Matthew J. Drake and I are moving from the Baltimore area in Maryland to the Phoenix area in Arizona. 🙂

My day job remains the same and so my Piper’s Travel Hijinx will continue. Perhaps because of this, the move isn’t a big deal in our minds. I’ll still be spending my days on my day job projects, 85% of the time on site. If anything, flying out of Phoenix will result in more direct flights for me and fewer connections.

The biggest changes for us will be the space. We’ll be going from a single bedroom to a bedroom and an office. It’ll be separate areas for sleep and for work and for creative content – writing, podcasting, vlogging – with no neighbors upstairs stomping around at all hours. There’ll be a bigger kitchen for my stress cooking. There’ll be a garage to park our car in and Matthew said because of the move he may contemplate getting a bike, not exactly sure when he plans on getting that, if it’s before the move I hope he tries to learn more about relocating bikes and he doesn’t think he’ll be riding from Maryland to Arizona on the thing! There’s also a small backyard to turn into an outdoor creative space (in the winter). If we get a bit of decking fitted, it will even be good for the summer months too. At least it will give us an extra place to get out creative juices flowing.

I will finally get the opportunity to design our home in any way that I want to, both in the interior and the exterior. It’s a chance for us to truly make a new start. During the moving process, I spent many a day looking for things like peel and stick wallpaper, additional wall art, and many pieces of furniture that I think would look great in our space, so I can’t wait to get the ball rolling on this part. I’m just so excited that we finally have more space to work with as this is something that has been hard to come by in the past.

And what’s even better is that we get all of this at a lower cost of living.

Another factor to consider is that we’re a bit nomadic. We start to twitch if we’ve lived in a single location for more than two years. Change is good to keep our minds stimulated and our hearts inspired.

And so, for us, this move isn’t a huge moment so much as an exciting change of pace in our ever-progressing forward momentum.

It’s our next adventure. 🙂

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When Mary Robinette Kowal asks me to be a panelist/moderator at the Nebula Conference-a professional conference for Science Fiction and Fantasy-I’m extremely likely to say YES. Not only because I have a decades long love for the genres but also due to my deep respect for Mary herself.

She is thought-provoking. She is also considerate. She writes wonderful novels. And she demonstrates via her actions the messages she presents via her words. Mary Robinette Kowal is one of those nifty people who inspire me to strive to do great things.

And so I’ll be in Chicago for the Nebula Conference, on panel and moderating. I’ll also be attending the many other interesting panels to expand my mind.

It will be my first Nebula and I have no doubts about it being interesting. 😉

ComingSoon copyI’m evolving this year and this conference will be a test of that evolution. I am Piper J. Drake when it comes to romantic suspense. But will PJ Schnyder continue on or will that alter-identity fade into the archives as Piper continues? It’s a question that involves publishers, my agent, and some deep thinking. Regardless, I intend to continue writing science fiction, paranormal romance, and steampunk in addition to my romantic suspense.

As a part of the evolution, my social media platforms are consolidating. So whether you are looking for PJ Schnyder or Piper J. Drake, you will find my thoughts here.

And I’ll hope to see you at the Nebula Conference in Chicago. 😉

PJ’s (Piper’s) Panels at the Nebula Conference

Saturday May 14 at 2pm

Being a Hybrid Author

Rather than choosing traditional publishing or indie-publishing, some authors are doing both. These panelists talk about the nuts and bolts of combining publishing strategies to diversify a writer’s income stream.

Moderator: Kameron Hurley

Panelists: Eric FlintCharles GannonAlethea KontisPJ SchnyderDan Slater

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Saturday May 14 at 3pm

Day Jobs for Writers

Discussion would include considerations for writers balancing their writing careers with day jobs from time management techniques to whether to have pen names to what not to Tweet in order to avoid getting fired. Bonus discussion on how experience in the workplace can impact your writing perspective.

