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

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Haunted Unicorn Publishing - Beta Reading and Developmental Editing

Back in February I started offering Ebook Formatting via Haunted Unicorn Publishing. Well, at the beginning of July I also added Beta Reading and Developmental Editing to my services. Aside from posting on Kboards and the Haunted Unicorn Facebook Page, it was a pretty quiet addition, so I figured it was about time to announce it officially on my blog!

I've always found it easier to see and focus on the bigger picture items when looking at a piece of fiction, instead of the nit-picky line editing and proofreading that many others are better at. So, offering Beta Reading and Developmental Editing make the most sense. And I'm happy to help other writers improve their stories, if they feel like they need another pair of eyes. With my MFA in Writing Popular Fiction and well over a decade of critiquing under my belt (and a need to make sure I'm thorough), anyone who decides to hire me will hopefully be pleased with the feedback.

Details? Of course! If you want the full run down, please visit the Beta Reading page and the Developmental Editing page. But I'll list some brief details here. =)

For both services I'll read any fiction genre except for erotica. The services don't include copy editing, line editing, proofreading, or fact checking. I also won't do rush requests.

Beta reading involves me reading once through a manuscript, adding reader reaction notes as I read and then summarizing my bigger points at the end. Though I'm happy to clarify any notes that confuse you, this service doesn't include a back and forth at the end to work through things.

Developmental editing includes at least two passes of a manuscript, internal notes added during both passes. Then at the end I'll write up a detailed analysis of a long list of story elements (they are listed on the Developmental Editing page). This service also includes a chat or back and forth in emails at the end discussing further and exploring the comments I made.

I'm also offering a free sample edit of the first 3,000 words of a manuscript! It's the best way to discover if my style of editing works well for people. Just fill out the Sample Edit Request Form if you're interested and currently have something you want looked at.

Any questions about my services can be directed to haunted@hauntedunicorn.com (if you contact me via my Alexa Grave form or email, I'll reply from one of the Haunted Unicorn emails).

My current prices are listed below -- watch the Haunted Unicorn Facebook Page for future discounts!

Read on! It's all about the story!

Current Beta Reading & Developmental Editing Prices for Haunted Unicorn Publishing

***Please check the Beta Reading and Developmental Editing pages of the Haunted Unicorn Publishing website to confirm that they haven't changed.***

❦ Beta Reading --- $0.001 per word (so a 90,000-word book would cost $90)

❦ Short Stories included in Beta Reading --- Minimum $10 charge even if under 10,000 words

❦ Developmental Editing --- $0.006 per word (so a 90,000-word book would cost $540)

❦ Short Stories included in Developmental Editing --- Minimum $30 charge even if under 5,000 words

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Spider-Man: Homecoming - Lots of Laughs

WARNING: You know the drill. Spoilers ahead! Oh, man, the spoilers. Avert your eyes and run away if you don't want stuff ruined for you regarding Spider-Man: Homecoming. Please go see it, for a hearty laugh at the very least. And if you don't laugh at this movie, I have to wonder where you hid your sense of humor.

I know, I know, it's another reboot of Spider-Man. Many people are not fans of another reboot of this franchise. However, I think it's the best of the most recent movies. And I am thrilled it has been integrated into the MCU (quite well, I might add).

First, I have to admit that I didn't read the comics way back when. I didn't have enough disposable income for tons of comics and I was mainly fascinated with X-Men (which I also only nabbed a couple spinoffs of - Gambit and Rogue pretty much). So, my first big exposure to Spider-Man was the movies with Peter Parker in the role. Those movies were pretty serious. Which is why when I caught my kids watching some superhero show, I was shocked to see the Spider-Man in that joking, light, and acting like a kid. My husband promptly informed me that this cartoon version was closer to the comics. I thought it was great. (Not that I didn't enjoy the Perter Parker Spider-Man movies.)

The Andrew Garfield Spider-Man attempted to add more of the humor, but it still was pretty serious, in my opinion.

Spider-Man: Homecoming though hit that humor nail on the head. I loved it. I was constantly laughing. It was great to have this teen bumbling around and trying to be a superhero (plus we didn't have to grit our teeth through another origin story). When he took the "training wheels" off his suit, it was hilarious. It also gave us insight into his character -- he didn't want to kill anyone, and that sat right and made sense with who he is, at least in my mind. Even at the end, though he was trying to stop Vulture, he refused to let him die. He saved him. Awesome character development for Peter Parker.

The villain was wonderfully layered in this movie as well. Out of the destruction of New York (from The Avengers) a man who wants to provide for his family emerges and takes advantage of all of the alien tech that's left lying around. Of course, he turns into what he hates, though he doesn't see it himself.

Now, I usually see things coming, but I have to admit I had a hand-over-my-mouth moment when Peter opened the door to find that Liz's father was vulture. I know, I know, the last two movies have surprised me -- guess I'm losing my touch. ;) That whole awkward scene in Vulture's house was great, and I know some people might think it was too convenient, but I loved it.

While I enjoyed the movie for the most part, I wasn't a huge fan of Liz. At least this pretty girl was a smart, pretty girl... I guess. She didn't seem well rounded to me, honestly.

I did love Michelle, and wished we would have seen more of her. For the little she was in it, her character came completely alive for me, right down to the middle finger she gave Peter at the dance. And I of course loved the reveal at the end. "My friends call me MJ." OK, this isn't in line with the comics at all. The movie took liberties and clearly intends to change how things work and who MJ is. Purists cry foul over such things. But I think it's wonderful that they're willing to make characters their own and change them to improve upon old stories. I look forward to seeing more of this MJ in the next movie (and I'll be super disappointed if it doesn't happen).

So, those are my thoughts on Spider-Man: Homecoming. Did you find it as funny as I did? Have anything to rave about or quibble over? I'd love to hear your reaction to the movie!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Bristol Renaissance Faire 2017

I try to attend the Bristol Renaissance Faire every year. Currently it's been with my family, of course (though hubbie and I are threatening to leave the kids with a friend one day next year so we can have a non-kid centric day there - lol). And this year I wanted to share some pictures I took. I think I got some good ones!

This is the statue of a jester. Don't ask me to report the details on the plaque below it because the day goes fast and my memory doesn't retain such things.

We attended the Joust to the Death. I had fun taking tons of pictures of this. Some are to the right and below.

Finally, here's yet another rare picture of me. I mean, I just had to get a picture on the unicorn throne (actually alicorn for those who are picky with that kind of thing)!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Wonder Woman - Kickass!

WARNING: Spoilers! Spoilers! Don't I always have them? You know the deal. If you haven't seen Wonder Woman and don't want things ruined for you (how have you not seen this yet?) then surf away from the page. Come back when you've wised up and gone to see it. Don't give me any excuses either. ;)

I feel bad that it's taken me so long to comment on Wonder Woman, since I did see it on release weekend! First, I have to admit that weekend my brain was in a bit of a fog, so I went into the movie with the sole intent on just enjoying it and not analyzing it at all. That was apparent after I came out of the movie and I seemed to have enjoyed it way more than my husband did (mind you, he had some valid points after I thought about it). So, I'm not sure how discerning I'll be in this post, especially since it's been a while.

Funny enough, I never actually planned to go see Wonder Woman. Not because of the subject matter (I love superhero movies and I also love kickass women). DC hasn't had the best track record lately. I never saw Batman v. Superman either. Plus, when I watched the previews for Wonder Woman, I wasn't all that impressed.

But then the movie released to great reviews, and a bunch of my friends raved about it. So, I decided to go, and I quickly realized that they just did a shit job with the trailer (I'm not a fan of the Justice League trailer either - I'm hoping the movie is better than the trailer for that, too).

Wonder Woman was amazing. And I'm happy I took both of my girls to see it - they need strong female role models like this. I even took a picture of both of them next to the movie poster. :D They did a great job portraying Diana as a strong, independent woman. She wasn't dwarfed by any of the male characters at any point, even though I thought most of her supporting male characters were also well rounded.

This movie could have easily made a wrong turn and pretended to be a feminist movie while still condescending to stereotypes and falling into the pit of "sexy woman with a sword and no brain". It didn't, though. And I hope to grab a copy when it releases on DVD so I can take it all in when my head is a little less in La La Land.

