Quote of the Moment

"What's Past Is Prologue." - William Shakespeare

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Oh, 2017, Where Have You Gone?

Delayed post again -- sorry about that. Still getting over sickness and the to do list for December has been crazy (I still haven't sent out my holiday cards yet...).

It's time for me, though, to take a look at all that I've accomplished in 2017. While I didn't publish as much as I did in 2016, I've still been making a lot of forward progress with my goals. This year I think I'll even throw some numbers out, just for fun. I love numbers. Don't you love numbers? OK, just another thing that makes me weird then. I own up to my weirdness.

First, the publication list for 2017!

2017 Publications

Edge of Sorrow (Fortunes of Fate, 6)

Dreams in Shadow (Fortunes of Fate, 1) - Paperback Edition

Hell On Wheels (Devil Made Me, 2)

Short, but sweet. I had so much fun writing both new titles I released this year. It should always be that way, right? If I feel the joy of writing, I hope readers get that same joy while reading!

Now, of course the publications aren't the only thing I have to show for in 2017. Writing is like a play -- tons of stuff goes on back stage. Here's where some of the numbers come in. And since I have handy charts to track everything each year, I didn't have to do some extra number crunching for this post.

2017 Progress

❦ Completed the rough draft and 20% through a revision of Thorns Entwine the Blade (Trinity Torn, 2)

❦ Added over 5,000 words to the rough draft of GSD vs. Everything

❦ Set up and posted several stories on Patreon

❦ Set up and started beta reading and developmental editing under Haunted Unicorn Publishing

❦ Wrote 93,444 words of first draft material

❦ Revised 53,039 words

❦ Posted 38 blog posts (including this one)

❦ Spent 165.63 hours writing, revising, and editing

❦ Spent 49.1 hours either writing blog posts or updating my website

❦ Spent 36.95 hours formatting, creating cover art, and uploading titles to be published

❦ In totality, including the hours above, I spent 490.43 hours total on writing related tasks (up to the date of this post -- still have a couple more hours to put in before the end of the month)

Whew. That seems like a lot more when I type it all up. I know for some writers the numbers might seem low, but remember I'm not doing this full-time right now (kids, kids, oh the kids). Though I didn't hit all of my hopeful goals (if you want to compare to what my initial goals for the year were, look back at Setting My Sights on 2017), I am proud of myself for making so much progress and keeping at it.

Next year, I'm going to make my goals more realistic and base them on my productivity from this year. But that's my post for next week!

I hope you all had a productive 2017!

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Thor: Ragnarok... Rocks!

***WARNING: Spoilers! Spoilers! If you haven't seen Thor: Ragnarok yet and don't want things to be ruined for you, you're advised to click away and not read the comments below.***

Yes, yes, the title is a little cheesy. Forgive me, I just got over super sick and now I'm getting sick again. I'd put this post off longer, but it's been put off long enough. But I promise you, since it's the holidays and everyone is busy, this will be short and sweet. It's hard to be my chatty self when I'm not feeling the best. ;)

We went to see Thor: Ragnarok opening weekend, and it lived up to my excitement going into it. I know the previous two Thor movies weren't the best, but from the previews of Thor: Ragnarok, I had high hopes for this one. And it didn't disappoint.

It is kind of sad, though, that it took three movies to finally get to a decent Thor movie. Thor: Ragnarok is by far the best of the bunch.

I think the biggest highlight of this movie was the character arc for Thor. This movie was truly a coming-of-age movie for him. Anything that came before this pretty much boils down to the antics of youth. I guess when you're a god, adolescence might extend a bit longer than most people, so even though Thor was never clearly a teenager in any of the previous MCU movies, once Thor: Ragnarok was released, you could completely feel how his previous actions were very much like a teenager.

Well, Thor finally had to grow up, and it was done with a great conflict with Hela. The fact that she was his sister made the conflict all the better. And you got to have Loki in the mix with all of that -- his ever selfish self. Loki was definitely true to character, and you know he snatched the Tesseract even as he was helping Asgard rid itself of Hela (I mean, it's got to be available for Thanos to grab for Avengers: Infinity War).

