fluorescent hum
of the lights, a cold steel table
and our sadness.
Our spirits as empty as her womb
her shuffle is tender,
towards the door
to the car
each step normal
just like my stop at the nurse.
Her smile is pasty
she hands me my son in a bag.
On the ride home, I stare at his face
hoping he fogs the plastic
but the bag is as still as the air in the car.
We walk, the yard is frosty
she watches me from the window
as I stop near the hickory
and start to dig.
The pit (grave) is tiny
and the walls collapse
on his face.
Bones pull hardest
when they are small.
The walk back to the house is long.
Summers later, we lay rigid
next to each other
the fear of each furtive union causing wonder:
Will I dig again?

Shaglander: Brazilian Edition!

Oh hey cool we get to see Jamie and Claire making mad passionate love isn’t that wonderful yeah cool I thought so too hey what could possibly go wrong I mean after all we were–



Well, then. Ewww. With all due respect to Black Jack, if you’re going to be on the bottom, make an effort not be so. . .sweaty. No one wants to hump a dirty gym sock, unless you’re a teenage boy.
Moving on.

There are some truly great moments in this episode. Claire meeting Master Raymond is certainly one of them. He’s squat, and charming, and quirky. He calls her Madonna and it’s rather charming. Oh, and– toldja– the crocodile was there in the shop. Boom.


Despite the homicidal dream state of Jamie, witchcraft, and general intrigue, this concludes the normal portion of our show. Prepare for things to get really, really French.


Louise de Rohan (she of the shorn hoohah) is an immediate dose of hilarity. From the mincing Turkish spa technician to the horror of poor Mary Hawkins, everything about the scene made me laugh. It also sets up some truly interesting cultural explorations on the part of the Frasers later on. More on that in a moment.

Let’s meet the least likable person in France, shall we?


Good Lawd. What a whining, prissy milksop. And this clown wants to lead men into battle? I wouldn’t trust him to lead a Dachshund to go poop on a lawn. Oh, and speaking of poop– never mind. We’ll get to it later. Let’s return to the side effects of Claire visiting Louise de Rohan. Yes, she is going to Versailles, and yes, that means Jamie can go. But it also has an immediate effect on, ahh, more delicate matters. It seems Claire has embraced the concept of a less furry body, and Jamie is left to rediscover her– help me out, here, did he say honeypot?

After all, when in France, right?


Okay, so we’re off to court. It’s the ROYAL COURT OF FRANCE. The king himself! Drama! Gowns! Intrigue! 

I sure hope things don’t get weird or anything.



Phew. That was close. So, eat your parritch, kids, or you might be on the throne in front of several dozen people who are supposed to kiss your ring, and won’t that be awkward.

As stunning and sumptuous as court appears (and kudos to the set design!), I’d be a damned fool if I didn’t revisit the idea that Claire’s red dress is, like Cait, a force of nature. No meme necessary, the image speaks for itself.



It’s almost like she was a model or something. So, there’s a ton of visual candy during the court scene, and it’s actually vivid enough to warrant watching more than once, if only to catch details upon details. The background is as vibrant as the characters themselves. I’d like to take this opportunity to engage in a complicated exegesis about French court life as a whole. In essence, one can deduce that–


OHDEARLORDHEISBACK.

Well then. Now that things went from “stylishly elegant” to “dungeon sodomy” with a single phrase, I guess we’ll all never sleep again. Sort of like if you lived in a clown camp.

A quick hello to all of our new friends– all 12,000 of you! It’s been quite a week; there’s news to be shared in a variety of areas. Also, share with a friend or three, won’t you?

1. We found the cover model for Heartborn, my YA Paranormal for this September, and she’s perfect. Alexandra is the perfect blend of personalities to play Livvy. I’ll introduce her next week.
2. The blurb for Halfway Hunted is online! Check it out here: Some Prey Bites Back: Halfway Hunted

3. We’re giving away 12,000 books this month!!! If you love it, won’t you leave a review? Look in your newsletter for the free book, as well as info on the next jewelry giveaway. You can sign up here if you’d like an occasional email. News. Fun. Freebies.