Not only was Diana portrayed excellently, I loved the main villain, Ares. I have to admit, I didn't see it coming. I didn't think Ludendorff was Ares, but I didn't know it was Sir Patrick. Usually I see through such things, but this time I was surprised! And it was a good surprise.

I think my favorite part of the movie was all of the Greek mythology and Diana's time on the island. I'm always a sucker for that stuff.

Of course, though the story was strong for the most part, and the characters great, the movie wasn't perfect. My husband pointed out the overuse of the slow motion. It didn't bother me much, mostly was background noise for me since I was paying attention to the story more, but when I thought about it was was probably a little heavy-handed. Comes with the territory for the director. He also mentioned that it lagged a bit when they were in London, and I had to agree with him.

Honestly, I was worried about the World War I setting originally, expecting Diana at some point to be "put in her place" because of the era, but was happy to see that the time period only strengthened her character. I can't wait to see the movie again!

What was your favorite part of Wonder Woman?

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Self-Publishing Fantasy Blog-Off 2017

So, author Mark Lawrence does this awesome thing. An awesome thing that benefits indie fantasy writers.

What is this awesome thing? He organizes the Self-Publishing Fantasy Blog-Off! (Also called SPFBO.)

This is the third year he's running it. Back in May, he posted a call to authors. He took 300 submissions of fantasy novels (first in series or stand alone). And the contest was filled in less than a week (which goes to show just how well the first two years went).

Luckily, I managed to submit Mind Behind the Mind (Trinity Torn, 1) to the contest. Now, there are a lot of great contenders out there, and the chances of Mind winning are beyond slim, but I figured I'd take a chance and at the very least come out the other end with a review. I considered posting about this sooner, but the official start date was July 1.

What's the contest all about? Well, 10 bloggers have graciously volunteered their time to judge the entries. Each blogger receives 30 titles. Out of those 30 titles, they narrow it down to their single, top title. And then all 10 bloggers read the top 10 books chosen to pick the winner!

Take a look at the Phase 1 post on Mark Lawrence's blog to see all of the titles and which blogs they were assigned to. You'll find Mind under the Fantasy Book Review list.

You can also find a compiled list of all of this year's entries on Goodreads! I've already added several titles to my To Be Read pile (I seriously need more time in a day).

And if you'd like to keep track of the reviews all in one handy place, you can do so HERE.

I wish all of the entrants good luck, and I also send out a great big thank you to Mark Lawrence and all of the bloggers who take the time to make the SPFBO as awesome as it is!

Thursday, June 29, 2017

In Your Write Mind 2017 - Highlights

In Your Write Mind (which going forward will be referred to as IYWM) 2017 was a blast! It had been four years since I'd been able to attend - far too long.

Now, I know I should be going to things like this with the sole intent of propelling my writing career forward, but I have to be honest, I mainly attend IYWM to reconnect with a great group of writer friends. Many of us consider fellow Writing Popular Fiction students and alumni our tribe. Though most of us are introverts and uncomfortable in social situations in general, when we're at IYWM we feel like we belong. Seton Hill is our home away from home.

And of course it's sad when the few days we have to spend together fly by too fast! We can still reminisce and remember the fun times, though - the social aspect as well as anything learned and taken away regarding our writing careers. So, here goes. Shoving many memories into one blog post!

I took the train out, and though it was mostly overnight, I did manage to get a few words down (and even some on the way back... but we won't talk about the last few days after I got home - heh). Thursday was the official start of IYWM, and I took advantage of the Write In. Progress on Hell On Wheels (Devil made Me, 2)!

As a matter of fact, even a couple of the classes I attended helped me with the novelette. Friday, the true classes started, and the first I went to was Back-Cover Copy. And we had a chance to draft a blurb and get some feedback! Yup, the Hell On Wheels blurb is at least now partially done. Plus I attended the Food and Writing class, which was awesome (not only because we got some tasty food), but because I wrote about how Moira missed food. And then I realized I was right at the point in the first draft that if adjusted, the snippet would fit perfectly! Got to love when things work out like that.

Of course the highlight of Friday was the book signing. Unfortunately, with flooding and tornado warnings in the area, the signing didn't attract as many people as it could have. I was also insanely nervous, but I calmed down a bit as the night wore on - I actually couldn't believe how quickly the time flew! I sold a handful of copies of both Mind Behind the Mind and Dreams in Shadow (and did a couple swaps as well with some of my fellow authors). Lots of compliments on the Mind cover, too. Think I'll be less nervous the next time I attend a signing? Probably not - lol. The pic below is of me at my table.

Onto Saturday, I attended the guest author's class as well as the author luncheon. Diana Rowland was the guest author this year, and she was great. Though I am a self-proclaimed zombie disliker, I ordered a copy of the first novel in the White Trash zombie series once I got home. OK, maybe I only hate the "Braaaiiinnns," kind of zombies. Ones who think and have personality are more up my alley. I mean, I do enjoy watching iZombie. Oh, and she showed us a few gruesome morgue pictures - I'm always up to learn about and see new things!

The costume ball was on Saturday as well. This year's theme was International Persons of Mystery. Spies! I didn't plan a costume to fit the theme, but I did get myself a new dress with little skulls all over it. And alicorn hair clips. I went with the whole the hair clips are mini daggers thing as an explanation. ;) Do you want a picture? I can do that. Here's a great one of me with a few of my fellow crazy writers.

Finally, Sunday was a bit of a blur (probably because I had like three hours of sleep), and far too short. We celebrated the new graduates of the Writing Popular Fiction program at a luncheon to cap the day off.

Here's hoping I can make it again next year. It will all depend on money and if the hubbie has any conferences for work around that time. I'd also love to drag the family along, especially since the costume ball theme will be Storybookland! I'll be thinking about my costume for that one over the next few months. Any suggestions are welcome!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Art, Or Where My Brain Is Before A Trip

I'd intended to write up a post about Wonder Woman, really I did. But my brain doesn't want to form anything coherent right now. (Hopefully I'll write up some comments for a later post, unless I get too distant from when I watched the movie).

It could be anxiety because it's been 4 years since I've ventured away from the family on my own for a long stretch of time (I've dealt with different levels of anxiety all my life, especially social anxiety, and no I haven't been diagnosed, but it does run in my family). Or it could be all the things on my to do list freezing up my molecules, especially my neurons. Probably a combination of both. I'll push through to at least get the necessary stuff done. But a thoughtful blog post? Hahahaha. Not right now.

Sooooo... pretty pictures! I poked around Pixabay for some neat ones simply using the search term "fantasy". Art definitely makes me smile and helps me shove down some of that anxiety, even if for only a brief moment.

First up is this haunted looking train. Definitely neat. I'm sure I've seen it other places around the internet. But I picked this one because I'll be hopping on a train tomorrow! Let's hope it's not a ghost train, shall we?

I also found this neat idyllic scene. I love the face in the tree and the blue butterflies make it pop. What do you think the woman in the picture is thinking? She looks deep in thought. I wonder if her hair hides pointed ears. This might be a good one to do a free write based on and see where it takes me (maybe while I'm on the train)!

And I love this one. Unicorns are my thing. I have a black unicorn tattoo. One of my friends also made me a Unicorno addict (those little figures are so expensive - lol). I love how the edits are done in this picture, though. Makes it all look more realistic. Oh, and I'm also seeking many, many unicorns right now: balance, writing career success, convincing my 3-year-old to not be so stubborn and willful...

Have any pretty art that you've found recently and love?

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

In Your Write Mind Book Signing

My apologies, this post has been delayed! I kind of fell into a black hole last week - I'd intended to take a week off from writing and revising, but not the rest of my writing to do list. Oops. At least my brain feels a bit less crispy after playing some Diablo III.

So, I'm back at ticking things off that list, including starting the rough draft of Hell On Wheels, the second story in the Devil Made Me series and the sequel to Hell Hath No Fury.

Which brings me to this blog post. Nope, not about the Devil Made Me series...

In Your Write Mind! (Also known as IYWM going forward in this post.) IYWM is the writing workshop run by many awesome alumni of Seton Hill University's Writing Popular Fiction MFA program. I haven't been able to attend for a couple years due to kids and money. But I'm going this year!