Moderator: PJ Schnyder

Panelists: Rachel AcksDanielle FriedmanN.K. JemisinMartin L. Shoemaker

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Saturday May 14 at 4pm

Redefining Aliens of the Future

In early SF, aliens were often used as stand-ins, to represent groups of Others in our own societies. They are still sometimes inappropriately inserted into lists of marginalized groups by people attempting to downplay bias. In SF worlds where the human condition is portrayed with full diversity, what new roles can aliens take on to keep their relevance to their core genre?

Moderator: Juliette Wade

Panelists: Charles GannonNick Kanas, M.D.Fonda LeePJ SchnyderRachel Swirsky

Kanban is a method for managing work to be done without overloading the people doing said work. The method is applicable to writers, especially when undertaking complex projects. It allows the author to have a nice overview of what needs to be done while still having it easily organized into do-able tasks.

Kanban starts with creating a few basic categories for your work. I divide my process into Triage, Do Today, In Progress (right now), and Done. You can divide your process into categories that resonate with you and match your personal way of doing things.

Post It Notes and Kanban

At first, I take each of my tasks and put them in the Triage category. These should be finite, do-able tasks. If I’m drafting, this could be researching a particular detail or writing a specific scene. If I’m revising, this could be addressing a specific revision note like clarifying my order events and timeline or adding more detail to my hero’s backstory.

At the beginning of my day’s work session, I pick one or two tasks–no more than three–and put them in the Do Today category. Then when I’m ready to start working, I pick one task and put it in the In Progress category. Then I get to work.

This allows me to focus on the task at hand. And maybe I’ll finish it, so it then goes in the Done! category. Or maybe I’ll have worked on it as far as it can go before I finish other tasks, so I’ll leave it in In Progress and take the next task from Do Today.

The goal here is to not be overwhelmed by all the things floating in the Triage category. I’ve identified them. I know they’re there. I can even add more. But on a given day, I’m only focusing on the few tasks I’ve placed in Do Today. Because I’m focusing on them, I can get them done.

Kanban method can be done on paper. I have big Post-It notes on my workspace wall, actually. Or there are online web apps to let you organize. I use Trello, for example.

Trello and Kanban

Using the kanban method to manage my “things to do” is effective to keep myself productive and protect myself from getting overwhelmed. It makes me feel better to have all my random, free-floating to do’s in the Triage category. It let’s me focus on the specific tasks I’ve pulled into my Do Today. It feels really good to drop a task into my Done! category.

Does this method interest you? I’d love to see examples of this method applied to other authors’ work.

I spent yesterday folding Japanese paper stars with Joyfully Reviewed as part of my gifts to the readers sitting at my table for the upcoming Barbara Vey Reader Appreciation Weekend, specifically for the big Saturday luncheon.

Japanese origami stars

The ribbon these are made of is particularly fun because the writing glows in the dark. They’ll be going into the base of my table decorations at the event and hopefully go home with the readers I meet at my table. Aside from being extremely cute, there’s a story behind these stars and a cultural practice from my childhood in these.

Story Behind Origami Lucky Stars

Should we start with “once upon a time”?

There was once a little girl in Japan named Hoshi. She loved the stars in the night sky and would lie on the grass at night,staring at them. As hours went by, she would wonder how the tiny stars could shine so bright, remaining suspended in the air for so long.

One night, the stars fell out of heaven in a shower of light. So many fell, Hoshi was afraid there would be no more. Saddened, she ran to her home and found herself an empty glass jar. She took up paper and folded one paper star for each spot she’d seen fall. Within the night, the little girl folded perhaps a hundred paper stars.

And yet, she was still saddened because many more stars had fallen fro the sky and she hadn’t been able to fold a paper star for each of them.

The next night, she saw only a few stars in the night sky. She ran and knocked on all the doors in the village, asking all the little boys and girls to come out. She explained to them her worry and each of the children wanted to help. That night they made two thousand stars. Every child placed their own stars in their own jar.

