Random

Writer On Holiday (Sort of)

Hey there, wonderful readers of the world!

I know I haven’t been gracing you with literary awesomeness like I should’ve been, but I have a good excuse – I swear!
I’ve been visiting my sister out in the great (or greatest, depending on who you ask) state of California, and so I haven’t had much attention or time for anything else.

California is really nice – I am enjoying myself. I am immensely enjoying the weather, though it got a little hot. My sister is taking me to all the ice-cream places which are to die for (shout out to Jeni’s and McConnelsl’s – aaammmaaazing ice cream). Have you ever had Earl Grey And Shortbread ice-cream? If not, I heartily recommend it. It has a very writerly vibe to it, I think. The only thing I have a small problem with is that it’s very difficult to find postcards – not really sure why; this is a touristy state, is it not?

Anyway, I hope everyone is doing well, and we’ll talk soon!

Oh, and any advice on where to get postcards in LA/Orange County? Or really good ice-cream?

❤ DragonBeck

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Meet The Authors

Hello everyone – happy Friday!

The Ink Slingers Guild are officially at Tampa Bay Megacon this weekend – we have a table in Artist Alley, and lots of fantastic books for you!!!

Let’s take a moment to get acquainted, shall we?

Lisa Barry:

“Writing and reading every minute she can, Lisa counts on her cats to keep her keyboard warm and on the countless gargoyles who stand guard throughout her house to ensure the safety of all those who enter with good intent. The gargoyles, even more importantly, listen carefully when Lisa reads to them aloud.

On a person note…besides having a deep admiration of gargoyles (who says they’re not real?), I love to read and write.  I collect gargoyles, I love music and can be heard driving up before I am seen, I’m a very picky eater (just ask my friends -eyes rolling-), I enjoy fishing and will catch them, clean them, cook them but won’t eat them or anything else out of the ocean.  I also believe in many fairy tale creatures, just haven’t knowingly met any yet.”

And she has a really cool tattoo.

  and coming soon…

Dalia Lance:

Dalia says “I have had a very interesting upbringing starting with growing up in Hollywood, CA. Never shy, I learned that if you are not willing to try something new you may let life simply pass you by. I love meeting people from all walks of life and these experiences inspire me on a daily basis. As a true friend once pointed out “You are never a complete waste, you can always be used as a bad example”. So what’s the worst that can happen?”

 

J. M. Pacquete:

JM Paquette writes cheesy vampire romance novels filled with action, adventure, intrigue, and sometimes slightly steamy sex scenes. She enjoys alliteration and puns of all kinds.

   

Alanna J. Rubin:

Miss Rubin says “I’m originally from Massachusetts. As a northerner, I never missed an opportunity to pick apples, carve pumpkins, or visit Salem to see the witches and haunted happenings. Now that I’m in Florida, not a day goes by when I don’t miss the changing colors of leaves, but I would never go back to having to shovel snow. As a fan of science fiction, paranormal, and romance…I find that individually they are fun,  however, I love them more when they’re mashed together. Often, when I am not writing my next adventure you’ll find me torn between watching a Jane Austen adaptation or hopping on the Tardis for an adventure in time and space.”

  

And yours truly, Nicole Dragonbeck:

I was born on the first day of a year-long eclipse of the sun, the thirteenth child of the Prince of Elves and an enchantress. As a small child I fell into a poisoned well and was horribly transformed by the toxic sludge seething in the deep darkness. I was fished out by a band of gypsies, who promised to feed and clothe me if I cooked and cleaned for them. They taught me to ride bareback and read palms, but I royally pissed off the leader by setting his wagon on fire and he cursed me with a great imagination and an equally great inability to tell the truth…and the rest is history.

  

I hope to see you at Megacon this weekend and get the chance to meet you in person!

❤ DragonBeck (and friends)

 

 

 

Announcement: Ink Slingers Guild At Tampa Bay Megacon

Hello all!

