Thursday, June 30, 2016

PBW's Book of the Month

My pick for June's book of the month is Dreadnought And Shuttle by LJ Cohen, which continues her Halcyone Space series with more edgy adventure in the far future.

There is a lot to love about this novel, including a rescue mission that had me glued to the pages, but I think this installment also showed some particularly wonderful character development. Halcyone's young crew have had to do a lot of growing up as they cope with some hefty issues, and I'm beginning to see the adults they're going to be.

Ro is (slowly) getting her prickly anti-social kneejerk impulses under control, and Barre has finally found where he fits in without having to change who he is. Jem is still having brain problems, but there's some light at the end of the tunnel now. I also really loved Micah and his storyline, as I think he's one of the most intriguing guys in the series. Robert Frost would have said Micah has far to go before he sleeps. We're also introduced to a new character named Dev, who I hope will remain part of the series because she has some mad survival skills. Seriously, we need this gal on the ship, LJ.

I've loved this universe since I read the first book two years ago, and the sequel was just as cool. This is the kind of science fiction I grew up reading, with characters you felt were like real friends, who would take you through galactic playgrounds where anything might happen. It gives me hope, too, that someday maybe the color of our skin and the shape of our eyes or who we fall in love with won't be judged by the nimrods. I know, but hey, a girl can dream -- and that's what these books are filled with, too. It's what makes them such a pleasure to read.

I highly recommend Dreadnought and Shuttle by LJ Cohen as an excellent addition to anyone's SF shelves.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Off Again

I'm taking off today to get another project finished. See you tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

No Sabotage Ten

Ten Ways Not to Sabotage Your Writing Time

Calm: The best mood to be in when you do any work is calm and focused, so get yourself to that state before you begin work. I do this daily with morning meditations, and I also have a mental ritual I do before every writing session to dispense with distracting feelings. Think of it as clocking in to your writing job.

Check Weather: If you live in an area like I do with unruly weather, check the daily forecast. I use to look at the radar map and see if there's any time I might have to stop writing due to thunderstorms.

Clear Out the Cobwebs: If you're thinking about something else while you're writing, you're fighting a mental war on two fronts. End the battle by clearing your mind of everything except what serves your story. I do this by journaling, so I can get all those other, non-writing thoughts out of my head before I begin work.

Comfortable Outfit: I am amazed at all these writers who say they work in three-piece suits, full make-up, etc. If that works for you okay, but personally I work better when I'm dressed comfortably. My standard writing uniform is a large T-shirt, leggings, and soft socks. I put my hair up to keep it out of my face. Occasionally I wear some of my old scrubs, too.

Electronics Off: If you can't stay off your smart phone, shut it off and put it out of reach. Same goes for the television, stereo, e-book reader, video games and any other distracting electronic device. This is your work time; use only the computer on which you're writing (exception: if listening to music helps you write better, turn on the stereo -- but try to keep it low.) Also, stay off the internet.

Goal Set: Have a clear idea of your writing goal for the day. You can go with a wordcount or number of pages. Time also works -- such as committing to writing for two hours (and take breaks!)

Healthy Snack: Working while you're hungry can be distracting and make you cranky, so have a light, healthy snack. A banana or an apple always does the trick for me.

Hydrate: One of the healthy habits I've gotten into is drinking a glass of water before I start writing. There are two reasons for this -- it keeps me from wanting to make some hot tea while I write (making it is the distraction), and it forces me to get up and take a bathroom break after about an hour.

Physical Therapy: Limbering up before you sit down at the computer can make you feel better, increase blood flow and help your overall health. I do my stretches, which are simplified yoga moves, for a few minutes before I begin writing. I also do stretches on my writing breaks. For those of you who are in better shape, here's a ten minute workout for desk workers.

