Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Dear New Novelist: No One's Going to Steal Your WIP

Dear New Novelist,

Congratulations! You've hit your 50k on NaNoWriMo, or maybe you've put THE END on your novel. Either way, you've got a lot of words. You've worked hard on them, through easy bursts and head-bangingly difficult blocks. They're all yours. Now what? Well, you have a few options: if you're doing NaNoWriMo or Camp, it's time to validate; you can send it to some beta readers; or if you've done your editing already, time to submit it to publishers or agents.

"But wait!" you say, clutching your novel to your chest. "How can I possibly do that? What if someone tries to steal it?!"

Dear New Novelist, no one is going to steal your unedited, unpublished work.

Every year during NaNo, numerous newbies panic over validation or using the official word counter. "Who's doing the counting? Where is my novel stored so that it can be counted? What's stopping anyone from stealing my hard work?"

Answers: Absolutely no one, absolutely no where, and so many reasons.

The counting is done by a word counter not unlike your own word processing program's. It doesn't need to save anything anywhere. It just counts the words and dumps it, as if it never existed. Imagine if it saved a copy of every novel submitted every year. In 2015, there were 40,423 winners of NaNoWriMo according to WikiWriMo. Since 2010, there have been 254,342 winning novels. The site slows down enough on November 30th just trying to count everyone's requests without storage. If it were trying to pop it into a server somewhere and save it, the whole site would likely be rendered nonfunctional.

And not a single one of those novels was edited when it was submitted for validation. That's 254,000 messy chunks of coal with the potential to become diamonds, mixed in with people who submitted Lorem Ipsum because they handwrote their novels or used a typewriter, or people who scrambled their text out of the concerns listed above. Even if they saved a copy of everyone's novel, if someone at the NaNoWriMo Office wanted to steal your validated work for publication, they would have to read completely through every single submission to find the ones that are not fanfiction, that are complete (because 50k doesn't mean done), and that aren't filled with "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" 5000 times. Then, once they've isolated those that qualify, they'd have to edit it, because who has time for a deep cleaning edit during NaNo?

Plagiarists steal because they don't want to do the work, and editing is, to most writers, the least fun work of all in writing. What plagiarists would rather do, what they do, in fact, do, is take someone's published work and change a few words to pass it off as their own.

This is the same reason a beta reader isn't going to steal your novel, or an editor or agent. Because most likely, they all need work that a plagiarist is not going to want to do. Even if they did, there's no guarantee whatever the end result is will sell. Working with something already published, they know it's something that someone will buy.

Now, this isn't a reason not to thoroughly vet your beta readers, agents, editors, and publishers. Do your homework. For beta readers, use people you trust, not just the first stranger who offers. For editors, publishers, and agents, get reviews from other people, check Absolute Write's Bewares, Recommendations, and Background Check forum and scour the internet for them. Be sure you're not sending your novel off to a vanity publisher who will publish your unedited book for thousands of dollars, or to an agent that will "absolutely get you published but first you have to pay this editor who just happens to be [their] husband." There are lots of scams and scary things to be concerned about out there in the publishing world. Someone stealing your incomplete or unedited novel shouldn't even be in the top 10.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Perfectionist's Guide to NaNoWriMo (Or How to Survive The First Draft Without Going Bald)

It's hard being a perfectionist writer. No joke. You all who fit the qualifications know what I mean. The urge to edit everything. The desire to make it right the first time. The need for every chapter, every scene, every word to be perfect.

That doesn't fly come NaNo time.

It's easy to read the rules and learn the guidelines. Easy to tell yourself "just write." And way, way easier said than done. After six years of NaNo and seven attempted novels, I've learned a few things about NaNo, first drafts, and not pulling your hair out when all you want to do is Make. It. Perfect.

1. Redefine Perfect on a Draft-by-Draft Basis

I think we can all come to a near-consensus on when our first draft perfection streak started: the first time a teacher, probably in middle or high school said, "This is a big project, so I want you guys to turn your first draft into me by next Friday." First draft? What's that nonsense? We'd been writing essays start to finish since our very first one. We'd perfected the last-minute, overnighter A+. Our first drafts are our only drafts. So we'd write up our turn-in-ready essay and make a few changes to dumb it down, give the teacher something to review. It really shouldn't have worked, but it did, and it ingrained in us the confidence that we don't really need to worry about drafts. We'll get it right the first time.


Thing is, though, a novel isn't an essay. There's a lot more room for error in 50,000 words than there is in 5,000. And when you realize 30k in that you have to completely redo everything because of a plothole you left in the third chapter, it's easy to give up. It's a failure, and we don't want to fail. Nothing less than an A, right?

