Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The 11 Best Books I Read in 2015

I read and read and read.  Reading books on my phone has become one of my favorite non-writing past times.  Using my subscription to Scribd, I read, on average, 4 or 5 books a month.

Going through my Scribd Library, I read some great books, some okay books, and some that I never finished.  Here are the 11 best books I read this past year.  I gave all these books 4 stars or higher on Goodreads.

No particular order.  I kept series together.  Enjoyed them all.

Clockwork Heart (Clockwork Heart, 1) by Dru Pagliassotti
Clockwork Lies: Iron Wind (Clockwork Heart, 2) by Dru Pagliassotti
Clockwork Secrets: Heavy Fire (Clockwork Heart, 3) by Dru Pagliassotti
Calling On Fire (Fire and Stone, 1) by Stephanie Beavers
The Watcher’s Keep (The Triadine Saga, 1) by Timothy Bond
The Dragon Rises (The Triadine Saga, 2) by Timothy Bond
Riddle in Stone (The Riddle in Stone, 1) by Robert Evert
Betrayal in the Highlands (The Riddle in Stone, 2) by Robert Evert
Blood in Snow (The Riddle in Stone, 3) by Robert Evert
The First Dragon (The Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica, 7) by James A. Owen
Warrior (The Blades of the Rose, 1) by Zoe Archer

Worth mentioning:
Fire Within (Fire and Stone, 2) by Stephanie Beavers
Just finished it.  Well done.

My taste in books leans heavily towards fantasy of some sort, as indicated above.  I do sometimes forget to add books that I’m reading to Goodreads.  But, I get them there eventually.  And I do tweet about books I read—what I’m reading, what annoys me, what I like, etc.

Recommend a book for my 2016 reading pleasure in the comments, on Google+, or on Twitter.  I’ll add it to my to read library on Scribd.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Top 10 Favorite Songs of 2015 (with vids)

I discovered so many new songs this year.  Which ones kept the best company while I wrote, panicked, and danced in the kitchen?  I pared it down to the top ten songs on my phone’s playlist.

10.  Angel of Small Death & the Codeine Scene by Hozier  (Hozier)

9.  I Am by Awolnation  (Run)

8.  Smoke and Mirrors by Imagine Dragons  (Smoke and Mirrors)

7.  Black Cadillac by Shinedown  (Threat to Survival)

6.  Drown by Bring Me the Horizon  (That’s the Spirit)

5.  Ghost of Muskegon by Pop Evil  (Up)

4.  Ten Tonne Skeleton by Royal Blood  (Royal Blood)

3.  Could Have Been Me by The Struts  (Have You Heard)

2.  Superpower by X Ambassadors  (VHS)

1. Human Race by Three Days Grace  (Human)

Honorable Mentions:
Landmine by Three Days Grace
I Am Machine by Three Days Grace
Run by Bring Me the Horizon
Footsteps by Pop Evil
Who We Are by Imagine Dragons
Renegades by X Ambassadors

I think I might lean heavily towards rock.  Any suggestions for discovery in 2016?

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Shhhh… Whispers Is Coming

Magical manipulation—the anti-imperialists’ advantage over the Empire.

“Imagine an unknown, unseen entity watching your every move, listening to your every word….”

Can the Whispers be stopped before the anti-imperialists invade every corner of the world in-between the portals?

Whispers, Book 4 of the World In-between Epic Fantasy Series Releases Dec 23rd

The book that almost didn’t.

Originally, Whispers was supposed to be out in October.  Deadlines zoomed past.  My characters weren’t ready to be finished with this one.  Even on the way to the final plot point, they took a detour.  But thanks to my sheer determination to make the year’s final deadline and an even bigger thanks to my editor and betas for getting through it on turbo, Whispers just edged under the wire.

Let’s break Whispers down by the numbers:

1  Word title: Whispers

2  Pens to ink the first draft

4  th Book of the World In-between fantasy series

6  Pieces of masking tape to mend my series note keeping folder

18  Months from start to finish (with other writing in-between and life and stuff)

24  Chapters with titles like: Accident Training, Into the Fog, and For the Betterment of the Empire.  Sacrifice, A Magical Misadventure, and The New Normal did not make the cut.

