Thanksgiving Question for Agents
What act of kindness has made the greatest difference in your life?
Melissa Jeglinski: Three years ago I decided to join a local animal rescue because I wanted to get involved in my new community and also … kittens! At first I just helped out at adoption events and did some online posting. Then I started to foster and became involved with a deeply caring group of people who do so much for homeless animals. I’ve also met so many people from rural communities who are willing to take in and foster cats and kittens they have found in their area instead of taking them to high-volume shelters where their chance of adoption was slim. These kind acts, by people from all walks of life, continue to restore my faith in humanity. Speaking for those who do not have a voice, protecting those who cannot stand up for themselves, does the heart good. Please, as this holiday season begins, consider donating your time to a cause you find worthy … it will do wonders for your spirit and help so many others in return.
Lucienne Diver: I grew up with very severe allergies and asthma. In and out of the hospital on a regular basis, medicine dosed for adults—at the time big honkin’ stimulant and steroid pills, not nice localized inhalers and such like they have today. (Although I had inhalers too—never left home without them). In class kids could hear me wheezing and sniffling and blowing my nose loud enough to wake the dead. Plus, I talked funny. We’d moved from Maryland to New York when I was about five and a half and I used to get teased all the time because of my “accent”. Needless to say, I was not exactly Miss Popular. However, there was a nice, nice lady named Mrs. Gervais who worked in the main office who made me feel like the most special girl ever. She’d bring in little treasures for me from time to time, like shells. Probably candy as well. I never have forgotten her. I think she got me through elementary school. It’s amazing how much little kindnesses like that can affect someone’s life.
Janna Bonikowski: The kindnesses that have made the greatest difference in my life are small things instead of a single large act: A group of people jumping in to help a stranded motorist push a car. An offer to carry packages for someone whose hands are full. Paying for coffee for the next person in line. Babysitting for a new mom who needs an hour to breathe. These daily occurrences, when people set themselves aside for just a moment in favor of someone else, remind me that there is goodness in the world.
Travis Pennington: I think the acts of kindness that most affect me, and probably everyone, are ones we don't really see firsthand. It's important to remember that plenty of people out there would love nothing more than to turn the world into one that has no value of humanity. And if there weren't thousands of men and women fighting for our lives this very moment, we wouldn't be able to do any of the things we take for granted.
» Jenna Kernan's four books in the APACHE PROTECTORS: WOLF PACK series, branching from the author's Apache Protectors miniseries, to Ann Leslie Tuttle at Harlequin Intrigue in a nice deal by Pamela Harty
» Stacy Finz's NUGGET series, continuing with three more novels featuring romances and relationships in the quaint, quirky northern California town, to John Scognamiglio at Lyrical Press in a nice deal by Melissa Jeglinski
» Barbara Hancock's third novel in her Brimstone series and two novels in a new shifter series, to Kayla King of Harlequin Nocturne in a nice deal by Lucienne Diver
» French rights to Nalini Singh's ROCK REDEMPTION, to J'ai Lu, by Anne Lenclud at Lenclud Literary Agency, on behalf of Elaine Spencer
» THE FIFTH SEASON by N.K. Jemisin made the longlist for the €100,000 International Dublin Literary Award, while Barnes & Noble listed it as one of 7 Novels of Afrofuturism and called it “essential reading for every fantasy reader.” Its follow-up, THE OBELISK GATE was listed as one of the Best of 2016 from Kirkus Reviews and also made the semifinals of Goodreads Choice Awards.
» ARCHANGEL’S HEART by Nalini Singh made Amazon’s November Best of the Month List in Romance and was #6 on the New York Times Bestseller List. It also received a starred review from Library Journal.
» N.K. Jemisin’s THE OBELISK GATE and Genevieve Cogman’s THE INVISIBLE LIBRARY were both on Amazon’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of 2016. They also made Barnes & Noble's Best Science-fiction and Fantasy of 2016 list.
» THE SHADOWED SOULS anthology, edited by Jim Butcher and Kerrie L. Hughes, made the USA Today Bestseller List.
» MISTLETOE COTTAGE by Debbie Mason and THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME featuring Stacy Finz and Shirlee McCoy both hit the Publishers Weekly Bestseller List. MISTLETOE COTTAGE was also featured on Omnivoracious and was listed as a favorite of 2016, while THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME rose to #12 on the New York Times Bestseller List.
» THE INVISIBLE LIBRARY (Die unsichtbare Bibliothek) by Genevieve Cogman has been shortlisted for Der Leserpreis on lovelybooks.de.
» Amy Christine Parker appeared on Tampa Bay’s Morning Blend in association with the Hillsborough County Teen Author Festival.
» R.S. Belcher's BROTHERHOOD OF THE WHEEL and NIGHTWISE both made Audible's Narrators' Greatest Hits list.
» Mia Siegert, author or JERKBAIT, will be hosting a horse-themed Twitter chat along with author Vicki L. Weavil TONIGHT at 6-8 PM EST. Use #WriteHorsesRIght to join!
