I know it’s been a minute, but in the past four months, things have REALLY been happening. I’m now two people– Terry Maggert, writer of witches and dragons and things that go hump in the night– and I’m also on half of Daniel Pierce.
As Daniel, I write an array of Science Fiction, Fantasy, Dystopian, and Urban Fantasy, but all with a twist. The hero doesn’t just get the girl. He gets all the girls.
It’s harem, it’s real, and it’s spectacular.
Check us out here, and I can’t wait to see everyone in 2019. I’ll be all over the country, both as Terry and Daniel, and I’ll have books, swag, and a lot of new things to share with you. Thanks for making 2018 my best year ever. I think 2019 will easily be even better, and it’s all because of you.
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:
Baby squirrels like cashews.
They can drink pedialyte and water as a mixture.
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.
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!
Doom brought on by pushups? Soon. I’d like to say more, but my “side-man-boobs” hurt every day and there’s no end in sight. I feel as if there is something happening to my body, but I’m not exactly sure what it is. There are lumps– also known as muscle– but they’re under my arms in a weird place, presumably good for some purpose that has not yet revealed itself.
I’m sort of thinking that one day, I’ll be in a stressful situation and BOOM, flap of skin or wings or gills or something will burst forth and won’t that be fun?
Here’s the new cover, and we’re going to have nice giveaway one week before. Two Amazon gift cards, some paperbacks, all that jazz. I’ll let you know, and until then, I’ll be doing pushups, writing, and avoiding butter beans, which as we all know, are Of the Devil.
Now for the longer version, and a few specific examples of who and what tribulations await you, the writer.
The Hater. They’re out there, and in another life, you’ve personally kicked their puppy. They’re going to get every ounce they can out of a punitive review, and by all that’s holy, no one will wonder where they stand by the end of it. Example– from one of my actual reviews– I have to say this was singlehandedly the worst story I’ve EVER read (and I read quite extensively). Ouch. How, you might ask, do I deal with this? Simple– you don’t. Ever. It’s a no win situation to engage someone who has an extensive desire to write bad things about what you do. It might irk you, but it’s not personal. It’s the Internet.
The Frustrated Writer. They can be your best friend or your worst enemy depending on how they view your work. Simply stated, they take time to write a review that is clever, sometimes mean, thorough, and often scattered with personal attacks. These are, for me, the most troubling, because so much of me goes into my stories. In effect, they attack your history, which can evoke a powerful reaction. Example– I haven’t seen such blatant yet backhanded anti-Semitism in a very long time. In this case, the reviewer refers to a character changing their name to be a YouTube star, which is common in the entertainment industry and– here’s the kicker– what my Grandfather did for his music career. He was a big band leader in the 1930s, prior to going off to fight Nazis. With a last name like Grabowski, he chose Gray for his performer name and we’ve used it as a family tradition for restaurant reservations ever since. In essence, the reviewer made an incorrect assumption and branded a fun tradition in my family as something sinister. What did I do? Nothing. And that is, once again, the right move.
The Crusader. Oy vey. These are among the most difficult to deal with because they have an agenda prior to even reading the sentence of your book. They’re taking a square peg and hammering it into a round hole and damn the consequences. Using magic? You hate Pagans. A man makes a decision? Misogyny. Not enough Lithuanian characters? You must hate Lithuania. You get the picture. Example–Terry Maggert manages to subtly insult every single practicing Pagan in the world and maybe some atheists and other religions as well. This is radioactive. Back away, forget it ever happened, and keep writing your novels. I’ve written stories about the Pope being a vampire and zombie sex, but reactions like that one are best ignored. This also speaks to the issue of censorship. I’m against it. Period. I can’t allow exterior forces to shape a narrative in a fictional place. This is my policy, and as I tell people at conferences, “Your world, your rules.”
The Scholar. *Heavy Sigh* Some people could take the fun out of a naked demolition derby, and they will invariably show up in your reviews. They’re experts on virtually any topic you choose to write about, and they’re going to let you know. They will chide you for perceived errors, and in some cases even reach out to you personally to do so (I’ve had it happen at signings). I write fantasy and science fiction. Therefore, I operate on the principle espoused by Mark Twain, “Get your facts straight, then you can distort them as you please.” This ties in to #3, but also stand on its own as a cautionary tale about the immediacy of “expert opinion”. Example–The Adirondacks were named by the Mohawk, not the Huron, so Maggert doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Setting aside the concept that original cultures moved around, this is a shining example of The Scholar. They’re angry, they don’t like your book, and they’re going to make it a personal attack based on their perception and bias about your intellect. If they paid for the book, sally forth, I say. If they got it for free, well, you should be warned that NetGalley is where dreams go to die (more on that at a later date).