The other endearing thing about this movie was the humor. I am by and far a Guardians of the Galaxy fan girl, and most of that is due to the humor. I was glad to see that kind of humor brought into a Thor movie. Even though the core conflict was pretty serious, the humor added to the story and rounded out the characters.

However, I do admit at points they took the humor a little too far. There were a few spots that it felt inappropriate. The main one that comes to mind is near the end when Korg mentions squishing his friend. It's a rather serious moment as they're escaping an exploding Asgard, and I felt the attempted humor was misplaced at that point.

I promised short and sweet, didn't I? Well, that's all I got for now. I highly recommend Thor: Ragnarok, if you haven't seen it yet. If anything, you'll get a laugh, but I'm happy to say that the story and character growth was there as well instead of the humor being used as a crutch. I can't wait to see what Thor does next now that he's had to grow up.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Aw, Crud - NaNo Crud, That Is

It's inevitable. Every November when I plan to dive into NaNoWriMo and up my productivity, a monster rears its ugly head and bellows, "Nooooo!"

Most of the time that monster comes in the form of what I've dubbed NaNo Crud. And that's the very monster that loomed over me this month. Shortly after my last blog post, I got a cold, and right when I thought I was getting better, I got a worse cold (could have been bronchitis, it was that bad, but I didn't go in to the doctor to find out).

So, I missed blog posts and my writing progress froze because just moving off the couch was difficult. I was hopped up on Mucinex DM so I could breathe and sleep, and cold meds make me whoozy and loopy as all hell.

I'm starting to feel a bit better now, though I'm still hacking up a lung between typing sentences.

12,963. That's what I'm ending NaNoWriMo at this year. Progress is progress, and that's almost 13k words more than I had before the month started. It doesn't earn me a NaNo Winner banner, but that's OK.

This sick has also made me realize that I need to take a step back and reassess my writing output. I think I've been expecting too much of myself, especially since I want to get the editing business in a good place as well, and I still have a kid at home most of the time who needs my attention!

December, a low writing output month to begin with due to the holidays, will be planning and reassessing month. And organizing. Oh, and I'll likely be reformatting a few books since I ordered a Macbook and I'll be buying Vellum!

It's not like I'll be idle. I just think I need a month worth of no pressure for writing and revising and figuring things out. And some family and holiday time. I've been neglecting several other things while tackling writing tasks. I'll be back to revisions of Thorns Entwine the Blade in January, though!

And don't worry, I still have some fun blog posts planned for December. After all, I saw Thor: Ragnarok and watched the first half of the season of Star Trek: Discovery. I have many thoughts on both.

Never stopping, just slowing down a little so I can enjoy the scenery. Live in the moment, right?

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

NaNoWriMo - Slight Change of Plans

I know, I'm only eight days into NaNoWriMo, and I'm already changing my plans!

It's nothing earth shattering, but this plan takes my NaNo Rebel status a bit farther.

Are you dying to know? No? Oh, well, I'm going to tell you anyway.

Since revising Thorns Entwine the Blade has been taking as long (or longer) than drafting fresh words, I've decided to count my revisions toward NaNoWriMo!

Some of you may think I'm taking the whole Rebel thing too far, but honestly isn't the core goal of NaNoWriMo to push yourself to complete more than you normally would in a month? I'm still reaching for the stars with a goal of 50,000 of combined revised and drafted words. All the work counts!

And maybe, this year with that combined goal, I'll actually reach 50,000 words for the first time! Unless of course the month explodes on me. It's a possibility. My eldest just clocked a fever on the thermometer (eep).

So, here are the edited goals to reach 50,000:

Thorns Entwine the Blade (Trinity Torn, 2) Revisions - 20,000 words

GSD vs. Everything Complete First Draft - 15,000 to 18,000 words

Blood Stains the Soul (Trinity Torn, 3) Pretty Shitty Beginning Draft - 12,000 to 15,000 words

This removes my last goal of wandering wherever my whims drag me, but that's OK. The renewed decision to aim for 50,000 is spurring me on.

