How did this happen?

blonde-1296489_1280Here it is – more than 2 weeks after the end of April.

2 weeks after completing the AtoZ Blog Challenge.

3 weeks… THREE!!!… after participating in an outstanding short story intensive.

And what have I done in the last two weeks? Not write. That’s what I’ve done.

It’s not that I didn’t have very good intentions. There are a couple of short stories that I started and want to finish. There is the novella that began on my blog. I want to keep practicing with the techniques learned in my class so my writing continues to get better and faster.

And I haven’t done any of it.

I could enumerate the reasons. Some of them are actually good.

But I won’t.

Because the reality is that no matter how good my reasons, if I want to be a writer, I need to write. It needs to take priority over Facebook and other time wasters, for starters. It needs to be at the top of my To Do list on a daily basis.

I struggled with that and (mostly) won during the blog challenge. There were days that I had a lot going on, but I’d made a commitment and I followed through.

But as soon as the challenge was over, I gave myself permission to take a couple of days off. A couple of days became a couple of weeks, and here we are, more than halfway through the month and this post is the most I’ve written.

So, effective immediately, I’m making a new commitment to myself. My commitment is to write.

  • I will work on fiction at least 5 days a week.
  • I will post on this blog at least once a week.
  • I will not allow myself to make excuses for putting off my dreams.

I might not always win the struggle… and make no mistake, for me keeping any kind of routine is a struggle. But I will continue to do this thing that gives me so much pleasure. I’ll continue to create and lose myself in interesting worlds filled with interesting characters.

I will write.

And hopefully you’ll be glad I did.

V is for Vacant – AtoZ Blogging Challenge 2016

a-to-z HEADER [2016] - april


VDavid shook the android arm. He waved his hand in front of the sensors. He even pressed the reset button Meltec had showed him in case of emergencies.
Nothing worked. Meltec’s body was present, but Meltec was gone, his form vacant

“Noooo…” David tried to shove back robotic hands that tried to pull him away from his companion. “What’s wrong with him? Why isn’t he moving?” His voice rose as he became increasingly frantic. “Somebody turn him back on!”

“He’s actually fine,” an android finally said. “He has merely been arrested pending investigation of his actions.”

“Arrested?” Now David was really confused. “But he didn’t do anything wrong. I was being attacked. Somebody dumped over the science fair display and said he was going to take me away.” Tears left shiny lines along David’s cheeks and he scrubbed at his face with his sleeve.

The android pulled David aside as a pair of enforcement bots lifted Meltec’s frame onto a cart. David watched helplessly, prevented from following as they wheeled him away through the assembled students and spectators.

“Where are they taking him? I want to go too.” Again, David tried to pull free of the android with no effect.

“It’s OK,” she said to him. “He is going to be fine.” She placed herself in front of him so he had no choice but to look at her. “And you are going to be fine as well.”

Looking at her directly, David realized that he recognized her. “You’re one of the judges.” He backed up a little and felt his heart race as he started to panic. “You said I might be recycled!”

“Not me,” said the android. “That would be Zen, the head of our team, but I do not often agree with him.” She held out a metallic hand. “I would like you to come with me. I will take you someplace safe.” After a moment, she continued, “You will not be recycled while you are in my care. I promise it.”

David stared at her hand for a moment, then looked at her face. “And what about Meltec?” he asked. “Will you keep him safe too?”

Her lights flashed amber for a moment. “That is a complex issue,” she said. “I cannot guarantee his safely because he is connected to a system I cannot control. But I will do what I can to protect him.”

Somehow, David knew he could trust this android. He believed her. He took her hand and they started walking.

“My name, by the way, is Roz. I’m the one who made sure you got to be with Meltec in the first place.”

“Really?” said David. “I thought you worked for that other one, the one who wants to shut us both down.”

“I do,” said Roz. “But I think it’s time for androids to realize that humans aren’t the ones responsible for the dying.” She glanced at him. “Your kind didn’t do it to yourself. But I have evidence of who did. But before I can tell anybody, I have to make sure they can’t find you.”

David and Roz hurried out of the chamber together.

Copyright Notice: Please note that I fully assert my right to be associated as the author of this story, and while it is complete, it may not be finished. This story may be subject to alteration at the author’s discretion. Please do not copy, quote, or post this story or excerpts anywhere in any format. You are, however, free to share the link with anyone who might be interested.

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A to Z Blogging, 2016

a-to-z HEADER [2016] - april

It’s official!A to Z Blogging Challenge 2016

I did this last year and was really pleased with my results, so I’m going to do it again. I have joined the A to Z Blogging Challenge for 2016.

