On Learning Roads

During this time of pandemic, writing has become a major source of solace and distraction. Focusing on my made up world of Thyrein’s Galactic Wall, and the lives of its denizens, has allowed me to focus my mind on fun things, rather than be engulfed in the ever present anxieties of the never-ending-plague.

The writing community, and the various retreats, workshops, and conferences it offers, has been a place to hone my skills as a writer and to watch how the industry is evolving in the new normal of our post-covid world. Many things have changed in the publishing industry, and staying in tune with the business side of things has also made me ponder what new avenues authors, and authorpeneurs, will take in this dynamic new world.

The fellowship, and ongoing offerings, of the writing community run by Max Regan and Rosa Glenn Reilly have been the safety net for me as 2020 and 2021 have progressed. The three yearly bootcamps, plus the retreat in June, and the monthly classes, have kept me engaged and learning. More than that, being in this community of writers has made me take my own writing career more seriously than ever before.

Being the head of the Houston Writers Guild has also motivated me as the pandemic has drawn on. Putting together the conferences HWG offers allows me to network and connect to many industry professionals. It also brings awareness of what the industry is doing, and how important it is for our members to stay up to date on the changes.

Marketing your books, finding reviewers and bloggers to help spread the word, developing a vibrant author platform, and connecting to other formats like audio book or the filmmaking industry, are all key elements that career-minded authors need to know. So as the date for the second conference of the year drew near, the board and I focused on making it as comprehensive as we could. The Indiepalooza line-up turned out truly jam packed with amazing sessions.

We desperately wanted it to be an in person event. So many of us are fighting off zoom fatigue. Unfortunately, all of our presenters ended up coming to us virtually. We had, literally, none who wanted to do their session in person. Paying a venue cost so we could all sit and stare at a screen together felt foolish, and not the best allocation of resources. So, Indiepalooza will need to be virtual.

This made me think about the future. The road ahead will bring with it in person learning conferences and other events. But it can’t over look the power of the virtual event. Yes, it isn’t as nice in terms of networking options and such. Hard to meet and get to know people in square digital boxes. But, the virtual events allow us to bring in presenters from places we could never afford to fly in — like the cover designer who will be with us at Indiepalooza who lives in Australia. And it allows people who aren’t able to travel to attend the event.

I don’t know whether we will find a way to do a hybrid event, or simply choose to do a virtual one yearly amongst the other programming we offer, but I know the digital conference will not go completely away. The digital space offers opportunities we should not toss out the window. The future will look different, and perhaps it will be that much better now that we have gone through this mess.

PS: If you are a writer and wish to check out the lineup of the upcoming Indiepalooza 2021 conference — scheduled for the weekend of October 9–11 — you can visit the event brite page here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/indiepalooza-2021-tickets-167939466465

Roads Not Taken

With the pandemic, I’ve had a lot of time to think upon my life. One of the things I enjoy doing is pondering moments of decision. The poem by Robert Frost always comes to my mind as I consider the roads I didn’t take.

One of the first, came when I finished my BA and first MA degrees. At that time, I had the opportunity to continue going for the Ph.D. But I was tired.

I started university in 1992, and, by 1996, I had both my bachelors and first masters degrees. I studied full time, living at home with my parents and attending University of Houston’s beautiful main campus. In four years, I had accomplished more, educationally, than most people, and I was ready to get started on living.

So, I headed off to Mexico City, Mexico. The idea was to do a Ph.D. at a university down there, while at the same time enjoying discovering more about my cultural heritage. The studying part never materialized. In all honesty, I didn’t even really try to apply to any universities. I focused on finding work, and enjoying the city.

Looking back upon that moment, I can’t help but wonder what would life had been if I had instead stayed the course, and finished my education. What if I had taken the opportunity to enter into the doctoral program at Perdue University, since my mentor professor had graduated from there? How would my life be different?

For starters, I would not have ever taught sixth graders in a public school, because, with a doctorate, I would have gone on to teach at a university somewhere. That would have opened up a whole different avenue for my writing. I have no doubt that writing would have remained a part of my life, and as a professor you have to research and publish.

Would Thyrein’s Galactic Wall, and the universe full of characters whose lives play out in my mind, have come to me? Or would I have gone on to write more in the realm of nonfiction?

I’m certain that I would have worked in fiction, because my brain loves all things wild and imaginative. Dragons surely would have been a part of my work. Yet, the universe of my books was born in that 6th grade classroom. Would it have come to me in another way? Are there things we are fated to do?

Sometimes, I believe there is a destiny we are born to fulfill. Other times, I am convinced there’s randomness to our choices. Do the roads in our lives take us inexorably to the same location?

However it may be, I didn’t take that path. I went down a different road. Perhaps, I might have saved myself some heartaches, but there would have been different ones to face. That is a certainty.

I suppose, I still could do the doctorate. That path is always there, waiting. Should I? Where might that road go?

Hmm. Something to ponder.

On Joining RoadBroads

I am so excited to hop into this new venture along side my amazing friend and colleague, Ellen Seaton, and to take up where the talented Melanie Ormand left off. Big shoes to fill there!

In a way, I was born a RoadBroad. At first, my travels were purely in my imagination. An avid reader, I have enjoyed journeys into magical worlds, other times in history, and all manner of mystery adventures. Soon enough, I was creating my own through crazy stories written in eclectically collage covered journals.

As soon as I had a sensible job, cause we all know writing professionally doesn’t pay the bills, I took off on real voyages. I made the terrible mistake of going to Paris, France first. That city captured my heart and, now, I feel compelled to make a pit stop there on my way to where ever else I am heading,.. when I’m in Europe that is. Something about that city draws the creative energy in me. I can feel, when I’m there, why it has inspired so many authors and artists across the centuries. There’s just something magical in the air… Ah, Paris!

Road trips are the best. Heading out on an open road in your car, a coffee mug and assorted snacks by your side, appeals to me like a moth to a flame. So many places to visit and explore just waiting out there. Sometimes, you need to hop on a plane first, then hit the road… cause you know cars don’t do well in water.

Of course, the pandemic has curved all that, but not forever and hopefully not for too much longer. Still, the journey of a RoadBroad isn’t just one of physical travel. It’s the heart of exploration of new and exciting things. New seasons in our lives; new business ventures; and, of course, adventures on the written page — my own and that of other amazing authors .

I hope to share with you the adventures that are waiting for me both physical and spiritual as I journey through life’s roadways. Here, with my dear friend Ellen, we will explore together what it means to live a RoadBroad kinda life.

Thank you, Ellen, for inviting me to journey with you here. I’m excited and humbled to be a part of the RoadBroads team.