Quote of the Moment

"Magic comes from what is inside you. It is part of you. You can't weave together a spell you don't believe in." - Jim Butcher

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Lavender Legacy - Chapter 1: Meet Lila Lavender

The Lavender Legacy series follows the Lavender family from the Sims 3: Supernatural game. Lila Lavender is the progenitor. Who knows what crazy things will happen in the lives of the Lavenders!

Meet Lila Lavender

Lila is a fairy that loves gardening above all else. However, that's not the only thing she enjoys to pass the time--art comes a close second. By most standards, she's highly intelligent, so don't try to get into a debate with her. Not to mention she descends from a long line of temperamental fairies. It's best to agree with her, or you may see her true colors under all of that purple. She's also an incorrigible flirt--human, fairy, werewolf, vampire, it's no matter to her.

Lila just moved into Moonlight Falls, a neighborhood she hopes she'll feel right at home in. Her first few days of settling in, though, give her no time to make new friends, let alone find some romantic interests! The first day she deals with the hassle of purchasing the bare essentials for her two-bedroom ranch. But she also makes sure there's some time to start her garden as well as relax and watch part of a game at the local stadium. She also gets a job as a Test Subject in the science track! Got to make some money, no matter how menial.

As the second day in her new home dawns, she doesn't expect to be faced with a stove fire while making breakfast. A handsome vampire firefighter comes to her rescue, but she's already put out the flames before he arrives, so he's none too pleased. She tries to calm herself down for the day by going to work and then tending to her garden.

Day three doesn't leave Lila much time for anything other than work and gardening. But on only her fourth day in town, she receives a promotion at work--she's now a Lab Tech. She treats herself to a massage at the spa. Unfortunately, it's the night of the full moon, so while she sleeps, a zombie devours her garden!

Will Lila be able to repair the damage done to her beautiful garden? Find out in Chapter 2!

Are there some things you'd be interested in seeing Lila do? Any particular tortures you'd like to see inflicted on her? Feel free to make some suggestions, and if they're interesting enough, I may just use them!

NEXT UP: Yearly Goals and Monthly Update

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Magic Is Reality, Reality Is Magic: Yule

Magic is Reality, Reality is Magic is a series that highlights aspects of religions, particularly Paganism. We pull things from everyday life to use in our fiction. Magic is one of the key attributes of fantasy. Why not explore the realm of magic that many people already have in their lives?


Graphic By petercui (Bide Cui)
This time of year, most people are thinking about Christmas. Well, Christmas actually is derived from an older holiday--Yule, or the Winter Solstice. Yule is the shortest day and longest night of the year. Once the Winter Solstice passes, the days will start getting longer again! The date Yule lands on can be different from year to year, since it marks the aforementioned--it's usually anywhere from December 19 through December 22 (this year it lands on December 21). For many Pagans, the heralding of the sun's return is a symbol of rebirth (the God reborn of the Goddess).

Many of the symbols associated with Yule will be quite familiar, since Christmas has borrowed many of them. A decorated tree is one (we just call it a Yule tree in our house, instead of a Christmas tree!). Wreaths--symbolizing the Wheel of the Year--burning candles and Yule fires--calling back the sun--bells, and feasting all represent the Winter Solstice. So, when Yule comes around, try to remember that it means sunnier days are ahead!

Clearly there is more to Yule than I've summed up here. You may want to visit the following websites: The Winter Solstice--Yule Lore, History of Yule and All About Yule.

Further Reading Suggestions:

McCoy, Edain. The Sabbats: A New Approach to Living the Old Ways. St. Paul: Llwellyn Publications, 1999.

I hope you found this tidbit interesting! If you would like me to touch on a particular topic that fits in this series, please don't hesitate to contact me with suggestions.

NEXT UP: The Sims 3 - Lavender Legacy, Chapter 1 - Meet Lila Lavender!

Friday, December 07, 2012

A Gamer's Lexicon - Entry 3 - Special Everquest Edition!

A Gamer's Lexicon series touches upon terms players use in video games. The terms here mostly come from my experiences in the MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game) Everquest. This series will hopefully help the non-gamers understand some of the terms gamers use. And gamers may find it humorous as well! If you have any gaming terms (from any type of video game or table top gaming) you would like me to address in the future, or if you think I should add something to already defined terms, please post in the comments--I may ask you to define a term though, if it isn't one I've come across before. Happy hunting!

The previous terms in A Gamer's Lexicon series can be found here:

Entry 1: RNG, RNG Gods, mob, loot, wipe
Entry 2: Newb/Newbie, Noob, Aggro, Train, KoS

Welcome to the special Everquest Edition of A Gamer's Lexicon! Everquest recently released its 19th expansion (crazy, isn't it?), so I thought it was a good time to focus solely on some Everquest-only terms.

EQ - Everquest.

Evercrack - This one might be self-explanatory. ;) Many people refer to Everquest as Evercrack, as it can be quite the addiction!

Lesson of the Devoted - Also simply called Lesson or LotD, this is a veteran reward that allows players 30 minutes of double experience gain every 20 hours. Veteran rewards are for long standing players, a different award given for every year (cumulatively) you have played/paid for Everquest. Lesson is the 1-year reward. When people activate the ability, they may say something like: "Popping Lesson" or "Burning Lesson".

DOOM - Yes, all caps. Could mean anything, right? Well, for Everquest players it's related to Lesson. When people pop lessons while killing mobs, they may call it DOOM because some consider it unlucky! For some reason, there tends to be a higher chance of death when you are burning your Lesson (this is likely simple coincidence). The RNG Gods seem to think that wipes are more amusing when Lessons are popped. =P

Rat Killer - This was a nickname for Everquest when it was first released! I didn't start playing until several expansions later, but I heard when EQ first came out, it was mostly people chasing after rats!

And the coup de grâce of this post--the list of expansion abbreviations! Hang tight, 19 expansions makes this list a long one!

RoK or Kunark - The Ruins of Kunark

SoV or Velious - The Scars of Velious

SoL or Luclin - The Shadows of Luclin

PoP or POP - The Planes of Power

LoY or Ykesha - The Legacy of Ykesha

LDoN - Lost Dungeons of Norrath

GoD or GOD or Gates - Gates of Discord

OoW or Omens - Omens of War

DoN - Dragons of Norrath

DoD - Depths of Darkhollow

PoR - Prophecy of Ro

TSS - The Serpent's Spine

TBS - The Buried Sea

SoF - Secrets of Faydwer

SoD - Seeds of Destruction

UF - Underfoot

HoT - House of Thule

VoA - Veil of Alaris

RoF - Rain of Fear

And word is that they will be releasing content differently in the future. Is it the end of the expansion acronyms? We'll see! But I think Everquest still has quite a few years left in it.

Speaking of EQ, time to log in and nuke some mobs!

NEXT UP: The Sims 3 - Lavender Legacy, Chapter 1 - Meet Lila Lavender! - I lied! It will actually be Magic is Reality, Reality is Magic: Yule

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Do You Speak Simlish?

Your friendly monthly update here!

NaNoWriMo was a bust, per usual, but I think in 2013 I'm going to pick a better month and see if I can hit 50k words then. Getting into the winter and the holidays my writing productivity drops for various reasons (family, life, the urge to hibernate, etc.), so a spring month would be so much better than November! Still, I have a complete rough draft of one Fate short done, and the start of another--can't say I didn't get anything done.

I've also been attempting to organize my house. For me, I feel if things are tidy around me, my brain will work better and be less panicked. I have yet to prove this theory because the house is always a mess. However, I'm making better progress than usual. This month my study WILL get completely cleaned, including the endless papers.

This month I also hope to get back to sending some short stories out, as well as maybe prepping another story to be indie published (or maybe two in one!). It won't be released until 2013, though, most likely. I also plan to get back to revisions of Dead As Dreams.

So, are you still wondering what the title of this blog post means? OK, I give.

I recently purchased The Sims 3 along with the Supernatural expansion. Many people on The Sims 3 website like to do Family Challenges or post stories of their Sim families. And I thought it would be fun trying that out as a series here on my blog--starting with chapters in the life of the Lavender family, the progenitor being a fairy named Lila.

Now, I know some people may be skeptical over this. I will be telling more than showing (a big no-no usually when writing fiction), but I think it will be a fun exercise! And it will definitely have the fantasy slant to it (which makes it far more interesting, in my opinion). I likely won't post a chapter more than once per month, depending on how much time I have to play the game--right now I'm trying to play for a couple hours each week.

