Friday, February 25, 2011

Blogging and Secrets

I just got finished going through my blog roll and "un-following" several blogs that seem to be inactive. Hm, it seems quite a few people have just given up on blogging. I wonder if that's because Facebook has become the new format for communicating what they used to post on blogs. Micro-blogging is what I tend to think of it as. (I guess Twitter would be nano-blogging :P.)

I, personally, am not ready to give it up. Even though there are days when I stare at the computer thinking, "Duh...what to say...what to say..." Blogging helps me organize my thoughts. It makes me feel like I'm doing something to push forward even when things aren't too active on the publishing front.

I'm kind of caught in a hold period right now. Waiting on responses to submissions. Waiting to make announcements about a secret project I got wind of a while back and for which I will definitely be a contributor. Can't tell ya about it, though.

Speaking of secrets. There's this site called "Clash of the Titles" that posts excerpts from books for readers to vote on. Each clash has a different focus, such as "most romantic" or " strongest emotion." Generally they feature published books, but once a year they do a clash between excerpts of unpublished novels.


Um, please visit them HERE, and "follow" so you can keep up to date on the UPCOMING CLASHES.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Need for Reinforcement

I've found it odd this week that I seem to be pondering a lot of the same things my fellow authors are pondering. I've written two blogs so far that have matched up somewhat with posts by Becky Minor and Ren Black. (You can find my similar posts here and here, respectively.)

Today, I visited Caprice Hokstad's blog and found her discussing her motivation for writing, which is--you guessed it--something I've been recently working around in my head to post about.

Caprice touches on the idea that without publication and readership as reinforcement we can become discouraged in our writing. I agree with this wholeheartedly. You see, I do write because I love to. Of course. Anyone writing without loving it is just torturing themselves. But I also want to be published, and YES, I admit it...I want to be paid for it.

As writers we're told that we should not feel this way. We are called to write, and write we will, no matter the lack of fame and fortune! Banish those dreams of becoming the next J.K. Rowling! Do it for the love and consider yourself lucky if you are paid for even a fraction of what you write!


I started writing because I love being lost in a story world and wanted to create a world other readers would love to be lost in. I started writing because I wanted OTHER PEOPLE to read my writing. In many ways, I feel as though there is no point in me writing if no one but me is going to read it. And for others to read it, my writing has to get published.

Now comes the money part.

Boo....hiss....bad writer....evil writer....shame on you!

Really? Is it so awful to want to get paid for what I do? I work hard at writing. I turn raw ideas into complete stories. I give you something (hopefully entertaining and thought-provoking) to read--and as a reader I know how valuable that is.

Let me say first that I am VERY grateful to the non-paying magazines that have published me. They give me readership, which is a huge reinforcement. But I'm gonna be honest--I'd like to find some serious paying markets for my short stories. That has happened with a few of my nonfiction pieces, but not my fiction. OK, yes, I did get $50 for winning Editor's Choice with "Willing Blood." But everything else has earned me either nothing or a token payment.

This is, in fact, more than a lot of writers can claim. So many spend years publishing nothing, paid or otherwise. And it is frustrating. It can make us want to give up.

Finding Angel is a complete novel. The sequel, Seeking Unseen, sits on my hard drive half written. The beginning of another (unrelated) novel sits on my hard drive one-fourth written. I've made very little progress on them, mainly because I'm not seeing that light at the end of the tunnel right now. Maybe Finding Angel will land a publisher, but will it sell? Will I have readers and royalties that show me people are truly enjoying my created world?

No, I'm not planning on giving up. But I can say it's been hard lately to get motivated. I have the rest of those two novels I mentioned plotted out in my head, but I haven't worked on putting it on paper because I can't get into the zone to do so. Writing draws me away from my family, and it's got to reap something--readership and royalties, preferably--to be worth the time and effort.

There, I've said the forbidden. But seriously, the worlds of my writing are all right there in my head, and that's a pretty short trip for ME to make if no one's tagging along.

Thursday, February 17, 2011


"Incohesive" is actually not a word. But it should be. "Cohesive" means (according to Webster's) "tending to unify, harmonize, or be consistent." Therefore incohesive should be its opposite. "Not cohesive" just doesn't have the same ring.

