Staring at a Blank Blog Page.

For the past few days, I have spent more time than I’d like to admit staring at a blank blog page. I suppose this is far better than staring at a blank notebook page (no problems there!), but I still find it frustrating that, lately, I don’t have it in me to blog. I’m not too concerned with it, of course. In the grand scheme of things, blogging has its place, but it is not the end-all, be-all. I refuse to stress out about blogging, when I’m managing to produce the real writing content. But I do feel bad, and I feel that, every day I fail to blog, I’m missing an opportunity to make a connection with a new reader or fellow author.

At the same time, I know there will still be plenty of opportunities for that in the future. Best save myself for when I really have something to say, right? Perhaps. It’s an interesting conundrum, especially when I feel like I do have things to say, I just don’t know how to say it, nor do I feel I have enough to say on the matter to justify a whole post. Really, sometimes, all I want to say is, “Hi! I’m here. Don’t worry. I’m just chugging away in writer land, but I haven’t forgotten about blogger land, either. Hope everything is well.”

So…

Hi! I’m here. Don’t worry. I’m just chugging away in writer land, but I haven’t forgotten about blogger land, either. Hope everything is well!

In brief news, Heartless is coming along nicely, though I’ve been consistently behind about thirty pages every day. I’ll do a little catch up, and then fall back behind, but that’s okay, because it’s still coming along without any big hiccups. For a moment, I was afraid the Slayer was going to do something rash like she did when I was writing Soulless, but the sharp deviation from the outline managed to get diverted. Phew! I’ve had a few stories come back with rejections, so I’m brushing them up to send elsewhere, but I do wish I had more time for some short stories. I started whipping up this cute little romance yarn, just to test the romance chops, and it should be finished soon. Meanwhile, I think I’ve finally decided which stories to choose for World Unknown Review, and I hope to contact all the fantastic authors who participated by next week.

So, I’ve been keeping myself busy, just not with blog ideas. How about you? What have you got going on lately, blogosphere?

Over the Garden Wall.

CAN WE PLEASE TAKE A MOMENT TO DISCUSS “OVER THE GARDEN WALL“????


(Yes, it requires all-caps and bold letters).

“Over the Garden Wall” is a five-episode, ten-chapter miniseries that aired on Cartoon Network last week, and it was practically perfect in every way. It tells the tale of Wirt and Gregory, two brothers who find themselves lost in the woods, struggling to find their way back home while trying to avoid the wrath of a mysterious Beast. On the way, they meet an array of strange characters, talking animals, powerful witches, and dancing pumpkin-skeletons. The balance between the macabre and the whimsical is utterly perfect, played out with 19th century sensibilities and 1920s music and artistry. It’s a love letter to grim fairy tales and hipster aesthetics, with a nod to so many other works that I absolutely adore: a little bit of Poe, a little bit of Verne, Miyazaki and Gaiman and Scarry, oh my!.

Seriously, I’ve had “Potatoes and Molasses” stuck in my head for nearly a week now and I ain’t even mad. My boyfriend and I spent the entire final chapter with tears dripping down our faces. At one point in the finale, I actually gasped with shock, an impressive feat since I’m always analyzing things as authors do. The amazing ability to get these characters into your heart so quickly and have them linger well after the fact was just incredible. Well-crafted, well-written, well-intentioned. Just plain brilliant.

If you haven’t had a chance to watch “Over the Garden Wall” yet, I highly recommend you do. I personally can’t wait for it to come out on DVD. I can’t remember the last time I looked forward to a DVD release in this age of On-Demand and Netflix, but this is something that needs to be owned and rewatched and cherished. I’m hoping for books, too, because the art has such a simple beauty to it. If you were fortunate to catch the even, what did you think? Did you fall in love with it as we did?

So fantastic to feel this enamored with a show as I have “Over the Garden Wall,” and I even love the fact that it was given to us in one fell swoop, making us fall in love and then leaving us with that warm feeling, instead of dragging itself out for its charm to begin to fade.

Review: Seeds of Time.

“‘It was his idea of cosmic dissonance. The idea that the two realities would be inimical to each other, setting up a dissonance that would move toward resolution. That one reality would gather strength and the other diminish until the weaker one died out. Toward the end of his life he came to believe that we did have a Cousin Reality, and the mess we’ve made of the planet was evidence that our reality was losing a life-and-death struggle with our Cousin Reality…’”


Seeds of Time” by Kay Kenyon

The cover of Kay Kenyon’s 1994 sci-fi epic Seeds of Time boasts a quote from Mike Resnick touting its fast-moving plot, and, while I can’t deny that this book seemed at times to pass by as quickly as the Faster than Light hyperdrive they’re searching for in the latter half of the book, I almost wonder if it passed by a little too quickly. There’s a lot of story squeezed into one book, and yet, at the same time, not enough. I wanted a little less from this book in some aspects, and a little more in other. What I was left with was a book I enjoyed, but never felt entirely satisfied with.

