Now that I’ve been home a week and have pretended to catch up on sleep, I figured I should recap my experiences at Seton Hill University’s In Your Write Mind for 2015. I had a great time catching up with old friends, meeting new ones (both current students and new workshop attendees), and just generally being with my people.
I drove from Maryland to Greensburg, Pennsylvania, on Thursday morning. Four hours goes by pretty quickly with copious amounts of coffee and Pandora streaming music. Driving up the final hill to campus always takes my breath away, and it occurred to me that it had been 10 years since I’d made the drive for my first residency in June 2005. Then I promptly felt old and resolved not to think of such things.
I gathered up the raffle basket I’d created in honor of STEEL VICTORY (didn’t want the chocolate to melt in the car) and headed toward registration. After a meandering path through the main Hogwarts-style building, a detour to an entirely different building based on bad information, and finally ending up where I’d intended to go first, I dropped off the basket, signed in, and collected my information packet and dorm key. (With one person, it was more cost-efficient to stay in the dorms on campus than get a hotel room. Plus, the dorms are more fun at 3 AM.)
I got my pilgrimage to Steak ‘n Shake out of the way early and met some friends there for lunch. Then we headed back to campus and I changed into more professional clothes for the panel I moderated on freelance editing (the image was slightly ruined when Deanna, Chris, and I walked on stage with beer bottles). (IYWM is only a real writing conference until you remember that it was established by a bunch of writers who basically just wanted an excuse to come back to SHU every summer. So we put on an awesome program while still retaining our sense of the ridiculous.) The panel was well-attended and well-received. Guests asked all the questions, and I didn’t even have to refer to the backup list I’d prepared in case the audience just stared at us!
The rest of the evening was spent on dinner and catching up with people I hadn’t seen in a year or longer. I went to bed relatively early (around 2 AM) (which is early compared with the rest of the weekend) and woke up to a ringing phone the next morning (my mom forgot that I wasn’t at work).
IT WAS HERE.
BOOK LAUNCH DAY.
CUE ALL THE PANIC.
There was not actually that much panicking, mostly because my friends are amazing and kept me on a relatively even keel. In the morning, I attended a workshop on book promotion by Jen Brooks and got a lot of great ideas (keep an eye out, because you’ll hear about them here first).
There was a teeny bit of emotional outburst because after this workshop I heard about the SCOTUS marriage equality ruling. I was thrilled to get the good news, and I loved the cosmic irony since one of the major critiques STEEL VICTORY had received so far was that it was too “on point” with current political events (which is hilarious because I wrote it almost 10 years ago).
I had a great lunch with all the folks associated with my publisher, Raw Dog Screaming Press (you can see their recap and photos here). The rest of the afternoon was spent wandering around the beautiful campus and then getting ready for the mass book signing (my full recap of that is here).
Once again, the best part of the day was my parents driving from Dayton, Ohio, to surprise me. The also spent the night in Greensburg, so I met them for breakfast the next morning before they headed home. The rest of the day was spent setting up and decorating for the costume ball. This involved broken black lights, florescent paint splatters, and me wussing out to take a two hour nap in the afternoon (the dorm we stayed in was relatively new, and all the gunk still in the air system was destroying my sinuses).
I dressed up as Antonia Stark, genius billionaire sex goddess philanthropist, since the theme this year was comic books. Mostly my costume consisted of the cool light-up T-shirt that I found online and a wine glass labeled “A. Stark” (because it turns out alcohol is essential to the character). I found a current student who was dressed up as Pepper Potts and posed with her for a lot of pictures. To my surprise, we won the costume award for Dynamic Duo! (100% of the credit goes to my Pepper, who looked fantastic.)
I’d bought a bunch of Marvel toys earlier in the day, and as the evening progressed, I slowly turned into all of the Avengers at once.
After the ball came a midnight trip to Steak ‘n Shake for fries and ice cream, and bedtime was a rousing 5 AM.
I slept in the next day, attended the alumni luncheon to welcome the new graduates to our ranks, and then attended the graduation ceremony for the new class of SHU’s Writing Popular Fiction MFA program. I was especially happy to be there to support K. W. Taylor, who’s become a great friend over the past year, and Carrie Gessner, who has done a lot to support online promotion for STEEL VICTORY.
I drove home that evening, this time buoyed by coffee and a great traveling companion (a current student who needed a ride back to my neck of the woods in Maryland). It was a fantastic four days, and I can’t wait to do it all over again next year.
Mission accomplished! I just sent the full manuscript of STEEL MAGIC, the direct sequel to STEEL VICTORY, to my editor!
I’ll let you in on a little secret: I like this book even more than I do the first. 😉
Final word count was 78k.
I’m going to spend the rest of this week finishing up an editing project. The rest of July will be dedicated to doing research and creating a scene-by-scene outline for book 3, along with finishing rewrites on the first STEEL VICTORY short story prequel.
Diana Dru Botsford, author of the Stargate SG-1 novels FOUR DRAGONS and THE DRIFT, was awesome enough to both provide a fantastic back-cover blurb for my book and host me on her blog yesterday! Go here to find out how my love of Stargate influenced aspects of STEEL VICTORY.