Save Everything: Before you start writing, back up your previous work on a memory stick or other autonomous spot. Also make a mental note to continue to save your work at the bottom of every new page you write. It's a good habit to get into, and if anything goes wrong during your writing session, you won't lose anything.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Sub Op

Fuzzy Hedgehog Press has an open call here for their upcoming Beyond the Hedge Volume 2: Chimeras and Phantasms antho: "The theme of Beyond the Hedge Volume 2 is “Chimeras and Phantasms.” What is the difference between dream and delusion, and how does reality differ from either of those? Are our flights of imagination wondrous or sinister? Show us visions of the past that rock the present. Show us visions of the future that reshape our perception of the modern world. Show us that “reality” itself is suspect. Show us your imagination’s strangest chimeras and most mesmerizing phantasms.

Specific Guidelines:

SUBMISSIONS OPEN ON JULY 1, 2016. You may submit before this date, but we will not be reading submissions until July 1. Submissions will close on November 30, 2016 or when filled.
Follow all of the general guidelines above.
Submissions must be 1,500 to 10,000 words in length.
The overarching theme of your story should fit with the theme of the anthology described above.
Use the following format for the subject line of your email: “Beyond the Hedge Submission: [Title of Work] by [Full Author Name]”.
We do accept multiple submissions, but please no more than three submissions per author.
Submissions will be read in the order they are received."

Payment according to is "$20 +3 copies"; no reprints, electronic submissions only, see guidelines for more details.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Off to Write

I'm unplugging today to finish up a project for one of my clients, so there will be no Just Write today. See you tomorrow.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Head Go Boom

I'm sure you all remember that post I wrote when a reviewer on GoodReads gave a possibly psychic review for Forget-Me-Knot, a novella I never wrote. The listing is still up (click here to see the idiocy) and currently has 16 ratings and three reviews. For a story I never wrote. Sigh.

Funny, right? I've tried to be a good sport about it, too. Until yesterday, when I got a very real, serious offer from a European publisher for the translation and publication rights for Forget-Me-Knot.

I thought exposing the fake reviews would shame the host site into taking down the phony listing. Hasn't happened in the two years since I wrote that post. So now I have to persuade the pinheads at this site to take down the listing for real. They wouldn't take down my blog content even after they agreed to, so I'm not especially optimistic.

Any advice from you Goodreads-savvy folks out there?

Updated: My thanks to those who offered helpful advice. Due to the large volume of trolls who have been trying to use my blog to vent their spleens, I'm now shutting down comments. For more information on my comments policies, please see the About PBW page on the sidebar.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Journal as Dress

To wrap up journaling week, here's a video showing how Ruth Rae journaled in a very unusual way by stitching poems on fabric, and making it into a dress. I love that she hid some of her journaling in the inside of the garment, too (background music):

red thread journal dress from ruth rae on Vimeo.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Journal as Whatever Works for You

My seventh and final journal entry to be posted online is uplodaded (click here to view the .pdf) and it definitely demonstrates how obsessed I am with sewing this year. As July grows closer I'm bubbling over with ideas on what to do during my for-fun sewing month. I also hang onto my patience for the delivery of Anne Frasier's newest release, The Body Reader, confess to my secret affection for squirrels and talk a little about what this experience has been like for me. I'll have a lot more to say about that when I don't have to post online what I write in my journal.

It won't be negative. It's true that I am a pretty private person, and it's always a challenge for me to open up to anyone outside my immediate family. That said, this was a positive experience, and not just because of the absence of spitting pinheads. I went through a brief but pretty ugly crisis, and kept my cool. I came up with some fun ideas for my summer projects. I celebrated very ordinary things that are special to me. My journal is the paper version of the everday me, sloppy hand writing, silly sketches and spelling mistakes included. I don't have to be the pro writer or PBW or anyone else in my journals. You can't believe how relaxing that is when you have that for yourself.

I know I won't convince everyone to start journaling, but I hope some of you will give it a go. No matter where you are in your life, a journal can be a companion to your experiences. It can preserve some of who you are for future generations. It can be your secret art studio, idea library, and writing work desk. Or it can be a place where you can sort out your feelings, focus on things that enrich you, and dispense with what you don't need in your heart or your life. Your journal can be whatever you like, and that's the real beauty of journaling. You tailor it to whatever works for you.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Journal as Edition

Got the latest journal entry scanned and uploaded (click here to view the .pdf) which talks about work, my weight-loss project, birds, poetry writing and an attempt to grow some lychee seeds. I also have some shots of that spring we visited on Father's Day, and a very bare bones sketch of a quilt I want to make out of vintage fabric.

