This Weekend at Farpoint

Hello! This is just a short message to let you know that I’ll be at Farpoint Convention this weekend. Special guests from the Star Trek universe will be there and I’ll be on literary panels.

Here’s my schedule:

Sherri Cook Woosley

Tales Of Woe — And Healing – Friday 7:00 PM – Salon C

Book Fair – Friday 10:00 PM – Hunt Valley Foyer

Furry Familiars And The Like – Saturday 10:00 AM – Salon C (MOD)

Author Autographs (Stilwell/Woosley) – Saturday 1:00 PM – Author Autograph 1

Author Readings (Attico/Woosley) – Saturday 2:00 PM – Salon E

Building A Better World – Sunday 11:00 AM – Hunt Ballroom

Author Readings (Povey/Woosley) – Sunday NOON – Salon E

Setting As Character – Sunday 2:00 PM – Salon C (MOD)

Some more good news: I was honored to be nominated as an author and to have WALKING THROUGH FIRE nominated as best book by local author for the Baltimore Sun’s Readers’ Poll 2020. This would be really nice to brag about when I’m looking for a new publisher later this year, so please go to the People & Media section and VOTE. You can vote each day until March 6th.

And, (drum roll) I’ve finished a draft of the first part of GATES. To celebrate, here’s a snippet:

The Hotheads came around the corner, moving in uncoordinated motions. Tattered clothing hung off their emaciated bodies. Shuffling forward without apparent purpose, no handler in sight.  Used to be two men and a woman, based on clothing, although the bright red paint covered any distinguishing marks. They could be anyone. Or no one.
Just let them go. Scout’s voice pleaded inside her mind. They aren’t hurting anything.
Tamaki shook her head. She knew more than Scout did about this. And she also knew this was a test from the Alchemists. Deliberate or not, Nguyen would be reporting back to Gavin whatever happened in the next five minutes. Having her future threatened made Tamaki realize that she not only wanted to be an important part of the Alchemist’s future school, she wanted to be their candidate for the Council of gods. Maybe that was too ambitious, but it was what she wanted. It would take away the pain of her grandmother’s refusal to teach her. It would show everyone, objectively, that she deserved a place in power.
Nguyen looked at her. “Are you ready?”
“Yes.” Her voice was steady.
No, please no. Scout’s voice was frantic. Tamaki, remember what happened at Ekur Temple. Remember that this was your second chance.
It was her second chance. And she wasn’t going to screw it up.
Love,

Sherri

 

Book Review SONG OF BLOOD & STONE and SUPREMACY’S BOUNTY

Dear Friends,

All I want for Christmas (or Hanukkah or Winter Solstice) is more reviews of Walking Through Fire BECAUSE there is an urban legend among authors that if you have 50 reviews on Amazon then it jiggers the algorithm to show ads for your book. If I hit 50 then I’ll let you know.

I mean, also world peace and a solid Democratic party candidate and a plan for endangered species.

In the meantime, I’m going to post book reviews to hopefully help people with their holiday shopping. I’m not the most voracious reader because of the whole having kids and animals and a day job thing, but when I cast my mind back over the past year I thought of CHARM CITY SPEC in Baltimore and realized that’s been my reading list.

Gabe displays SONG OF BLOOD & STONE and SUPREMACY’S BOUNTY

First up is SONG OF BLOOD & STONE by L. Penelope. 

Genre: Fantasy, epic and romantic

Premise (back jacket copy): The kingdoms of Elsira and Lagrimar have been separated for centuries by the Mantle, a magical veil that has enforced a tremulous peace between the two lands. But now the Mantle is cracking and the True Father, ruler of Lagrimar and the most powerful Earthsinger in the world, finally sees a way into Elsira to seize power.

Jasminda has been branded an outcast by the color of her skin and her gift of Earthsong, but when a group of soldiers wander into her valley she learns from Jack, a spy, that their only hope to restore the Mantle lies in uncovering the secrets of the Queen Who Sleeps.

Who would love it? Me! I would love this book. Also, readers who enjoy world-building. Besides the kingdoms of Elsira and Lagrimar, the world has a religious order of the Sisterhood and an anti-religious order of Dominionists, secret societies (Keepers of the Promise), academics from Fremia, etc.

Who else? Readers who love the blurring of traditional genre lines. Against a backdrop of what is 1920’s technology, the characters are worried about war, worried about duty to family, worried about loyalty. But the big questions of life are really the small, daily decisions and Penelope really explores what it means to love. That is, perhaps, my favorite part of this book. Jasminda and Jack, Benn and Ella, even Oola and Eero are wrestling with how to love another person, how to have boundaries, how to sacrifice and when not to…this is so real against the beautifully fantastic world sung into a novel.