The trick is to redefine "perfect" to the individual draft, to move the goalposts of perfection one draft at a time. Author Jane Smiley said, "Every first draft is perfect, because all a first draft has to do is exist." Accept this as the gospel truth. The first draft's goalpost isn't "ready to publish," it's just "written." It doesn't matter if there's giant gaping plot holes. "No plot holes" is the goalpost for draft two. Or "no typos" or "no atrocious grammar" or whatever you want that second draft goalpost to be. Not "perfect perfect" though. That's at LEAST third draft, if not fourth or fifth.

2. Just Because You Wrote It Doesn't Mean You Have To See It

So you just wrote a 2,000 word scene and realize "this isn't working." You have to scrap it all. A whole day's writing, down the recycle bin. But before you hit that delete key, stop! You wrote that. And maybe part of it is salvageable or belongs in a different scene. Don't shortchange your wordcount or do something you may regret. Just hide it. You've got a number of options to make the bad text go away without actually going away forever.
  • Make the text white or use black highlight on black text.
  • Change the font to an unreadable one, like Wingdings.
  • Move the text to the bottom of the document, several pages down, or if you're using a program like Scrivner, to a separate file.
You may be able to think of other tricks to make your mistakes disappear. Whatever you choose to do, implement it, from single sentences to whole chapters. During the first draft, and especially during NaNo, don't just delete haphazardly. That's part of draft two. Write that on your goalpost.

3. It's Okay To Skip Around or Come Back Later

If you're anything like me, you like your perfect drafts to be written in one long swoop, start to finish, Chapter 1 to The End. You write a book just like you read a book. Maybe the thought of breaking it up gives you cold sweats. After all, how can you accurately write the scene where the hero finally meets the villain if you don't know if the love interest is there or not, or if there's a mentor figure the villain's supposed to kill that you haven't introduced yet so you don't even know his personality!

This is me telling you, it's okay. It's okay to skip that awkward conversation if you don't know how to write it yet. It's okay to jump forward to the end when you too happy to write the death scene. It's okay to come back later, whether it's a huge event or a name for a minor character. Leave yourself a note, highlighted yellow and surrounded by attention-grabbing symbols (I like to do [ADD ____]). You don't need the paragraph or scene or chapter to be perfect now, only complete later. And I'll tell you why. You don't complete puzzles by doing one row at a time, in order, right? You get the pieces and parts you can figure out first (the outer frame, the obvious, odd colored pieces, etc) and then use those to fill in the rest. You can do that with your novel. It's just a puzzle where you decide what the picture is.

4. You're Always A Winner

It can feel like if you don't get that purple verified bar, you've failed. You'll want to pretend you never even tried, to make November and NaNo have just not happened for us. We're perfectionists because we don't like failure. But sometimes, despite our best efforts, even if we do everything right, we just can't win. Maybe life got in the way, or maybe you lost your drive. Whatever the reason, you lost.

But you've also won.

Whether you finish November with 100 words or 49,999, those are words you didn't have before. You WROTE. You created something that didn't exist before, and you have the road paved to keep going. There is nothing stopping you from keeping going beyond November. You don't have to put down the story and never look at it again just because you didn't finish it in the course of one month. The "victory" goal of NaNo is 50,000 words, but the real goal of NaNo is to just write. Did you write? Congrats. You've won. What did you win? The right to call yourself a writer. Heck yeah, that's awesome. And what are a few colored pixels compared to that?


So, perfectionists, let go of your hair. November is coming, and you're going to write, and it's going to be just fine. Self-inflicted bald spots only lead to more stress. Scientific fact.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Hello Tumblr!

I've noticed that I suddenly got a large bump of views coming from Tumblr and the Tumblr app, so I can only assume that one or more of my pages migrated its way over there. Welcome to everyone stumbling their way here from there! Please feel welcome to leave comments just to say hi. I should have an exciting update coming soon, so I hope you'll stick around.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Wherein I Decide To Make A Fool of Myself

We're buds now.
So I'm gonna blame Pokemon Go on the lack of updates the past month. Really, it was just me waffling on a lot of stuff, but still gonna blame Pokemon Go. I just caught a Scyther!

I've been thinking a lot about hobbies and things we say we ought to do "someday." For a lot of people, that's write a book. Been there, still doing that. Most of the time, when I say it, it's about a video game. I was a somewhat late bloomer in the console gaming realm. My first foray into it was the Super Nintendo, and even then, I wasn't the most adventurous. Sure, I had the Marios and the Donkey Kongs and Kirby, but mostly, I had tie-in games like Aladdin and Lion King and Tiny Toon Adventures. If I didn't know the name, I wasn't interested. Meaning I missed A LOT. And I still haven't played a lot.