Making a cover for your journal can be as easy or as challenging as you want it to be. I make or remake a lot of my covers because it's fun, and it adds another personal touch to my journals. Often I buy discounted journals with battered or tattered covers specifically for the purpose of recovering them; I not only use them but I often give them as gifts to family and friends who journal.

Here's a purchased journal from 2011 that I embellished with some interesting ephemera and a scattering of flat-backed crystals:

My friend Kathy Uhrig from Strange Notions made this journal, which she recycled from an antique composition book. I love how she used lace as well as paper elements for the cover:

I found this quilted journal slip cover at the annual county quilt show:

Earlier this year I showed you how I covered a composition book with a wallpaper remnant, which is about the easiest way to recover a journal. I've also made journals with unique covers, like this watercolor journal with a mini wool penny rug as a cover. If you sew, here's how I make quilted journal covers.

I also invest in covers made by others, especially when I want to give a journal as a gift. My favorite journal cover artist is Sonya Benson, who has a lovely variety in her Etsy shop SonyaBensonQuilts. Here's one of her beautifully crafted quilted journal covers:

The listing for this cover is here, so you can see the inside and how well-made it is. When I want to give a writer friend a special journal I usually buy one of Sonya's covers, as they're always perfectly sewn and quilted, and fit precisely. I also like the fabrics and colors she works with to make her covers.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Journal as Art

The journal entry I wrote yesterday is online (click here to view the .pdf.) The first page is a bit blurry as my journal is bulking up a lot; a thick journal is tough to scan. You can hear a bit about Father's Day with my guy, a request from a friend, a pic of my progress on the black and white market bag and some art experiments.

I definitely put a lot of artwork in my journals. It's a private place where I can express myself without the stress of having anyone else look at my little sketches, paintings and sewing projects. My writing is very public, and I am happy to share it (kind of the point) but my art is quite personal and off-limits. This is how I relax and work on artistic ideas that are just for me. Generally I am not interested in showing it off, getting feedback or inviting anyone else to participate in the process. I know how selfish that sounds, but I need this so I can recharge my batteries, maintain my sense of wonder and have something completely safe from the pinheads of the world. I've found that's really important in my creative life.

We have very little privacy anymore. If we're not being barraged by the internet and social media, we're being pestered on smart phones (well, okay, you guys are. I don't own one.) Advertising is constantly in our face. I can't even watch the weather channel for forecasts anymore because they turn everything into a natural disaster of epic proportions in between commercials for weather-proofing products. A journal is one of those rare places where we can actually have some time, space and peace to think for ourselves.

Unless you have no soul there are things in your heart you want to explore creatively, but you're afraid to, or you don't think they're important enough, or you don't want anyone else to see them. A journal can be a secure vault for these ideas. It can also preserve them for the future. You've seen the sketches I've done in my entries. This week I had enough time to work on them a little, but if I hadn't I could have gone back to the journal. You may also want to let your art percolate a bit more, or refine the idea, before you try it in real life. Think of your journal is your secret art studio, and I bet you'll start filling it with all kinds of amazing creations.

To give you more ideas, here are some pages from a journal I wrote back in 2009 with examples of journaling art:

This seashell construct eventually made its way in my novel Dream Called Time.

A character sketch, and a reminder to myself to get going with the writing. Cheetahs often show up in my journals.

A pretty picture I cut from a magazine, celebrating my love of the color green.

Two little watercolors that I painted just for me.

Tomorrow we'll talk about ways to make interesting covers for your journals.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Journal as Protection

I forgot Just Write and Father's Day were already scheduled for this weekend, so I owe you all three more days of my open journal posts. It was actually a good thing that I had to skip a few days, as I had to deal with some things that I would rather not describe on the internet. Dealing with them would have been much harder if not for my journal. I worked out all my anger issues in the privacy of my pages (which is why they won't be scanned and posted online. After I wrote them, I tore them out and burned them in the fire pit, just as I advocate that everyone do when they write things they never want read by anyone else.) I can now get on with my family and my work and my summer.