As of this blog post, I'm at 9000 words, 5134 of Thorns revisions and 3866 of adding to the GSD vs. Everything draft. I'll tweak my counters on the left side a bit due to the shift in goals. The original NaNoWriMo post counter will remain at 9000, while the one below will keep counting up as I write and revise more (until I post another update, if I do). We'll start it with the Potato Dude watching TV, in honor of the next GSD chapter ahead -- GSD vs. Entertainment.

Reaching for that 50,000!

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

NaNoWriMo 2017 - Rebel Rebel

Now I have the song "Devil Devil" stuck in my head. Hey, at least it's a good song.

But that's not what this post is about. No, of course not. It's November 1. And we all know what that means, right? NaNoWriMo!

I am deep diving in revisions for Thorns Entwine the Blade right now, and I need to keep making progress on those if I want to release the novel in March or April. But I can't resist the temptation of NaNoWriMo! It's a weakness. Maybe even an addiction at this point since I never do hit 50,000 words (I'm still OK with that, by the way).

So, I'm all in this month. Along with a goal of 20,000 words for revisions, I'm also hoping to reach at least 25,000 words for NaNoWriMo, though I have scheduled stuff to shoot for 50,000.

What am I, though? A NaNo Rebel, always and forever. There are so many projects that I want to work on, so I'm going to use NaNoWriMo this year to finish some things up and most importantly have fun. No pressure at all. This will be fun drafting time.

The projects I intend to work on are as follows:

GSD Vs. Everything - I am 12,000 words into this. I am hoping for 18,000 more words (though some won't count toward NaNo as I have one or two sections that will be copied from elsewhere). This is the first task, and I may not get any words written today because I still have to read through what I've already written since it's been so long.

Blood Stains the Soul (Trinity Torn, 3) - Back in 2004, my first NaNoWriMo, I wrote out a mad dash of 14,000 words on Thorns. I kind of want to do that for Book 3 in the trilogy as well. Get down the bones and things that are floating around in my head. I want to see where the words take me. I'm not even calling this a rough draft. More like a free write with a prompt? My aim is 15,000 words on this.

❦ Now, those two don't add up to 50,000. If I do complete the above projects, it's a free-for-all. My whims will take me to the well of words. I could start a Fortunes of Fate story, inspired by the votes I've already gotten (if you haven't voted yet, please do: Which Tarot Card Next?). Or I might continue Chains of Nect. Oh, oh, or work on the Rabid Unicorns idea. A Fractured Fairies story? Another completely different shiny that is preying on my brain (I have so many that nibble at the edges)? Who knows! I sure don't right now.

What do you think? Am I completely off my rocker? Will I fall flat on my face immediately and get absolutely no revising or writing done? I sure hope not - lol.

My usual NaNoWriMo meter is below, and I'll tweak the word count meters in the left column as well. I may just have NaNoWriMo update posts throughout November, but we'll see. Depends on how well I can keep my head above water.

Happy writing AND happy reading!

Nov. 1 - I completed the chapter GSD vs. Sleep, so it's only fitting that the potato dude is nodding off. And now, I actually go to sleep... Zzzzzz.

Nov. 8 - The counter above will remain at 9000 -- pop over to my newest post, NaNoWriMo - Slight Change of Plans, to see the words continue to climb!

Monday, October 30, 2017

Halloween 2017

Happy Halloween! OK, I know it's tomorrow, but our annual party and Trick or Treating with the kids has already come and gone (and I get a day off tomorrow -- 16th wedding anniversary). So, I shall regale you all with pictures. You like pictures, don't you?

This year, I cosplayed another one of my own creations! The idea grabbed hold of me when I was writing Hell On Wheels. Yup, I decided to dress up as Moira, stuck unhappily in her Welcomer garb. Well, my costume wasn't quite as skimpy as what she has to put up with (I couldn't bring myself to squeeze into a sequined bikini). What do you think? Did I do her justice? Maybe next year I should play Grinka from the Fractured Fairies series. Aqua hair? I'd have to pass on playing Tamara the fairy -- I'd be too cold, and I don't think my guests would appreciate me flitting around naked.