IYWM is next week already. And not only will I be going to the whole 4-day workshop, I'll have books for sale (and signing) at the book signing.

Friday, June 23, 7:30pm-9pm at Seton Hill University's Performing Arts Center in Greensburg, PA.

I will have limited copies of Mind Behind the Mind (Trinity Torn, 1) and Dreams in Shadow (Fortunes of Fate, 1) for sale. If you want to be sure you have a copy for me to sign, you may want to order paperbacks before coming, since I'm taking the train in and number of copies will purely depend on my condensed packing abilities. ;) Links to purchase paperbacks are below.

Oh, and I will have bookmarks! I made some for Mind Behind the Mind and the Fractured Fairies series. Plus postcards for the Fortunes of Fate series - I loved making these, and I think they turned out beautifully.

So please come visit me, and I'll do my best to not hide in my shell (because social situations scare the crap out of me sometimes). Plus there will be so many other awesome authors there. You're bound to find other books you'd love to read!

Places to Purchase Paperbacks

Mind Behind the Mind

Barnes & Noble

Dreams in Shadow


Friday, June 02, 2017

Crispy Writer Brain

I'm DONE with the first draft of Thorns Entwine the Blade!

The initial reaction was much rejoicing, and I rode the writing high. Of course, you have to come plummeting down from the heights at some point. For me, it didn't take too long.

Mainly, this is due to the last two weeks of massive writing binges. I know many writers who can write 3000-5000 (or more) daily. Yay for them! (Not a sarcastic yay. I'm happy for them, and a little envious.) And in most cases, they worked up to that -- one rarely starts at such amounts.

I'm used to about 1000-1500 words a day, and usually about 3 days per week (let's not have a discussion on increasing my writing productivity -- for now, that's my usual, and my "day job" includes a three-year-old who's particularly bull-headed, and reminded me just how much with an hour long fit this morning). Over the last two weeks, I've written over 19,000 words. That's 9,500 average per week. More than twice as much as my usual writing output.

And what compounds it, is that two of the days were 4000-word days, 1 day a 3000-word day, and then my final day of 2600 words (and several 1000-1500-word days).

My brain is fried.

Yes, writer burn out does exist. I'm not saying that these kinds of numbers will never be my norm. But right now it was like a massively long sprint. My side is aching and I can barely breathe. (Side note: I'm not a runner, so a long sprint for me is like a block - lol. XD)

And I am feeling the flames. Crispy writer brain. I can't keep this up without a break.

I need time to recover physically and mentally. Heck, I'm finding it harder than usual to write a sensical (this is not a real word -- my brain can't think of how to word this right now, though... please don't make it) blog post with the usual toddler interruptions.

Of course, I can't take a break yet. I have to go through the draft and fix a few things that I already know need fixing (I need to do this by Sunday, so more sprinting is likely). Then I can send it off to my beta readers.

Then, yes, I can take a break. A short one. Do you think a week will be enough to recharge the writing/revising batteries?

Oh, and this doesn't mean I get a week off. Aside from the toddler who never lets me have a minute off, I also have other writing tasks to tackle (my developmental editing plan for Haunted Unicorn Publishing, cover art for Hell On Wheels, tweaking the cover and back matter for Hell Hath No Fury, critiques, another blog post... among other things). I should also consider cleaning the house.

But right now I really just need some "no actual writing" time. I love writing to no end, but burn out is a real thing, honest.

Let's hope my brain doesn't get much crispier before I finish on Sunday, or my hubbie might need to pull out the fire extinguisher. =P

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Bats, Kids, and Writing Binges

I am so close to the end of the first draft of Thorns Entwine the Blade! And it's haunting me. My brain can only think of the words I have ahead of me. So much so that I just want to sit down and have a nice little writing binge to finish it. Then maybe my brain can have a break, right?

I did get a great writing day in this past Saturday - 4000 words! 2900 of those were in one sitting (bad writer not moving for 3 hours... but I needed to finish the chapter!). But since then, I haven't been able to just sit and WRITE for a long stretch.

Kids and exhaustion are the two big reasons.

This is what I'm contending with right now as I write this blog post:

3-YEAR-OLD: What do Cheerios taste like?

ME: Like Cheerios.

3-YEAR-OLD: Like peanuts!

ME: No, they taste like Cheerios.

3-YEAR-OLD: Mama, mama, mama.

ME: What?

3-YEAR-OLD: I like pink eggs. What's your color? Is your color purple? (We have decorated blown out eggs on a bookshelf from Ostara.)

ME: Yes.

3-YEAR-OLD: What do Cheerios smell like?

ME: Like Cheerios.

3-YEAR-OLD: No, like fish! What do Goldfish smell like? (She's referring to the crackers, not the fish that swim around in a bowl.)

It's a wonder that I haven't bloodied my forehead from banging it on my desk. She does not shut up. Which makes it near impossible to read a sentence let alone write one, at least if I want Thorns Entwine the Blade to make any sense whatsoever. Heck, I can barely eat lunch because she's chattering every time I try to take a bite.

So, I have this awesome drive to GET TO THE END, but the threenager is making it pretty impossible. I've gotten a little done during her naps... but it doesn't help when I'm so exhausted and nap with her.

Also, being woken up early because there's a bat zipping through your house doesn't help in the exhaustion department either. Look at the little guy zooming around once we got him onto the porch. There was no getting back to sleep after that. O.O

Now my kid wants me to turn my light off so her stuffed animals can sleep. Mmm, this may require me to channel Bastian a bit. He draws his sword and says, "Try me." Uh huh, yup, brain is glommed on to the novel too much. Must finish...

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Baby Groot! (Well, More Like Toddler Groot)

WARNING: Spoilers! Per usual, there are spoilers in the post below. If you haven't seen Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and don't want to be spoiled, surf away from this post and come back once you've seen it. However, if you don't mind knowing what happens in a movie before you see it, by all means, continue reading (just don't get mad).

"I am Groot!" Oh, that little voice -- so gosh darn adorable. And as expected, Baby Groot was my favorite character in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Of course, since I'm in the middle of dealing with my own toddler, I totally think he's more of a toddler than a baby. You know, doing the exact opposite thing that he's asked? Yeah. He didn't quite seem to hit threenager status yet, though. ;)

So, for all of you people who thought Drax stole the show, while he had some hilarious lines, I still think Groot was the best.

OK, maybe I started in the middle of the review instead of at the beginning, but I had to express my love for Groot. It was a must. MUST. Let's try this again...

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was a great movie. A lot of humor, as expected. Action as well. Great alien races and locations. However, it wasn't as good as the first. Let's face it, when the first in a series is a major hit, it's going to be hard to follow it up with a sequel that's just as great, or better. The first one hit all of its beats (in my opinion), but the second movie did have moments where it sagged a bit.

One of the reason for this was because the team had to split up near the beginning. A lot of the greatness of the first movie was due to the interaction of the entire team. Vol. 2 starts out with this awesome play between their personalities. They're all fighting a monster as hired mercenaries. One of the best opening scenes ever as the main fight is in the background for most of it while Baby Groot is dancing around and the opening credits are rolling. They even tip the hat to the Groot in a pot scene where he freezes when Drax looks at him.

But then they crash, and Starlord's dad shows up. We then have the team split up, since Rocket needs to fix the ship, and Baby Groot stays with him. Not that there aren't fun moments when they aren't all together, but it really picks back up once they're all reunited.

It's still chock full of 80s references, which is awesome, and most of the characters are well rounded and add to the drama and humor. Like the first movie, though, the main villain was a little lacking. The god who wants to rule the world. OK, great. We have a selfish jerk who tries to woo Starlord by playing ball with him (I didn't like this scene). A very one-sided character.

However, some of the side villains were great. I especially loved Nebula. I loved her in the first movie, too, and it's because she's such a complicated character. The complexity and layers make her an awesome bad guy, and then it makes sense in the end that she starts to switch sides, though she refuses to stay with the Guardians.