That means you all have the first chapter on the Lavender Lineage to look forward to this month! As well as a post about Yule. Oh, and a special edition of the Gamer's Lexicon too.

Don't forget to join us over at Writing Quest - December! Happy writing and reading. =)

NEXT UP: An entry in the Gamer's Lexicon! What game was nicknamed Rat Killer when it was first released?

Monday, November 26, 2012

NaNo Update #2 - Scatterbrained

Life loves to get in the way of writing.

I got sick a little over a week ago, and then I started to get better right when the Thanksgiving prep time hit, and after Turkey Day, my husband and I needed to wind down. This means, I have no new words to add to my total.

My goal for before Friday is to at least finish the rough draft of the second Fate story. It's not a crazy goal, likely only around 5,000 words max, so it should be doable.

The holidays have my head spinning, and I have a lot of other things that need to be taken care of outside of writing, so we'll see when I find time to start making progress on the word count.

Who decided it would be a good idea to have NaNoWriMo in November? One of the worst months for it!

In any case, as you can see, this is a brief update. I'll have a monthly update on Saturday, and you'll find out what I plan to do for another blog series. =)

NEXT UP: Monthly Update

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

NaNo Update #1 - Behind

You thought I already gave up, didn't you?

Well, life has gotten in the way. Some personal stuff cropped up last week that made it impossible for me to concentrate. But I still haven't thrown in the towel. There's still plenty of days left in November, and I'm at least making some type of progress!

I finished writing the rough draft associated with The Magus card on Monday. The new tentative title is "Reversed". And yesterday I started in on The High Priestess card's story. Right now, I want black hole somewhere in the title, but beyond that, it's still up in the air. I'll leave you with a snippet from the beginning of the story (and my current meter at the bottom). And even if I don't hit 50,000 words this month, I'll at least have some more Fate stories churned out to revise and submit. ;)

Note: This is rough draft material.

Flick, flick, flick.

What was that noise?

Cecilia walked down the sidewalk, almost gliding, her long summer dress brushing the tops of her bare feet. But it was dark, so dark she could hardly see. The moon shown full in the sky, yet everything around her was a blur, even her hand when she waved it in front of her face.

Flick, flick, flick.

A single object came into focus, heading toward her. The reflector of a bicycle caused her to squint. It passed by her on the street, no rider to steer or keep it upright. There were cards in the spokes of the wheels--that's where the sound came from.

Flick, flick, flick.

Cece only saw the backs of the cards, green flashing by as the wheels turned. No, purple.

Oh, no. It was one of those dreams.

The bike came to a stop just behind her, an unseen apparition setting the kickstand. Knotwork wove across the backs of the cards. Green, yes, definitely green. How could she ever have seen purple?

She lost focus again, the bike and cards disappearing into a blurry mess.

That's right, a dream. And it was the type of dream Cece had worked so hard all her life to keep away from. She thought she had finally eradicated them from her nights--it had been well over a year since she'd had one. But here she was, the cards a tell-tale sign that this was no normal nighttime romp, not just her subconscious working on things she experienced throughout her day.

This dream had things to tell her. These dreams wanted her to listen and heed them.

Cece refused to listen.

NEXT UP: Either a SFFS Snippet or another NaNoWriMo Update.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

SFFS Snippet - 11/3/12

Note: This is rough draft material from the short stories I am working on during NaNoWriMo.

After nibbling on some hard cheese and stale bread from his pack, Darney pulled the cards out of his pocket and spread them in front of him, far enough away from the fire that no sparks would jump on them, but close enough so he could see part of the images on their faces.

Per usual, the Magus card stalked him at the center of the heap, reversed, staring up at him, accusing him of not being who he was supposed to be--labeling him a charlatan. The confidence of the mage on the card was wiped when reversed, like something had drained the vibrant colors surrounding him. Blue cat eyes glinted in the backdrop, but they looked miserable upside down.

The mage had escaped the fire, and it seemed to call the damaged cards to it, so it could protect them. What Darney should have done.

He scooped the cards up and stuffed them back in his pocket. His own guilt was enough--he didn't need it from that card too.

Darney shut his eyes, yearning for sleep, to forget what had happened. But the screams wouldn't let him.

From "The Magus" (placeholder title) in the Fate series (rough draft)

About the Fate series:

A story for every Tarot card. A connection to the world of Fate for every story. The three world-hopping cat sisters find themselves at home in the purples of Fate, yet still drawn to the greens of Earth, sticking their noses in the stories of inhabitants of both worlds.

"The Magus" follows Darney on his quest to heal his damaged deck of Tarot cards--cards that have their own heartbeats.

Please visit Science Fiction Fantasy Saturday (SFFS) to read more great snippets!

NEXT UP: NaNoWriMo Update #1

Friday, November 02, 2012

NaNoWriMo 2012!

Yes, I am attempting NaNoWriMo again this year. Last year I had no hope of hitting 50k, but this year I seriously hope I can finally reach that goal. Most of my writing will likely be done on the weekends. I plan to write a little bit each day though.

I'm approaching NaNo slightly different this year, though. I'll be working on short stories, mainly ones from my Fate, Tarot card based series. I have a couple stories started in that series that need to be finished, plus plenty more that need to be written (I mean, I do need to write 78 stories, and I only have 2 done!).

And I hope to keep updates going on my blog when I switch over stories! I will have my first excerpt from the story I'm working on now ready for Science Fiction and Fantasy Saturday tomorrow. First up is "The Magus" card. I likely won't have titles for the stories until a later time, not unless some slap me across the face - lol.

My current tracker is at the bottom of this post, and I'll make sure to have a new one in each NaNo post for the month. So the previous tracker will stay at the word count I ended at before the next post. =)

Also, please don't forget that my short story, "Dancing in the Wind" is now available for purchase! If you go back two posts, you'll even get to read a snippet, and the purchase links are there as well.

And even though it's NaNoWriMo this month, I am still running Writing Quest - November! So, come on over and join us, whether you are NaNoing or working on other writing goals.

Good luck to everyone undertaking NaNoWriMo! May we all reach 50,000 words!

NEXT UP: SFFS Snippet - 11/3/12

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Magic Is Reality, Reality is Magic: Samhain

Magic is Reality, Reality is Magic is a series that highlights aspects of religions, particularly Paganism. We pull things from everyday life to use in our fiction. Magic is one of the key attributes of fantasy. Why not explore the realm of magic that many people already have in their lives?


Picture By Fredde 99
Most people know of Halloween! October 31 (or sometimes November 1, depending on who you talk to) is also Samhain, the Sabbat (holiday) that Halloween was derived from. Samhain is also considered the Witch's New Year. It's the end and beginning of the Wheel of the Year. This is the final harvest festival before winter begins. It is also the time of year when many Pagans and Wiccans believe that the veil between this world and the spirit word is thinnest.

Some symbols of Samhain are the jack-o'-lantern, the witch's besom (broom), food made from pumpkins, ghosts and skeletons, the cauldron, bats, black cats, owls, spiders, and so many other things that have been incorporated into Halloween throughout the years. As a religious holiday, Samhain is the best day of the year to honor the dead.

If you'd like to explore some more websites on Samhain, here are a few suggestions: Samhain History, Samhain Lore and Samhain.

Further Reading Suggestions:

Dunwich, Gerina. The Pagan Book of Halloween. New York: Penguin Compass, 2000.

RavenWolf, Silver. Halloween. St. Paul: Llwellyn Publications, 1999.

I hope you found this tidbit interesting! If you would like me to touch on a particular topic that fits in this series, please don't hesitate to contact me with suggestions.

NEXT UP: NaNoWriMo and Monthly Update (a small one)

Saturday, October 27, 2012

SFFS Snippet - 10/27/12

The barn doors lay open, welcoming the night, but the sky outside was black. No hint of stars or moon. Close to the door, a nail pierced one of the beams that held up the roof. And on that nail hung the silver shoes.

Click, click, click. Tap, tap, tap.

The wind and its tricks made the shoes dance. First they knocked against the beam three times, followed by tapping together another three. A long pause, and then the dance started again. The consistency was eerie.

Excerpt from "Dancing in the Wind".

About "Dancing in the Wind":

The Wizard of Oz is a timeless story that nearly everyone knows about. So what happens when that timeless story is turned on its head? Dorothy is a bully who is thrown into the world of Oz. She gets a taste of her own medicine from a crazy trio of munchkins and the Wizard of Oz himself.

This story received an Honorable Mention in the L. Ron Hubbard's Writers of the Future Contest for the 4th Quarter of 2009.

