Geek Speak

I’m a bit of a geek. I know, you didn’t know that, but it’s true ;)

So I thought why not chat about the geeky stuff on my vlog instead of just trying to talk about whatever comes to mind. I’m constantly reading about interesting geeky tech, games, movies, or reading some interesting comic or book. Why not talk about that?

There are two episodes up. It will probably be a weekly thing after a bit, I’m just trying to get a few episodes up for now.

Book two of the Witch’s Trilogy is coming along nicely. It is currently 61k long (about 200 pages). I split the first chapter in two and posted it here and here if you’d like to read it. I’ll be posting little bits of it on G+ from here till it’s published. Then I have the third one to do.

prophec3yAlso, I started getting my books in audio format. The first one, Prophecy by Barlight, is available now! It’s only $3.46.

The next one out will be “Footprints”. I just approved the recording today and it will take about a week for it to go through the system. I’ll be adding a few more of my books to their system. I love listening to them in audio, I hope others will too.

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Posted by on May 16, 2015 in On Writing


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My love/hate affair with reviews

“As an author…” Don’t you just hate it when someone starts the conversation as “As X I believe Y.” It sets them apart, says “I’m X and you aren’t therefore you don’t understand in the same way I do.”

Except that we all have those moments. Because I am a mother I see things in certain ways. Because I am an author I see another faucet of the world. A girlfriend, a divorcee, a survivor of abuse, a high school graduate. All of those things are things that I have done, as have many thousands of other people. So as one of them I do have a different perspective then someone who isn’t.

It’s still a bothersome way to start a conversation. And yet I almost did here.

Anyway, back on subject. I’ve been thinking about reviews a lot lately. NOT reviews of my book, as you might have guessed, but reviews from my day job. Some of you might know that I am a manager at a little store. Our corporation has “asked” us to get reviews from the customers. This means we hand out cards that say “give us a review on Google or Yelp to let others know how you like us,” or something to that effect.

For every fifty cards you give out you might get one review. This causes problems in a little store like mine where I only see two to three people a day. I ask, I hand out cards, and I just barely manage to get their quota of two reviews a month most months.

Then I have to go through the whole conversation of “Why aren’t you doing better?” Sigh.

So when I come home and I deal with my writing and it comes time to ask for reviews…there is a love/hate struggle of epic proportions going on inside of me.

First of all, I LOVE reviews on my books. I’ve only gotten a couple of bad ones, and so many great ones. I’ve read every single one and they just make me happy. Happy that someone took the time to read it. Happy that someone bothered to write a review. Happy that people ACTUALLY LIKED my book.

But the asking…the asking for reviews sucks and I hate it. I hate to feel like I’m imposing myself on others.

“Reviews are the life blood of authors” as the email I just got this morning from another author friend reminded me.

Then you go to Target, or the local boutique, or the car wash and are bombarded by people asking for reviews. Then you get these postcards of “review us please” filling up your pockets.

reviewAs an author I love reviews. As a consumer I am slightly annoyed with every store asking for them. And as a manager at a little shop I feel guilty asking for them, and frustrated that I can’t make the quota.

I still do it. I do my job, put a smile on my face, hand them the card and say “Please give us a review to let others know how helpful we’ve been.” Then I ask the next person, and the next, rarely expecting a review because so few people actually do.

And that’s the crux of the problem. The new internet revolves around reviews, but only a small fraction of us actually do them. I know I don’t do them very often. I just added a ton of books to my Goodreads library and only reviewed a handful of them.

Your book reading choices are being influenced by a fraction of the reading population. Did you know that? If 1000 people download the book, and 100 people read it, but only only ten actually give it a review that is a really small portion of the people who own it actually saying anything about it. That means if you care about reviews only a small portion of people, those who review everything, or those who had significant interaction with (good or bad) are influencing your decision on which product to buy.

And there are good reasons to review, and good reasons not to. For me, I prefer to review books that I really ABSOLUTELY loved so that others will know how much I loved it and might also read it. But I’ve read a lot of books and reviewing them all would take a very long time.

I don’t know if there is a point to any of this. Review my book? Yes, I’d love to hear from anyone who’s read my book. But I don’t want to seem pushy either. So read it, enjoy it, and if you want to then let me know about it. I’d love to hear from you, even if you hated it.

