Hope everyone is having a good week in the lead-up to the Thanksgiving holiday in the USA. Happy holidays to those who celebrate, and wishing a happy week for everyone!
If it's November, that means... NaNoWriMo! For those who don't know, that stands for National Novel Writing Month. It's a worldwide endeavor where writers attempt to write 50,000 words in a month. My latest book was started in NaNo several years ago, and it was published last month - The New Empire. So NaNo can definitely lead to success stories as authors.
Speaking of which, my friend Gabi Coatsworth runs an amazing blog for writers with all kinds of helpful hints and advice, and part of that blog is asking published writers to showcase where they write. She just posted one about... me! Since I just moved to Canada at the end of the summer, I have a brand new writing office of my very own for the first time ever. And I was super excited to show everywhere where I will be writing my next masterpiece... ha, maybe. Here's the post. Hope you enjoy peeking behind the curtain at an author's life! I even have a little Halloween tidbit in there that helps me year-round.
Speaking of Halloween, hope everyone had a fabulous Halloween last night. My kids enjoyed going around the neighborhood with their new friends here in Alberta, and brought home loads of candy and chips and other treats.
I handed out candy as the good ol' standby of a witch (but forgot to take a picture - whoops) and "brewed" a potion to share with parents (a mulled apple cider drink for the grownups, so they could have a "treat" along the way too).
If you'd like to make some mulled cider as the weather turns colder, here's a good recipe:
1 gallon fresh/unfiltered apple juice
3-4 cinnamon sticks
3-4 star anise
1/2 Tablespoon of whole cloves
1 Tablespoon whole allspice
1 sliced orange
1 sliced ginger root (about 1-2 ounces, depending on how much ginger you like)
Throw all of this in a pot (since I was making a big batch to share, I tripled the recipe and used a canning pot) and simmer for 2+ hours. You can serve as-is to kids - or if you'd like the adult version, throw in 1-2 cups spiced rum (depending on how strong you'd like it).
Enjoy - and stay warm this winter!
I was so thrilled to read Anthony Avila's glowing review of my just-released book The New Empire. He called it "a must-read historical fiction novel of 2022" - wow!!!
And if you're a horror fan as well as an alternate history reader, check out Anthony's own list of published books HERE and his other fab book reviews HERE.
I just had my first birthday spent in Canada in quite some time. I feel a bit older, a bit wiser, and a bit closer to being Old old (right now, I'm just hanging out at the edges of Old... but the abyss is waiting, ha).
And today is now the birth of my new novel, The New Empire! It's been a while since one of my own books has been published... I tend to spend a lot of my time helping other people get their books published, and so it's a bit of a strange feeling to have my words going out into the world again. I'm almost as nervous as the first time I had a novel published back in 2018 - isn't that strange? I guess each new book is a new baby for an author. Maybe someday I'll have 50 books under my belt and will be a bit more jaded about the process, but right now... it's still pretty thrilling.
Here's the blurb from the back of the book:
I love history, and researching this book was a gargantuan task but a lot of fun. In the story, the world undergoes a drastic change in the 14th century when Chinese ships land in what is currently known as the Bay Area of California. Fast forward four hundred years to a much different America than we know, a land dominated by a tribal confederacy grown out of a strong alliance with Beijing. Told from the main perspective of Jiangxi, who is a Chinese slave, it’s an epic story that highlights the experiences of characters often overlooked in the history books. In doing so, it tells a unique—but still emotionally relevant—tale of slavery and freedom that will resonate with readers in today’s conflicted and diverse globe.
The question I get asked most often about this book is: "Where did you come up with the idea?" If you'd like to know a bit more about my new book and how it came to be, check out this article about how I won a contest and got my new novel published: "How I Jumped the Line & Got a Book Deal."
And here's a recent interview that peeks behind the curtain of my writing process at the website Book Goodies.
Hope you check out my new book and let me know what you think. Happy reading!
One of my favorite phrases is "I'm running around like a chicken with its head cut off." Which essentially means I'm too busy to think, only react. Of course, if you follow that simile through to the end, it means eventually the chicken stops running and falls over dead.
So in the interest of NOT coming to the chicken's end, I want to make some resolutions. Yes, it's not New Year's - or my birthday - or any other day of special significance. But when I find myself nodding off to sleep over my computer every night and waking up in the morning only to open up my computer first thing... when I find my to-do list is longer than my arm and that I never even get to half the items... when I can't remember the last time I didn't rush eating lunch while standing next to my chair (or just skipped the meal because I didn't have time to eat)... well, I don't know anyone who would say that's a healthy or balanced lifestyle.
Okay, I digress. Resolution time.
Since my Canada move is around the corner, I resolve to spend more time having fun - which means hanging out with my friends here. To really enjoy their company and max out the potential time I can spend with them. Even though we'll stay in touch via Zoom chats and the like, I'm going to make the most of however long I'm still in Connecticut.
Also, I resolve to be useless for several moments each day. What I mean by this is to take some time for myself. Not time spent working at my job or hanging out with the kids, not time spent scrolling or talking on my phone, not time spent washing dishes or picking up toys or anything else that could be considered USEFUL. Nope, I will take a few moments - maybe 5 minutes, maybe a quarter of an hour - doing something that I want to do, rather than something I need to do. Such as read a chapter of a book that's not for work. Crochet an afghan square. Fold an origami dragon. Whatever it is, it will be something completely unrelated to work or family or home or anything like that.
