Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Big O (Organization) & The Big P (Prioritizing)

I'm not a linear thinker. I'm left-handed, right-brained, and ideas come to me in flashes of disjointed inspiration and dreams, which I try to put together later in some coherent fashion. This may be a good thing for creativity, but it sucks for being an organized person--especially when I also have a short attention span and am easily distracted Look--something shiny! What was I blogging about? Oh yeah...So I was about to say that my top resolutions for 2011 are to get more organized and prioritize. I've said this in previous years, but without any sort of attack plan. Yesterday, I bought my very first Weekly/Monthly Planner. (Can you hear the sound of gospel choir singing 'hallelujah' in the background?) I'm going to use it to schedule and log marketing info., sales, and my writing word counts.

But, that's just one weapon in my attack plan. I've realized (can I get another 'hallelujah'?) that it's impossible to DO EVERYTHING THAT I WANT TO DO. So, I also need to prioritize. I've always wondered why, as people get older, they get 'stuck in their ways'. Well, I've realized that it's partially due to life editing. There are only 24 hours in a day, and you have to sleep for 1/3 of them, and possibly work for another 1/3 of them. That doesn't leave a whole lot left to indulge every one of your interests. You have to prioritize what's most important to you, so if you get hit by a bus tomorrow (sadly that happens a lot in my city), you won't be lying on your death bed thinking, 'Gee..I wish I had...' If I was at the end of my life, I would most regret not writing and publishing more of the stories in my head. So in 2011, I'm not going to study French,  play with tarot cards, bellydance, read 20 magazines each month, read all of the newspaper every day, clip lots of coupons, or watch much t.v.  Instead...(with the help of the ROW80 challenge to get me started)...I'm going to write.  I intend to publish three more books this year, and that's only going to happen if I'm organized and able to prioritize writing over dozens of other distractions (reading excepted--books are food for the brain). I see a lot of other indie writers with similar goals on their blogs. Here's wishing us all a year filled with gazillions of happy, creative keystrokes.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Thank You Santa!

I figured I'd get a couple of books for Christmas, but Santa was very good to me. (Did he really check his list twice to make sure I wasn't on the naughty list?) I received four hardbacks--The Passage by Justin Cronin, Horns by Joe Hill, Holy Ghosts by Gary Jansen, and Of Love and Evil by Anne Rice. I want to read every one of these and wish I could just download them directly into my brain! (In the future, we'll probably have discs that plug in above our ear and connect directly to our neurons to make that possible. Maybe, we will be able to upload books at night while we are asleep, and process them like a programmed dream.)

In between holiday festivities, I read Lauralynn Elliott's novella, Guardian Vampire, a nice paranormal romance romp with enough rich visceral detail (read: blood, danger, blood, action...) to keep me interested. The models on the cover were also chillingly perfect for the characters in the story.

Now that Eaters: The Beginning is available online, I'm trying to dip my toes into a little PR. I really found this tough to do with The Gardener. But, there are a lot of zombie fan sites out there. So, I'm going to try to go straight to the fan base. Unfortunately, the AMCTV website does not allow posts that are unrelated to their Walking Dead series. Since, at one point, there were fans talking about zombie movies, and there was even a link to an unrelated Christmas parody YouTube video (which was removed 24 hours later) on their chat site, I thought I could mention Eaters. Apparently, the powers that be have some strict gatekeepers trying to keep their site pure 'Walking Dead'. I look forward to watching this show again when the series continues, but I am disappointed with their website and the fact that they chose to fire all their writers right before the holidays. They had a highly successful series going. I'm guessing the writing staff wanted more money, and management figured that the story could carry on with cheaper writers.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Santa Brought Books

I know there's books under the tree (MLOL - maniacal laugh out loud). I must go to Christmas morning will come...

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Eaters and Stocking Stuffers

Eaters is now for sale on Amazon and Smashwords, and I just submitted it to Barnes & Noble tonight, so it  should be live tomorrow. Tonight is a lovely lull after the storm of finishing Eaters and getting Christmas shopping done. All that's left to shop for is stocking stuffers for my trio of feline masters. (The dog's is done. She's getting some tennis balls and chewy treats. In a dog's world--it doesn't get much better than that!) I REALLY REALLY look forward to doing some reading in the next few days. Readling Lauralynn's Guardian Vampire is at the top of my list and I'd like to finish Pork Pie Hat by Peter Straub. There are also some other indie authors out there with some great books that I'd like to squeeze in. Since Eaters is a zombie novella, I was curious why Tom Lichtenberg's novella, Zombie Nights, is #2 on the Smashwords bestseller list. I guess free+zombie=popular. I read it and wrote a review on the site. I don't know if the Eaters trilogy will enjoy such popularity, but one can only hope :) It was a lot of fun writing the first book, and I look forward to getting my fingers dirty on the keyboard with the 2nd one which will be filled with more fingernail-biting danger for the main character.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Eaters Available This Week

