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

Baby Squirrel Rescue!

Today, we had an overload of cuteness courtesy of a baby squirrel.

I found him in the front yard, confused and weak. I snatched him up from a feral cat, who was approaching him with bad intentions, took him inside, and began the process of Baby Squirrel Rescue.

Here are the highlights of the day:

  1. Baby squirrels like cashews.
  2. They can drink pedialyte and water as a mixture.
  3. They SNORE, and it’s insanely adorable. I know this because Noah (my son named him) fell asleep in my hand when his tummy was full, and he snored. It’s the best thing ever.

After he was strong enough, and stabilized, I put him under his tree and stood watch. Unfortunately, it became clear he was an orphan, but we had a wonderful solution. After a series of calls, I drove Noah to Walden’s Puddle, a wildlife sanctuary about an hour away.

It’s like heaven on earth. I met owls, squirrels, turkeys, possums, birds, snakes, and a pair of sassy turtles. Here’s the site– I’ll be supporting them from now on.

https://waldenspuddle.org/

Here’s an action shot of Noah enjoying his second cashew, which led to a nap.

He’s safe, happy, and on the road to recovery. It’s been an excellent Saturday, and Happy St. Patty’s Day to all my friends.

Some other news: We had a photo shoot for the new book, and it was AMAZING. Jade and Quinton were the perfect people, and Dottie Rainwater captured their essence perfectly. I can’t wait to show you the results. A Touch of Frost will be available on April 7th. and I hope you love the characters as much as I do.

Meet Jade (Sammie) and Quinton (Gideon).

Coming soon– trading cards, postcards, and posters. It’s going to be a fantastic release week!

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

Join my Pie/Cake/Running Challenge!

I love pie and cake and waffles and running, so this seems like a win/win/win/win to me. A bit of background- I got fat over the winter (gained 24 pounds), but I run in the summer, so it’s going to come off. Here’s where things get dicey.

I’m not giving up pie and cake and such. I may limit myself to reasonable portions, but I’m not going to give up the joys of life. I have some specific goals in mind, so let’s get down to some specific numbers.

  1. Current weight is 249. Tragically, my height remains steady (for now) at 6’1″.
  2. I’m going to eat an average of one piece of cake or pie per day. Waffles count as two pieces, because I rarely eat them without syrup.
  3. My running routes are fantastic, but for this specific mission, I’ll run at a nearby park. Here are the specs–

As you can see, it’s a nice, small lap. I had a strange hip injury, took six months off running, and then got a vicious summer cold.

In short, I’m weak.

So, two days ago I started in earnest. I was able to run two laps and walk two, along with eighty pushups. Oh– about the pushups– I’m going to do twenty pushups or burpees for every lap around the track. Today, I ran 2.75 laps and walked 2. I did 100 pushups. The goal here is quite simple. It isn’t so much a weight issue as it is changing my body to be more muscular and less. . . middle aged. I want to run with my shirt off in full Dad Bod mode later this year, but not necessarily with the Dad Bod. Does that make sense?

There’s something about this park that enables good, hard runs.

I think that within three weeks of good work, I’ll be able to see and feel some results. I love running in the heat, and this park has an added bonus– there are MASSES of blackberry bushes around the park. If I run around the exterior of the park, it’s 1.2 miles. By summer’s end, I’ll be running around the park rather than in it. I’ll also have eaten myself silly on all those glorious blackberries.

Now, on to cake.

It turns out, I’m a princess.

It’s true. My bride baked me a prinsesstårta (Swedish Princess Cake) and I LOST MY MIND. It. Is. Magnificent.

There are layers of custard and home made raspberry jam and cream and OH LORD is it good. The outer layer is hand made marzipan and I’m not kidding when I say I’ll run in the sun ’til I drop simply to eat a slice.

You see? Totally worth it.

So, I’m keeping a journal of my running and such, to see just what happens over the summer. Send me a message if you’re running, too. I’m always up for challenges and buddies to join the grind, so to speak.

Now, if you’ll excuse me. The Princess needs cake.*

 

*Me, in case you doubted.

Cheers,

Terry

Cancer took another friend.

Cancer– the scourge of our lifetime– took Dr. Lloyd Elliott this week. He was fifty, he was our family veterinarian, and he was a rare individual.

My wife and I love our animals. We regard our relationship with them as a kind of covenant, and Dr. Elliott was a huge part of our lives for the past sixteen years. He was kind, intelligent, patient, and gifted. He was empathic. He was a friend. He took care of our pets in health, and helped usher them on when disease and age made their lives unbearable.

He was with us on the very best of days, and on the worst as well. He cried with us, cheered with us, and cared for our friends as if they were his own. On the last day of Bernadette’s life, my Great Dane was too weak to walk. She weighed two hundred pounds, but Dr. Elliott met me at the car and helped us into the hospital, where she would take her last breath as we all cried, missing her even as her spirit left the room.

Dr. Elliott was– and is– a special human, and I will miss him. I cannot fathom what his family is enduring. I buried my Mother due to cancer, as well as my Nana, my Aunt, and my Grandfather. It’s a ruthless, implacable and capricious killer and I hate it with all of my heart. We lose good and great people to it, and through it all, wonder who is next.

