Friday, October 31, 2014

Wishing You

Thursday, October 30, 2014

More Waverley!

I've finally received some gotta-preorder SPAM from B& that made me very happy, and since I've bullied encouraged some of you to read this author, I thought I'd pass along the news:

Since Garden Spells remains my #1 favorite novel by Sarah Addison Allen, obviously I cannot wait to read this one.

What new releases are you looking forward to this Fall and Winter? Share the love in comments.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

My NaNo Novel Plan

As you've probably noticed I've posted on the blog my word count widget and unofficial badges for NaNoWriMo 2014. This week I'll be putting together my novel notebook and doing the last bit of prepwork I need so I can begin writing straightaway on November 1st. I'm also available as a writing buddy on the NaNoWriMo web site; if you want to send a buddy request my user name is Lynn Viehl.

The idea I've decided to go with for my November novel is the first book in a historical romance trilogy that I've always wanted to write. The primary setting for the entire trilogy is Netherfield, one of the great estates from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice (you might remember it as Bingley's home.) I've always thought Netherfield had great potential as a magical place for romance, mystery and adventures, and I want to tell some new stories about it with new characters and conflicts of my own creation.

Here's the cover art I worked up and the beginning of the synopsis:

The Novels of Netherfield
Book One Working Title: Lord of Midnight (Yeah, I know, uber generic, which is why it's a working title)

Rumors sweep through the village of Meryton as Netherfield Park is let at last to Colonel Julian Greville, a retired soldier recently returned from India. No one knows any real details about the colonel except that he is rich, reclusive and never seems to sleep. His residence soon causes much displeasure among Meryton's finer families, particularly those with unmarried daughters. Local legend maintains that anyone who spends a night at Netherfield will fall in love -- but the colonel refuses to accept calls from anyone.

A carriage mishap strands Miss Anne Maycott at Netherfield, where she is obliged to spend the night. Colonel Greville is kind and attentive, but he also puzzles her, for he takes no pride in his heroic past. Greville is exqually perplexed by Anne, who seems too good-humored and is far too lovely to be on the verge of becoming a spinster. He's also disturbed by the accidents that have regularly plagued Anne's life; far too many to be mere coincidence or, as she believes, bad luck . . .

So what are you planning to write for NaNoWriMo 2014? Let us know in comments.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

LT Job Op (and Ribbet)

Library Thing is looking for a programmer:

LibraryThing, the company behind and LibraryThing for Libraries, is looking to hire a top-notch developer/programmer.

We like to think we make “products that don’t suck,” as opposed to much of what’s developed for libraries. We’ve got new ideas and not enough developers to make them. That’s where you come in.

Technical Skills required:

LibraryThing is mostly non-OO PHP. You need to be a solid PHP programmer or show us you can become one quickly. You should be experienced in HTML, JavaScript, CSS and SQL. We welcome experience with design and UX, Python, Solr, and mobile development.

There's a link to an online quiz in the job post that you should take to see if you're technically qualified, or send in your resume, whichever works best for you. See the job listing on Library Thing for more details. Also, if you apply and do get the job, mention I referred you, and I'll win a bunch of books. :)

Now, if you were a Muppet, exactly which one would you be? Take the quiz here and find out.

My results:

I don't know if I'm any of that description, but all the same I'm happy to be Kermit (okay, I was secretly hoping to be Mr. Snuffleupagus. No one but Big Bird ever saw him. Which would make Shiloh Walker Big Bird.)

So which Muppet are you? Let us know in comments.

(Test link swiped from Gerard at The Presurfer)

Monday, October 27, 2014

Boo Ten

Ten Things to Help with Halloween

Cooking Light magazine has some fun recipes here for your Halloween festivities.

DKTK has an entire page of Halloween Crafts and Activities for Kids here.

Food Network has a cool page here with ideas on how to turn your carved pumpkins into "snack-o-lanterns".

Good Housekeeping has 11 Enchanting Halloween Decorating Ideas here.

My favorite and most popular Halloween recipe is this delicious spinach dip, which I serve in a hollowed-out pumperknickel bread bowl surrounded with bread chunks, crackers and raw veggie bites.

For spooky reading material, one of the scariest stories I've ever read is an oldie -- The Lottery by Shirley Jackson.

Halloween parties can be torture for those of us who can't have sugar, unless you get inventive with your snacks. Look for fun recipes that don't involve sweets, like these witch brooms made from pretzels and string cheese.

Going trick or treating but have nothing to wear? Real Simple magazine has 10 last-Minute Halloween costume ideas here.

Martha Stewart always has some interesting Halloween recipes on her site; this year I might make her Rice Krispie treats that are colored and shaped like candy-corn.

