Monday, October 7, 2013

October 2013 Update


Welcome to October, my favorite month of the year! This week I'm working on workshops at the Muse Online Writers Conference, but I wanted to take a break from the action and send out an update.

If you're looking for a free read, my story, Global Swarming is available in Silverthought Online.

My story, "The Piper," will be in the Bete Noire Tell Me a Fable anthology, release date TBA. The story is a new spin on the Pied Piper story, but instead of dealing with rats, he's dealing with a plague of zombies.

On the Work-in-Progress front, I'm trying to work on a story that is set in North Dakota in winter, and it's really hard to capture it adequately. In the fall, the long prairie grass turns an amazing silver, and it gets really bristly, and it catches the moonlight and seems to glow from within, so the fields look like the back of some great, glowing, bristly beast half hidden in the earth. And that's just fall! In winter, the wind blows the snow into bizarre shapes, and the -30 temperatures freeze it solid, so it's like being in some white, alien-planet landscape. So it definitely all lends itself well to the horror genre, but it's the problem of trying to adequately capture the spookiness of it.

And, last but not least, I'm anxiously awaiting the return of The Walking Dead on Sunday! My youngest daughter bought me the amazing T-shirt you see above. Go Team Daryl!

See you next month!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Summertime and the Living is Easy

Spring has finally sprung here in the northland, as you can tell from the several missing posts in the blog. Actually, we went right from winter to summer: I had to delay planting my decorative bean plants until Sunday because Saturday's low was 28 degrees; today, I have my air conditioning on because it is 89 degrees. Ah, the wonder that is North Dakota weather!

Anyway, with planting/fishing/grilling season in full swing, it's time to switch to the summer posting schedule. New posts will appear at the first of each month now through August; the regular posting schedule will resume in September. There may be an occasional bonus post, but we'll have to see what the summer brings. You can subscribe to the blog and receive posts in your email if you'd like to be notified when new posts are available.

I haven't been writing much lately thanks to spring cleaning/spring planting (in addition to the bean vines, I picked up a pussy willow and a bittersweet to add to the yard to replace the bittersweet nightshade I removed for the safety of the dogs), but Chicken Soup for the Soul: Inspiration for Writers will be available May 21st and includes my story: "Putting Together the Pieces." My comedy short, "Alecsander's Empire" will be available in the May/June issue of 69 Flavors of Paranoia, which should be up soon.

Have a great May, and I'll see you next month!

Monday, April 15, 2013

For Writers, April 2013 Edition

Today I'm adding a new feature to the "For Writers" post: a writing prompt!

This prompt caught my eye not only because it is rich in possibility, but also because it can fit almost any genre: romance, horror, thriller, mystery, you name it. So break out your notebook/keyboard and write!

This month's writing prompt (from @DailyPrompt):

Two women meet at a film developing counter. They both have pictures of the same man.

Is it their husband/lover? Is it their father, and they had no idea they were half-siblings? Who is the man, and why do they both have pictures of him? (Note: if you have issues with the idea of a "film-developing counter" in this digital age, then feel free to change it to: the women are at one of those "print centers" where you can print out your digital photos; maybe one of them is even having the photos turned into a photo-pillow, or having it put on a celebratory banner . . .).

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A while ago, there was quite a dust up in the Internet world over an indie author who had a meltdown over bad reviews and behaved badly across several social media outlets. Well, indie authors aren't the only ones behaving badly. Here is a link relating to a traditionally published author (and her agent) who haven't quite mastered proper social media etiquette, either.

Wendy Darling's review of The Selection

And Publishers Weekly's article on the subject:

Should Authors and Agents Weigh In on Citizen Reviews?

I understand the author/agent's response, I really do. I used to sell items on eBay and would occasionally get the most ridiculous negative feedback. I required a Paypal confirmed address, and clearly stated it several places in my auctions; then, when I rejected payment from an unconfirmed address, the buyer would leave stupid negative feedback like, "Seller won't take my payment!" Well, duh! The really sad part is I was selling educational products, so if the buyer couldn't bother to read and follow instructions in an auction, how could they educate children!?! But I digress, lol.

I've also had a few negative reviews on my short stories, and I'm really glad that I haven't written a novel yet, because novels are reviewed SO much more often than short stories.

