Apex – Revive the Drive!



I’ve long been a fan of Apex, both their book and magazine arm. Even have a signed edition of Descended from Darkness: Apex Magazine Vol. 1 *hugs it*

Jason and Lesley have some spiffy stuff for their Revive the Drive 2017! Including Pet Wars – Pumpkin vs. Oz, original poems, interviews, stories and, coolest of all, raises for artists and authors! So, come help us unlock levels!

Here’s an interview with Jason Sizemore, to give you a taste of Apex. Oh, and remember, to check out Apex Book Company for fantastic stories!

Cyani -What’s the weirdest thing that has ever happened to you guys at a convention?

Jason – Okay, I’m going to share an experience that is described in detail in my book For Exposure: The Life and Times of a Small Press Publisher.

I walked in on a group of…older people engaging in group intercourse (read: orgy). They invited me to join them. When I turned them down (politely), they asked if I wanted to partake of some honey baked ham they had out on a folding card table. Again, I turned them down.

Cyani – Does Apex have any office traditions?

Jason – The first thing I have to do is to make sure that Lesley Conner is fueled up and ready to go. Naturally, her fuel is coffee. The high-intensity stuff that they give to race car drivers. Without it, she is mostly useless. And cranky. Oh god, cranky.

Cyani – Editing and running a business are tough jobs. Besides Pumpkin’s not-so-subtle threats, what gets you guys through ‘those days’?

Jason – Lesley and I ride the whole circuit of emotions during a typical week. From silly to angry, from professional to immature. The key is that one of us has at least a toe in the pool of sanity. Sometimes I’ll pull her back from the verge, sometimes she’ll pull me back.

Cyani – Speaking of, what is Pumpkin’s role at Apex? He seems cute and cuddly but does a diabolical spirit reside within?

Jason – Pumpkin is a many things at once. He is cute and cuddly. He does a good job forcing me to take the occasional break by demanding I hold him for pets and chin rubs. But he has a dark side.

When he thinks I’m not giving him enough attention, he will intentionally push books off my inventory shelves. Or he’ll sit on the keyboard and give me a look that says “You’re done.”

He also thinks the printer is possessed and will attack it when it is printing.

Silly kitty.

Cyani – Thanks for your time, Jason. Here’s to great success at Apex!

9 Tips for Surviving NaNoWriMo



Ah yes, tis that time of year when social media is inundated with posts on how many words your friends have written in a day, laments on not hitting word count goals, celebrations on exceeding goals etc. Truly it’d make one think that all writers are engrossed in this strange NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) tradition in which writers scramble to splatter 50k words on their pages during the month of November.

This is the time of year when some writers are at optimum stress levels, their emotions swinging wildly hither and yon depending on if they hit their daily word count or not. But, it doesn’t have to be that way.

Here are 9 tips to put NaNo in perspective and keep a modicum of sanity:

1. Contrary to what social media posts would have you believe NaNo is not something all writers participate in. Many authors write year round, not just November, so this is just another month in our writing calendars. Don’t let social pressure or other writers guilt you into participating if you don’t want to or don’t feel it’d be productive for your writing. The most important thing is to write in a way that fits YOU, in a way that allows you to create your best work. If NaNo fits, use it. If it doesn’t, dump it.

2. If you do choose to participate, knowing that, besides the YA market, 50k words is not a novel can take pressure off. Most adult genres require 70-110k to be considered novel length, which means that 50k is a rough draft. So relax, all first drafts suck. Embrace the suck. Love the suck. You can always fix it once the heat of NaNo wears off.

3. Or not…I hear from many writers who are discouraged by NaNo because what they’re left with at the end is 50k of…well…mess. So focused were they on puking those words on the page that they left no time to make sure that those words were making sense. That the plot worked. That the characters shined. So come December, they’re staring at a monstrosity that would take months to re-do or might not be salvageable. If you find this happening, forget the word count. If you end up with 10-15k of good, solid writing at the end of the month then you’ve won.

4. NaNo is really about inspiring you to write. If you write each day, you’re a winner whether or not you hit the 50k mark. Enjoy the process. Don’t stress it. After all, stress is one of the most diabolical murderers of creativity.

5. Take time off. That’s right, procrastinate. Some of our best ideas are born of, as Stephen King puts it, the boys in the basement.