The Soul of Brevity. Often cross-pollinates with the Compulsive Cusser,, these reviews can be as short as two words, leaving no doubt as to the position they’re taking about your book. I actually like these, because more often than not, they strike me as honest. Example- Totally sucked. Attaboy. That’s at least honest, and it leavens the other windy reviews. There are varieties in which the reviewer channels a soldier or stable hand’s language, but that’s okay too. If nothing else, it pumps up your total and gives you data about who is– and isn’t– reading your books.
The common theme here is this: there is no scenario in which engaging a bad review can end well. In point of fact, I’ve personally watched two NYT best-selling authors nuke their career by clapping back at bad reviews. If they can’t withstand that kind of pushback, then I know I can’t. *
At least, not until I have my island filled with giraffes and rocket launchers.
See you in Frankenmuth, Michigan this weekend. I’ll be the guy eating. All the time.
*I can, however, have someone I dislike die a horrible death in my next novel. I’ve done this four times. True story. Be careful, change their name. 🙂
I’m going back to Virginia this weekend for the Roanoke Author Invasion. It’s not, technically, an invasion, because none of us will be driving tank. Also, invaders rarely show up with candy and prizes, both of which will be on hand in good supply.
Some of the things I will have (but not limited to):
This is totally legit and not creepy at all.
I will also have postcards with the TOP SECRET ART from Moonborn. If you’re on my mailing list, you’ll see it today. If not you should join. I have little contests, giveaways, etc, and it’s a great way to share books. Sign up here: http://terrymaggert.com/get-the-newsletter/
In other news, I’m going to the eye doctor today to revisit contact lenses. I had LASIK seventeen years ago and my distance vision is perfect, but now I have to use reading glasses and it makes me feel like I’m one step away from clipping coupons and yelling at kids to get off my lawn. Do you wear contacts instead of reading glasses? Let me know what you wear, I’m open to product recommendations.
Halfway Drowned is at 18,000 words and it’s FLYING. I’ll post a snippet next week.
Our son Teddy turns nine today. His birthday is the culmination of a series of surprises, that include (but are not limited to):
Becoming a dad at forty, when my entire life had been spent in service to myself, not others.
The surreal experience of my bride and I being sent home with a live human being in our red Mustang, and wondering, “What the hell do we do now?”
Discovering that, for the first few months, he didn’t do very much; sort of like an exceptionally cute inchworm with toes.
Watching him grow. Alarmingly fast. Like, “Your four year old will need you to help him shave soon.” That kind of fast. Missy is very tall. I am tall. We’re all tall. Teddy is really tall. He’s five feet tall, with no end in sight.
Learning that kids tend to run around naked. A lot.
Finding out that due dates for babies are a “serving suggestion”, as he arrived six weeks early, when I had the entire bathroom ripped out and our toilet sitting over a crawlspace. It had quite the frontier feel, but with 85% more possums and raccoons.
Watching him develop a love for kittens and puppies as naturally as if it were his calling.
Seeing the first time he told a joke, and it was funny.
Holding hands with him as we walk, and wondering if I will ever be more needed (or happy) in my life than in that moment.
Seeing his mother in him, as well as his grandmother, and me, and a line of wonderful people who all comprise part of him; but knowing that he is utterly unique.
Wondering who he will become, but also fearing the passage of time.
Standing quietly in the kitchen with my wife, talking about him in hushed tones because he amazes us.
Feeling my purpose realized, fully and with complete joy, and being thankful that I get to see him grow.
Happy birthday, Teddy. You are the best thing under the sun. We love you.
We have somewhere between five and seventy cats. I don’t know the exact number, but it seems to fluctuate based on things like “holding a can of tuna” and “trying to write a book while using a laptop”.
Outwardly, I appear to be a dog person. We have five dogs. I love dogs. I talk to them in silly voices, or as a colleague when they appear to be listening. I run with them, nap with them, and have not gone to the bathroom by myself in nine years. (True Story)
But it’s my cats that really bring out the weird in me. Granted, I’m a writer, so that wasn’t exactly a difficult task.
(side note: every writer lives in fear of dying without clearing their web browser. we call it research, but in truth, it’s generally unhealthy fascinations with things as varied as skin conditions, hiding bodies, and why a tiger might only eat half of a person. stuff like that.)
So when we have yet another litter of rescued kittens, they begin to attach themselves to us like adorable parasitic floofs, worming their way into my daily routine with shocking speed. Naturally, I have my favorites, and naturally, some of the cats only tolerate me– after all, they’re cats. It’s what they do.