 

If you’re not already familiar with the Ink Slingers Guild, we’re a writers’ group that has been together for over 6 years now. In our own words:  “The Ink Slingers Guild is a group of writers who came together (by referral only) for support and encouragement. We give each other inspiration and the occasional kick in the arse. So far, together we have created eight collections of short stories, four of our members have published their first novels and one member just released her fourth novel.”

We write everything from epic fantasy and science fiction, to paranormal romance, erotica, Regency era Jane Austen romance, ghost stories, and cheesy vampire romance:

                      

I am very excited to announce that the Ink Slingers Guild have a table in Artists’ Alley at the Tampa Bay Megacon Friday 29th September through Sunday 1st October, and we’d love to see you there!

Held at:

TAMPA CONVENTION CENTER
333 S. Franklin Street
Tampa, FL 33602

Ticket information can be found here.

Visit megacontampabay.com for more information.

Nerd on!

❤ DragonBeck

What I Learned From A Month of Social Media Abstinence

I was considering titling this post “Social Media: Gift or Curse?” but I thought that sounded a bit overly-dramatic, so I went with a statement of simple fact: What I learned from a month of staying off all my social media.

Social media.

Some people love it, some people don’t care.

Some people are gurus and linked in and synced up, and others wouldn’t know what to do with it if it danced naked in front of them.

Some people are on it every day, some people don’t use it as all.

And every gradient shade of grey between.

What is its purpose? Is it vital? Just because it exists, does it make it right? Should we live without it? Could we live without it? What impact does it have on our lives? I’d wager these are questions most people don’t ask.

I have mixed feelings on these matters. On a personal front, I believe the net effect of a growing volume of virtual reality is detrimental to reality reality (see “The Reality Bug”, Pendragon series, D.J. Machale.)

However, as an independent author, I would say social media is important. It’s a way (possibly amongst the best ways, and certainly the most far-reaching way) we can get word out of our amazing books, without having to beg and grovel to traditional publishers, who, I may remind you, have turned away the likes of J. K. Rowling 12 times and told her “not to quit her day job”, so they obviously don’t know everything.

I’m a pragmatist, and I prefer to take a middle-of-the-road view-point: I think like most things, social media has pros and cons.  Pro: last month, I connected with an author in Italy, via twitter (that particular line in my bio is accurate, which is not to say the other bits are inaccurate, but some people may find the information in my author bio hard to believe – but it’s all true, I swear). Con: one can waste a lot of time  on things that don’t really contribute to one’s life. In your twilight years, are you really going to look back and say “You know, I’m really glad I spent those hours looking at memes and satisfying my curiosity about those click-bait articles?”. This could just be me, but I don’t think so.

I do try to ration and schedule my social media time, and almost all of that allotted time is spent on Facebook and Twitter. Facebook is mostly for personal things – I do have an author page, but it’s honestly more an extension of my twitter account. Reversely, Twitter is where I let my #writerslife out, with everything from #amwriting, to #writersproblems and #books. More recently, I’ve added to my social media presence by joining the Instagram community*, as authordragonbeck, and again this is a professional #indieauthor account (it took me a while to get the hang of the whole hashtag thing, but as you can see, I’ve become a master).

In the month of July, I participated in the #authorconfession and #MythCampNano games on Twitter. For this, I had to be on my Social Media every day, as the entire point of the thing is to connect and interact, and obviously to answer each day’s question. In order to balance that, I did an experiment and gave up social media – meaning Facebook and Twitter – for the month of August (for the sticklers who noticed that I posted blogs during this time, featuring the fruits of my Ink Slingers Guild writing exercise – yes, I wrote and posted blogs. However, wordpress allows one to post to Twitter, which in turn is linked to Facebook, without having to actually going onto either of those platforms, so I’m not counting that against myself).

This is a record of my findings of Social Media Abstinence:

No one died as a direct result. The world continued to turn. The sun did not go out (although there was an eclipse). The zombie apocalypse didn’t start (or if it did, I didn’t notice).