Yondu's growth arc was amazing, too. It was sad he died at the end, but it felt right, that his story was finished and his growth complete. (Speaking of growth arcs, I did love the slow growth between Starlord and Gamora -- a step toward future things!)

Ayesha and the Sovereign were fun as well. And I look forward to seeing what unfolds with her in the next Guardians movie after the one clip during the credits.

The thing I love most about both Guardians movies is the characters. It's what makes them fantastic. And if I didn't have kids, I'd probably have already gone out and seen Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 a second time already.

Also, Teenage Groot is fun -- the tone in his voice is priceless! But I think Baby Groot will always be my favorite Groot. ;)

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Writing Update - May 2017

I figured I was due for an update, especially since I've shifted things around. I swear, my life is pretty much a constantly changing mass. Which drives me bonkers when I try to make a plan or a schedule, and then... BOOM! It makes my eyelid twitch.

Of course, a three-year-old who interrupts me every five seconds doesn't help. And I'm mostly not exaggerating. This blog post is proving a test of patience and it may take me all day to finish it.

Anyway, I suppose I should get on with it before I drive my few readers away, huh? =D

I have made lots of progress, which is a good thing! Just not as much progress as I'd hoped by this time of the year. Since I love lists, I'll break this down into mini-lists.

Completed 2017 Publications and Goals

Mind Behind the Mind (Trinity Torn, 1) is now wide! I even have it available on Google Play, along with the rest of my titles. The Trinity Torn Series page has all the major places you can purchase it.

Patreon! Yup, it's live, and I'll be posting another flash story this month and a poem next month. I'd appreciate your support so I can justify the time it takes to prepare the stories and poems to post!

Edge of Sorrow (Fortunes of Fate, 6) was released in March. It's wide, so take a look at the Fortunes of Fate Series page if you might be interested in grabbing a copy.

Dreams in Shadow (Fortunes of Fate, 1) is now available in paperback! It's just a small, slim one and only $3.95 on Amazon. The ebook is still free on Amazon and other ebook retailers!

Haunted Unicorn Publishing is up and running, and I'm offering simple, but clean ebook formatting. (Developmental editing may be offered once fall rolls around.)

2017 Project Progress

❦ I am almost at the 60,000 word mark for the first draft of Thorns Entwine the Blade (Trinity Torn, 1)! I am hoping the momentum and excitement of nearing the end will propel me to complete the first draft this month. Then I'll need to do some quick tweaks that I already know need fixing, and then it's off to beta readers. Plus, I have the cover art! I just need to add the text. And my newsletter subscribers will get to see an early cover reveal (so sign up to your left if you want to see it - I won't be doing a public cover reveal until later this year).

❦ I've been thinking a lot about Hell On Wheels (Devil Made Me, 2). The thinking stage is just as important as the writing stage. ;) But I'll be making the cover this month, and I'll start the first draft after I finish wrapping up the Thorns first draft. If you haven't read Hell Hath No Fury (Devil Made Me, 1) yet, you may want to check it out before Hell On Wheels is released! Just take a look at the Devil Made Me Series pages for links.

2017 Publication Changes

Dead As Dreams is on hold again. That poor novel keeps getting the short end of the stick. Instead of working on revisions of Dead As Dreams the second half of the year, I'll be plowing into revisions of Thorns Entwine the Blade! Yup, I'm swapping these two out. I'm aiming for an early 2018 release of Thorns, hopefully March at the latest.

Hell On Wheels will probably be out more like September or October now, since I'm a bit behind schedule for the Thorns draft.

GSD vs. Everything is paused for now. I haven't made any progress on it this year. It's my side project, so I'm a bit disappointed, but not crushed. Time and energy is at a premium nowadays, and this is one of the things that keeps getting pushed aside.

I think that's it! Man, I never feel like I've done that much or enough until I start listing things. Hopefully there won't be any other huge changes to my plans this year. Well, finding more time and squeezing in more writing so I can publish more books would be welcome. Guess I'll just have to keep dreaming.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

1001 Reasons Not To Clean - #16 through #20

Welcome to 1001 Reasons Not to Clean! The main goal of this series is to see if I can actually reach 1001 reasons, 5 reasons at a time (the final post, if I get there, will be 6 reasons). I'm sure I can. It's not just my crazy brain being unrealistic, right? Links to previous posts are below. And feel free to share your excuses, and they might get added to my list (with credit, of course)!

#1 through #5 ~ #6 through #10 ~ #11 through #15

16. It's winter. Yes, you'd think you'd have less excuses in winter because you spend more time in the house, but the truth is the cold and gray sap your motivation and you get less cleaning done than you do during the warmer months.

17. Winter doesn't want to let go. It's fending spring off with its icy fingers. And this depresses you too much to even think about cleaning.

18. The house is too cold, so you'd rather stay in bed under your warm covers.

19. Your kids are sick. Not just sick, but plague-ridden. If you clean anything, it's just going to be smeared in germs shortly after, so why bother?

20. Your kids got you sick. OK, yes, #9 is "You're sick." But this is a different kind of sick. This is the kind of sick where not only are you trying to keep yourself alive, but you're still dealing with sick kids at the same time. And then you keep passing the sick back and forth until you kind of think being dead might be a better option than being sick all the time. Cleaning is obviously the furthest thing from your mind at this point.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Thorns Entwine the Blade ~ Soundtrack

So, last week I posted the soundtrack to Mind Behind the Mind (Trinity Torn, 1). This week I'm posting the soundtrack to Thorns Entwine the Blade (Trinity Torn, 2)!

If you look on the left side and scroll down a bit, you'll see my word count trackers. Thorns is over halfway through the first draft! It's coming, word by word, even with my kids driving me crazy and making it hard to write. Right now, I'm aiming for an early 2018 release. Hopefully that's not too long for all of you to wait between the first and second novel. One of these days I'll be able to write faster (two and a half years until the youngest is in Kindergarten).

One of the things you'll notice about this list is that some of the songs are the same. I mean, those songs completely evoke the mood of my series for me, so you know you'll see some repeats for the final novel when it's being written, too.

Here's some amusement: I'm listening to Pandora while I write this post, and one of the songs (found on both of the lists) just played while I was typing. Serendipity?

Oh... you want to know which song? How about this. Guess! Put your guess in the comments of this post, and if you get it right within the next two weeks (when my next post is planned), I'll send you a bookmark of Mind Behind the Mind once I make them in the next couple of months. Sorry don't have them yet to show you, but I'll be working on them soon! I'll let any winners know two weeks from this post if they got it right by replying to their comments, and give an email address where you can let me know your mailing address if you want me to send you a bookmark. ;)

Anyway, here's the soundtrack I'm listening to while drafting Thorns Entwine the Blade:

Monster by Skillet
How You Remind Me by Nickelback
Stay by Shakespear's Sister
Always by Saliva
The Unforgiven by Metallica
Nothing's Broken by Digital Daggers
Miles of Rain by Otherwise
Outlaw Blues by Pat Benatar
Where Do I Hide by Nickelback
Haunting by Halsey
One Second by Paradise Lost
Orestes by A Perfect Circle
Broken by Seether (Featuring Amy Lee)
Hands of Time by Rachel Diggs
In the End by Linkin Park
Burn Away (III Reprise) by Otherwise
Bleed For Me by Digital Daggers
Everybody Wants to Rule the World by Lorde (cover - original by Tears for Fears)

So, are these songs any better than my last list? Or are you still wrinkling your nose at my taste in music?

I almost forgot! See that hand with the ball of energy? Yes, that's a sneak peek of the Thorns Entwine the Blade cover! Next month I'll be doing an early cover reveal for my newsletter subscribers. If you're eager to see the whole thing sooner rather than later, make sure you Subscribe to my Newsletter.

Happy reading and happy listening, everyone!

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Mind Behind the Mind ~ Soundtrack

I've mentioned in the past how music inspires me. For the most part, I always listen to specific songs when I'm drafting a novel or short story. Back in 2012, I posted my soundtrack for Dead As Dreams (don't worry, the revisions for that novel are still on my to do list, but it's looking like not until 2018 now - must finish Thorns Entwine the Blade). Well, I realized now that I never posted the soundtrack for Mind Behind the Mind (Trinity Torn, 1)!

