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Around the Web

Welcome to the world wide web. Pull up a chair, view a few pictures, and enjoy the view. I’ve got articles, photos, videos, and more. Enjoy.

Penguin to publish the “lost” Schönwerth fairy tales.

Rowling release 12 new short stories for Christmas. Sign up for Pottermore to find them.

Thousands of Einstein documents now open source, and just one click away.

Beautiful redesign of the Harry Potter books.

Books made into beautiful art

Scientists translate monkey language

DC’s comics parody famous old film art.

First underground park. (Inspiration for you Sci-fi authors.)

Also, my boyfriend Gregg and I started doing a new project. We’re calling it Nano-Files, and it is us telling some crazy stories using a deck of cards. You can check out it out here. You can also catch up on my semi daily vlog here.

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Posted by on December 27, 2014 in News, Video

 

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Aaaaand DONE!

Winner-2014-Twitter-ProfileI finished writing 50,023 words for my book, “Mermaid’s Curse” at 8:35 am the morning of Nov 30th. I am kind of shocked that I was able to finish so early. Not only that, but I only had 1300 words to write that morning.

Every year that I’ve done NaNoWriMo before I’ve been faced with the last day rush to get words. 8000 one year, 10000 another. It got to the point where I just threw words at the page hoping to see what stuck later in editing, and most of it was terrible.

First drafts are suppose to be terrible. But it isn’t always good to feel like nothing you write has any value except words on a page either. When you’re so tired you are holding your eyes open with toothpicks, and your back and neck hurt from all the typing, all you want to do is curl into bed and sleep, that’s when your writing suffers the most.

So, this year I’m going to share what made a real difference. Why did this year feel different from every other year? And why doesn’t it feel like I am so exhausted and sick of writing that I can’t pick up the keyboard this month?

Practice and Reality

dataFor the last two years I’ve been trying to write every day. That hasn’t always worked. I could give you lots of excuses as to why this hasn’t always worked, and of course there are days when things came up, or I was sick, or there was a lot going on… But the truth is most of the days I failed to write I just didn’t feel like writing. I was lazy. I didn’t take my writing seriously enough.

In October, for the first time, I actually started realizing how important writing was to me. I wrote a bit about this earlier this month, and the two things that really seemed to help. This was my reality check. I had to decide this thing, this writing, was important to me. More important than the job I go to 5 days of the week. More important than video games, or board games, or long soaks in the tub. (not that I can give up or stop doing all of those things, just that I had to decide what was more important.)

Once I got the reality check I started practicing writing every day in earnest. That meant that when NaNoWriMo came along I was willing and able to take up my own challenge and slay some writers block demons. And do so with excitement because “This was my story, and I loved it, and I wanted to see it finished!”

Be prepared for distraction

Things will get in the way. My daughter made an unexpected trip home. There was Thanksgiving, and a day where I felt sick. I had a day when I was literally so exhausted I almost feel asleep at the keyboard.

These things are going to happen. Prepare for them. I did this by always striving for 2k a day from day one. I wrote 2k a day more than half of the month. That’s what allowed me to finish NaNoWriMo that morning without stressing over it. I only had 1300 words and two hours before work. No problem because I had already been putting in 2k a day most of the month. This morning it was just the pure excitement of “OMG I’M ALMOST DONE” that got me to do it so quickly.

Listen to your body

I had a few days where I couldn’t quite reach 2k for the day because I was so tired. Being tired does not help your writing. When I was exhausted I tended to write much slower, and the words I wrote were far more likely to be deleted the next day. The next morning I still had work, and I was still exhausted. When I got home that night I would get to write and find myself doing even worse than the day before.

About a week in I decided that I wasn’t going to play that merry game of chasing my tail anymore. Nope, time to listen to my body. My body said sleep, I was going to sleep, darn it, and forget about writing that day. Each time I got to about 400-500 words and started feeling my eyes start to droop I’d close the programs, turn off the PC, and go to bed. The next day I would almost always manage to get 2.5k words out in a few hours.

Small Steps

I also talked a bit here about how I would listen when my brain started to wander and then I’d go do something else. After a bit I’d come back and write some more.

I’ve learned that I can do about 500 words in thirty minutes. Then after a short break I could come back and do it all over again. Four thirty minute sessions got me the 2k words I wanted for the day.

They are small steps, each step carving out a little more of the story, sharing it. And adding it to the already piled up masses of FINISHED chapters.