I just submitted Eaters to Amazon tonight. It should be available for download in a couple of days there and very soon on Barnes & Noble and Smashwords. It was a bit of a risk to let my neighbors read the manuscript, but the 'That was awesome!' comment afterwards was a nice payoff. I didn't start out planning a trilogy, but as I was wrapping up the story, I realized that it was really just the beginning of Cheryl's story. So, this first installment is called Eaters: The Beginning, and it will be followed later this year by Eaters: Dark Journey and Eaters: Destination. That will definitely give me some 'meat and potatoes' to dig into during ROW80 which starts in January.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Eaters Finito

I was a bananas to the wall typing monkey yesterday and finally finished Eaters late last night. (DH...starting to snore...did not seem to share in my excitement). If the cover is ready, I'll publish it this weekend. If you've read The Gardener, you will find this story is quite a different animal. There's no time to stop and enjoy the scenery...or smell the's very fast-paced and action-packed. I'm going to give my zombie-loving neighbors across the street have a sneak peek of the manuscript. I'm sure they're going to be surprised...and maybe a little shocked at the dark things squeezed out of me into the text. Never judge what appears to be a normal 'soccer mom' by her cover.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

It's Not My Fault

I did not intend to go to a bookstore tonight---really I didn't! Bookstores are dangerous for me. I could get lost in one for hours...and be found days later under a pile of books, dehydrated, starving, and gasping for air. My rescurers would try to dig me out...and I'd say, 'Wait! I haven't finished this chapter yet..." Bookstores are also dangerous for my cash flow. So, as I said, I did not intend to make such a dangerous journey tonight. It wasn't on the agenda at all. But, when I called home to say that the office Christmas party ended early, there was panic on the other end of the phone. Apparently, DH is building some sort of contraption thingamajig for me for Christmas, and there were parts of it all over the house that I am not to allowed to see. I was told not to come home for at least one hour. So, after a quick foray to Target, to finish some Christmas shopping...the used bookstore across the street beckoned me with its seductive orange sign. I must say that I was very good tonight. I only left with two books for my kidling and Love in Vein II (short stories selected and edited by Poppy Z. Brite). But, if I hadn't gotten the phone call with the green light to go home, I might have been bad....very very bad. They had a big paranormal romance section with some wicked looking titles. They also have a good number of horror novels (unfortunately all jumbled in with the thrillers). So many little time. I think I'll have that engraved on my tombstone :)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Christmas Shopping = Time Vacuum

There was soooo... much on the 'to do' list today, but Christmas shopping sucked all the time away. Can you relate? This month is so busy with shopping, parties, and other commitments. Working on my Santa duties, I hit more than half a dozen stores and did not get to the photo shoot that I wanted to do for my next book cover. DH even volunteered to be my zombie hand model. (Okay...'volunteered' probably too strong of word. I should have said, 'he did not protest too much' when I told him that I needed to paint his hand with makeup to look like a dead thing.) The photo shoot will have to wait, but I still intend to plug away on Eaters this evening, because I'm trying to finish before Christmas.'s going to be another late night.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Dark Days of Winter

It's 5 o'clock at this time of year. The short days are rough on me. Though I'm typically not a sun-seeker (read: vampirish tendencies and wrinkle-phobia), a nice tropical vacation sounds pretty good right now. It takes a little extra effort to stay up late and work on my writing, instead of caving in to the lure of hibernation in a warm Snuggy by the fireplace with a mug of hot cocoa and a fuzzy cat on my lap. In more positive moments, I remind myself that this is the best time of year to 'go within' and find those dark creative places, let them gestate a little, then pour them forth on cyber paper. I know this...and yet...bring on the solstice! I need the energy that more daylight brings. I've signed up for ROW80 that starts in January. With the lengthening days and the fresh start that a new year brings, I have a lot of optimism that I'll start off 2011 with a reserve of energy to work on my next writing project.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Walking Dead Episode 6 - What They Didn't Say

