Category Archives: Writing

That was September and this is OMG

So, a brief life recap and looking forward:

At the end of September I went to Georgia for eight days for family stuff. My sister was supposed to go, but she and her husband went to Europe for a month instead (her oldest daughter, my niece, lives in Germany and has two wee children, so I understand. Mostly. Although have I gotten so much as a postcard? Noooo…). Because it wasn’t a planned-well-ahead trip for me, I had to do day job work there as well as write. And every time I go, I expect to get more writing done than I ever do, because it’s more tiring than I remember. This time I wrote one story and started another, which is better than no words at all, right?!

When I got home, our Internet/cable crapped out, and was out for about two and a half weeks. This slowed down all of my work, because I’d have to do a bunch of work, make a list of what to do at the library on their wireless, pack up and go across to the library, end up with more work because new emails have arrived, pack up, come home, lather, rinse, repeat.

Plus I was dealing with some minor health problems. The fatigue I battled over the summer came back to a lesser degree (probably a backlash from the trip), along with a few other small annoyances. So I just wasn’t as productive/focused as I needed to be.

Plus Ken’s birthday weekend was just after I returned home, and we went out for dinner with different friends on three successive nights and did other stuff, which I have recounted in an almost-finished blog post.

Next up, I have 15 days on the Oregon Coast: one week of a writing retreat and one week of the Master Class, a publishing/business summit of pro writers from all over.

I leave at 1 pm Saturday, driving a friend and stopping at a housewarming/house-blessing party on the way. Here is a sampling of what I need to do before then:

  • put away all the clean laundry, which is a lot
  • probably do another load of laundry
  • Costco run for eggs, string cheese, and gas
  • make two soups and two breakfast meals to freeze and take with me (I’ll eat salads for lunches)
  • finish the current novel so I can write a good chunk of the next book in the series at the retreat (I’d hoped to have the second book underway so I could finish it at the retreat, but oh well)
  • so much publishing/admin work that I kind of have to look at it out of the corner of my eye so I don’t dissolve into utter panic
  • answer about 40 work emails (that’s what I have to do right now. But you know what happens when you answer an email…hydra heads popping up everywhere.)
  • do a slew of day job work, including designing a magazine, a novel, and a cover, and proofreading an anthology design, and a bunch of other small tasks
  • get a flu shot
  • pick up pills at the pharmacy
  • pack (at least the packing list is pretty much done)

What I have accomplished over the past few days include

  • got a haircut. Photos to come when it stops being so damn fluffy because the hairdresser used an unfamiliar product and a blow dryer on me, which creates frizz rather than curls
  • walked a friends’ dogs because her back is effed up and she has a team of people helping out
  • made the meal plan and shopping list, and did a big grocery shopping (for the above-mentioned meal prep plus food for this week)
  • made two extra salads for today’s and tomorrow’s lunches while I made yesterday’s lunch salad
  • made one soup
  • copyedited a book and proofread a magazine
  • answered a slew of email
  • published a short story
  • played way too many games of Ticket to Ride on the iPad while snuggled next to Ken and covered with purring cats

I should feel way more guilty about that last item than I do, but at one point last night I looked at Ken and said, “I am so fucking happy right now.”

Added note: I wrote this on Thursday morning, and now it’s Friday night, so I’ve accomplished a few of the things I needed to. Not as many as I’d like, but a reasonable chunk. After I sent my monthly newsletter, I said to Ken that it was a good reminder of how much I have done, when I think I haven’t.

More when I return home, just in time for the Most Wonderful Holiday of the Year, Halloween!

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The Year of Dare

The Celtic year ends on Halloween/Samhain, so November 1 is my New Year’s Day. (Although I celebrate the other one as well because hey, any excuse for a celebration!) And for at least five years now, I’ve been picking a word for my year. Something I want to take in, to embrace, to expand into my life. It’s generally geared towards my career, but usually applies to other areas of my life as well. Previous words have included Joy, Focus, Create, and last year’s Trust.

Trust ended up having a profound effect. I first started thinking about it at the annual publishing summit Master Class I go to most every year on the Oregon Coast. It’s a week of intense learning about making a living as a writer and keeping up with the whiplash-inducing changes that are happening in the publishing world nearly every day. I realized at the workshop last year that I was letting fear hold me back in a lot of areas. If something seemed “too hard” or “too much to learn,” I never let it rise to the top of my To Do list—and that clearly had to stop. Avoidance is not the way to success.