We're really into watching Lets Players. It's fun to watch these online personalities coast or struggle through games. You get really into it, not unlike sports. Just ask me how many times we've ended up yelling at one of them when they miss power-ups or forget that a baddie pops out right there or any multitude of other gaming errors. And then ask how many times I've said, "I've never even played that, and I could probably do better than them." The answer is "way too much."

Only recently, I've thought, "I should put my money where my mouth is." Try that game. Fail spectacularly. And if I'm going to embarrass myself, well, why not put it online where I could at least entertain people?

So I'm thinking about starting an LP channel. Because I'm so good about keeping up a schedule with anything, right, so let's add one more thing I can neglect? Yeah, I know. It's a supremely bad idea. But I want to try it. I've got friends who would join me as fellow commentators and a supportive husband to beg for aid. I do NOT have a very good internet connection (Hold on, it's time for my daily "Check on the local Google Fiber Status" update... Still under construction with no completion estimate. Sigh.) So I may not be able to livestream, but I could record for Youtube upload. It'll require some testing and trial and LOTS of error, but darn it, I want to try.

If I do progress with this, I'll post links here. I hope you all will come along with me. Well, at least I hope you will if you like watching people make fools of themselves playing video games. Me. Me making a fool of myself playing video games. At least you guys will have a good time.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Get a Job, Hippie

Another hard thing to come up with for your characters are jobs. The written world is full of doctors, lawyers, and teachers. Janitors, plumbers, and builders are always the one to offer words of wisdom. Authors tend to enjoy writing about authors. And don't even mention retail work or food service. It's all been seen and done a million times, but there've got to be more options.

Problem is, it's hard to find them. But don't worry, I've gone ahead and done that for you. Below are 45 jobs you might not think of or may have never heard of, but I assure you, they're real. Whether they pay well or not, well, that's a question for another day.

Do you know of a weird, unusual, or wacky job? Leave it in the comments!

JobJob Description
AcupuncturistInserts needles into everything but veins
Airline Gate AgentLast call for boarding [your flight and you're halfway across the airport sucks to be you, pal]
Arcade Machine RepairPlus side, you get to play it when you're done fixing it. To "Test it."
Art SelectorPicks out art for walls at places like hospitals.
Auction BuyerGoes to auctions in the name of big-name buyers so others won't be tipped off to items of value
Backstage SupportHelps stage actors with quick costume changes, prepares props, etc
BailiffAll rise
Bird of Prey TrainerFalcons, owls, hawks, eagles: these are your coworkers
City CouncilmanLike a congressman, but at city level
Clinical Research CoordinatorCoordinates, organizes for, and recruits for medical research
Coffin Handle InstallerThere's a job just for installing coffin handles. Who knew?
Convention/Concert OrganizerSomeone has to arrange the shows, schedules, panels, etc. This is them.
Court ReporterRecords all statements during court
Cover ArtistDesigns book covers
DocentGuides at museums, zoos, etc
Dog Food TasterYes, this is a job for humans.
Ethical HackerTry to hack into systems that shouldn't be hacked or broken
Fortune Cookie WriterYou will be paid to write one-sentence blurbs.
Golf Ball DiverSomeone has to go into the water traps. Those balls cost money.
Google Streetview DriverWe see 'em rollin', we hatin' try to do something stupid to immortalize ourselves
HerbalistWhy use Advil when you could have St John's Wart?
Hospice CaregiverWhether at thier home or a facility, these people make their patients' last days comfortable.
Jelly Bean Flavor MakerSomeone had to figure out how to make those grass jellybeans taste that way.
Jingle WriterThat song during that commercial you hate? Someone wrote that.
Karaoke Cab DriverIt's a cab, with karaoke, and you're behind the wheel.
Landscape ArchitectMakes your yard worthy of a magazine, if you can afford it.
Museum CuratorManages and oversees the collections of a museum
Mystery ShopperDetermine how well a business's employees are performing, secretly.
Celebrity Obituary WriterNewspapers have obituaries ready for more people than you'd suspect.
OrthoepistStudies the correct pronunciation of words
Party CostumerDresses up like cartoon characters or movie characters for children's birthdays
Patent LawyerDetermines legality of patents
Pet PsychologistWhat's eating Fluffy?
PhlebotomistInserts needles into what the Acupuncturist doesn't
Physical Penetration TesterTry to steal things from places that shouldn't have things stolen from (hospitals, labs, etc)
Political CartoonistMaking fun of the news, one politician at a time.
Professional [Thing] TesterThink of an object. There's someone to test it. Mattresses, toys, water slides, anything.
Professional Cosplayer / Booth BabeCosplays for a living, either personally or for a specific company
Professional QueuerDon't want to wait in line for the new big thing? Pay someone else to do it.
Prop Purchaser/BuilderBuys/Builds props for TV shows & movies
Radio Phone Operator"101.5 ROCK. You're caller 7. Try again." (also handles guest callers during downtime)
Search Engine OptimizerDetermines how accurate search engine results are
Snake MilkerCollect venom for the creation of antivenom
Social Media ManagerHandles famous person's social media accounts or presense
Stunt ActorTaking the hits so the pretty faces don't have to.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Pick Up A Bad Habit