6. When you say no, mean no. Turn off the phone, keep it off. Turn off emails, keep it off. If you decline a dinner request, movie, hangout with friends don’t let them weasel you into changing your mind. Your writing time is precious and if you don’t treat it that way, no one will.

7. Celebrate your accomplishments. Even if you didn’t hit your daily word count goal, chances are that you wrote something or learned something about your story or writing habits that is worthy of celebrating or at least a mental pat on the back.

8. Keep reassessing. Yeah, this will likely cut into your time but it’s worth it. By always assessing if the story, plot, characters are on the right path, if you can add more trouble, throw more blockades up or go deeper – and taking the time to change it now – it not only makes for a better story but also eliminates a lot of time-devouring revisions later.

9. Remember, the pinnacle of success for an author isn’t churning out word count, it’s creating stories that delight, engage and enthrall the reader. If you’ve done that, it’s a win no matter how many or how few words you put on the page this month.

Agent Ponderings



Last week I received an email from an agent regarding my current manuscript Kranken Gears, a fantasy that’s on submission. It was from an agent who knows I’ve already done several R&Rs (Revise & Resubmit) for other agents. Truly, it’s a bit like the R&R Pokey – put more bad guy in, no take the bad guy out, put more world building in, no now take it all out. Put more of these characters in, no, now take them all out (except for the main), bring the word count up, no bring the word count down…*continues to hum the pokey*

Seriously, they each wanted something incredibly different from the other requests so now there’s multiple flavors of Kranken Gears on my drive.

Don’t misinterpret, there’s nothing wrong with any of these R&R requests. What they’ve done is illuminate the basic truth that readers have individual tastes and that is precisely what editors and agents are at their soft, plushy core – great lovers of books. Readers.

Anyway, I digress, she sent me an email with these lovely, thoughtful insights and suggestions on how to make the novel better. I understood and agreed with her assessments except for one – when she said this probably wasn’t what I wanted to hear. That confused me because she invited me to resend the manuscript once it was revised which made it more of an opportunity than anything else. So I couldn’t figure out why it confused me until tonight whilst pondering her assessments and how to best incorporate them in the Sacred Pool (that’d be my whirlpool where Ideas are born). Water, that great clarifier of thoughts, led me to the answer.

Yes, I want an agent – the right agent. So yes, I one day do want to hear an offer of representation from someone who is the right partner for me and my work to help get the story into the hands of publishers and thus the readers. So, yeah, I do want to hear that.

But. And I mean that but most emphatically – was what she said in this email something I didn’t want to hear?

No. It’s precisely what I wanted, perhaps even needed, to hear because the detailed advice within her email has given me more tools to hone my story, to create the very best I can for my readers so that I can one day hear the words I covet. Words from that most precious of people – readers. They perhaps won’t be said exactly this way but the gist will be the same.

“I love your story! The characters are amazing! They made me forget about <enter any of life’s myriad of maladies here>. Oh, oh! And when will the next book be out? I can’t wait!”

That is what I want to hear.

Any advice that comes along that helps in that endeavor, any amount of revisions, any number of hours in the Sacred Pool devising better ways to immerse the reader in my worlds and stories is what I need to hear or do so that one day some reader out there will send me an email that says –

“Omg! It’s my favorite book!”

The Best Way to Endure Submission Hell



Those of you with submissions out to agents/editors know of what I speak. That indeterminable, roasting hell of waiting for responses that might come right as you’re reading this, or tonight while you dream, or tomorrow, or next week, or next month or next year or the year after that. The query process is bad enough, but when you’re awaiting news on partials and fulls – that’s a whole new breed of purgatory.

It can vex your brain!

So, what can be done to retain what little sanity exists in our writerly worlds?


Yes indeed, that cure to all woes – the pen or keyboard as it were.

While Kranken Gears (fantasy) has been in submissions, I plotted, wrote and revised an urban fantasy novel, Ashes & Bone. It kept me sane during the arduous wait and kept me from incessantly checking my emails for word on the partials and fulls of Kranken Gears that are out. A few agents who have the full of Kranken Gears asked if I have other projects so spending that time writing Ashes & Bone gave me the opportunity to answer them with actual pages instead of some nebulous thoughts on a next project.

So unless you find an agent that’s Hermes fast you can and should complete an entire novel whilst waiting for answers on the first. That’s a win/win if ever there was.

What do you do if you’ve completed that second novel and are still waiting on agents/editors for the first?


Told you it was a cure-all 😉