It took me a while to find the right word. I knew I wanted to opposite of Fear, but Courage wasn’t right, nor Fearless (which hides the negative in the positive), nor Bravery. I actually found Trust by looking at on November 1, after a Samhain ritual the night before where we talked about what I was trying to embody, and brought it in as best I could.

I told a writer/publisher friend about Trust, and a few weeks later, a surprise showed up in the mail for me: she’d made me a ring that said Trust. I started wearing it every day. Alas, one day it disappeared (no idea how), but I ordered myself one from Etsy, and now I wear that every day.

I trusted myself to have the skills to figure difficult things out. I trusted the smart, savvy people around me to help me when I asked for assistance or explanation. I trusted my subconscious, my creative core. So many things stopped being scary, and started being fun—and surprisingly easy once I got out of my own way.

This year’s word hit me like a cosmic two-by-four a month or so ago, although in the wrong form at first. And since then, the universe has been showing me again and again that it’s the right word at the right time. It’s absolutely what I need.

I thought it would be Challenge, but I realized I might be inviting the universe to throw challenges in my way, and that’s not what I meant at all. I wanted to challenge myself. Not necessarily big challenges, but little ones, too. It might be challenging myself to write an especially high number of words on a day when I don’t have any freelance work. It might be challenging myself to try something new (now that Trust is firmly engrained).

Since Challenge wasn’t quite it, I meditated some more, and it came to me: Dare. Not only to be daring, but to dare myself. Big dares, little dares, double-dog dares if it comes to that. In August, to reboot myself after a few months of a mini-depression, I dared myself to write a minimum of 500 words a day. I wouldn’t go to bed until I’d done them. At the end of the month, I had a nice chunk of words. That was my first cosmic two-by four. There were more to come at this year’s Master Class.

In this spirit of that, I’m not exactly doing National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), but I’m doing my own personal dare version. I have two novels to finish (one coauthored, one solo), as well as a novella, and other projects if I can get to them. In the spirit of NaNoWriMo, I’m gunning for 50K words this month.

This will be a challenge, because my mom’s still in town until Saturday morning, I’ve got three days of Orycon plus a friend coming early to help me with website stuff, and I’ve got a slew of freelance work on the schedule. But I also wrote 1200 words on several of the days at the Master Class, in between sessions, and 500+ on a couple other days, so I know I can get words out even when I’m busy—and I know that I’ll have days when I get fewer words written than the average, so I’ll just have to have days where I write more.

I won’t be posting all my dares throughout the year, but I’ll talk about them on and off, if anyone’s interested. Just be prepared to see more words, more projects, and more fun. I dare you!

(The image above is of the necklace I’m waiting to arrive from Etsy…)

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Writing Retreat

[It’s Thursday of my second week of this retreat; I leave Sunday afternoon. I wrote this post the day I arrived…and forgot to upload it!]

I’m on the Oregon Coast for two weeks, in a cozy apartment overlooking the lake.




See that view? Does not suck.

I’m cat-sitting for a friend.


See this cat? Adorable. She chirrups and purrs like a maniac. She immediately tried to figure out how gullible I am when it comes to feeding her. (She’s on a strict feeding schedule.) She chirrups and peeps, and has one of the loudest purrs I’ve ever heard—it’s a hair-trigger purr, too.

I’m basically having a writing retreat, although I do have some day-job work to do as well. No other responsibilities but writing, work, getting some exercise (it’s about a mile to the beach), and eating and sleeping. I hope to get a lot of reading done, too. I may or may not watch any TV; if I do, I’ll stream something on Netflix. (I don’t think the DVR at home will explode while I’m away…)

The theme of the retreat is Clear the Decks. I’d hoped to have the decks cleared before I came and thus could focus on a novel, but the universe had other ideas for me. So I’m here to finish up a bunch of stuff so that when I get home, I can focus on a couple of novellas and the next novel in my queue. Whatever that is…

[So far, so good. I’ll post a post-retreat summary once I’m home…and hopefully remember to upload it in a reasonable amount of time!]

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So. Many. Words.

If you had told me, back when I was a child, that I would one day have too much to read, I wouldn’t have laughed at you, both because I was shy and because I wouldn’t have been able to comprehend your words. (“Roboto, your words have no meaning. You are in error.”) I might have stared at you as if you’d grown a second head, though.