I experienced definite withdrawal symptoms. The first three days were the worst, with jittery cravings to “just quickly check”. The days after that were better. After a week, I no longer felt compelled to log into Facebook just to see if anything exciting had happened that I should know about. At the second week, it was a vague half-thought that passed as quickly as it came.

I relaxed. At some point in the middle of my experiment, I recalled I’d heard (some time ago) that if you were feeling overwhelmed and stressed out, just don’t watch the TV or read the newspaper for two weeks and see how you felt afterwards. As I don’t watch TV or read a newspaper, I didn’t think that applied to me. I have now reevaluated that consideration. Getting away from the drama is very calming. I highly recommend it.

On the 20th of August, just shy of three weeks into my experiment, Facebook texted me letting me know that a friend had shared a link, and letting me know that I could “see it here”. For the last 3 years, Facebook had never texted me to say anything, yet over the course of the next week, Facebook sent me messages each day, letting me know “so-and-so commented…” and “so-and-so updated…” and “so-and-so shared…” I guess Facebook missed me more than I missed it.

I noticed an interesting phenomenon: I only thought about checking Facebook or Twitter a) when I had completed one task, and hadn’t yet decided which task to do next (boredom) or when I had quite a few tasks that needed to be done, and I couldn’t decide which to do first (dispersal) or when I had picked my next task, but there was some reason I couldn’t begin that task for 5 or 10 minutes (waiting).

I read more.

I organized my bookshelf, and did my filing.

I played my guitar for the first time in over 3 years. I have no calluses left on my fingers, but I can still do a G-major chord.

I still had friends. I still saw them. We had tea. It was nice.

I got the second edition of my first novel done and the editing/proofing of my fourth novel done distraction free (i.e. no need to log in to let the world know “Finished a chapter so I’m going to get a cup of #coffee to reward myself #writerslife #editing #lovecoffee” and fifteen minutes later “Chapter six and I feel like my eyes are bleeding out of my head #writerslife #writersproblem #amediting #amwriting”) and this was soo much faster and more efficient. (Note to self: remember to repeat this when rewriting/editing/proofing any novel, please and thank you.)

Finally, after 31 days of my little experiment, came the big moment when I re-entered the matrix for the first time in a month. What was I going to find? Would anyone remember me? Would I remember anyone? Did I even know what my password was anymore? Was the answer to all life still 42? I still can’t answer that last one, but this is what greeted me:

And twitter:

Yes, I had missed things (like a boat-christening ceremony, which sounded like fun). And a couple other events. But not much – there were only 2 notifications per day. So would I do anything differently? I think not.

Conclusion: social media is revolutionary for independent authors (and other artists and artisans), but don’t let it take over your life. What’s in front of one is more important, and I don’t mean a phone screen. Take a break every once in a while. Take an extended break. Go outside. Talk to someone face to face. Play chess (on an actual board). Buy someone flowers. Learn how to greet someone in Klingon. Actually greet someone in Klingon and see what reaction you get. Or keep scrolling and liking and posting those selfies. This is not a sermon, this is just a statement of my thoughts based on my experience.

And I admit, as the fourth book in my fantasy series is about to be released, I am now going to dive back into social media with open arms, starting with all the amazing things that happened last month (coming soon to a blog post near you). And I am once again participating in #authorconfession!

So, what do you think? What are the pros of social media? What are the cons of social media? What tips do you have for minimizing distractions and getting more done?

❤ DragonBeck

*For those clever enough to catch that most of my Instagram pictures were actually uploaded during the end of July/beginning of August, which was partially during my social media black-out, there’s an explanation which doesn’t render my experiment invalid: I don’t have the Instagram app on my phone, and thusly I was unable to upload my (awesome) collection of writerly pictures. So, I emailed them to my sister, who logged on to my account on her phone, and uploaded them for me with the captions and hashtags which I had put together. It was my birthday present, and may have been bending the rules, but I don’t think it was outright cheating, as I wasn’t technically on social media 😉 I’ve been told my content is pretty cool, and you can check it out here: https://www.instagram.com/authordragonbeck

Post-Hurricane Hello

Hello world!