80  Pages of handwritten manuscript

94  Thousand words

371  Pages of pure book

Now that all the book needs is for all the retailers to produce pre-release product pages (looking at you, B&N), I thought I’d do a little relaxing.  I haven’t quite decided what I wanted to do first. 
Here are my selections:

Fallout 4
Planetside 2
Hot cookie gorging
Binge watch tv shows
Catch up on movies
Deck the halls

Here is what I have done so far:

Read the forward to Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
Played Decipher Me on my phone
Thought about the second installment of my Fantam Squad serial
Continued writing Hope, Book 5 of the World In-between series
Forgot to buy ink refills at the store the other day

However I decide to relax over the next week or two, I know these to be a certainty:  I will disregard any outlines I may have written.  Hot chocolate will pass my lips.  And I will watch for snow, waiting for winter to begin.


Whispers can be pre-ordered at Amazon, Kobo, Google Play, Apple iTunes, Barnes & Noble

Thursday, October 29, 2015

What's This? What's This?

There's a book on my desk!

Disturbance, the thriller anthology from Laurel Highlands Publishing, arrived today via UPS.  And inside:

My story, All That Lies, is on page 73.

When shots riddle her house and her husband, Lacy discovers her life of lies and needs all the strength she can muster to hold on to the truth.

Disturbance is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Google Play, Apple, etc.

Monday, September 28, 2015

The World In-between Boxed

The first three books of the World In-between series, The World In-between, Bow of the Moon, and Secrets of the Sages have been boxed together in preparation for this year’s release of book four, Whispers.

The World In-between Series follows the life of a modern man who enters a portal, discovering the realm of magic where myths, lore, and fairy tales reside.

Book 1: The World In-between

Berty Chase gets caught in the battle for magic, invoking ancient magic that changes his life and the lives of those around him forever.

Book 2: Bow of the Moon

Trying to restore order in the Empire causes Berty to join the race for the legendary Bow of the Moon and its bearer.

Book 3: Secrets of the Sages

Revealing ancient magical secrets begins to unravel the world as Berty knows it, possibly losing everything and everyone he loves.

The World In-between Series Books 1, 2, and 3 box set is only available as an e-book at Amazon

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Poetry Wednesday 16 Sept 2015

“Please Do Not Weep”

From: Breaking The Silence
by Diamante Lavendar

Do not feel
Like a wave that is tossed;

Do not weep
By yourself, so alone;

For I am with you,
Soon you will be Home.

The things of this world
Are transient and brief;

I will be your comfort,
Your ease and your peace;

Notice the good
And perceive not the bad;

Observe what you’ve learned,
The lessons you’ve had;

For everything you’ve been through
Has come at a cost;

There is good in the bad,
You have won and not lost.

I have set you here, love,
And you shall I keep;

Do not lose hope,
And please do not weep.

Find Diamante Lavendar:

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

I Am a Short Story Machine

Okay, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration.  But, for me, crafting three short stories in one year, while I write a subplot heavy novel, is a triumph of pen prowess.

My latest takes place in the real, modern world.  All That Lies focuses on a woman who has been tossed into the crosshairs of two competing global organizations.  When shots riddle her house and her husband, she discovers her life of lies and needs all the strength she can muster to hold on to the truth.

This story is for Laurel Highlands Publishing’s thriller anthology, Disturbance.  When thinking about what to write for the anthology, I consulted my Story Ideas Folder.

That folder holds pieces of paper on which I have written general ideas, outlines, first lines, skeletal scenes, and other story related stuff (technical term).  After leafing through, I pulled a sheet from the file.  The first story I began writing didn’t want to work within a 3,000 to 5,000 word limit.  It wanted to be longer, so I put it aside.  Then, I started a psychological thriller from another paper.  It needed more inner character development than the word limit could provide.

The third had the whole story sketched on one sheet of paper with characters named guy x and guy y.  When I began to write it, I deviated from the outline.  The middle became the beginning of the story and the ending details changed.

For a while, I panicked, wondering whether or not I would finish after starting thrice.  Once I set down the pen, I celebrated with a little pew, pew, die, repeat on Planetside 2.  All That Lies has returned from the editor with only a few fixes to make, then it’s off to anthology land.

Disturbance is set to release October 27th.  Watch this blog for all the gory details.  I link here from Google+ and Twitter.  Circle and follow!

Friday, July 31, 2015


You can’t write an epic fantasy series without having a sense of history.  The histories and other backgrounds are not always explored in the main books.  Thank goodness for companion stories.