When I was a kid, there were never enough books. We didn’t live close enough to either town to go to the library frequently. During school, I was allowed to check out more than the maximum number of books, because the librarian knew I’d bring them all back, all read at least once. And my family wasn’t the book-buying kind, so my library fit on two small shelves. I reread books a lot. I got to the point where I could read my favorite Nancy Drew, The Clue in the Crossword Cipher, in 20 minutes. As in, while eating a snack. (Liverwurst and Muenster on Ritz crackers, mostly likely.)

In high school, I bought whatever books I could with my limited funds, and then my best friend—who lived in Virginia—and I would mail books to each other. The cost of a shoebox of paperbacks sent Media Rate was equivalent to what? the cost of one paperback?

Now, let’s face it, with the plethora of ebooks available, not to mention the library, and Powells, and freebies from conferences, and so forth, I have scads of things to read. (I keep going to the library instead of reading the piles of books all over the apartment. Sheez.)

But the problem is, right now, I have things to read that have deadlines.

  1. I have stories to read for the upcoming Anthology Workshop. I’m halfway through (I’ve read three of six anthology submissions’ worth of stories). That still leaves about 125 stories. I don’t have to read each one all the way through: we’re supposed to read like an editor would, so if I fade out, I just note where I faded out and move on to the next. Unfortunately (fortunately?), given the level of professionalism, most stories don’t let me out. (Which makes choosing 55,000 words for each anthology as I would put it together a real PITA.) Really good stories. Really hard choices. Deadline: Feb 26. I could read the final anthologies’ stories while I’m at the workshop, but let’s face it, I’ll be too busy hanging with a slew of amazing writer-friends and also trying to get a a few words in on my own projects each day.
  2. I have novels to read for the upcoming Romance Workshop. I can’t go into detail, but the first novel on the list is one I do not like. Even if we’ve read things on the list before, we’re supposed to read them again. I do not want to read it again. I realized last night that I was delaying going to bed because I did not want to read the novel. Aaaargh. Also, one of the later novels is really, really long, so I can’t dawdle on this. Deadline: April 15.
  3. I’m going through Love, in Stitches, Teresa’s and my latest coauthored effort, in creative mode, fixing notes we’ve left for ourselves, writing new scenes, etc. It’s mostly reading. Deadline: I’d like to have it finished this week, although I’m not as far along as I’d like. IN part because of these other things I have to read.
  4. I’m doing a developmental edit for a Lucky Bat Books client. This is, you guessed it, 99% reading (and 1% taking notes/leaving comments). Deadline: not fixed, but soon-ish. As in, I should be working on this every day.

Am I complaining? Not…not really. Not about the reading. Other than the novel I do not like one iota, dammit, it’s all really good stuff. As long as I remember why I’m reading what I’m reading (am I reading in creative mode? as a developmental editor? as an anthology editor? as a copyeditor? Who am I right now? ::cue existential angst::), I’m golden.

I think it’s just the deadlines I hate…they’re stressing me out, man.

Some thoughts on giving up

A writer friend of mine recently posed the following question on Facebook (which I’m paraphrasing here): What helps see you through the dark moments, when you’re thinking it’s too hard and you should just abandon your writing (or whatever art form)?

I started to answer but realized I had way more to say than would fit in a Facebook comment. So, here’s my response:

  1. I think about what I would do instead. Gotta make money somehow…. The easiest answer is to continue what I’m already doing, which is copyediting, designing, and publishing for other authors, which I do enjoy well enough. But I quickly realize that I’d just get depressed working on other people’s books, knowing I gave up my own dream. So, what else? I don’t believe it’s ever too late to start a new career…but I have no idea what I’d even want to do. Nothing else fires up my passion.
  2. I realize that if I give up, I’ll disappoint people—like my writing mentors, Kris & Dean, who’ve been pounding their knowledge into me for the past thirteen years. Or Ken, who’s supported me for longer than that and been my biggest cheerleader. I’ll disappoint the writers who look up to me, who tell me they admire my work ethic or my prose or whatever. Hell, I’ll disappoint the twelve-year-old me who write a hundred handwritten pages on a novel, and the seventeen-year-old me who completed and submitted her first novel, which got positive rejections.
  3. I look at the list I keep of positive reviews and the Kudos folder in my email (where I save any email where someone has said something nice about my writing). I remember that I’ve had two call-outs in Publisher’s Weekly. Clearly I occasionally do something right when it comes to writing. Just because it’s a struggle right now doesn’t mean good writing doesn’t come out of it, and stories and novels people want to read.
  4. I re-watch the videos from an online Productivity Workshop ( I remind myself to Go Play, that this is supposed to be fun.
  5. If all else fails, I just wait it out. After a few days, I’ll be so cranky because I’m not writing that I’ll just cave and start again.

