Wednesday, October 3, 2018

IWSG: October and so much reading

If you're not familiar with 
the Insecure Writers Support 
Group, check it out here
When I went on a short vacation at the end of August, I hadn't planned (as usual) to have time to read, but hey, a miracle happened and I did. Yes, we covered my little three book excursion into readingland last month, but it's gotten worse. I've been sucked into an unplanned reading binge. (cue the ominous music)

I haven't done this in a while. And for good reason. All writing stops when I go into reading mode.

Lots of other things stop too, like getting enough sleep, being on time for work, keeping lunch breaks to an hour, maybe hanging out in parking lots in my car for an extra half an hour or longer when running errands... yeah, reading and I have an addictive relationship.

Book shaming time. In the past six weeks, ten days of which I was waiting for shipments of books to arrive, I've read twelve books. And not just short books, 500 to 600+ page books of small type. I even broke down and bought an e-book of one of them because I wasn't near a bookstore at the time. Darn you, J.R. Ward and your Black Dagger Brotherhood.

What makes this series so addicting? It's not your typical paranormal romance. There is a lot going on in the world in which it takes place, lots of action, so many subplots, and lots of well fleshed out POV characters beyond the usual two. Each book ends on a satisfying note, but I had to know what happened next in the greater story. Like. Right. Now. Several of these I read in a day or two. Seriously. And I work full time and have other obligations. Evil damn books! It turns out four hours of sleep is fine on occasion. And...that may or may not be four in a row. Soooooo anyway, yes, I'll be reading the rest of the series soon, but I'm at a good pausing point and I should get back to editing and writing for a little while before November hits.

What started to drive me nuts, because there's always something even when I love a book / author / series. 1. When a word like alacrity gets used a lot, it starts to stand out like sore thumb because it's not a commonly used word. 2. When technology is liberally named throughout a series (like using a Blackberry or hitting send to place a call) and quickly becomes dated.  3. When you read the first book and think certain words and phrases are awesome for characterization, but then realize everyone in the series uses those same words and it's not natural sounding or logical that they would. 4. Overuse of slang. Again, totally cool when a single character uses it because it works for characterization. Not cool when everyone is using natch at the ends of sentences. It's totally not natch.

With reading, preparing for NaNoWriMo, three author events, winterizing my pond before winter this year for a change, still looking for a home for the exchange student we didn't plan on, and getting a head start on sewing my Halloween costume before the week before Halloween... it's been a busy month. From here on out, life only gets more hectic until January. While I'm taking a deep breath and trying not to get freaked out by that last sentence, let's get to this month's Insecure Writer's Support Group question.

How do major life events affect your writing? Has writing ever helped you through something?

When I'm stressed, I don't have any energy left over for writing. I have a hard time even focusing on editing. So things like a divorce, death of friends and family, or giving birth tend to lead to dry spells of weeks or months or even a year or two. You've got to take care of yourself. The words will be there when you're head is back in the game.

Has writing helped me through anything? I guess I'm not in jail for taking my frustration out on anyone in a physical manner. There tends to be a lot of death and violence in my books. Coincidence? There's a good chance there's a connection. There is something to that whole, 'the quiet ones are the ones you have to watch out for' thing. However, I do try to keep it fictional. If you've ever been my boss, you're welcome.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

IWSG: September and a recharge

If you're not familiar with the Insecure Writers Support Group, check it out here

It has been a wild end to summer around here. I managed to take a few days of vacation after sending Trust off to the editor. We traveled over to the thumb of Michigan, having never visited there before. I don't mean to spoil it for you, but there isn't much there other than farmland and the shore of Lake Huron. In this case, that was fine with me as I really needed some time off from life to recharge. I spent most of my vacation buried in a book, which I haven't done in quite some time. That burst of reading cascaded into three more books and now I have four more on order that should be here in a few days. Not that my TBR stacks are running dry by any stretch of the imagination, but I found a new series to binge on: J.R. Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood. 

I also have a new (and very unplanned) exchange student. That's whole long story, but suffice it to say, we're only an interim host family and this is the straw that sent me off on a need for a reading binge to recharge my creative juices and vacation. 

Onward into the reason for this post... 


This month's question is: What publishing path are you considering/did you take, and why?

I've done both a small press and self publishing with novels. For short stories, I prefer the more traditional route of anthologies and magazines. 

As far as novels, for my first one, I wanted to get my feet wet in a more structured way so I went though the whole query letter and rejection loop until I got accepted by a small press. As it turns out that was a whole learning experience and I'm glad I took the time to do it rather than rushing off into self publishing. However, having figured out the strengths and weaknesses of small press publishing and how they aligned with my goals, I opted for self publishing my next three novels. My upcoming series, The Narvan, is back with the same small press. I find doing both gives me more options and yet a bit of credibility for those who don't hold self publishing in high regard. 