Episode 6 of The Walking Dead aired last night on AMC. There were times during it when I wanted to hit 'pause' and ask a few questions of the script writers. When the generator in the CDC building began shutting non-essentials down, Dr. Jenner said that running everything on fossil fuel was stupid. (Sure wish he could have elaborated on that, reinforcing the idea that sun and wind power sources don't run out of fuel at inopportune times, like during a life-threatening apocalypse!)  Then, when Dr. Jenner locked them all inside the building that was about to self-destruct, nobody told him, "You don't have the right to play God." I just kept waiting for that line, and it never came. The show ended with them driving away in the RV towards...what?...we don't know. If this had been the end, perhaps they would have found a safe haven somewhere and some hope for rebuilding society. Guess we'll have to wait until the second season...
Has a start date been announced? I didn't see it on the AMC website, but I did sign up for 'The Walking Dead' newsletter to stay posted.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Congratulations to NaNoWriMo Participants and Winner Lauralynn Elliott!

 Congratulations to all the participants in NaNoWriMo that ended yesterday on Nov. 30th. Lauralynn Elliott had fast-flying fingers, winning with a total well over the 50,000 word count goal.

Although, I didn't enter this challenge. I am considering entering ROW80 (A Round of Words in 80 Days) that begins in January. It would be a good way to make headway on my next writing project after Eaters is finished. It might also help me establish a more regular writing schedule. A deadline can be a good way to have a little pressure to get that going. Otherwise, life can keep you busy enough with other priorities besides the keyboard. I really wish that I was a 'morning person' who could spring out of bed in the early wee hours and get a couple hours of writing in before getting a kidling off to school and going to my day job. In reality...I'm one of those 'don't talk to me until I've had my coffee' kind of people. Unfortunately, that makes me more of a night writer, and that means that my writing sometimes gets the ashes of my brain after a long tiring day. It would be nice to give my writing the freshest part of my brain early in the day before it gets too exhausted from other commitments. If I decide to challenge myself with ROW80, I'm going to consider a little morning writing and see how it goes. (That will definitely mean putting the alarm clock farther across the room and perhaps enlisting some sort of shock therapy to get the word juices flowing--an ice cold shower, a quick zap from a finger in an electrical socket, or (with some serious optimism) a quick run on the treadmill.)

Monday, November 29, 2010

Walking Dead and Eaters

Don't you hate when you plan to do something, then completely 'space it out'? Last night, I was so busy cleaning up after the holiday weekend, I could not--even for one hour--remember to watch The Walking Dead. Apparently, dishes and laundry were so fascinating, I missed both the 8pm and 9pm show. So, in my stubbornness, I decided to stay up for the 11pm show. It was a tear jerker, but it was worth it. This episode ran the entire gamut of difficult human emotions. There was fear (of course), jealousy, anger, sadness, desperation, hoplessness, and resignation--not necessarily in that order. Then, thankfully, it ended on a note of hope. And you thought this show was about zombies! It's really not. The zombies could be a stand in for any sort of apocalyptic threat such as a pandemic or nuclear holocaust. It's not the source of the threat that matters, it's how people react to it. The Walking Dead realistically portrays how the best and worst is brought out in people by the challenge of survival. I've been partially lured along this ride by the promise of a big shiny happy ending. But, I don't think that's going to happen. This is a horror story, and horror doesn't end with 'and they lived happily ever after'. And, I just read that the series has been so successful, it has been picked up for a second season. So...the saga of survival in the world of the 'Walkers' will continue next year.

I have a number of writing projects in limbo, but the one I'm anxious to finish is Eaters. Ironically, I started this short zombie novella a few months ago before I had ever heard of The Walking Dead. Zombies aren't my usual fare, but I've had a fascination with them this year for some reason. I watched Zombieland (fun stuff!) and Dawn of the Dead. I even found myself searching online for the 'perfect zombie t-shirt' (I don't think it exists). With my nose to the grindstone next month, Eaters will be finished and published online before the end of the year.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Walking Dead

My jury is still out on AMC's The Walking Dead. I saw the first two episodes and missed the third. Since I've actually remembered tonight that it's on...I'll give it a look again. (I'm all about multi-tasking. Zombies and laundry folding go nicely together!) There are episode summaries on the AMC website, so I'm caught up now on last week's show. I'm impressed that AMC has stepped outside the box with this character-driven horror series. The New York Post recently said that this series could do for AMC what The Sopranos did for HBO. Last week's episode reeled in 5.1 million viewers. In high school, I was on make up crew for Arsenic & Old Lace. It was a lot of fun drawing in wrinkles and applying the thick pancake makeup to my fellow teenage actors. What a hoot it would be to be on the makeup crew for The Walking Dead! Corn syrup, red food coloring, and prosthesis galore. Check out these photos from the show--they give a good idea of the dark plot.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Like Paranormal Romance? Check out Lauralynn Elliott

A big shout out to my guardian angel indie writer, Lauralynn Elliott. To date, she has four books available on Smashwords, Indie Urban Fantasy, and Amazon: I recently checked out Club Blood, and it was a fun read. She has been nose to the grindstone with NaNoWriMo this month. I can't wait to find out what she's been working on.