The official book launch of STEEL VICTORY at Seton Hill University’s In Your Write Mind retreat was amazing. The mass book signing on Friday night is always a great event for authors and readers to interact. One of the measures of an in-person book sale event is not necessarily how many books you sell, but how many you sell to people who aren’t already your friends. I’m proud to say that while many of my friends did purchase my book, a significant number of books I signed were for people I had not met before that weekend.
(Even better is the number of people who mentioned on Saturday and Sunday that they had already started the novel and were enjoying it!)
A special shout out goes to my friends Chris and Jo for both keeping me from stressing out during the day and helping me set up my beautiful table. Chris gets extra credit for fetching me a napkin when the most amazing part of the night happened: My parents drove 5 hours from Dayton, Ohio, to surprise me! (The napkin was necessary for happy tears.) My father is also a published author and so knew the importance of the occasion and wanted to be there to support me.
So now my baby is off into the world. Part 1 of this journey is complete.
Part 2 of this journey has a few more hours of editing to do before I can send it to my editor.
Part 3 is going to get a full scene-by-scene outline in July.
(I saw a meme a few months ago that being a writer is like having homework every night for the rest of your life. SO TRUE.)
I hope you will all be there to continue this journey with me in the years to come.
I should be packing for Seton Hill University’s In Your Write Mind conference right now (where STEEL VICTORY debuts at the mass book signing on Friday night), but I’m exhausted from the gym and have a cat in my lap, so I’m not moving anytime soon.
In the meantime, please enjoy this partial scene from the beginning pages of the novel.
Victory led Asaron back around the side of the boat. All the noise came from where she’d left Mikelos. They ducked between cargo containers, dashing through the maze toward the opposite end of the boat.
“Move, and we’ll cut your line. Where’s your friend?”
When she heard the voice ahead of her, she halted Asaron with an arm across his chest. She crouched and poked her head around one of the containers, not wanting to attract attention quite yet. Three men stood at the deck railing with their backs to her. She couldn’t tell whether they were armed.
Then she heard Mikelos. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” She recognized that tone of voice. Her daughter used it on her all the time when she tried to act the innocent. Now she knew where Toria got it from.
Mikelos continued, “Your captain made the arrangements for me to ferry a friend out here for him since you weren’t stopping in Limani.” Oh, she knew where he was going with this. She would smack him later, after she thanked him
for stalling so well. “Guess he didn’t want to share.”
Her cue. Straightening, Victory strolled out from between two of the metal containers wearing her best innocent look. “What seems to be the problem here, gentlemen?” She flashed them a charming smile and sauntered toward the railing.
The center sailor sneered at her, revealing few teeth. “Who’re you?”
“Just a visitor. You can check with your captain. He should still be in his bunk.” Ignoring the men, she looked over the edge of the deck down to Mikelos. “Ready to go?”
Mikelos gave a curt nod before pulling loose the rope knot tied to their little boat. When Victory swung one leg over the railing, the man of poor dental hygiene grabbed Victory’s arm. “Not so fast, girl.”
She smiled again at the man holding her arm, this time flashing a bit of fang. He yelped and jumped back. “I’m quite fast, thank you,” she said before dropping down to the boat, landing with a small rock of the vessel. “Take that as you will,
but my husband might be a bit insulted!”
Asaron appeared next to the men at the railing above her. He tossed his rucksack and both swords down to her, then pitched himself over the edge of the boat to dive headfirst into the water.
“See ya,” Victory said up to the gaping sailors. She shoved the boat from the side of the barge when Mikelos revved the engine.
One of the sailors above her drew a pistol from his belt and took aim. “Get down!” Victory dropped to the deck, and a bullet whizzed past her head.
More bullets hit the water around them. Good thing Asaron didn’t need to come up for air.
The small fishing boat drew away at top speed, such as it was. There were a few more shouts from the crew, but they weren’t being paid to keep vampires prisoner. Victory was not inclined to complain when the shots ceased. Water lapped at her fingers, and she raised her head.
Yesterday, I participated in the Cast Your Characters feature over at Heidi Ruby Miller’s blog. Go here to see which actors should play my main characters if STEEL VICTORY ever makes it to the big (or small) screen!
I am honored to receive a review from Publishers Weekly for my debut novel, STEEL VICTORY!
I know writers are supposed to adore every inch of their babies and think they are absolutely amazing, but I’m enough of an editor and I’ve taken enough literary criticism courses in my life to 99% agree with the review as a whole. STEEL VICTORY isn’t perfect, but it’s a good, fun read, and I’m glad PW seems to agree with me on that point.
“The innovative combination of genres is appealing, and Gribble’s multiple story lines—invasion, anti-creature bias, and intercity politics—mesh very well together….This is a solid first effort that sets the stage for more installments in an intriguing world with complex characters.”
Honestly, if they’re this happy with STEEL VICTORY, then they are going to love book 2, STEEL MAGIC!