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Posted by on May 13, 2015 in Commentary


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Weird things

Etsy is one of my favorite places to shop. I try to get at least a couple presents there every Christmas. It actually makes shipping for Gregg easier since his Christmas list includes “dead things.”

Our first Christmas together I bought him three skulls from etsy. He was thrilled! I’ve since gotten him a palmistry hand, and a two inch human skull carved from a nut. (It looks like ivory, but no elephants were harmed for this carving.)

It always amazes me what you can find in etsy. So today starts my “weird things on etsy” pinterest board. I will also be doing a new blog post about these wonderful things once a week.

So today….

partsEver wanted to add a torture chamber to your doll house? parts2Well have I got the body parts for you. Your very own bloody body parts for your doll house torture chamber. Put it right next to your doll house black magic set. (I really want the doll house black magic set actually, it looks awesome.)

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Posted by on May 11, 2015 in Weird things on Etsy


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Unintentionally offensive

Yesterday at work a customer made an off hand remark about getting something free. Lots of people do this, nifty percent of the time they are teasing. We laugh, I say sorry can’t do that, and we go on our ways.

But yesterday was a bit different. We laughed, then he said “I’m just kidding. I work for what I have. I’m a conservitive, not a liberal. I don’t expect anyone to just give me anything.”

I was a little offended. First time in a really long time that I’ve ever been offended. I don’t necessarily consider myself a liberal, but I have been on public assistance before. Even now I have free medical from the state because I can’t afford health care. And this is what this person thinks of me? That I just want free hand outs instead of working for myself?

I laughed it off and let him go his way without saying anything. He was a grumpy old man, and a customer. Picking a fight would never change anything. What’s worse, even when confronted with their ignorance they won’t change their mind.

I hated being on public assistance. Every time I had to pull out that damn food stamp card I felt like I was a failure. It made me question my value to my children. My value as an individual.

I am so grateful I live in a country that gives food to the hungry, even if it is done so begrudgingly, and at the same time they give it to you they are making you feel guilty for using it. Without those food stamps there where months when my children and I would have gone hungry. Because of food stamps my children ate, and I only went hungry a few times. (They really dont give you much.)

The guilt is awful. I once put an energy drink on a counter along with some food because I was really tired from working and going to school, and wanted a little pick me up. “Food stamps don’t cover that,” the cashier said.

Ya. I know. That’s why I have a job, and I also get money from student grants that pays for this. Just ring it up, will ya?

Then there are the people who say “well you shouldn’t have had kids if you couldn’t afford them.” To everyone who says this FUCK YOU! I could afford them when I had them. I wasn’t on state assistance from the moment I had them.

Shit happens, things fall apart and you thank god, or the little fairies, or the flying spaghetti monster that there is state assistance because your friends and family will not be feeding your children when the shit hits the fan.

Having been poor I envy people in countries like Sweden and Norway that have good schools, and health care for everyone. Right now I have to deal with lots of little cavities and two more root canals because I couldn’t go to the dentist for more than fifteen years. I almost died once because my job wouldn’t let me take time off work when I was sick and I ended up with pneumonia for a month. I was too afraid to go to a doctor because I didn’t have insurance and we already went bankrupt once because of medical bills. But we didn’t go bankrupt fast enough. We were evicted, and lost our car because of garnishments when we couldn’t afford to pay for the life saving surgeries my husband and my son had.

“Then why did you get a divorce? Two paychecks are better than one.” You would rather people stay miserable and unhappy, or in abusive relationships because you don’t want to pay an extra one percent in taxes to help the poor?

“But there are soup kitchens, churches, shelters for the homeless etc. Etc.” do you want to stay in a dorm room with hundreds of people you don’t know with your children? There are people that get raped, stabbed, robbed  and worse in those places. Does it feel good to go to a soup kitchen every day to eat with your children? Or is it easier to get a little food stamp card so that I can go to the grocery store like normal people? Besides if every hungry person in the area went to these places they would run out of money and food a lot faster.

The attitude of many people in this country is “it’s your fault you are poor and you have to get yourself out of it.” They don’t consider accidents, job layoffs, medical conditions, or just bad luck. They can’t see that helping a person is far better for everyone than keeping them down.