Club Blood   Starfane

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Gardener is Now on Amazon

Cartwheels! The Gardener is live on Amazon.

Here is an excerpt:

   Something changed in the air around them. Gooseflesh raised the silvery hair on her forearms and the back of her neck. A tingling sensation started at the top of her head and tickled down to her toes. It reminded her of the time that lightning had struck one of the trees near her house.
   She ignored the strange sensations as she continued to call Henry’s name. She implored him sweetly and firmly, trying to coax him to pay attention to her summons. She repeated the ancient chant again.
   But, she paused when the shadow returned, and she felt it punching and ripping, trying to tear through the cloth that separated this world from the other. Though, she couldn’t see who or what it was, it radiated a dark aura of greed and violence as it kept up its offensive push.
   Terror altered the timber of her voice as she decided to abort the communication. “I end this--“
   She opened her eyes, but saw nothing. It was as if the shadow had covered them with dark fingers, preventing her from seeing anything more in this life or the other.
   “Virginia,” she whispered, hoping the dear lady was all right.
   Their hands slipped apart for a second. Opal grabbed them back, holding her fingers tightly as she heard a whimper. There was an uncomfortable silence. She could only hear the hum of the refrigerator, Virginia’s labored breaths, and her own pounding heart.
   As the seconds passed, her eyes began to adjust to the dim light from the kitchen window. Enough sanguine moonlight leaked through the patterned holes in the curtains to allow her to see Virginia’s motionless form. The electrified air in the room was now bitterly cold, making her shiver.
   “Madame--” Virginia whispered.
   “Shhh!” Opal said, as she flicked her lighter again and again, trying to spark some life into it.
   “Madame Opal...please. What’s happened?” Virginia asked, her voice as thin and tight as a piano string.
   Suddenly, the lighter’s blue and orange flame sprang to life. With her rings clattering, she re-lit the candle. Then, she glanced across the table and saw Virginia’s mouth gaping open in a perfect circle. She followed her gaze into the parlor behind them.’s not possible.
   She stared at the outline of a tall figure, barely discernable in the darkness. She could make out the form of a man wearing strange clothing and a lofty hat. Then, a cloud moved across the sky allowing a moonbeam to splay across his face. He had a chocolate brown goatee gracing the chiseled features of his pale olive skin, and there was a wide smile across his face as he looked back at them.
   “Henry?” Virginia whispered as if she hoped that somehow he had come back to her in the guise of this handsome young man with radiant green eyes.
“No...” Opal said as she put a finger to her lips. “That’s not your Henry--”

Thursday, November 11, 2010

One Day at a Time--Christmas Book Wish List

The Gardener should have been live on Amazon by now. Actually, it was...for one day this week. Then, I went in to fix an administrative error, which took it offline and back in the review queue for two days. As Murphy's Law would have it, I missed another error, so it is in queue again. It seems to take two business days to go through the process. So, tomorrow (fingers crossed) it will be online at both Smashwords and Amazon. When it goes live, I'll do a few happy cartwheels and post an excerpt here.

I have a very practical family. We all have limited budgets and don't believe that we should just guess what each other would like to have for Christmas. This eliminates receiving presents like purple polka-dotted polyester shirts off the clearance rack at Kmart or jumbo sized jars of deep fried black licorice. "You shouldn't have--really!" So, we exchange wish lists each year. This doesn't totally eliminate the well-intended gifts like books on gardening (that aren't for my climate) or yet another book on cats to add to my burgeoning feline library. (Thanks, Mom...luv ya!). I've found that it pays to be REALLY SPECIFIC. I always want books. That's a given each year. But, I've started putting titles on the list, instead of just genres.
To keep things simple, I've put three on my wish list for Christmas 2010:
  • The Passage by Justin Cronen - This is a must-read 'vampocalypse' that I can't wait to seek my teeth into. Check it out here:
  • Horns by Joe Hill - What's a guy to do when he suddenly sprouts real horns on top of his head? (Joe Hill is code for 'Stephen King's son--sorry, man...had to throw that in there. You'll never escape it.) I read his last book, Heart Shaped Box...and it was a good ride. See a YouTube clip from him here:
  • Holy Ghosts: Or How a (Not-So) Good Catholic Boy Becomes a Believer in Things that Go Bump in the Night by Gary Jansen. I can never turn down a good ghost story, especially one that purports to be true.
If anyone has read any of these, I'd love to hear comments...but no spoilers please!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Book Lovers Day

Happy November's Book Lovers Day!