Until next week, thanks for stopping by.

Cheers,
Terry


VIVE LE SHAGLANDER!

SHAGLANDER IS BACK!

That is, for my money, the most story-packed hour of television I’ve ever seen. I had to watch it in two sittings. 

*side note: I started running again (it’s Springtime) so I take baths because I’m old. This is how my conversation with wife went:

Me: I’m taking a bath and watching Outlander on my Kindle.

Wife: God, you’re a woman.

Me: Are we out of eucalyptus scented Epsom salts? What are we, animals?

Wife: . . . .

Anyhoo, what a start. First, can we agree that Tobias wrapped up an Emmy with his performance? Stunning. He was a perfect blend of Frank and then the echo of Black Jack. It was unsettling to see.



And then we can move along- OH BY THE WAY—



So, bombshell bombshell bombshell— *cleverhandshotandboom* We’re in France.

Good gravy, that was a lot of stuff. But it was excellent, and the fear and washed out colors really lend a vision of what’s to come between now and A.C. (After Culloden).

So, if you didn’t care for the sneering contempt of the British, you’re going to hate the Old World charm of the French. Claire and Jamie are immediately thrust into the kind of money-grubbing political intrigue that can only come from some kind of natural disaster. In this case, it’s Claire who brings it about by her refusal to ignore the presence of smallpox in a crew that has come ashore. Naturally, she steps in to help, but it doesn’t go well.




Which brings us to the first of what I will be calling Le Grande Poofy Wigs, none other than the Comte Saint Germain. 

What a prick. But, he’s going to be an excellent villain. Isn’t that word French, anyway? Right.



And, a quick word about Cait: She’s lovely, and the character grows with each scene.

Now then, since the bulk of my readers are female, I shall address something which you might have noticed.

There are four starring roles in this episode, and they are:

1. Tobias in his fractured, hopeful glory.

2. Cait’s neck and doe-like eyes.

3. Mrs. Graham’s capped teeth.

4. And finally—




So! We’re off to see the king and all that French stuff next week. I for one can’t WAIT to meet Master Raymond (will there be an ACTUAL stuffed crocodile?). 

To new friends, if you haven’t supported my giraffe fund (it’s not rescue, I’d just sorta like to have a herd of giraffes), you can do so here:

Halfway Bitten


Until next week,

Cheers!
Terry





































Springtime: Outlander, Tornadoes. and Tomatoes.

Happy Spring, Humans.

If you’re north of Florida, then you too are awaiting the arrival of Spring. Here in Tennessee, we kick off the season right: 


We don’t have “rain”, we have sirens. So, in the midst of a month or so in which we dive for cover now and then, I’ll be doing the same things I do every year.

1. Debate putting tomato plants out too early, in which they’re turned in green mush by a passing storm.

2. Endure angst by not putting my tomato plants out, which causes me to go extra days without home grown tomatoes. I prepare my body carefully for what I like to call Tomatogeddon. I don’t like to wait.

3.Bless the heavens for HBO and Starz. See, as a football fan, the spring is a troubling time. Do I respect gymnasts, golfers, and figure skaters? YES. They’re skilled people doing superhuman things. What they are not is my college football team, and waiting until late August to see them kick the snot out of someone isn’t acceptable. So I need something to occupy me when I’m not teaching, running, or writing.
Therefore, I need HBO (Game of Thrones) and Starz (Outlander) in order to maintain my sanity through the Spring doldrums, so to speak.

Now, about Outlander. They’re going to Paris this season, and we get to see the next chapter, featuring political intrigue on a massive scale. This is where Jamie and Claire will try to subvert the efforts of one of the most unlikable characters I’ve ever read.

Bonnie Prince Charlie.

Gawd, what a prig. He bitches about women, and hunting, and his throne, and his clothes, and money, and he does it all in a powdered wig. He’s the definition of spoiled, and his actions are going to kill a lot of innocent people. So, yeah, He’s an asshole.