But I do know how it feels to have negative reviews, and I rant and rave and scream about them . . . at home, in private. And then I move on.

Responding to a negative review can never, NEVER end well. First of all, you aren't going to change the original reviewer's mind. Best case scenario, if you're extremely graceful in your rebuttal, you might--MIGHT--come across as merely egotistical or filled with sour grapes. More likely is the scenario we've seen played out time and time again: a volley of back and forth between author and commentor that escalates until it ends in single word postings questioning each other's genetic lineage.

For the love of all that's holy, even if you think you are Miss Manners, DON'T REBUT NEGATIVE REVIEWS. Don't draw attention to them, and, if you're lucky, they'll eventually be replaced with good reviews and fall back to page 147 where no one will ever see them. (SIDEBAR: also, don't have all your friends post false positive reviews in an effort to artificially push the negative review off the page; but that's a topic for another post).

This is one of those issues that makes me long for the good old days before every single move a person made was available on YouTube, and before there were nine million Internet sites for a person to rant on. Back in the good old days, as long as you kept the paparazzi at bay, you could behave as badly as you wanted, lol.
But in the social media age, everything a person does is out there for the whole world to see, and it sticks around FOREVER (thank you, "Way Back Machine").

Can you imagine if Hemingway, or Hunter S. Thompson, or Poe had their every move tweeted, YouTubed, and videotaped for Entertainment tonight? What a nightmare that would have been for them!

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Whew! Two rants in one month. If this keeps up, I'm going to have to change the name of the blog to "Ed Angry" (obscure reference to the Weekly World News, for those who care).

How about a couple of helpful links to put us back in our happy place?

Crock Pots, Commuter Trains, and Artist Dates: Making the Time to Write Instead of Just Talking About It, by Marley Gibson

The 22 Rules of Storytelling [Infographic]

Character Development Tricks! from @writingcraft

5 Must Read Blogs for Indie Authors

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See you next week!

Monday, April 8, 2013

After Hours, April 2013 Edition: Big Brother is Watching YOU!

Note: Most of the time I just roll my eyes at the latest government news and rant in private. There is plenty of eye-rolling because I'm a political amalgamation of both the democratic ideals and  republican, so I'm usually ticked off at one party or the other. But a local news story really has my dander up, so today you're going to get an irate essay on the government over-reaching under the guise of public health and safety. You've been warned.

I have always loved to read dystopian stories and I occasionally write them: stories where the government looks the other way while rednecks take "border control" into their own hands, stories where people willingly give up all forms of creative expression in order to experience bliss at the hands of a pill . . .

And just as some of the old "dream" technology of science fiction has become a reality, so has some of the dystopia, in the form of authoritarian government.

Seat belts were the gateway drug for big brother, and, high on the victory, he's just been jonesing for more control.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not anti-safety; I understand that the intention of a lot of this "government oversight" is to save lives, and I understand that the costs of not having these rules is paid by everyone.

Take smoking, for example. It's definitely unhealthy, it affects more than the smoker, and we all pay in health care costs. I didn't like the laws, not because I smoke but because I believe both in personal freedom and personal responsibility. But once the ball got rolling, there was no stopping the stop-smoking legislation. While my sense of personal freedom is bruised, I do like walking into a bar and not choking and gagging and having my eyes water. I get to enjoy my terribly unhealthy drinks while breathing fresh clean air.

But where is the line between personal freedom and big-brother authoritarianism?

A ban on trans fat in restaurants? A ban on big gulps? And now, in my own small town, a ban on chewing tobacco in public parks? REALLY?

Instead of protecting the public, this one falls firmly under the government trying to protect the individual from his or her self.

In an article on the topic ran in my local paper, they quoted talk show host Dennis Prager: “Eventually, citizens will have to carry calorie cards that limit how much an individual will be allowed to consume in any given day. If health trumps liberty, why not?”

Sounds pretty dystopian to me. I just want to write about dystopias, not live in one.

Monday, April 1, 2013

April 2013 Update

I'm currently working on final edits of a new horror short story. It's very close to done, but there's something missing that I can't quite put my finger on yet. I'm ready to be done with it, so my frustration level is pretty high. I hate knowing something's wrong, but not knowing what, and thus not being able to fix it.