“It’s my taxes!” And you’re right. It was my taxes too. I worked, I paid, and then when things went bad I used them. Even if I hadn’t what is better, paying one percent of your income to help the poor and sick, or paying 30% of all taxes for military, NSA, an unending war on terror, spying on everyone, passing million dollar pensions, and a lot of other things that probably could be cut or shrunk. But you’d rather cut services to the poor which consists of about 22% including health benefits for anyone who needs them.

It’s really frustrating that the same people who make you feel guilty for not making enough to live are the same people that say “we can’t raise minimum wage! That would hurt everyone.”

Do you really hate the poor so much that you want them to stay poor? Do you really care so little for others that you’d rather send drones to shoot up wedding parties and arrest people for feeding the homeless?

I haven’t been “proud to be an American” in years. And attitudes like this man’s are why. Like our government forcing drug testing for being on state assistance, or locking away people who told the truth.

This country is 14th in education and 37th in health care. The only thing we rank number one in is imprisoning our own people!

When will we learn that helping people is better for everyone then keeping them down?


Posted by on May 10, 2015 in Commentary


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The rise of the “boring” story

Science fiction and fantasy are known for their action. Sword fights, space ship battles, magic spells and solar storms. All of the exciting bits that make us cling to the edge of our seat. I even write a bit of this myself.

So imagine my surprise that my favorite reads this past year didn’t have any of that. At least not in the traditional sense.

Take “The Name of the Wind” as an example. There isn’t a lot of fighting in that book. 600 pages of studies, trying to get into the archives, miss adventures with girls, and a rivalry with another classmate. Not a whole lot of magic or swordplay. It was all about the main character using his wits to outsmart everyone else.

“The Martian” is another one. There is some action in the sense that he is trying to survive, and everything is going wrong, but the majority of the story is about the main character using his wits, and science, to figure out how to survive in a harsh environment. 95% of the story is one person against a landscape.

Nathan Lowell’s clippership books are about playing the markets and rising in rank. Much of “Wool” is about the mystery of the setting. All books I loved.  All books with little to no actual struggle against good and evil. No main bad guy. No saving the world. Just quietly making their way in their own fashion.

It goes against conventional wisdom . I hear so often that you may “write to the market” but which market?

The times are changing. What makes a good story isn’t always good verses evil. Sometimes it’s just a man verses the environment, or the subtle hint of a mystery to be solved. Sometimes it’s just good old fashion economics.

This shows me that I need to be true to the story, no matter where it leads. No one knows what will make a hit book some day. No one can predict what will catch on and what won’t. You can only be true to the story, and make it the best that you can.

And it isn’t even just in books. The Anime “Spice and Wolf” is about a wild goddess learning about buying and selling between cities and countries. It’s fasinating. “Hetalia” is a funny way of teaching history. Then you have nerdcore music about games, history, computers, etc. Or we can go into games were thousands of them are just about solving puzzles, or just surviving.

Write what you love. Do what you love. Be friendly and open. Show your work to others. SOMEONE out there will like it if it’s interesting. You just have to keep working toward finishing it, whatever it is.


Posted by on May 9, 2015 in On Writing


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Grasshopper Writing

I mentioned that I wrote a blog post and would post it when I was on Buddy’s Writing show the other day. Sorry for the delay, but sleep wouldn’t allow me to put it off any longer. So, without further adu, the Grasshopper Method:


People often ask: How do you write?

It seems like a simple question, but everyone has a different answer. The most common is “put your butt in the chair and write.” But that doesn’t answer HOW you write. For that most people talk about pantsers, plotters, and in betweeners.

I do something that is part pantser, part plotter, and part crazy person who likes shiny things far too much. I heard someone else describe it as “the grasshopper method” and thought that fit perfectly.

Let me try and put it visually, and then maybe you might start to see why it’s…well you’ll see.

Imagine you are in the shower (because all great ideas start in the shower, right?) and the shower door is ninety percent fogged up, with a few places that are transparent, or half transparent.

The shower door is your blank page. It is where you are writing the story. Just beyond the shower door is the entire plot of the story, from beginning to end, neatly laid out in story boards. Through the clear places in the fog you can see little glimpses of the story: a character, an item they are searching for, the ending. The rest is obscured by the fog.