You did spend the whole day reading, didn't you? ( neither. There were leaves to rake,
and lots of other chores to do.) But, tonight, especially since we have an extra hour with the time change, I'm going have my nose back inside Carved in Bone by Jefferson Bass (who is actually a duo writing team of Dr. Bill Bass, a world renowned forensic anthropologist and founder of The Body Farm at the University of Tennessee, and Jon Jefferson, a journalist, writer,and documentary filmmaker). So far, it looks like an interesting murder mystery, starting as you might expect, with the discovery of an unidentified corpse.

I rarely go anywhere without a book. Books are like candy. There's so much candy...and so little time! I tend to go for dark chocolate...and dark writing. When I'm ready to start reading a new novel, I only have to go as far as one of my bookshelves to go "shopping". I collect books like some women collect shoes (okay, I have a lot of shoes too), so it's always fun to peruse my shelves to see what I'm in the mood for. I have lot of books in the horror genre, but my collection is pretty eclectic. I wish that I had time to read a new book every couple of days, but two or three a month is more practical, especially since I'm trying to schedule writing time as well. I joked with a friend that it would be nice to multitask in the mornings and read in the shower. She didn't think that was too absurd, since she's mastered the art of reading and brushing her teeth. Hmmm...that might work. I'll 'give it a go' tonight.

Monday, November 1, 2010


Whew! It was Halloween week this year...not just one night. Despite a busy schedule, it's my favorite holiday--no one seems to mind the witchy decor, the black crows, and sparkly gourds at this time of year. Can't I have them up until Christmas? October 31st is the only night that some of us brave opening the door to six foot tall boys with ghoulish masks begging for sweets. (Give them chocolate and they go away.) After turning off the porch light and calling it a night, I woke sometime after midnight, looked at the clock and realized that I'd wakened during the witching hour. If there are any ghosts in my house, I figured I might bump into one on the way back from the bathroom. Actually, at that time of night, I'm too tired to have my paranormal fantasies confirmed! I don't want to hear, see, or smell anything out of the ordinary when my pillow is calling me back to bed. I woke again around 3:30 a.m. and saw a strange blue glow emanating from the main floor. As it turned out, the computer was left on all night, and a cat must have stepped on the keyboard returning it to a blue screen. It was good for a chuckle in the morning.

My novel, The Gardener, should be available on Amazon soon. It's time to get cracking on Eaters again, so I can get it posted online as well. It's a sidestep out of my normal paranormal palette. Zombies, anyone?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Year of the Flood

My mother, a former English teacher, reminded me recently that the best writers are avid readers. That makes a lot of sense, doesn't it? Writers are inspired to write from the joy they receive from reading the works of others. Each book I read is like a new exotic piece of candy to me and a vacation to another place and time. For just a few dollars, you can have an escape, a head trip to somewhere else, whether you are sitting in your living room, on a bus, or waiting for your kid's soccer practice to finish. I'm surprised today that most of my childhood photos aren't just the top of my head, peeking out from the cover of a book.

Speaking of head trips--my latest was Margaret Atwood's, The Year of the Flood. It's a rich futuristic tale with a lot of caveats about a corporate run world and genetic splicing gone wild (think lion-lamb creatures, green rabbits, and glow-in-the dark roses). It's not a funny light-hearted tale, though. It makes you think a lot about where we might be headed, and maybe, like the God's Gardeners, consider how the simple and natural things in life are the most fulfilling and life supporting. (Heads up: I give it an 'R' rating for some adult content.) Read more at

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Gardener

My first novel, The Gardener, is uploading on Smashwords tonight. This novel was a finalist in the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Colorado Gold Contest in 2007. Since then, it has been nipped, tucked, and completely overhauled into a shiny new version. You can download a sample or purchase at:
In the small town of Calathia, Kansas, Opal Peabody performs a seance to contact Virginia Blake's dead husband, but another spirit answers the call. Over a hundred years back, he was the gardener for one of Virginia's ancestors. But, he was also a murderer. When Virginia mysteriously dies, her granddaughter, Georgia, an art gallery owner from New York City, inherits the house. The spirit grows stronger as her kills, and the bodies begin to pile up in Calathia. Opal is desperate to find a way to banish him. Can she do it before it's too late for Georgia?