I am at this moment, sitting at my friend Lisa’s table (because she has internet and I don’t), just beginning to resurface after Hurricane Irma came to pay me a visit. It wasn’t the pleasant sort of visit, the kind where a good friend shows up on the doorstep with pizza, or just a smile and a “hey there, how’s it going?”. I’ll admit, it was a little scary for a while – the media proclaiming Armageddon was upon us – and I thought my house would be underwater. It wasn’t. The whole thing was actually not much of an event, sort of like a very intense summer storm which we in Florida are used to. The worst thing was that we did lose power for a few days afterwards.

I felt like my life during these days was summed up by the phrase #FirstWorldProblems. It was hot, but I handle heat fairly well, so that wasn’t as bad as it could be. I couldn’t write, though (that was torturous, but as I pointed out in the first sentence, hardly privation – a state in which things that are essential for human well-being such as food and warmth are scarce or lacking – of even a mild nature), or work (that was rougher – I’d like to be able to eat next week, you know?). I got more sleep, which was nice – it got dark at 8:30, and with no power, well, what else was I going to do? I did get to read a bit – Pendragon series, highly recommended – by torchlight. And there was the perfect excuse to clean out the fridge and freezer.

All in all, it was an experience. The world (or maybe just the part that I inhabit) seemed to stand still, waiting for something to start it up again. There was a real sense of community after the storm, during the cleaning up, hauling away tree debris, all my neighbors were out, chatting – it’s a camaraderie which only the wrath of Mother Nature seems to bring out in humans. People offered what assistance they could, sharing power and their roofs, and I’m left with the wistful thought that it would be nice if it was like this all the time, minus the inconvenience and lack of (vital, for this world and society, at least) necessities like electricity and internet.

I have lots of news, which shall be forthcoming shortly (after another blog post that I had hoped to publish earlier this month, but then stuff happened). I hope everyone’s doing well, or at least well enough, and that the future looks brighter rather than bleaker. Drop me a line and let me know what you’re up to, I’d love to hear from you!

Talk soon,

❤ DragonBeck

Birthday Thoughts

Today, at precisely 5:01 PM Eastern Standard Time (I was born in California, so 2:01 PM Pacific Time) I became precisely one year older than I was last year.

This deserves some attention and comment, but probably not from me.

I did find this little gem, which made me laugh:

I will be celebrating with lasange and garlic bread, my traditional birthday fare – and will hopefully have a more cheerful expression than that poor writer above!

Cheers!

❤ DragonBeck

Happy 4th of July!

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

________________________________

Happy 4th of July!

❤ DragonBeck

Hooked

A calamity has befallen this world, an epidemic of epic proportions that more people should be aware of…

…it starts slow, no big deal, but before you know it, it grabs you in a tight grip and drags you into an unreal place that gets more and more difficult to get out of with every hit. You lose touch with reality as it consumes your mind, miss your whole life going by without you. All the good sense of everyone who loves you falls on deaf ears and all you can think is “Just one more…just one more and then I’ll quit.”

But you never do and another day comes and goes and another night passes by without your notice and you suddenly look around and wonder where you are, where did the time go, what happened to you?

Everything that mattered to you before you got hooked – your friends, your family, your future, being a rock star, doing something decent with your life, all those things like “One day I’ll go to Paris and kiss someone at the top of the Eiffel Tower” or “Camp under the stars watching the Northern Lights” or “Race a Lamborghini along the Great Wall of China” – these all fade as your life is taken over, sucked into the black-hole of insatiable craving, leaving no room for anything or anyone else…

…That’s why you should never start reading books, kids.

Also, stay away from Libraries,

And don’t befriend any Writers