Thursday, August 2, 2018

IWSG: August Happenings

If you're not familiar with the Insecure Writers Support Group, check it out here

How can it be August already? I haven't even taken a vacation yet.

I just got done baking several dozen chocolate and caramel cookies for Saturday's author event in Holland, and packing my things, and buying balloons - because they're fun. It's already 9pm and I'm a day late with my post. So hey, I'm like mostly two days behind, but I'm here, so that counts for something.

Without further ado, let's get to this month's question: What pitfalls would you warn other writers to avoid on their publication journey?

1. Paying to publish. Don't. I've stood upon my soap box for this topic before, but in brief: Yes, there are some aspects on the road to publication that you will likely have to pay for. A cover, editing, formatting, etc. However, you do not need to pay an all inclusive service to do this for you and sink $1,000 or much more into getting a box of books that will sit in your basement until you manage to sell them all of by hand one by one. I've heard too many horror stories to not get all soap-boxy with this. Do your research and invest in only what you need to.

2. Not letting anyone read your work because you think someone is going to steal your idea. Get yourself a writer's group. Whether it's online or in person, it doesn't matter, but for your own good, let other people read your story and offer their opinions. There will definitely be parts that need work. There are ALWAYS parts that need work. Learn what those parts are before you start submitting your writing so you have a better chance at getting published.

I could go on and on, but those are the two that I cringe at the most when talking to other writers. Now, I have to get back to doing my audio edits of Trust, because that's wonderful way to catch typos and awkward wording.  Look for updates on Trust soon. I'm told it will be out into the world before the end of the year. I'm looking forward to finally holding it in my hands.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Allergies and Author Events

Where have I been?

Writing, editing, rewriting, more editing and pondering plot fixes. I was being so productive I forgot to come up for air and post here. That's sort of a good thing,  I guess?

Then I was busy getting ready for the Muskegon edition of my Michigan Authors at the Lakeshore event in the Lakeshore Art Festival. That took up all of last weekend. That was a great time. The weather was awesome. There were crowds of people and lots of crafts, art, and books to see.

Now I'm gearing up for the Holland edition, which will be held at the Park Theatre, right across from Art in the Park, on August 4. This one is even bigger than the Muskegon event, as far as authors to organize. There will be 34 of us, a theatre full of books. It should be a lot of fun...once I get past all the organizing.

Right after that, on August 11, I'll be at the Manistee Book Expo, held in the Ramsdell Theatre.

In the midst of organizing and writing, allergy season hit hard. The weather has been hot and dry, creating all kinds of dust and whatever else sets off the explosions in my head. Between blowing my nose, sleeping the yuck away, and the way groovy spacy feeling of allergy pills, my productivity is down to a dismal percentage.

So that's the state of things at the moment. I'm still alive, floating along (sometimes, it actually feels like floating), and attempting to get things done.

I hope summer is treating you well. Relax, be happy, and enjoy a good book.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

IWSG: June and more free books

I've been busy editing and, for the past couple days worth of free time, catching up on the latest season of Supernatural. It was fortunate that I happened to check my email at lunch yesterday, after realizing I'd been ignoring it all week in favor of said previous activities, and realized the first Wednesday of the month was only a day away. I live in a time vacuum, I swear.

With the weather being nice (finally), I've been busy outside working in my gardens. For the past two weeks, I've been putting the finishing touches on the rock terraces (meaning I moved a LOT of rocks and plants and spread several yards of mulch) on half of my hillside flower garden. This past weekend I expanded my vegetable garden by 16 x 10 feet, built two new raised garden beds, filled them with soil and plants, and remulched the whole area. Who needs to go to the gym?

If you're looking for something to read, take a gander at selection in either of these two giveaways.
Fantasy, or Sci-fi and Fantasy short fiction

My Ask Me Anything wrapped up after a lot of questions. If there's anything you've wanted to know about me or my writing, it's probably answered there.

And now onto IWSG...

If you're not familiar with the Insecure Writers Support Group, check it out here.

This month's question is:
What's harder for you to come up with, book titles or character names?

Titles are by far more difficult to come up with. Character names usually come to me as I'm writing or I key mash until a string of letters looks interesting and tweak it from there to get the sound and feel of what I'm looking for to fit the story. Yes, that means my naming process is pretty methodical and well thought out. Ha! Because I'm not a planner for the most part, the vast majority of my characters are named before I get to know them and before I have an inkling what their true part in the story will be. It's like meeting a person, all you have to go on is a name and then you get to know them. Knowing this, the fact that names play an important role to the characters in both Sahmara and A Broken Race is a bit ironic.  