However, this is also the season that brings us, for my money, the most important characters in that they’re going to create the Jamie and Claire of the future. 

But first, for the female fans of Outlander, this public service announcement:



Moving on. 

I love Master Raymond. He’s interesting, and looks sort of froglike, and where will they ever find a French actor who can–


But of course. Vive le France.

Now, I want you to envision that you’re in high school, and you’re considering going to your Prom. Imagine that Outlander Season Two is on air. Ladies, I present to you the most popular prom dress in history, if that scenario played out: 



Or third. Sam’s a good looking dude, and they are, after all, in France.

Less than a month, now. How are you all holding out?

Also, newest Halfway book will be on sale next week, or just get it now and fund my Giraffe Money Account. You know you want to.



Get it here.
Cheers for now– check back next week, new blog, new giveaway, and I’ll be signing books in Wisconsin, Iowa, and Nashville next month. Hope to see you at one of the events. Find out where I’ll be here: Book Signings and Shenanigans

Cheers!

Terry






In Which I Consider Poldark

As an American, I’m legally obligated to run on a treadmill. It’s the law. After finding myself in the midst of Droughtlander (Between seasons one and two) and with no available movies involving:
Dinosaurs
Space Travel
Volcanoes
Redheads travelling in space with dinosaurs,

I was forced to spread my net wider. 

I found Poldark, and I’m thrilled. 

It has everything I want in a period drama, as noted below.

Let’s begin with the titular star, a swarthy Irish actor who acts as a masculine counterpoint to everyone except the miners who occasionally grace the screen:


Also, am I the only person who finds his name– Ross– to be sort of “surfer”? It isn’t exactly what I expected for 18th Century Cornwall, but then again, I’ve never been to Cornwall. Maybe everyone there is into skateboarding and the X Games, instead of horrific tin mines and petty political intrigue.

Naturally, there’s a foil. In this case, the weenie in question is a foppish banker with curls that wouldn’t look out of place on an American Girl doll. He’s oily, and underhanded, and apparently only engages in two activities: playing cards and sneering.



George (the weenie) gets advice from a gravelly-voiced Alpha Male type who sounds like he was raised eating asbestos and the dreams of children. He’s a perfect addition to the general douchebaggery of the banking interest as a negative character:



Then, of course, we have the ladies. They are wildly divergent in their look and carriage, but it’s easy to see who fills what role. Hat tip to the actresses, who are, in a word, superb.

We begin with a character who actually cleaves close to the truth of our modern world. Meet Verity, who is supposed to be so plain and bereft of sexual appeal that she’s made it to the age of twenty-five (WHUT?) without being offered the position of babymaker in someone’s home. I find her rather lovely and charismatic, actually. I felt the collective shiver among female viewers when she announced that, at the advanced age of 25, she had few prospects for marriage. Quelle horreur! 


Then, we move on to the central female figure who Russ has crossed an ocean to reclaim. Alas, he was weenie-blocked, but that won’t stop us from enjoying any number of closeup shots of the radiant English Rose, Elizabeth. Without further ado:



Now that’s not to say all of the women are of such fine breeding. May I introduce the surly, curmudgeonly, ill-groomed, wheezing and venal hired help? Beatie Edney (lovely in real life), is the antithesis of– well, soap. And bathing. And not spitting on the floor. Stuff like that.



There’s the requisite prostitute, who has perfect teeth, skin, boobs, ass, and is shockingly free of things like “lice” and “syphilis”.  If her character is even close to an accurate portrayal of Cornish women in the 18th century, then I’d like to personally urge the development of time travel at our nearest possible moment.



We conclude with the ugly duckling, Demelza. I think their casting went sort of like this:

Take beautiful actress.
Rub dirt on her.
Voila!


It’s an excellent cast, with everything I want in a series. For the first hour, I was concerned that all Russ would be doing was riding his horse back and forth between two locations, but he eventually stopped long enough to do all of that Poldark stuff while gritting his teeth and looking wistfully at the rolling Cornish vistas and/or heaving bosoms of women. My only question: HOW did they find that much sunlight to shoot in? It’s like the South of France, but with powdered wigs and rowdy miners. I’m thrilled that there will be a second season.