The Dragonlands is a World In-between Series companion story that tells the story of how the Dragonlands came to be filled with Dragons.

The short story provides a background for events in Book 1 (The World In-between) of the series and converges with Book 4 (Whispers), which will be released later this year.

The Dragonlands includes a bonus sneak peek of Whispers (The World In-between Book 4) and an overview of the series as a whole with glimpses of Books 5 and 6 of the series.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Friday Night Reads – Secrets of the Sages Edition

An excerpt from Secrets of the Sages Book 3 of the World In-between Series for #FridayNightReads

A little set-up and background: The World In-between Series is a portal fantasy.  Portals connect the modern, mundane world to a magical one.  Most have no idea the portals exist.  Modern-day man, Berty Chase, lives a secret life in the magical world.  Only his six-year-old niece, Hope, knows.  However, his worlds are about to collide and not in the way Berty would have liked.

Hope spent the summer with her uncle Berty in the Land of Sages and it is time for her to go home to her life in the modern world.


At dinner, Hope ate quietly.  Her melancholic mood troubled Berty.  When she caught him staring, she asked, “Do I have to go back to school?”
“Yes, you do.”
She pushed food around with her fork.  “I hate school,” she muttered.
“I’m sure your mom and dad will let you come back some weekends,” he said trying to lift her spirits.
“I know,” she said.  “I just didn’t wanna have to…”
“I have a feeling this year is going to be different,” he told her with a little smile.
She sighed, then returned Berty smile.  When she finished eating, she climbed the staircase with Freesia.
He did not know what to do.  All the magic in the world would not make her like school or make the children within it not tease her.  His heart broke.  She wanted to stay as much as she wanted to see her parents.  When he finally tore his eyes from the stairs, he noticed Obie’s eyes were still glued to them.
Silvia was a wonderful woman.  She understood or at least empathized.  He liked her suggestion of sparring in the training room.
After changing his clothes, he took his stance.  He held his sword while focusing on the dummy on the floor.  “Begin,” he said.  The dummy did not move.  “Begin,” he commanded.  Nothing stirred.  “Begin!” he shouted.  The dummy remained a lifeless lump.
He screamed in frustration.  Disappointed that he did not get a sort of live sparring partner, he turned the crank on the wall.  A dummy hanging from the ceiling swung into the center of the room.
Unsatisfactorily, Berty released his frustrations on the defenseless form.  After removing his padding, he walked through the tree.  As he crossed the bridge, he saw Obie leaving Hope’s chambers.  “Goodnight, my Lord,” the boy said as he passed.
When Berty entered, Hope was coming down the steps.  Melancholy had been washed away.  “I finished my painting for Mommy and Daddy,” she announced.  “It has to dry overnight.”
He peeked at the colorful two-dimensional Empire Tree diorama.  “They are going to love it,” he told her.
She smiled.  As she pushed an errant brown curl out of her face, Berty noticed something on her thumb.
“What’s that?” he asked.
“A ring.”  Hope held it out for her uncle to see.  “Obie made it.”  The light wood had reddish and dark wood petal-esque inlays that made it look like a flower.  “Declan helped him.”  Gazing at it, she smiled.
Berty made a mental note to speak with Declan later.  “That’s nice,” he said.  “Do you have everything you’re bringing with you ready to go?”
“Almost,” said Hope.  “Can I bring my Fairy Dust?”
Staring at his niece, he did not know how to answer.  “I wouldn’t show your parents.  They won’t understand Fairy Dust.”  He thought that Teresa would make her leave her bow at his house.  “Ask Delyth at breakfast if it will even work on the other side of the portal.”
“Oh.  I didn’t think of that.  Okay, Uncle Berty, I will.”  Hugging him, she said goodnight.
Silvia’s smile was the sunshine in the morning rain.  Warm raindrops pelted his hood while they walked breakfast.
“Obie gave Hope a wooden ring he made,” he mentioned to Silvia.  “Should I be concerned?”
Laughing, Silvia replied, “They’re kids.  And they have become good friends.  If it were ten years from now, I’d be concerned that he did not ask you first.  It’s a lovely token of friendship.”
Hope and Obie had been through plenty together.  She was not the only one experiencing changes in life.  Silvia always gave the proper perspective.
At the breakfast table, Hope laughed.  He was going to miss the jovial environment that she brought to the Empire Tree.  Fun Uncle Berty who came and went was not going to cut it after her summer with him.
He waited while Hope hugged everyone, saying goodbye.  “This was the best summer ever, Uncle Berty,” she said as they climbed the stairs.
“I’m glad you could spend it with me,” he said, smiling.  She latched onto his waist when they entered her leafy green bundle.  Silvia and Freesia followed them into her chambers.