What’s your answer?

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The voices in my head

An example of how I can’t shut up my brain:

I’m working on a freelance copyediting job (great writer; love her work), but a part of my brain drifts over to the assignment for the SF Workshop that I have to write today. First 500 words of a story, all five senses. We’ve been give the character name, the setting (spaceship), and the problem (jammed or locked door). I’ve already made a couple of notes.

But now my brain starts…hm, how to explain. Some stories come to me as voices in my head. Seriously. My novel What Beck’ning Ghost started because two characters kept having these weird threatening conversations in my head, and I was all, who the fuck are these guys and what are these creepy things they’re talking about? (These conversations do appear in the book, BTW.)

With this story, it’s in first person, and it’s YA so she’s voice-y, and so I’m hearing her voice in my head (even as I’m copyediting), and she says something off-hand, and a moment later that little detail snaps into focus and I know the whole story and the last line and it’s freaking me out because it’s now SF horror.

It’s all I can do not to drop everything and write the whole story. But I have to get this job done by tomorrow, and I have to finish my Winter Witches story first, and…

Oh, I wonder if the story I uploaded last night has processed through all the sites so I can post about it?

Oh, look, a chicken!

Right, copyediting…that’s what I’m doing…

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The 7 meme

I was tagged to do this 7-7-7 me!me!, which involves going to the seventh page of your manuscript, counting down seven lines, and posting the next seven full sentences. I don’t usually do these, but this one seemed like fun. I’m not, however, tagging anyone else—writer-friends, if you’d like to participate, I look forward to reading your entries!

From urban fantasy Ghosted:

I did not know that acoustic tile ceiling.

Everything came into focus slowly, including my brain. I took in the IV—the source of the pinching—the whiteboard on the wall across from the foot of my bed with the date and time and “your nurse’s name is Jeannie”; the annoying puffs of air in my nose that turned out to be an oxygen feed; the streaking sunbeams that made me squint.

I felt kinda floaty, and yet my head hurt, which seemed unfair.

I’d learn later that I had a very nice private room in a wing of the hospital most people don’t even know about. The rich-and-famous wing. The spare-no-expenses wing.

From spicy romance Love, in Stitches (the “sequel” to Out of the Frying Pan, both written with Teresa Noelle Roberts under the name Sophie Mouette):

She was tempted to stop at Starbucks, a familiar one between the parking garage and Luscious Couture, but the usual barista didn’t know how to make proper sweet tea, and technically Luanna couldn’t even afford a bottle of water right now. Tap water for this girl, damn the contaminants, full steam ahead.

Tears prickled behind her eyes (where had she found the moisture?), but she fought them back, pressing her lips firmly together and straightening her back. Her parents wouldn’t approve of her getting hysterical in public, though they’d have different reasons for it. Daddy would remind her that she’d made the honorable choice, even if it was hard, and that meant there was no point in crying. He’d also recommend a bourbon and branch water once she got home to make the hard choice easier to swallow.

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O, my silly brain

As you know (Bobs), I’m a founding member of the Uncollected Anthology series, which is a collective of writers who are writing urban fantasy stories about agreed-upon themes and releasing them simultaneously (hence the “uncollected” and yet “anthology”).

When we first sat down to hammer out the details of this vague idea I had (which was something along the lines of, I have these nifty anthology ideas and I love these urban fantasy authors, so how do I connect the two?), we came up with the first four themes: Magical Motorcycles, Winter Witches, Heartspells, and Portals and Passageways. (There are more themes, but these are the ones we agreed on for the first four issues.)

But my brain keeps trying to mash them together. For example, my Magical Motorcycles story, “The Madness of Survival,” takes place largely on the Winter Solstice, the time period of Winter Witches. And my Winter Witches story, which I haven’t actually started yet even though it’s due soon, wants to hinge around the concept of a Solstice Gate, which sounds like a Portals and Passageways story to me. But there’s also a winter-blooming rose, which the protagonist has to get from the heir to another magical family—which could nudge its way into a romance…Heartspells, anyone?

And, boom, suddenly I want to combine the Solstice Gate and the winter rose into a freaking novel.

And now I have the hiccups. Please tell me this isn’t all related somehow.

Three sales in two days!

June has started out with a lovely bang! in the form of three story sales in two days!