It started out with so much promise. Clio Finn is one of the rare few who can Dive, which allows spaceships to drop through space and time, as the human race searches for something new to replace the dying earth. This near-future tale comes out of an oppressive society where homosexuality is prosecuted and there’s a strange Sickness infecting many people. Clio is on board a mission that discover Niang, a life rich planet that may offer a solution…if it weren’t for the fact that Niang plants consume metal, which would destroy our society and technology for good. Not only that, but there’s this ship found on Niang that contains a Faster than Light hyperdrive, just what the humans need…but they’re not the only ones who want it.

So far, a lot of good elements, but, where Seeds of Time really faltered was in the effort to connecting them all. At times, it felt like I was reading several different books. Clio was the connecting factor, but that was it. In fact, the whole thing with the Sickness and the homosexuality started out as a really big thing, but really seemed to have very little bearing on the book a a whole. I feel like it could have been completely removed and the plot wouldn’t have to be changed too much, which was a shame, because I thought that was one of the more intriguing parts of the book. All the parts were intriguing, but I just didn’t get enough of what I liked. Clio’s relationships seemed to burst into existence and fade away quicker than a firecracker, leaving nothing substantial left to stand on, and nothing seemed fully resolved when the plot moved on to something else. It left for a little bit of a disconnect, not at all helpsed by the fact that Kenyon’s style favored short fragments of sentence, which can work well at a time, but, for a book of this magnitude, was a little jarring.

Books read: 013/100.

Review: Mommy, May I?

” ‘It’s crazy how we always think we have time to tell people we know just how we feel, and then they can be gone in a heartbeat and we missed our chance.’ “


Mommy, May I?” by A.K. Alexander

We’ve all heard of Chekov’s gun, yeah? If there’s a gun in the first act, it better go off in the third act. Some authors approach this tactic with a heavy hand, knocking you out with obvious hints toward what will happen later in the book. Others seem to remember the third act but forget to actually put the gun somewhere in the first act. Mommy, May I?, a thriller from A.K. Alexander, is the latter type, a book in desperate need to Chekov’s gun, his knife, his hat, and his left shoe.

I actually quite enjoyed some of the premise behind Mommy, May I?. The antagonist starts out as a very interesting study, as we learn about him through his troubled and unusual story. It’s a solid background tale with a lot of potential, though I felt it unraveled into stereotype later on. While we learn about Richard, we also get the story of Helena Shea, a former model trying to turn her life around, give back to society, and reconnect with the daughter she had in the midst of a rocky scandal. Clearly, these two unlikely paths were bound to cross, and my attention was piqued and eager to see how they would come together. In the end, it wound up being more of a messy collision than the fine interwoven mesh I was hoping for. The pieces fit together, sure, but it was more like how you can fit a square peg into a circular hole if you jam it in hard enough. I like a finely crafted mystery, and the solutions in this one had none of the finesse I usually enjoy. In addition, I felt that there were threads of stories that weren’t really necessary, providing more of a distraction than anything else, such as the tabloid reporter with a hand in Helena’s troubles. It’s also not a good sign when the author herself has to remind you on several occasions who a character is with an epithet. I’m pretty sure 75% of the time we encounter Patrick, Helena’s lawyer, he’s described as “Patrick, Helena’s lawyer.”

Solid premise, some interesting characters, but as with so many of these books, it winds up severely lacking in the end.

Books read: 012/100.

When a Story Surprises You.

More often than not, I honestly feel like stories have a way of taking on a life of their own. A good example is Serpent in a Cage, which constantly finds itself diverting from my main idea and rewriting itself. I’m also getting small surprises as I scribble away at Heartless for NaNoWriMo, despite knowing the endgame and having an outline I’m following. So far, the surprises have been little, two characters and a really cool conversation popping up in a chapter where I wasn’t expecting them to be. That’s definitely small compared to the surprise I got when I was writing out Soulless and things went completely differently than I expected (I’d go into details, but I wouldn’t want to spoil it for anyone). So I’m really excited to see what other surprises might await me in this text.

Do you ever feel that your story throws a surprise at you? or is your writing fairly straight-forward and to the plan? Do you find it annoying when it starts to go its own way, or do you find it exciting? I’m definitely in the latter camp, especially because, sometimes, the surprises solve problems you didn’t even know you have. Or force you to try to make sense of things that now won’t work quite as well now that it’s been different.

Anyway, enough of that. Just wanted to express a little bit of nerdish glee over a story that knows how to stand up and assert itself in the face of my furious pen.