Finally, this book would appeal to people who enjoy the “feel” of the Pern series or the Broken Earth series in terms of ancient secrets, advanced societies that made mistakes and then generations pass…and our characters have to figure out how the sins of the parents have created the current conflict.

Favorite character: Zaura nyl Herrsen

Would you like to meet her?

The radio hissed. “Lt. Ravel, this is Private Teraseen. The old woman got away.”

“Got away?”

“Yes, sir. She was here one minute and then she told me she needed the privy. I turned my back while she set off behind a tree, and the next thing I know, she’s stolen my vehicle and driven off. High tailed it out of here like a woman half her age. I’m sorry, sir.”

Final Thought: Book 1.5 is titled BREATH OF DUST & DAWN; Book 2 is titled WHISPERS OF SHADOW & FLAME

Next Book for review is: SUPREMACY’S BOUNTY by T. Eric Bakutis

Genre: science fiction, grimsnark and military

Premise (back jacket copy): “I just saved your life, cowboy. You owe me.”

As a feared and respected bounty hunter, Mackenzie Flores enjoys the finer things in life: a dependable rifle, a clean glass of dirty whisky, and a reputation that leaves her flush with contracts and the freedom to pick and choose her jobs. At least until the Supremacy blows up everything she owns and takes her girlfriend away.

To rescue the woman she loves, all Mackenzie has to do is take down three crime lords, one planet of super soldiers, and a human trafficking base on the moon. Fortunately, she has powerful armor and smart bullets. Unfortunately, they’ve all gone missing.

Who would love it? Me! Okay. Maybe you predicted that, but I got to read an advance copy and I emailed the author in the middle because I couldn’t STAND it. I had to talk about what was happening. This story is that jerky roller coaster at Hershey park. The one that puts a crick in your neck even before you take the first hill. It’s nail-biting exciting and I finished it in two days because there is no place to stop. Seriously. Every scene is rushing your forward to a new, bigger disaster, but you can’t stop rooting for Mack.

Techies. Look, I’m a luddite, but the introduction of new weapons and technology did not slow down the story in any way. Nor was it incomprehensible. Somehow the author manages that fine balance of having the tech add to the story in a way that makes the reader complicit. I’m biting back a spoiler right now so PLEASE read this so we can discuss.

Readers who like to be messed with. Look, the author does that thing where he jerks you back and forth in time. (The Mousetrap, remember?) and IT WORKS as a device because you think maybe things will turn out differently if you don’t look away.

Those who like heist narratives. Who like not knowing who to trust. Who like hidden motivations and double crosses and simple contracts that turn out to be verrrrry complicated.

Favorite character: Jinx

Jinx was her support, communications, and tech expert, and she was sitting in a warm shuttle a half klick into the forest. “Alarms disabled, camera feeds cloned, comms monitored. Is there a problem?”

(spoiler: there IS a problem) (Second spoiler: this is the first page.)

Final Thought: This is a stand-alone book, but is in the DUELING PLANETS universe along with Supremacy’s Shadow)

Get Back on the Horse, Woosley

I’ve been quiet for a while and wanted to update. I was thrown from my horse on June 3rd. I don’t remember exactly what happened, but I’ve pieced together a narrative from my twins, who were there, and from another rider, who called the ambulance. Noche, our off-the-track-Thoroughbred, startled soon after I mounted her. I fell, or was thrown, hitting my head and shoulder on the ground. Noche bolted for the stable where Ann saw her and rushed down to the ring. I was unconscious for about ten minutes. Thank God for my helmet. I don’t remember much of the ambulance ride or the ER, only bits and pieces. So, my recovery from the concussion and some devastating events previous were all mixed together into a real-life metaphor.

I’m not the only one who has been passed over for a promotion or didn’t win the game. I’m not the only one who lost a loved one, broke up with a romantic partner, or was stopped by an obstacle. But maybe something here will strike a chord and be helpful to you.

 

  • Feel the hurt. You are allowed to mourn for your dream. You wanted it so badly you could taste it. You put in the work and you didn’t get the pay-off. Your heart is broken.

It doesn’t only hurt for one day, for one cry. My headache lasted 9 ½ days. The doctor said to come back if it lasted ten…I guess my brain has a sense of humor. I cried, often suddenly, for the next four weeks. Thinking about parts of my broken dream or even remembering the thud as my shoulder hit the dirt in the ring.