You can purchase this short story from Amazon, B&N, Smashwords and Kobo!

Please visit Science Fiction Fantasy Saturday (SFFS) to read more great snippets!

NEXT UP: Magic is Reality, Reality is Magic - Samhain

Thursday, October 04, 2012

October = Break Time!

A day late and a dollar short? Sorry for the delay. My daughter had a field trip early this morning, and I didn't want to stay up late to post last night!

Anyway, as seen from the last post, I'm still in a bit of a funk. I honestly think that the weather is affecting me more than usual even. The winter blues have pounced on me and they are digging their claws in! Therefore, I think I at least need a bit of a blogging break. Only for a couple weeks. I will probably have two more posts this month, then if I do NaNoWriMo, I'll likely be posting frequently in November.

That doesn't mean I'm not going to write. I'm through Chapter 4 for revisions on Dead As Dreams. I hope to revise at least another 10 Chapters, but we'll see how the month goes. I need to get my head and house in order so I'm not worrying about a million other things when I write. Maybe it's time to start meditating again (although if I try that, I may just fall asleep instead).

The Mind Behind the Mind received another rejection, and I hope to send it off to the Harper Voyager open submissions call in the next few days. I also received another short story rejection, so I have a few short stories to push out into slush piles again. One I may need to edit first though. =)

Speaking of short stories, I will be editing and formatting "Dancing in the Wind" and placing it up on Amazon for sale (may also go up on B&N and Smashwords) later this month. I need to finish the cover art for it, and I'm waiting on a friend to help out with some nice art. My initial goal is the 15th, but definitely by the 25th, as long as I get the artwork! I can always change the cover I guess if the art is delayed.

So, that's really what I have on my writing plate. I just need to keep plugging along. The two posts I hope to write up this month will likely be a contribution to Science Fiction & Fantasy Saturday with an excerpt from "Dancing in the Wind" and then on Halloween I'll have another Magic is Reality, Reality is Magic entry talking about Samhain--the first sabbat (holiday) in the Wheel of the Year!

Don't forget about Writing Quest - October!

NEXT UP: Only two more posts in October--one for SFFS (date to be determined) and the other will be a post about Samhain on Halloween!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Writing Blues

First, my apologies for not posting last week. And again, apologies for this post not being what I had planned initially.

I've kind of run into the writing blues lately. Part of me thinks it's the weather shift, the change in the seasons that has me a bit down. The colder months have a way of dragging me down, like I have this innate need to hibernate or something. Funny enough, I actually live in a town where someone once lived who was famous for "hibernating", or not leaving his apartment for the entire winter--his name was Arthur "Turkey" Gehrke.

OK, that was a tangent. Perhaps that's part of my problem too--my mind wanders into insane directions.

Now, I know many people say to just keep writing, push through, ignore how you feel. Unfortunately, my moods tend to affect my writing. It's kind of weird. If I'm not into the writing, it's obvious. That would be fine if I were working on a first draft and it didn't matter if it was messy, but I'm trying to revise Dead As Dreams! This revision needs to be the best it can be, as I don't want to wait for another five years before I start submitting the manuscript places.

I think my other issue is I'm kind of feeling left behind. Both of my crit partners are actively publishing things, either through an e-publisher or some of it indie published. They're so busy with their writing, and I'm at a different stage with my writing--I still need feedback, so the dominoes can go off in my head. Me, I had another rejection come back for The Mind Behind the Mind last week. I would consider indie publishing it, but I need the next two books in that trilogy lined up before Mind can be released. All of that takes time, and with running the house and caring for my 4-year-old, I feel like time is slipping through my fingers. So, I get overwhelmed and then depressed, which leads to freezing up.

I also know other people say ditch all of your hobbies/pastimes/downtime to write. If I do that I'm even more frazzled. If I don't have time to veg each day, I'll give myself an anxiety attack (I get enough of those the way it is).

What's my point to this post? I guess it's just a bit of a vent, getting my frustrations out there. I'll get over it all, I have to, because if I don't keep writing something inside of me will shrivel up and die, and I can't have that happen. I might just need to allow myself to take a break, to take it all one step at a time, and stop getting ahead of myself. It'll get done when it gets done, and one day I'll be at the same level as many of my other writer friends--it'll just take me a bit longer.

So, what do you do to get over the writing blues? Have you ever found yourself in a funk that makes it hard for you to write or work on other things? I'd love to hear what other people have done to pull themselves out of that funk!

NEXT UP: Monthly Update (Next Wednesday)

Saturday, September 15, 2012

SFFS Snippet - 9/15/12

Time for Lazarus to dance. "Do you wish the aid of a spirit seeker?"

The chief pushed his spectacles up the bridge of his nose. "There are restless spirits that refuse to leave their old home for their new one."

The dialogue was the same every time. A changed word here and there, but Lazarus knew all his lines. "When they see me, they will go home and leave you in peace."

"We wish them honor, not harm. They are souls that are dear to us. We welcome a gentle hand, Spirit Seeker."

From Dead As Dreams, Chapter 3 (novel currently in the revision process)

About Dead As Dreams:

Dreams are in danger and souls are chained to the earth. Aysa, the Shepherd of Dreams, and Lazarus, a spirit seeker, join forces to restore the balance between dreams and nightmares and life and death. They face a rogue spirit seeker and a manipulator of nightmares--both intent on unhinging the world, but there is yet another pulling the strings.

Please visit Science Fiction Fantasy Saturday (SFFS) to read more great snippets!

NEXT UP: Classic Voltron: Defender of the Universe-- Episode Two! Change of plans - Writing Blues!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

A Gamer's Lexicon - Entry 2

A Gamer's Lexicon series touches upon terms players use in video games. The terms here mostly come from my experiences in the MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game) Everquest. This series will hopefully help the non-gamers understand some of the terms gamers use. And gamers may find it humorous as well! If you have any gaming terms (from any type of video game or table top gaming) you would like me to address in the future, or if you think I should add something to already defined terms, please post in the comments--I may ask you to define a term though, if it isn't one I've come across before. Happy hunting!

The previous terms in A Gamer's Lexicon series can be found here:

Entry 1: RNG, RNG Gods, mob, loot, wipe

5 more terms to add to your gamer-speak arsenal!

Newb or Newbie - This term refers to players that are new to the game (or gaming in general) and don't know most of the ropes. Newbies tend to ask a lot of questions. Whether players want to admit it or not, everyone was a newbie at one time!

Noob - Yes, this is different than newb. Noob is actually more of an insult. When one player is upset with another, she may call that player a noob. It's like saying said person is an idiot, so much that he acts like a new player. People that have been playing a game for years do not like being called noobs. Don't piss older players off, as they may have no gaming etiquette and decide to train (term defined below) you.

Aggro - When you engage a mob, you aggro it. Most times attacking the mob with weapons or spells will aggro the mob, but you can also aggro it if it is hostile to you, or KoS (term defined below), and you pass near it. Make sure to have invis on if you're running through a pack of mobs! However, some may see through your invis and aggro you anyhow. Eek!

Train - To create a train, a player aggros a bunch of mobs, then she runs about with all the mobs following her. If she is cruel, she can purposefully run through another group in attempt to wipe that group--the mobs may decide to jump the group members and the player training will lose aggro. Some trains are accidental, though. A player who aggros a mob on accident may run for her life, gathering more mobs in the process. Most of these panicked players run to a zone line, which will end aggro. The kind thing to do when this happens is to call, "Train to zone!" so people standing at a zone line will know to move out of the way before they aggro the mobs and die!

KoS - Kill on Sight. Many mobs in games like Everquest are KoS to the players. This means, if the KoS mobs see a player, it will attack her immediately. There is actually a system where if you stay far enough away from the mob so it doesn't notice you, you can check, or con, the mob to see if it is KoS or not. But con is a term to be defined another day. =)

There are just too many terms I would have loved to list here, but I have to limit myself! Next time. ;)

NEXT UP: SFFS Snippet - 9/15/12

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

School Time

No, I am not going back to school again, but it is that time of year where school-aged children say good-bye to summer and spend a good chunk of their days attempting to cram knowledge into their brains.

My daughter started 4K yesterday. Now, this is only two and a half hours worth of school, five days a week (last year for preschool it was only two days a week). But when she decided naps were a thing of the past this summer, I lost my afternoon writing time.