Per usual, I was rushing to get the house ready for the party, so I didn't get to spend a lot of time on my pumpkin (I always wish I had more time to do something fancy). This year, I decided to do a monster face, mainly because of my youngest's little googly-eyed monster headband we got her to play with (she was not a monster for Halloween, though, but Rainbow Dash). My eldest did the flying kitty (since that's what she also dressed up as), and I carved the ghost into my youngest's white pumpkin. Per usual, my husband did a simple face -- he's not much for pumpkin carving, but he still does it with us!

The kids also painted some of those pumpkin gourds and the teeny tiny pumpkin my youngest picked out at the pumpkin farm when she went with her preschool.

One picture of the decorations from the party! I didn't take many because of the major rushing this time. Once everyone started arriving, I pretty much collapsed into a chair, chattered, and ate.

And I thought this was a cute picture, so I'm going to post it, even though I am careful not to post many pictures of my kids publicly. Trick or Treating! I love it that the last couple of years we've all went together. (Don't worry, we still put a bowl of candy out for the other Trick or Treaters.)

Finally, look at all this candy that my kids got this year. Notice the pitchfork resting on top of it all? Yeah, Mama Tax. >:)

I hope everyone had a great Halloween this year!

Oh, and as a reminder, you can still get the Monster Maelstrom anthology with my Fractured Fairies flash story, "Monster in the Room", in it for FREE! Amazon, B&N, Kobo, Smashwords, iBooks, and GooglePlay!

Monday, October 16, 2017

Ebook and Paperback Giveaways for Mind Behind the Mind

This past Friday, on October 13, it was the one year anniversary of my publication date for Mind Behind the Mind (Trinity Torn, 1).

I really can't believe it's been a year, and that I'm now elbow deep in revisions of the sequel! I was so happy to have finally released it into the world. And well, I felt the need to celebrate the anniversary, so... it's giveaway time!

I am currently running two giveaways, one for ebooks and one for paperbacks. Three copies of each format are available. Both giveaways run through October 30, 2017. Details on both are below.

First, the ebook giveaway is through Amazon. You do have to follow my Amazon Author page to enter the giveaway, but that's not too hard, is it?

Here's the link for the ebook giveaway: Amazon Ebook Giveaway - 3 copies available!

Second, the paperback giveaway is through Goodreads. You don't need to do anything to enter, but I'd love it if you'd add the novel to your To Read shelf! Link is below, with some of the information as well.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Mind Behind the Mind by Alexa Grave

Mind Behind the Mind

by Alexa Grave

Giveaway ends October 30, 2017.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

The ebook giveaway is restricted to those who reside in the United States, and the paperback giveaway is for residents of the United States and Canada.

Please spread the word about both giveaways to whoever you think might be interested. Good luck, and happy reading!

Thursday, October 05, 2017

The Dark Tower - How It Influenced My Writing

***WARNING! There may be spoilers from any of the books in The Dark Tower series.***

This post was originally going to be a commentary on the movie version of The Dark Tower, but after the reviews for said movie rolled in, and I realized just how different it was from the books, I decided to opt out of seeing it. Maybe I'll watch it in the future when I can nab it on Netflix or at the library, but right now I decided it was best I not ruin my fond memories of this series.

Instead, I started re-reading The Gunslinger.

I first read books one through three when I was in high school. And I awaited the fourth in the series eagerly (it was released my Freshman year of college -- yup, this dates me, haha). As a matter of fact, I worked in a mall across from a B. Dalton (I know, those don't exist anymore), and for months before they had a display out front advertising the release of Wizard and Glass. Needless to say, I spent many a work hour longingly staring at that poster.

Since I read these novels during such formative years, they clearly had an impact on me. Not only in life, but in my writing as well.

I instantly latched onto Jake when I first read The Gunslinger, and mourned his death not long after I met him. And of course I rejoiced when he rejoined Roland in the third novel.