Need helping carving your pumpkin? Wikihow has instructions with steo-by-step photos here.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

In the Leaves

I've uploaded the final edited edition of In the Leaves as a .pdf file on Google Docs, and the story can be read online, downloaded, printed out and shared for free by anyone. To go to the e-book, click on the cover art:

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Prep Talk

In one week National Novel Writing Month begins, and I as well as thousands of writers around the globe will be spending the next thirty days writing to reach the 50,000 words finish line. This is also the time when I generally try to come up with a fun, motivational post to encourage writers who are on the fence to dive in with the rest of us.

Thing is, at the moment I'm not feeling especially inspiring. I landed a job so I'm going back to work (hooray!), only it's ghost-writing so I can't tell anyone about it (ho-hum). I'm still recovering from my surgeries, which was going well until an unexpected infection set in last week. Every time I blinked felt like someone was stabbing me in the eye with a toothpick. Which meant going back on the steroid eyedrops, which burn almost as bad. Just as that started to clear up, I got my hand caught between two grocery carts I was trying to separate at the market. Yes, I am that kind of idiot. Freeing myself resulted in bruises + a nice big gash on said hand, which given my wimpy immune system will probably not heal until NaNo is over.

Did I mention I have a new job I have to start like immediately?

I know, whine, whine, whine. No one can do it better than writers. Honestly, I am grateful for the work, and the infection is gone, and I have plenty of Band-Aids. It's just dealing with the eyedrops and sore hand and depression over being so banged up while trying to do my best for the new job, all I really want to do is give up on NaNo, unplug and hide until January.

I could, quite easily. You would understand, wouldn't you? I mean, look at my excuses. They're pretty good, aren't they?

Still, as of November 1st, come Hell, come high water, come whatever, I'm writing a novel in thirty days. Why? We already know how mule-headed I can be, yes? But it's not just stubborness. It's joy to go with the job. It's laughing at wretched eye infections. It's kicking all the stuck-together grocery carts in the world to the moon. It's a bridge across the abyss.

Why? It's writing. I'm a writer. This is what I do, and I'm doing this for me.

So those are my pom poms, and while they're not especially pretty, fun or motivational this year, I'm shaking them for me and you. I know for every trouble I have many of you have at least as many, if not more. A lot of you are swamped, dealing with your own day jobs and financial worries and health issues and family dramas, and there simply is not enough time to do anything except put out fires and hope you don't go crazy in the process. Or maybe you're just tired and not in the mood. I get it, really, I do. I absolutely believe that your excuses are as good as if not better than mine.

But you're a writer, and this is what we do. So write with me this November. Write your novel. Do it for you.

Friday, October 24, 2014


If like me you're a fan of the urban sport of parkour, this short film will keep you riveted (contains background music, for those of you at work):

Chasing Light - Freerunning Short Film (4K UHD) from claudiu voicu on Vimeo.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Just Write On Hiatus

I will be editing and posting the final edition of In the Leaves sometime this week along with the new cover art. However, since I'm going to participate in NaNoWriMo 2014, and I want to do some outlining and then give that my full attention, I'm going to put Just Write Thursdays on the backburner for now.

I've really had fun with this feature, and I hope to bring it back to the blog during December (or possibly January if the winter holidays are hectic.) We'll see what happens; in the meantime, thanks to everyone for your support and enthusiasm for it.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Final Cover & NaNoStuff

Since Photobucket has decided to stop hating me, here is the final cover art for In the Leaves, my Just Write Thursday story:

Obviously it's not one of the three I showed you last month, but after a lot more waffling I hunted through some more stock photo sites. As soon as I saw this pic it just felt right for me and the story. My thanks to Maria Zannini for sending me to, where I found it.

While I'm into pic posting, here are the official 2014 NaNoWriMo badges (and click on any image to go to my Photobucket link):

And for those who liked my own designs, once more here are PBW's Unofficial NaNo Badges:

The new NaNo website has also listed this year's sponsor offers for participants here, and some of them are pretty neat, so do check it out when you have a chance.

Image credit for In the Leaves cover: massonforstock

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Sub Op Scoop: Sci-Fi Romance Quarterly Q&A

Yesterday I mentioned a sub op from Sci-Fi Romance Quarterly, an e-zine I discovered via the Paying Markets forum on Because it's extremely rare to find a paying market for any type of SF romance, I decided to do a bit more research on the pub. That resulted in me asking Diane Dooley, SFRQ's fiction editor, a lot of pesky questions, which she very kindly took the time to answer:

Q: What made you decide to embark on this venture?

A: KS 'Kaz' Augustin, Chief Editor of the Quarterly, tech goddess and businesswoman, approached myself and Heather Massey of The Galaxy Express with a wild idea: are you two nuts enough to collaborate with me on a quarterly magazine dedicated to Science Fiction Romance? The answer was yes, we are nuts enough. I had recently served as content editor for an anthology of SFR short stories and was interested in providing a paid market for SFR in the short form. Jumping aboard the Quarterly gave me that opportunity.

