Oriental Poppies!

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Did I mention my poppies are in the shade?

Oriental Poppy buds

A week after I’ve arrived in Colorado, most still look like this. It’s taking them forever to bloom–but here is the first.

Oriental Poppy

Oriental Poppy

I love it! Meanwhile, my neighbor’s yard–in the sun–is bursting with poppies! First there was one.

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Then three…

Oriental Poppies

Now she has twenty-some!

Oriental Poppy

Oriental Poppy

Oriental Poppy

Oriental Poppy

My lesson is, plant Oriental Poppies in the sun if you are impatient!

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The reality of my summer trip to Colorado

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Aerial view of great plainsa

Yesterday I arrived in Colorado for a month. Most folks respond with a “Wow” when I say I’ll be doing this because they assume this is how I’ll spend my days:

2015 Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park

Problem is, we own a family place, so my reality is this:

weeds on patio

Weeding (yes, I put down weed barrier!), cutting brush for fire mitigation and ironically, planting other areas to restore a flood-damaged stream bank. On top of the usual chores for maintaining a log cabin, this year we’re scheduled to put water treatment on the porch.

log cabin siding

Still, I am in the mountains (!) and it’s been years since I was out the particular weeks the poppies bloom.

Poppy breaking out of its bud

I’m thrilled, especially because these poppies survived a recent flood and are ones my mom had planted along the creek in the 1960’s. (I’ll post blooms when they’re out!)

poppy buds

I have my hummingbird feeder up, and they found it in half a day.

hummingbird feeder

And between my chores and family visiting, I will be carving out time to write!

 

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How will you spend your summer?

RavenCon follow-up late & I’ve disappeared

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Perhaps writers ought to announce their pending disappearances when they are about to do it, but frankly, we get our heads so deep into the story problems that we rarely come up for air. Until guilt takes over.

Guilt has arrived.

I did go to RavenCon2016! I had a good time. Because I’m a newbie, my talk on Finding Space: Line-by-Line Editing Tips for Wordiness was scheduled for 9 am, thus attracting only a few participants. But they were very enthusiastic participants! And I completed a writing talk with power point. It’s posted on this website, found under the link above, or ‘Fun Extras’ on my link bar.

I didn’t take many photos at RavenCon2016, even forgot to get some of myself. Here are the few I did take:

Sharon Lee, RavenCon 2016

Sharon Lee, half of the Guest of Honor team of Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. (Yes, she had violet hair!)

steampunk costume at RavenCon2016

A steampunk costume I loved.

Steampunk face painting and hat

Complete with face painting of gears, and a little gear man pin she made.

Steampunk housekeeper's tools

And a housekeeper’s… something! I can’t recall the name. Embarrassing, but I had never heard of this. It’s a very cool assortment of little things, keys, scissors and such that a housekeeper needed to have on hand. Of course this is the steampunk version. If you know the name, give me a shout!

 

Little did I know RavenCon’s masquerade is not just a parade of costumes, but each entrant performs a little skit. These fine folks put on a skit revolving a wizard summoning the four elements of water, air, earth, and fire and dealing with their attitudes. I loved the costumes.

Wizard adn water at RavenCon2016

Wizard and water, air earth spirits at RavenCon2016

Wizard and water, air earth and fire spirits at RavenCon2016

And last of all the wizard summoned a spirit to bring them all into harmony–I think! I was laughing so hard I couldn’t hear.