“Are you ready?” Berty asked.  Hope’s curls bounced as she nodded.  “Freesia, you could meet her parents.  Do you have something that will disguise your folded Fairy wings?  Besides your cloak.”
“Yes, my Lord.”
Both Freesia and Hope hurried upstairs.  Giving Silvia a smile, he climbed the steps with her.
Freesia emerged from her room wearing a soft pink vest over her blouse.  Entering Hope’s, she said, “I’ll carry your bag.”
With a bow and quiver attached to her body, Hope walked into the hall with the box Delyth gave her.  In her other hand, she carried the painting for her parents.  Behind her, Freesia held a small bag.
“After you,” Berty said.  Hope and her Fairy Godmother stepped into the tapestry.  With Silvia’s hand in his, they crossed through the portal.
Silvia escaped to the third floor to change while Berty knocked on Hope’s open bedroom door.  Lightning flashed through the windows.  Thunder rumbled shortly after.
“I can’t show them in a thunderstorm,” said Hope.  She sounded disappointed.
“As soon as the rain clears,” said Berty.  “I’m going to change, then I’ll help you bring all your stuff to the foyer.”
Freesia kept all of Hope’s things organized.  Clothes stayed in one area while school supplies were confined to another.  When the last of Hope’s belongings rested in the foyer, the four of them headed to the kitchen for lunch.
Silvia was instructing the kitchen when the doorbell rang.  “Mommy and Daddy!”  Hope jumped off the kitchen chair.
Following his niece, he reminded her not to answer the door.  Reaching the stained glass front door, he turned its brass handle.  Berty came face-to-face with a man who was not his brother.
He quickly studied the man’s crisp pinstripe suit and neat, black, tight, curly hair.  “Can I help you?”  Hope stood behind Berty, holding onto his shirt.
“Mister Hubert Chase?” the man said.
Berty nodded.
“I am Lawrence Trane from Silverman and Trane.”  He handed Berty his card.
Berty glanced at the business card.  “You’re a lawyer.”
“We represent Chase Technologies as well as Jonathan and Teresa Chase,” said Lawrence.
His stomach dropped.  Opening his mouth, he could not get it to form words.
“Is there somewhere private we can talk?” Lawrence asked.
“Yes.  I’m sorry.  Come in.”  Berty stepped aside so the man could enter.  “Hope, go back in the kitchen and stay there.”
Berty led Lawrence into the sitting room.  “Please, have a seat.”  He closed the pocket door, then sat across from the stranger in his home.
“Mister Chase, there is no good way to tell you this,” Lawrence began.  “Your brother and sister-in-law did not make their flight today.  It seems as though that they are lost in Africa.”
“They never returned from their safari,” answered Lawrence.
“Mister Silverman is with your parents, George and Kate Chase, and Teresa’s parents, Robert and Lillian Regnik.  They are meeting with an official from the State Department,” Lawrence explained.  “They are following all the proper procedures to find Jon and Teresa.”
“I see.”
“Which leads me to why I am here.  Teresa set up a contingency plan.”  Lawrence opened his briefcase.  “In the event they did not return in time, you get legal temporary custody of their daughter, Hope.”  He placed a stack of papers on the coffee table.  “So she can go to school, the doctor, things like that.”
Staring at the papers, he rubbed his eyebrow.  “School,” he swallowed, “of course.”
“You also have temporary control of Chase Technologies with your father, George.”
“I know nothing about the business,” he admitted.
Lawrence continued, “Temporary means six months.  After that time, if they are not found, you get full guardianship of your niece.  All of their assets would be put in trust for Hope of which you would manage until she turns twenty-one.”  Berty looked blankly into his dark eyes.  “Mister Chase, I need you to sign these papers.”  He placed the pen on the table.
Picking up the pen, Berty asked, “Can they be found?”
Lawrence’s steely exterior softened.  “I don’t know.  Your brother is a good man.  I’ve known him for years.  Be assured that we are exploring all avenues open to us.”
Nodding, Berty asked, “Where do I sign?”  He scribbled his name everywhere Lawrence indicated.
After Berty received his copies, he walked the man to the door.  “I hope we don’t meet like this again,” said Lawrence.  “You will know when we know.”
Berty shook his hand.  Opening the door, he could barely see the tree lined street through the deluge.  Thunder cracked as he closed the door.
When he walked into the kitchen, Hope asked, “Will Mommy and Daddy be here soon?”  Lightning flashed in the windows.
How could he tell her in the best possible way?  “Hope,” he sat down, “Mommy and Daddy won’t be back for a while.”
“Why not?”
“They are missing, but people are looking for them,” he answered.  “Until they come home, you’ll stay here.  And you will go to a new school.”
Tears wanted to burst from her eyes at any moment.  “How long until they find them?”
“I don’t know.”
She ran to him.  As he comforted her, he did not want to think about the horrors of what might have happened to them.  The responsibility he now had weighed heavily on him.