Which brings me to my recent conversation with my friend and book advisor, who is also a cat person and thus understands what life is like with miniature, disdainful lions who poop in proscribed locations throughout the house.
“Jess,” I said, not thinking that I might be weird, “I like to nibble my cat’s ears while he sits on my lap.”
There was no recriminating gasp or shock on her end of the phone call, merely, “OH MY GAHD I DO TOO.”
So, there’s at least two of us, thought I think other people will admit it once they know OTHER people are willing to come forward. It’s a circle of affirmation for Cat Nibblers, or whatever the inevitable meetings will be called.
And despite, the efforts of Sugar (he’s the white one, getting fed by my bride, The Cat Whisperer), I can now proudly announce that my tenth novel, Moonborn, is complete. I’ll share the cover soon, and more sample chapters as well.
Do you know who you are? What’s your genealogy? Who are your people? Where did your family originate?
Do you know, or do you think you know?
I write books and teach history, which is either a blessing or a curse depending on your perspective. In the case of writing, it’s mostly a joy. In the case of teaching history, also a joy.
But knowing history? That’s something entirely different. I read constantly, and yet, I’m still surprised by the inhumanity that existed– and still exists. Conversely, I find great kindness and love in the strangest places, often related in small historical accounts of greatness in the face of what we can only call pure evil. Therein lies the challenge of history, and by extension, the love of it, too.
Sometimes, we think we know our family. It’s a curious mix of truth and myth, not unlike history in the wider sense. Case in point- my handwriting is almost identical to that of my father, although he’s right handed and I’m a lefty. I’m tall like him, laugh like him, and even speak in the same syntax. I have the same skillet-shaped hands, and yet–
I look like my mother, and look exactly like my grandfather. I’m fortunate in that my family tends to be the saving kind, squirreling away photos from a time when sepia tones, hats, and ladies in pearls were the norm.
My grandfather was a big band leader in the 1930s, but then he was called away to war. Everyone was called away for that horror show, and yet, in the midst of it, his people– my people– managed to survive, mostly, and return home to a very different world.
Maybe my age is showing, but to my students, those pictures are history. To me, it’s where I came from, and who I am. It’s who my son will be, and perhaps his children.
I think that’s why it’s important to save the past, because a simple glimpse tells us that it isn’t the past at all. It’s now, it’s us. It’s who we are and where we’ve been, and something to show our children, drawing a line between the distant horizon and the possibilities ahead of them.
I’ve got three *species* of vampires, ranging from sexy to, well, gross. In history, each culture has their own version, and it’s here that I found my playground from which to draw ideas for how I’d approach the beasties. Vampires, like Christian Grey, might be considered predators, but to what extent?
There’s something visceral about a sexual predator– and vampires are, make no mistake– that dances on the edge of cultural conscience between fascination and disgust. Vampires scare the hell out of some people because their abilities remove control, and thus, agency. Yet, many of us think of vampires as elegant criminals rather than hideous beasts. Why?
I chose to give one of my vampires a single, thin fang that slips into an artery, draining away life as the victim is mounted in a tangle of sexual heat and confusion. Sure, two fangs seem balanced, but in biological terms, wouldn’t one do the trick? For me, it worked. For others, there’s an appeal to the symmetry of a beast with two fangs, eyes flashing with promise of things that are illicit and dangerous.
Does this mean we’re all, in a way, adrenaline junkies? Is this the ultimate risk, in terms of sexuality? You give in to the monster: you die.
I wonder how we let the violation of vampires slip through our collective mind, shifting from the ultimate predator into something to be desired, even sought out. It’s a long trip between those two states of being, or is it? Is this a question of domination and submission, or is it something even more simple: the fulfillment of sexual pleasure through fantasy?
I ask these questions because of erotica in general, and the film Fifty Shades Darker hits theaters. As a casual observer, the phenomenon of women– adult, independent, educated– embracing the concept of submission is nothing short of fascinating. Is it because we fear asking for what we want, and it takes a monster to give it to us? For that matter, how often is anyone truly honest with their partner? There’s a fine line between thrill and disgust, a vague demarcation that lovers may never cross in their hunt for the thing they want most.
Is it also tied to the appearance of the monster, so to speak? I’ve always thought that we tolerate far more brutal behavior from beautiful people. Is this true? Are we conditioned to forgive, based on an expectation of cruelty from that which is deemed perfect and beautiful?
In a sense, I think we are. That’s why vampires (and Christian Grey) aren’t shunned. They’re embraced. Desired.
I think it’s as good a time as any to ask yourself, “What do I really want?”. If you can be honest, then you’re with the right person.