Thanksgiving Question for Authors
What challenging experience has ended up changing your life for the better?
Over the years, I have faced many challenges that ended up changing the entire course of my life. The one that stands out most is the time I was bedridden for two months, in tremendous pain, and told I would be dealing with a medical issue for the rest of my life. I returned to my faith, restructured my priorities, and rediscovered a passion for life. A passion I pour into my books. There have been struggles since, but I’m happier—and stronger!—than ever before.
As a young woman, I decided to travel across the US. Until that point, I'd never traveled through such a big country - and never traveled all on my own! I did meet up with friends and family along the way, but there were also days where it was just me and the sprawling beauty of the country. It was tough sometimes, for a girl born on a tiny dot of an island (Fiji) who grew up on another set of islands (New Zealand).
However, the memories from that trip still make me smile. The experience did also literally change my life: "Slave to Sensation", my breakout book, is set in California, more specifically in San Francisco - one of the cities I fell in love with during my Great USA Adventure. The mountains and rivers and city streets I saw during that trip laid a critical part of the foundations of the book that began the entire Psy-Changeling series. And now, I'm working book #16!
My challenge? Quitting smoking.
A couple of years ago, my gut turned septic and almost killed me. I was in the hospital many days, but the sun came out and I got better and, without even trying, I no long smoked.
I toyed with the idea of starting up again. I love smoking. The smell doesn’t bother me, and there’s something so pleasant about curling up with a diet Dr.Pepper and a cute movie and a cigarette. But I was challenged not to be a smoking person anymore.
I live in Denver. There are so many other options...
In 2013, I told my sons and the rest of my family that I was gay. Although I'd long ago passed the stage in my life where I cared if anyone reacted badly, it was still a challenge to deal with the inevitable fallout. However, within three years of this, I had met and married my husband Darwin, and I'm happier than I've ever been.
Keith R.A. DeCandido
In 2004, I turned 35 and the warranty pretty much ran out on my body. I was overweight, my knees and feet hurt constantly, I had the stamina of an asthmatic sloth. My doctor took a look at me and said, "Hey maybe you should try exercising, y'know, once." I'm a writer. My life is spent sitting at a keyboard. It is, to say the least, a sedentary life. Which, unfortunately, leads to being an out-of-shape blob on your 35th birthday. So on 20 September 2004, I wandered over to a karate dojo that was located a five-minute walk from my apartment. I went there for a number of reasons. I knew a gym membership would be a waste of money because most of what you do in a gym bores the crap out of me. And I've always been fascinated by martial arts in general. I chose the karate school I did choose mainly due to its proximity to my own shower, a not unimportant criterion, as I tend to sweat a lot.
The first day was awful. Of the 30 push-ups that were required to be done throughout the hour (three parts of ten at a time) I think I successfully did two. I was completely wiped out after the first class, and made a total fool of myself. I was not about to take that lying down. I can be a stubborn sumbitch, and I don't like the idea of failing. So I went back the next week. Five years after I started, I was in intense training for my first-degree black belt, which I received in October 2009. In March 2013, I was awarded my second-degree black belt, and I have hopes of going for my third degree in 2017.
To some degree, this still confuses the heck out of me. I played sports all of twice as a child, one season of soccer in elementary school, a team that not only never won, we were never in any danger of winning; and one season in a local little league, where my team finished ninth in an eight-team league.
And here I am, a black belt in karate. It's weird. But it's also changed my life in so many ways, both physically (I'm stronger, have more stamina, and healthier than I was 12 years ago) and mentally (I'm more comfortable in my own skin and I am much better at managing my emotions).
I've also found a second calling as a teacher, as I teach three afterschool karate classes at local schools, teach a weekly kids fighting class at our dojo, and I fill in for other black belts to teach classes to both kids and adults on a regular basis. I'm a much better human than I was in 2004, and I'll always be grateful to Shihan Paul and the rest of the folks at the dojo for helping turn me into that better person.
The answer is as simple as one word: Children. I think children always challenge us to be more. More giving. More patient. More understanding. They also require us to be willing to change. Whether I’m talking about my biological children, my church children or my new house full of children, they all require something. They require me to put self on the backburner and focus on others.
Two years ago I was facing an empty nest. Happily. And then the midnight phone call that changed everything for my husband and me. Suddenly our empty nest was filled to capacity. We went from three empty bedrooms to “We’re going to have to buy a bigger house.” And now at fifty we are starting over with five more children. We are back to bath times, school programs, sibling squabbles and dirty clothes.
It is a challenge that has made my life better. My home is filled with laughter, sarcasm and music I don’t understand. Fifty is the new thirty.
Two weeks after I moved to California from England I ended up in the ER and lost about 25% of my blood. As I recovered I thought about all the things I would’ve regretted not doing if I’d died. One of those things was writing a book. So I started writing and 17 years later I’m on my 50th.