Want to read more? Find Secrets of the Sages and the entire series on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iTunes, Google Play, and Smashwords.  (The first 3 books of the series is 75% off at Smashwords through July and on sale on Google Play through August.)

Thursday, June 4, 2015

The Kitty of Summer

Being in the picture is not as fun as playing with the phone

When I wasn’t looking, summer smacked us across the face.  It’s 80 degrees outside and my windows are open.  I sleep with the ceiling fan revolving above me.  The cats spring from window to window in the early morning, spying on birds.

Birds start their incessant chirping about 4 am.  The sky lightens above the northeastern edge of the ridge around 4:30.  Oranges and pinks poke through the strange blue sometime after 5.  And the cats pretend that their paws don’t thunder on the carpet covered, old, wood floors.

After running around knocks them out, my cat—who found me—sprawls on the cool tile bathroom floor.  He watches to see if I’m going to get up yet.  Once I do, he paws at my slippers as I try to find a place for my feet near the sink.

During the warmer weather, I wear thong sandals around the house.  This saves my cat from having to help me tie my shoes.  He follows me into the hall.  And by follow, I mean walks ahead of me or between my feet, guessing where I’m heading.

He grabs hold of the top riser of the staircase.  His head bobbles like one those dashboard dolls.  With a wild glint in his eyes, his ears flatten slightly.  I give him as wide of a berth as the top of the stairs will allow.  He plops down the stairs after me.

My black and white kitty will walk with me into my office to check my email.  He’ll race to the kitchen to be fed.  As he waits, he and the other male cat will play paw each other in the face.  After eating, he’ll attempt to spill the water out of the dish as I set it down with new, cool water.

He’ll chase a twist tie across the kitchen floor as water fills the coffee pot.  Coffee beans grind.  He slides on the carpetless floor, sprinting to get away.  Pounding echoes through the house.  He’s upstairs, possibly playing with my bed skirt.

Later, I’ll find him sitting at my feet as I write or curled in the corner of my bedroom that he claimed.  He’s an indoor cat now, and he loves every minute of it.

A few years ago, I found him meowing around my house.  I was in my office with the windows open when I heard the meows.  My small town has its share of cats, both domestic and feral.  I looked out my window to see this skinny little kitten struggle to walk towards the windows.  He made his way to the alley and I was afraid that he would fall into a window well.

Rushing to the back door, I flipped on the back porch light.  I ran down the alley, peeking into the window wells for this scrawny kitten.  I didn’t find him.  I followed the path to my back yard.  The little black and white cat ran to me from the other side of the house.  He meowed with every step.

Purring at my legs, he looked like he hadn’t eaten in a while.  Luckily, having two other cats, I had cat food.  I set water and food in plastic containers on the cement.  He ate all of it.  Around his neck, I noticed a flea collar.  He had to belong to somebody.  It started to rain and I couldn’t leave him outside.

In the mudporch, an old pillow in a box made a bed.  With a makeshift litterbox and some more food and water, he came inside.  He did not mingle with the other pets.  The dogs sniffed the door to the mudporch.  They knew he was there.

I gave him a dewormer as I called vets and shelters, looking to see if anyone had reported a missing kitten.  No one had.  I spoke to the local cat committee, in case they knew of any.  A found pet announcement went in the paper.  No one claimed him.