Why am I bent on that today? Because it's how I'm feeling.

So much is going on, but none of clicks neatly with anything else. I'm sure you know the feeling. Being pulled in a dozen different directions (which can seem like a hundred) and not knowing quite what to focus on.

Add to that things you have to wait on, things that make you think, If such-n-such would only happen, I could move on to blah-blah.

It helps me sort things out when I make a list, so I'm going to give you a straight shot into my head by doing that right now.

1--Homeschooling: I'm trying to make sure my kids are on-target, which they are, but we gotta stay that way. Summer is approaching FAST, and I need to have our curriculum figured out for summer lessons.

2--Novel writing: I have TWO novels in progress. One is the sequel to Finding Angel, called Seeking Unseen, and the other is a paranormal romantic thriller(?) called Relent. They are so very different, and trying to get my head into one without the other sneaking past is rather hard.

3--Short story writing: I'm trying to finish a near-novella length short story about a werewolf. I've been working on it for ages. I'm so close I can taste the ending, but it's taking forever for that last bit to creep out. I also have the beginnings of several other short stories that may never get endings.

4--Novel publishing: STILL working on trying to get Finding Angel published. I have some things buzzing around about that, but nothing that can be discussed. NO, I don't have a contract. But I made the top five when I entered Port Yonder Press's fantasy month last October. And there avenues...but moving forward is much more complicated that you'd think it could be.

5--Short story publishing: My most recent release (as you've probably noticed :P) is my short story "Delete" in FECKLESS: Tales of the Supernatural, Paranormal, and Downright Presumptuous Ilk. It's already getting great reviews. I also made the short list for Chicken Soup for the Soul: Just for Preteens. I'm super excited about both! But I still have SEVERAL short stories submitted for which I'm still waiting on news. That's the part I hate--the waiting.

6--House, yard, and life in general: Cleaning, laundry, blah, blah, blah. Yep, you get it. Of course I have all of that, too.
Add to it the fact that my oak trees seem to be growing leaves for the sole purpose of DROPPING them, so I have to rake YET AGAIN. And my flower beds are filled with half-dead plants thanks to this year's freezes. What happened to this being Florida????

7--The inevitable: Taxes. Dealing with life issues like planning for the future, finances, family, all that stuff. All the complicated junk that you really don't want to hear about, but it bubbles in the background constantly no matter what we focus on.

So, there you have it. My "incohesiveness" in list form. Hopefully, it hasn't bored you to tears :P. If it did, well, sorry folks, that's life ;).

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Ranting Review

I bet you think this is going to be a book review. Yeah, I know, there's that neat little picture of the cover of Witch and Wizard by James Patterson over there to the right. But no, this isn't a review...not exactly...more like a rant.

I started reading this book because the cover looked kinda cool. And the title jumped out at me. I love books with magic, so, well, 2 + 2, right? The back cover blurb really grabbed me, too. And James Patterson--while I haven't actually read anything of his before, he's a majorly best-selling author.

This, however, was beyond a disappointment. This was the kind of thing that makes me want to SCREAM.

NO characterization.

HOKEY dialog.


FIND me ONE sentence in the book with less than three adverbs...

Now, I'd heard that James Patterson hires co-writers so he can get more books out there. But it seems to me that if he had an ounce of pride he'd at least co-write something that doesn't read, gosh, everything I want to compare it to would end up insulted by the comparison.

I'm so frustrated by this. Remember my post from a few days ago about going nuts over the "rules" of writing? Well, this is a prime example of why so many of us aspiring authors get ticked off when we're told to follow all these rules if we want to get published. Because if we had a platform like J.P. here we could write any old crap and sell millions of copies. No, we are not whining newbies who are jealous of his success. With writing like this, there's nothing to be jealous of!

It's simply a reminder of why I don't read mainstream authors.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Gift from a Senator!

OK, I never post blogs twice in one day. But since the last one was really just a point in the direction of my latest NAF post, I feel like I can throw this one out today as well.

And, let's face it, this is SO, SO, SO, WAY COOL!!!!!

I opened the mail today to find a big manila envelope addressed to me, from Senator Ronda Storms. She is from my hometown, but I assumed it must be politically-related.