School time for me, and many other writing moms and dads who stay home to care for their children, means more time to write! However, it's a shift from the summer schedule, a different routine that I need to get used to. The writing doesn't always flow from my fingers, and I need to get back into the groove of afternoon writing, fighting the afternoon sleepies the entire way.

I thought it would be neat to draw up a list of "Things writers do when they should be writing--the kids are back in school".

1. Take a nap because you've been trying to stay up late to write.

2. Take a nap because your children keep waking you up in the middle of the night.

3. Take a nap just because you can--the house is quiet!

4. Watch TV. Yes, I will admit my addiction to those court shows--I grew up on People's Court!

5. Play video games.

6. Browse the internet. So many blogs and articles to read!

7. Read Facebook posts and convince yourself that since you are reading posts from your writer friends, you are in some way doing a writing related task.

8. Stare at the blinking cursor, convincing yourself that you are thinking hard about what you plan to write or revise, when in actuality your mind is wandering to the episodes of "Big Bang Theory" that you watched last night.

9. Consider cleaning the house, but then remind yourself that's harder work than writing.

10. Blog. *coughs*

Are you guilty of doing any of the above when you're breathing a sigh of relief that you have a break from your children? Should you be writing or working instead? What other things do you find yourself doing instead of writing? My list is by no means complete!

NEXT UP: Gamer's Lexicon, Entry 2

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Summer's Over!

It's September 1, and even though the Fall Equinox isn't for another few weeks, summer is pretty much officially over. This is good and bad. Good because it's no longer sweltering outside (or in my house). Bad because I didn't make as much progress with some things on my to do list, especially in August. August was not a waste, though, as it included much needed family time. I need to have some balance in my life!

Of course, Hazard Yet Forward is still available for purchase, so please if you have a few bucks to spare, buy yourself a great anthology. Not only will you have numerous wonderful stories to read, but you'll be helping a good cause. =)

Since August didn't produce much, I'm mostly going to talk about my plans for September. I'm heaping the goals on my plate!

Dead As Dreams has been waiting patiently for me to dig back in to the revisions, and that's exactly what I'm going to do. After some reverse outlining, notes on the world history, and some character exploration, I hope to get a good chunk of the novel revised in September. I'm hoping I'll finish this revision pass by the end of October, just in time for NaNoWriMo!

In the next month or two, I will also be indie publishing my short story "Dancing in the Wind". It will be available through the Kindle, at the least. This story is a twist on the Wizard of Oz story--a modern Dorothy tumbles into Oz and finds that there are worse bullies than herself, including a trio of evil munchkins, one who happens to fear the color yellow. "Dancing in the Wind" received an Honorable Mention in the Writers of the Future Contest. I'll be sure to post here when it's available for purchase.

As always, there is a new Writing Quest up for September. If you have any writing goals, even small ones, please join us!

Happy writing, all!

NEXT UP: School Time

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Magic Is Reality, Reality is Magic: The Element of Air

Magic is Reality, Reality is Magic is a series that highlights aspects of religions, particularly Paganism. We pull things from everyday life to use in our fiction. Magic is one of the key attributes of fantasy. Why not explore the realm of magic that many people already have in their lives?


Graphic By Luigi Chiesa
Another of the four classic elements, air's cardinal direction is east--this is the direction a magic practitioner will call the spirit of air from when casting a circle. Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius are the astrological signs associated with this element. In most instances, the color yellow represents air, but white is also a possibility. Air is a mental element, strongly associated with intelligence. Communication and divination are also related. Some consider this an element of the soul as well, connected to giving life--there are always many interpretations as to what an element represents.

As a side note, if I were to desire both focus and creativity in my writing projects, I would combine the elements of air and fire in my spellwork. Other people might choose a different route, but for me these two elements that I have touched on so far in this series are the perfect combination for me as a writer!

As with fire, there are many great websites that discuss the Element of Air. All you need to do is a quick Google search. To start you out you can visit Air Folklore and Legends and The White Goddess--The Element of Air.

Further Reading Suggestions:

Cunningham, Scott. Living Wicca. St. Paul: Llwellyn Publications, 1993.

I hope you found this tidbit interesting! If you would like me to touch on a particular topic that fits in this series, please don't hesitate to contact me with suggestions.

NEXT UP: Monthly Update!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

SFFS Snippet - 8/25/12

He returns to the door and feels a tickle between his shoulder blades. The sense of eyes watching him, many eyes, overwhelms him, and he leans on the door. The eyes listen, but there are no mouths for them to speak.

A bird bolts out of the eaves of a shuttered tower, and a feather drifts past the Traveler and settles on the doorstep at his feet. It shimmers in the light of a moonbeam. A wind picks it up and takes it away--a ghost's soft, silent exhale.

Excerpt from "A Little Bit of Magic", which can be found in the anthology Hazard Yet Forward.

Does anyone know the poem "The Listeners" by Walter de la Mere? That poem inspired this story. Read my speculations as to why no one answered the Traveller's knock.

All proceeds from sales of Hazard Yet Forward go to a wonderful friend and writer to help with her expenses during her fight with breast cancer. There are over 70 stories (that's over 700 pages to read), some by award winners (Contributors), spanning numerous genres. It can only be purchased as e-book via Amazon.com. It's well worth the read!

Please visit Science Fiction Fantasy Saturday (SFFS) to read more great snippets!

NEXT UP: Magic is Reality, Reality is Magic - The Element of Air

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

New Orleans - Some Things I Did and Saw (A Lot of Pictures Included!)

Clicking through my pictures as I prepared for this post, I longed to be back in New Orleans. When I step in that city, I feel like I've come home. This was my fourth visit, and I intend to visit several more times in the future. Heck, if I ever win the lottery (my husband keeps reminding me we have to actually play it to win it), I'm buying myself a house in the Garden District!

New Orleans has been an inspiration to many writers, and it is for me as well. I already have the stirrings of a short story idea set in the bayou--it's such a gorgeous place! As you can see in the picture on the right of Manchac Swamp. We saw a lot of alligators and some cute little 'coons on the swamp tour, and we even got to hold a baby alligator.

This was also the first time I had the chance to visit some plantations while in the area. And I'm glad I did! Just walking around the plantation houses, I felt like I was in another world. We visited Oak Alley (pictures above), as well as Evergreen (pictured to the left). Evergreen actually still has some of the original slave cabins. I'm hoping my visit to these plantations will help some later scenes in Dead As Dreams come alive more when I revise.

My husband and I stayed at the Hotel Monteleone in the French Quarter. It's a gorgeous hotel with a lot of history, supposedly haunted, and has had many famous writers as guests, including Ernest Hemingway (there's actually a suite named after him--if only we could have afforded it). I did make sure to have a Hemingway Daiquiri in the famous Carousel Bar (pictured at right).

There are so many other things we did while in New Orleans and so many pictures I'd love to post, but I don't want to bore anyone with the details. Of course we spent a lot of time in the Quarter, enjoyed a lot of great food, drank a bit on Bourbon Street, and visited some of the Cities of the Dead. I also had the chance to meet up for lunch one day with my lovely crit partners, J. Gunnar Grey (and her wonderful husband) and Melanie Card (and it was mere coincidence, originally unplanned, that my husband and I vacationed down there when they happened to be in town as well).

Oh, and I did eat beignets at Cafe du Monde (twice), took some awesome shots of Jackson square and the St. Louis Cathedral, drank a Hurricane at Pat O'Brien's, and avoided a real hurricane (although I was a drowned rat from a storm one day, and we witnessed Bourbon Street turned into a river).

Right before we left, we did manage to catch part of the Red Dress Run. If we didn't have a flight that day, we would have gone to watch the parade, but it was at least nice to see the revelers on Bourbon Street in their Red Dresses (men and women alike). The Red Dress Run started out mainly to raise money for breast cancer research.

As I mentioned in a past blog post, one of my friends is undergoing breast cancer treatment. All proceeds from the anthology Hazard Yet Forward go to her, so please consider buying it! There are a lot of great authors that participated in this anthology. This Saturday, I'll be posting an excerpt from my story "A Little Bit of Magic", which can be found in the anthology.

NEXT UP: SFFS Snippet - 8/25/12

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Dizzy

Seems I brought back an unwanted souvenir from New Orleans. I have a nasty cold and a fever (my husband didn't escape from the sickness this time either).

So, I will have to delay my intended post on what I actually did in New Orleans until next week. Apologies, but I fear if I attempted to put a post together in my feverish state, I'd just embarrass myself, and I do that quite enough normally. :p

NEXT UP: Really, honestly, seriously my post on my New Orleans trip. With pictures!