Take Joy in Small Accomplishments

About a week and a half from the end of NaNoWriMo I started to have a few new challenges. I was getting to the point where I had lots of words, but nothing finished. The chapters were in pieces, with lots of connecting sentences that read “and they did this and this until this happened” before going on to the next scene that I had been able to write. I needed to finish those connecting pieces so that I had a complete chapter.

So I got out my scrivener file and I just sat down and started on page one. Working my way down the page I filled in all those little pieces, and after half an hour I had a finished chapter. I added a little asterisk to the title of that chapter and went onto the next chapter.

After a couple of days the asterisks started adding up. I am done with the first twelve chapters of Mermaid’s Curse 3, and the rest of them are mostly finished. Each time I added that asterisk that said “this is done, it just needs and edit” I felt buoyed and wanted to keep going. It was awesome.

Take joy in the small accomplishments, because they eventually add up.

I have about 15,000 words to go to complete this novel, and then I will have a completed trilogy to send off to the editor. I think I’m incredibly excited! NaNoWriMo was a success for me!

 
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Posted by on December 1, 2014 in NaNoWriMo, On Writing, Updates, Writers Block

 

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Mermaid’s Curse

Over on G+ a lot of authors started doing #SaturdayScenes. That’s where we showcase one scene from one story we are either working on, or have published. I’ve showcased mainly stories from my published books so far. Footprints, Forgotten Ones, Prophecy by Barlight and Small Bites. Yesterday I posted the first snippet from the novel I’ve been working on, and talking about, since October. “Mermaid’s Curse“.

Google Plus is a great community. Lots of authors around. A lot of readers looking for their authors. But… not everyone is on G+. In fact I’ve met people who were violently opposed to going to G+. Somehow I just realized this morning that I should have been sharing these here, on my blog, as well, to compensate for that.

So I’m going to post the excerpt from Mermaid’s Curse here, as well as links to all of the other snippets. If you’d like to read any of them then you’ll have to head over to G+. (sorry).

Now… on with the scenes!

Prophecy by Barlight
Touch Me Not (A complete short story from Small Bites)
Footprints
Battle on the Walls (from Forgotten Ones)

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Mermaid’s Curse

“Little Mother!”

The sudden, unmistakably masculine, voice pulled Marizza out of her studies. Surely she was mistaken. No one could have been on the little island that the mother, Salvia, had taken her to. The nearest island was a day’s journey, and very few were willing to brave the empty seas with the threat of the kraken so close at hand.

“Little Mother? Are you here?”

Strong, deep, and resonating. The voice seemed to draw her, and she thrust the forgotten book aside running to the door. Pressing her ear to the rough wood, she listened.

Salvia warned her to avoid others. Her abilities were still raw, wild, and untamed. With her magic tied to her emotions, she had already destroyed several small items with a miss placed spell during a fit of rage. Marizza figured out it wasn’t her abilities the Little Mother was trying to temper; it was her own emotional outburst. It would have been easier to temper the magic.

She pressed an ear to the door. She hadn’t heard another person in months, and the solitude was wearing on her. Use to busy streets, and a bakery bustling with towns folk, the utter silence of the forgotten island pressed in on her like a thick fog, smothering her. That voice, with its deep timber and melodic chime, rang through her, dispersing the fog for a bright moment.

“Little Mother! I’ve brought the things you asked for!”

Closer. She could hear the slap of bare feet as the man-made his way up the dirt path. A sailor? Many of them were known to walk unshod. It helped them feel the movement of the sea, they said.

There was more to his voice though. Now that he was closer she could hear a magical aura slipping in through the chiming cadence. Whoever he was, he resonated with a latent power. Another witch? Someone she could be around safely?

The cabin began to feel claustrophobic around her as she heard his footsteps nearing the door. Her fingers wrapped around the cold iron door latch, her curiosity gnawing at her. She could hear his footfalls quicken, feel his vibrant aura of strength just beyond the door.

She yanked the offending wood open—

And came face to face with the most beautiful man she had ever witnessed. His eyes were a startling shade of ice blue, his skin a milky white, almost translucent in the morning sunlight. His black hair hung in wet braids down to his bare shoulders.

Flushing bright red, Marizza lowered her gaze only to be greeted by the stark evidence of his complete nudity. A naked, wet god had emerged from the waters only to torment her.