What this means for me.

Between now and the end of April, I’ll be writing and posting at least 26 stories to this blog… one for every letter of the alphabet. All the posts will happen in April, but hopefully I’ll get at least some stories pre-written this year (I didn’t last year) so April won’t sneak up on me and stress me out. All of my stories will be at the Flash Fiction length (under 1000 words… my goal is to be as close to 500 as I can). Most will probably be speculative fiction – sci fi, fantasy, magical realism… possibly horror although that’s not my favorite. Other genres may show up, but I expect the majority to fall within my usual preferred genres.

What this means for you.

Come to my blog (almost) daily in April to be entertained (I hope) by new flash fiction stories. Last year the blog posts were basically Monday through Saturday with Sundays off. I haven’t looked at the calendar yet, so I don’t know if that will be exactly 26 days again this year, or if there will be minor adjustments to that schedule to make it come out right. Either way, you’ll see lots of stories from me.

What if you want to join?

I would welcome anyone to join the challenge on your own blog, if you’re interested! I’m doing stories because that’s what I do. But if you don’t want to write stories you can write any kind of blog posts you want, at any length you want. Generally, there should be an A to Z element to the posts, but I know not every blogger strictly follows that guideline.

If you plan to join me – especially if you’re a fellow author who will be posting stories – let me know in the comments below and I’ll do my best to follow along with your posts!

As one of my heroes always says, you can do this!

Write on!


No, this isn’t a post about David Bowie. It’s also not a post about Alan Rickman. I’m sorry to see these two incredibly talented people gone from the earth, but death is a part of life and we move on.

road-sign-1076229_640This is a post about changes coming to this blog very soon.

First, I’m going to try hard to get back on some kind of regular schedule posting here. Not because you need it, but because I do. I work better to deadlines than I do “freeform” so creating real deadlines that I don’t want to miss will, potentially, help me be more productive. I don’t yet know what those deadlines will look like, exactly. But I know that it will mean posting at least once a week here. So yay, or boo, depending on how badly you wanted to hear from me. Heh.

Second, I’m going to be removing most of my older fiction posts from the blog. If you haven’t read them yet and want to, do it now or wait ’til I publish. In cases where a revised version of the story is already published, I will indicate where it can be obtained. Otherwise, I’ll simply hide the post. As stories I’ve posted here get published, I’ll update the posts and put them back online. I’ll always leave the last 4 or 5 stories live for people to peruse. And, in keeping with the first change as indicated above, those stories will hopefully be refreshed more frequently than they have been.

perpetualbloghopFinally, I’m planning on participating in another blog hop. For those not familiar with the concept, me and some other authors will all be posting flash stories (the aim is for under 1000 words) to our blogs on the same day. Along with the stories, we will also be posting links to everyone else’s stories. All the stories will be speculative fiction (sci-fi, fantasy, horror), and will be in roughly the PG-13 or lower category so they should be safe for most audiences (no explicit sex, no gore or explicit violence, no foul language). Why do we do this? It’s an opportunity to potentially gain some additional readers for ourselves, to support our friends and fellow authors, and to help out brand-new authors who are just starting to build a readership. (Technically, I probably fall into that last category. I’ve been doing this a while, but I’m still working on building some traction.) But, more importantly, you, our readers, get a chance to possibly discover your next favorite author. Isn’t that what every reader really wants?

So, recap…

My older stories will be disappearing from this site on or around January 22nd. If you want to read them while they’re still there, do it now. You can find them by clicking the “recent free fiction” link on the front page.

I will be participating in a blog hop on January 27th in which you, my readers, will get to see a new story from me as well as following links to stories from other authors. 😀

Don’t miss out!

Focus on Authors

There are about 17 gazillion web creation tools out there these days.

blog-684748_1280There are options for nearly everyone.

  •  the super simple
    • Blogger
    • (the WP-hosted version)
    • Wix
    • Other “plug in some information and it will show up on a page” type tools
  • the content management all-in-ones that take a little more know-how
    • Joomla
    • Weebly
    • (the self-hosted version)
  • the social media sites
    • Facebook
    • Twitter
    • Tumbler
    • Pinterest
    • Instagram
    • etc., etc., etc….
  • the build-your-own traditional website tools
    • Dreamweaver
    • Adobe Muse
    • Ummm… there are probably hundreds of tools and software packages out there

This site… surprise… is built on WordPress. WP is, in many ways, the gold standard. It’s easy to use. You can build a good-looking website very quickly. There are tons of plugins and themes so you can have a customized look that suits your needs.