The biggest draw of these novels for me, though, was this glimpse into a world that could very well be the future of our own. There are so many connections to our own world that you wonder if it is more of a futuristic dystopia. Or it could simply be that doors between our world and Roland's allowed some things to leak through, attributing to the similarities. I loved that multi-layered sense, the possibilities of Roland's world being linked with ours.

And of course I've taken the love of such a feel and used it in my own writing. My Fortunes of Fate series have both our world and the world of Fate linked, not quite to the point where you find things from our world in Fate, but people have definitely traveled back and forth between the two worlds. Though I don't even know at this point how much each world will influence the other (because I don't have all the stories plotted out).

Then there's Chains of Nect. I started Obsidian's Obsession a couple years ago, posting chapters to Wattpad and my blog. Nect is a world with many portals, and it borrows things from the other worlds (though that's not completely clear yet up to where I've written to). Some of those worlds are more advanced like our own.

I even started Mind Behind the Mind with wanting this feel of a Western at the beginning in the town of Sierka. The Gunslinger very much has that feel as Roland crosses the desert, his guns on his hips.

A certain town in Dead As Dreams (a novel I hope to release later next year) could have even had its beginnings in my subconscious as a memory of Tull and what Roland did there.

As I re-read The Gunslinger I had some small ah-ha moments where I realized just how much The Dark Tower series has influenced me, and how it still follows me around to this day.

Now, I'm not going to say the whole series is perfect. I much prefer the first three novels, The Gunslinger, The Drawing of the Three, and The Wastelands. Wizard and Glass was also decent, but it's mostly backstory (probably should have been a prequel). And I absolutely detested when Stephen King wrote himself into the series. If that's taught me anything, though, it's that I shouldn't get so caught up in myself and my personal issues that I go that deep into author intrusion in my own writing. Ever. And I wholly admit I have yet to read The Wind Through the Keyhole, the most recent in the series, but it's chronologically between two of the earlier releases (I do own it, though).

Can you see now why I had a hard time bringing myself to go see The Dark Tower movie? This series has impacted my life in such a huge way, and I hate to have that tainted by a bad movie. I'll watch it when I've prepared myself enough to not care what's on the screen and disconnect my brain enough to convince it that it's not the story I loved from the start.

No matter if I see the movie or not, I'm sure The Dark Tower series will continue to influence some things in my writing, even if I don't realize it!

Do you have a series that has impacted your life greatly? Either your writing or something else in your life? I'd love to hear about it!

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Which Tarot Card Should I Use In The Next Fate Story?

I'm still just diving into revisions of Thorns Entwine the Blade, but once I'm done with those, I intend to write the next Fortunes of Fate story.

I've enjoyed exploring the Tarot cards I've used so far, especially connecting the stories even if some connections right now are subtler than others. And though I have a couple thoughts on stories I could add to the interwoven tapestry of Fate, it might not be time for some of those tales to come to light quite yet.

So, I'd like some help deciding which Tarot card I should focus on next!

Keep in mind, I don't have an arc mapped out and outlined, so if in the end I settle on a card with help from everyone, I won't be trying to shove it into a story that's already plotted out in my head. Like with a Tarot card reading, I'm never quite sure where each card dealt will lead me (though I do intend to tie it all together in the end, which will probably be in a novella or novel).

The cards I have already used (in order of stories released):

The Fool
Two of Cups
The Magus/Magician
The Moon
The High Priestess
Two of Swords

One more card that is off limits because it will be the final Fate tale:

The World

Is that a spoiler? I hope it's not too much of one! As mentioned above, I'm not sure where all the paths will lead and how that final story will unfold.

Anyway, that leaves 71 more cards to choose from. A daunting task.

Don't worry, you don't need to know tons (or anything really) about Tarot cards to vote! Feel free to pick a card using simple instinct, or if you see one that strikes your fancy by the art on a card in a certain deck. I'll give you a little help, so you at least have an idea of the options.

Tarot.com has a decent page with the list of all the cards in a Tarot deck. You can click on each card to read about the meanings. Just keep in mind, if you vote on one due to meaning, I could interpret it differently than you do - there are meanings for upright and reversed!