He was sweet.  He would cling to my leg so I wouldn’t leave him.  But he wasn’t steady.  He walked funny.  I thought that maybe he was hit by a car.  His head would bobble while he sat.

I took him to a cat clinic for all necessary shots and the like.  He had wobbly kitten syndrome (feline cerebellar hyposplasia).  It’s a neurological disorder in cats similar to cerebral palsy.  The vet figured that someone brought him out to the country and dropped him off possibly because of it.  He said that it’s a common occurrence and the too big flea collar was to ease guilt.

Now that he’s older, he is less clumsy.  He doesn’t run into as many things anymore.  However, he can’t really jump on anything that isn’t upholstered.  Beds and couches are fine.  Windowsills and radiator covers not so much.  An old ottoman has been pushed next to a window for his viewing pleasure.

He knows the other two cats can out jump him.  That doesn’t deter him.  He’s fast and can get himself under furniture where only the shaking of a bag of treats can weasel him out.  Every evening, he purrs on the couch with me while watching the tv.  He’s fond of the shopping networks, cooking shows, and watching the numbers climb as the Roku loads the next program.

When it thunders, he hides under the bed.  When it rains, he smells the air.  When a motorcycle roars down the street, he sits at the floor length window.  When he accidently finds himself on the back porch, he runs back inside.  When I go up the back stairs, he bounds up the front.  Meeting me at the top, he darts down the hall.

My constant companion helps me with the laundry.  He helps me dust, yet scrams when it comes to vacuuming.  If I’m searching for something, he is looking too.  He announces his presence with one of his versions of meow and touches his nose to mine to say hello.  I hope summer will be as considerate.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Short Story News: Across the Kármán Line

Sector Three-Three in Across the Karman Line

My short story, Sector Three-Three, is going to be in Laurel Highlands Publishing's next anthology, Across the Kármán Line.

Vace has a dream—to get to space.  At the moment, she is a kreel well worker with a past she’d rather forget.  An incident at the kreel lines forces her to face her past and tempt her fate.

Across the Kármán Line

In space, fate rests in the hands who created the craft.  Wits and creative risk separate life from death while navigating the three-dimensional sea or marooned on an alien planet.  The trust between captain and crew unifies a mission.  And sometimes, the final take-off is the hardest.

Across the Kármán Line will be released 19 May 2015.  Ebook pre-orders are available at AmazonBarnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple iTunes, and Google Play.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Sometimes, You Just Can’t Help It

To be cliché, I’ve been writing up a storm—even during a storm.  Pages of edge to edge ink have been stacking quickly atop my manuscript pile.  My pen only paused to do some research and take a few notes.  Whispers (The World In-between, book 4) is coming along well.  These last few scenes I’ve been writing are so much fun.

I typically write Whispers, as well as others, far from the distraction of my computer.  When I’m sitting in front of the keyboard, I type.  Supposedly, typing the piles of pages that form my manuscripts.  However, I recently opened a new file.  And, I began to type something different.

I couldn’t help myself.  The idea just came to me.  It’s going to be a science fiction short story for the anthology Across the Kármán Line.  I wasn’t going to write a story for it.  I told myself I didn’t have the time.  I have other books to finish.

But, here I am.  Writing a story I wasn’t going to write directly on the computer where I don’t write stories.

The tentative title may change at some point.  The female main character has a mysterious past that she’d rather keep in the past.  She wants to achieve her derailed dream any way she can.  If it means turning in or teaming up with the male main character, then she’ll do it—as long as it gets her into space.

At the rate I’m going, I’ll hit the 10,000 word upper limit soon.  Typing a story directly takes me a tad longer than scribbling on paper, but I’m up for the creative challenge.  Because, sometimes, I just can’t help it.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

How to Achieve My 2015 Plans

January is a good month to evaluate and re-evaluate.  I don’t know about you, but the cadence of falling snow helps me think.  Not that my mountain rural community has had much … yet.  Snow or no, I’ve never been one to make resolutions.  Deviating from convention, my system of doing things has always been a little different.  Even the process I use to write my books sways away from the norm.

As I fill out this year’s calendar, I am finding that not everything I did last year will fit.  The things that I need to accomplish are taking me down a different path than the one on which I currently stand.

