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

Party Hard: 1993 Edition

I went to Iowa last week.

It’s my ancestral homeland (dad is from there). It’s filled with lovely people, open spaces, and the occasional blizzard.

Maybe more than just occasional, but still, well worth the trip. I was at the North Iowa Book Bash, and it was simply amazing. People, books, fun. It’s basically heaven (an Iowa thing for fans of Field of Dreams), and it was also the Super Official Release Date for my newest book, A Touch of Frost.

HOWEVER, I would be remiss if I didn’t discuss the kicker, which is this: Clear Lake, Iowa has a BENNIGAN’S.

For anyone alive in the 1990s, Bennigan’s was the place to be across much of the country, featuring (but not limited to)

Beer.

Irish-y stuff.

Fried things.

The Monte Cristo Sandwich.

What’s a Monte Cristo? Allow me to describe it to you.

Take ham, cheese, turkey, cheese, and ham, place in bread.

Dunk bread in batter, like a funnel cake.

Fry.

Serve covered in powdered sugar with a side of raspberry jam.

Yes. It’s that good. It’s so blissfully America I felt the urge to sing patriotic songs and quote Top Gun; it’s a fat bomb of grease and flavor and sweetness that is simply sublime.

Since the Bennigan’s is located in the hotel, we were able to walk through on the way to our author event, thus seeing the Calm Before the Storm.

Little did the staff know they would be inundated with rowdy writers and readers in a short time, as well as shouts for MORE MONTE CRISTO from certain unnamed person(s).

Iowa is beautiful in that heartbreaking way, open tinged with a hint of loneliness when you get outside town. I love it.

There was yet another winter storm on the way when I left, but that’s the Midwest– it ain’t summer until the Fourth of July, and even then the nights are cool enough to remind everyone winter isn’t gone, just resting.

I can’t wait to go back. Every time I visit, I understand why my family returned after decades abroad, and as long as there’s a Bennigan’s, to quote General Douglas MacArthur, “I shall return.”

If you haven’t gotten the new book, here it is, just click the cover to grab one. Hope you love Gideon and Sammie. I know I do.

A Touch of Frost

Cheers!

Terry

 

2018: Travelin’ Man!

MY BODY IS READY.

And so is my luggage.*

*Cat not included.

I’m going to be all over the place this year, signing books and eating. Okay, mostly eating, but also signing books. Here’s a look at my schedule. If you have a book event near you that you think I should attend, let me know– I love to travel and meet bookfriends.

And eat.

Right, so on to the schedule:

April 8 Clear Lake, Iowa

Northern Iowa Book Bash

April 21 Corbin, KY

Southeastern Kentucky Author Event

May 12, Austin, TX

For the Love of Books and Austin

June 2, Dickson, TN

Dickson Author Signing

June 29- July 1  LibertyCon

http://libertycon.org/

July 14 Lexington, KY

Lexington Legendary Book Bash

July 21 Writers on the River, Peoria

Writers on the River

Sept 22 Madison, WI

Mayhem in the Midwest

Oct 13 Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Fall Into Books

As usual, this is subject to change based on availability of coffee, insurrection, or dinosaur sightings.

Tell me about your event, I’d love to visit!

Cheers,

Terry

 

Find Your Tribe.

Your tribe is the people outside your family who become family. That’s it. It can be simple to find them, or it can take years. For me, it took until I started writing as a serious pursuit, unlocking the years of memories about books, movies, comics, and art. All of these things fire my imagination like the inside of a star. It’s relentless and compelling and there is unalloyed joy in sharing it with people who not only like the things you like, but they get you.

So, back to back I’ve had two weekends with My Tribe. The first was Utopiacon, where fiction writers I know– and did not know– mingled with fans over three days of celebrating books. It’s a powerful sensation to realize that there are other humans who feel the same giddiness over books. Their imaginations share DNA with mine, and the overlapping areas of our fandoms are where we find common ground and bond (likely for life).

Then came LibertyCon. And this. . .headgear.

Your tribe foments creativity and laughter and thought. Your tribe makes you want to be better at what you do, and causes unabashed admiration for others who share your pursuit. It’s loud and grand and caring, and every minute of it flies by in a whirl of color and fun.

Something else happens, too. I’ve written five thousand words since coming home from the event, no small feat given my lack of sleep. Why is this? Simple. Your tribe stokes the boilers and makes creativity readily on tap. It’s a side effect of magical purpose, leaving you exhilarated and wide-eyed with the prospects of the coming days, eager to create and share.

I waited a long time to find my tribe, only to find that they were here all along. It’s up to you to find yours, but that’s the simplest part: find out where you can be weird, and revel in it.

Cheers for now. Gotta write. Maybe sleep. Mostly, write.

Terry

Why Book Covers Matter

Looks matter. Book covers matter. Or don’t they?

“I looked across the bar and saw her standing there, glass of wine in hand and her head thrown back in a laugh. At that moment, I could tell: she had a great personality.”

You might live to be one hundred years old and never hear that sentence, partially because no one will say it and you’ll be too busy arguing about expired coupons and the Good Old Days with the staff at Denny’s. I know because I’m *this* close to my senior discount and am already hearing the siren’s call of Early Bird Specials and Double Coupon Tuesday. I’m also a writer, and when I was in college the first time, (ahem), I was an artist. I understand that we’re visual creatures, and for those of us who love books, cover art matter. A lot.

Without a great cover, you’ll probably pass over the book. It’s a simple, brutal truth that there are good (and even great) books with terrible covers. A cover should tell– but not over tell– the story. It can be simple, or complex, or an image. It can be a person, character, or object that’s critical to the feel and arc of the book, but under no circumstances can it be of poor quality.

Book covers should transport us in much the same way that words do– but in the blink of an eye. I use concept art to express wonder, mystery– even fear and danger. Here are the covers for Heartborn and its sequel, Moonborn. In the details, there are constellations that have meaning, giving the reader something to search for as they go further down the path to my world.

With Moonborn, I want the sense of wonder, awe, and wide open skies, but with the added danger of a world tinged red by uncertainty. Is it blood? We’re trained to fear red. What does the red sky tell you?

 

I love color and motion, which is obvious with these covers. With that being said, I don’t only write YA, which led me to one of the more unusual cover decisions I had to make. I’d written a short story that was– for lack of a better term– zombie smut– but thoughtful, and intended to ask some uncomfortable questions about human sexuality. Whether or not I’ve succeeded is left to the reader, but the cover captured exactly what I wanted (Thanks, Staci!).

 

Once again, you might not know what it’s about, but it’s colorful, there’s an element of mystery, and it’s crisp. I tell other writers every time they ask me for advice– spend money on your editor, and spend money on your cover. If you don’t, you’re setting yourself up for failure.

In case you’re in the mood for “Horrotica”, as my friend quipped, you can get it here: https://www.amazon.com/Cool-Touch-Zombie-Love-Story-ebook/dp/B00UKS4EW2/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Moonborn will be available in three weeks, although the Grand Opening, so to say, will be at Utopiacon in Nashville. I’ll have plenty of copies, book candles, and swag. I highly recommend this event, check it out here: http://www.utopiacon.com/

Hope to see you there, and send me your favorite covers. What draws you to them? What turns you off? Let me know.

Cheers,

Terry