I did make this quilted slip cover for my journal over the weekend that will protect the original moleskine art and remind me of what's important with my journaling: for one thing, not to write so many pages that I have to burn later. The colors of the Japanese yukata fabric I used for the cover were chosen deliberately to invoke mindfulness over negative emotion. By physically protecting my journal I'm symbolically protecting both myself and my writing.

I want my journals to represent me. Beauty, love, and creative, like-minded souls are welcome in my life. Ugliness, hatred, and toxic people have no place here. That's another reason I burn pages I don't want anyone to read. That's not who I am. They don't belong in my journals.

Your journal can be very powerful for others as well, and help you from becoming toxic to the people in your life. I finally told my daughter what was going on that produced those burned pages, but only after I had worked out my anger, dealt with the problem and, most importantly, calmed down enough to talk about it without anger or hurt. My family is already furious about this situation, and they don't need it in their lives any more than I do. My journal gave me the opportunity to vent safely and privately, and that comforted me so my daughter didn't have to later. In that sense, my journal protected her. If everyone could write down their anger issues and leave them in their journals (or better yet, burn them) the world would be a much better place.

At present I'm catching up with all the work that was derailed by my temporary crisis, but stop by tomorrow for another look inside my journal, and I'll show you how yours can be a work of art and heart.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Wishing You

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Just Write

I have family plans for tomorrow, so I'm going to move Just Write to today, and write something new and post it online before midnight. Everyone inclined to do the same is invited to join me.

My link: More on Twenty-One (click on the title to go to the .pdf), with new material beginning on page 114.

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

Friday, June 17, 2016

Journal as Bullet List Central

Yesterday's journal entry is online (click here to view the .pdf), and it begins with a miniature I made of my office organizer idea (which didn't scan well, so I snapped a pic to go with this post.) Before I commit a lot of fabric to any project I usually make a little practice version to test out placement, materials and so forth. I'm going to replace the actual miniature in my journal with a printout of the photo, some fabric swatches and measurements once I have time to do all that. Going to the city ate up a lot of my time.

Since Father's Day is on the horizon I also talked about my dad, and while I got a little teary I think I'm finally coming to terms with losing him. Cooking helps a lot; he's always in my kitchen in spirit, I think. Regarding my blues, we always say "He wouldn't want you to be unhappy" as a comfort thing, but until this year I really didn't think about how much Dad would hate me feeling miserable about his passing. So while I was in the city I channeled him, found a neat gift plus a cute card for the father of my kids, and felt better for it.

I meant to write bullet lists in my journal to illustrate today's post, but that's the thing about journals -- you write what you need to write on that day, and I needed to talk about Dad. While I do try to stay upbeat, I don't always succeed. There are no journal police; you can write whatever you like on your pages. If it's something you don't want to save, rip them out and trash or burn them. But just getting those thoughts down in my journal was calming and cleansing. Now I can enjoy my weekend with my kids' dad and not have to carry around the sadness over my father while I do.

Fortunately I do have some lovely examples to show you -- these are from my daughter's journal, which she graciously allowed me to scan to share with you:

A bullet journal, which is best described as a running to-do list that helps keep her organized with work, school, events, etc., can be a neat alternative to traditional journaling. This approach is very popular among young people like my daughter who journal. I admire her illustrations, and the little motivational notes she writes to herself -- those make the pages fun. She also has an interesting way of tracking her health goals, such as drawing glasses or apples and then coloring them in as she drinks water or eats some fruit. Since she's very organized (sometimes even more so than me) I'd say it works.

This speedy, interesting video explains the bare bones of how a traditional bullet journal works (narrated):

Bullet Journal from Ryder on Vimeo.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Journal as Playground

My latest journal entry is online (click here to view the .pdf), and contains a celebration page for a sewing project I started back in April and finished yesterday, a bit of whining about the challenges of cooking when I don't know who I'm feeding, a sketch of an idea for a hanging office organizer, more work pages on setting ideas for my next freelance series project, and work & fun to-do lists.

