N. Renee Brown

Part-time Author, Full-time Book Junkie

CVS 2.0 (Blog Bite)

I’m tired of being a fan.
I’m tired of being a wannabe writer.
And I’m ready to do something about it.

This year, attending Balticon was not as fun as it had been in the past. Why? Because I wanted to be a guest not an attendee…ok, not even a guest, but I wanted to be there as something more than a fan!
Coming back from Balticon, I shared this with the other members of CVS (my writing group). Now, with their help we are pushing CVS 2.0!

What IS CVS 2.0 you ask?
Well, it’s hard to explain, but we had gotten caught in a rut (like all writing groups do). Our submissions were down, our goals were not being reached, we were devolving into a social group.

Well, we’ve decided that is not what we want out of CVS! As a group we’ve committed to renewing our dedication to writing…and to one another! It’s time for us to push one another to write…to ask one another what we are doing to get published…to go en masse to cons and start developing the sort of web of support and acknowledgement that gets new authors the buzz they need to succeed.

Ok, so look out world…we’ve decided to leave the cats alone and come after you. And boy do we have a story to tell!!!

Peacin’ it,

P.S. Thanks to DL Thurston and Day for being so 2.0 about this new direction!!!

Balticon and a roar of a start…

Balticon is always a wake-up call for me. It is a weekend spent with people that are succeeding at something I aspire to. Be it podcasting or writing these people are DOING what I feel like I only give lip service to. Now I know that is not true, I know what I am doing behind this screen and I know it to be valuable and worthwhile. STILL, it does not stop those feeling of inferiority from creeping up on me like the murderer in a mystery story during the rest of the year.

Yet when I come to Balticon, instead of feeling bad I’m broken out of my funk and into the bright light of, “I CAN DO THIS!” Every year Day and I drive back on Monday (Memorial Day), talking about the plans for Unleaded and our various stories…from here came the idea for Unleaded in the first place and the first novel I wrote, from just those 2 hours-ish driving back after a weekend of being submerged in writer/podcaster nirvana.

This year though…this year was different.

Honestly, I was disappointed…not only in myself but in Balticon. I felt like a fan. A fan is not what I EVER wanted to be. It’s not that fans are bad…I just don’t want to be one. I want to be a writer. I want to be a podcaster. I want to be ON the panels not IN them. I want Balticon to allow me to rub elbows with my peers…and I want those peers not to be clambering for autographs and dressed up in hall costumes, but instead talking about the process of writing and their love of it (or hell, even just bitching about it over a beer).

Being a fan at Balticon is not nearly as fun as being an aspiring something…

And yet, I was still aspiring enough to become hideously disappointed when the panelists (SPECIFICALLY MODERATORS) had A) no clue what the panel was about, B) made it clear they had no clue what it was about, C) made no attempt to prepare for the panel, and D) plainly didn’t care. This happened more than once and it was such a terrible blow that I found myself attending things I would never have sat in on just because the person moderating it had an interest in the topic.

Argh, sorry…but that really burned my butt this weekend.

Anyway, to get back to the point…I found myself at a loss this year.  I had no novel to show off, I had little interest in the people that had little interest in the panels, and I was stuck being the timid fan girl.  I hated Balticon right then, for showing me what I was failing…namely myself.  I never wanted to feel this way, but there it was and I had to do something about it.

What did I do?  I made a plan.  “In Harm’s Way” will be edited and submitted to my group this year…AND I’m going to work on the joint project with Day all summer and make it my NANO novel.  I’m also starting Unleaded again, it is about 10 minutes of my time once a day…there is no reason I can’t give it that attention.

So…the corner had been turned, the terrible bleakness that descended upon me during Balticon has given way to a new obsession, and let us hope next year I will be pandering my novel to anyone who shows the least bit of interest.

Do you hear me? Because I’m talking about YOU…I see you hiding back there, the Balticon attendee who doesn’t really know who I am, but you see I KNOW who you are and you cannot escape my new determination to become a published novelist!


Find your leaf and turn it,


Back in action!!!



The computer just needed a power cord as we suspected.   Best Buy stopped being a putz and finally got a power cord in that wasn’t some freaky overpriced “universal” one…and they called and we went TONIGHT to pick it up.  I wasn’t willing to wait any longer for it, I’ve got things to say, ESPECIALLY after the con!

I’ll put a new post up tomorrow…I’d do it now but I’ve had a rough day and it’s nearly midnight.

See you in the morning!

Re-Launch Party for Unleaded!