I was wrong. Check this out:

That, my friends, is a laminated copy of the article about me getting a story into Chicken Soup for the Soul: Christmas Magic. The article appeared in the Osprey Observer in December.

I am so busting! Ronda is so sweet! Yes, I immediately wrote her a thank-you note.

(PS--To read the whole interview, click on "Osprey Observer" above, then click on the picture of the newspaper, and then "turn" to page six. Oh, and, it looks like the book is marked down to $8.77, in case you want to do some early shopping for next Christmas ;).

RV Adventures

Check out my latest post at NEW AUTHORS' FELLOWSHIP. Our recent family camping trip and some cool critters we met along the way....

No, not him. That's the LORAX. We went to Universal Studios while we were camping at Disney's Fort Wilderness. Yep, we really rough it!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Venting About Rule Breaking

I am cautious by nature. Maybe somewhat cynical even. (OK, more than somewhat.) I'm not a huge risk-taker, nor a big rule breaker. (At least not since my wild-child days.)

When it comes to art, though, and writing, you have to take risks, and you have to break rules. And to be honest, I'm SICK of hearing about "rules" of writing....

...that are not actually rules.

You know what I DO consider a rule of writing? Putting a period at the end of a statement, and a question mark at the end of a question. Capitalizing proper nouns. Not switching verb tenses in the middle of a sentence.

Wanna know what I DON'T consider "rules that must be followed or you will die as a writer"?

PASSIVE VOICE--The "rules" say don't use it. Ever. Bah. It can be used. In some instances more effectively than active. Should it be used all over the flinkin' place? 'Course not. But come on.

WAS--Related to passive voice is "was." You CAN say "He was walking." If he didn't get up, walk, and stop in the moment you're writing about--say you come into the scene mid-stride--then, yes, by gum, he "was walking."

FRAGMENTS--These can be used. By ordinary grammar rules, they are incorrect. But in fiction, they work. Again, not every other sentence, but peppered in. We think in frags. Our characters will, too.

BEGAN--"He began walking. I followed." I was recently told that this is wrong. That you can't use "began" unless the character also stops. I thought, huh?? Of course, at some point, he's going to stop. I didn't say, "He began his eternal walk." And even if I did, I think that works. In the story, he's beginning that walk--you're not reading for eternity. My point is, if someone begins something, it is understood that they will at some point stop. But to me, "He walked. I followed." Didn't feel right. I wanted the MOMENT, not the whole journey.

POV HOPPING--Now this is borderline. It's not for beginners. If you don't know how to do this right, you make your reader sick. But so many authors do it smoothly. Catherine Fisher, for example. I just finished reading Sapphique, after reading Incarceron, of course. She head-hops. We're in a scene that starts off and spends most of its time in Claudia's head. At the end of the scene we're in Jared's, or Finn's. But it just slid right on over. If you can do that, tell the rules to take a flying leap.

ADVERBS--Adverbs are not satan incarnate. Seriously, folks. Sometimes they do work. Again, not all over the flinkin' place. Don't turn your writing into -ly stew, but pick up ANY best-seller and you'll find adverbs. Even the most recent ones. I know you know this, because you've heard over and over that all adverbs must die, and you pick up book after book and think, "There are adverbs all over this--how did it get published?" Yep, admit it.

SHOW, DON'T TELL--I seriously think too many writers don't have a clue what this means. Take the following examples:

A man stumbled into the room. He looked bedraggled.

A bedraggled man stumbled into the room.

You would be told the first one is telling, but it's really no different than the second. Same word--bedraggled. But I guarantee by isolating that word "bedraggled" you'll have someone say, "Show me how he was bedraggled. Describe him. What do his clothes look like?"

But the second one probably wouldn't get criticized.

The thing is, in the middle of an action seen, we don't want to stop and describe the man's every feature when we can say "bedraggled" and move on. Maybe later we can mention the dirt smudges, or the rip in his jacket. But "bedraggled" brings an immediate image to our mind and lets us get on with the story.

Now, here's a legitimate call on "telling":

He walked into the room, angry.

That is telling. He should storm into the room, slam the door, glare at someone, point a finger, and growl, "You dented my car." Anger is a feeling, and it's active, so write it active.