Journals can be playgrounds for endless ideas. Some of my best story ideas begin as sketches or pictures or random thoughts I jot down to get them out of my head. When I use a picture I find online, I also add the URL with it so I can go back and find it again -- this is important if you don't want to print out 37 pictures of an interior, or a character model. Saving the best pic, and then going back later to the URL to look at the rest while you're writing, saves wear and tear on your printer, too.

Playing with ideas in your journal isn't limited to your writing work. As an idea starter one of my Etsy sellers sent me a photo of an organizer project she made, and I sketched an adaptation of it that I'm going to make for my home office. Now that I've finished my rather complicated tote project I also wrote up a list of fun things I can do in my spare time this week. Making time to have fun isn't the problem; deciding on what to do with it is. Having a list handy of stuff I want to do helps me not waste it.

You may notice that a lot of my notes on my setting ideas pages don't make much sense. They do, but only to me -- I use my own shorthand for what I'm thinking about work stuff; all I need are a couple words to nudge the right thought when I look at it again in the near future. It also makes idea play more efficient because I'm not writing out everything in dense paragraphs which, let's face it, are boring to read. When you write in a journal regularly you're almost guaranteed to develop a personal shorthand of your own.

Image Credit:

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Journal as Keeper

Yesterday's journal entry is online (click here to view the .pdf), and includes random thoughts, some photos, a to-do list, a setting question worksheet and a recipe I want to try this week.

A daily journal makes a great place in which to keep stuff other than your writing and ramblings. I use mine to store letters, cards, news articles, recipes and interesting photos. Those other-than-writing things aren't just ephemera; they chronicle my life and times. You may not think a turkey and onion quesadilla is a big deal now, but imagine being able to look at what people liked for lunch in Renaissance Venice, or Pompeii right before Vesuvius blew. It's true that you might not become the next Samuel Pepys, but think about your future family. The record of your meals and thoughts and life could be very interesting to the great-great grandkid you never get to meet. I'd love to know what my great-Gran lived on back in her days nursing troops during the Civil War.

If you regard your journal as an archive as well as a place to write, you'll find yourself preserving things that may also be important to you later on in life. Settling arguments is one of the big pluses of this journaling habit; no one ever argues with me on dates or events important to the family because I have a written record of all of them I can produce on demand. While writing my YA books, I often reread the journals I wrote in high school to get back in touch with my younger self. It's easy to remember the big things about being in high school, but the day-to-day gets fuzzier with age. Also, it's easy to forget how different one's mindset is at fifteen versus fifty-four.

My journals are great helps with work as well. I've promised myself to keep learning about writing no matter how old I get or how many books I write. If you don't keep trying to improve your craft, you get lazy, complacent, and/or stagnate. The setting worksheet is a personal kick in the butt to keep refining the way I write setting, and what questions I might ask myself when I do. I actually have to work very hard on setting because it's one of my weakest points as a writer. This will give me a lot to think about while I'm world-building this week.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Journal as Planner

I've posted the first entry into my new journal online (click here to view the .pdf), and it's pretty standard for a Monday. I have one basic sketch and a couple of lists, and I talk about home life and work. I did write four more pages in addition to what I've posted, but those I left out because they cover topics and opinions that I prefer to keep private.

A journal is a great place to figure out things and plan for the week ahead. It may seem mundane to write a list about what to make for dinner, but I needed to go shopping today, and I wanted to sort out some possible menus before I hit the market. Also, I think a lot about seasonal foods (peaches!), my family's likes and dislikes, and what I can make that will be different than what I made last week. As hot as it's been, I'm sticking to simple, cool, and light for dinner.