Crossed Genres accepted my short fantasy “The Pumpkin-Carving Contest” for their Flash Fiction issue, which I believe comes out in July. CG is an online magazine, and you can find more info here.

Then, not one, but two acceptances from the utterly lovely Kristina Wright, for two different erotic romance anthologies. Here are the tables of contents for both; I don’t yet have covers or publication dates. For Play will probably be out in Spring 2015, though.

Passionate Kisses
Introduction: The Story is Just Beginning
Friends and Benefits, Christine d’Abo
The Scent of Her, Sommer Marsden
House Full of Dreams, Andrea Dale
A Happy Anniversary, Jade Melisande
A Job Well Done, Donna George Storey
The Dinner Decision, Jade A. Waters
Our Second First Date, Victoria Blisse
The Merger, Tahira Iqbal
Back for Good, Lucy Felthouse
Reminder, Jeremy Edwards
The Business of Pleasure, T.G. Haynes
The Happiest Place, Lily K. Cho
Flipping the Switch, Rowan Loquer
Celebration, Kathleen Tudor
A Series of Understandings, F. Fox
Peach Season, Anja Vikarma
The Gift, Tamsin Flowers Henry Lee
Came Home, Kristina Wright
Kissing Lessons, Rachel Kramer Bussel

For Play
Introduction: Anticipation is Everything
The Morning After, Annabeth Leong
Playing in the Middle, Kathleen Tudor
Tomato Season, Jade A. Waters
To Do List, Heidi Champa
It’s Been Awhile, Lady Cheeky
Telling Bedtime Stories, R. Ann Sawyer
Rings, Andrea Dale
Touring with Tina, Jeremy Edwards
Paradise Past, T.G. Haynes
Must Have Been Something I Read, Tamara Blush
An Indecent Proposal, Lisette Ashton
Off Days, Giselle Renarde
Amuse-bouches, Carla Jaffari
Conducting Love Letters, Victoria Blisse
Only Kiss, Louise Nimble
The Dark Horse, Tamsin Flowers
From Two To Three, Maggie Morton
Tanked, Lynn Townsend
Honeysuckle, Kristina Wright

May stats and June goals

I think I missed a month or two of reports. Oh well. Onwards!

May Stats

Short Stories:

  • wrote “The Madness of Survival” for Magical Motorcycles
  • wrote and submitted “Casting the Net” to S&S29 (rejected, and mailed elsewhere)
  • wrote “Old Loom, New Tapestry” for the Valdemar anthology


  • uploaded SFF stories to Omnilit
  • published “The Sound of My Own Voice”
  • designed ebooks for two short stories, “Lost Souls” and “Penny Dreadful”
  • worked on the ebook and POD for my mom’s first book, The Mystery of Woodcliff Hall


  • Lucky Bat Books work
  • sold “Blame It on the Dog” to To Love a Soldier
  • dealt with contracts for “The Scent of Amber and Vanilla” (Pulse Pounders)
  • reviewed proofs for “Pool Girl: California Dreamin’” (Nine-to-Five Fantasies: Tales of Sex on the Job)
  • continued to scheme on the Uncollected Anthology Series
  • OWN cookbook work as needed
  • read The Valdemar Companion in preparation for writing short story
  • signed up for the California Dreamin’ 2015 conference

June Goals

I’ve had a wee epiphany that I don’t do well making word count goals. I think in terms of project (this short story, this novel scene), plus sometimes the beginning of a project is slower because I’m figuring things out (with a recent short story, I found the actual beginning on the fourth try). I know, in the back of my head, how long something should take to write, so there is kind of a word count thought in there, but…it’s better if I don’t make the number of words The Goal.


  • Ghosted: do some brainstorming, order the random scenes, and write 10-20K to patch it all together…and then get it out to the beta readers
  • finish Love, in Stitches (the next Sophie Mouette book): with Teresa
  • possible novellas: On Her Lips, Under Her Skin, The Lord of Wildwood (not sure I can write all three—we’ll see how the month progresses)

Short Stories:

  • there are a couple of possible anthologies I might write for, but I need to focus on novels and novellas, so only if I feel there’s time.


  • PUM print book
  • Woodcliff Hall print and ebook
  • set up Little Kisses Press account at ARe and upload Sophie stuff
  • learn Audible and get one novel set up


  • two copyediting jobs
  • Lucky Bat Books work
  • prepare to launch the Uncollected Anthology Series
  • OWN cookbook work as needed
  • read and do exercises: Who Dares Wins, Bob Mayer