Since I started this blog, I've been trying to figure out something that I could do that hasn't been done a thousand times before. All the advice I know has been given by far better bloggers than I and far better than I'm capable of. The Moments of the Week slowed to a boring crawl. I don't want to be the jerk who just talks about me.

But you know what I've realized? I am really good at making lists. And between writing and years of playing tabletop games like Dungeons & Dragons, I've come to enjoy making characters and helping others make them. So why not continue making lists like the hobbies one to help other people with their character creation? Most likely, this won't be a long-running thing, as there are only so many lists needed for character and world building, but I guarantee, you'll be able to find it here.

Today, we're looking at bad habits. No character is perfect. Everyone's got these little quirks that they know they should work on fixing. Pick one or two (or more!) for your characters to make them more well-rounded and maybe give them something to improve about themselves.

Bad Habits
Biting pens/pencils
Blaming others
Bottling emotions
Buying things and not using them
Cheek or Lip biting/tearing
Chewing tobacco
Coveting others' things
Cracking knuckles/joints
Cutting corners/skimping
Drinking / Getting drunk
Eating junk food
Eating late
Eating out daily
Eating with mouth open
Grinding teeth
Hair chewing/sucking
Hangnail pulling
Hard drugs
Holding grudges
Impulse purchasing
Inability to sit still
Internet overuse
Judging others
Leaving dirty clothes/dishes out
Losing temper
Losing things
Making puns
Nail biting/picking
No self-control
Not backing up data
Not bathing
Not brushing teeth
Not caring for health when sick
Not involving others in decisions that affect them
Not knowing limits
Not listening/ignoring others
Not responding to messages
Not trying new things
Picking at skin/scabs
Picking nose
Playing with hair
Pornography addiction
Sitting still for long periods
Snooze button overuse
Speaking in 3rd person
Starting projects without finishing
Staying up late
Stress/emotional eating
Sucking thumbs
Tapping fingers/feet
Too much TV
Tugging ears
Unprotected sex
Using cell phone/tablet in social situations
Using other people's stuff
Verbal tics ("like")

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The Sunshine Thingy!

Anna Humphrey is an evil, evil woman. She continues to like me enough to tag me for blog challenges and awards. This time, she's hit me up for the Sunshine Thingy, a silly ten-question interview where the questions are all made up by the previous poster. Our friend Elaine at Tears of Ink has already finished hers (and sniped my usual JR tag!), so I suppose I should stop procrastinating and get on this.

  1. You are stranded on a desert island. You are allowed one book, one CD, and one movie. What do you take?
    One? Starting with such a cruel question. My "evil, evil woman" analysis holds up. My first book choice would be Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, but the nostalgia and inability to act on it would be unbearable. So I'd probably pick Jingo by Terry Pratchett.
    CD: the Greatest Hits album of Huey Lewis and the News.
    Movie: The Avengers.

  2. Favourite season? Why?
    Right now. That late spring/early summer where the sun and wind are warm, there's no need for the jackets to come back out for months, and fireflies are lighting up the night, making dancing stars on Earth.

  3. Coffee fanatic or tea fiend? With milk/cream and sugar or without?
    Tea. Sweet tea, southern style, cold and sugary.

  4. What one place would you visit with that magical plane ticket? Why?
    Assuming by magical we mean "anywhere at all" then by golly I'm on my way to Ankh-Morpork and don't even try to stop me. I'm going straight Two-Flower here.

    If we were meant to pick a real world location, then probably the Galapagos Islands. I've always wanted to go there, mingle with the wildlife.

  5. Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, or Harry Potter? ::evil laugh::
    Potter. While I love them all, Star Wars and Harry Potter were my childhoods. I was a late-comers to Lord of the Rings. Then Star Wars failed me on the prequels. So Potter takes the metaphorical gold.