On the same page there are also a bunch of different decks, so if you just want to look at the pretty pictures, you can click on a deck that inspires you and find a card that way!

Basic run-down from me, though, for the card names.

There are several options left in the Major Arcana, and they are:

The Empress, The Emperor, The Hierophant, The Lovers, The Chariot, Strength, The Hermit, Wheel of Fortune, Justice, The Hanged Man, Death, Temperance, The Devil, The Tower, The Star, The Sun, Judgment

Of course, there are many more cards in the Minor Arcana. There are four suits in the Minor Arcana (kind of like playing cards):


Each of those suits contains 14 cards, pretty much numbers and then face cards (again, like a deck of playing cards):

Ace, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten, Page, Knight, Queen, King

I've drawn a couple more of these cards in the past that I might draw inspiration from (and redraw) if they happen to be chosen. I did love my Two of Pentacles! The keyword for the upright of that one for me was harmony. And the Strength one had a pretty cute lion in it. But I'm also looking forward to planning out new cards that I haven't even considered yet, of course. A lot of cards ahead of me, and a lot of stories to go with them.

Is this enough help for voting? Again, you can choose to vote however you want! Have a favorite number? Then pick the number of one of the Minor Arcana suits. Easy, no time needed if you don't want to look into meanings.

I'll also let everyone choose their top three picks, even, though you can only choose one if you wish.

Just fill out this quick form - Which Tarot Card Should Be Next?

The form will be up for a couple months at least, since I won't make a decision until December at the soonest. Show it around to your friends, too -- the more votes, the better! I will report the decision in a December or January post, promise!

So, pick a card, any card...

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Hell On Wheels Excerpt

Hell On Wheels, the second title in the Devil Made Me series, is already up on Amazon for pre-order! And I'm guessing some of you might like a taste of what you'll find. Without fail, I have an excerpt below.

I would like to mention my plans for this title quickly, if you'll bear with me (or you can just skip my blather and read the excerpt). As I said above, it's on Amazon right now. If you pre-order, you can nab it for only $0.99. Release day is September 26, 2017, at which time the price will go up to $2.99. It will be available only on Amazon, including in Kindle Unlimited, for three months! On January 2, 2018, Hell On Wheels will be available from the other major online retailers, after a short pre-order period.

The first title in the series, Hell Hath No Fury, will also drop down to $0.99 for a short time starting some time next week! This special price will be available at all the major online retailers. You can find the links on my Devil Made Me series page. If you haven't read it yet, the beginning of October will be the best time to get it at the lower price.

Also keep in mind, you shouldn't be lost in Hell On Wheels if you haven't read the first title. Though I'm sure if you read the second, you'll want to go back and read the first. Moira is a hoot!

OK, OK, here it is, the excerpt from Hell On Wheels...

A man in an impeccable gray suit perched on the edge of my desk, legs crossed and a car-salesman smile plastered to his face.

This was my office, damn it. No one allowed unless I said so. "Who the hell are you?"

He chuckled, a controlled and forced sound. "Nice one. I'm Richard, but you can call me Dick." When he extended his hand, it looked too perfect, too practiced.

Dick, huh? This would be fun. I crossed my arms instead of shaking. "We just met -- you should keep the juicy information about your disposition for later."

He dropped his hand. "I assure you, my name is telling, but not in the way you're thinking." The corner of his mouth twitched.

Crap. Someone ready to sling shit back at me. "Well, Dick, I think you took a wrong turn. This is my office."

"No wrong turn, Moira. I'm exactly where I intend to be."

He knew my name, but I'd never seen him before. True, there were many residents even on the second floor, but someone who exuded this much charisma and sleaziness wouldn't have stayed hidden. "When did you arrive here?"

"Oh, I'm not from this floor." The extended word "this" slid over me like an oil slick.

It reminded me of Douglas -- a resident who'd been mistakenly sent to the second floor and had almost killed me... again. Well, maybe his intent hadn't been to kill me, but he sure hadn't wanted to snuggle. Pandora had sent Douglas to his proper floor before Jared or I could rip his creepy throat out. A man I intended to keep in my rear-view for the rest of my unlife.