  • The sun came up the next day. Maybe you are surprised? I was surprised.

The worst had happened. Everything I’d imagined had come true. I was devastated…but the world was still going on. My husband and children still loved me. They still wanted to eat breakfast. The dog still wanted to be walked. At the stable, Noche was still given grain and turned out into the field.

  • Get away. A change of scenery is surprisingly refreshing. If your dream was winning a hot dog competition, maybe don’t hang out at the Farm Fair right now. Stick with hamburgers. You don’t have to torture yourself. Say “congratulations” to the person who got the promotion instead of you and gracefully drift away from the party to be with your people.

I was in the bizarrely fortunate state to be headed to Costa Rica for a family vacation that had already been booked for this time period. Some experts think you shouldn’t fly if you have a concussion, but our flight tickets were non-refundable so I went with the experts who said it was okay.

  • Allow help. You don’t know who is going to call the ambulance for you. You don’t know who will actually show up at the hospital or write you a note or call you on the phone. I mean, you might have a reasonable expectation, but there’s a strong chance that someone you didn’t expect to will help you. Maybe they’ve been in your position, maybe they were in the right place at the right time. God moves in mysterious ways.

 

  • Give yourself time. The obstacle changed your five-year plan. It changed the way you saw yourself. You need time for your dream to shift and change. You need time to remember why you wanted it in the first place. You can journal, you can talk, you can sketch, but you can’t force this step.

 

To me, this is the spiritual part. In the middle of pain there is truth. You have to sit through the pain to get there. Here’s the lesson I was supposed to learn: I was equating my self-worth with what I produced and how it was judged. I didn’t believe that I had worth because I was a child of God. Instead, I was a people-pleaser and when a specific piece of art, or pieces of art, failed, that meant I was a failure.

Riders often tell each other, “You aren’t a real rider until you’ve fallen off.” That’s the test! What you do after. Which brings us to the next step.

 

  • Get back on the horse. Even if you’ve realized that you no longer want to be a cowgirl or a dressage rider, you need to go back one more time and face your fear to take away the power from the original negative experience. Have a trainer put your mare on a lunge line, if you want, but get back on, put the memory in the rearview mirror, and get on with your life. Do not give the past power over you. You live in the moment because that is the only place where we can make decisions.

This is me back on Noche. My legs are sore and my heart is happy.

And if you do still want to a cowgirl or dressage rider? Keep going. Set new goals, make a new strategy. Dream a new dream.

Look, the test was hard, but you are stronger now. You’ve leveled up and have the battle scars to prove it. You are ready to take on the next challenge, the next project, the next relationship. I believe in you!

Much love,

Sherri

 

 

 

Book Promotion

For two months now I’ve been promoting my debut novel, Walking Through Fire, through orders, interviews, and readings. I made sure copies were in the local library and I gave a talk to the local Rotary Club. I spoke on panels at the Baltimore Book Festival and I’m participating at the World Fantasy Convention. I will attend Charm City Spec as an author instead of an audience member. So, there are a lot more events, but we are making progress in introducing my book to the world.

For example, a new review came in today from Booklist:

“Woosley gets off to a running start in this debut series starter, and she draws on a mix of mythology and religious allusions to create a post-apocalyptic world caught in a battle for control and power.”

AND, Walking Through Fire was longlisted by Booknest for Best Debut Novel of 2018. The prize was an engraved sword so I’m pretty steamed that I didn’t win…(just kidding).

sherri-4

Plans for this week:

I will be in costume on Halloween as part of Charm City Spec’s reading series. The reading is at Bird in Hand, Charles Village Baltimore and starts at 7pm. Sam J. Miller (The Art of Starving and Blackfish City) and Julie C. Day (Uncommon Miracles) will also be reading.

Then I will commute to the Inner Harbor Thursday through Sunday to attend the World Fantasy Convention. My reading is at 4:30 PM on Friday.

On Saturday I will leave the convention to drive to Towson and I will sign copies of Walking Through Fire at Ukazoo Books (8641 Loch Raven Blvd.) from 3:30-5pm. Then I will join my family to celebrate my son’s birthday.

On November 7th I’ll drive to Hagerstown Community College in western Maryland for an author event: reading, answering questions from the writing students, and judging an impromptu poetry contest (or so I’ve been promised).

Thank you to everyone who purchased a copy, attends a reading, or leaves a review on Amazon. There are other novels that have huge marketing machines, or big publishers, but my little story is making progress. Thank you for believing in me!

