Thursday, December 1, 2016

Lessons from NaNoWriMo

For the fourth year in a row, I participated in National Novel Writing Month, a challenge to write 50,000 words in the month of November. In past years, the challenge has helped me in several ways, like helping me finish a draft of my thesis. But this is the first year I actually hit the 50K mark. In the process, I learned a lot about myself as a writer.

1. I'm a sprinter, not a marathoner. This is true for me in real life, too. While some of my friends can easily reach 10K in a day, it's better for me to hit shorter goals. I try for 1,000 first, and if I make it, then I can try for another 1,000 and call it a day. But if I don't even make it to the first one, it's probably because something is wrong with the story itself. So instead of pushing it, I take a break and regroup.

2. Being a sprinter means I need rest days. Out of the 29 days it took me to get to 50K, I didn't log any words on five of those days, and I took three days off in a row right in the middle of the month to recharge and rethink my project. Even though "write every day" is common advice, it's not necessarily good advice for me. A day or two off can be of more help than trying to push through when I know the story needs some retooling.

3. 2,000 words is a doable goal for me. Any more than that was pushing it, but 2K is comfortable and enough to make me feel accomplished. However, when I push myself to do double that, it's hard to do it two days in a row. If I hit an up day, I should be prepared for a down day next. And there's nothing wrong with that. I apparently just don't like consistency.

4. I'm not a pantser. I knew this to a certain extent already, but my need for outlines seem to have grown stronger. I started my first fantasy novel with a barebones outline of one page, which worked well. I tried the same thing again with the mystery novel I wrote for this NaNo, but it didn't get me nearly as far. The good thing about having an outline with not many details, though, is I could take the story in new directions when I needed to.

5. I need some writing socialization. Although writing is mostly solitary, I like to participate in writing sprints, critiquing, and brainstorming sessions. It's helpful for me to toss around ideas aloud and to be able to talk about writing. Even just getting out of my house to write, going to a library or cafe, even if I don't interact with anyone, prevents me from getting lost in my own head space, which is easy for me to do when I try to shut out the world for a big chunk of time in order to write.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

An Incomplete List of Anti-heroines

Late last night, I had a conversation with a friend about how we're often bored by male characters, especially ones who exhibit anti-heroic traits, such as selfishness, manipulation, and gray morality. However, we find female characters who toe the line of heroism way more fascinating. With that conversation in mind, I'm starting a list of these characters in both television/film and books as both a recommendation page for anyone looking for anti-heroines and as a reference page for myself.

The way I'm defining an anti-heroine is a central female character who doesn't care to play by the rules, whether those rules are society's or her workplace's or her own. Characters marked with an * are suggestions from friends whose shows/films/books I haven't seen or read.

Saturday, September 17, 2016


I'm pleased to announce my first novel, The Dying of the Golden Day, is now available!

Synopsis: Marked by gray eyes that prophesy the death of magic, Aurelia seeks to avert her destiny by serving as advisor to the prince of Sunniva, but a chance to reunite two broken kingdoms soon forces Aurelia to decide where her loyalty lies--with her prince or with her magic. Meeting Brennus, the first male born with magic in centuries, further complicates her choice.

When Edana, the first seeress in generations, receives a vision concerning the end of the kingdom, she embarks on a mission to locate the subjects of the prophecy only to stumble upon a threat to all those with the gift of magic.

As prophecy becomes clearer and the future darker, they discover there are two sides to every coin--good and evil, hope and destruction, fate and chaos. Only they can restore balance, and only they can plunge the world into eternal darkness.

The book is available in paperback via CreateSpace and Amazon. The Kindle version is available for pre-order and will release on September 30th. You can also add it to your reading list on Goodreads

Connect with me on Goodreads, Instagram, Twitter, and Tumblr.

Monday, August 22, 2016

ANNOUNCEMENT: Sky Forest Press

What I've Been Up To The Past Few Months
My internet presence since June has been a little spotty because I've had business plans taking up my brain space. After being disappointed in a number of TV shows, movies, and books I've consumed this year, I realized that one way to fix seeing the same kinds of stories in fantasy and sci-fi over and over again was to help get new ones out there.

So Sky Forest Press was born! A little prematurely, which is why I'm still hard at work on the planning side of things, specifically the financials. While I have a ways to go, I'm optimistically hoping for an official launch in January 2017.

Why You Might Care
If you're a fan of fantasy and science-fiction books, you might also be disappointed with the lack of diversity in these genres. I'm starting Sky Forest Press to help publish books with inclusive protagonists and casts. I'm especially interested in female protagonists, since, outside of urban fantasy and YA, they're largely underrepresented in speculative fiction, but because SFP believes representation in fiction is important, we'd like to see diversity of all types: female characters, characters of color, LGBTQIA characters, characters of different body sizes, characters with disabilities, characters who struggle with mental health issues, and more.

Proof I'm Serious
I gave up my book-buying habit for this. An avid reader who thinks adding books to my collection is therapy, I haven't bought a book since July 29th and don't intend to buy another until 2017 all so I can save up money for SFP. How's that for serious?