Wizard and water, air earth and fire spirits at RavenCon2016

Fuzzy photo, but I loved the costume, so must include it!

~~~

And in other news, besides real life happening, I am re-configuring the ending of my next book. (The Binding.) Sorry, this has delayed publishing, but this is huge, the end of a three-book epic fantasy. It wasn’t right and I had to dive into a re-do, which meant making alternative copy edit arrangements. That’s partially the good news. The book is long enough, I submitted 90K on time to my fabulous copy editor. But for the remaining 15k, I had to schedule another appointment. I’m hoping to publish in Late July.

Thanks for bearing with me.

My ‘chapter booklets’ arrived! Squee!

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TU Booklet

Who knew seeing your cover in a new way could be just as exciting as seeing the real book? I printed these ‘chapter booklets’ of The Unraveling to give away at my author reading this weekend at RavenCon 2016. Into 12 text pages, we squeezed both chapter 1 & 3 to give readers a taste of both Annmar and Daeryn. The inside cover is a growing gear coloring page.

And by ‘we” I mean the generous J.T. Bock, author friend extraordinaire, who IRL is a graphic artist. She held my hand through the layout process–which if you visit her gorgeous website, you can see this was a normal hour at the office for her. J.T. is also the reason I’ll be at RavenCon (nice peer pressure, honestly). She’s a huge Whedon fan and will presenting “A Whedonite’s Guide to Characterization” Friday night from 10:00-11:00 pm, among other panel presentations.

Yes, with something like 400 hours of programming for 2016, RavenCon’s schedule begins at 4 on Friday (including my author reading!) and runs until midnight Friday and Saturday and through 3 pm Sunday.

Whew.

Upcoming Author Event… My first!

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RavenCon2016

I’ll be a guest author among a hundred other fantasy authors, artist, filkers, costumers, scientists, podcasters, editors, publishers at RavenCon 2016, a weekend celebrating the genres of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror.
It’ll be my first time at the con, and since they strive to book new and interesting guests every year, they have given me a go!

The really featured authors are Sharon Lee and Steve Miller!

Friday, April 29th at 6 p.m. I’ll be doing a reading from The Unraveling, during which I’ll include a smattering of my series’ historical facts and fictions and a historic word quiz…and a paperback giveaway!

From 9-11 a.m. on Saturday, April 30, I’m conducting a self-editing workshop: Finding Space: Line-by-Line Editing Tips for Wordiness.

Later Saturday, at 3 p.m., I’m running an all ages “Make a Pouch for your Costume.”

~ ~ ~

If you’re in the area, come for the day, or the weekend! The RavenCon 2016 site has all the details and the schedule should be up soon!

RavenCon 2016

(Sorry, this is a screen shot and the links don’t work–click here go to the actual RavenCon 2016 website!)

Release of To Win a Lady’s Heart

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My IRL friend and critique partner has made her debut release today! Congratulations to Ingrid Hahn! I love your beautiful purple cover and it’s such a charming story. Best wishes on your first release!

To Win A Lady's Heart by Ingrid Hahn

 

She has lost everything but her dignity…

England, 1811. When John Merrick, the Earl of Corbeau, is caught in a locked storeroom with Lady Grace, he has but one choice—marry her. He cannot bear to tarnish any woman’s reputation, least of all Lady Grace’s.

Lady Grace Landon will do anything to help her mother and sisters, crushed and impoverished by her father’s disgrace. But throwing herself into the arms of her dearest friend’s older brother to trap him in marriage? Never.

Corbeau needs to prove that he loves her, despite her father’s misdeeds. After years of being an object of scorn, not even falling in love with Corbeau alters Lady Grace’s determination to not bring her disrepute upon another. However, if they don’t realize that the greatest honor is love given freely without regard to society’s censure, they stand to lose far more than they ever imagined.

~~~

Here’s an excerpt:

He held the bright red berries toward her. “It’s up to you to save me from my vice.”

“You don’t know how long it’s been since I’ve had a strawberry. A real strawberry, not preserves.”

He plucked one up by its little crown of leaves and offered it. “Well then?”

“Maybe…maybe just one.” Absently, she slid the metal base of her candle stand next to his on the shelf.

“Go on, Grace.”

“Then again.” She bit into her bottom lip. “I don’t know if I can restrain myself to only one.”

An unfortunate second interpretation of what it would be for Grace’s restraint to dissolve sent a rush of heat down to a place that needed no such coaxing.

His voice lowered, texture roughening. “I’m giving you every encouragement not to.”

“But if I start, I don’t think I can stop.”

“Funny. That’s precisely how I feel.”

~~~

Available Now!

Kobo | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | All Romance Books

~~~

author of To WIn a Lady's Heart

Bio:

Ingrid Hahn is a failed administrative assistant with a B.A. in Art History. Her love of reading has turned her mortgage payment into a book storage fee, which makes her the friend who you never want to ask you for help moving. Though originally from Seattle, she now lives in the metropolitan DC area with her ship-nerd husband, small son, and four opinionated cats. When she’s not reading or writing, she loves knitting, theater, nature walks, travel, history, and is a hopelessly devoted fan of Jane Austen. Please connect with her on social media! Find her on Twitter as @Ingrid_Writer. Find her on Facebook as Ingrid Hahn.

Facebook and Goodreads: Search Ingrid Hahn
Website: http://www.ingridhahnauthor.com
Pinterest: ingridhahnwrite
Instagram: Ingrid.Hahn.Writer

The Author Photo: Coming Soon!

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I’ve read the typical author is an introvert. It’s true of me. Introverts don’t like to be on stage, but these days everyone needs a photo, an icon or something to represent themselves. MobyMy dear husband will not friend anyone without a profile picture. Doesn’t matter what, you just gotta care enough to have something there, even your dog. (Moby, a relative’s dog’s profile photo!)

 

A photo is even more important for an author. It’s part of what makes us real people to our readers, someone to connect with behind the written word. Clearly, I’ve had a photo on my social media and website (see right–> :) ) but it’s a snapshot. When a writer is starting out a formal photo falls into the category of one more thing to do, extra expense and time on top of what a writer really needs to do–finish the d*mn book! But putting out no photo or a poor photo can do more damage than good for the author image. In my research for what to wear, whether to use props, what background suits best, I found more than a few good essays that speak to gaining the right look. Two I liked are: Mary Robinette Kowel’s Debut Author Lessons: The Author Photo and Book In A Box’s How to Take a Great Author Photo.