I'm also editing a reprint, "Inhuman Resources," which originally appeared in Zombidays: Festivities of the Flesheaters. I love the story, but trying to place reprints is another source of frustration. Very few markets accept reprints, and most of those that do either pay less (which makes sense; it is, after all, a "used" story, lol) or not at all.

I'm also working on a longer project with the working title, "Primrose Place." No, it's not a romance; it's a contemporary fantasy with a cast of quirky characters, a touch of comedy, and plenty of the supernatural. It's about belonging, family, and finding your place in the world. I don't dare call it a novel, because we know what a problem novels are for me. So while this one is in its "zero draft" stage, we'll just call it "a really long short story with a whole lot of characters."

Notice the trend here? Three frustrating projects! No wonder I've been having to take frequent breaks. Hopefully I'll have at least two of these projects done by next month's update, and my frustration level will be back to its normal "just slightly aggravated."

See you next week!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Horror, Sci-Fi, & Fantasy, March 2013 Edition

I took a trip down memory lane with another horror fan this week. We discussed the movies that gave us nightmares, the movies that made us say, "Meh," and our favorite guilty-pleasure, deliciously cheesy horror movies.

Two horror movies in the cheesy category are:

Undead, which has a great scene where a guy fights zombie fish;
Brain Damage, which is a ridiculous movie, but inexplicably made me want to wear a turtleneck to bed for years afterwards;

And one movie that we both loved (and is probably cheesy, but neither of us could remember because we haven't seen it in years) is:

Damnation Alley (which is technically sci-fi, but it has some pretty horrific post-apocalyptic action).

I STILL remember scenes from Damnation Alley, and I only watched it once. After our little trip down memory lane, I bought the movie from Amazon . . . but I'm afraid to watch it, afraid its magical spell will be broken, especially with the outdated special effects. There's nothing worse than ruining a movie you've loved your whole life by watching it again and finding out it really isn't that great by today's standards.

Okay, enough nostalgia. On to this week's links!

~ ~ ~

This season of The Walking Dead is almost over, so we'll have to get our zombie-fix elsewhere for a few months:

via @fearnet: Gift Guide: Chocolate skulls with edible brains!

via @fearnet: Gift Guide: Zombie Cookie Cutters!

via @horrorfreaknews: George Romero is Penning a Horror Comic for Marvel?!

via @io9: First Hints About How Zombieland Will Become a Weekly TV Show

‘Zombieland’ TV Series Coming to Amazon; Original Writers Returning as Showrunners

from Zombie Zone News: Upcoming Zombie movies (they also have lists of zombie movies, sorted by year).

from A List of New Zombie Movies Worth Watching

from Flickchart: The Top 100 Zombie Films of All Time

Zombie Books to munch on. A Listmania! list by Patrick S. Dorazio

from 15 Essential Zombie Reads

~ ~ ~

See you next week!

Monday, March 18, 2013

For Writers, March 2013 Edition

On tap today: an improved editing tool, an inspirational book, and some bad news about the Amazon Associates program.

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Pro Writing Aid now has a handy-dandy plug-in that works in Microsoft Word! No more pasting your text into the web editor, checking the report, and then going back to your original file to make corrections. You can now do it all right in Microsoft Word. The plug-in requires a paid subscription, but I find it's well worth the $35 yearly fee for the convenience. There is a 14-day free trial available so you can try it out and see for yourself just how handy it is. Disclaimer: I'm not affiliated with Pro Writing Aid in any way; I just really hate editing and love any tool that makes it easier for me, lol.

~ ~ ~
I am affiliated with the next product I think you should check out: Chicken Soup for the Soul: Inspiration for Writers is now available for pre-order! It includes my story, "Putting Together the Pieces."


I tweeted a link to this great article: "When The Romance Is Dying," by Joss Alexander. Although it's about falling out of love with your WIP, we can fall out of love with writing in general, too.

Writing is tough: fighting tooth and nail for a little time to write, the guilt over tasks left undone and family ignored, constant rejection, constant criticism from friends/family/or co-workers about your "silly little hobby." And if you're a genre writer, you even get looked down on by other writers: "This conference is only for literary fiction authors . . . you know, serious writing," or "You write romance?" followed by derisive laughter. No wonder we suffer from writer's block! 

You are not alone. Other writers are going through the same struggles, every single day. And you'll be inspired to hear the stories of how they made it through the struggles and prevailed.