There's a to-do list in this entry, and that's also a journaling habit of mine when I have a lot of tasks to accomplish. I got all my writing work done, most of the housework and even some sewing last night. The laundry is still in progress, but then, it usually is. By prioritizing my tasks I was able to keep to my work schedule and not ignore the house; when I take breaks from writing I do my chores. When I'm really busy with work, or have a lot of little tasks to do, I'll go back to the journal and check off things as I finish them so I know where I am with getting things done.

No journal has to restricted only to great philosophical revelations, or outpourings of personal torment. I do have the occasional temper tantrum now and then in mine, but I mainly try to stay focused on being creative with my work and life. What I do now may or may not be of interest to someone in the future, but that's not the reason I journal. This is the only time I write for myself instead of someone else, and it's relaxing. I like to have conversations with myself in my journals, and work out my problems, and find things to appreciate in every new day.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Inside a Journal Week

This is my journal for this week. While I've shown you lots of my journals over the years, and talked a bit about what I write in them, I've never actually put one of my journals online for others to read. Since I'm all about coaxing others to write in journals, I thought I might share this one for the next seven days.

The journal is part of a set I purchased from Writer's Bloc. It's a Moleskine, 8-1/2" X 11", with 96 lined pages. The cover art is by Ricardo Cabral, and has this quote on it: "I must create a system or be enslaved by another man's. I will not reason and compare; my business is to create. -- William Blake" I'm sending the other journal that came in the set to a friend today; giving journals to people is another thing I do to be pesky.

I generally don't plan what I write or put in any journal. I think that defeats the purpose, and often creates the temptation to make the journal artful or show oneself in a positive or sympathetic light. Aka all those art journalists out there who decoupage their pages with a single encouraging word, Scrabble tiles and unfocused wildflower pics on tinted gesso to which they've applied a Brillo pad or bubblewrap dipped in poster paint. It won't be that kind of journal, trust me. I'm not interested in tarting up myself or my thoughts for anyone's approval. That said, since I'm posting this one online I will probably keep it G-rated for the sake of any kids who might have a look.

I think it's always fun to start a new journal. The pages are pristine, the possibilities of what to fill them with are endless, and it gives me a place to take breaks from work and spend a little time playing with words and images, recording things about my life and enjoying the day. For me a journal is a companion, not an assignment or homework.

Since I like the cover art I may make a quilted cover for this one; I haven't decided that yet, either. What I am going to do now is go and start it. Each day I'll scan the pages I complete and post a link to the .pdf I make from them at the bottom of each post. When the journal is finished I'll also put them together in a free e-book and add it to the freebies and free reads page.

Here we go!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

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: More on Twenty-One (click on the title to go to the .pdf), with new material beginning on page 110.

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

Image credit: My kid. :)

Saturday, June 11, 2016

The Brotherhood

As always I reserve the right to make fun of anyone who SPAMs me, even when it's a secret society:

Are you a business man?


Business woman ?





No, thank you.


I have one of my own, thanks.

Etc...And you want to become Big and Rich, Protections and Powerful, famous, Promoting your Job office position and make your company product the most popular and best seller in the world, join us to become one of our official [kindness duct tape] brotherhood member today and you shall be given a chance to visit the [kindness duct tape] initiation center and his representative after registrations are completed by you,

I want to become smaller, actually. Did you know I've lost 26 lbs. since January? And I didn't join a church or anything. I thought brotherhoods were for men. Is English like your third or fourth language?

[kindness duct tape] brotherhood brings along wealth and famous in life, you have a full access to eradicate poverty away from your life now.

You ran this through Babel Fish, didn't you? Dude, stick a crowbar in the church donation box and hire a translator. Seriously.

It is only a member who has been initiated into the church of [kindness duct tape] that have the authority to bring any member to the church, so the [kindness duct tape] initiation for this year new members is available now Join us today and realize your dreams.

So this is like a pyramid thing, then. I become a member, and I bring another member, and then he brings another, and we all gather in your church and . . . initiate each other? Wait, are there like virgins involved in this?

Once you become a member you will be Rich true whatever you are doing on this planet as your occupation more ideals will be giving to you and protected and as an actor or actress Politicians you will be famous and powerful for the rest of your life, the [kindness duct tape] makes they members happy so

Okay, this is really starting to sound like a blackmail porn church.