I'm about to rectify that problem. ;) Below is the list of songs that I listened to through many drafts of Mind Behind the Mind. And I mean many, since this was my original thesis for my M.A. (Dead As Dreams was my project when I went to get that F to squeeze between the M and the A). Every time one of these songs pops up for me "in the wild" I can't help but think of Tessa and Bastian - especially the first song.

How You Remind Me by Nickelback
Amazed by The Offspring
Cemetery Gates (Demon Knight Edit) by Pantera
Disarm by Smashing Pumpkins
Good Times Gone by Nickelback
If You Could Only See by Tonic
In the End by Linkin Park
Orestes by A Perfect Circle
Outlaw Blues by Pat Benatar
Mountain by Tonic
Outside by Staind
Stay by Shakespear's Sister
Summer Breeze by Type O Negative
The Unforgiven II by Metallica
Where Do I Hide by Nickelback

Are these songs what you expected? What kind of emotions do they invoke in you? Or do you just think my taste in music sucks? Lol.

Anyway, since I'm in the middle of the first draft of Thorns Entwine the Blade (Trinity Torn, 2), I thought it would be great to post the soundtrack for that next week. Maybe you'll even get to see a tiny portion of the cover art, too!

And if you haven't grabbed a copy of Mind Behind the Mind (Trinity Torn, 1) yet, you can find it at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iBooks, and Google Play. I'm hoping to have Thorns Entwine the Blade (Trinity Torn, 2) released at the beginning of 2018!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017


WARNING: Spoilers! If you haven't seen Logan yet and don't want things spoiled for you, click away now and come back here once you've seen the movie. But if you're the type that enjoys having everything spoiled, by all means, read on! You should still see the movie, though. It's a must, in my opinion, if you like character-driven fantasy.

I know, you're thinking I'm losing my touch when it comes to titling my blog posts. The thing is, when it comes to Logan, I think the title of the movie itself does it enough justice because just that one word is so powerful for me and it sums up the movie to a tee.

Now, if you're a fan of superhero movies and walk into Logan expecting a true superhero movie, you're likely to walk out sorely disappointed. There's no aim to save the world, no team banding together to protect the innocent. It's a story about a single man, a reluctant hero, an anti-hero in many respects. No, this isn't a superhero movie at all. It's a gritty, dark urban fantasy. One that's character-driven.

In other words, it was right up my alley. While I do love true superhero movies, my heart will always be much closer to the darkness in a story and in a character.

And since we have this central character in Logan, you don't have other characters fighting for equal screen time, so Logan is developed wonderfully well. In his actions, you see how much Logan cares for Charles. Even though he no longer wants to be part of the world, he refuses to leave Charles behind.

Just because the movie is character-driven, doesn't mean there isn't a lot of action. Looking for a high death count? Yup, plenty of that. You see Wolverine's claws going through lots of heads, among other things.

But the deaths aren't limited to the bad guys. And this is what truly makes it a dark fantasy. Honestly, I knew it was all coming. Charles had the target on his head from the beginning, and I also knew this was the last chapter for Logan. That didn't make those deaths any less heart-wrenching.

Is it hard to tell what I felt about the movie? I know I'm not fan girling, nor am I heaping praise or tearing it down. It's so hard to communicate my feelings about it because it's just that powerful of a movie. My mere words can't do justice to the story that unfolds.

If you like powerful, character-driven movies, you should see it, and let the movie speak for itself.

Not much more to say, but I did want to touch on the ending briefly. I felt a bit cheated after Laura buried Logan, and the kids walked off, disappearing into the trees (I love it that she turned the cross on the grave into an X). We never do find out if Eden actually existed or if it was just a tale. That was my initial gut reaction. But when I thought about it more, it made sense. This wasn't Laura's story. She was simply part of Logan's story, and his story ended at that grave. It wouldn't have made sense to follow her to Eden.

Of course, that doesn't mean we'll never find out. Logan might be gone, but Laura, X-23, is very much alive. And you never know if another movie will come along to continue her story!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Read? Read. Read!

OK, yes, silly post title. Forgive me, but I've acquired my youngest's cold and I am miserable. Anything to make me laugh right now and encourage me to write this post. It'll be a short one at least. ;)

If you're looking to fill up your e-reader in preparation for spring and summer reading, now is the time to do it! Two of my Fortunes of Fate stories are part of promotions running this week, and you'll find a lot of good fantasy and science fiction to add to your To Be Read pile.

Both of these promotions go through March 19, 2017. So don't wait too long if you're curious what's available!

First, a word everyone likes. FREE! You can find over 100 SF/F books in the Mega Promo for March. Take a look and see if any covers grab you, then click for more information and download it from Instafreebie! Dreams in Shadow (Fortunes of Fate, 1) is part of this giveaway. You'd be silly to not at least take a look at all the titles available.

Second, there's a SF/F 99 cent Sale going on as well! Heck, there are even some boxed sets in this sale, so a lot of bang for your buck. You can find Love Fades (Fortunes of Fate, 2) among these titles.

So, yes... Read? Read. Read!

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Edge of Sorrow Excerpt

It's time for the next Fortunes of Fate story! Edge of Sorrow is the 6th title in the series, and the release date is March 14. Not just at Amazon, either. I'm immediately releasing this one to all the major online retailers. And when I say all, I also mean Google Play! As a matter of fact, in the next couple of days all of the Fortunes of Fate stories will be available on Google Play (in the next week for my other titles).

For now, you can preorder Edge of Sorrow on Amazon, Kobo, and iBooks. The 14th isn't that far away, right? The Google Play preorder should be up soon, and I'll add the link to the post when it is. No preorder at Barnes & Noble, but Edge of Sorrow will be available there some time on the 14th.

I actually have some other exciting news. The first story in the Fortunes of Fate series, Dreams in Shadow is FREE at all retailers right now (and on Instafreebie - it will be part of a group promo, but more on that next week). So, if you haven't grabbed a copy yet, your budget won't stop you from snagging your free copy at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iBooks, Google Play, and Smashwords. Grab it while you can. Not sure how long I'll keep it free.

Free stuff is good, but I'm hoping you're looking forward to the Edge of Sorrow excerpt. I have to say, this short story is my favorite of all the ones I've written so far to date. Happy reading!

Jasp draped his arms over the gargoyle and rested his chin on his interlaced fingers. The stone bench was as chilly on his backside as the gargoyle was on his wrinkled hands, but he’d suffer through any temperature for his daily vigil, which had lasted going on two decades.

A plum tree rattled in the breeze as if it spoke to him. No other tree or bush in the garden stirred.

If only Yetta could still speak. Her voice had been that of a songbird. Sweet as honey. And all those other wretched clich├ęs.

No one’s fault but his own, though. He’d been lucky he’d had enough magic to turn her spirit into a plum tree before she’d completely faded from Fate.

Although Jasp didn’t think she was too happy with her current status. Twenty years was a long time. “Sorry, Yetta. Can’t let you go.”

Can't let go? The external thought burrowed into his brain, clear as the sky if he hadn’t intentionally kept it cloudy and gray.

Jasp slapped the gargoyle on the head, and it woke up. It flapped away and offered a vexed look over its shoulder.

“Yetta?” Stupid question. The voice wasn’t hers -- he’d know it anywhere. A soprano. This one was an alto, saturated with accusation.

A calico cat with shimmering red eyes slunk out from behind the plum tree. No Yetta here. Name's Amber.

“Cat.” Jasp stood and stalked toward the creature, but it held its ground. He waggled a finger. “You’re the one who ruined my fun then with that Darney boy?”

Oh, no. I love some tormenting fun, Mage Jasp. Maybe more than you. That was probably my meddling sister Joslyn. And feel free to kick that Darney fellow for me next time you see him, if you’d like.

“Humph. Makes no difference to me. Punishing one cat is as good as the other.”

The cat sauntered closer and rubbed up against his old, ratty purple robe. Little minx. You don't want to punish me. A purr vibrated through his mind.

“No?” He squatted down and stared into her mischievous red eyes. “Why’s that?”

You need me to show you.

He wanted to kick her and her bothersome riddling. She’d destroyed his peace, gazing upon his dear Yetta in tree form. The only time his aging body quieted. “What do you want from me, you mangy critter?”