If you are falling out of love with your WIP, or falling out of love with writing, then this book is the perfect "date night" to rekindle the romance!

~ ~ ~

You may have already heard about this, but it bears repeating to ensure that everyone is aware of it: Amazon now penalizes members of their Amazon Associates Program for free ebook downloads. You can be penalized and lose your commissions even with only a few free downloads, if 80% of the downloads attributed to your account are "sales" of free ebooks. So if you have links to free ebooks on your site, plus links to other ebooks you are selling, the free downloads can erase the commission on the books you've sold. This is bad news for authors giving away free ebooks to promote other books in a series, and bad news for readers because some sites are electing to no longer list free ebooks. You can read more about it here: Daily Cheap Reads.

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See you next week!

Monday, March 11, 2013

March Update & After Hours Combo

Whip me with a stack of rejection slips, I missed another blog post (and almost missed this one)! I promise I'll get the hang of this . . . someday.

It actually worked out for the best, because I have two pieces of great news to share:

My short story, "Alecsander's Empire" will appear in the May/June issue of 69 Flavors of Paranoia. This humorous urban fantasy story originally appeared in the anthology, Loving the Undead, and I'm excited that 69FoP has decided to resurrect it!

My inspirational essay, "Putting Together the Pieces," will appear in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Inspiration for Writers, available May 21st.

See? I don't blow-off my blog posts for just any old reason! Exciting stuff has been happening!

I've also been working on one new horror story and an older orphan story that needs to be finished.

Now, on to the regularly scheduled "After Hours" post:

1) If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be and why?

A Russian olive, because I think they are beautiful. They have thin, silvery-green leaves and thorns. Unfortunately, they are classified as an invasive species in some places.

 2) Describe your favorite pair of shoes.
In general, I'm not much of a girly-girl . . . except when it comes to shoes! My favorite pair is a wedge with an extra-high heel (five inches) covered in silver glitter. My family calls them my "drag queen" shoes. Sadly, I don't get to wear them as much as I'd like. There are surprisingly few places/occasions to wear them in North Dakota (the farm and home show? across a parking lot covered in a foot of snow? I think not).

3) What is your favorite quote?

I have two:

"You must stay drunk  on writing so reality cannot destroy you."--Ray Bradbury

"In the depths of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer." --Albert Camus
4) Did you wear hand-me-downs as a kid?

No. I didn't have any siblings until four days before my twenty-first birthday, and my father was in the military, so all the rest of my family (cousins, etc.) always lived far away from wherever we were stationed.

5) What was the most unintentionally stupid thing that someone has said to you this week?

I was complaining about something and my husband of twenty-three years turned to me, shrugged, and said, "Not my problem."

REALLY!?! I'm pretty sure it's right there on the marriage license, in the fine print: "Any problem your wife may have, no matter how small or irrelevant, most certainly IS your problem, or else she will make it so!"

See you next week!

Monday, February 25, 2013

February Horror, Sci-Fi, & Fantasy

Welcome to the monthly horror/fantasy/sci-fi post!

On the fiction front, I just started reading:

Okay, onto the links!

For the ladies out there who are fans of steampunk and love shoes, I found this:
Metropolis Hades Atriedes Steampunk Victorian Gears Buckles Oxford Platform Metal Heels.
I admit, I'm not much of a "girly-girl," but I love shoes. And anything that combines two of my biggest loves, spec-fic and shoes, is awesome in my book!

From @io9: Philip K. Dick's The Man in the High Castle is coming to Syfy
I'd like to see Bear Grylls do a zombie apocalypse episode. Until then, we have this:
Zombie Survival Gear, the 13 essentials

I'm actually not upset about this theory. I think it's quietly elegant.
via @mjkrey: Could this be the official ending to John Carpenter's The Thing?

via @blackgatedotcom: New blog post from Goth Chick News: Amazon Studios Scores Zombie Invasion

Top 10 Nightmare-inducing Aliens

And this week's "just for fun" link (because it reminds me of the Truffle Shuffle) is:
The Harlem Shake

See you next Monday!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Revision & Self-Editing Part 2: Read It Out Loud

My number one tip for revision/editing is to read your work out loud.