As they watched the sky the following night, more stars appeared in the night sky and the children cheered. After such a magical achievement, Hoshi was inspired.

“These stars are lucky because of us. From now on, these paper stars will be called lucky stars.”

She also looked up at the stars in the night sky and said, 

“Whenever a lucky star is made, a falling star is saved.”

~ story paraphrased from Secrets Behind Japanese Origami Lucky Stars and origamiway.com.

Paper Stars and Piper’s Childhood

My grandmother taught me to fold paper stars for luck during my childhood summers in Thailand. This is a Japanese folk tale, but the practice spread to Thailand and other countries. I was taught to pick a pretty glass jar, fold stars of colored paper, and present the filled jar as a gift.

I fold them now to wish luck to those I meet and gather the tiny paper stars in a jar to give as a gift.

It’s a gesture that’s about effort and consideration, wishes for luck and thoughts of friendship. I very much hope the readers at my table will enjoy them.

FOR_Drake_elevator cling_v4_signing_webRT16 in Vegas is my first con as Piper J. Drake, the first of the year, and wow, it’s going to be an activity-packed week!

The RT Booklover’s Convention is an amazing event, filled with great authors and readers, and incredibly fun. I’ve attended for several years in a row now (as PJ Schnyder) and I’m looking forward to participating on several romantic suspense panels and reader events as Piper.

My True Heroes series launched in January of this year and I am super excited to go see this graphic in real-life at RT, covering one of the hotel elevators. It’s going to blow my mind!

Giveaway!

Readers attending RT: I would be so happy to see pictures of you taken next to or in front of this graphic on the elevator at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino. Take a picture, post it to FB, Twitter, or Instagram and use #FindthePiper. I’ll have a special gift bag for one of you after the Giant Book Fair on Saturday!

Piper’s Scheduled Appearances on Panels and at Events:

First Timer (aka Virgin) Orientation

This convention orientation is designed for all first-time RT attendees. We’ll give you the “quickie” seminar experience. Trust us: if this is your first-ever RT Booklovers Convention, this could be the most important 60 minutes of your week! After you head to registration, get your bag of goodies and experience the initial shock and awe, you’re going to have questions. That’s where we come in. Come join us for an hour that, for some, has been a life-altering experience. We understand what it’s like — your virgin year at RT! Here is where you get your questions answered, meet other first-timers and become part of a special group like no other during convention week.

Host(s):

Tuesday, April 12, 12:15pm-1:15pm, Brasilia 6

Steampunk: The Diverse Punk

Sin City Murder Mystery!

Think fast. Love slow. Keeping great pace!

Romantic Suspense: Alpha Heroes and Kick-Ass Heroines: Romantic Suspense Characters That Make Readers Cheer

Romantic suspense is filled with super-hot alphas and kick-ass heroines, but how to craft those three-dimensional characters so readers will cheer for them until the very last page? These best-selling authors will discuss the building blocks of fan-favorite characters, the role of the heroine in romantic suspense, breaking characters stereotypes, balancing character and plot, crossing genres and more!

Moderator:

Panelist(s):

Friday, April 15, 10:00am-11:00am, Lambada

Memorable Themes and Settings in Romantic Suspense

From treasure hunts in the Caribbean, to the jungles of Central America, from New Orleans society and cemeteries to Key West intrigue: how to incorporate memorable themes and settings into romantic suspense.

Panelist(s):

Friday, April 15, 11:15am-12:15pm, Tropical C

Intergalactic Bar & Grille

Attention starship crew! Charge your blasters and get ready to repel the invasion of the dastardly alien space ducks as we drink, snack and indulge in sci-fi silliness at RT’s only sci-fi party. Win prizes! The first 200 crew members to report for duty get goody bags loaded with swag. Brought to you by Captain Linnea Sinclair and her trusty space commando authors!

Host(s):

Friday, April 15, 2:45pm-3:45pm, Brasilia 2

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