Other writers seem to think that NARRATIVE SUMMARY is the SAME AS TELLING. No, sorry, it's not. Sometimes we need the information about something that has happened. It's not always going to be a fascinating scene, and it can't always be conveyed through dialog. Sometimes you HAVE to just summarize a bit of action and go forward. To save word count. To not bore the reader. Not every step must be described in excruciating detail.

There, that feels better. Rules--made to be broken.

(So...this post was sitting in my drafts and was not going to go up today, but I just read Becky Minor's latest blog post about writing rules, and decided to just do it. Now go visit her blog and follow. She's way cool, you'll be glad you did :).

Friday, February 4, 2011

....and More Links

After my last blog post, I received the email from Residential Aliens that my "Artist Feature" was up! I didn't want to squeeze it into the already overflowing post of links, so I decided to wait. Well, now here it is:

Please go check out Issue 5.02 of RESIDENTIAL ALIENS (affectionately known as ResAliens) for an interview and feature of some of my artwork.

While you're there, stop and read some of the awesome stories in the magazine. I've had one story published there, "Dude" in Issue 4, and I've got a story ("The Guitar") in their next anthology, While the Morning Stars Sing, which should be out fairly soon.

The other links I want to feature are Facebook links. I know, not everyone is on Facebook. But if you are, I'd love for you to join my Author Page, and if you want to delve a little deeper into my head, send me a friend request at

Some other great authors you might want to follow on FB are my fellow NAF peeps. If you'd like to make closer connections, visit the New Authors' Fellowship blog for their info.

They're a great bunch, all actively writing Christian Speculative Fiction and working toward publishing their manuscripts. So go say hi to Diane, Keven, Robynn, Ren, Avily, and David.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Links, Links, and More Links

Seems like all I ever do lately is post links on Facebook. But there's good reason--so much is happening! I decided that today I'm just going to compile a bunch of stuff here while I'm on a roll.

First, you can find the anthology FECKLESS, which contains my short "Delete," on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. This is an anthology of horror stories, some with a Christian bent, and some, just bent ;).

For a full list with links to all the anthologies that contain my short stories, visit my Amazon Author Page.

Second, there is all kinds of crazy stuff going on at Splashdown Books. If you aren't signed up for their newsletter, get over to the site and sign up. You'll discover that there are some cool new releases coming out. And Splashdown will be launching a new imprint in June: Darkwater. Check it out and see if you can brave the deep.

Third, it's all about me :). I've been messing around on Zazzle again, and updated my store. If you like beetles, and my artwork, and you'd like to combine those on cool t-shirts and other stuff, please visit my store, An Inordinate Fondness. I'll be adding new designs as I create them. Everything is customizable, so you can change the style and color of shirts, add text, whatever.

While you're there, make sure you click on my "profile" to see a self-portrait I drew. It was done on request of the editor over at Port Yonder Press, as she wants the illustrators of The Book of Sylvari: An Anthology of Elves to have self-portraits instead of photos with our bios. (Yes, that last link is for Facebook. If you're not on FB, I'm sorry. If you are, get over there and "Like" the page, please!) I've done three drawings for the anthology, and will let you know as soon as it is available for purchase.

Finally, a "missing link." Yep, I was supposed to have a short story coming out this month in Daikaijuzine. But their February issue has been delayed until March. Sigh...I understand, though. I personally know several people who run online magazines like Daikaijuzine and it is HARD WORK. These people generally do this for nothing, or next to nothing, and have full-time jobs on top of editing and producing the 'zines. So I will not gripe, but admit I'm a bit disappointed. It's a story I've been waiting a while to see in print.

So...let's end this on a happy note: I received notice that a short personal experience story of mine has made the short list for another Chicken Soup for the Soul anthology, due out in July. It's Chickens Soup for the Soul: Just for Preteens. And my story is called "Armored and Dangerous." Being on the short list there means that there is an ever so slight chance the story could get cut, but that generally doesn't happen unless there is an issue with it, such as a conflict of rights ownership, and there is nothing hindering my story so I fully expect it to make it in.

If you've made it this far, I thank you. Long post, I know. But so much news to share! Now get busy checking out those links.