Love,

Sherri

DEBUT

Writing-wise I’ve hit some milestones this year.

  1. I became an associate member of SFWA (science fiction writers of America)
  2. I had three short stories published in semi-pro or pro magazines: “Breakage”, “The Boy from Omran”, and “A Quick Getaway.”

    Tethys Issue of Pantheon Magazine. My story “The Boy from Omran” is available to read for free at http://www.pantheonmag.com

  3. I’ll be at author events September – December and……….(Drum Roll)
  4. My book, Walking Through Fire, is finally out in the world. Thank you to everyone who purchased a copy! We get to have fun now! Last night was firestorm yoga and the audience was as silly as I was — we had a lot of laughs as I led a class with poses modified to reflect the story in Walking Through Fire. The next event is Friday the 14th at Barnes and Noble in Bel Air, Maryland. And, on September 18th we will have a PARTY at Julie Ellyn Designs on Main Street in Bel Air. Special cupcakes, you ask? Maaayyybe.
  5. All events have details here.

Now, I need you to do one more thing: If you liked Walking Through Fire then please, please, please leave a review on Amazon and Goodreads. Even just rating with stars gets the Amazon AI to recognize traffic and then boosts the page higher on a search results list.

We are getting noticed, though. Check out this review from Fantasy Hive.  AND, I have an interview with S. H. Harrison. And, I have a video chat with The Richard Wilmore Show.

Thank you to everyone who is helping my dream become reality,

Love,

Sherri

 

CRITTER QUIZ for Walking Through Fire

Hello Friends,

  1. My novel releases in three weeks. I’ve been waiting six years for this, so kind of a big deal. You should definitely pre-order a copy here
  2. I’m working on a list of readings and signings and will share soon.
  3. Please, if you are on Goodreads add my book to your “to-read” list.

Why should you do these things? Well, remember THIS post? But, there are other reasons too. The CRITTERS in my novel deserve their own post.

Animals are important to me. That’s why I have my foster-fail pup Gabe. That’s why my oldest daughter is in the Animal Science program at her high school and we experienced the whole Bunny Project. We still have 2 1/2 bunnies, by the way, in case anyone local to Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania is looking for a wonderful pet. The 1/2 is because…well, I digress. We also have a baby horse. She’s a beautiful four-year-old off-the-track Thoroughbred filly who has a ridiculous racing record (like, ridiculously bad. That is also another story…and I’ll post about her with pictures of her doing yoga with the equine osteopath because, you know, that’s my life.)

Anyway, I say all this because OF COURSE animals are going to be a big part of my world-building. Energy follows ley lines and causes changes that… Hey! I don’t want to give too much away, though. There’s a quiz below to tell you who your perfect “pet” would be, but DON’T READ ANY FARTHER IF YOU WANT TO BE SURPRISED WHEN READING.

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You’re still here? Okay, here’s the quiz:

  1.          Do you want a pet that requires more or less attention?

A) Every minute with my pet

B) I have a couple hours every day.

C) I want a pet that fits into my lifestyle

D) I want my pet around when I remember it

E) I have no interest in actually interacting with my pet

                        2. How important is obedience from your pet?

A) Obedience is nice, but love is more important.

B) I need obedience so I can trust my pet.

C) Well, maybe obedience is overrated.

D) Who needs a pet who does tricks?

E) Umm. I need my pet to understand, “STOP.”

3. How important is it that your pet be housetrained?

A) Very

B) Accidents are unacceptable. We can work on manners.

C) Kind of

D) I’m willing to change my pet’s water.

E). Nope. Never coming in my house anyway.

4. How traditional do you want your pet to be?

A) Very

B) Pretty traditional

C) Somewhat

D) That’s boring

E) I want a pet that no one has never seen before

5. Do you want your pet to like you?

A) You said “like.” I think you meant “love.”

B) I want my pet to respect me.

C) I’d like my pet to recognize my voice, at least.

D) It’s okay if my pet doesn’t even know I’m home.

E) My pet and I will be actively avoiding each other.

 

Look, you guys have done magazine quizzes before. You know what to do. Whichever letter you choose the most often corresponds to your perfect “Misbegotten” pet.

A) Dido — a white female wolf who keeps Caesar “in the friend zone.” She’s elegant, maternal, and protective. With the right person, she’s not above snuggling. Dido is highly intelligent, but discerning about who she’ll love. She’s loyal to a fault and will give everything for her special one.  