But WordPress also has some drawbacks. One of the key ones is that updates to the framework have a habit of breaking plugins. Not cool. Seriously not cool if you have a huge, complex website and what breaks is a key component that is absolutely necessary to keep thousands of paying members happy. That actually happened to Holly Lisle, and she is still working out the long-term fix.

That fix will include getting off WordPress, which has broken for her more than once because of updates and plugin problems.

Personally, I’m not quite at that level of stress with WP yet. But as useful as WP is, I know it could be better, especially for authors.

There are a bunch of special/customized needs that authors have.

  • The ability to link to reviews
  • The ability to post new books easily along with sales links and images
  • The ability to stay connected with readers and fans
  • The ability to easily share posts on social media
  • The ability to easily share snippets of current writing without jumping through annoying formatting hoops

Lots more that I’m not thinking of just offhand.

The good news… I know of at least two systems that are coming.

The bad news… neither one of them is available yet.

One is called ReadershipPro. It will be an all-inclusive web site hosting service, specifically geared towards the needs of writers.

The other is being developed by Holly Lisle. She doesn’t yet have a specific site link for the project, but you can check this post if you’re interested.

Both of these are potentially awesome solutions for writers who want a one-stop means of self-promotion. As more information becomes available, I’m sure I’ll talk about it again.

Please note: links on this page may be affiliate links, or may confer some other benefit to the author. 

AtoZ Blogging Challenge – Final wrap-up and the Future

atoz [2015] - BANNER - 910

A to Z Wrapup

The bookWhew!

That was a busy month.

I have to admit, I’m glad it’s over.

Developing a fresh story on a daily basis was harder than I expected. But I’ll also admit, it was also easier than I thought it would be in some ways.

Hard because, as I mentioned last week, it takes a lot of mental/creative energy to write a complete story, even one that is very short.

survivor-atoz 2015 - sm_zpsmfnq4uovEasy, though, because I made the commitment to just do it. I didn’t expect perfection. I didn’t really even expect to like every story. My commitment to myself was just to get it done. So even when I didn’t feel like I had a “good enough” idea, I would just write. I got it done.

And with the exception of my U-is-for-Undecided story (I admit it… that was a bunt…), every story I posted holds the potential to be polished, expanded, fixed, and repurposed.

None of it was complete crap, even though I gave myself permission for it to be crap. That’s kind of a big deal.

So here I am, after a sometimes exhausting month. And instead of burnt out and tired, I feel completely energized.

I’m ready to take on the world… or at least my next writing project.

Look out, world. Here I come.

Looking Ahead

pen-622037_1280Hopefully, you’ve enjoyed this month as much as I have.

Maybe you’re wondering what will come next.

Here’s my reality – as much as I’d love to keep up the story-a-day format, it flat-out ain’t gonna happen. I have other work I also need to be doing, and I can’t keep up the pace indefinitely.

However, I do still intend to be posting on this blog regularly. Here’s my current plan, subject to tweaking as I work out any potential kinks.

  • Monday – Personal updates/what I’m doing kind of stuff. Hopefully you’ll get to know me a little better—my other hobbies and interests, my family, my work process.
  • Wednesday – Words! I’m thinking maybe a weekly post about words themselves. Either the definition and etymology of a specific word I’ve come across in my reading, or maybe something about using words, inventing words, how words change over time. Whatever. I admit to being a little bit of a word nerd (not nearly as bad as some I know) and this would just be fun for me.
  • Friday – Flash Fiction! I don’t want to give up posting stories on my site altogether. I figure one new story a week might keep natives from getting restless. If I’m working on a longer story or a novel, you might get a scene or snippet from that instead. But maybe not – keeping up the short-short writing is just good practice.
  • Occasionally – Book reviews! I want to get back in the habit of keeping a personal commentary on books I enjoy or find useful. This will usually take the form of recommendations, but I might also weigh in on books that aren’t worth the trouble.
  • Other stuff – I will post other things on my site as they come up. Special offers or bonuses. Publication information when I have new things coming out. Eloquent narratives about the amazing pizza I ate last week… who knows what might come up if the fancy strikes me.

I don’t know exactly what this looks like yet. I guess I’ll figure it out as we go along.


  • Did you you have a favorite story from my challenge? Something you’d like to see expanded into something bigger? Or even just a type of story that you would want to see more of?
  • Suggestions? Is there anything I haven’t mentioned that you want to see on this blog? Is there particular information that you want me to share? I really want to know what you want!