"You're not from the seventh floor, are you?" I now knew that was where people like murderers and rapists went. That had been my topic of study yesterday. Well, I think it was yesterday...

Dick laughed again, so close to someone saying "ha ha ha." "No, no, of course not. Would you believe the fourth?"

Greed. Seemed to fit. "You weren't by chance a car salesman before you died, were you?"

That fake smile fell off his face for a moment, and then he rallied, grinning bigger than he had before. "Smart."

Smartass -- he'd learn that if he stuck around.

Wait. How'd he get here, anyway? There was supposed to be no floor-to-floor travel. Unless Pandora had deposited him here. Or there was a way that she had yet to tell me.

Sneaky bitch. Jared was right -- Pandora hid things. But I wasn't about to admit it to him, at least not until I uncovered the secrets and confronted the lying wench. If I told him, he'd try to be all chivalrous again, like with Douglas.

I could take care of myself.

First step, don't react to Dick's floor-hopping. He couldn't know Pandora had remained mum on the topic with me. "What brings you from the fourth to the second?"

If possible, his smile grew bigger. How'd he talk like that? "You have something I want."

"Yeah, what's that?"

"Your job."

I giggled, holding back the gut-buster I yearned to unleash. "You want to be a Welcomer? Be my guest." I tossed the sequined horns at him, and he caught them cleanly without looking down.

"Not that job." He quickly tilted his head then righted it.

Nervous tick or display of superiority? I reconsidered the whole fourth-floor declaration. Like Douglas's original assignment to this floor, it didn't seem right. Sure, people were greedy for power. But the desire to become the devil was on a whole 'nother level.

Not to mention, unless Pandora had told him of my impending promotion, he shouldn't have known. The other residents of this floor had poked around my office and asked questions, but I'd brushed them off with that whole wish thing. Told them it made me feel more normal to putter around an office.

"Get the hell out."

Dick stood and smoothed his suit, even though there weren't any wrinkles in it. He straightened his tie, which shifted from a classic black-striped number to tiny flames on a dark gray backdrop, and placed the horns on my desk. "I look forward to the challenge, Moira." Then he strode out as if he already had the position in the bag.

Boyfriend hate your job? Well, he can go to Hell.

Yup, Moira's still dead. And her ex from life, not so much an ex anymore, isn't happy that Moira agreed to take the devil's place once she retires. Makes it kind of hard to while away their unlives on the second floor of Hell.

But Moira's not willing to back out of the deal, stubborn as, well, hell. Even when a sleazy three-piece, supposedly from the fourth floor, demands the job for himself, she refuses to withdraw.

Once Moira uncovers some of Hell's secrets, though, she starts to question her commitment.

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Writing Update - September 2017

I'm rolling into Fall, so I guess it's time again for another writing update! Don't worry, I'm still plugging along, even if I occasionally forget to update the word count meters on my blog. ;)

I last updated in March, so I won't repeat some of the things I mentioned there. You can go wander over and check it out if you'd like, though. Things have been pretty quiet on the publication front, but that just means I've been writing a lot! And other things...

Completed 2017 Publications and Goals

Mind Behind the Mind (Trinity Torn, 1) was sneakily lowered to $2.99 a few months ago. It will go back up to $3.99 soon, so get it for the lower price while you can! Per usual, you can find the availability on the Trinity Torn Series page.

Hell On Wheels (Devil Made Me, 2) is done and ready to go! Yup, rough draft, revision, and edit. It just needs to be formatted, which will be done later this week. It will be available only on Amazon until the beginning of January, at which point it will be at other retailers. You can pre-order Hell On Wheels on September 13 for only 99 cents, but on release day, September 26, it will go up to $2.99! I had tons of fun writing it -- Moira is a riot. Watch the Devil Made Me Series page for cover and blurb coming soon.

Haunted Unicorn Publishing - I'm now offering beta reading and developmental editing, as I covered in a previous post. I've already completed some beta reads and sample edits!