2015 Plans

  1. Read as much as possible.  

    I tend to read books that strike my fancy in cover and description.  The majority of the books I pick up are fantasy of some kind, but I like to read most genres.  What keeps me going to the very end are good, solid characters.  Without them, the plot is lost, and so I am.

  2. Have 3 books published.  

    Yes, I said three.  The specific three are the fourth installment of my fantasy series, a contemporary fantasy, and the continuation of the short story that is begging to be urban paranormal.  Whispers, The World In-between book 4, is coming along.  Check back during the year for updates and perhaps an excerpt or two.  My contemporary fantasy is staying under wraps for now, but I can divulge that it has plenty of magic, action, and romance.  The short story, The Hunt, is being continued in Hunted—ghosts, ghost hunters, and a city where humans are clueless of the battle between hunters and the hunted.

  3. Get 2 others almost finished.  

    Those two are the fifth book in the series and the sequel to my space opera.  Although Whispers has first priority, I am writing book five concurrently with book four.  My pen has just begun to scribble the space opera sequel.  The Space Pirates deal with a new threat tied to the old.

  4. Accomplish some significant distance in other genres.  

    Besides the detective story I’m writing, I have a folder of story concepts waiting for the pen.  I’d like to get a couple started to diversify my repertoire.

  5. Pursue personal endeavors.

    When I am not writing, reading, or thinking about writing, I cook and bake, garden, and enjoy the arts.  Cooking and baking are great outlets for me.  I love trying new recipes as well as making family favorites.  Food grown in my yard is always tastier than grown elsewhere.  I already have my graph paper ready for planning this year’s small crop of yummies.  Once upon a time, I used to perform in musicals and plays and paint.  Now, I’m a happy spectator either at the theater or the museum if I have the time.

Achievement Strategy

  1. Renew my subscription to Scribd.

    I love reading ebooks and being able to choose what to read via a book subscription.  I’ll read best-sellers, well-known authors, unknown authors, and indie titles.  Depending on the book, it takes me a little under a week to consume a book on my smart phone.  Want to know what I’m reading, what I’ve read, and what I couldn’t finish?  Seek me out on Goodreads.  I update my status as much as possible.

  2. Start the first edit of the beginning while I’m writing the middle and the end.

    My biggest hurdle is typing.  I have yet to find a decent alternative to transcribe my scrawl to times new roman.  The best thing to do is plod along the keys, trying to minimize typos while making the best use of autocorrect.

  3. Set aside dedicated writing time for each title.

    Wordsmithing is more than just a collection of words on a page.  Word choice, word order, and word variation are deliberate processes.  Scratching out, arrows, and asterisks or numbers collect on the page.  For me to make the best use of my pen, I need relative solitude without distractions beyond barely audible music playing in the background.  My mind needs to be focused on the story in front of me.  I can’t be thinking of another story line, either mine or another’s (I also edit others’ workauthors, businesses, and students).

  4. Limit social media.

    Now, my social media footprint is relatively tiny.  However, it still creates a black hole for my time.  For every good article I come across on social media, there are tons of cat photos, cute gifs, and mindless rants.  Pointed research, while eating the same amount of time, brings more worthwhile results.  

  5. Reclaim my free time.

    Because work has gotten busier, I am walking away from activities, some of which I have been involved with for a few years or more.  Sometimes, in order to move forward, we need to let go of what keeps us static.  Paths diverge.  We must take the one that best suits our needs.  New opportunities call.

I am looking forward to what may come.  A year full of adventures awaits me.  As Robert Frost wrote, “I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.”

Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Writing Process for a Blog Post

The blank screen beckons for words to fill it.  My fingers are poised above the keys.  They wait for that little spark of inspiration.

Will it come?

What about now?

Maybe in fifteen minutes.

Okay, let’s type this.

Reread to see where I’m going.

Wow, what a bunch of crap.


Refill my teacup.  Take a few sips.  Fingers type some more.  Stare at the screen.

Will this work?

Let’s check Google for pretty pictures.

Ooh, I still have tea in my cup.  Oh, it’s cold.  Chug it and pour warm tea from the pot.

Well, this is more…  Who wants to read this?


Eh, sick of this song.  I need some new music in my playlist.

Hey, I can post this.  Save immediately.

Check for typos.

Laugh hysterically.

Read aloud.  Find more typos.

Copy.  Paste.  Preview.

Change formatting.  Preview again.

Looks good.  Publish.

Secretly hope someone reads it.