Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Year-Long Challenge

I meant to get this up a couple weeks ago on my birthday, but I was busy with last-minute school responsibilities and then my laptop died. But July 1st is as good a day to post this. I put together a list of professional, personal, and academic goals to work on over the next year. I might add or change things as I go, but I'm going to try to get as many done as I can. I'll update when I can strike things off the list.

01. Finish train short story
02. Finish mermaid short story
03. Finish wedding short story
04. Finish monster short story
05. Finish superhero short story
06. Finish millennia short story
07. Finish flat tire short story
08. Write a dragon short story
09. Finish bed and breakfast UF novel
10. Start/participate in a group blog
11. Finish ballet novella
12. Outline time travel adventure
13. Outline a superhero novel
14. Write a rough draft of a superhero novel
15. Attend a convention
16. Write an hour-long podcast drama
17. Write an hour-long movie or web series (twelve five-minute installments)
18. Query agents
19. Submit at least two short stories for publication
20. Write ten poems

01. Dye my hair
02. Get another ear piercing
03. Organize my CD collection
04. Eat healthier
05. Exercise regularly (four-five times per week)
06. Complete one full month of Hip Hops Abs
07. Complete full Hip Hop Abs program
08. Complete one full month of Insanity
09. Complete full Insanity program
10. Build a little free library
11. Build a piece of furniture
12. Build that model rocket I’ve had lying around for a year
13. Go to a baseball game in a stadium I haven’t been to yet (six out of thirty)
14. Learn a new song on the piano
15. Learn a new song on the guitar
16. Learn how to use my Traveler 120 and take lots of photos
17. Take lots of photos in general
18. Learn karate or boxing
19. Join a rowing team
10. Build a terrarium
21. Join a softball team
22. Reach my 10,000-step Fitbit goal every day for a week

01. Start learning Latin
02. Refresh on Polish or Russian
03. Write an article on genre fiction/heroines to submit to the Journal of Popular Culture
04. Study for and take the GREs
05. Apply to doctoral programs

Friday, June 26, 2015



Eight leotards and a ball gown—that’s what Tor Maddox packed for her summer ballet intensive in New York. Pity she never arrived. Kidnapped once by the good guys and once by the bad ones, Tor finds herself involved in a high seas adventure featuring princesses and pirates, a wedding ring, and the guy she thought she’d never be allowed to see again, junior man-in-black Rick Turner.

Tor’s employee ID promises “Your Fantasy Starts Here.” It couldn’t be more mistaken.

Grab a flotation device and welcome aboard for more shenanigans, villainy, and romance.

An Excerpt From MISTAKEN:


I sank into the soft embrace of twenty-four inches of buttery, gray leather. The first class cabin was everything I’d ever dreamed. Before we even buckled, the flight attendant Jock handed me a blanket—and not one of those thin-as-a-T-shirt disposable ones from the normal people section—a real blanket.

Rick passed him the Starbucks cup he was clutching. “Can you please warm her coffee?”

“Sure thing, honey,” Jock replied. “Back in a flash.”

“Honey.” I giggled as I elbow-nudged him. “I think he meant you.”

Rick eye-locked me, his Mediterranean-blue to my plain old brown. “I know,” he whispered. “Jealous?” Amusement danced in his gaze. He was himself again.

With our heads pillowed on the dovewing leather, eyes communicating on some other level, I felt a rush of premonition, like years from now we’d be lying on a bed together backflashing this moment. I smiled at him with lips that remembered a thousand kisses that hadn’t happened yet.

Rick smiled back. “Torrance Olivia Maddox, what is going on in there?” He knuckled my forehead gently. “I’d give a million pennies for that thought.”

“Do you have a million pennies?” I honestly didn’t mean for my voice to come out as husky as it did. I knew I shouldn’t be encouraging this.

“I’ll get back to you on that,” he teased. “Can I get an answer on credit?”

“No way.” I shook my head coyly. A cocoon of intimacy spread over us like a blanket fort. Hmm. File that idea for later, much. I cozied in closer.

And then our private walls were breached with a cheerful, “Here y’are. One warm latte for the lady. And for you, sir? A complimentary cocktail before late dinner? Wine? Beer?”

“Just a ginger ale, please,” Rick replied.

As Jock moved on to row seven, I whispered, “You could have. He thought you were old enough.”

Rick raised an eyebrow. “I am.”

“Oh. You had a birthday.”