Q: What can readers expect to find in a typical issue of SFRQ?

A: Kaz kicks off the issue with an opinionated editorial on some aspect of SFR, followed by a new release round-up, several honest reviews from our much-loved review team, as well as regular columns like Scopebox by Charlee Allden, Mistressworks by Ian Sales, and The Cosmic Lounge by Heather Massey. There will usually be an opinion piece by a guest columnist, an interview with an SFR author, and, of course, an original piece of SFR short fiction.

Q: What sort of SFR stories would you love to see submitted for consideration? What sort of stories don't you want to see?

A: Fresh, original, emotionally engaging stories that blend the Science Fiction and Romance genres seamlessly -- that's what we want. We'd love to see more submissions with PoC characters and/or from non-Western perspectives.

Stories we're not interested in seeing? Ones that ignore the requirement for an upbeat ending for the romance arc. We've received (and rejected) several otherwise excellent stories that did not have an emotionally satisfying ending. Neither are we interested in stories that neglect the world building. The story must clearly be science fiction.

We have a primarily female readership, and one of the things they love about SFR is the variety and complexity of the heroines, so we have a preference for female characters with agency.

Q: In your FAQ on the SFRQ website, you define SFR as "a romance that takes place in a technological setting and has an upbeat ending." Do you expect all submissions to strictly adhere to this definition, or are you willing to consider stories that define SFR differently?

A: The story must have an upbeat conclusion for the romance arc, either a 'happy for now' or a 'happy ever after' ending. Otherwise, we are open to whatever wonderful thing the author comes up with.

The "technological setting" phrase is to provide a guideline for certain sub-genres that straddle a couple of different genres. Steampunk, for instance, or time travel, might lean towards the historical or fantasy genres. The basis for an SFR story should be technological rather than magical: a new invention or a time machine, rather than a magical portal to another world.

Q: Do you have any objections to submissions of SFR stories which feature non-traditional romance characters (i.e. members of the LGBTQ community, non-humanoids, artificial lifeforms, etc.)?

A: No objections whatsoever. We've received submissions of all of the above and would love to see more.

Q: What do you see in the future for SFRQ?

A: We hope to see solid growth in our readership. We made a unanimous early decision to fund the magazine through advertising rather than crowdfunding. Our future growth, then, is what will keep bringing us sponsors (as we refer to our advertisers). Kaz, Heather, and I are unpaid. The money we raise via advertising goes to pay the authors of the fiction we publish and each issue's cover artist . So far, we have raised our flat rate once, and have recently raised our rate again to 2 cents/word. We have also started commissioning paid original cover art. We would love to be able to offer pro rates in the future, but we don't intend to run before we can walk.

Our goals are to provide an entertaining and thoughtful magazine for fans of SFR, a targeted advertising opportunity for SFR authors and publishers, a viable short story market for writers, and a paid showcase for cover artists. So far, we're meeting our goals and having a hell of a lot of fun along the way.

Which is exactly as it should be. My thanks to Ms. Dooley for taking the time to answer all my Q's, and to the entire staff of SFRQ for opening up a new market for SF romance writers.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Sub Op Ten

Ten Things About Submission Opportunities

Baen has opened to submissions for the 2015 Jim Baen Memorial Short Story Award Contest: "Write a short story of no more than 8,000 words, that shows the near future (no more than about 50-60 years out) of manned space exploration. No entry fee. But please only submit one story...your best one! No reprints. All entries must be original works in English. Plagiarism, poetry, song lyrics, or stories that utilize characters or settings from another person’s works will not be considered. E-mail submissions only. Send entries as .RTF attachments to: Please put the word SUBMISSION in the subject line when sending a contest entry and QUESTION in the subject line for questions to the contest administrator. Please include the following in the body of your email: The title of the work, the author's name, address and telephone number, and an approximate word-count. The manuscript should be a RTF attachment, in standard manuscript format and should be titled and numbered on every page, but the author's name MUST BE DELETED to facilitate fair judging. Employees of Baen Books, NSS and previous Grand Prize Winners are not eligible. Previous Second and Third place winners are eligible. Contest opens for submissions on October 1, 2014 at 12:01am EDT. (Entries sent before that date will be deleted unread.) Deadline - February 1 (12:59pm), 2015."