  6. Black Widow or Catwoman? Explain.
    Black Widow 4 lyfe. Marvel 4 lyfe.

  7. Milk chocolate or sinfully dark?
    Dark. Not long ago I would have said milk, but I've learned to love dark recently.

  8. Smaug: justified in defending his hoard against thieving dwarves or homicidal maniac?
    Wasn't his horde in the first place, now was it? He, in fact, was the original thief.

  9. Dragons or krakens?
    Oh man, this is a legitimately tough question. I love them both. Krakens are awesome, rarer and have the best catchphrase, plus I just love the mystery of the oceans, but man, dragons are DRAGONS. Uuuuugh krakens. I pick krakens. Krakens aren't gonna take my shiny stuff.

  10. You find a gold ring buried in your backyard. What do you do?
    Hey y'all, a genuine Noprize for anyone who guesses what Anna's favorite series is.

    Legit answer: have my neighbors contact the former homeowner and arrange to return it. His mother was the only person to own our house, so it would be highly likely that the ring was hers.

    Honest answer: I've always wanted to take a trip to Hawaii to climb a volcano.
 So there's a little bit more you probably never wanted to know about me. Congratulations! Now,
Christy Nicholas, A. G. Carpenter, JJ Litke, and anyone else who wishes to take this challenge (just leave a comment and I'll add you to this link list), here are your questions!

1. Hot dog or hamburger? (Veggie options are allowed for vegetarian or vegan followers.)
2. Time travel has been invented! When are you going?
3. What is your favorite kind of weather, and why?
4. In a race between the Flash, Quicksilver, Superman, and a tortoise, who's your money on?
5. What was the first story you ever wrote?
6. You have to go explore either deep space or the deep sea. Which do you pick?
7. What's your favorite musical?
8. Marvel or DC?
9. Following that, who's your favorite supervillain?
10. You get to have a dinner with five people of your choice, living or dead, but you have to cook. Who do you invite and what do you make?

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Guest Post: Stacey E Bryan on Being That Weird Chick

It's been a while since we had my friend Abner as a guest post, hasn't it? Yeah, almost two years. I think it's about time for another. A few days ago, my friend Stacey released DAY FOR NIGHT, and she asked if I'd be willing to host her on her blog tour. Me, hosting a tour about an urban paranormal comedy? *looks at own urban paranormal comedy in progress* Absurd, right? Yeah, nuts. So let's get this absurdity out of the way and say hi to Stacey E Bryan!


My thanks to Maggie for hosting me on her blog today for my first virtual book tour ever!

I want to say this journey has been fun and exciting, the process of publishing my first novel, an urban paranormal comedy, but I’m not sure those are the most accurate words I could use. Confusing is a better one. Stressful is definitely up there. Scary can be shoved in there between those two. My experience, ironically, could almost be called paranormal. Why? Well, maybe it has something to do with being weird like Maggie. Maggie describes herself as “that weird chick” and that’s how I’d probably describe myself. I’m not sure what ingredients go into Maggie’s makeup to make her weird, exactly, but mine include a wariness of technology bordering on paranoia; something that is not helpful to me in today’s world. Especially after writing a book and getting it published online.

I’m that weird chick too, though. I preferred being alone. I had a black cat called Mr. Smith who followed me everywhere like a dog. I wasn’t interested in going to the prom. And, yes, I did have a date! I learned to drive when I was 18. Grudgingly. Why? you ask. Sometimes I even ask myself why? It probably had something to do with being adopted and being mixed race. Ultimately, I found solace in reading (who doesn’t?) and later in writing. Books actually explained a lot of things. They made me think. They helped me stop thinking. And then the catharsis of writing started. And that was even better sometimes.

My main protagonist, Rae, survives a terrifying event in her late teens that shapes the rest of her life, sending her into a kind of directionless floating that leaves her with slowly escalating regret. And although Rae and I may share some regrets, all of the dramatic stuff that never happened to me happens to Rae, including discovering that other beings inhabit reality: aliens and vampires. And she begins to suspect there are others, to boot.

She handles each escalating situation the way I probably would handle it if I was in her shoes. In other words, badly. Lots of drinking and denial. I made Rae mixed race so that I could touch on those issues a little bit. But humorously, since the novel is a comedy. I felt like race and age couldn’t be ignored, though, especially since the setting is Los Angeles, a place where people “seem” to get along and more or less “like” each other, but a choppy sea of misunderstanding, discontent, and, ultimately, bigotry is constantly churning right beneath that David Lynchonian surface.