B) Caesar — a solid black male wolf. He’s an alpha who will keep you safe by attacking promptly and without remorse. He is stoic, but might come across as arrogant. He’s not into being cuddled, but will consent to sit beside you when, and if, he chooses. He’s a soldier with perfect posture. It’s not his fault that he’s so damn handsome.

C) Saki — a penguin-turtle who helps Tamaki hold on to her sanity through many terrible experiences. She excels at being quiet and her fur is soft to the touch, but she’ll retreat inside her shell when she needs some alone time. She needs a lot of alone time.

By artist Amelia Grace

D) Zombie horseshoe crabs — these are kind of the equivalent of those frog kits where you send away for the tadpoles. They don’t require a lot of maintenance because they are already dead, but they do drift through the water, preferably brackish water like that found in the Chesapeake Bay, especially when in the presence of etemuu.  You can have one or a whole swarm. Warning: under the right circumstances they can be dangerous to humans.

E)Two-headed Moose — This guy is often misunderstood, probably because he is truly of two minds. Like a Gemini, this BIG fella has a good side, purely vegetarian. And then he has the other side, devilish side, literally. His second head, the one growing from his shoulder, would like to spear anyone and everyone. He’ll definitely get your friends attention. Warning: Hire a professional animal trainer for this pet.

 

So, ready to hit the pet store and buy supplies? Post in the comments which pet was right for you.

A couple of notes. The wolves and moose pictures all came from a World Wildlife Fund calendar a couple years ago — and I’m sorry I don’t have the specific photographer’s name to acknowledge him or her.

HOWEVER, I’m very happy to share the artist who created Saki for me: Amelia Grace. Her website is: http://amelia-grace-illustration.com and she has even more artwork on Instagram @Ameliagraceillustration

I’ve ordered bookmarks to give out at readings/signings and they will feature the cover art for Walking Through Fire on one side and Amelia’s design on the other side.

Let me know which pet you chose!

Sherri

 

Taos Toolbox 2018

This summer I had the opportunity to attend a two-week writing workshop called Taos Toolbox in New Mexico.

This is the longest I’ve ever been away from my family — I think the previous record was four days when I attended a mandatory yoga training — and it wouldn’t have been possible without several factors. First, my grandmother moved in with my parents a few months ago. She paid for my trip as a combined Christmas/Birthday gift. Second, my children are older now. They still need to be driven to their activities and their own camps, to have food prepared, etc., but they are old enough to be okay without me. Third, my beloved niece was home from college AND, because of her own summer commitments, hadn’t taken a job. So she stayed at my house while I was gone, my sister checked in, and my partner…well, of course it turned out that he had to go to France for work during the first week that I was gone.

So, I was not only very excited to attend this workshop, but I was also determined not to squander the opportunity. I think it went very well. I studied with science fiction masters Walter Jon Williams and Nancy Kress. They arranged for guest speakers such as Carrie Vaughn, Emily Mah Tippetts, and this guy that you might have heard of…he’s done this little thing called GAME OF THRONES.

The workshop was exciting, exhausting, and ultimately inspiring. I had the first 15,000 words of my next book (Misbegotten #2) critiqued and came home with a lot of ideas.

I also made friends. This is not the easiest thing for me, but I had three exceptional roommates: Kelli Fitzpatrick, Amanda Helms, and Gabrielle Harbowy. I’m writing their names because these women…wow, they are amazing authors.  I promise that you will see their names all over short stories and novels in the next couple years.

My FRIENDS and I drove to Santa Fe over the weekend to explore Meow Wolf. It’s….an interactive exhibit with a speculative storyline inside of a bowling alley repurposed by a team of about 400 artists. Not that it will make it any clearer, but here’s some pictures:

I flew home at the beginning of July and immediately had to play catch up with work and with the critters and with my kids who were a little angry I’d been gone. And, I’m glad to be home. I missed them all very much, but I’d go so far as to say that Taos Toolbox was a life-changing time for me. I got to be an adult, saturated in reading and critiquing 17 other manuscripts TWICE in two weeks, reading and dissecting published works, dining with guest authors, and being an adult.

I’m going to be pulling on that well of creative energy because my novel WALKING THROUGH FIRE releases on September 4th. Here are some ways that you can help, if you want.

  1. If you’ve considered buying the book, pre-orders REALLY help an author to ensure there will be a second book.  Amazon
  2. Adding the book on Goodreads.
  3. Leaving a review on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Goodreads
  4. Asking your library if they have a copy of the book.

My next task is marketing. This is very much outside my wheelhouse, but I’ll keep you posted.

Love,

Sherri