Mangy? Amber yowled. I'll forgive the insult, for now. I need you to... meddle.

"But you just..." Vexing, contradictory creature.

Meddling has its advantages. Just don't tell Joslyn I said so.

The woman’s skin blends into the gray of the bark, her body melded with the tree. And she weeps.

The mage Jasp spent the last two decades shuttered away in his crumbling mansion, mourning the loss of his wife, Yetta – his guilt and a couple of stone-brained gargoyles his only companions. He intends to continue his self-inflicted solitude, until the calico cat Amber appears. A malicious mage is imprisoning women and draining their life force. Amber insists the great and powerful Jasp must save them.

Jasp’s memory of Yetta spurs him to act. Making no promises, he follows Amber to the weeping women in the woods. But it’s not as simple as freeing them. It never is.

Friday, March 03, 2017

Kittens to Cats!

It's been almost a year since I posted about our Trio of Terror. Yup, that means they're no longer kittens! What happened? How did they become cats so quickly? Where has the last year gone? I ask myself that last question for so many things.

Anyway, I figured it would be nice to post a few more pictures. Even though they aren't kittens, they're still our Trio of Terror, after all. If you didn't see the previous pictures, visit Kitten, Kitten, Kitten and Kitten Intermission. The picture below is the 1-year anniversary pic from when we brought them home. They love that cat tree. And it shakes when Sylph or Shade jump up to the top tier. O.O

Look at Rikku. Doesn't she look so sweet and innocent? She's our smallest kitty (she was not the runt). She's also our lap cat who likes snuggles and purrs more than the other two. This is usually welcome except for when I'm trying to write or when her butt is stinky. =P Oh, yes, that sweet and innocent thing? Hardly.

Rikku wanted some Girl Scout cookies. Thankfully, she didn't reach the cookies, or she would have needed a trip to the vet due to the chocolate. She's also chewed on the corner of my laptop, and enjoys chewing on the corners of my folders when I'm using them. Oh, and her or Nightshade also munched on my Fitbit. They are lucky they're cute.

Nightshade is still the biggest climber of the three. And I say biggest because all of them like to be high up, but the girls won't jump on the counters (or the pillars) unless they have a chair to get them closer. Shade is still Boo Kitty. He's our derpy cat. Oh, so derpy. And he likes being a gargoyle on the stair railing pillars to get our attention. Our old cat Amara used to do this. He's not super snugly until he gets into certain moods, and then he's usually all over my eldest daughter. He loves her to no end. But he does put up with a lot from my youngest -- it's like he doesn't care if he's smushed or battered. See, derpy.

What happened to the runt?! Sylph is now the biggest cat of the bunch. Scratch that -- fattest. XD Even if there's food in her bowl, if I'm anywhere near the kitchen and she's awake, she's begging for food. Tubby Tortie. And don't think she's the good one that doesn't chew on things. I've caught her gnawing on my youngest's My Little Pony castle. As a matter of fact, a couple nights ago she woke me up because she was chewing on the plastic bins under our bed... And while she begs for love and attention, she only wants scratches. Don't pick her up! She insists she's not a lap cat at all. She's also the one who stays hidden when strangers (to her) are in the house.

They're all such naughty kitties, but we love them anyway. And who doesn't like cute cat pics? OK, sorry if you don't, but I think our cats our goofy and adorable.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Haunted Unicorn Publishing - Ebook Formatting

Time to try more new things! What, you think I'm taking on too much? Let's hope not. ;)

Haunted Unicorn Publishing is the imprint I've been using on my titles since I started indie publishing back in 2012. I've always considered expanding it and actually publishing other writers' books. Right now, I'm not going to go quite that far. Baby steps!

At this time I'm offering Ebook Formatting Services. Well, my alter ego is the one headlining it all -- I figured using my real name in correspondences for that part of my business would be a good idea, since it's not like I'm trying to hide who I really am as Alexa Grave. Alexa Grave can keep the writing hat, so my alter ego can have the business hat (way to compartmentalize - hehe).

Anyhow, I'm offering simple, but clean, Ebook Formatting. This means no bells and whistles. No fancy embedded fonts, drop caps, or images (aside from the book cover). Sometimes I think all of that gets in the way of the story, which writers and readers alike know, that's the most important thing in a book!

I've used trial and error in the last year to come up with an ebook formatting process that works for me. One that when I look at it looks nice and streamlined. No added flourishes (I admit, though, I like a little flourish on the paperbacks).

Sticking to simple also helps with the varying different ereaders out there. If you keep it basic, you're less likely to run into errors on say a Nook reader even if it's flawless on a Kindle. You can find Epub and Mobi samples on the Formatting page of the Haunted Unicorn Publishing site (made with my bent sense of humor, of course).

All of the details and the Ebook Formatting Request Form link are on the Haunted Unicorn Publishing website, but I'll list the basic pricing structure below. Also, now through March 31, 2017, you can get a 33% discount off of the word count prices (not the extra fees list)! Head on over to the Haunted Unicorn Publishing Facebook Page to find out the discount code. You need the code for the discount! Please consider Liking the Facebook Page while you're there. =)

Oh, and I also hope to start offering Developmental Editing by the end of the year or beginning of next year! It depends on the toddler and if she's ready for some form or preschool in fall (we're getting there).

I'll leave you with the Haunted Unicorn Publishing motto (and of course the formatting prices)!

Read on! It’s all about the story!

Current Ebook Formatting Prices for Haunted Unicorn Publishing

***Please check the Formatting page of the Haunted Unicorn Publishing website to confirm that they haven't changed and for other fees.***

❦ 9,000 or less words — $9
❦ 9,001 – 45,000 words — $18
❦ 45,001 – 75,000 words — $27
❦ 75,001 – 105,000 words — $36
❦ 105,001 – 135,000 words — $45
❦ 135,001 – 165,000 words — $54
❦ 165,001 + words — Please fill out the form and Haunted Unicorn Publishing will send you a quote.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

No No No No No No No No - LEGO Batman!

The LEGO Batman Movie! I saw it, and my comments on it are below. Be forewarned, there are spoilers. So many spoilers. If you haven't seen it yet and don't want to hear about all of the awesome pop culture references, then go watch it and come back and read this post. You really should go see it. And don't tell me you'd rather see 50 Shades Darker instead (for shame).

LEGO Batman was AWESOME!

OK, yes silly reference to the first LEGO movie, but it comes with the territory. And I actually think The LEGO Batman Movie was better than The LEGO Movie.

First, the song in the opening seen -- best Batman song ever! "Who's the Bat(Man)." It's on my list to buy. ;)

Onto the serious stuff? Nah, not yet. But I have to say, I really did enjoy this movie. And not just because the toddler sat through it entranced instead of making a scene in the theater. I was literally laughing out loud through most of the movie, and for me that's great. Everyone needs to laugh. It's good for the soul. Honestly, it was nice to see the Batman/DC franchise poking fun at itself, among other things.

Let's see, some of my fav lines... Barbara Gordon: "Batgirl? Can I call you Batboy?" Oh, and when Sauron tells Joker the Bat Cave is under Wayne Manor. Joker: "You mean to tell me Bruce Wayne is... Batman's roommate?"

Part of the humor, though, was in the pop culture references. When Joker goes to the Phantom Zone, it's filled with so many bad guys from a lot of other movies and books. Voldemort, The Eye of Sauron, Godzilla, King Kong... but my favorites were the Gremlins and the Daleks! I'm likely dating myself with the Gremlins, but I got all giddy when I saw Spike right away in the Phantom Zone. And you have to love the Daleks and their infamous line: "Exterminate!"

There were so many Easter eggs and references in this movie that I'd have to watch it a couple more times to catch most of them -- and I'd probably still miss some (because let's face it, I haven't seen and read everything, so some stuff may have gone over my head). Siri is Batman's computer! Too funny.

With so many references stuffed into this movie, I'm actually a bit overwhelmed and not sure what others to mention!

I'll move on then and get a little more serious. Not too serious. Promise.

Not only does The LEGO Batman Movie have great humor, it actually has a solid story arc and character growth.