Dark Recesses Press has an open call for their upcoming time-themed antho: "Dark Recesses Press is now accepting short novella length submissions for A COLLECTION OF UNTIMELY HOURS. Between four to six stories will be selected for this themed anthology. The theme is time. The genre is dark fiction. A broad spectrum, we know, but what we mean by this is truly the dark spectrum – from horror to supernatural, to slipstream – and all points in between. That said, Splatterpunk and Bizarro fiction are probably not the right fit for this gathering. This is also not the venue for high fantasy or hard sci-fi, but if you have a shadowy urban fantasy or a dark tale that happens to take place upon a space freighter, that’s fine. Just make sure there’s no need to learn a new language in order to read the story. Seriously. The key here is to offer our readers a cool creep, a sense of dread, and the tension of time from which they can’t escape. It’s your world. Build it, and drag the reader through it with the seconds ticking at their heels." Length: 15-25K firm; Payment: 3¢/word, no reprints, electronic submissions only, see guidelines for more details. Deadline: December 31st, 2014.

Dark Regions Press has an open call for their upcoming ladies-only Lovecraft-themed antho: "The only set requirement for the anthology is that all submissions must be written by women. Submissions from international, multi-cultural and LGBT/GSD perspectives are encouraged, as this collection will aim to present the diversity of voices within the field of Lovecraftian fiction. All stories must be submitted in English. There is no restriction on setting, so don't feel like you have to remain within the 1920's/1930's - far future stories, contemporary, steampunk, psychological, horror, fantasy/sf and, of course, historical settings are all welcome. I am open to a wide interpretation of 'Lovecraftian', but I'm not looking for pastiche work. Nuanced weirdness welcome, as is the overtly strange." Length: "Word count for submissions is set between 2000 and 10 000 words. If you would like to submit something shorter or longer, please query." Payment: "Payment for accepted stories will be 5c per word up to 5k, then 3c per word over 5k." No reprints, electronic submissions only, see guidelines for more details. Deadline: January 31st, 2015.

Nightmare Magazine is open for submissions: "Nightmare is seeking original horror and dark fantasy stories of 1500-7500 words. Stories of 5000 words or less are preferred. We pay 6¢/word for original fiction, on acceptance. To see which rights we’re seeking, please view our contract template for original fiction. All types of horror or dark fantasy are welcome; if in doubt, go ahead and submit it and let our editors decide. No subject should be considered off-limits, and we encourage writers to take chances with their fiction and push the envelope. We believe that the horror genre’s diversity is its greatest strength, and we wish that viewpoint to be reflected in our story content and our submission queues; we welcome submissions from writers of every race, religion, nationality, gender, and sexual orientation." Reprints okay if not currently online, and pay is 1¢/word on reprints, electronic submissions only, see guidelines for more details.

Oriental Excess Co. has an open call for stories written for their universe: "Oriental Excess Co. is looking for science fiction authors to help create the world of our new intellectual property, Tokyo Yakuza™, by writing 2,000-3,000 word short stories for publication first as e-books on Amazon Kindle and other devices, and later in print as part of braided anthologies involving multiple authors and recurring characters and themes. Authors on this project may select their own cover image from our catalog of original artworks, before writing their short stories, to serve as inspiration for the piece. For acceptable submissions, we pay 6 cents per word in exchange for the rights to publish the story online and in print and related electronic endeavors. We offer, in addition, a 10% share of the e-book profits after the advance is recouped. We also ask for several other rights: translation, audio, and the right to include the story in Tokyo Yakuza-branded anthologies. All rights we acquire are exclusive, and royalties from sales of the anthology are paid to individual authors on a pro-rata basis.Tokyo Yakuza™ is our brand for an upcoming board game to be released in 2015 in hard copy and digital formats. The Tokyo Yakuza™ world is a near-future dystopia and alternate history in which the Yamaguchi-gumi organized crime family starts a brutal gang war between the 5 clans in the year 2020, during the Tokyo Olympic Games. Lovers of hard-boiled crime, film noir, yakuza eiga, Japanese anime, and cyberpunk with surreal or light fantasy elements, based on Shinto and oriental mythology, will do well writing for this project." No reprints, electronic submission only, see guidelines for more details. Deadline: when filled [PBW notes: the pub date is listed on as November 13th, 2014, so I'd hustle if you're interested.]

Roar 6 has an open call for submissions: "We're looking for excellent general audience furry stories on the theme "scoundrel." Submissions should be under 12,000 words, no lower limit. If you have an excellent story, but you're not sure it fits the theme, give it a try. We can be flexible on "scoundrel," but all stories have to be furry. That means an anthropomorphic animal figure should be significantly featured in your story -- it could be anthropomorphic in body or only intelligence. We'll consider any type of furry fiction from secret life of animals to fox in Starbucks -- as long as it's excellent." Payment: "Payment will be 1/2 cent per word and one contributor's copy on publication." Query on reprints, electronic submission only, see guidelines for more details. Deadline: April 1st, 2015.