I hope and pray that Dr. Elliott’s family can, in time, find some measure of peace. What do you say? I don’t know. I didn’t even know what to say when my own mother died, how can I articulate the loss for another family? Is compassion really enough? It feels hollow, somehow. I don’t want that kind of hurt to exist for a family who gave us someone loved by so many people.

Sometimes, it feels like sorry isn’t enough. This is one of those times.

Paging Clark Griswold: It’s Christmas time.

I’ve reached a compromise with my wife.

I wanted 250,000 Christmas lights, a small nuclear reactor to power the system, and live reindeer.

She wanted light-up Christmas trees that have a vaguely Dr. Seuss-like quality; whimsical and fun.

I like them. As you may have guessed, that isn’t 250,000 lights, but it’ll do. It turns out that an unlicensed nuclear plant is both expensive and frowned upon, so I’ll hold off until later and/or whenever portable nukes become a thing.

Our search for trees was critical, as we have more than one Christmas tree in the house. Since we have somewhere between one and three hundred cats (I think), we have little trees placed high in *relatively* safe areas. Meet one of our little trees.

That’s tucked away in my son’s room, and yes– that’s a VCR. He likes old technology, and he’s convinced that he can reinvent the American obsession with videotapes. Since he’s eight, I won’t call him a hipster, just an optimist.

We found the trees at a local lot. It was dusk, and cool, and the perfect night for tree hunting.

All in all, it’s been an amazing December and we’re just getting warmed up. Wherever you are, may this season be warm and bright.

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






Hiring a Unicorn as a Model. (Halfway News)

UNICORN!

That’s what my friend Staci said when I mentioned I walked into the grocery store and saw a young woman who looks exactly how I pictured Carlie McEwan (White Witch, Monster Fighter, and Maker of Waffles).

“You found a unicorn,” Staci said.

“I did?” I asked.

“Yes. It’s a one-in-a-million thing. Get it?” Staci responded.

“Oh, Ok,”I confirmed. 

There was an awkward pause in our chat.

“Well, I better go do. . .something else. Don’t scare the girl. Make sure she knows you don’t have a creepy van or anything,” Staci admonished me. I found myself nodding at the laptop where our chat was scrolling. 

“Think I should have my wife ask her to be on the book cover?” I asked. It seemed plausible to me.

“No. That might be even weirder.” Staci’s answer was quick and decisive.

“Ok.” I agreed, but still thought that when shaved, I look relatively harmless.

That about sums up the process. The results, though, are spectacular. Allow me to introduce Alexis, the model who is going to bring Carlie to life. She’s unique, owns Doc Martens, and has that uniquely beautiful quality that Carlie embodies. So, yeah. Unicorn.

This is Alexis:




As you can see, she doesn’t look frightened at all, so I don’t know why Staci told me to “approach calmly, hand her my business card, and take two large steps back.” I think I should be offended, but I’m not, so everything is cool, and we have our Carlie, and take that Staci. 

But I’m not bitter.

So join me in welcoming Alexis, because this Halfway series is just blooming. I love these characters.

Until next time!

Terry










LibertyCon: Post Mortem

Take several hundred science fiction fans. Season with pancakes and booze. 


And wait.

LibertyCon superseded all of my expectations. I made several (doubtless) lifelong friends, met some incredibly talented people, and collected books and art that are now firmly established in my pantheon of Favorite Things. Unlike Oprah, my faves are affordable, nerdy, and probably will add something to my post-apocalyptic skill set.

Set in lovely Chattanooga, Tennessee, LibertyCon was held at the “Choo-Choo”. It’s a landmark hotel. You can tell because of the restroom:



That’s fancy.

So, had a few hours out in Author Alley. That was great. As it turns out, everyone there likes books the same way I do: like oxygen.



But this event was about artists and writers. Some specific wonders I discovered included:

A pirate death coin by Fritz Ling (Pirates? Doom? I accept)



And then my Magnum Opus Find: Martin Powell and his bride Leia Barrett Durham Powell. Lemme tell ya, Martin and I share a LOT in common. 

1) Dinosaurs
2) A passion for megafauna
3) The desire to own a Baluchitherium
4) Edgar Rice Burroughs
5) Other stuff

For your education, here is a Baluchitherium, not to be confused with a Titanothere or Indricothere, both of which we also appreciate:



Don’t act like you aren’t impressed. We also share a love of the same book from the 1930s.


His bride, Leia makes incredible stained glass art. She gave me a pteradactyl, and now she calls me Pterry.  The Pterrydactyl will now be my Official Vehicle Mascot henceforth.


GET IT? 

This was another part of the scene. To a nerd, this looks a lot like heaven:



But the event was not without hidden stress. For example, one sadistic individual unleashed these terrifying dolls on the general populace. Not since The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills has the world seen such crimes against nature:


Yeah, I’ve officially stopped breeding. And sleeping. And walking past places where there might be infants. Or dolls. Or anything wearing a onesie.

So that’s it for now. I’m still processing just how wonderful everyone was to a first time nobody from Someplace Else.

I’ve already made my reservation for next year. 

Seriously, with a chandelier like that in the bathroom, don’t tell me you wouldn’t as well.

The new series is out, by the way. 

Did you get yours?Waffles, Witches, and Wonder. Halfway Dead.


Until next time!

Terry














































LC