It's absolutely indispensable for catching errors that you otherwise might miss. For example, one of the most common (and annoying) errors I run into in my own work is leftover words I forgot to delete when I revised a sentence:

He turned the the car around.

If I read that sentence out loud, my eye just skips over the second "the," but when someone else reads it out loud, the extra "the" jumps out at me.

Reading out loud also helps catch awkward sentences and discordant word choices. Sentences have a rhythm to them, depending on word choice, and sometimes a sentence can be grammatically correct but "sound" choppy when read out loud. Sometimes a sentences doesn't look like its a run on, but when you read it out loud you find yourself gasping for breath halfway through.

These are all problems that are brought to light when you read out loud.

The best option would be to have a nice volunteer read your story out loud to you, but in cases where you don't have a volunteer standing by, there are software programs that will do it for you.

Originally, I used WordTalk to read my story back to me. It's a free plug-in for Microsoft Word and you can get it here. Though the website doesn't mention anything about Windows 8, I have it installed on a Windows 8 machine using Microsoft Office 2010 and it works fine.

These days, I'm using Dragon Naturally Speaking because it reads text AND takes dictation. I use the dictation feature both during drafting and during revision to make small changes. It's also handy when I'm taking notes. I happen to be a "how-to" junkie, and I read a lot of how-to books. I'll leave the microphone on but sleeping while I'm reading. When I get to a passage that I want to take notes on, I'll give the "wake up" command and dictate the note instead of trying to juggle the book in one hand and type/write a note with the other. One caveat: you have to be careful when you are using dictation mode, because it will pick up anything you say and insert it into your document. For example, the dogs (Abby and Roscoe) were being unruly while I was revising a draft, and I ended up with this:

Something splashed in the water behind him. He spun and squinted at the water rippling in the moonlight. Frogs croaked in the damn it Abby, get your head out of the garbage weeds at the water's edge.

If I hadn't caught that little addition, it certainly would have left a acquisitions editor scratching his/her head! So be very careful with the dictation feature!

The playback feature in Dragon Naturally Speaking is very similar to WordTalk, though I do think the WordTalk playback is easier to use. The Dragon Naturally Speaking version I'm using is for Windows XP/7, but I'm running it on a Windows 8 machine and it works fine.

Of course, you're going to need more than just software to help you make your manuscript shine.

The books I've found most useful for matters of style & grammar are:


The Chicago Manual of Style is the Publishing industry bible. Painless Grammar, Painless Writing, and Writers Inc. are not books that I bought for my fiction writing career; they are books I bought for the kids while we were homeschooling! But the very things that made them perfect for the kids (clear and simple instruction, great indexing for looking up words/problems) also make them a perfect quick-reference for this old dog who hasn't taken an English class in over a decade! I STILL have issues with the use of lay/lie/laid, and these books include a nice little chart I can refer to during editing.

My other favorite books on revision and editing include:


Revision and editing is my least favorite part of the writing process, but it's a necessary evil (and if you've seen any of my first drafts, you KNOW how necessary it is for me)! These books and software make the process a little less painful.

Monday, February 11, 2013

February After Hours

One of the things that I've been dealing with lately (besides writer's block) is pet issues.

We've always been a pet-centric family and even used to run a ferret shelter. We treat our pets like family and want them to be happy and comfortable.

Every German Shepherd we've had (Abby is our third) has had skin issues. We've spent hundreds in vet bills, tried different foods, tried different supplements, and nothing seemed to help. No matter what we tried, a couple of times a year, the Shepard will get itchy, their skin will get red and inflamed, and their hair will fall out. Steroids help, but they aren't a good long-term solution. The steroids even made Missy wet the bed, which was horrible for her morale (she knew peeing indoors was bad).

Abby's skin condition has been the worst. Though her skin condition does get worse at certain times of the year, just like the other Shepherds we've had, she's always itchy, and lately she's developed big oozing sores on her belly.

At the end of our rope, we started cycling through foods again, and finally found something that seems to help: Dick Van Patten's Natural Balance LID diet in venison and sweet potato. She's stopped itching and the sores on her belly have healed. Now we just have to wait for spring and see if it has cured the "general itchy German Shepherd" syndrome, too.

At about the same time that Abby's skin condition was worsening, my pup, Roscoe, became a reluctant eater. Since the Natural Balance diet is designed for "all life stages," we switched him to it, too, but his reluctant eating worsened until he wasn't eating at all.

