I’ve been featured…

Well, here’s a derp moment for ya.dab-93485_1280

I was featured on another writer’s blog, and I completely forgot to link to it here. Oops!

The post is me answering questions about indie publishing. She’s doing a whole series of these, so if you’re interested in indie publishing, you’ll want to read the responses from the other writers as well. There’s good information out there.


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
    • WordPress.com (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
    • WordPress.org (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. 

Incarnations of Creativity

I’ve always been a believer that everybody is creative in some way.

Not everybody becomes an author or artist. Not everyone takes award-winning photographs or sings like Leontine Price (or Taylor Swift). But every human being has an innate urge to create. It’s in our DNA.

Many of us create in multiple arenas.

Napa2011-304 Obviously I do the writing thing. I also dabble a little bit in art (not well, but I do dabble). I’ve been involved with music most of my life. And I’m a pretty reasonable hobbyist photographer.

Recently (well, maybe a year or so ago), I had the opportunity to make some greeting cards for an event using some of the photographs I’ve taken over the years. I’ve been offering cards for sale, on a very small, local level, ever since.

But I’m actually thinking about branching out a bit. I’m not quite there yet, but I’m seriously considering setting up an Etsy or similar shop to sell cards and prints of my photos. I may eventually include some original artwork as well … or even cards and prints from my artwork.

August 2013-599It feels very nervy to consider it. It’s an entirely different kind of publishing than I’ve been working on. But it would be exciting to know that something I created got to wish someone I never met a happy birthday. Or whatever.

Anyway, just thinking at this point. But I’ll let you know if/when I decide to move forward with it.

FWIW – the photos on this page are a couple of my favorites! And the cover of my most recent collection, Flashes of Magic, is based on a photo I took.

These images were taken by me and are copyrighted – All Rights Reserved

Progress, and a terrific resource

I’m excited to say I’ve gotten great feedback from my beta readers on the new collection. I have some updates to do, some clarifications to make, and a few areas to smooth out a little more, but overall the feedback has been positive. Yay!

alarm-clock-590383_1280My goal is to get the updates and changes made and get this collection published by the end of the month. That gives me five days, including today.


I better get on this thing if I want to make that deadline.

The good news is that they’re flash fiction stories, not novellas or even novelettes. Hopefully it won’t take horribly long to fix what’s still broken.

Watch this space to know when the final version is ready and being published.

In other news, I’ve been reading through a newly published book on the art of editing… written by a publishing industry professional of many years. He understands story structure in a way that most people don’t…. Even most writers.

I hate to say it… I know when a story is good or bad. When it’s working or not working. But often I don’t really know why. I used to write it off to “I know what I like.” And to an extent that’s valid. But what we like tends to be repeatable. It has a structure. A framework. Learn to understand the framework, and you’ll be better at building stories that people will love.

The name of the book is The Story Grid. And when I finish reading it, I will probably write a complete review of it (something I want to do more of anyway). But for now, I just want to say that if you’re a writer, editor, story nerd, or anyone else who has a desire to understand really functional story structure, I highly recommend picking up a copy.

Memorial Day 2015

He stood, surveying a battlefield, bloody with the life of his brothers.soldiers-311384_1280

They didn’t choose this war. None of them did. Perhaps even those who did choose didn’t know what they were doing—sending the young, the strong, the brave. Sending them to die for a cause they barely understood.

He knew it was right. Tragic, yes. But he knew now, the cause was just.

He walked, remembering. Here is where he lost his leader. Here is where he lost his friends. Here is where he cut down another young man wearing a different uniform… fighting for a different cause. A cause that man didn’t understand.

That was the worst thing—so many lives were lost. He didn’t know what else could have been done, though. The cause was just. The fallen were heroes who died to keep others from falling. Died for liberty. Died for freedom.

Was it worth it? He decided it was. Liberty wasn’t yet perfected. Freedom hadn’t come for all. But good had been done. That, he decided, made it enough.

He remembered and moved forward until… here. Here is where he laid down his own life. Here is where he gave his all.

For liberty.

For freedom.

For love.

And he remembered.

I honor those who served and died
in service to their country.

Thank you for your sacrifice.

25 May 2015

Wordy Wednesday – Loided

It doesn’t happen often, not when I’m reading fiction anyway.

I got hit with a word this week that I don’t think I’ve ever seen before. And, silly me, I thought it might be a typo, so I stopped immediately and looked it up. Had I kept reading to the end of the sentence, I would have gleaned its meaning from the context.

But still, it was a surprise to see a completely unfamiliar word tucked into the pages (pixels actually, but whatever) of a paranormal romance. (Real paranormal, by the way. Ghosts. Mind control. Things going bump in the night. No sparkly vampires to be seen!)

I don't think you can loid this door.

I don’t think you can loid this door.

The word in question: Loided.