I think it’s sort of amazing that I made it this far. I mean, if I do say so myself. For someone who owned a flip phone just a year and a half ago, I think I’ve made strides and come far, dragging Rae and her aliens and vampires kicking and screaming behind me. So my advice to other authors, to those who dabble, to those who do more than dabble: stick with it! I know it’s sort of clichéd, but stick with it. And there’s so much help online. For those like me, starting from less than scratch in social media, there’s lots of instruction available. I’m sure one day soon I’ll be able to give advice of my own. It’ll feel good to give back.

Ultimately, for weird chicks like me, weird chicks like Maggie, un-weird chicks and guys and everyone in between, if you’re a writer, the “stick with it” advice probably counts more for querying once you’re done, online marketing, the endless blogging and promotion. But probably a writer doesn’t need to be told to “stick with it” to keep writing. After all, I don’t know about you, but even when I wasn’t writing, for many years, all I thought about, night and day, was writing. It’s what gets me out of bed in the morning. It’s what I do. And what I long to do. And what I hope to do. And what I love to do. And sharing the love is just the best, the most supreme, the absolute cherry on top.

Here’s an excerpt from Day for Night:

The world came to an end on a balmy Tuesday evening while I was doing laundry in my Glendale apartment building. Not on a Monday so I could start off the week fresh with the apocalypse, knowing just where I stood. Or a Friday so I could say, “Thank God, it’s the weekend. I need to de-stress from the End of Days.” It was a Tuesday. Four weeks to the day that I had been voted off one of the most popular reality shows running: Muscle Beach Midlife: Sand in your Face. I guess it didn’t matter that Muscle Midlife had no voting. Details, schmetails. They did it anyway, and it made for good TV. If ratings were sharks, I was the bloody, mashed-up chum.

I was multitasking. For me, this involved doing laundry while I mused about regret. What better time to muse on the nature of regret than when the world was about to end? Of course, I had no idea such was the case as I made my way deeper into Single White Female territory—my building’s dank basement—gripping my basket tight and my rage tighter. I shouldn’t even be here.

Forced out of escrow on my dream condo in Hermosa Beach, bad timing left me scrambling, and I’d ended up here, surrounded by elderly Armenian gentlemen who seemed to disapprove of women wearing pants. Parents? They lived out of state. Sister Margarite? Not an option in this life or the next. You found out fast who your real friends were when you got kicked off a TV show. When anything went wrong in this town, Los Angeles, especially if even remotely connected to The Biz, you’d blink twice and find yourself in the middle of a boiling, empty desert with nothing but the cacti and a lizard doing pushups on a rock. Two handfuls of “friends” condensed overnight down to just Hama and Rex.

So, back to regret, back to the end of the world. An overall discontent, kick-started by Sand in your Face, had bogarted its way past the borders, routed the castle walls. The castle being the state of denial I lived in, discontent being reality.

It was funny that I was thinking of reality as I neared the laundry room, basket on my hip, because I was expecting a certain series of circumstances ahead of me. I was expecting the machines to all be occupied, except for one, which wouldn’t be enough to accommodate my load. I was expecting the light bulb to be stuttering in its usual migraine-inducing pattern. Even before I arrived, I could hear them all busily humming. All the machines, all being used. The one poster on the wall would be there, Truffaut’s Day for Night, dusty, the plastic cover cracked in one corner. I even expected my right shoulder to jackknife with pain when I hitched the basket up on my hip. It was injured almost a year ago after a failed Pap smear attempt.

What I wasn’t expecting was to turn the corner and find my thirty-something neighbor Annie, eyes open, silent, encased by a cone of light and suspended in midair just inside the doorway. Nope. Wasn’t expecting that at all. Floating beside her was the small, big-headed creature I’d seen a million times on TV and in the movies, so hilariously clichéd that I laughed out loud. There were some young filmmakers in the building. It must be an experiment, a joke. But then the creature turned, and it just wasn’t funny anymore.

Stacey was raised in the San Fernando Valley but born in San Francisco, where she left part of her heart. She has worked on a dude ranch, coached gymnastics, and captions for the hearing impaired. Her work has appeared in several literary magazines in New York and L.A., including Ginosko and The Rag. She is currently working on the sequel to her novel Day for Night. She lives in “beautiful downtown Burbank,” as Johnny Carson used to say, with her husband who is also a writer.

WEBSITE: http://staceyebryan.wordpress.com

When reality TV star Rae Miller is kicked unceremoniously to the curb by her back-stabbing cast mates, she quickly realizes that revenge fantasies and unemployment are the least of her problems after she witnesses an alien abduction in broad daylight. Worse, after escaping a terrifying almost-abduction herself, Rae succumbs to a sexy Nosferatu’s silky assurances, becoming undead in order to up her alien Ultimate Fighting skills. Life is hard as a 38-to-40-something aspiring actress in L.A. Thank God for Jack Daniel’s and denial.


Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Get a Hobby!

Character development is HARD, especially when it comes to making up what they enjoy doing. The easiest route is to just make them like what you like, but the more characters you have, the harder it gets. I've been racking my brain the past few days trying to figure out what one of my MCs does for fun, and she's not telling. So, for a brute force method, I compiled a list of as many hobbies as I could possibly think of. This list is ever-growing as more hobbies turn up. Yes, I know the image says 101. That's how many there were when I made it, and 101+ doesn't look nearly as nice. In any event, I'm not going to let the fruits of my brain-labor go to waste, meaning you all get to reap the benefits! Below are all the hobbies, neatly categorized into type of hobby. And if you think of something that's not on the list, please leave it in the comments!

Topic Hobby
Career Archaeology
Career Architecture
Career Babysitting
Career Car Repair
Career Chemistry
Career Computer Programming
Career Interior Design
Career Party Planning
Career Robotics
Career Video Game Development
Creative Animation
Creative Building Dollhouses / Making Accessories
Creative Building Furniture
Creative Clothesmaking
Creative Computer Art / Graphic Design
Creative Cosplay
Creative Crafting
Creative Crochet
Creative Dioramas
Creative Doodling
Creative Drawing / Cartooning
Creative Jewelrymaking
Creative Journaling / Blogging
Creative Knitting
Creative Metalworking
Creative Painting
Creative Perler Beads
Creative Photography
Creative Playing Music
Creative Pottery
Creative Scrapbooking
Creative Sculpture
Creative Sewing / Quilting
Creative Theater / Acting / Improv
Creative Woodburning
Creative Woodcarving
Creative Writing
Creative Writing Music
Food Baking
Food Cake Decorating
Food Candy Making
Food Canning / Preserving
Food Cooking
Food Drinking
Food Eating
Food Mixology
Food Mushroom Hunting
Leisure Board Games
Leisure Building Models
Leisure Card Games
Leisure Chess
Leisure Collecting (Any)
Leisure Dancing
Leisure Dollhouses
Leisure Driving
Leisure Fandom
Leisure Fantasy Football
Leisure Gambling
Leisure Guns / Shooting
Leisure Hacky-sack
Leisure Listening to Music
Leisure Playing Pool
Leisure Reading
Leisure Shopping
Leisure Singing
Leisure Sleeping
Leisure Surfing the Internet
Leisure Tabletop Games (D&D, Warhammer)
Leisure Video Games
Leisure Watching TV
Nature Birdwatching
Nature Camping
Nature Exploring
Nature Fishing
Nature Flower Arranging
Nature Gardening
Nature Geocaching
Nature Hiking / Backpacking
Nature Insect Collecting
Nature Stargazing
Other Base-jumping
Other Cleaning
Other Community Service
Other Genealogy
Other Group Activity (4-H, Scouts, etc)
Other Hacking
Other Kleptomania / Theft
Other Studying / Learning
Sports Archery
Sports Baseball / Softball
Sports Basketball
Sports Bowling
Sports Canoeing / Kayaking
Sports Car Racing
Sports Cheerleading
Sports Cross-country / Track & Field
Sports Dodgeball
Sports Exercise / Crossfit
Sports Frisbee / Ultimate Frisbee / Frisbee Golf
Sports Golf
Sports Horseback Riding
Sports Hunting
Sports Jogging
Sports Kickball
Sports Lacrosse
Sports Obstacle Courses/Tough Mudders
Sports Paintball
Sports Parkour
Sports Rock Climbing
Sports Running / Marathons
Sports Skating (Board or Roller)
Sports Skiing
Sports Snowboarding
Sports Soccer
Sports Surfing
Sports Swimming
Sports Tennis
Sports Volleyball
Sports Yoga

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Commiserating with Julie

I am woefully behind on my Goodreads challenge for this year, while still being nearly 20 books ahead. Long story short, I read way too many comic books. Realizing I'm six ACTUAL books behind where I should be, I picked up my Kindle and scanned through my collection of to-reads (due to home renovations and room moving, most of my physical books are packed up and lord knows where in the house.) I couldn't remember which one came next in the Percy Jackson series, so I went with the next book to grab my eye: Julie Powell's Julie & Julia, the tale of a blogger's one-year journey through 524 Julia Child recipes. All right, I liked the movie, I like food, let's do this.