Not surprising, even with research it’s not as easy as one click. So when I decided to attempt the author photo, I didn’t go into it alone! Along with three other just-debuted or about-to-debut authors from my local RWA chapter, I booked a joint photo shoot session and make-up artist. Seems like a win-win for us–a bit of a discount–and for the photographer, Valerie Bey–she’s setting up once, for 4 people. Of course we had homework–decide on outfits. Another author fact is most of us do work from home and dress casually. Not pajamas in my house, but I am a jeans & t-shirts or yoga togs wearer. I won’t detail the clothing hunt, but my advice it this: start early and seek out your style-lovin’ friends. I narrowed my choices to a formal and a casual and took back-up classic black in case the photographer had better ideas.

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We arrived to find Valerie’s rented studio space designed for photography, with lots of props and backgrounds on site. In the back was a ‘container’ dressing room.

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Each of us had a half hour with the make-up artist, followed by an hour with Valerie. We changed clothes, she changed backgrounds and props.

Laurel Wanrow in make-up

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We had a few peeks at the photos, but our photographer will do some touch-ups and in a week or so, we’ll each have a selection of shots to choose from. Very exciting! In the meantime I have another project: I borrowed this fabulous necklace above from a friend who made it and now I must make one, too!

Holly Black at NoVa Teen Book Festival

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It’s been a week since the NoVa TEEN Book Festival in Arlington, VA, but if I say ‘squirrels in my attic’ do I get a pass for being late with a post? More on that–the squirrels–in another post. If I can work up to it. (sigh)

If you are close to the MD / DC / Northern Virginia area, this YA author-reader event is a fabulous one to attend. It’s small, but draws some big names in YA literature, which means readers get nice, personal group time in addition to panels and signings. 2016’s keynote speaker was Holly Black, a fantasy author I’ve admired since my kids and I read The Spiderwick Chronicles as they were being released. As a testament to our fandom, here is our author signing photo of both Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black from September 26, 2009.

Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black

Yay! Since then I–and the significantly grown ‘kids’ (new adults)–have read also read Holly’s Curse Worker Series, borrowed from my high school neighbor. It’s Teen Neighbor Girl and I who go to the NoVA Teen Fest together now. We both love fantasy and were looking forward to seeing Holly and having books signed. We were in luck last Saturday: we slipped right into classroom seats in a mini-session of Questions and Answers.(Brilliant organizers offered two! Accommodating more fans!)

And strictly Q & A it was. In my newbie author role, I was taking notes and discovered this can be awkward—everyone wants to be there, but who wants to start? One brave reader popped her hand up with what she claimed is her standard author question: If your book was a food, what would it be?

Fantasy author Holly Black

I apparently didn’t write down Holly’s answer. * facepalm * Ok, that’s my bad, but I was fascinated by the question.

Here are a few of the things I did note…but please do NOT hold me to them as actual quotes from Holly Black. It’s hard to note-take completely in these situations. I believe I caught the intent of her answers, but my apologies to Holly now if I really messed up!

Q: When you finish writing a book, do you play out scenarios for what happens next to the character?

A: Not too far, but a little in case I do write in this world again, so when I do check in, I know where characters are.

Q: Do you create playlists?

A: Yes, for every book. It’s a great time-waster, but it also helps me to fall back into that world when I return to write sequels.

Q: Do you use a writing program?

A: Scrivener. (She loves what it can do, but acknowledges it’s not for everyone.)

Q: Why do the Spiderwick Chronicles chapters all start with ”In Which’?

A: The Spiderwick Chronicles pulled in the design of Antiquarian books. Holly and Toni DiTerlizzi visited a museum (or shop?) to immerse themselves in the style. The look of the covers, having hard covers, the deckle pages, illustrations and the chapter starts (Chapter One: IN WHICH The Grace Children Get Acquainted With Their New Home) all add to the feeling these are telling an old tale.

Q: How do you feel about ships?

A: (She likes them.) One of the joys of writing a series is seeing what people want to happen to the characters. Also, Holly thinks it’s a sign she’s done her author job of getting a reader really into a book. You have to feel nervous that the character is not going to get what you want, and you have to truly want it for them—that’s what keeps a reader turning the pages. (And writing fan fiction, I believe was another of her points with saying this.)

She’s been fascinated with Fairies her entire life. To write about the Fair Folk: The challenge is capturing how different they are. They need to feel alien. You might write the story draft without dwelling on this, but when you go back to revise, think about the differences. They will have a different moral code. Their choices shouldn’t sound ‘normal’. An attitude of ‘you can’t make me operate according to your system’ needs to prevail.

Holly loves the tension between the real danger of faerie and the beauty of faerie.

~~~

Great session, as was Holly’s keynote talk with slides on Why Magic? Sorry I didn’t take notes there, but it’s a great talk if you have a chance to hear it. Of course we waited in line to have our books signed.

Author signing with Holly Black

Teen Neighbor Girl brought The Curse Worker series and I carried The Coldest Girl in Cold Town for her. (The limit is three books person, so be sure to plan ahead if you’re an avid fan of one author!)

Holly Black signing The Curse Worker series

Tithe by Holly BlackHolly Black's signature in Tithe

I took along Valiant and bought Tithe, which I’d never read and am enjoying. We did buy other books as well. It’s nice to support the authors as well as the indy book store that is one of the main sponsors of NoVa Teen Book Festival–One More Page Books in Arlington, VA.

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