Not seeing the forest for the trees--probably because we were already overstressed about Abby's problems--we took him to the vet for a battery of tests and x-rays. A few hundred dollars later, we still had no concrete answer to the problem. They did find that he had a "clump" in his intestines, but the clump was moving through as expected, so it didn't seem to be a blockage.

Then it dawned on me: maybe he doesn't like the new food. Maybe the clump had made him feel full back when he was eating puppy food, and by the time the clump had moved on and he had an appetite again, we had already switched him to a food he didn't like!

So now I've switched him to Blue Buffalo Wilderness Puppy Food (the one with the cute wolf pup on the bag), and it seems to be working. He's licking his bowl clean.

The moral of the story comes straight from Dr. House M.D.: "When you hear hoof beats, think horses, not zebras."

If I had looked for the simple answer (we switched his food to something he didn't like the taste of), I could have saved myself almost a grand in vet bills!

Monday, February 4, 2013

February 2013 Update

Image courtesy of Evgeni Dinev /

I apologize for completely missing the last post of January. I started a post and thought I finished it, but obviously didn't. It just shows how bad the end of last month turned out to be! Even my "I need a weekend out of town and out of this crappy winter" trip didn't work out--we ended up having a blizzard and traveling was out of the question!

February is already starting out better. I've made it to the final round of a volume of Chicken Soup for the Soul. I don't usually write nonfiction, but I do enjoy writing about writing (which is what the upcoming volume is about: "Inspiration for Writers") and writing about pets. And speaking of pets, that's how I became a Chicken Soup for the Soul fan. I picked up my first volume (Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover's Soul) back in 1998, and I think I have every pet-related volume they've published since. So I'm excited at the opportunity to have my work (possibly) appear in one of their volumes. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

On the "what I'm currently writing" front, there's not much to report. I'm not sure if it's the chaos of life, the "dark heart of winter doldrums," or what, but I've kicked around (and eventually rejected) eight or ten different short story ideas. I don't know if they truly sucked as much as I came to think they did, or if it's just my perspective that's skewed. I know some people say that writer's block doesn't exist, but it sure seems like what I'm dealing with right now.

Maybe if I go pull out one of my novels and try to work on it, it will get the short stories flowing again. There's nothing like the threat of novel revisions to get me fired up to write short stories!

Have a great week!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Revision & Self-Editing, Part I

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic /

I've spent a lot of time lately editing (seems like forever), so I thought it would be a good time to share some thoughts and links on the revision/editing process. Today's post will cover a few handy links for editing, as well as links to three online editing tools.

Proofreading and Editing Tips

Eight Simple Tips for Editing Your Own Work

Ten Editing Tips, for Your Fiction Mss.

Unleashing the Internal Editor: A Self-Editing Checklist

Red Pencil Round-Up: Self-Editing for Fiction Writers

Self-Editing Tips

Self-Editing: Back to Basics, Part I – Guest Post by Karin Cox

There are also handy editing wizards that flag passive voice sections in your writing and check other writing issues like overused words, adverbs, pacing, cliches, etc.:

AutoCrit Editing Wizard


Pro Writing Aid

This topic will be continued the 3rd Monday of next month, when I'll discuss some of my favorite self-editing books and offer some of my own editing tips.

Don't forget to visit next Monday for the latest "What's New in Horror/Fantasy/Sci-Fi" post!

Monday, January 14, 2013

January "After Hours"

Image courtesy of Karen Shaw /

Here are a few unusual meme questions for this month's "After Hours" post.

1) Would you have one of your fingers surgically removed if it guaranteed immunity from all major diseases?

Now that would make a great story. Yes, I think I would, depending on what diseases it provided immunity for. I'm not crazy about any kind of surgery or medical procedure, but if something like cutting off my finger would insure I never got cancer, then yeah, I'd do it. I could use dictation software to write my stories and have a long healthy life as a writer. But if it just gave immunity to things like the flu, then no (I don't even get flu shots).

2) Which is creepier to see in your kitchen: a mouse or a cockroach?