2017 Planned Promotions

Hell Hath No Fury (Devil Made Me, 1) will be on sale for 99 cents in October! I don't have the exact dates planned, but I aim to have the price changed by the beginning of October. Don't wait to snag a copy at that price, though, because it will be back up to $1.99 by November.

2017 Project Progress

Thorns Entwine the Blade (Trinity Torn, 2) is heading into revisions! I completed the first draft at the beginning of June, then I received some feedback. I'm currently doing a bit of prep before I dive into revisions. Re-reading the first book and inputting events into Aeon Timeline. I'm hoping to finish the revision by the end of the year. Still aiming for a 2018 publication date. And... yes, here it is, the first public appearance (after a few tweaks since I sent it out in my newsletter) -- the cover for Thorns Entwine the Blade!

Nothing to announce for changes at this time, as I haven't started up or continued any side projects. Thorns will keep me busy through the end of the year, and I'm hoping to start in on Dead As Dreams revisions afterward (and maybe a very rough beginning draft of the third Trinity Torn novel). We'll see how the rest of the year plays out for those other side projects I've been itching to work on!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

1001 Reasons Not To Clean - #21 through #25

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 through #20

21. Because it's summer, and not only is Preschooler home as usual, so is Eldest. Even if you convince them to play together most of the day, you find that the day has come and gone with nothing done aside from dealing with their antics. Who has time for cleaning?

22. Because it's summer, and that means you're trying to do tons of "fun stuff" with the kids. As in, outside-of-the-house fun (some that makes you wonder how it got so expensive). Even if you have a day in, you're so exhausted from all of the "fun stuff" that it's hard to think let alone clean.

23. Because it's summer, and you have no air conditioning, which makes it too damned hot to clean.

24. Because it's summer, and you'd rather enjoy the nice weather by going for a walk with your family (and maybe playing a little Pokemon Go).

25. Because summer is coming to an end, and Everquest is having a Double EXP (experience) Weekend for Labor Day. This is not only a great reason not to clean, but it also turns out to be a reason to delay your trip to the zoo until the following weekend.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Patreon - Chain Story

At the beginning of the year I started up a Patreon Page. I have to admit that right now this experiment is an utter failure. Part of it may be because I'm unwilling to beg my friends to pledge to "get the ball rolling" and show the world that I do indeed have some patrons. But I think the biggest part is that I don't have a big enough fan following yet for my writing. This is something that's going to take time, and far more publications under my belt (also clearly getting a hang of marketing for more visibility). With indie publishing, the Long Game feels like a bit of an understatement sometimes. ;)

This doesn't mean I'm completely giving up on Patreon, though. I was seriously looking forward to having some fun with it, to interact with my patrons and write super short stories or poems in response to offered prompts. Writing can be a lonely business, elbows deep in a novel especially, so mixing in a bit of a game for fun and interaction sounded appealing to me. After next month, though, I likely won't be actively posting to Patreon. At least not until I actually have a patron (or more books and a bigger following behind me to make a bigger push with the Patreon platform).

So, here's the game plan:

❦ Last month I posted the beginning of a Chain Story. This post is a public post. That means anyone can see it and respond to it with no need to be a patron (in other words - free). Only one person has added to it so far, and then I added another sentence as well. I'd love to see more people add to it. You don't even need to be a writer to add a sentence! Chain stories can wander down some pretty strange paths. So, I'll try to get more people involved with the Chain Story over the next month or so. Share it around - this is supposed to be for fun!

❦ In September, I'll post another story. This one will also be public. I recently got my kids some Story Cubes. I intend to use them to write the September story! As a bonus, if my eldest daughter writes something with the same roll, I'll post that as well (if she lets me).

❦ Some time in October, if I still have no patrons, I'll announce a hiatus on Patreon. Though I'll likely post public updates at least every other month.

❦ If any interest is finally shown in my Patreon Page or when I feel I might have more of a following that would be interested, I'll be happy to start creating more content for the page. I just can't keep creating content that no one is seeing at this time!

So, go on and add to the Chain Story. I look forward to see how it progresses!

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. ;)