I blog about Outlander, too. Check out some past posts while we endure Droughtlander. And if you like fantasy, paranormal, or thrillers, may I suggest my newest release?

Halfway Bitten

We’re giving away audiobooks and paperbacks at 2500 and 3000 twitter followers, respectively– have we connected yet? @TerryMaggert

Until next time, cheers!

Terry

The Expanse, Outlander Casting News, and Christmas.

Hey Friends!

Last night was the kickoff episode of SyFy’s Big Grownup Show In Space, The Expanse. A little background: it’s a series of novels written by Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck (Under the pen name James S.A. Corey). It’s relatively near future space opera that highlights some immutable truths: humans will still find ways to screw each other regardless of where we’re living, be it Earth, the moons of Jupiter, or a barren space station in between. The novels are good, and were clearly workshopped with script uses in mind. Sometimes that’s a detraction from the quality of the story, but not here.


Highlights of the first episode include Thomas Jane as a space cop with a skrillex haircut (apparently, that’s still a thing) and Steven Strait as Jim Holden. A note about Steven: the guy grew up. At some point between the iffy 10000 BC and now, he became a lot more legitimate as a leading man. An other point in his favor (or perhaps the director’s) is that he speaks slowly enough to indicate the deliberate, honorable pitch of his character. Holden, who goes on to form a familial bond with three other characters (all of whom are well cast) is going to be noting less than a galactic lynchpin of honor and action. So to the producers, well done.

It should also be noted that because the authors massaged their narrative into a grittier reality of who would be in space, there don’t seem to be any throwaways among the cast. Even the drug addled Belter girl in one critical scene caries her weight easily. Belters are lanky, half-starved looking victims of low gravity life– their political actions become obvious later– who act as a sad reminder that even under the control of the UN, earth is more than willing to screw people in the name of profit. It pleased me to see that a unified, idealistic future would have the human elements of rapacity and violence. The Belters and their political wing, the OPA, are set up as an excellent foil for the story arc, as is the avaricious, dangerous leader of earth, Chrisjen Avasarala, who proves that even grandmothers can be horrible people. I think that Gia, seen below, will be a rare example of adding something to the mix with minor characters. Let’s face it, space is empty but The Expanse is crowded with an array of humans who all have their own agendas. It makes for a great possibility.



The next episode (tonight) will prove if the producers are connecting with the material. As far as casting goes, it appears to be spot on. If they can resist the need to sanitize what should be an absolute mess of a universe, then this series has a chance. If they fall prey to the need for a narrative that “fits” within some mythological parameter, then we’ll endure another Dresden Files in which something beautiful was turned into, well, the Dresden Files.


So, about Outlander. Roger Watch has ended! In case you were drugged and sleeping yesterday, meet Rik Rankin, who will be Roger MacKenzie, a.k.a. The Thrush. Kudos to the team who said, “Let’s get someone who looks like Roger, but sings as well.” The guy can sing. Here’s something I found that demonstrates to all of Outlander fandom that the right actor is in the right place. Well done!
Roger Mac Sings!

Richard looks like Roger, to me. I think it’s a home run addition to what is proving to be one of those casts that people will talk about for fifty years.


Take that, y’all. Now– and I say this as a fan– if they screw up the selection of Bree, there will be nothing short of riots in the streets. Seriously. I haven’t seen this kind of pressure on a production staff in some time. Let’s see what happens before we march, eh?

I’ll be busy with Christmas and family fun for the next ten days, I hope that your holiday is warm and bright. It’s been a wonderful year, and thanks for all of the emails, moderate threats, occasional compliments, and fun. New book will be out in late January, along with a new audiobook or two. It’s going to be a great 2016. I’ll have some signed paperbacks as New Year’s Gifts– stop by at the next post to get in on the giveaway.

Until then, cheers!

Terry