Sci-Fest 2015 has announced a short story contest: "The Los Angeles Science Fiction One-Act Play Festival is initiating a new short story writing contest for adult writers over the age of 18 called THE ROSWELL AWARD. All submissions must be short stories (not plays) and must be an original work of science fiction (not fan fiction) and be no longer than 1500 words. The contest is open to U.S. writers and writers outside the U.S. Five finalists will be chosen and their stories will be read aloud by professional actors associated with iconic Sci-Fi TV shows in a special awards ceremony to be held at the festival on May 23, 2015 at 7:00 PM (Memorial Day Weekend). The winner of THE ROSWELL AWARD FOR SHORT FICTION will receive a cash prize of $1,000.00. A brief reception will follow. All stories submitted must be typed in English and must have the contestant’s name, email address and phone number clearly typed on the title page. All entries must be submitted electronically via the website. Entries longer than 1500 words will be disqualified. Submissions can be made at Terms and conditions can be read on the website. The deadline for submissions is January 15th, 2015. Finalists will be notified by March 15th, 2015." [PBW notes: No fee for this one according to Ralan.]

Sci-Fi Romance Quarterly is open to submissions for their upcoming issue #5: "Length: 2,000 to 7,500 words. Payment: 2 cents/word (US) paid upon publication, promotional biography with two links, and a complimentary quarter-page advertisement. Rights sought: Six-month exclusive world digital rights from date of publication; non-exclusive thereafter. Other info: One short story will be published per issue. Please send only edited and polished work. Due to time constraints, we are unable to give personalized feedback on rejected stories. Stories that tie-in to a previously established world will be considered, but story must stand alone. All sub-genres of science fiction will be considered. Any heat level, from sweet to erotic, will be considered. Original, previously unpublished fiction only. No fan fiction, please. All stories must contain elements of science-fiction, include romance, and have an upbeat ending. No multiple submissions. Simultaneous submissions are accepted, but please inform us if the story is placed elsewhere." See guidelines for more details. Deadline: December 1, 2014

The Sehnsucht Project is open for submissions: "We e-publish various mediums in science fiction and fantasy, as well as poetry and non-fiction. Payment is currently via found pennies, love, publication, and byline credit until we can get the wheels cranking for funding. We are currently accepting fiction, non-fiction, reviews, blog entries and poetry, or any medium working with creative, spiritual expression. We are looking for personal spiritual experiences, whether you are an avid astral traveler, channeler, philosopher or muggle (probably have to credit that term to JK Rowling so we don’t get sued), we’re interested in hearing your voice. During 2015 we will be accepting digital film shorts and graphic art stories. It’s unfortunate to have to put in this type of disclaimer, but some folks are determined to go the distance with gratuitous sex and extreme gore and violence. This doesn’t impress us. If Harlequin, Hustler or Charles Manson would publish it, this is not your market. We publish professional, provocative material that challenges our minds and helps us contemplate our soul’s journey. And it is a GRAND journey. Don't send us garbage or regurgitations of other stories and plot lines... Don’t be derivative- this is YOUR time to shine. Please send innovative ideas, thoughtful essays and well-researched articles on relevant topics examining human life in this time of ascension and spirituality. We love razor-wire fiction, experimental, eclectic poetry and prose. Science fiction that pushes our buttons and considers new paradigms (and aliens!) will be well received. Please don’t send stories about unicorns and fairy princes, or bimbos (male, female, or otherwise) who fall for vampires, werewolves, yetis or skunk apes. Challenge yourself. Maybe the “bimbo” is actually a super intelligent, under-appreciated, walk-in who falls in love with her spirit guide. Point being, stay away from clich├ęd plot lines. Write well, write often, and write for the love of it!" Payment: Pay: 1¢/word via PayPal only; query on reprints, electronic submission only, see guidelines for more details.

WolfSinger Publications is open for submissions: "We are looking primarily for Science Fiction and Fantasy Novellas and Novels, but will consider other genres except children's and erotica. For YA - we prefer books that are geared for older teens that might also appeal to adult readers as well. We do not have an upper word count - though if you are looking at submitting novel length material we recommend you try some of the other small presses that publish novels first. Our preferred word count is 15,000 - 80,000 words. Please note that works less than 25,000 words will only be released in electronic format only, instead of both electronic and print format. We will only be publishing a maximum of 10 print titles per year. Submit the complete manuscript to Please put 'WolfSinger Submission - "the title of your submission" - your last name' in the subject. While we are primarily a royalty press, we do offer a $50.00 advance for print books, $25.00 for ebooks, and a $5.00 advance to contributors to anthologies. Once a book earns back its production costs the author will be receiving 60% of all monies earned." Query on reprints, Submissions Close: December 31st, 2014.

(Most of the above sub ops were found among the marvelous market listings over at

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Cafe Quiz

How addicted to coffee are you? Take this interesting online test and find out. My results:

I figured I'd be more of a social coffee drinker; would be another story if we were talking tea -- I probably drink at least a gallon per day of the leaf. So how much of an addict are you? Let us know in comments.