Support Sky Forest
If you're interested in seeing Sky Forest Press come into being, a little support could go a long way. I'll be releasing a few of my own works in e-book and/or print version over the next few months. At least half the profits will go directly to SFP start-up expenses. And I'm now offering editing services for fiction manuscripts in the fantasy, sci-fi, young adult, romance, and mystery genres. You can also help by just spreading the word!

Want to Get Involved?
I can't do this alone! If you're an author with diverse spec fic and are interested in publishing with SFP, let me know about your manuscript. Submissions won't open until SFP's official launch in January, but I'm always on the lookout for new books.

If you're a reader or have questions, check out the website, and follow SFP on Twitter and Tumblr. Expect more content closer to 2017, but we'll be around answering questions.

If you're interested in being a beta/sensitivity reader or in getting advance copies in exchange for reviews, send us an email.

If you're an artist interested in providing cover illustrations, send us an email.

(Please keep in mind that because of the nature of a micro-press and because we're still starting out, we may be unable to offer much in the way of compensation for beta readers or artists.)

Thursday, August 4, 2016

You're Gonna Call THESE Ghostbusters

Last Friday, I saw Ghostbusters for the third time, and even though my coworkers all laughed when I told them and my mom said it wasn't good enough to see more than once, I'm not ashamed of that fact. The only other movie I've seen three times in theaters is The Force Awakens, and I think it's easy to see the common thread.

Before The Force Awakens came out, the advertising often featured Finn wielding Luke's lightsaber. That was cool in its own right because Mace Windu is the only black Jedi I can think of off the top of my head and he wasn't a main character. However, I still found myself passing signs and going, "When will girls get to be Jedis?" (Ahsoka is great, but I'm tlking about strictly the movie universe here.) So when I sat in my seat on December 18th and watched the force awaken in Rey, I got goosebumps.

That feeling was the same one I got in Ghostbusters (all three times!) when Erin popped the Stay Puft Marshmallow balloon with her Swiss Army knife, when Abby stood up to everyone who wanted to tear them down, when Patty came through with her knowledge of the city's history after all her non-fiction reading, and when Holtzmann took down a dozen ghosts in style and in slow-mo. Each one brought something wonderful and weird to the table. I grew up wanting to have adventures. I still want to have adventures. It's why I love to read and write and travel. So getting to see four women having adventures and saving the city was not only fun but special. "Be the protagonist of your own story" is a lot easier when you've got some kick-butt examples!

Plus, although I get overly worried about the world, I realized that when my nephew gets a few years older, I could introduce him to this movie and he won't think it's odd that it's about four women, and that's pretty darn awesome.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

IYWM Recap

It's been a while since I've blogged! Part of that was burn-out with all the bad news swirling around, so I needed to step back from the internet, and part of that was me keeping busy with other projects. I'll try to update this fairly regularly from now on.

the most photogenic building on campus

First, a recap from last weekend, when I attended the In Your Write Mind convention at Seton Hill University, my first time at IYWM after graduating last year. The best thing about the SHU writing community is the people. I got to catch up with friends, check in with mentors, and basically envelop myself in a creative bubble for a few days. More than half of my graduating cohort was in attendance, and the ones who couldn't make it were there in spirit, especially A.J. Culey, who sent us all wristbands commemorating her latest release, The Trouble with Antlers.

swag from A.J. Culey
Guests this year included two agents, an editor, and an author, all of whom presented seminars. It was great to hear their perspectives, especially during their collective panel. I even got to practice pitching my contemporary fantasy novel. The workshops were interesting overall, but my favorite was Timons Esaias's on Poetry for Writers. I think poetry and prose are seen as separate spheres by many writers, or at least get treated differently, but I feel that learning about one can only enhance my skill at the other.

tools of the trade
Other highlights included Seton Hill's gorgeous campus, especially beautiful in the sultry summer weather, and the town of Greensburg itself. This year's IYWM costume party was held in a restaurant that used to be a train station, which made for a very cool atmosphere.

Of course, my favorite part of going to conferences is always the books! At IYWM, I picked up Steeplejack by A.J. Hartley (courtesy of Diana Pho), Why Elephants No Longer Communicate in Greek by Timons Esaias, and Murder on St. Mark's Place by Victoria Thompson. Can't wait to dig into these.

Friday, March 18, 2016

FRIDAY FIVE: David Bowie Songs

My friend gave me a three-disc collection of David Bowie hits a few weeks ago, and it's pretty much all I've been listening to. In honor of that, here are five of my favorite Bowie songs.

"Space Oddity" - When I was in high school, my art teacher would sometimes put on music while we worked, but she played this song almost exclusively.

"Seven" - There's just something about songs about death, right?

"As the World Falls Down" - Labyrinth is so delightfully weird. How could I not love this one?

"Thursday's Child" - Because whose courage doesn't fall to their feet every once in a while?

"Heroes" - I've never seen Moulin Rouge, but I enjoy the soundtrack, and up until a few weeks ago, I had no idea this was an actual pre-MR song. "We could be heroes . . . "