Saturday, May 21, 2016

April and May Eye Report

It's been awhile since I've done a report post so it feels like there's a lot to say. Sorry for the long post.

Before I get started, if you're in the market for book cover artwork, my writing buddy Marion Sipe is having a 25% off sale. Check out her Facebook page to see some of her work.

And while we're on writing, after the last post regarding my project pile, I decided to dive into editing short stories. Violets, written from your V word suggestions during April, has been polished up and sent out into submissions. I'm currently mulling how to fix Tickle, a sci-fi short that's been sitting in my editing pile for a couple years now after some editorial feedback. Aaaand, pondering cover art for Sahmara, the fantasy novel I intend to self publish at some point this summer. I'm also having my first meeting tomorrow with the editor I'll be working with on The Narvan series.

Now then, back April and most of May and all the things my eyeballs read and watched.

On the watching front:
Helix: As much as I wanted to stay awake for the CDC and Immortals duking it out, Billy Campbell's whispery raspy voice puts me to sleep. When I was able to stay awake, I found this show creepy, disturbing (particularly the second season), and outfitted with just enough twists to keep things interesting. I was disappointed to find out there wouldn't be a third season.

The White Queen: I stumbled across this by chance and thought, 'hey, this sounds like a familiar title'. Well yeah, the book has been sitting on top of one of my TBR piles for about a year now. Duh. I knew I was in for goodness because: Phillipa Gregory. Again, I was disappointed the series didn't continue, but the show did a wonderful job of making history interesting. If only history was written as fictionalized romance in school, I would have paid a lot more attention. Now I guess I better get on reading the book. Oh, but there are so many books in my stacks.

Daredevil: We danced around whether to give this a try or not so soon after Jessica Jones, which we did like, but never quite fell in love with. And well, this seemed very similar as far a setting and superhero and plot. Loved the first season, with all the action, and trying to balance the day job with late night crime fighting and you know, being blind. The second season, while still pretty good, got really predictable. As in there would always be that one bad guy that survived just long enough for DD to ask him who had done this to him (because it was him). Always. To the point we started placing bets on which guy would be in the brink of death but still helpfully talking. But, for a superhero series, it had decent character depth and I'll be waiting for the third season. Punisher, meh. Every time I saw him, I kept saying to myself, hey, it's Shane, still being an asshole just like on Walking Dead. And Electra, also not a huge fan. While I did like that she wanted to be good, but was evil...but was good... and I lost track, her character generally lacked the depth I was looking for.

The Ranch: Totally going off what I normally sit down to, my husband suggested we give something funny a try. I hate laugh tracks. Just throwing that out there. But I like funny, and the show slowly grew on me. While a lot of the humor felt like Ashton Kutcher & Danny Masterson rehashing their roles on That '70s Show, but all grown up and as the sons of a cattle rancher, I did enjoy the relationship with their father and his odd relationship with their mother. A couple scenes where even touching.  

Not to mention Game of Thrones! So far I feel quite good about where this season is going. In fact, I'm downright happy with it. Which means someone is probably going to die and piss me off again.

I'm also watching Fear the Walking Dead, but I'm not sure why anymore. At this point in the series, I'm over the interest I had in seeing out the zombie outbreak occurred and how civilization broke down. I'm mostly hoping that the entire cast gets eaten and the show ends. Other than Salazar and Strand, they're all so busy being stupid, it's amazing they haven't become a main course yet. I take back everything I've ever said about TWD's Carl wandering off like a idiot. These kids, they're morons. And they're older. There's no excuse for any of them to act as irresponsibly as they are in these situations. I want to support the Walking Dead universe, I do, but my tolerance for stupid has been reached.

I started my reading rush with Sherrilyn Kenyon, because it gets my eyes warmed up and my brain in reading mode. After pouring through Fantasy Lover and The Guardian, I was ready to branch out into something beyond paranormal romance.

Next up was Hunter by Mercedes Lackey. I've read, well, a shelf worth of her books, though it's been a long, long time. So when this turned up on the top of my daughter's stack of books she brought home from her book club, I grabbed it out of curiosity. Would I still enjoy her writing? Tons of world building here and an interesting point of view in the girl main character that goes a smidge too third wall for my taste, yet it was an enjoyable foray into YA fantasy, and I'm looking forward to the next book.

Then I tried to get into a cyberpunk novel, but after a couple days of attempting to get to a point where the story grabbed me, there came a point where I had to admit that it just wasn't working for me, despite that I've enjoyed other novels by this author before. I may hang on to it and try again in a few months when I'm in a different mindset.

Next on my stack was Karen Marie Moning's The Highlander's Touch. I spent an enjoyable day of reading your typical portal romance and delivered reliably the quality experience I've come to expect from this author when I'm in the mood for a little highlander flavor. And while I was at it, a couple weeks later, discovered I had another book from the same series so I flew through Spell of the Highlander as well. I do enjoy her plucky heroines and their humor. And now I find myself thinking in the Scottish tone she uses in her books. Guess I better read something else to wash the Scot away.