(Test link swiped from Gerard at The Presurfer)

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Such a Character

Saw this incredibly fun character chart in a bunch of life-saving diagrams over on BuzzFeed:

The floating skull -- that's what has been missing from my writing life all these years! I call dibs.

Honestly, when I saw the chart I really thought it was a brilliant approach to characterization solely because of the stick figures. Everyone can draw a stick figure, and if you wanted to illustrate your story crew something like this would be perfect (and simple enough to make.)

The chart also gives you a one-glance look at your story crew, which after five or six chapters can often be difficult to herd, much less envision all at once. The archetypal categories on the Buzzfeed chart are for fun, but you could do a serious version with the same sort of role names for your characters: the protag, the antag, the sidekick, the dark horse, the love interest, the first victim, the floating skull, etc. Okay, maybe not the skull, but you get the general idea.

The other element about this chart that is seriously awesome is that the creator was having fun with the idea. Often taking everything about our stories so seriously leads to much stress, angst, sleepless nights, wrinkles, formation of stomach ulcers etc. The chart is a good reminder to give yourself enough creative space to have fun with your characters (and everything in your story, for that matter.) Writing is very hard work, but there's no reason you can't have a good time with it, too. Based on my own experiences, I think the more you enjoy your process, the more likely you'll be to stick with your story and actually finish it -- and possibly write something that has real potential.

Related PBW links:

ABCharacter is a quick and easy way to outline any character's personality

Get your game on by designing your own Character Trading Cards

Use colors to help explore and define your characters with From Focus to Palette

How to make your own Character Art

Ten Things to Help with Creating Character Names

(Found the Buzzfeed chart via another link swiped from Gerard over at The Presurfer)

Friday, October 17, 2014


Almost ten thousand miles + over ten thousand images + five minutes = a breathtaking visual tour of Norway (with background music, for those of you at work):

NORWAY - A Time-Lapse Adventure from Rustad Media on Vimeo.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Just Write

Today I'm off to write something new and post it online before midnight. Everyone inclined to do the same is invited to join me.

My link: the completed In the Leaves novella, with the last of the new material beginning on page 37.

For more details on Just Write Thursdays, click here to go to the original post.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


The official website of National Novel Writing Month has gone live for 2014, and there are lots of changes. But before I begin grousing about get into all that, let's take a look at this year's official graphic:

I'm thinking Judy, you were right. Very vintage, chock full of fun stuff and so much more attractive than 2013. I will get all the various incarnations uploaded to my Photobucket account and post the links next week (this week Photobucket does not like me uploading, for some reason. Maybe it got fried from the air show pics.)

The good folks at the website have fiddled with the site while renovating, so expect change in your face when you go to sign in for 2014. Among other things, there's a new dashboard, graphic Girl/Boy-Scoutish "badges" you can earn by doing participatory things that do not involve camping, burning marshmallows or sleeping with the crickets (at least I hope not), and the chance to join virtual "write-ins" via something with YouTube that isn't working yet. They've also rounded up an interesting roster of pros to give pep talks, coach you and do some sort of sprinting (and Chuck Wendig will likely be the most practical/smart/fun of that bunch, so keep an eye out for him.)

Change is inspiring, and every writer can use new motivation, so I'm on board with all this. At the same time I am waxing a bit nostalgic for the good old tech-lite days of NaNo, when all we did was write and nag each other to write in chatrooms where we'd post our daily counts and wait for the occasional word war to break out. You remember, before cell phones ate the world and turned everyone into texting and instagramming zombies?

Anyway. Looks like there is much fun to be had over at the website, so do check it out when you get a chance.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Sky Masters

This past weekend my guy and I took off for a day to visit the beach and watch these daredevils:

Monday, October 13, 2014

Say It Ten

Ten Things About How to Pronounce Those Odd Names & Words I Write

Charmian: the h is silent, and the C is hard, just as it is in Chemistry, so it's KAR-mee-ahn.

Cherijo: The #1 most mispronounced name from my books; usually read out loud like the cereal (Cheerios.) The correct way to say it is CHAIR-ee-joe.

Cyprien: I've had actual arguments with people over the various ways to say this one. I pronounce it SEE-prahn.

Darkyn: I cooked up this one from a medieval reference to "dark kin" in a history book, which is probably why I pronounce it DAR-kin.

Jamys: Made this one up myself, too, although there may be an ancient equivalent out there somewhere. Most people say it as JAM-miss or JAY-miss. I pronounce it as Jshah-ME.

Kao: I coined it from the letters K and O, which is also how it's pronounced: KAY-oh.

Kyara: I borrowed this from a baby name book; it's pronounced Key-ARE-ah.

Thierry: Another silent h here -- it's pronounced Tee-AIR-ee.