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

What I Am Likely Doing In New Orleans Right Now

This week I'm in New Orleans for a much needed vacation! I also don't have any internet access. Yikes! No, I am not posting this telepathically (although that would be awesome), just have it set on a timer. ;) So, here is what I'm probably doing in New Orleans right now.

Eating beignets at Café du Monde. Yum!

Taking in the sights of Jackson Square and the St. Louis Cathedral.

Sipping on a Hurricane at Pat O'Briens. So cool and refreshing!

Hiding from a REAL hurricane. Eek! Let's hope the rain doesn't turn into one while I'm there.

Jealous?

NEXT UP: What I Actually Did In New Orleans

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Still Trying to Beat the Heat

Today's title should say it all. It's still HOT here. July was not a fun month for the heat, which means I didn't get as much writing done as I wanted to. That doesn't mean I didn't may any progress though. ;)

I managed to revise or edit four of my short stories. One has wracked up two rejections already, one just received a rejection today, and another is at my invaluable critique partner.

The fourth story, "A Little Bit of Magic", which originally appeared in my undergrad literary magazine, Century, was heavily revised and sent off to a very important anthology. One of my writer friend's, Donna, was diagnosed with cancer in July. Some of her friends banded together and sent a call out for submissions. And I gladly accepted that call and sent over "A Little Bit of Magic".

The anthology is titled Hazard Yet Forward, the motto of Seton Hill University. All proceeds earned from the anthology sales will go directly to Donna to help her with the costs of her medical treatment.

So, if you're interested in reading over 70 stories, including "A Little Bit of Magic", in a range of genres by some awesome writers that have come together to help a friend out, please consider buying this anthology. You can find more information about the contributors and Donna on the Hazard Yet Forward website. It will be available for purchase on Tuesday, August 7, and it's worth every penny!

That's my big news from July, and August will be another hot month by the looks of it. I'll be away for a full week, and I'm not allowed to work on writing or my husband might dig out a pitchfork and go "Rabble, rabble, rabble!" We're finally taking a honeymoon, after over ten years of marriage. I am going to sneak in some research on the sly, though, since we're going to visit a couple plantations!

As always, don't forget about Writing Quest! There's a lot of activity posted for August already. It's sure to be a lively month!

NEXT UP: What I'm Likely Doing in New Orleans

Saturday, July 28, 2012

SFFS Snippet - 7/28/12

The Shepherd sensed a shift in the nightmare, an undercurrent nonexistent the other times she'd been here.

She uncurled from her fetal position and rose up on her arms, the stones slick under her palms. The water dripped, and dark shadows of buildings surrounded her, but nothing else. She sniffed the air.

There it was, a soft scent of blooming flowers, with an edge of decay and death to the perfume. A vase of lilies that had sat out for too long, the stems rotting in the moisture.

Nothing had frozen her more than the sound of the whimpering babe, until now. Fear gripped her, and for a moment she thought she was awake instead of in a nightmare.

From Dead As Dreams, Chapter 2 (novel currently in the revision process)

About Dead As Dreams:

Dreams are in danger and souls are chained to the earth. Aysa, the Shepherd of Dreams, and Lazarus, a spirit seeker, join forces to restore the balance between dreams and nightmares and life and death. They face a rogue spirit seeker and a manipulator of nightmares--both intent on unhinging the world, but there is yet another pulling the strings.

Please visit Science Fiction Fantasy Saturday (SFFS) to read more great snippets!

NEXT UP: Monthly Update!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Archaic Observations - Voltron, Ep. 1 - Space Explorers Captured

Archaic Observations is a series that delves back into older media (and items, if it comes to that). The topics are nostalgic for me, and I'm sure many of my generation. However, when looking back at something you were fond of as a child, you may find it's not quite the same. In many cases some things you discover can just be plain silly. If there is any topic you would like me to touch on that you think would fit in this series, please leave a comment or send me an e-mail!

First up for Archaic Observations will be the classic cartoon Voltron: Defender of the Universe. This series began in 1984, and I will go episode by episode with my commentary, most of which will be poking fun at plot holes and some things that just don't make sense!

Today's post will look at Episode 1, "Space Explorers Captured".

I couldn't stop from smiling as I watched this episode--a lot of fond memories from when I was a child. However, with age comes a different perspective, as well as wisdom. Some of the stuff that I eagerly swallowed up and accepted as a child, I questioned as an adult. I poke fun not to be critical, but to show the silliness I gobbled up in the past.

My first reaction: the dialogue! I've learned as a writer to make sure dialogue sounds realistic, as well as not to constantly insert the name of characters being addressed in dialogue. Of course, Keith, Hunk, Pidge, Sven, and Lance use names in their dialogue constantly--too much! Not only that, much of the dialogue is unrealistic, most times making me laugh. Here's one of my favorite silly lines from Episode 1: "We're space explorers, and we need space!"

There are some plot holes I noticed throughout the episode, of course. At the beginning, the space explorers are heading to Planet Arus. But why? It seems that is never answered. We assume it's to find Voltron, but once the explorers are captured, we first hear of Voltron from the Galaxy Alliance, and they speak of it like it was never thought of before that point. And then when the explorers see the castle near the end of the episode, they regale us with the legend of Voltron, again making it sound like it wasn't their mission to begin with.

Speaking of the castle, why exactly is it still standing? If the legend is well-known about the Castle of Lions, and Zarkon (the bad guy) intentionally attacked Arus to get rid of that threat, why wouldn't he have made it his main goal to destroy the castle? Not to mention at the beginning of the episode, Arus seems like a more modern planet, the city they show being destroyed has skyscrapers after all, yet the castle is the medieval variety. True, it hides technology, but even further into the season this skyscrapered-city doesn't fit with the lower-tech villages we see.

Another small plot hole when the explorers first survey the damage Zarkon has done: "The streets are empty. Looks like all the people of Arus made it to their underground shelters." Really, ALL the people? You think maybe some of those people didn't make it and are likely dead? OK, maybe I'm being too harsh since this was a show made for kids. ;)

Finally I leave you with one more plot hole to ponder. What's with the Galaxy Garrison/Alliance? They seem like a bunch of politicians, not a military installment--all talk and no action. No help for their explorers? No help for the Planet Arus? This won't be the last time I vetch about their actions (or non-actions).

So, for those of you that have seen this episode of Voltron, what do you think? Did you find other things that bugged you? What do you love most about the episode?

Personally, I love that evil cat! Fun stuff. =)

NEXT UP: SFFS Snippet - 7/28/12

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A Gamer's Lexicon - Entry 1

A Gamer's Lexicon series touches upon terms players use in video games. The terms here mostly come from my experiences in the MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game) Everquest. This series will hopefully help the non-gamers understand some of the terms gamers use. And gamers may find it humorous as well! If you have any gaming terms (from any type of video game) you would like me to address in the future, or if you think I should add something to already defined terms, please post in the comments--I may ask you to define a term though, if it isn't one I've come across before. Happy hunting!

Welcome to the first entry of A Gamer's Lexicon series! The picture paired with this series is actually a screenshot of my wizard, Karriya, from Everquest (and her newest mount, Starglow). But that isn't what you want to know, is it? You want me to define some crazy gamer terms!

I'll start out with 5 terms this entry.

RNG - Random Number Generator - This term is used a lot in terms of luck. Different items drop from the mobs (term defined below), and its chance, luck, and the percentages that have been plugged into the system that determine what will drop.

RNG Gods - Associated with the term above, these gods come into play when either someone is begging hopelessly for a rare item to drop or when she is cursing said gods for not having dropped the item desired or having given her a bad roll when needing to "roll the dice or choose a random number" if rolling against someone else who wants the item dropped.

mob - In most cases, a mob is a creature that the player needs to kill to work on a quest or to obtain loot (term defined below).

loot - Noun: The items a mob drops that can be pilfered from its corpse. Verb: To actively pilfer the items off of a mob's corpse.

wipe - What a mob does to the player and her group so they cannot loot its items. In other words, total annihilation. The mob killed all of us! = We wiped!

Fun, no? Soon you'll be able to speak a whole new language. Watch for the next entry in the series!

NEXT UP: Classic Voltron: Defender of the Universe--Silly Stuff from Episode One!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Magic Is Reality, Reality Is Magic: The Element of Fire

Magic is Reality, Reality is Magic is a series that highlights aspects of religions, particularly Paganism. We pull things from everyday life to use in our fiction. Magic is one of the key attributes of fantasy. Why not explore the realm of magic that many people already have in their lives?