Ever have one of those nights when you should go to sleep, but instead grab a book, and then realize you've read it before, but you stay up half the night and read it again anyway? Yeah, I did that. I think I've gone through all the Sherrilyn Kenyon in all my stacks now. Maybe. I haven't checked my writing room stack and I probably shouldn't. Devil May Cry was just as enjoyable the second time around.

Next up was Christine Feehan's Dark Storm. Which wasn't in any of my stacks, but was at the book store on sale while I was there doing a job. Damn you sale racks. I need to get out of my paranormal romance rut. But I did appreciate that this book, while one of the Carpathian Novels, was a bit different than her usual formula. I like different.

Okay so the next book I read will not be paranormal romance. Really. And I need to stay out of the bookstore.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

So Many Projects

With the frenzy of April behind me, I've had time to get all three novel drafts for the The Narvan sent off to my publisher and do a fairly major overhaul of Sipper, a long sci-fi short story. Today's plan is to get that off into submissions. But then that leaves at a crossroads of far too many choices.

Sahmara, a fantasy novel, is on the radar for self publishing - which means I'll need to devote time to editing and formatting and cover art. It's had time to rest after a heavy round of critiques and edits so my eyes will be fresh again, however...

Interface has been haunting me through my daughter's disapproving looks every time I mention that I'm working on something other than the YA sci-fi that I dove into last November and then set aside on in favor of writing Bound in Blue (The Narvan: Book 3). Oops. Sorry.

I'd love to get back to Not Another Bard's Tale, which I left hanging without a middle in 2009. Working on a silly fantasy novel would be a good pick me up for this very random spring we're having. It's the middle of may and it's currently in the low 40s. It actually snowed nearby last night. In May. The weekend before it was nicely in the 70s. Michigan weather is known for being random, but this is a little too over the top.

And then there are a host of short stories that need work. My submission pile is dry and needs refilling.

So many projects... Which to work on while I await the first round of edits on Trust?

Monday, May 9, 2016

A to Z Reflections 2016

Another April A to Z has come to a close. (Thank goodness)
I picked the least graphic photo.
You're welcome. And yes,
it really did hurt like hell,
but I turn into a comedian
when bad things happen. Don't
sit next to me at funerals.

April brought all sorts of interruptions to my intended writing productiveness. The first of which, on the eve of A to Z, was accidentally slicing off the tip of my index finger while making dinner. Not the best thing to do with a month of off the cuff blogging ahead of me. Mashing the keys with my giant gauze-wrapped finger didn't go so well and, for the first week or so, put be behind as far as visiting other blogs because it was just frustrating and painful to type.

While that was healing, the machine that is one of my primary income sources for my business decided to act up and behave like a two year old being force-fed an all vegetable dinner. For three long days I was covered in blue ink - no, seriously, my hands and arms looked like I'd violently murdered every single smurf that may have ever existed - while I played equipment tech and finally tracked down the faulty part and replaced it.

Which put me three full days behind on production, meaning I was working a lot of overtime trying to catch back up during one of our busiest months. One the whole, the work aspect of April was incredibly stressful and didn't allow me the time and energy I'd hoped for as far as spending time writing story starts. I still managed to do them all, just not as in depth or on time as I had wanted to.

On the more exciting side of things that distracted me from A to Z this year, was emailing back and forth to discuss a deal with my publisher that resulted in a three book contract for my space opera series, The Narvan.

But I made it through and wrote 26 short story starts, one of which became a full story. I visited blogs, made blog friends, and had a lot of laughs while reading some hilarious posts in a month that I really needed some stress relief.

What would I do differently next year? Write half the posts in advance. Having done posts both ways, each for two years, I'm ready to go with a combination and give myself a little slack. I'd love to continue with the short stories based on words visitors provide, but I'd also probably do some posts on random things to break them up, maybe every other day.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to stop by, some of you each and every day, and for all the words you so generously offered to inspire me. I hope you'll continue to hang around.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Guest Post by Author Susan A Royal

Today I welcome, Susan A Royal, author of the newly released, Xander's Tangled Web.

I've read Susan's Not Long Ago, and greatly enjoyed her time travel tale. I hope you'll enjoy her books too.

                                                  ~ • ~
When Princess Mena vanishes without a trace, Xander must deal with gypsies, love potions and half-truths before unraveling the mystery.
                                                  ~ • ~

After a late night visit to Battington’s marketplace, Princess Mena vanishes without a trace. Merchants are frantic, because King Leander has called for a curfew and postponed the Spring Festival
until further notice. Certain his former constable is the man for the job, the mayor hires Xander to investigate, hoping he can solve the mystery in a hurry so things can go back to normal. But Xander’s not so sure that’s possible, because there’s romance involved, and he knows when that happens folks who are normally very sensible seem to lose all reason. In addition to sorting out truths, half-truths and outright lies, he must deal with gypsies, love potions and an illegal moonshine operation before he gets to the bottom of things.