Batman has relationship issues. Right from the beginning he doesn't even want to claim Joker as his main villain (and the Joker's face when he's rejected is priceless). This stems from the loss of his parents, and you see him struggle with this throughout the movie and eventually overcome it and start to let people in. Which then ends with him finally admitting to Joker that he's his main villain. Great arc and a funny one at that. Not the normal "love" story which we see so often in most Batman movies.

Actually having a good story arc and the character growth at the end just strengthened the humor of the movie for me. I was expecting to laugh, but I didn't expect a great story to go along with it! Seriously well done.

Oh, and the last bit I have to mention: Harley Quinn. How can I not? She's one of my fav villains. I loved it that they kept switching up her outfit to reflect the many looks of her character through the years.

If you want a laugh, make sure to watch The LEGO Batman Movie! And if you've seen it already, there's no reason you can't see it again, right?

Thursday, February 09, 2017

(Not) Writing With A Grade Schooler

So, I have (Not) Writing With An Infant and (Not) Writing With A Toddler. It's time for, (Not) Writing With A Grade Schooler! All of these lists will be part of my upcoming non-fiction humor book, GSD vs. Everything (possibly tweaked, of course). Enjoy, and please allow yourself to laugh!

WARNING: What follows may or may not be a work of fiction. Tread carefully into the realm of possible hyperbole. Do not let any likely truth scare you from either a) writing or b) having a child (though it may scare you from doing both at once). I take no responsibility at the emotions the following text will invoke.

1. Wake up, tired and bedraggled, but determined to get some writing done today (I know, I know).

2. Yay! Grade Schooler has the day off of school. You imagine how much writing you'll get done since she can entertain Preschooler.

3. After breakfast, you send both kids upstairs to play nicely, and open your work-in-progress. Here I come, words!

4. Clearly neither child knows the definition of the word nice. Five minutes after they've scampered upstairs, Grade Schooler shrieks, "Stop it, Preschooler! Leave me alone! I don't want to play with the doll!" Her tone curdles your insides, and you mourn the words you were just about to write.

5. You call both kids downstairs. Grade Schooler gets a lecture about how to treat her sister -- it's not nice to yell at her. Treat her like your friend. She's the only sister you'll ever have (seriously -- no more kids!). Even though she apologizes and said she won't do it again, you know she will. You just hope it's not today again. Then you tell Preschooler to listen to Grade Schooler if she doesn't want to play with something. Preschooler says, "I understand," in her garbled English, but you know she lies. She's saying what you want to hear. Smart ass.

6. Again, you send the kids upstairs, insisting they don't argue. This time it only takes two minutes before Grade Schooler is calling down to you. "Preschooler bit me!"

7. You trudge upstairs, put Preschooler in a time out, check on the status of Grade Schooler. No bite marks... this time. Preschooler gets her own lecture after the time out, and you wonder why you even try because you know she's going to do whatever the hell she wants.

8. Just as you're about to go back to writing, Grade Schooler asks for a snack. So everyone goes downstairs and you don't even attempt to write while they bicker back and forth during snack time.

9. Nap time for Preschooler! Now you'll get some writing done -- it's always the best time to do it (and you hope she doesn't give up her daily nap until she's in school full time). You tell Grade Schooler you need to get some work done, so she should read quietly. She's agreeable and settles down on the couch with a book.

10. Finally, you turn the music on and get into the world you're writing. Look at the words fly! OK, flying is relative. If you haven't written anything all day, 10 words is flying.

11. Grade Schooler laughs. And this isn't a quiet giggle. Nope, it's a loud, I-want-to-get-your-attention laugh. It's a trap. And you're dumb enough to fall for it by asking, "What's so funny?"

12. You're then regaled by what she just read in her book. Of course, you have no clue what she's talking about. Nor do you care about the story she's reading because you want to continue writing your story, damn it. But she ends up telling you about not only the book she's reading, but the whole series, which is long as fuck, before you can get her to shut up.

13. You tell Grade Schooler to go read upstairs. She obliges, but knocks something over in her room and wakes Preschooler up. Guess it's lunch time.

14. After a too long lunch, due to Preschooler's desire to take two hours to eat, Preschooler plays happily on her own. Now you can get some writing done. No fighting!

15. In a few minutes, Grade Schooler starts wandering around downstairs, looking lost. She declares she's bored. You can't understand because you're never bored -- you always have a novel to write since you can never seem to make progress on it. Plus, she has a ton of books, toys, and art supplies bursting out of her room to keep her busy for the next two decades. You point this out. She doesn't want to do any of that.

16. You're about to tell her to go do it anyway, when her face lights up because she remembers something. Then she tells you about one of her friends and what he did the other day (you're not sure what because you're not really paying attention) in great detail. You've never met the kid she's talking about and couldn't care less about the stupid shit kids get up to if they aren't your own.

17. Finally, you get her to stop talking about her friend. But as you're turning to look at your screen, she says, "Oh I have homework I forgot about!" Yup. And it's due tomorrow. She needs to cut pictures out of magazines and paste them on a paper and do who-the-hell-knows what with them. Magazines? You don't subscribe to any, since between the junk mail, your writing, and the amount of paper Grade Schooler's teacher sends home, you already have a major paper clutter problem.

18. You bundle Preschooler and Grade Schooler up and head out to buy some magazines that are just going to get cut up.

19. Once you get home and get Grade Schooler set up to complete her homework, Husband calls and asks what you want him to pick up for dinner because he knows full well you never have time to cook anything between the kids and writing. Writing? What writing?

20. Time for another snack. You then put Preschooler in front of the TV so you can get a little writing done before Husband gets home. Grade Schooler is told to finish her homework. She whines and claims it's no fair that Preschooler gets to watch a show and she doesn't. Husband calls again and instantly hangs up when he hears tears in the background.

21. Grade Schooler finally calms down and concedes to finishing her homework. You proceed to triple your word count. 30 words! Hot damn! Then Husband walks through the door with dinner.

22. You realize you've written less today than when you're home alone with Preschooler. Over dinner, Grade Schooler reminds you that she has Friday off this week as well. Yay...

Wednesday, January 25, 2017


So, I'm always interested in trying new things, and since I completed my Baker's Dozen Experiment, I figured it was about time I experiment with something else.

I made a Patreon page!

I've been publishing my short stories and novels, but I have a bunch of flash fiction and poems that I would love to share with the world. I thought Patreon would be the perfect way to offer these shorter works, as well as a way to have an option for readers to interact with me a bit more.

I know some people aren't completely familiar with Patreon, so I figured I'd take the time to let you all know how it works. It's similar to Kickstarter, but instead of pledging for a single project, it's paying for new content that the artist adds to her Patreon page on a regular basis.

What it really boils down to is it's kind of like a magazine subscription, but you get to choose how much you want to pay for that subscription. And depending on the amount you choose to pay, you'll get some fun bonuses. As a matter of fact, right now it's the only way you can get a signed copy of The Mind Behind the Mind (unless you happen to run into me, since the only signing I plan to attend in the coming year is at In Your Write Mind)!

There are two options that an artist can choose when she sets up her Patreon page. The first is to charge monthly. So, if you pledge $1, you would be charged every month to receive the content included in that price. The other option is to charge per creation. Every month you're charged for the content posted from the previous month.

I chose to charge per creation. Mainly because I only intend to post one flash story or poem per month. I might post two now and then, but not that often. As a subscriber, you can also choose the maximum amount of creations you're willing to be charged for each month. So, if you only want to pay for one each month, you won't be charged if I post a second one.

The lowest pledge for my work is $1, and that includes the ability to feed me writing prompts for the content I'll be posting on Patreon! To look at all my pledge levels (starting with The Pixie and all the way up to The Unicorn), please visit my Patreon page. Your support is appreciated. =)

I also added a handy little button to my blog and website that will take you to a page to subscribe. See it there on the left?

And if I hit some of my pledge goals, I may add some other bonuses as well for those already subscribed. ;)

Oh, and how could I forget? I posted a Drabble for free! So, you can read that while you're considering subscribing. I'll be posting another Drabble tomorrow, but that one will only be for paid readers!