Titles, well, they don't usually hit me until the first round of edits when I get a full feel for what the story is really about. Its a theme I didn't originally set out to cover, a feeling, a character moment, a phrase, something that triggers an ah ha moment and poof, there's my title. The poof, makes it sound like an easy process, but its more often a long and painful slog wherein I gnash my teeth over the fact that the book may never have a title beyond Book 2 or Fantasy Story.

Which one is more difficult for you?

Monday, May 14, 2018

So many free books

Do you like free books? Well you're in luck! Check out these links for some great free fantasy and scif-fi reads. You can also find my book, Destiny Pills and Space Wizards there.


This promotion runs May 14-20 and includes both BookFunnel and Instafreebie books.


Need more books? Here are 24 more to choose from. This promotion runs until May 25.


Still need mooooore? Here are 119 Sci-fi, Fantasy and Horror titles to choose from. This promotion runs from May 15 to May 31st.


And if you've stocked up on books and want to have fun with some questions about writing, critiquing, gardening, chickens or hair color, I'll be over at Ask Me Anything from May 16-23 with answers. They may not be the right answers, but they're mine.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

IWSG: May and too many other things

So it would seem that yesterday was Wednesday. When did that pop up? I mean who puts a Wednesday right after Tuesday? And who put Wednesday so close to the beginning of the month?

Yes, I missed the
post day. One of these months I'll have some time to breathe and will have my crap together. This is not that month.

I've been busy preparing for Penguicon, both mentally and packing-wise. The prospect of full weekend of intense peopling is both exciting and terrifying at the same time. In part of that preparation, I opened my newly ordered copies of A Broken Race to a page with a typo. OMG, you've got to be freaking kidding me. And the super annoying thing is that it's a formatting typo. I use a laptop to do all things book, and occasionally the cursor isn't where I think it is so whatever key I hit applies somewhere else. In this case it was the backspace. Then come to find out, as took a deep breath and fixed that book file, a similar thing had happened right on the first page of Destiny Pills. So damn annoying. I love my laptop, but we're so not speaking right now.

On the heels of the random return and deleted character annoyance, I then see that the oh so helpful Createspace gods have added random blank pages and in one case, totally screwed up the entire page layout so now my margins are all wrong. And no, that didn't show up on the online proof. And of course I needed books in a hurry for this event and didn't have time to do a print proof and then order because my lovely daughter took so darn long (procrastinating teenagers, ugh) to do her drawings. So I apologize up front to anyone who purchases the slightly wonky versions this weekend.

I'm still trying to catch up on Blogging A to Z posts from all of you who visited throughout April. Too. Much. Going. On. Which brings me to this month's question:

Does this season inspire you to write more than others, or not?

Spring inspires me to get outside and clean up my flower beds, to build new raised garden boxes, to plant my garden, and to clean out my chicken coop. All of those things mean less time for writing. I'm so torn right now because spring is a super short season here, and made even shorter this year by almost a month thanks to a winter that wouldn't freaking quit, but I'm in the middle of edits on Trust. I want to be sitting here in my comfy chair sifting through editorial comments and making changes so that book can get into readers hands, but I also want to be outside doing all the things that need doing before it suddenly is 80 and my allergies make it hard to do outside things, because like, breathing is important or something. At this point, I'm slowly working on both things and shaking my fist and pretty much everything. Spring, you are a pretty, but stressful season.

Monday, April 30, 2018

A to Z - All Things Writing: Z The Satisfying Ending

Welcome to the Blogging A to Z Challenge, where, this month, I'll be focusing on all things writing. This may be a random jumping around of topics within my theme, but hopefully something somewhere will be useful to someone. (V is for vague - see that last sentence.) Check out all the participants here . Now, lets get on with today's letter.

Z is for The Satisfying Ending

I'm sure I've harped on endings before, maybe even last year, but it bears repeating. Stories, all stories, should have a satisfying end. But it's got a sequel. It's part of a series. I don't care. End it. If a book doesn't end in a manner that leaves me a least mostly fulfilled, I'm not ever going to pick up book two.

It's fine to leave some subplots a bit open ended. A happily ever after for now, is perfectly acceptable. We don't need everything tied up in a neat little bow. But we do need closure. The main plot of that particular book should be resolved. The mystery needs to be solved. An aspect of the big bad must be defeated. The couple should get together. You get the idea.

Books that just end like the writer dropped dead at the end of whatever sentence stands at the end of the novel end up denting my wall and go in the donation pile. Books should not end with (...to be continued).

Short stories might end with a surprise, a twist. They don't often have a shiny wrapped up bow on top ending. A short story is a much smaller investment of a reader's time so more of an ah-ha moment is sometimes all it takes to be satisfying. A novel, however, needs more closure. We're invested in characters, in the plots, we want to see things through. So make sure your books end. Your readers will thank you.