Somehow that broke the spell. It shouldn’t have bothered me, but honestly, it did. Not that he was old enough to drink, or that technically I was more than four years away from legality myself. However, this marker of maturity was more than symbolic. The time gulf couldn’t have been made plainer.

Mind the Gap, as they say on the London subways, or you’ll injure yourself, and don’t hold us responsible. We told you it was there.

What was I doing? How could I replace a real, trained agent? Was I recruited for this job only because Rick missed me? I couldn’t crush the more-than-a-smidge of doubt that this could be a huge mistake.

We weren’t just at different stations on the track of life, we were in completely different trains, chasing each other through dark tunnels. Foreboding seized my heart. Until further notice, our occasional meetings would only be collisions, with screeching brakes, shredded metal, personal injuries, and disastrous consequences.

Pre-order MISTAKEN, and visit Liz's Amazon author page.

About the Author 


Liz Coley’s internationally best-selling psychological thriller Pretty Girl-13 has been published in 12 languages on 5 continents and been recognized by the American Library Association on two select lists for 2014 including Best Fiction for Young Adults.

Liz’s other publications include alternate history/time travel/romance Out of Xibalba and teen thrillers in the new Tor Maddox series. Her short fiction has appeared in Cosmos Magazine and numerous anthologies.

Liz invites you to follow her as LizColeyBooks on Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads, and Facebook, and visit her website at

Monday, June 22, 2015

Photos - St. Peter's

I've been trying to get back into photography, although I haven't yet been able to drag out my camera or fix up the one my grandma gave me a few months ago. Last weekend, I visited the historical church of St. Peter, which was built in 1845 on the site of the first mass ever held in Pennsylvania. I love going to historical sites because I generally come away with either an idea for a story or a cool place for a setting.


the view from the choir loft

  The stairs leading up to the loft. They're built clockwise so defenders at the top can fight with their right hands and attackers ascending are forced to use their left.

the cemetery overlooks the town

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

COVER REVEAL: Tor Maddox: Unleashed by Liz Coley


Tor Maddox, a heroine for our times

“I know that one day, I’m going to have to live in the real world. I’d like it to be a decent one.” - Tor

Book I Tor Maddox: Unleashed

When sixteen-year old Torrance Olivia Maddox, self-confessed news junkie, figures out that the mysterious and deadly New Flu is being spread by dogs, she has one question—if the danger is that obvious to her, why hasn’t the government revealed the truth and taken action?

Her search for the answer will take her farther than she ever imagined. But then again, she never imagined that man’s best friend could become public enemy number one, that men in black might show up in her cozy suburban neighborhood, that she’d spend her sixteenth birthday as a teenaged runaway, and that her effort to save one dog would become a mission to save them all.

About the Author

Liz Coley has been writing long and short fiction for teens and adults for more than ten years. Her short fiction has appeared in Cosmos Magazine and several speculative fiction anthologies: The Last Man, More Scary Kisses, Strange Worlds, Flights of Fiction and Winter's Regret.

In 2013, psychological thriller Pretty Girl-13 was released by HarperCollins in the US and UK. Foreign translations have been published in French, Spanish, German, Portuguese, Swedish, Norwegian, Russian, Czech, Slovakian, and Chinese (simplified and traditional).

Her independent publications include alternate history/time travel/romance Out of Xibalba and teen thrillers in the new Tor Maddox series.

Liz lives in Ohio, where she is surrounded by a fantastic community of writers, beaten regularly by better tennis players, uplifted by her choir, supported by her husband, teased by her teenaged daughter, cheered from afar by her two older sons, and adorned with hair by her cats Tiger, Pippin, and Merry.

Liz invites you to follow her as LizColeyBooks on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, and visit her website at

Sunday, April 5, 2015

National Poetry Month

Happy National Poetry Month! In honor of NPM, I’m sharing a poem from one of my favorite authors, Edna St. Vincent Millay. I chose it because of its very appropriate title and subject matter.

Northern April
O mind, beset by music never for a moment quiet, —
The wind at the flue, the wind strumming the shutter;
The soft, antiphonal speech of the doubled brook, never for a moment quiet;
The rush of the rain against the glass, his voice in the eaves-gutter!

Where shall I lay you to sleep, and the robins be quiet?
Lay you to sleep — and the frogs be silent in the marsh?
Crashes the sleet from the bough and the bough sighs upward, never for a moment quiet.
April is upon us, pitiless and young and harsh.