A cockroach. I hate bugs, which is probably why bugs (in one form or another) are the "monsters" in a lot of my stories. I don't mind mice, though I'm not thrilled about the idea of one running loose in my house contaminating everything it touches. Fortunately, we have cats, so in the seventeen years I've lived in my house, we've only ever had two mice brave enough to try and come inside (and for some reason, maybe because of the cold winters and all the grain that's farmed in this area, mice are a real problem in a lot of households). If I ever found a cockroach, though, I'd probably move.

3) Would you generally be overdressed or underdressed at a party?

Underdressed. My wardrobe staples are t-shirts, hoodies, and jeans, and the most common color in my closet is camouflage.

4) What's the most uncomfortable outfit you’ve ever worn?
Believe it or not, I was once a Realtor and had to wear power suits on a regular basis. I was also one of the youngest Realtors working at the time (if not the youngest), so I was expected to be a bit more trendy and fashion-forward than the older Realtors. It was a nightmare and I'll never do it again.

5) Aliens have arrived and you're giving them a tour in the midst of winter. Describe ice to them.
If they arrived here, they wouldn't need me to describe it. We had freezing rain Thursday night and Friday morning, and a blizzard Friday night. All the roads are covered in ice so smooth and shiny that Hockey Rinkmasters are jealous. What makes it worse is that the city I live in IS NOT adept at maintaining the roads, in spite of the fact that this is not an unusual occurrence in this area. They still hadn't sanded or salted the roads when I picked up my daughter from work at nine p.m. Saturday night (a full 24 hours after the bad weather ended). As you can tell, it's one of my pet peeves about living here--not the bad weather, though that sucks, but having to spend the next three days AFTER bad weather creeping through the city at 25 mph, hoping you don't get into an accident, when a little effort from the city could make it safer.

6) Are you a light sleeper or a heavy sleeper?

I'm a heavy sleeper. If the zombie apocalypse starts in the middle of the night, I'm in real trouble. I'm also one of those "sleep anywhere, anytime" people. I've fallen asleep sitting up, I fall asleep on the piles of rocks lining the shore of our fishing area, and I can't go on a road trip and stay awake (which is why hubby has to do all the driving).

Monday, January 7, 2013

January 2013 Update

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici /

In my December update, I talked about doing a DecWriMo and continuing on with my unfinished NaNo novel . . . Yeah. That didn't happen. Color you shocked, right?

Once again, I procrastinated and putzed around, and the next thing I knew, I was knee-deep in short stories again.

Someday, I'm going to write, polish, and submit a novel . . . but today is not someday.

It is, however, a new year. And I have drawn up this year's list of resolutions: things I'd like to accomplish this year but probably won't, LOL.

#1) Write and finish at least six new short stories.

#2) Get better at social media; my focus is Blog/Twitter/Facebook. This is a goal that's been on my list every year since I started on social media, and though I've definitely improved at it, there's still more room for improvement.

#3) Self-publish. I’m old-school, so I want to do most of my publishing via traditional methods. However, I have a few reprints that I’d like to self-publish since it’s so terribly hard to find markets for reprints. Plus, I’d just like to take the whole “indie author experience” for a test drive and see how it works. However, I’m a bit intimidated by all the work it takes to “go indie.” (create your own cover, do your own marketing and promotion, etc.).

#4) Read 24 books. Yes, this is a decrease from prior-year goals, but given that I’ve got so much other work planned, I think it’s better to err to the side of caution. I currently have 500+ books in my kindle library, so I should be done reading them all in 20 years or so.

#5) A novel--any novel, for the love of god--done. I have plenty of choices here, so I should be able to accomplish it. If not my Macha novel (which is done, but I just keep rewriting it instead of polishing it), then either my Cryptozoologist novel (which is in the "completed first draft" stage) or this year's NaNo novel (which isn't even a completed first draft yet). Given my track record, I'm not going to set the bar too high on this one. Macha or the Crypto novel needs to be ready to submit, or I need to end the year with a finished first draft of my NaNo novel. One of those needs to happen!

Of course, the first week of January has already come and gone, and I haven't made any progress toward any of the items on the list, LOL. I'm in the process of finishing and revising a few orphan stories (stories I wrote that were set aside and forgotten) and finishing the first draft of a story I started back in October and abandoned during NaNo and deer season.

I'm shooting for having the new story ("From Little Acorns Grow . . .") done by the end of the month. And then I can start working on the resolutions list.

Happy New Year, and may we all do better with our resolutions this year!