Join and be one of the successful Person on earth

What about Mars? I'm thinking of going on one of those volunteer missions. Kidding. I read Ray Bradbury; I'd never willingly go to Mars.

if you are interested fill the form below to the below email address to enable the [kindness duct tape] registration department process your membership and an invitation for the initiation will be send to you wherever you are in any part of the World.

Send it to Mars. Better yet, take it to Mars.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Asian Pearl

Take a three-minute tour of the city of Hong Kong with this delightful video (background music):

7 Days in Hong Kong from Xavier on Vimeo.

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Off Again

I'm unplugging today to get some work done and clean up after Tropical Storm Colin. See you tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016


Here's a writing contest that might save the world someday: "FutureScapes is an annual writing competition that asks writers to envision a particular sort of world, and tell us a story about it. We could run projections and publish reports, but there’s a reason why Wilde didn’t say, “Life imitates empirical studies.” We want to help writers of excellent potential find their voice while shaping tomorrow.

In particular, FutureScapes seeks:

-Works of short fiction up to 8,000 words, written in accordance with this year’s prompt.

-Compelling stories that explore the nuance of technology, science, politics, and/or policy, without forgetting about plot and character!

-Stories that show us both the positives and negatives of this possible future.

-Stories that can provide a road-map for cities, states, and nations to follow.

-Stories that may be built in a rich and full world, but that manage to show us the reality of a single city, neighborhood, and/or life.

-Stories worthy of the $2,000 prize for first place, $1,000 prize for second place, and $500 prize to each of the four runners-up.

-Stories that, when placed in the hands of a mayor or governor, could change the course of the future.

That’s FutureScapes.

Please read the full rules and resources pages for further details. Deadline is July 15, 2016. Good luck, and happy writing!"

No fee involved in this one. For more information, see the guidelines page.

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Sub Op

I spotted this op over in the Paying Markets Forum at Absolute Write: "We need experienced, published fiction writers to share their wisdom about writing fiction in the form of articles. Each article should be 600-800 words, and accompanied by an exercise that will help master the material. We prefer how-to articles over theoretical ones, and we love articles that make their point with vivid examples.

Accepted articles will be properly attributed with your headshot, short bio, and links of your choosing (not including affiliate links). You will be paid $50 per article via PayPal. We buy first and exclusive digital rights. You retain all print rights."

For more information, see the guidelines page here.

Monday, June 06, 2016

Dinner with Edward

I have to say first that my latest ARC to arrive from Library Thing's Early Reviewers program, Dinner with Edward by Isabel Vincent, exceeded my expectations in some ways. In others, it pole-vaulted over them. I give it my highest praise for a book that celebrates food, friendship and family: my New Yorker Father, the chef, would have loved this story.

About that: Dinner with Edward is not a novel but a memoir, so the female main character is also the author. I didn't realize this fact until after I finished the story and did a little research. Until that point a part of me wondered if it was even plausible that a middle-aged journalist whose marriage was falling to pieces would befriend a nonagenarian mourning the recent loss of his ninety-five year-old wife. Unless Ms. Vincent is lying through her teeth, it seems that it is.

If you adore stories of New York, this book will give you plenty to add to your mental library of love. Same goes for you foodies out there; every chapter is headed by a menu almost guaranteed to make you drool. The descriptions of the meals are so well-written that you'll get hungrier with every page. What I enjoyed most were the two main characters, and how they helped each other through their grief simply by having dinner together and talking about life, love, and of course loss. I did wish that the author had made the female main character something other than a journalist, because I never met a journalist I didn't want to slap in the back of the head (remember, I thought it was a novel) but now that I know it's actually her job, I won't smack her.

Readers should also prepare for some sadness, especially when Edward talks about the wife he lost. I also had some rough moments when Isabel provided certain details on her disintegrating marriage. It's tough for me to find death or divorce entertaining. That said, it was important for my perception of the characters to know those grim moments, as it magnified the hope and pleasure they gave to each other through their friendship. I think if only we could all know someone like Edward, or Isabel, life wouldn't suck quite so much at times.