Find more about Susan and her books:
Xander’s Tangled Web (fantasy, mystery)

In My Own Shadow (fantasy, adventure, romance)

Not Long Ago (time travel, adventure, romance)
Not Long Ago book trailer

All books available at MuseItUp, Amazon, B&N, Goodreads
And you can find more about Susan at her website or her blog.

Born in west Texas and raised in south Texas, Susan makes her home in a 100-year-old farmhouse in a small east Texas town. She shares it with a ghost who likes to harmonize with her son when he plays guitar.
She is married and the mother of six (she counts her children’s spouses as her own) and five grandchildren who are all unique and very special. Her family is rich with characters, both past and present. Her grandmother shared stories of living on a farm in Oklahoma Territory with three sisters and three brothers and working as a telephone
operator in the early 20 th century. Her father told her about growing up in San Antonio in the depression, and she experienced being a teenager during WWII through her mother’s eyes.

When she isn’t writing, she works as a secretary in education and does her best to keep up with her grandchildren. Music and painting are two of her passions. She is a firm believer in getting what you want without breaking the bank. She loves to bargain shop anywhere there’s a sale and began repurposing long before it was popular. She paints,
crafts and sews. Her office/craft/sewing room is littered with her latest projects.

Susan loves to take her readers through all kinds of adventures with liberal doses of
romance. So far, she’s written two books in her It’s About Time series, Not Long Ago and
From Now On. They are time travel adventures with romance about two people who fall
in love despite the fact they come from very different worlds. In My Own Shadow is a
Fantasy adventure/romance. Out this fall is her YA fantasy, Xander’s Tangled Web.
Look for her books at MuseItUp/Amazon/B&N. You can also find Odin’s Spear, one of
her short stories featured in a Quests, Curses, and Vengeance anthology, Martinus
Publishing, available on Amazon.

Want to know more? Visit or
for a peek inside this writer’s mind and see what she’s up to. You never know what new
world she’s going to visit next.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

May IWSG and a Happy Annoucement

Is it really the first Wednesday of the month again? Where did April go? Oh yes, it was a blur of A to Z blogging.

Which would typically bring me to A Story a Day in May, my annual attempt to refill my short story file with rough drafts. However, after a month of exchanging emails with my publisher, the contract I'd been waiting for finally arrived in my inbox. What contract you might ask?

I'm happy to announce that the first three books in my space opera series, The Narvan, will be published with Caffeinated Press.

I don't have a publishing schedule yet, but I will share that information when it becomes available. First up will be Trust, which has had a very long journey. I'm excited to finally share this story with a wider audience than my critique group.

So what happened to my short story effort? Well, I'm busy learning Markdown, which is what my publisher is now using for edits. What better way to learn it than my doing a quick revision of the drafts of the second and third books? The formatting is pretty straightforward and things are plugging right along. Which means I should soon be back to revising Sipper - which is a short story, albeit a long short story, for an end of the month anthology submission deadline. Once that's out of the way, I'm hoping to get back into the spirit of things and either churn out some new drafts or revisit some of the many drafts I have in my folder from the past two years that I still haven't gotten to.

While I revise and celebrate, I invite you to stop back on the 6th for an interview with author
Susan Royal about her newest book.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

A to Z: The final story start

After a long two days at a science tournament with my daughter, I'm finally back with the final entry for the A to Z short story beginning.

I spent a good portion of our school bus ride full of young science kids with my partner in snark and fellow team mom, Debra. We passed the miles by chatting while the kids and other parents did their best not to annoy the slightly retentive bus driver, who while a sweet woman, may have benefited from a valium before we set out across the state. One of conversations we had was about names and the perils of autocorrect. What follows is a partially true story.

Z story:
Debra finished the last two sentences of her scathing resignation letter, signed it and hit send. She'd been the victim of one of many of her bosses zingers. He thought they were the funniest things on earth, just the byproduct of his zany humor, but no one in the office found being the butt of his jokes funny. Especially not her, and yesterday's comment about her zipper in front of the entire office was the last straw.
If that guy was a zombie, she'd be first in line to knife him in the eye, but good references were hard to come by so she had to do this the right way, and he wasn't undead, and the police frowned upon stabbing co-workers. Maybe she'd finish up her two weeks and go work at her sister's zip-line business. Strapping in tourists willing to drop a hundred bucks for half an hour of treetop thrills didn't sound so bad. Sure beat sitting at a desk all day, checking email and generating reports.
Her inbox chimed. She opened the speedy reply to her letter only to find a row of laughing emoticons. Confused she skimmed her email only to have her stomach drop when she reached the bottom. For a moment she seriously considered crawling under her desk. In haste to send off her letter, she hadn't noticed her name being autocorrected. Who on earth was going to anything Zebra Jones said seriously? No one. All the pent up frustration she'd channeled into her letter had been wasted, and now she'd never live down a barrage of zebra memes sure to come her way any second.