Graphic By Luigi Chiesa
Fire is one of the four classic elements. Its cardinal direction is south, and when a magic practitioner casts a circle, that is the direction they call to fire from. Red is the main color associated with this element. Fire also represents the astrological signs Leo, Sagittarius, and Aries. The element is usually associated with creativity and strength, but it also can have other representations depending on the person you ask--energy, purification, passion, change, and success are a few.

To learn more about the Element of Fire there are several websites that discuss it, including The White Goddess--The Element of Fire and Fire Folklore and Legends. If you do a Google search, you'll find tons of information. Just be careful for the game links, as using the elements in games, novels, and movies is a popular concept! The series Avatar: The Last Airbender and its sequel series The Legend of Korra use all four classic elements.

Further Reading Suggestions:

Cunningham, Scott. Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner. St. Paul: Llwellyn Publications, 1988.

I hope you found this tidbit interesting! If you would like me to touch on a particular topic that fits in this series, please don't hesitate to contact me with suggestions.

NEXT UP: Gamer's Lexicon, Entry 1 - Learn What the Gamer in YOUR Life is Talking About!

Saturday, July 07, 2012

SFFS Snippet - 7/7/12

A wave of dizziness interrupted the surge of excitement and desire he felt when he thought of the wench. He crawled back into bed and closed his eyes. The image of blue eyes flickered behind his lids, followed by feathers. And tinkling silver leaves.

Then Lazarus remembered her. A dream, he was sure, but the woman in it had seemed so real. If he reached out to grab her, he could pull her right out of the fantasy and into his room.

And the slight warmth that emanated from her--his dreams were always cold, like real life, like the souls he sent off. Everything was cold. Except sex and this strange woman.

From Dead As Dreams, Chapter 2 (novel currently in the revision process)

About Dead As Dreams:

Dreams are in danger and souls are chained to the earth. Aysa, the Shepherd of Dreams, and Lazarus, a spirit seeker, join forces to restore the balance between dreams and nightmares and life and death. They face a rogue spirit seeker and a manipulator of nightmares--both intent on unhinging the world, but there is yet another pulling the strings.

Please visit Science Fiction Fantasy Saturday (SFFS) to read more great snippets!

NEXT UP: Magic is Reality, Reality is Magic - The Element of Fire

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Happy 4th of July! (Belatedly)

My area has currently been under a heat advisory for almost a week now, and yesterday was crazy with no air conditioning by the computers, so I failed to deliver my blog post on time. Sorry about that. Today is supposed to be no better for the heat, but I'll see if I can get the post out I intended to yesterday!

For the 4th, I thought it would be nice to post some pictures my husband and I have taken recently around the United States. I don't like getting gushy, so let's just say I said something teary eyed for the reasons why we should appreciate all that surrounds us.

On our way back from residency, we accidentally went directly through Chicago (oops), so I managed to get a picture of the Sears Tower. It's a side shot, but honestly, it's the only picture from SHU and graduation that seems to have turned out!

This next one is a bit blurry, unfortunately, as aforementioned other pictures from the residency trip didn't turn out. It's a "View from the Hill", Seton Hill to be exact! It's a gorgeous view, and hopefully you can at least see some of that in this shot. We wanted to get a shot of SHU when it was dark out and all lit up, but we didn't get the chance. Maybe next year (maybe I'll have a better camera - sigh).

And finally, the pictures below are some awesome shots I took while hiking at Rocky Arbor State Park a few weeks ago. Got to love nature - so inspiring for writing!

NEXT UP: SFFS Snippet - 7/7/12

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Beat the Heat?

It's only the first of July and today's heat does not bode well for the writing days ahead this summer! Good thing I have a laptop and can sit in front of an air conditioner when needed, but trying to sit at my desktop (like right now) is a challenge indeed.

Anyway, as promised, here is my update post for the first of this month. Let's see what odds and ends I need to cover....

First, I'm happy to announce I now officially have my M.F.A. in Writing Popular fiction! I graduated last Sunday, and I am happy to have survived all the coursework, especially from the last six months. There were times I thought I wouldn't make it!

Graduating doesn't mean life will be any less hectic, though. I have tons of writing tasks on my to do list as well as plans to spend much of the summer with my family. At the beginning of August, my husband and I will actually be on our honeymoon (we've been married for over ten years...so we've waited a long time for this - last time we had intended to go, Katrina hit and there went our plans).

Last month I revised my short story "Bound", and it has already received two rejections. It'll be sent out again this week. ;) I revised the first 25 pages of Dead As Dreams again. For my reading at residency, I read part of Chapter 2 and all of Chapter 3 - it was well received!

July will consist of revising/editing one or two more short stories and consistent progress on revising Dead As Dreams. I actually intend to work on a map, timeline, and history for Dreams, along with answering some much needed questions to help me progress (see my last post concerning Donald Maass's presentation for more details on what I'm talking about). Those things may take up most of the month, but in the end they'll help me progress with revisions faster.

I also plan to send out more queries for The Mind Behind the Mind. I did send out four just last week!

Hm, I really should be talking about progress and not goals, no? It seems my brain is already starting to focus on July and forget about June. Oops!

Don't forget to join us at Writing Quest - July if you're interested in working on your monthly goals alongside fellow writers. Happy writing!

NEXT UP: Pictures! Of what? You'll have to come and see. =)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Residency Redux - June 2012

I still have a "residency hangover" (no, this does not involve alcohol, but spending a whole week with my fellow crazy writers and then NOT being around them anymore, well it does something similar to the body), but I promised a post-residency entry, so here it is!

I thought it would be nice to post some highlights with interesting tidbits. I'll touch briefly on three classes--Warfare for Writers, Map Quest, and The Fire In Fiction.

Mind you, all of the classes were a great help, but I figured touching on only three would give everyone a taste at least. =)

Warfare for Writers was taught by my awesome mentor, Timons Esaias. He is a fount of information, especially when it comes to the technical side of things. He did not disappoint. I took four pages of notes, and I still feel like I missed some important things he discussed. He is also writing a book on this very subject, so keep an eye out for it if this is a topic you're interested in!

So, I give you four of Timons Esaias's sword no-nos (yes, I have accidentally broken at least one of these rules in the past): NO swords on backs, NO swords in the sun, NO tensing on the grip of a sword, and NO flipping and rolling the sword for show, especially on horseback. If you think carefully, you'll understand exactly why these are no-nos.

Do you know of any other mistakes writers make when dealing with swordplay?

The lovely Maria V. Snyder taught Map Quest, a class I sorely needed. First rule of creating your world: no square maps! Oops. She offered many other helpful tips, and I will be referring back to my notes soon when I map out the world of Bodhira for Dead As Dreams.

One thing that we fiddled with during class was creating a map from scratch without a story in mind already. The resulting map may or may not actually give ideas for a story or novel. I know when I wrote my will-never-see-the-light-of-day novel in high school, I created a map of my entire world (yes, it was square, well it was 8 1/2 by 11), even though the novel only took place in two of the kingdoms. By drawing out all thirteen kingdoms of Chyraine, though, the map itself spawned two other short stories, and maybe more in the future. It's amazing what a single map can kindle. ;) If you'd like to try the exercise we did in class, you can visit Holly Lisle's website.

Also, a few tools for map creation were discussed, including the Civilization games. Sure enough, my husband's copy of Civilization III has a random map-making tool. This could be useful for me. Then again, I could get sucked into playing the game!

Do you have a hard time creating maps for your worlds? What do you find the most difficult?

Finally, I wanted to give a mention to our guest speaker, Donald Maass. He spoke in connection with his book The Fire in Fiction. And he made us work! We had two sessions with him, totaling around four and a half hours, and he threw tons of questions at us. I couldn't have been more pleased with what he was asking. His main focus was on bringing our characters alive to tell a good story. Those questions he threw at us were about our characters and our worlds, challenging us to dig deeper, explore further into the stories we've created. I wrote down all the questions he asked, and I intend to use them with every novel I write. You want to create depth? Well, if his book is anything like his talk, buy it!

Here are four of my favorite questions: Can the protagonist want the opposite of what she usually wants at the same time? What would it mean for the protagonist to fail in the story (what would be unredeemable and permanent)? What will the protagonist do to keep her big secret? Who's the person the protagonist most needs to forgive, and why is it impossible to do so?

What questions do you think should be asked of every protagonist or every story/world?

Overall, I learned a lot during this residency, and I am sad that it was my final one. However, I do know I'll have the chance to learn even more at the In Your Write Mind Retreat every year!