Sunday, June 05, 2016

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: More on Twenty-One (click on the title to go to the .pdf), with new material beginning on page 105.

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

Image credit: My kid. :)

Saturday, June 04, 2016

Sub Op

Rune Wright has an open call for their upcoming steampunk antho: "This is a call for submissions for the next installment of the Penny Dread Tales series. The deadline for submissions is July 25th, 2016, and we’re shooting for a publication date of December, 2016.

The theme for this volume of steampunk short fiction is heroism and heroes. The story length can be anything from 1,000 to 10,000 words. We’re still pretty small, so it’s a token payment proposition, with a free copy for each accepted story. Also, contributors can get author copies for 10% over cost plus shipping, which gives you a good option for selling copies at your own events and making some money."

Payment (according to $5.00 - $10.00, query on reprints, electronic submissions only. See guidelines for more details.

Friday, June 03, 2016

The Math of Making

When you see someone use their hands to create something it feels exactly like this lovely little video (background music):

The Art of Making, Geometry from Deep Green Sea on Vimeo.

Thursday, June 02, 2016

Trying New Things

In between projects for the clients I've been experimenting with some different vintage fabrics and making them into neat stuff. One came out rather extra-neat:

This piece of chenille is in one of my favorite shades of peachy orange, but I wasn't quite sure what to do with it. I've never actually worked with chenille before this piece arrived in an inspiration bundle I bought to challenge myself.

I kept looking at the spaces between the fluff, and thought right out of the blue: why not feather stitch them?

So I did, in a very random, free-form way. Lots of feather stitches. It was also great practice for me as my hand-stitching has been a bit sloppy lately.

The end result came out better than I expected, and since I've never seen anyone else do this with chenille, I felt quite inventive.

Moral of the story: don't be afraid to try something you've never seen done. You may end up with a cool pillow, or maybe something even better.

Wednesday, June 01, 2016


Today is the release day for Dreadnought And Shuttle by LJ Cohen, which is the third novel in her Halcyone Space series. Since being introduced to this universe two years ago, and then being blown away by the sequel, I admit, I've been a little impatient for the third installment. I've also been trying to think up ways to get my next Halcyone fix before summer 2017, so in honor of this latest release I put together:

Ten Things We Can Do to Make LJ Cohen Write Faster

Ask Her -- If we get my Mom to make the call then she'll have no choice (I never do.)

Bribes -- Bake huge batches of LJ's favorite cookies, e-mail photographs of them to her and casually mention how we might be in her neighborhood next week and could drop them off . . . if she finishes a couple chapters.

Dr. Who Her -- I know LJ is a huge fan of Dr. Who, and I'm not above stealing a Mark 1 Type 40 Tardis from a comicon convention and using it to bounce her through time until she hands over book four. We should get that busted chameleon circuit fixed first, though.

Family Enlistment -- Secretly contact her family and persuade them to accidentally on purpose lock her in the computer room a couple times a week.

Guilt Tripping -- mention whenever LJ stops by comments how we don't have anything good to read, how much crappy SF there is out there, and how nice it is that she has so much free time on her hands to comment on blogs.

Meme Her -- Start an internet viral trend by posting pictures of ourselves doing boring, tedious things like laundry while we grumble that we'd much rather be reading book four. Like the sad Keanu Reeves sandwich thing, only more heart-wrenching.

Phone Constantly -- If enough of us do, then she'll have to unplug the phone and that will help her concentrate on writing instead of talking on the phone. We could pretend to be telemarketers to be extra annoying.

Pity Partying -- pretend to have a discussion at least once a month about the books, but mostly whine about how much we want the next one.

Weep A Lot -- Easy to do on command if you just think about the ending of The Notebook, or Gladiator. Wait, I think we'll need web cams for this one.

Write Letters -- A campaign of snail mail might do the trick. At the very least her postal carrier will start giving her the stink eye every day.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a book to read. Maybe if I just read one page a day . . . . no, it's like potato chips. I can never stop at just one.