Xonea: For some reason everyone thinks it's Zoh-NEE-ah; I pronounce it with the short o: Zuh-NEE-ah

and finally, about my own headache:

Viehl: It's not pronounced VALE or VILE, and it's actually two syllables, like Kal-El (you did not know I belonged to the House of El, did you?) So to be completely accurate it's pronounced VEE-el, but VEEL is perfectly acceptable.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Charting Your Colors

Writer Ingrid Sundberg has an interesting post here on some visual thesaurus charts she created to help people who have problems coming up with interesting color words.

Here's a screenshot of one of her charts:

I do something similar with my color reference notebook, although mine is less chart-worthy and more like a diary crossed with a backlist bible. I think color and how creative people describe it does tend to be very personal, so if you have your own ideas about how to create a color reference chart or book, definitely go for it. Or borrow Ingrid's and make up charts with your own descriptive word preferences.

(Article link swiped from Gerard at The Presurfer)

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Off to Not Be Here

Create a sticky note online for your blog at's sticky note generator, Superstickies (link originally swiped long ago from Gerard over at The Generator Blog.)

Friday, October 10, 2014

Welcome to the New Age

While we were on our epic road trip my daughter introduced me to Imagine Dragons, and I was surprised at how quickly the band became my favorite on our traveling playlist. When I looked for more info online about "Radioactive" (the song I most adored) I found this enchanting video that most of you have likely already seen. But hey, for the smiles and the great song it's worth another watch (music, obviously, for those of you at work):

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Just Write

Today I'm off to write something new and post it online before midnight. Everyone inclined to do the same is invited to join me.

My link: A bit more today on In the Leaves, with the new material beginning on page 31 (now it's trying to turn into a novel on me! Ha.)

For more details on Just Write Thursdays, click here to go to the original post.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

NaNo Ten

Ten Things About Joining in National Novel Writing Month

All-Encompassing Excuse: For thirty days you can answer any request made of you with, "Sorry, can't. I have to write a novel in a month."

Annoyance Factor: By doing this you will seriously, genuinely, deeply annoy all those people who think you can't, tell you why you shouldn't, don't think you should be allowed to, and/or are too afraid to try themselves. This includes every single one of those snotty pro authors who make a point to spit on NaNoWriMo participants every year.

Cover Art Creation: Books need covers, you've got that amazing photo you took on vacation last year that would work perfectly with your story, and you've never put your byline in 76 pt. font. Hours of photoshopping fun, I promise.

Facebook/Twitter Fodder: Finally, something to post besides cat memes, political rants or the usual "Watching DWTS. Checked fridge. Nothing to eat."

Font Debate Joy: For a solid month you can drive yourself crazy trying to decide on extremely important issues that are utterly integral to the success of your novel, such as Times New Roman, or Courier New?

Immediate Social Bump: When you tell ordinary people what you're doing in November, many of them will a) think it's very cool, b) wonder how the heck does anyone write a book in a month, and c) decide you're a lot more interesting than they ever imagined. To maintain this new status, politely deflect any questions on what the book is about by shaking your head and smiling mysteriously.

Nothing Ventured: You've never written a book. Want to find out if you can minus the usual decade of on-again off-again half-hearted tinkering on an idea that lost 99% of its luster during year three? Here you go.

Sex Scene Research: Really, do I even need to explain this one?

Storytelling Freedom: You can write whatever you want. Think about that: whatever you want. Sometimes that liberty turns out something very special -- like Harry's Charm, the novel I wrote during NaNoWriMo 2009, which went on to become Disenchanted & Co.

Writing Life: For a month you not only get to have one, you get the extreme, deadline-pressurized, all-out word war version. Or you could abstain so you can concentrate on the important things in your non-writing life, like eating too much turkey, watching too much television, hauling down the boxes of holiday decorations from the attic, raking leaves, and standing in line for twelve hours the night before Black Friday for a sale-priced game system you really don't need. Me? I'm going for door #1.

What do you love about joining in NaNoWriMo? Let us know in comments.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014


The winner of the #576 giveaway is:

Battlekitty (aka Tami), who wrote:

I inherited some antique furniture from my great-grandmother and her sister, my great-great aunt. Two wonderful ladies, who after their husband died, moved in with each other. Even after they had to be put into nursing care, they lived in a room together. Anyway, my great-grandmother left us first, then a few years later, my aunt. My father went to North Carolina and began to clean out the old brownstone that was still owned, but vacant. Had lots of furniture still in it. I chose a desk made by handmade by their father, my great-great grandfather. Several draws and the top folds down and lots of nooks and crannies for papers. In one of the small drawers, I found an old bank register from the 1920's, prior to the big crash. It was my aunt's and she had beautiful writing. I also found an old business letter and the way words were used almost 100 years ago is so different and formal than our way of writing and speaking now. Truly a neat find for me and a surprise for my dad when I showed him what I found. I also got a few other pieces of furniture and a Lane cedar Hope Chest with the tags still on it from World War II era! It even talks about buying war bonds! I love history.