I really need to master this whole USB thing.
I’ve got a report on Balticon, but it is currently stuck in the computer at work. Yes, I know I have a USB for a reason, and yes I really do know how to use it. Still, sometimes multiple media doing multiple things in multiple places gets the better of me until here I sit with my USB but without the two page report on Balticon. It is done, I rave about it, it should be worth reading. Unfortunately tuning in next week is mandatory to hear that particular report, thanks to my continuing battle with technology.
In the meantime, let me tell you a little about the Re-launch party for Unleaded!
Day and I have decided, as I mentioned before, to invest in Unleaded again (for those just tuning in Unleaded is our writing podcast full of inspiration and perspiration), to start up the recording again and put the site back into action. Thus to help us get the energy up to start again and to mine our friends for guest hosts we hosted a Re-Launch Unleaded Writing Party.
We invited everyone from our writing group to come join us on a Saturday…when it was too hot to even think about going outside…for a little food, a little writing, a little podcasting, and a whole lot of fun.
We had prizes for the person who was the most productive (- A bag of books.), the person who contributed the most episodes to Unleaded (- A bag of books with a Malice Domestic bag), and the person who made our life the easiest (winner: Kate who babysits the old dog when we want to escape – BadA** Fairies 2 “Just Plain Bad”).
We plot noodled and wrote and talked when we should have been writing…we shared and called out strange questions like, “I need a coffee drink name!” and “Vampires have to use breath to speak, yeah?” We ate salmon dip and chips and salsa and abused Jen2’s bf (who is a saint and we love him!). It was a great CVS experience!
Ok, until next week when I put up the grand Balticon report…

Find your peace and live it, especially if it has writing involved!!!!!

Writing as a journey and a destination.

“Life is a journey, not a destination.”

I can practically see Day making a face as she reads this. Why? Because she is of the opinion that the person who coined this phrase must have, “never gotten anywhere in his life.”

Day is one of those people that fill their life with goals and accomplishments, awards and failures, plans and plots…even her writing is mapped out to within an inch of its life. She is the kind of person that will get things done, damnit! None of this lollygagging, we’ve got places to go, characters to meet, and plots to see!!!!

I am the exact opposite.

When I write, I start out with a scene I think is interesting. I may have a character or two, but no more than that…just a scene and my computer. I start to write the scene and develop the characters but other than the cell in which they have been drawn the rest of the world is empty. A white space waiting to happen.

As the scene develops, so does the world around them…things they have experiences populate the past, issues they have fill out the present, hopes and dream lie in wait in the future. The people they think about inhabit the homes, the animals they see scurry away into the underbrush. It’s a very train of thought sort of thing, and yeah sometimes it gets me in trouble and sometimes I’m backtracking to rewrite stuff that would not have been necessary if I had just thought about the organization of the police union…but that is no fun for me.

When I map out a plot like that I can’t find the joy of discovery, the shock from distress, or the laugher in a joke. It’s just not there for me. If I know it is coming, I am prepared and my emotions are dampened (thus my writing is dampened). Seriously, I’ve got to have an instant when I am writing my own novel and I BUST OUT LAUGHING at something someone did or it’s just not a good time. Why? Because it is a journey I’m taking just like you will one day…I’m just doing it earlier…and if I don’t like it why should I inflict it on you?

The other problem I’ve got with pre-plotting to that extent is that I have a bad habit of hitting people over the head with information. I can’t leave it that they will know that so and so did such and such, I’ve got to say, “Hey! Did you notice that? So and So did Such and Such!” I am even worse when I outline/pre-plot things. It’s like I’ve got the caps lock switched to the on position and I’m going to tell you if you wanna know it or not.

I’m the kind of girl that has a place to start and a place to end and somewhere in the middle a miracle occurs…and actually, it does. Between start and finish I find a whole novel hiding away, and it is usually something worth reading. How great is that?

The reason I bring all this up, is that at Balticon (which will have an update this week, I promise) Day and I came up with a great idea for the novel. We talked about it all weekend and if you heard us wandering in the halls you likely heard snippets of our brainstorming session. It was wonderful, we worked out a few things and we bounced around a few ideas and we got really jazzed about this work.

But then it didn’t stop. We had to define everything, we had to know where everyone was going, we had to figure out who ended up where and before I knew it we were planning book 2 and 3! On Monday night, after brainstorming this world for 3 days I had to put a stop to it. All the mystery was disappearing and with it my anticipation for writing the novel. I was sad that I was forced to put a stop to it, as Day was so obviously enjoying the process…but I had to preserve a little of this project for myself.

I’ll be happier in the end if I do.