2014 NaNoWriMo Project.

I have participated in NaNoWriMo every year since I think 2005, for back when I was in college. I think? I’m pretty sure I started in college, but it’s hard to believe that it’s been around that long…and that I have consistently failed it for nearly a decade now. This year (as with every year, ahem!), I’m determined to finally get it. This year, I actually have a chance, too, as I’ve gotten much better at focusing on my writing and getting shit done since I quite my job back in March. Besides that, I have an August deadline for this book, so I’ve got a good motivation to bust out the first draft so I can start my edits and get my betas, and then do more edits, and some more, and some more still until August 15.

So what have I got in store this year? The Slayer Saga: Heartless, of course! It’s so great to return to these characters and this world after a little bit of a hiatus, and, if it sticks to the outline, fans of the first book are in for an exciting ride. I’m also pretty stoked to continue the series, and I’m off to a great start so far. According to my estimations, I’ll need to write six pages per day to really hit the 50,000 word mark by the end of the month. Got my six pages in last night, and I’m half-way there with it today. Should be finishing up chapter one and moving on to chapter two.

This book includes a return to Paravelle and old friends, a few new friends on the way, and the discovery of some more enemies (of course!). I don’t want to say too much, for those who haven’t read Soulless yet, so get on that, everyone. The Kindle version is still only 99 cents!

Who else is participating in NaNoWriMo? What can you share about your project? I’d love to know!

Happy writing!

A New Step Forward.

It’s been another strange week, folk.  There was all sorts of shenanigans for Halloween, of course, but, prior to that, despite all the stuff I wanted to get done, my time was crippled as I went into battle with a little bit of malware that wound up on my computer due to my desperate attempts to revisit the LucasArts game Day of the Tentacle (it wound up on my phone, and it’s amazing and totally worth the pain of getting it).  This has left me way, way behind on stuff, down four whole levels on HabitRPG, and in a little bit of a whirlwind as I try to figure out how I want to set things in order and proceed from here.

On the bright side, today is November 1st.  After a few months of anticipating its arrival so I could finally break ground on writing The Slayer Saga: Heartless, I feel myself emerging into something fresh and new.  It might be a new day to sort of rearrange myself and embark on things a little bit differently.  I want to focus more on the writing, since I want to win NaNoWriMo for a change, and I cant to also continue working on Madeline.  Not to mention that it’s time to really weed through the World Unknown Review submissions and get it all prepared for publication in December.  Meanwhile, as all these project present themselves, I find myself unenthusiastic about the blog.  It feels like a chore lately, one I’ve been putting off, if you couldn’t tell by the lack of posts.  So I’m reconsidering my energy, figuring I’d rather spend it on those projects than stressing out about keeping up here.  I’m not ditching it…that would be a pretty dumb move, considering how valuable the blog is to keep me connected with my readers, but I’ll definitely be posting less frequently, probably a little more randomly, whenever something strikes me or I’ll have something interesting or exciting to share.

Overall, I suspect it ill be pretty good for me to spend a little less time on the computer and a little more time in my books.  I’m really excited to bust out a lot of good stuff this month and amp up my productivity, but it may require a little give-and-take.  And that’s okay.

Happy writing, everyone! I’ll see you when I see you. :)

RoW80 Check-In: Another Late Post.

These seven and eight hour shifts are killing me. This was supposed to be a part-time, ten-hour-a-week job. It wasn’t supposed to cut into my writing time, since I want to transform this writing thing into an actual career. Yet I find myself drawn out and tired and only able to veg on my days off. I’m stuck in a little bit of an identity crisis: when I quit my last job, this is not where I found myself returning seven months later. But on the other hand, the money has been pretty damn good, all things considering, and so I’m trying to see the silver lining about how now is a good time to save as much as I can. Besides that, it’s a part time thing, while my main gig is writing, so it’s MUCH easier to not get stressed out and to just kind of enjoy my job for what it is. NaNoWriMo is only a handful of days away; I figure I can see how this goes, if I can discipline myself to bust out the rough draft for The Slayer Saga: Soulless in one month. If I pull it off, awesome, it’s just a matter of getting that time management down and making time for my writing. If not, if it’s too much, then perhaps it might be a good time to re-evaluate my current employment.

But enough of that. I should get to that RoW80 check-in I should have done yesterday.

Goal One: Madeline. It’s definitely not enough to make up for all the lost pages on this project to get it done by October 31st, but I pumped out three pages yesterday, so that was pretty awesome. The writing goes easier when there’s steamy sex scenes involved, apparently…

Goal Two: Reading. Man. Seeds of Time is draaaagging at the end, but I’m busting pretty quickly through The Alchemist’s Daughter. I started a new sci-fi/fantasy-esque book that’s been capturing my attention pretty well. I’m excited to see where it goes, though it’s a little bit slow going.