First off, let me say, Julie Powell, if you ever happen to stumble across this, you are a better woman than me. I would have chickened out the moment I saw kidneys or brains on the to-do menu while she powered through. Heck, I can't bring myself to eat lamb. They're too tiny and cute. At least with bacon, I don't know if the meat came from an adorable tiny piglet or a giant hog. Plus, Julie actually, you know, (spoiler alert) finished her challenge. I tend to be a "stop halfway" kind of person, to my shame. So as I read, I quickly came to admire this blogger (who, as another point, is also a better blogger than me, Miss "oh it's been a month, hasn't it?") I also greatly understood where she was.

When Julie decided to take on this project, she was on the edge of thirty, in a standard desk job, just living and wondering what she was doing, where she was going. She was feeling all the same things I have been while my 30th birthday crawled up and past, and she did something about it. She started this project and changed her life.

And where am I? It feels like now, I'm in her shoes. I know that's not entirely right. I've had my own projects. I've made and hit goals. I've finished novels, and I'm damn proud of that. And yet I still feel unsatisfied. I'm not published yet. My husband and I haven't taken a vacation for ourselves since our honeymoon six years ago. We don't have a dog and don't feel we're in a place to adopt one. I have... hold on. *counts* 11856 recipes on Pinterest I haven't made, on top of who knows how many in the copious cookbooks currently dwelling in boxes in our spare bedroom. I'm out of shape, I'm utterly TERRIBLE at keeping a clean house... I could keep going. Anyway, my point is, I'm following a road that's not leading me towards most of my goals as quickly as possible, and I'm not satisfied with that.

So, what am I going to do? Right now, I don't know. There are a few idea running through my head: Come up with a bunch of 1 month challenges like NaNo and the A-Z challenge, which I know I'm good at; another go at the Day Zero project, which I attempted from 2010 to 2013 and, though I ultimately failed, accomplished a whole lot; a bunch of small schedules and rewards; a challenge project like Julie's? I don't know. I'm gonna need some time to sit and think about this, talk over some things with Mister, make some long-term plans. I've already added a few small workout routines to my work calendar. I'll update when I make up my mind on what else to do.

So thank you, Julie Powell who will probably never read this, for the little nudge I needed, and for being so very relatable right when I needed it.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Z is for ZE END!

Holy crap, is this it? Yes, this is it! April 30th! Congratulations to everyone who succeeded at posting every day in the month of April and completed an alphabet worth of posts. This has been a long, wild ride, but I'm satisfied that I did it. Will I do it again next year? I don't know. Probably not. If the month is less hectic than this one has been, I'll most likely be head-down in Camp NaNo again. But I'm glad I finally did this at least once.

Will I keep up this pace of posting next month?


Yeah, no. But I'll try to at least show up once a week.

Thanks for coming along for the ride, and I hope to see many of you around!

Friday, April 29, 2016

Y is for Y'all

A short post today, but one that needs to be said.

It's 'y'all', not 'Ya'll'. The word is a contraction of 'you all'. There is no a in you. That's not how contractions work. Unless the contraction is won't, which I still don't understand.

Just a random debate I see come up now and there. Also I couldn't think of a better "Y" word for the day. Sorry y'all.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

X is for X Names

I have a problem with character names. Aside from wanting to name, like, every male character Dave (I don't even know why), I tend to lean towards certain letters of the alphabet. When you've got one book, it's not hard to keep track of your characters' names. Once you have a few books and stories under your belt, though, the characters can get confusing.

So, with 20+ stories to keep track of, I finally made a spreadsheet to organize it. And, 'cause I like making spreadsheets, I went detailed. A page for first names, a page for last names (to see what names have been used at a glance and if I've been favoring a letter above others), a page for minor characters who may only be mentioned once or twice by name or who get a scene and then are never heard of again, a page for locations, and a page to keep track of all the stories, color-coding them so I can tell at a glance which characters go together.

What does this have to do with the letter X? Well, if there's one thing I've noticed while working on this spreadsheet, there are some letters of the alphabet that just plain get ignored. A's, M's, J's, I use them plenty. N's, P's, even V's get some good name love. But X? Z? Q? U? Blanks, or almost blank, both for first and last names. They're uncommon and not exactly the first letters to spring to mind when you're trying to name someone (or drag a name out of them, as the case may be). So I'm looking for suggestions to make a sort of waiting list for names. If you have any suggestions for X, Q, U, and Z, I'm all ears.

And for anyone who's interested, I made a sample copy of the spreadsheet to share. Please take a copy for yourself!

Click here for the spreadsheet

I put in a few samples for each page so you can see how it all works. Feel free to delete them (but leave the color coding text. Believe me, it helps!)