Happy reading, everyone! I can't wait to share some of my shorter works with all of you.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Adventures of Karriya the Wizard - The Gods, Part 1

The Adventures of Karriya the Wizard is a series based on the main character I play in Everquest. Though most of what I write actually happened, many events might be embellished and exaggerated to create a better story. Happy hunting (and reading)!

Origin Story

The gods are many in Norrath... which is why this is merely Part 1 of the story. =D

Karriya has crossed paths with many gods in her travels, and it's well-known that once a god dies s/he doesn't stay dead. Which is why in one instance she can happily do a task for a god and in the other have to slaughter that same god. Fickle deities, they are.

But it's not as fun to talk about the nice things Karriya has done for the gods. Oh, no. It's much better to revel in her battles. And the battles have been many.

Some haunts of the gods are in the Planes of Power. These Planes harbor forms of the gods that are no longer quite as powerful as they used to be. Well, not for a level 105 wizard, at least. Though in her youth, she ran from them screaming... Wait no, Karriya the Wizard doesn't scream. She ensured that a full raid of her peers were with her and hid behind them. Please don't consider her a coward. Wizzies tend to splat gloriously -- she's wise, not craven.

Still think she's not as brave as she claims? Well, here's our first deity to use as an example: Terris-Thule, The Dream Scorcher. Many years ago, she took too few friends along with her to Terris's lair, just outside of the Plane of Nightmare. True, it was her Fabled version that was waiting to be taken down (a much more powerful version than which is usually up), but she had confidence that they'd defeat her. Sadly, not only did she splat as awesomely as any wizzie can splat, but the rest of her group wiped as well. Terris was not taken down that day.

But recently, Karriya had her revenge. This time Terris awaited her (the non-Fabled version), and she was going to take the goddess out single-handed (nearly with a single spell), but friend Rondor decided he wanted to join in on the fun (I mean, you got to kill as many as you can for those god-slaying achievements). Downpour sat just outside the cave, waiting to hail the Planar Projection. She's a bit of a mooch like that sometimes.

Karriya barely had time to commemorate the battle with some pictures before Terris Thule fell, defeated. No squishy wizzie anymore! At least not in the Planes of Power.

While there was great satisfaction in downing Terris, there was another fight in the Bastion of Thunder, another Plane of Power, that grew Karriya's pride tenfold. I know, you didn't think she could get any haughtier. Guess again. You have to remember, she is a high elf.

While not a full god (he still seems to count for that aforementioned god-slaying achievement, though), Agnarr, The Storm Lord, broods in his tower. To get to Karana, The Rain Keeper (a true god -- and to Karriya the only one that matters), adventurers must go through Agnarr.

Rondor was again along on this rather quick fight, and they climbed the last set of spiral stairs to be greeted by Karana himself.

Karriya then devolved into one of those squealing teenage fangirls and insisted on taking some selfies with her god. Yes, her god. Who doesn't love a good thunderstorm? Karriya sure does. Downpour does too (her surname is Stormsoul), but the little druid kept her composure in the presence of her god.

Watch for "The Gods, Part 2" in the coming months! And that won't be the last we hear of the gods of Norrath, I assure you. Karriya does enjoy tangling with them -- got to up that haughtiness rating (and the achievement)!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Writing Bullet Journal

OK, so I'm usually the last person to jump into something that can be seen as a "fad" (heck, usually I run the opposite direction because I hate being part of the crowd - lol), but when Shelley Adina started talking about Washi tape on Facebook, I was curious. Off to Google I went, intent on discovering what exactly a Bullet Journal is. (Yes, I had no clue that these things were so popular. Fine, I live under a rock then.)

And I got crazy excited by what I saw.

Hello, world. I am an obsessive list-maker. My husband thinks I'm crazy because of all the lists I make. I am also in love with pretty pens. All the colors make me drool...

However, I still haven't found a list-making tactic I am completely happy with, which is why I was so excited to try a Bullet Journal.

I read the basics on the Bullet Journal website, and then I watched all the videos on the BoHo Berry site (if you are considering starting a Bullet Journal, I highly recommend these).

After some thought, I figured I'd attempt both one for personal use and one for writing (with a tiny bit of overlap). Yes, I know, with a Bullet Journal you're supposed to use it to integrate everything in your life. But I thought it would be awesome to have a separate Writing Bullet Journal so I could page back and solely look at my writing progress throughout the year (I know a bonus to these is it can also be diary-like, but for some reason I'm not that into gushing about feelings in these things -- maybe that will change eventually).

I started my personal one in a regular notebook the final week of 2016, and my writing one at the beginning of this year in a nice Piccadilly journal I hadn't written anything in yet. I didn't want to invest tons of money in new stuff until I knew if I liked it, though I did buy a kitty stencil and a couple rolls of Washi tape... and then stickers (more on these later).

What do I think so far?

Well, I'm not thrilled with the personal one. It may be the notebook or that I'm using a set of InkJoy pens I had on hand (which I have grown to hate - they make me want to never touch a ballpoint pen again). I used some old stencils I also had and then doodled a little with the kitty stencil I bought, but I'm still meh on it (thought I'd love stencils, but honestly, not a huge fan right now because I feel like I'm wasting too much time doodling). And I kind of feel panicky with it sometimes because my to do list before the Bullet Journal was a spreadsheet with a list of things to do for the entire week. Yes, I know I can adapt the Bullet Journal to whatever I need it to be, but the thought of writing out a whole weekly to do list makes it feel more overwhelming. Even now I have the habit of migrating too many things once I turn the page, which means I have the first day of the spread with too many items on it.

I do like the Habit Tracker, though. That's quite nice. Part of me is tempted to only do a Habit Tracker each month in it and go back to my spreadsheet for my to do lists.

Anyway, this post isn't about my Personal Bullet Journal. It's about my Writing Bullet Journal! And that one... I'm in love with!

How could I have such differing feelings? Who knows. Maybe it's the stickers? I just can't seem to find the desire to add stickers to my personal one...

Anyway, I'm using a little of the Washi tape in my Writing Bullet Journal, but not going too crazy with design. Here's my title page! Isn't it pretty? Book Washi tape! And yes, I'm happy I don't have messy handwriting. I'm using a Micron pen, which I had on hand because I use them to do the outlines on my hand-drawn versions of the Fate Tarot cards. Love the Micron, though I'm tempted to try Staedtlers because Walmart actually carries them not in a pack of varying sizes.

And here's the month of January! I kept things simple, but I'm tracking how many days I write. The colors are from gel pens (I bought a 100-pack back in November to do some coloring, and I really like using them in the Bullet Journal as well).

I also wrote in my 1-Year Plan. Though I also have that typed up in a Word doc, it felt good to write it down in my Bullet Journal as well, like it solidified my goals more. And yes, those are sparkly heart stickers!

Finally, here's the guts of my Writing Bullet Journal. My dailies! And I love this so far. Mostly because... stickers! If I hit my writing goal for the day, I get a sticker (I may do a smaller sticker if I write but don't hit goal, too)! When I started the Writing Bullet Journal and wrote down my first daily writing goal, I felt like I was missing something. Stenciling felt like too much work, and I do love stickers but never have anything to use them on. I quickly demanded my husband take me that night to Walmart so I could buy some stickers. A sticker is my reward for actually writing. True, I don't succeed everyday, due to life (and exhaustion), but I don't seem to get too sad not seeing everyday with stickers. Even though the thought of earning a sticker still encourages me! So this seems to be working well for me.

As you can see, I'm keeping things pretty simple. I have a little "bling" with some Washi tape, the stickers, and the colored gel pens, but I'm not spending tons of time making it look all fancy. It's still pretty to me!

I also started a section for Ideas and Mindworms (when one popped into my head one night). I know I'm not quite two weeks in, but I'm thinking I'll be sticking to the Writing Bullet Journal (even if I do have a master list of monthly tasks on another tracker, which I can access from my phone -- I don't check and update that one daily). We'll see about that personal one...

If I come up with any new layouts, I'll be sure to post an update! Maybe I'll even post one if I have an awesome streak and a bunch of stickers. <3

Do you have a Writing Bullet Journal? Or a Bullet Journal you use for other things? I'd love to hear what works for you!