So how do you write? Plot and plan? Or seat of the pants? An aspiring author wants to know!

Find your peace, and live it – even if it is missing its middle.


It’s official.

This weekend at Balticon (more on conventions and Balticon in particular later) I reached the 100,000th word on In Harm’s Way.


I found it sort of anti-climactic, honestly.  I know the story is not done and I know there is more work ahead of me than I expected.  It is just the way I write, just the way I work.  I’m ok with that. 

We all need to discover not only our muse, but our inner slave driver and work with him (instead of fighting him as I so often do) to get things done.  It isn’t just about the muse at the end of the day, I mean yeah she’s the flirt at the party making you grin like a goon…but that person back in your hotel room, your slave driver/internal editor/whatever, plays just as big a part when you come down to it.  Afterall, they are the one paying the bill at the end of the stay.

Still yet, I made my goal and in honor of that and to celebrate it, I purchased two masks made by Christine Yolan at the Balticon Art Show.  I wanted to track her down and get a signature on the works, but no such luck.  Oh well, perhaps I can track her down on the web, send the masks to her…get them signed…and then get them back.

Here’s the plan for the immediate future:  1)  Work on the three short stories that are done, save for some polishing 2) Leave In Harm’s Way alone for a month 3) re-launch the Unleaded-Fuel for Writers podcast on July 1st.

Yes, you heard it here first.  Unleaded is coming back, and better than ever.  Day has stepped down as co-host to instead concentrate on production, and I am more than happy to keep my fingers out of that side of it.  Instead I’ll be concentrating on the hosting/content of it.  Day will still contribute and you might still hear from her on occasion, but mostly you’re stuck with me.  We are also going to change the format a little to add some guest inspirations and writer interviews.

July 1st, be there or subscribe and listen later…as long as you listen, we don’t care.


-Find your peace and live it…even if it is anti-climactic. J


P.S. Adding the tags to this post I realized In Harm’s Way no longer belongs under “Works In Progress”, that did sort of give me a squee.

Playing Catch Up.

I’ve fallen off the face of the earth, but don’t think I’ve stopped writing.

Actually, I’ve fallen off the face of the earth because I have been writing! I’ve got a deadline, I’ve got to finish 100,000 words on my novel, “In Harm’s Way” by Memorial Day (which is currently 7 days away)…thus all my energy and all my spare time have been poured into my novel.

Good, yes?

I do have pictures for all intervening Photo Sundays…so I haven’t really fallen off that bike, and I’ve written quite a bit on Hawaii. Thus my journaling has not really gone away, it has just been unsuitable for this forum.

So, here is the first of my new posts and if I can keep up my pace on the novel, perhaps you will see a few more before Balticon (currently 5 days away) and absolutely a few after. With Balticon having such a diverse and lively writers track I am sure to have quite a few things to say and people to report on. Well, without further ado:

The World’s Nicest Authors!

Sometimes it’s not the quality or the quantity that you write but who you are that will influence people to not only publish your work, but buy it as well. I know quite a few self-proclaimed “mid-list” writers that I am sure got their foot in the door by virtue of being who they are.

These people are charming, amusing, sweet, and seem to take an honest interest in the people around them. They look at fans, fellow writers, editors, agents, etc and while they may instantly think “what can they do for me” you will NEVER see it in their eyes and if they decide you are not going to be able to help them you will never suffer the brunt of that.

People like Carol Berg, Maria V. Synder, James Daniel Ross and Tee Morris will always earn my money the hard way and I will always gladly give it. Not because everything they turn out is a bestseller, they have misses just like everyone else. Not because I know everything they write will turn into the next Harry Potter, yeah right I could only wish that for them. Not because every book they churn out is a gem that will change my life and I will treasure it forever, come on people I’m being honest here very few books will ‘CHANGE’ my life no matter how much I wish they would.

BUT BECAUSE they are people worth supporting, they are the meat and potatoes that keep me sustained between this instant classic and that horrible dredge. They are people I can speak to, and compliment without believing that the words I speak go in one ear and out another without even creasing the overindulged mind in between…trust me I’ve met a few like that. They are just good people that not only deserve to make a living doing something they love, but they aren’t half bad at it as well.

So, next time you are walking around a conference or meeting an author (mid-list or not) just remember that what people see out of you may well influence how they feel about you when it is your turn in the spotlight. Don’t write people off because you haven’t heard of them…give them a chance and when they blow that chance just walk away. It’s not worth the hassle of fighting and it’ll make you look like the bigger person to everyone involved.

Back from the peace,