O April, full of blood, full of breath, have pity upon us!
Pale, where the winter like a stone has been lifted away, we emerge like yellow grass.
Be for a moment quiet, buffet us not, have pity upon us,
Till the green come back into the vein, till the giddiness pass.

Read more about Edna St. Vincent Millay and about National Poetry Month.

When I was in the Peace Corps, I took a lot of walks, especially in the summer. My village was pretty tiny, and I often ended up at the rechka (little river). I’d sit on the bank, take the little black notebook out of my back pocket, and jot down some verse. There’s nothing like writing out among nature.

The view from the bank of the stream
Since I’ve been in my MFA program, though, I haven’t written much poetry. However, I wanted to include a theme of oral history in my novel, so I’ve been able to incorporate some poems and songs. Most are unfinished “extracts,” but here’s a sample that I wrote after one of my classmates convinced me to try a sonnet.

In fields of gold the chosen heartfriend lies.
The sun burns bright behind his clos├ęd eyes.
An answer to the queen he soon must give
Of how or not together they will live.
But fear can be a mistress strong and cruel
Who lives to make of all men wretched fools.
And so the heartfriend waits for words divine
To clarify the way his path will wind.
The queen looks down upon her chosen one.
“We’ll carve upon our hearts each other’s truth.
As one, not two, we’ll fly into the sun
And in the flames discover what we’re worth.
So take my hand. As two together bloom,
In heav’nly fire our souls will be consumed.

This has been good for me because it’s helped me get back into the rhythm of poetry, but it lets me stretch those writing muscles without being bound to writing a full poem. Because I can fit these into the context of the story, I can get away with just writing snippets—besides the above poem, of course. I hope to get back to writing poetry once I graduate even though I don’t have a stream on whose banks I can bask in the sunlight and ponder, through verse, the meaning of life and whether steppe cats are as big as my fellow volunteers said they were.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Let's Talk About Edith Wharton

I believe in soul mates, sort of, for authors and readers, the kind of reading relationship that even lifelong readers find only once in a blue moon. You read a handful of pages and have to stop because it’s like this writer was inside your head while penning this book. Your ideas of and outlook on life sync up so well that it becomes impossible to remember a time before you’d discovered this writer. And it’s reciprocal, because, after gleaning all the wisdom and empathy possible, you go out and recommend this book and this writer to all your friends. You can’t stop talking about it. It sneaks into every conversation.

For me, that author is Edith Wharton. It's her birthday, so let me tell you a little about her. Edith Wharton was a literary bamf. In addition to over 20 novels, she wrote poetryshort stories, and nonfiction like The Decoration of HousesItalian Villas and their Gardens, and In Morocco. She won the Pulitzer Prize in 1921 for The Age of Innocence and was the first female recipient. She moved to France and did relief work following WWI. She wrote novels of manners (think: Jane Austen), but used them to expose the hypocrisy of it all and how trapped you could be in your life. It's brilliant. She's brilliant. And the awesome news for you is that most of her stories are in the public domain!

Some of my fave EW books and stories:

Roman Fever - It's short and so worth your time.

Xingu - A bit longer, but very zinging.


This book is so short. You could read it in an afternoon. It's about a love triangle between Ethan and his wife, Zenobia, and her cousin, Mattie. It will mess with your emotions, but in the best way, in the Edith Wharton way.


About Lily Bart, a 29-year-old socialite who has declined to marry. When it becomes clear that she needs to in order to keep up her lifestyle, she attempts to find a husband suitable to both society and herself. My first EW book. A masterpiece. Glorious. I've read it about half a dozen times, and I'm listening to it again now.


This is a rom-com EW style! you've got a marriage of convenience, missing cigars, and dubious morals. What's not to love?


Ah, this is probably my favorite novel. EW left it unfinished when she died, but Marion Mainwaring, a Wharton scholar, finished it in the '90s. It's about love and friendship (inspired by her own friendship with her governess) and growing up. Weirdly, it's probably one of her happiest books.

Some of my fave EW quotes:
"‘The greatest mistake,’ she mused, her chin resting on her clasped hands, her eyes fixed unseeingly on the dim reaches of the park, ‘the greatest mistake is to think that we ever know why we do things. …I suppose the nearest we can ever come to it is by getting what old people call “experience.” But by the time we’ve got that we’re no longer the person who did the things we no longer understand. The trouble is, I suppose, that we change every moment; and the things we did stay.'" - The Buccaneers

"I don’t know if I should care for a man who made life easy; I should want someone who made it interesting."