Thank you for joining me on this year's A to Z adventure. I hope you found a few useful posts this month. Good luck with your writing endeavors throughout the year and I hope you'll stop back to see where I am in mine. 


Would you like a free e-book? This April, I'm giving away free copies of my new anthology, Destiny Pills & Space Wizards. Claim your copy here: https://claims.instafreebie.com/free/vhJFWpLL Enter code atozpromo
Prefer paperback? The print book goes live on April 20. Reviews are always appreciated.





Saturday, April 28, 2018

A to Z - All Things Writing: You Know What You Mean

Welcome to the Blogging A to Z Challenge, where, this month, I'll be focusing on all things writing. This may be a random jumping around of topics within my theme, but hopefully something somewhere will be useful to someone. (V is for vague - see that last sentence.) Check out all the participants here . Now, lets get on with today's letter.

Y is for You Know What You Mean

The biggest issues many writers have is getting what is in their head onto the page. You know what you mean. You know your story and your characters. We've already covered how beta readers and critique groups can help point these areas out. But you can find some of them too.

The best way to do that is to give yourself some time away from your story so that you can approach it with fresh eyes. It's tempting to churn out a draft, tweak it with a few edits and toss it out into the world but your story could be so much better if you give it a little time to age and grow.

So finish you story and put it away. Go write something else. Be that a short story, a few short stories, another entire novel or edit another novel. The point is to get your mind working on something entirely different. When you're ready, be that weeks, months, or however much longer, read your story as if you've never read it before.

You might be surprised at what parts you enjoy and what you find yourself skimming over. Or what you thought you had explained that now you're wondering about. Maybe you don't remember what all the characters looked like or how they were involved with one another from the notes you had on paper or in your head that never really made into the story. Wasn't there backstory on a character? I swear this scene was going somewhere important, but I can't remember why I kept it. Guess what? You can do something about all of that. Put those things into the story.

Read that story aloud, either yourself or have your computer read it for you. You'll probably find missing words that you swear where there because you know what you mean.



Would you like a free e-book? This April, I'm giving away free copies of my new anthology, Destiny Pills & Space Wizards. Claim your copy here: https://claims.instafreebie.com/free/vhJFWpLL Enter code atozpromo
Prefer paperback? The print book goes live on April 20. Reviews are always appreciated.





Friday, April 27, 2018

A to Z - All Things Writing: X + Y = Z

Welcome to the Blogging A to Z Challenge, where, this month, I'll be focusing on all things writing. This may be a random jumping around of topics within my theme, but hopefully something somewhere will be useful to someone. (V is for vague - see that last sentence.) Check out all the participants here . Now, lets get on with today's letter.

X is for X + Y x Q = Z

If you've conquered a query letter or logline or blurb, you're likely familiar with the fact that there is a formula. If you haven't gotten to any of these stages yet, there's still plenty of time to get frustrated while trying to figure these things out with the rest of us. Here are the four main things you need to look for in your book.

Who is the main character?
What do they want?
What stands in their way?
What will happen if they don't succeed?

If you can't identify these things in your book, there's a big red flag. Your book is missing something essential. Time to head back to the rewrite stage.

Got your four pieces identified? Good. It's time to construct the seed of your query/logline/blurb.

MC wants ___ but opposing force ___(does what?) . MC must ___ (action) or _____(stakes)

You could also approach it as:

When ___ (bad thing) happens to MC, they must (action) or (stakes) happen

There are other formulas out there too. Just remember to keep it simple and build from there as needed. This will help you boil your story down to a sentence or two to hook readers or agents. And you thought writing a synopsis was hard?

Have you had to write a query letter?



Would you like a free e-book? This April, I'm giving away free copies of my new anthology, Destiny Pills & Space Wizards. Claim your copy here.
Prefer paperback? The print book goes live on April 20. Reviews are always appreciated.





Thursday, April 26, 2018

A to Z - All Things Writing: Writers

Welcome to the Blogging A to Z Challenge, where, this month, I'll be focusing on all things writing. This may be a random jumping around of topics within my theme, but hopefully something somewhere will be useful to someone. (V is for vague - see that last sentence.) Check out all the participants here . Now, lets get on with today's letter.

W is for Writers

Are you a writer or an author?

Some people prefer one over the other. Some people think of themselves as writers until they have been published and then they are authors. I've read conflicting reasoning on both.

A writer is someone who writes.

An author has been published.

A writer has written something

An author has finished something

A writer is someone who writes as an occupation

An author is someone who has created something

An author is a writer

As far a I'm concerned, they are interchangeable. What about you?



Would you like a free e-book? This April, I'm giving away free copies of my new anthology, Destiny Pills & Space Wizards. Claim your copy here: https://claims.instafreebie.com/free/vhJFWpLL Enter code atozpromo
Prefer paperback? The print book goes live on April 20. Reviews are always appreciated.