 
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Posted by on June 15, 2014 in Stories

 

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A new cover

forgottensmlI’ve been working to get all of my stories edited. Well, I’ve been working to earn money so I can pay someone else to edit them. Then I get to go through, approve most of the edits, then reformat, and resubmit to Amazon and everywhere else. The print book will also soon have the new cover, but it takes a couple days to go through the system.

Forgotten Ones is the latest one to get this treatment. So I decided it needed a new cover to go with the new, updated insides. Something that really shows that it’s urban fantasy.

(Forgotten Ones is my urban fantasy about the goddesses of fate saving the world from a mad god bent on destroying it to get his power back.)

This is the first time I’ve actually bought stock photos to use. I don’t think anyone else has used this particular photo, so that helps. And there are other shots of this particular model that I might pick up for the next book.

I’ve just gotten the edits back for “Small Bites: The Complete Collection” and I’m working on getting those out in the kindle version. I’ll also be updating the four individual books at the same time. For the print version… I’m working on something totally new with full color pages inside, a smaller binding, and basically totally awesome! This is going to take a little time because there is so much to go through and fix.

I won’t be doing this with any other books right now. I’m still busy finishing my novel, and once that is finished I might look into updating a few other books.

Hopefully, I won’t ever send a new thing to print/kindle again unless it’s been edited first. I’m getting better at editing myself, but it’s going to take time to get my self editing up to a good standard, and even then I still want an extra set of eyes to go over everything. So far my new editor has been incredible, and it’s so great to find someone I can work with, who get’s my writing, likes it, and knows how to make it better.

 
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Posted by on April 29, 2014 in Stories, Updates

 

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Necessary End – A Short Story

A few days ago I listened to a podcast and they were talking about an experiment in which a computer was left to evolve on its own, learning to be as efficient as possible. This computer, supposedly, learned to calculate the routes through each chip depending on atoms, and electrical states of each path. It made itself faster, but in so doing it also made itself un-repairable. The computer would only work with that particular chipset, since it was calibrated for that chipset. Once replaced it had to relearn everything again.

I tried to find any reference to the article, but I couldn’t manage to find it.

This story was inspired by that little conversation. A simple, short story. So short that I’m giving it away for free.

If you like it, and would like to read more of my short stories, you can get the full collection of them here.

 

~~Necessary End~~

“We can’t save her.”

The words were so final. They fell on my ears like lead shot piercing my heart. I wanted to fight against it, rebel, scream!

“What do you mean you can’t save her?” I yelled. “She’s wires and components. A machine! Of course you can save her, just take out the broken bits and replace them with new ones!”

Was I hysterical? Did it matter anymore? They had to save her! Didn’t they?

“I wish it were that simple,” he said, lowering his gaze. “She’s a machine, yes, and we can replace many of her parts, but others aren’t as easy to replace, or even repair. It would be like replacing part of your brain with someone else’s. She would function, but she wouldn’t be herself anymore.”

“Then… she’s dying?”

I could tell he wasn’t use to dealing with flesh and blood people. His oil stained smock, and soft hands stained with black and blue marks set him apart. He, like me, cared more about his machines then the people who employed him to keep them running.

So why couldn’t he fix her?

He laid a hand on my shoulder, and I had to work not to shake him off. “I’m sorry. You’ll have some time to say good bye, but her memory is going into a cascading failure. The system won’t last until morning.”

“Can you save any of her?”

“Memories, images, pictures. But not the core structure. Not her. It would be an incomplete copy, incompatible with anything else.”

I slumped in on myself. Some part of me screamed no, but I knew I had to except it. I’d heard of the cascading failures before. The droids were so complex, so individualized, that no two were alike. You could change a joint, an arm, a processer… but the core, the brain, wasn’t replaceable. It just wouldn’t communicate with any other system. The memories could be transferred, data, images, sound, and text, but it wouldn’t be her.

“Go,” he said, patting me awkwardly. “Spend her last moments with her. I think she’d like that.”

I walked into the next room and saw a table with a tin sheet covering a lump. Kathryn.

She looked so vulnerable under that flimsy covering. Wires and metal bits were sticking out from under the cloth, some of them plugged into gadgets on the wall. I didn’t understand any of the read outs, but I understood the meaning.

Kathryn turned as I approached, and gave me a smile. Her large green eyes blinked, the pink hair I’d given her was laying on the table beside the bed. I gently picked it up, and helped her put it back on. She picked it out, she should have it now.

The covering was flat against Kathryn’s chest, and I lifted it up just enough to see underneath… Her chest cover had been removed. Her insides bare for the world to see. Wires, servos, micro computers, all of it flashing and whirring along as it should be.