Personal history mysteries are wonderful, aren't they? Thanks for sharing your story (and same goes for all of you who posted your own discoveries.)

Tami, when you have a chance please send your ship-to address along with the title of which of my books you'd like, and I'll get that and #576 in the mail to you (and if you want to tell us what you find inside the box, it would be icing on the cake! Ha.) My thanks to everyone for joining in.

Monday, October 06, 2014

Dollar Ten

Ten Things I Found at The Dollar Store

1.  Set of ten 3-ring binder tab dividers.

2.  Three double-ended highlighters.

3.  Plastic flapped document wallet.

4.  Plastic 3-ring binder zippered envelope.

5.  Roll of 1.88" X 400" 3M carton sealing tape.

6.  Spiral bound 5.5" X 4" 180 page pocket notebook.

7.  Six count 9" X 12" clasp brown envelopes.

8. & 9.  Hardcover bestsellers.

10.  240 inkjet white mailing labels.

All of the above items were purchased at Dollar Tree on 9/29/14.

Sunday, October 05, 2014


Now that I can see well enough to read things, I'm catching up on some on-hold projects, such as sorting out and deciding what to do with the leftover ATCs from my 1000 Cards Project. I gave away about half of the cards at our MegaCon booth back in March, but I still have to do something with the other 500.

While dividing the remainder into what I want to keep, and what I'll part with, I did find one ATC I'd completely forgotten about:

This little white box is tied with metallic green cord to card #576, which is titled "Every day is a gift -- here's one for you." I made it on 9/12/2012, and wrote two project categories on the back: Jewelry (#2) and Found around the House (#68).

So what's inside? I don't know. I can't remember what I made to put in the box.

There is something in there, however; when I shake it I can hear chain rattling. I also checked my personal journal from that particular month, and while I don't mention exactly what I made for #576, I did write that I was working on some steampunk ideas. Knowing me it's probably a pendant or bracelet of some sort, fashioned from something I found around the house and upcycled. I don't want to open the box and sneak a peak because I really did make it to be opened by someone else.

Would you like to be that person? In comments to this post, name something forgotten or mysterious that you've found in the past (or if there are no mysteries in your life, just throw your name in the hat) by midnight EST on Monday, October 6th, 2014. I'll choose one name at random from everyone who participates, and send the winner #576 along with a signed copy of any book I've written that is still in print. This giveaway is open to everyone on the planet, even if you've won something at PBW in the past.

Saturday, October 04, 2014


For those of you who are competitive, and like to write on the fly, and want to get feedback, here's an interesting contest for spec fic and general fiction: "WYRM’s Gauntlet features a new writing or reviewing challenge every round. All are invited to enter the first round (until the deadline hits, or we are filled), 8 will move on to the second, 5 to the third, and just 3 to the final round. As you advance through the Gauntlet, fewer and fewer challengers will remain, so judging must become shrewder. Challenges are not announced in advance, but as a new round opens. So pay attention." Length: no limit, Fee: none. According to Ralan, the prizes are: "1st=$150; 2nd=$75; 3rd=$50, +in-depth critique for all 3." No reprints, electronic submissions only, do read the contest rules because they're extensive. Opens October 4th, 2014; Deadline: October 18th, 2014.

Friday, October 03, 2014

Sight Seeing

Here's a lovely little film with artful glimpses of various people and places in Japan (with background music, for those of you at work):

Our Japan from Marc Ambuehl on Vimeo.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Just Write

Today I'm off to write something new and post it online before midnight. Everyone inclined to do the same is invited to join me.

My link: Bad weather seems to be waiting for me every Thursday! I also had a partial document meltdown, so I had to recover and reformat the whole story. Despite these troubles, I did get a few more pages written today for In the Leaves, with the new material beginning on page 27.

For more details on Just Write Thursdays, click here to go to the original post.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

A Month Away

In four weeks National Novel Writing Month begins, and writers around the world will begin work on their novels. To win NaNoWriMo you must write at least 50,000 words in thirty days, and some folks make a competition out of who can get it done fastest, but there are no prizes for speed, and the only person you really compete with is yourself. There are no educational or experience requirements involved, so anyone can join in. Also, you don't have to write every day; no one tells you what to write and you don't even have to tell anyone that you're participating if you don't want. All of this makes NaNoWriMo the most user-friendly writing event on the planet.

Later on in the month I'll write up some pep talks, resource lists, idea discussions and the usual PBW/NaNo pom pom posts, but this week I just wanted to have some fun. So I pulled some of my summer vacation pics to make up some new NaNoWriMo blog badges (and click on any of the three to go to a larger version on Photobucket):

If you want to use any or all of my 2014 badges, please do -- or have some fun and make up your own.