Goal Three: Short Stories. “The Lady of the Masks” returned yesterday with its third rejection…maybe fourth time’s a charm? I’ll be brushing that up, as well as working on a Jules Verne, Robinson Caruso, Typee-eque story for Ill-Considered Expeditions, although I’m considering sending them “A Song for the Underworld” if that returns from Uncanny Maganize negatory.

So, I’ve been keeping up okay, though I’m totally swamped and unable to keep up with social media, blogs, comments, or promotion. Everything’s a balancing act, right? At least I know that it’s not uncommon to constantly readjust, and I’m getting much better at managing it day-by-day, even if I can’t manage all I’d like to do.

How about everyone else out there? How are your goals going? Have you ever attempted to do something and have it morph into something completely different? That’s what life is all about.

It’s the Final Countdown!

That’s right, folks. We’ve just entered the very last week to get in your submissions for the inaugural edition of World Unknown Review, my yearly literary publication to feature all sorts of really great stories and forge forward into the publishing world. The deadline is next Friday, October 31st, so please, get those stories into me soon before it’s too late! I’d love to have a good handful more tales to consider to make WUR truly exceptional and different.

Most of you are probably thinking, “Well, I already submitted!” which is awesome, so thank you! But I know there’s a few of you still out there that might be wondering, “Why should I submit?” instead. So I’ll give you a few reasons:

1.) It’s a paying market. You’ll get a few copies of the review to share, as well as $15 if your story is chosen.
2.) It’s a great showcase for your work. The short story business is a tough one, it’s a highly saturated market, and one of the tenants of the field that they actually teach you in school is how difficult it is to break into it. But WUR is just a little baby review right now, so your chances are significantly higher than other markets at the moment. Take advantage of the opportunity to be a part of something new and exciting!
3.) It’s all about community. One of my biggest dreams for WUR is that it will take on a lifeforce of its own through the authors that have participated in it. I intend to make the ebook version pretty cheap, and the print version fairly reasonably prices as well, so that the low price will encourage people to give a chance. Let’s say Bob Writerman gets a story published, and so do you. You’re both stoked about it, and so you tell all your friends. Bob’s friends pick up a copy, because why not? So do your friends. Then Bob’s friends read your story, and think, “I really enjoyed that. I want to see more about this author…” And your friends do the same with Bob’s work. Both writers benefit from sharing the journal, and the readers now have a whole arsenal of new writers to explore and discover. It’s a beautiful thing.

So, what are you waiting for? There are no genre restrictions, no theme restriction, not even a word count restriction. I want a little bit of everything in World Unknown Review, so that every reader can find at least one thing that they’ll fall in love with inside (even better if they love the whole thing)! Don’t let time run out on this great opportunity, or else you’ll have to wait all the way until October of next year!

RoW80 Check-In: Maybe a little late…

It seems that, just when I have my world finally aligned and calibrated, something shifts and sets it off-kilter again. This last week has been a strange one for me, not because I’ve had any strange scheduling to deal with or anything like that, but just because it seems that the way I was doing things last week wasn’t working for this week. And the things I was doing the week before didn’t seem to gel well with last week. After so long of focusing on the day ahead, I now feel things have taken on the nature of changing week-by-week, as they do day-by-day. So I’ve had to refocus my energies and approach things from a different view. I’ve also adjusted a few of my goals for this month of this round of RoW80, and finally getting to put my post up, although it’s day like.

Sigh. Such is life, right? But I’m not doing too terribly on my current goals. Have a look:

Goal One: Finish Madeline. Trying to get six pages a day so far has consistently failed, so I’m going back to just one page a day, and anything extra is just bonus. I’ve been getting out about two now that I’m focusing on getting that first page out before doing anything else. I really wanted to make that six pages because I know that’s what I’ll have to do with Heartless once NaNoWriMo starts, but this is also good because it’s helping me adjust to finding what works best to ensure that I do get those six pages come November. I doubt Madeline will be finished by then, but it should be at least half-way there.

Goal Two: Short Stories. I’ve hit a bit of a stop with this one at the moment. Most of my current works are out right now, so I’m just waiting for responses. I haven’t had time to work on many new stories due to my focus on Madeline, but I’ve got a few started that I’m eager to complete once I have a bit more focus for them.

Goal Three: Reading. Reading has being going well, too, thanks to also reading a chapter first before turning on my computer. I still haven’t gotten into reading before bed again, mostly because it’s difficult to read when you’re staying up so late, you just want to fall asleep when the lights go down. I did finish Mother, May I? by A.K. Alexander, so a review of that should be coming along in the next few days.

I’m going to leave it at that, because I’m just under the wire for getting to work on time, but I figured I should rush out an entry before I do. Happy writing, everyone!

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