"There is one friend in the life of each of us who seems not a separate person, but an expansions, an interpretation, of one’s self, the very meaning of one’s soul."

"In spite of illness, in spite even of the archenemy sorrow, one can remain alive long past the usual date of disintegration if one is unafraid of change, insatiable in intellectual curiosity, interested in big things, and happy in small ways."

"We can’t behave like people in novels, though, can we?" - The Age of Innocence

"There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it."

"Ah, there's the difference--a girl must [marry], a man may if he chooses." - The House of Mirth

"What is truth? Where a woman is concerned, it's the story that's easiest to believe." - The House of Mirth

"Half the trouble in life is caused by pretending there isn't any." - The House of Mirth

"If only we'd stop trying to be happy we'd have a pretty good time."

"Life is always either a tightrope or a featherbed. Give me the tightrope."

(Rest of the sources to come, since a lot of these I collected on goodreads or in word files.)

Some interesting EW tidbits:
- She wrote ghost stories.
- She moved to France later in life (and wrote about it). The street on which she lived is now called rue Edith Wharton.
- She was given an honorary doctorate from Yale, and the Yale library has a collection of her letters and manuscripts.
- She was good friends with Henry James.
- The Mount is thought to be haunted. Ghost Hunters filmed an episode on it.
- She was rewarded the Chevalier Legion of Honour for her relief and refugee work in France during World War I.

Oh, yeah, and she designed her own house:
The Mount - It's in Massachusetts, and it's gorgeous! Go visit!
In conclusion: Happy Birthday, Edith Wharton!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

My Reading Year in Review

Since I've been in grad school, I haven't been reading for fun as much as I'd like. This past semester, I made a conscious effort, with some success, to read more books that weren't for school. Here are my five favorite books I read this year.

5. Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Laini Taylor

A friend recommended this to me. I went through a few stages while reading it. (1) This is interesting. I like the setting and the idea. (2) Oh, come on. Another teen love story? (3) Wow. The writing is gorgeous.

Thank goodness I didn't stop after stage two. I still haven't picked up the rest of the trilogy, but it's only from lack of time, not lack of interest.

"Have you ever asked yourself, do monsters make war, or does war make monsters?"

4. The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern

This was the first book I read for a class in romance subgenres and one of the first books I read this year. It was different than I expected from the cover synopsis, but it was imaginative and full of wonder.

"I have been surrounded by love letters you two have built each other for years, encased in tents."

3. The Painted Veil, W. Somerset Maugham

I remember listening to this audiobook a few years ago, maybe when I was in college. It left a much bigger impression on me this time around. Kitty isn't an extremely likable character, but she's a remarkably relatable one, at least to me. Very rarely, I read books that make me stop and wonder how the author got into my head, and I love that.

"I have an idea that the only thing which makes it possible to regard this world we live in without disgust is the beauty which now and then men create out of the chaos. The pictures they paint, the music they compose, the books they write, and the lives they lead. Of all these the richest in beauty is the beautiful life. That is the perfect work of art."

2. Peter Pan, J.M. Barrie

I think, for a 26-year-old girl, I probably put a lot more faith than I should in a boy who refuses to grow up. Somehow, this book slipped through the cracks when I was growing up, so this was the first time I read it, and it's one of those cases when I read a book at the exact right moment in my life. It's funny and adventurous with an undercurrent of serious observations about the world and especially about growing up.

"To live will be an awfully big adventure."

1. Lovestar, Andri Snaer Magnason

Oh, my goodness, this book was so strange and so wonderful. Another recommendation from a friend, this Icelandic book is one I never would have found on my own. It's set in the future, when mankind has been freed from its reliance on cords by the harnessing of animal waves, and the story juxtaposes the life of Lovestar, the scientist who was responsible for this technology, with the lives of Indridi and Sigrid, two young lovers who believe they're meant to be together. It's very different, but in a refreshing I-didn't-know-I-needed-this kind of way.

"A seed becomes a tree becomes a forest green as a carpet. An egg becomes a bird becomes birds fill the sky like clouds.

An egg becomes a bump becomes a man becomes mankind, manufactures cars, writes books, builds houses, lays carpets, plants forests, and paints pictures of clouds and birds.

In the beginning all this must have been contained in the egg and the seed. Forest. Birds. Mankind."