Last, I resolve to be comfortable losing my head. Sometimes you just need to fall over (hopefully NOT dead) and get some rest. Let all that frenetic energy die down and go to sleep at a reasonable hour (for me, that would be before midnight). If you don't let yourself recharge, then you'll burn out your battery permanently.
Those three things seem doable, don't they? Friends, fun, and forty winks (sorry, had to get the alliteration in).
What are YOUR mid-year resolutions?
So... Canada's looking good this time of year.
As some of you might know, I'm in the process of figuring out how to move up north. It's been a good run on the East Coast - I've lived here since my mid-twenties, and that was more years ago than I'd like to admit. However, I'm hanging up the towel... or throwing in my hat... or something like that.
More news coming soon!
Nowadays, everyone's a photographer because of the ease of taking pictures on our cell phones. However, does that mean we're all GOOD photographers? Heck, no.
I'm not sure whether I fall in the category of "good photographer" versus "crap photographer," but I was willing to give sharing my pics a try. I often use the open source image site Pixabay for my publishing work, and so I decided to upload some photos there. The site is free to use and download images from, but if you really like an artist and use a lot of their pics, it's encouraged to tip them for their work.
I only have 10 images so far, with 5 more pending, but I figure I'll add a few more each month. If you'd like to check out my page, go HERE. And if you like what you see, give the pics a thumbs up or a download.
Here are three ones I love (but then again, I love all of them or I wouldn't have shared them):
Hope you like what you see! Keep visiting to see more photos go up each month.
I’m going to get a kick-start on my end-of-year reminisces to beat the New Year’s rush.
This has been an action-packed year. You’d never know it from looking at my blog, which I tend to neglect when life gets going, but a crazy (and good) number of things have happened.
The biggest and most momentous event was my manuscript THE NEW EMPIRE winning gold in Pitch Week for When Words Count and being offered publication with the fabulous Woodhall Press. This book was my first NaNoWriMo win many years ago, and it’s undergone a ton of changes and additions from that initial 50k words.
Here's the blurb:
Below is my new book cover, which I'm super excited about.
Depending on how the first book is received, a sequel is being planned to that book to follow the first one, which I'll talk about more next year.
As if that weren’t enough, I’ve also started writing on Medium this year. I’m thankful to my 900+ followers who read my articles, essays, fiction, poetry, and comics – I’ve published about 100 pieces so far on a variety of topics and genres. Check out my profile HERE to get access to all my articles. And here’s to even more next year!
I’m also thankful for a number of short publications in various journals, anthologies, and magazines from 2021. Since there’s a fair number of those, I’ll do a second blog post about them soon.
And, finally, I’ve got to add one more event of significance. I actually started writing again, which had stopped completely in 2020.
As some of you might know, I got sick with the coronavirus in 2020, right when it first hit the U.S. Long COVID took over my life, and I was unable to write for a number of months. In fact, it was pretty hard to function and take care of myself, let alone my kids.
I’ve come out of that period of my life, and I'm mostly back to normal. The vaccine helped with a lot of the physical ailments, and I also got a booster, which helped.
Last but not least, my kids were too young to be vaccinated until recently, so I continued to homeschool them. Now that they’ve gotten their shots, they’ll be returning to school with the new year. This will be good for them to be able to get our lives back to normal – both for my kids, who have done amazingly well with relative isolation and putting up with "Mrs. Mom" as their teacher, and for me and my own writing, which I had to squeeze into the bits and corners of my day after teaching my kids.
I’m thrilled to be able to enjoy the holidays with my friends and family, and I’m very excited to see what next year brings, too.
I signed up a while ago for the platform Medium, which highlights work by creatives. There are writers, journalists, artists, and bloggers who call the website home, plus a lot of great articles, essay, fiction, poetry, and artwork, among other items.
But I never did anything with my membership other than read a few articles. That changed yesterday - I've published 2 pieces on the website, with the idea of making this a regular endeavor.
First off, as a writer with 100+ publications, I'm often asked for advice on aspects of submitting. I decided to start out with a series of practical articles to help out new writers. First one: "How to Submit Your Short Stories, Poems & Essays for Publication: Query Letters." I'll also cover formatting submissions, how to find places to publish your work, the un-fun reality of rejections, and pretty much anything else that comes to mind that would be helpful (if you have an idea about what would be helpful to new writers, suggestions in the comments below would be very welcome).
I'm also doing a series of short personal essays (500 words or less) for Medium's Writing Contest. There are four subjects: Reentry, Death, Work, and Space. There are some kick-ass judges, including Natalie Portman, Roxane Gay, and Saeed Jones, among many, many others. It's a fun challenge, since I tend not to write nonfiction very much and the themes are very open-ended.
Who the heck is Alison McBain?
I am a freelance writer and poet with over a hundred short pieces published in magazines and anthologies. If the Walking Dead isn't on, I draw pictures and do origami meditation in Alberta, where I live with my family. If the Walking Dead is on... shhhh! The Walking Dead is on! For more info, please check out my "About Me" page.
© Alison McBain. All rights reserved