Please note the questions I asked throughout the post. I look forward to seeing what other people think about these subjects. Happy writing, all!

NEXT UP: Monthly Update

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

11 Hours In a Car...With A Preschooler

Here I was all ready to tell the story of my horrible trip with my 4-year-old, but she did the worst thing she could do.

She failed to give me an interesting story. =/

We left for my writing residency in the wee hours of Tuesday morning. I had a book to read, but I figured I wouldn't make as much progress as I needed to. However, I only had 40 pages left to read once we reached our destination!

The first hour, she slept. Then we had to make a stop. Not long after she was asleep again. She did wake for some time and talk a bit, but she didn't fuss or whine. And on the last leg of the 11 hour journey, she napped again.

Not a terribly compelling story, I know. And since my husband was driving, I was allowed to get engrossed in the book I was reading, and forgot to take any pictures of the countryside as we drove, so I don't even have a picture to post!

Perhaps she'll make our trip back more entertaining. Probably, since by then I really won't want her to!

So, I leave you with one thing that came out of the long car ride. Go read Hunger Games! No, I haven't seen the movie, but the book is always better, and Hunger Games is a damn good book. ;)

NEXT UP: Post-residency Report

Saturday, June 16, 2012

SFFS Snippet - 6/16/12

A scent invaded the Shepherd of Dream's nose--rotting foliage, wrongness--right before she slipped from the Nexus and into a dream, where another stench kicked the first one to the back of her mind. Ale. Not the sweet smell of it when it was freshly poured, but the nose-wrinkling fumes floating off the breath of someone who was drinking too much.

She reeled, covering her mouth with her arm, hesitant to venture further into the dream. She had to, though. This was why she existed, to improve others' dreams, in hopes of affecting their waking lives. At least that's what she thought. She'd never had a guide, no instructions on what to do when she first realized she could live in dreams and manipulate them. She was surely the will of Muska, Mother of Dreams. It was the only explanation.

From Dead As Dreams, Chapter 1 (novel currently in the revision process)

About Dead As Dreams:

Dreams are in danger and souls are chained to the earth. Aysa, the Shepherd of Dreams, and Lazarus, a spirit seeker, join forces to restore the balance between dreams and nightmares and life and death. They face a rogue spirit seeker and a manipulator of nightmares--both intent on unhinging the world, but there is yet another pulling the strings.

Please visit Science Fiction Fantasy Saturday (SFFS) to read more great snippets!

NEXT UP: Traveling to Writing Residency with a Preschooler - 11 Hours in a Car!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Magic is Reality, Reality is Magic: The Pentacle

Magic is Reality, Reality is Magic is a series that highlights aspects of religions, particularly Paganism. We pull things from everyday life to use in our fiction. Magic is one of the key attributes of fantasy. Why not explore the realm of magic that many people already have in their lives?


Graphic By Nyo
The pentacle is an upright 5-pointed star surrounded by a circle. This is a symbol used often in ceremonies by Pagans and Wiccans. It can also be worn around the neck as an amulet, much like a cross. As a matter of fact, it's associated with the cross in another aspect--it's a symbol of protection. The points of the star can also represent the 5 elements; earth, air, fire, water, and spirit.

To learn more about the pentacle, as well as some other symbols that are similar, please visit: Symbols of Wicca, other Neopagan traditions, Satanism, etc.

Further Reading Suggestions:

Ravenwolf, Silver. To Ride a Silver Broomstick: New Generation Witchcraft. St. Paul: Llwellyn Publications, 1997.

I hope you found this tidbit interesting! If you would like me to touch on a particular topic that fits in this series, please don't hesitate to contact me with suggestions.

NEXT UP: SFFS Snippet - 6/16/12

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Crazy Necro Antics, First Edition - Summer!

The necromancer is a playable character class in Everquest, also called necro for short. Necros have an ability called feign death--some nicknames for this ability are FD and flopping. This series will highlight some funny instances of feign death. You do not need to be an Everquest player or even a gamer to laugh at these antics. Happy giggles!

Today my necromancer, Morrigann, will all show us how much fun she has at a beach party!

It's always fun of course to start out by sunning on the beach. The necromancer has a distinct advantage when tanning her back, however, due to only being able to FD in one position, her stomach is still stark white. ;) The half and half look is in this summer with most necros, but it doesn't much matter when their robes cover up their efforts!

Morrigann decided it was time to take a dip in the pool! She's excellent at the dead man's float. Wait, she has her robe on.... Perhaps she isn't just floating around. Drowned? You never know with necros. Her skeleton pet does seem to know the secret to walking on water, though. Maybe she accidentally swam into one of his wicked fire blades!

What would a beach party be without some indulgence in spirits? Ale, Gnomish spirits, wine--Morrigann had quite a mix of alcohol. And I think she went overboard. She's fallen face first into the fountain!

I hope you've enjoyed the first edition of Crazy Necro Antics!

If you have any suggestions and silly antics you'd like to see, please post in the comments! It's possible your chosen antic(s) may be used in an upcoming post. All requests will be attributed in the post with a link back to the requester's blog (so include your blog link as well if I don't know it).

NEXT UP: Magic is Reality, Reality is Magic - The Pentacle

FUTURE POSTS: A new post every Wednesday, occasional SFFS Snippets, monthly status updates (the first of every month), a gamer's lexicon (so you know what the gamer in your life is talking about!), classic Voltron plot holes (for fun!), and much more!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Website Update!

Today I have spent the day updating my website! Change is good, right? Well, it's not so bad when it's just a little change.

It was due, especially since I wanted to make sure I had no defunct or broken links after switching to my own domain name. Some things were merely updated, some were removed, another thing was added. If you wander over to the website, you can see a list of updates by scrolling to the bottom and clicking Website Updates. Also, if you notice anything isn't quite right, please bring it to my attention.

I haven't yet drawn up my blog plan, but I intend to do so tonight and tomorrow. I did tweek a few things in the left column for now on the blog. I've decided I won't be directly integrating it into my website - it's a bit of a headache from the directions I've seen, and I am fine with keeping things separate. There is now a link right on the top left to easily get back to my website for those that visit my blog from there.

I'm still plugging along with revising. This time I also revised my short story "Bound". It will get a final edit this weekend and be sent out! *crosses fingers for an acceptance somewhere*

I also delved into Pinterest today. I only have two things pinned right now, but I hope to explore the platform more and pin many more things! One of my pins is actually Everquest. Why do I bring this up? Because I have plans for several silly gaming posts, mostly associated with Everquest, since that is what I am familiar with. Ah, the fantasy of losing myself in the world of Norrath since 2005, and for many more years to come (I hope). It's definitely a well-rounded fantasy world. Anyway, I thought it would be fun to do a gaming series, and one where you don't have to be a gamer to enjoy the posts!

On a final note, Writing Quest - June is now open, so come and join us! Happy writing, all!

NEXT UP: Crazy Necro Antics, First Edition - Summer!

Friday, May 18, 2012

She Lives!

Did you think my class work had chewed me up never to spit me out? Well, almost.

I'm still reeling from it all, but I am done with the term! One last residency in June, at which time I will graduate with my M.F.A. Woo hoo!

I guess I should update everyone on my writing progress and goals. *rolls sleeves up*

I am currently through 55 pages of revisions for Dead As Dreams, and my goal is to complete the first round of revisions by the end of September. Even though I had an amazing amount of class work last term, I am fired up with my writing. The momentum I have is great, and I intend to keep it going. Dead As Dreams needs to get to the point where I can start querying agents!

Speaking of queries, this month or next, I'll be sending out one last round of agent queries for The Mind Behind the Mind. Then it gets sent to a major publisher to sit in a slush pile for a while so I can worry about other projects, and perhaps a few years down the road I'll write both of the sequels and consider indie publishing them. But I have plenty of other writing to keep me busy before then.

I've also started a new project. This is a majorly long term project. I'm working with a friend to create an online creature collectible game, similar to Magistream. The site will be called Elements of Anian. I'm currently developing the world of Anian, and I intend to write some novels based in the world as well. I've actually written the first chapter of the first novel, Into the Ash, already. It's a young adult dark fantasy. I'm quite excited about all of this, and I hope the website does get off the ground, but if for some reason it doesn't, I'll at least have novel ideas lined up. ;)

As you can tell, the Daina's Dance progress bar hasn't moved. I don't know what it is about that novel, but I am having some major issues trying to figure out what to do with it. So, I'll be experimenting a bit with it in the next few weeks, changing the tense--re-writing versus adding new writing. Progress is progress, even if it is experimenting!