According to Dictionary.com, Loid means to open a locked door by using a piece of celluloid or plastic to spring the latch.

In other words, it’s using a credit card to jimmy the lock!

The term probably originated in the late 50s, and obviously comes from a shortening of the word celluloid, that old-fangled stuff we used to call film. It’s a little like plastic, but made of entirely different materials.

Apparently, some kinds of film are (or used to be) stiff and heavy enough to pop a latch on a door. Who knew?

So next time you’re writing a heist story set in the 60s, you have a great new word you can weave into your story.

You’re welcome.

Remembering What’s Important

I’ll admit it. I’m one of those people who can sometimes get way too easily frustrated.

It’s not that I’m a jerk or anything–at least, I don’t think I’m a jerk. But I like things the way I like them. I am a creature of habit. I thrive on routine.

 I tried to deny it for years, but over time it became all too obvious to me.

I don’t like change. Not even small changes. Not really.

Change bugs me. It throws me off my game. I am the most productive and creative when everything going on around me is absolutely predictable. I know it’s not that way for everyone, but it is absolutely that way for me.

Anyone who has ever experienced life at any level can now guess why I get easily frustrated.

Change happens. You can’t stop it. It is all around you all the time. And, intellectually, I totally get that change is good.

It still irks me.

But this isn’t a post about change. Not really. It’s a post about getting over the frustrations of life and getting on with it… even if things aren’t going perfect, or I’m distracted, or my usual routine gets disrupted. Because, you guessed it, those things happen. Sometimes they’re planned, and sometimes they’re not. And either way, you just have to roll with it.

Today (Monday) is one of those days when I have a planned alteration in my routine. I could let it frustrate me. I could use it as an excuse to not get things done that need to get done. I could decide that losing several hours in the middle of my day means that really the whole day is shot.

But I won’t. And part of the reason is that tomorrow’s disruption is also a huge inspiration.

I’m driving a friend to her doctor’s appointment. She was diagnosed with a brain tumor in January, and has just finished 5 rounds of chemotherapy, with the next phase of treatment due to take several weeks, and her physical recovery expected to take the rest of the summer, if not longer.

Talk about change and distraction. That’s that kind of disruption to your life that could ruin everything.

And yet, she keeps on fighting. She keeps going, one day at a time, with a very real reminder that, under different circumstances, she might not have had these days.

 The good news is that it’s looking good that she will make a full recovery.

The bad news is that life was interrupted. She was distracted from her job, her routine, her whole life, and had no choice but to keep moving forward or give up and die.

She kept moving.

And with an example like that, how could I choose to do anything different? So in the face of the kind of routine, ordinary, everyday frustrations that I know I’ll be facing this week, I will keep moving forward.

Will I still get irritated at interruptions to my routine? Of course I will. But I won’t let them stop me from doing what I’m supposed to do.

Wordy Wednesday – Whelmed by my week

I had such good intentions.

After my success in keeping up with my April Challenge, I thought I was heading into May with great momentum.

I was going to start on Monday with a blog post. (fail) I was going to get one up today also. (near fail… it’s 11:30pm as I type this)

So what happened?

First I felt a tremendous need to just take the weekend off from writing altogether. I was drained and exhausted from a busy April, and I needed time to recharge.

Then Monday we had some family business to take care of. That meant getting up earlier than usual. (Not outrageously early, mind. But I do tend to be a bit of a night owl, so it was earlier than I prefer.) Once things settled down and I had my time to myself, I completely forgot about posting here. Almost excusable. Sort of.

Then Tuesday, I overslept. (Can I blame my sleep cycle disruption from Monday?) And I had a pretty massive project that I needed to get done – layout and printing of 50 different greeting cards from pictures that I’ve taken. They were needed for someone else’s part of an event I’m involved with, so it wasn’t a project I could really put off. I spent the better part of my afternoon and most of my evening on that, then spent some time in the evening with the husband. So much for Tuesday.

Today (Wednesday) I drove a friend to a doctor’s appointment. A few hours turned into all day when we met up with some other friends for coffee in the early afternoon, and then discovered she was locked out of her house.

By the time I got home today, close to 5:00pm, I was spent. I felt run over. Buried. Whelmed.

Or overwhelmed if you prefer. It’s not that any particular event on its own took so much out of me. But I am decidedly an introvert, and I like my schedule. When I’m around people for too long, doing things I don’t have much control over, … let’s just say it takes it’s toll.

So here I am, 3 days into my week and nothing much show for it. I’ve fiddled with some words… have a story idea that I think I like. But when whelmed by life, my brain doesn’t work well. My muse runs to hide. All I can do is drain my phone playing Candy Crush.

Not good. Not at all. I am singularly underwhelmed by my writing performance this week so far.

Here’s hoping for better focus tomorrow.

Interested in knowing more about the etymology and meaning of the word Whelmed? Go here!

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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.