Answer either or both of these questions by leaving a comment or shooting me a message on my contact form!
I hope to hear from you soon. 🙂

The view from orbit – a launch followup

You may have noticed, I’ve helped out a couple of cool people recently with launches they were doing.

First was Holly Lisle (affiliate link) who is a brilliant guru for fiction writers, and someone I consider a personal mentor. She is a great example of how to make a living writing fiction and helping others write fiction.

Next was Jeff Goins and his new book The Art of Work (affiliate link). He is a brilliant guru for bloggers and non-fiction writing, and a great example of how to make a living writing non-fiction and helping others do the same.

Why did I use my personal blog to do marketing for other people? There are a few reasons beyond just, “because I like these guys” and “because I can get paid a commission to do it.” Those reasons are enough for some people, and I won’t deny that they’re factors. But if that was all it was, I don’t know that I’d feel good about using my blog for promotion.

But I’m happy to use my blog for promoting the work of others, when it meets certain criteria.

I believe in the product

This one is key. I have to know what it is I’m promoting, I have to have used/read it myself, and I have to think it’s a product worth sharing with others. I have to think the person behind the product is worth sharing with others. You will never see me promote a book, course, or other product that I don’t have personal experience with. I’m not going to be that person who goes hunting for things on ClickBank or elsewhere and start selling stuff just to sell it.

  • I don’t need the money that badly. Don’t get me wrong–I can always find a use for a few extra bucks. But while I won’t hesitate to point you at things I’m familiar with and that I’ve found useful, It’s not my intention to just become a sales outlet.
  • I value your time and your wallet. I can’t in good conscience tell you to spend money on something if I don’t know what it is, whether it works, or whether the developer will respect you as a customer. Also, see the above bullet point – I’m not looking to sell you stuff just to sell it.
  • I value my own reputation enough that I would never want to promote something that might make you, my audience, think less of me. I expect that you will judge me based on what I think is important enough to talk about here. And while I don’t expect everyone to agree with everything I do, say, or share, I won’t risk my reputation on something I don’t personally believe in. I just won’t .

I want to show you my process

This, surprise, is my author blog. Part of my purpose here is to show you what I do, how I think, and what is important to me.  Giving you links and insight into products I use and why, books I’ve read and whether I like them, and people I follow who make me think differently… all that lets you get to know me a little better. and really, isn’t that kind of the point of a blog?

I want to help you out if I can

This goes back, a little bit, to my first point, but with a subtle difference. I use a lot of products, I play with technology and software, I glean what I can from other writers and gurus, and make a lot of decisions about what works for me and what doesn’t. If I can save you time in making some of those decisions yourself, I will. If I can encourage you to take a step at finding your own dream, I will. I know not every person who follows my blog will have a need or interest in knowing what I use behind the scenes. But for those that care, I’m willing to share. At some point I’ll probably build a page dedicated to pointing people at products, instructors, gurus, and other authors that I believe in, but right now it’s limited to occasional blog posts.

The selfish part of all this

If I’m going to be honest (and why wouldn’t I be?) I have to admit there’s a selfish side to this too.

Yes, I can get paid commissions, but that’s not really it. In fact, I didn’t actually make any sales on these two launches, so that means no commissions at all.

But, a big part of following other writers and helping with their launches is that it gives me a front row seat to what their doing. I get an insider view of processes they walk through. They will often discuss privately what worked or didn’t work during a launch in a way that will never be put out there for public consumption. I’ve learned that it’s often much more effective to watch what someone else is doing than it is to try to study what is said about a particular process. I’m a hands-on kind of learner. So when someone I already believe in gives me the opportunity to get up close and personal, I’m probably going to jump at the chance.

It’s not my intention to ever let other people’s launches and promotions overrun the other, more personal aspects of this blog. And I hope never to overwhelm or annoy you with things that aren’t important to you.

I just wanted to take a minute to let you understand why doing things like this is important to me.

Note: links on this page are affiliate links. If you make purchases on the sites linked to, I may receive compensation.

Now I’ve done it

I signed up for the A to Z Blogging Challenge.

Why? Why do I subject myself to such tortures? The world may never know. But there you have it. Expect to see more of me come April. Possibly more than you ever wanted to see.

Any thoughts on a theme? Perhaps I will write flash/micro fiction for my posts. That might be fun. 🙂 But I haven’t decided for sure yet, so you’ll have to check back with me closer to the challenge date.

If you are also participating, please feel free to share your blog location in the comments. I’ll try to visit if I can. 🙂

Also, I think it might be wise if I change my email updates from “every time I post to the blog” to “a single weekly digest type email” just to keep from annoying everyone and blowing up your mailboxes.