Oh, were you wondering when I was going to start blogging more consistently? Was that the news you were actually waiting for? Soon! I need to map out my battle plan for the rest of the year, but I do hope to start posting once per week again by the end of the month (maybe even next week), and then I intend to up my posts to two or three times per week. I just need to make sure it's not cutting into my writing time a lot. I can't rein in the momentum! Writing is more important than blogging, although I have a bunch of fun blogging. I do have a couple new blog series ideas, which I hope people will enjoy. =)

I just wanted to mention a couple more things in this post:

First, there is still time to sign up for the In Your Write Mind retreat! You won't be disappointed. Please visit the website to at least see who the guests will be.

And Writing Quest - May is of course underway, and many of us have made tons of progress on our goals. Don't be afraid to join in even if the month is already halfway over!

Also, I'm still looking for any feedback for what you'd like to see me blog about. Feel free to fill out this Survey!

Happy writing, all! =)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Soundtrack for Dead As Dreams

If you haven't noticed yet, my word count meter for Dead As Dreams is at 100%. I officially finished the rough draft on Monday, after 3 sessions which totaled 5 hours that day for a word count total of over 5000 words (more than 20 pages!). =)

Of course I still have a lot of work ahead--some world-building development and tons of revision, but it still feels great to have typed THE END.

So, I thought it would be neat to post the soundtrack I listened to while writing the rough draft (and which I will continue listening to for subsequent drafts). The first song on this list is the one that gave me the idea for the novel in the first place, at least the one that incited visions of my main female character.

Behind Blue Eyes by Limp Bizkit (cover, the original written by The Who)
The End of Heartache by Killswitch Engage
Lightning Crashes by Live
Sweet by Switchblade Symphony
Papercut by Linkin Park
Hurt by Nine Inch Nails
Within Me by Lacuna Coil
Winter Born (This Sacrifice) by The Crüxshadows
Save Yourself by Stabbing Westward
Amen by Jewel
More Than This by The Cure
In Time by Mark Collie
The Only One by Evanescence

Do you listen to music when you write? Have you listened to any of the songs above? If so, what emotions and images do they evoke for you?

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Update from the MFA Trenches

Aside from my couple SFFS posts, I know I've been on the silent end, but as mentioned at the beginning of the year, I have a lot on my plate, and I am attempting to plan and restructure things for when I finally graduate.

I figured I was at least due for an update, though. =)

My classes are as crazy as I thought they would be. Between my toddler and all the class work, I am exhausted! I'm not even halfway through the term and I am burned out.

So, where does this leave me with my writing? I'm still making progress on Dead As Dreams - I estimate about 5-6 chapters left to write in the rough draft. I have yet to get a handle on the Write Every Day goal, but I'll get there, I'm sure. Baby Steps. ;)

I did make the time to participate in two things this month, which were great experiences!

I was part of a podcast for Broad Universe's monthly podcasts, Broadly Speaking. February's is about romance in speculative fiction, so feel free to have a listen if you're interested.

Then I guest blogged at Heidi Ruby Miller's blog for her Secret Writers series. That was great fun as well!

The couple times I participated in Science Fiction and Fantasy Saturday (SFFS) was a blast too - I hope everyone liked the snippets I posted.

Also I have a couple reminders before I wrap up this post.

Writing Quest - March starts tomorrow, and the event is already posted on Facebook, so feel free to join us and tell us what your writing goals are for the month.

And I can't forget to mention the In Your Write Mind Workshop that's coming up in June. I'll be at the residency this year, but since they coincide, I'll be around. In Your Write Mind is a great retreat run by the alums of Seton Hill's Writing Popular Fiction Program!

That should do it for now. It's time to convince myself to work on more class work instead of giving into the desire to take a nap. Happy writing, all!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

SFFS Snippet - 2/25/12

Drawn to her, [Bastian] couldn't stop from turning his head, watch her place a loose hair behind her ear and smooth her dress, her bags now at her feet. If Simon's worries ended up nothing more than paranoia, perhaps this wouldn't be a wasted trip. A hum sounded in his mind, reaching its vibration through his entire body. A little fun never hurt.

From The Mind Behind the Mind, Chapter 2

Leera is a world where the bloody sun is said to be the head of the witch that was killed by the first witch hunter. To prove the good intentions of her people, Tessa pursues a murderer, joins forces with Bastian, a witch hunter, and puts her life and the lives of her fellow witches at risk.

Please visit Science Fiction Fantasy Saturday (SFFS) to read more great snippets!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

SFFS Snippet - 2/11/12

Tessa imagined what the orchards would look like if the irrigation failed. Twining fruitless branches stretching upward, imploring the sky to open and bring forth rain. She regarded the trees, envisioning their lifeless husks, and noticed a tree with two shadows. One of the shadows shifted. Cold tendrils wove into her mind. The shadow shouldn't have been there; it was wrong.

From The Mind Behind the Mind, Chapter 1

Leera is a world where the bloody sun is said to be the head of the witch that was killed by the first witch hunter. Tessa is a witch and Bastian is a witch hunter, with witchblood. They're drawn together, caught between others struggling for power, and trying to discover who they are and what they are to each other.

Please visit Science Fiction Fantasy Saturday (SFFS) to read more great snippets!

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Survey of Blog Topics!

I've been reading Booklife by Jeff VanderMeer (there is also a website associated with the book - http://booklifenow.com/) for one of my classes. It's an informative and frightening book all at the same time.

One of the small things VanderMeer suggests earlier in the book is to offer a survey to your blog readers, especially if you're unsure if the topics you're blogging about keep the interest of your readers. What a great tip!

So, without further ado, I present my short, 5 question survey. I would appreciate any and all feedback on Born to Write! Survey on Born to Write Blog Topics.

I think this just might be the thing I need to help me determine the direction of my blog (once I am no longer swamped with endless class work, that is...only a few more months).

As a quick reminder, Writing Quest - February has begun! It's leap year, so we have an extra day for our goals. =)

Thank you in advance for helping out with the survey - much appreciated!

Friday, January 06, 2012

There And Back Again

OK, so I have The Hobbit on the brain, but I DID just have to read that book again, so that's a good enough reason for me. =)

I usually write up my yearly post closer to January 1, but this year I have been a bit delayed. I've been thinking a lot about 2011 and how fast it flew by. It zoomed by so fast that I hardly got anything done that I had intended. To me, this means I'm doing something wrong.

Perhaps I'm expecting too much of myself, perhaps I have too much on my to do lists and when I falter even just a little it drags me down and I feel like any of it is impossible. Or maybe I just need to find the right motivation to propel me forward. Even with raising a toddler, dealing with sickness, and managing my M.F.A. classes, I know I should be able to progress with my writing at a better rate than I have been.

And because of all these thoughts, I think I need to take a lesson from FlyLady.net I am a fluttering FlyBaby attempting to get my house in order as well as my writing. One of the big things FlyLady encourages is Baby Steps. Don't pile it all on, do a little at a time, and slowly add things in until they become habits.

I need to make my writing time into a habit, and to do that I need to start small. My main goal for my Writing Term project in my M.F.A. program is getting on a consistent writing schedule. THAT is my SINGLE goal for the year. This means writing every day, even if it is just 100 words.

And since I definitely need to take Baby Steps, I need to work on one habit at a time, and cut back on other things. This includes blogging.

I have made the decision to cut down (for now) on how often I blog. The writing has to come first - I need to start producing more instead of having novels linger for nearly a decade before a rough draft is done. I'm not going to set a blogging schedule for at least the first six months of the year. I'll blog when I find slivers of time, when I have a link or two to share, when I possibly have some essays from my classes to post, and if anyone decides they want to do a guest blog.

I do hope to start taking part in SFFS (Science Fiction Fantasy Saturday) some time soon (not this week yet, though), but I don't know how often I will participate.

I do hope that those of you who have enjoyed visiting my blog will still hang in there with me, even though there won't be as much content as there was in 2011.

So, I am ditching all the disappointments of 2011, and I am taking Baby Steps in 2012:

WRITE EVERY DAY

Eventually I'll get back to blogging every week, but I'm not going to rush myself or set a date.

Good luck to everyone with their goals and resolutions for 2012. Happy writing!

And don't forget to visit my Facebook Page and join in on Writing Quest if you dare - I will still be running it each month. There's an ambitious list of goals from many people for Writing Quest - January already!