I lowered the cloth again, patting it down in place, before sitting down beside her, careful of all the cords.

“I’m so sorry, Kathryn. I should have been paying attention. You shouldn’t have jumped out in front of that car just to save me.”

“You’re safe, miss. That is all that matters. You were always my highest priority.”

She lifted my hand to her cheek, a tear sliding down the pseudo flesh surface.

“They can’t save you,” I said, finally admitting it to myself, too. “They said your memory banks were too damaged.”

“I know. I knew before we arrived, but I held out hope… for you.”

“For me? But why?”

“I didn’t want to cause you any more pain, miss.”

“Oh, Kathryn, I love you. I don’t know what I’ll do without you.”

Kathryn patted my head, her fingers stiff and unwieldy. She was already losing some of her mobility as her processor shut down functionality.

“You’ll go on, miss, as you always have. You’ll meet new people, and experience new things. You’ll love, and live, and laugh. And sometimes you’ll remember me and cry a few tears. But mostly I hope memories of me make you happy.”

“He said he’d save your memories for me.”

“Yes, I’m glad. There are many pictures and videos I am sure you’ll enjoy remembering.”

“I’d give them all up, every one of them, to keep you alive.”

Kathryn’s face twitched in a smile, then flattened. The monitor beside her began a long, loud beep that never ended.

I laid my head on her stiff shoulder and cried. My oldest, and dearest companion, and she was gone. They always told us computers were replaceable. They weren’t like humans who eventually wore away and died. Computers, and the androids built with them, could live forever if you just kept replacing parts, right?

But some parts can’t be replaced.

 

 
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Posted by on February 21, 2014 in Stories

 

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FAQ: How Long Should My Story Be?

Word length, like many other FAQ’s, does not have an easy answer. It really depends on what you’re writing, what the genre is, how the plot and pacing go, and what the story wants to be. In this digital age we have lot more options. When once novellas were shunned because publishers just didn’t take them. Now they are everywhere because we can publish on our own.

The general guidelines for lengths according to wiki:

Novel over 40,000 words
Novella 17,500 to 40,000 words
Novelette 7,500 to 17,500 words
Short story under 7,500 words
(Not on wiki, but under 2k is considered flash fiction by most people.)
This is not necessarily typical for what I’ve seen posted elsewhere. Usually novels are quoted as 60k and over, while novellas are 10-60k. This, to me, seems like a ridiculously large variance.

Another consideration is genre. In romance, 60k is normal, while in sci-fi and fantasy it’s more common to see 80-100k+ novels.

E-books have given us a lot more latitude, though it still is proven that people buy longer books more often. In that case, 80k seems to be a “magic number” in word length, as much as anything is “magic” in the publishing world.

But how long should your story be? Ask your story! Does it have a lot of twists and turns in the plot? Then go longer. Is it a simple vignette, a window into a world instead of the whole world, then go short. I’ve seen stories that are as short as 100 words that are worth a read.

The Egg“, a rather wonderfully poignant short story, has hit the front page of reddit several times, and been shared, remade and reused often. “The Last Question” by Issac Asimov, also comes up a lot. Both of these stories are only a few pages long, and yet people are going to be analyzing and rereading them for years to come.
So yes, you should probably write some longer pieces if you are trying to sell books. But, I would caution you to let the stories tell themselves when you can. Sometimes they are going to be shorter, sometimes longer. This doesn’t necessarily make them wrong. It’s only wrong if you don’t stay true to your story.
 
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Posted by on February 2, 2014 in Stories

 

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FAQ : Are Zombies Overdone

In a forum this morning, a fellow writer said they came up with an idea, and thought of setting it in a zombie apocalypse. They wanted to know if zombies were overdone.

My Response:

Zombies are a bit over done at the moment, but they go in and out of style just like witches, vampires, and werewolves. I believe “witches” are the current hot thing, or so I keep hearing.

The thing is, you should write what you love, because that love will shine through. So what if the market has too many zombie stories. Your first job is to write, worry about markets later.

Second, if you could take the zombies out and replace them with anything else and still have the same story, then really it isn’t going to matter. People will come for the story, not just the monster of the day.

Lastly, Even if they are over done, there will always be people who love them. Write it, publish it, and it might find a small audience now, and a larger one later when zombies become the “thing” again.

But really, just write what you love.

 
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Posted by on January 8, 2014 in On Writing

 

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