When I finally sit down to write a story I usually already have most of the plot in my head. I can see vague glimpses of the story because I’ve been chewing on it for several months, or years, already and have built it up in my subconscious. Little pieces might be missing, like how they get from point A to point B, or why they did this thing toward the end, but the majority of the story is right there behind the fog.

So I start clearing away the fog to get a clearer view. I jump to this patch that seems a little brighter and find the young prince and his entourage assaulting a toy castle in their pajamas. Up above that I find a mother desperately trying to keep her calm as her world is falling apart. I find a glade where something magical is waiting to be found, but I can’t quite clear away enough fog to see what that item is. I keep clearing, and I keep sorting, and eventually there comes a moment where everything snaps into focus. The last bits of fog are gone and the entire story board is laid out.
timoneIf you have seen a story board you know that it is made of a bunch of pictures. Each picture represents a scene. Once you have all the pieces of the story board you don’t quite have a complete story yet. Sometimes you have to rearrange things so they make more sense. Sometimes there are scenes in between the scenes that are missing. A lot of the time it is just a few little strokes of a pen (or in a writers case, a few paragraphs) that connect two of the pieces together.

When I sit down to write I write one piece at a time, and slowly connect them. Sometimes I rearrange the pieces. Sometimes I have to delete, or add in pieces. Sometimes I just have to hope I find that missing magic item in that glade and figure out what the heck it does. The story is already in my head, though, and I just have to coax it out. One tiny piece at a time.

The grasshopper method is not for everyone. In fact I would say it is something to be avoided. I don’t only skip between scenes in a story, I sometimes skip between books in an attempt to find some thread of a story that will come to the surface of the fog in my mind.

This has lead to other problems. It’s unlikely I will ever have a co-author because who could work with someone who can’t work in a straight line? I’m unpredictable, and I am constantly changing.

I’ve gotten better over the years. I’ve learned to do some beats to make the story boarding process faster, but even then I sometimes can’t seem to focus on one board at a time, I have to skip around to find the one that is speaking to me that day. Story beats have increased my output from two hundred words a day to almost a thousand though, so I’m not entirely upset about it. My goal is to get to three thousand words a day by the end of the year. It’s going to be tough, especially since half the year is already over. I’m giving myself permission to take breaks for marketing, editing, formatting, etc etc. And just to have fun. But if I can writing more on the days I do write it means I can have a lot more finished by the end of the year.

With the grasshopper method it is more about spending the time with butt in chair then anything else. The more I write the closer I get to completing something. And sometimes that means having several projects done in close succession, while other months it means nothing is finished. It’s frustrating. But it’s also the way my brain works.


Just a reminder, you can find my email newsletter here to find out about new short stories, or novels being published. Sometimes they are free. Also, Witch’s Sacrifice is out. It will be $2.99 till the end of the week then it goes up to $4.99. I should also start having audio books out next month.


Posted by on May 5, 2015 in On Writing


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Wide Release

wpid-wp-1427063101748.jpegThis is the first time that I’ve actually put a book up on ALL the platforms.

Paperback on createspace, kindle, Koboitunes, B&N, then Draft2Digital also had Inktera and Scribd.

Is it useful? I’m not sure yet. I’ve never had a book on most of these sites. I still haven’t figured out how to post a book to google books. At the very least maybe someone will notice it and pick it up now and then. I’ve had books up on Smashwords and Kobo before, but really the only place I’ve sold many books is Amazon so…I figure it isn’t a bad thing to have them all out there.

Draft2Digital was surprisingly easy to set up and use. I know people have said it was, and after trying to get through the meat grinder over at Smashwords I just didn’t believe them. It was incredibly easy though and everything just went through without a hitch.

So…the book is out, the book is beautiful, and I can’t wait to get my own copy (of the final version) in the mail to stick on my shelf. It even has a map of the world so people can follow along in the journey!

This experience has been all about learning. With the short stories I already have out it was a lot simpler. They are often just one story, no need for chapters, maps, or major formatting. The trick with short stories is about telling a cohesive and compelling story in few words. With long format, like this novel, it’s about immersing the reader in the world, and sticking with that immersion for quite a while. Formatting consistency helps with that. Going from one chapter to the next and seeing the same images and typography. Making sure you don’t accidentally have a type change on the next page.

There is just so much to do. So many little things that can go wrong. And one little thing isn’t too bad, but thousands of them is TERRIBLE and will cause you to fail. So you have to carefully go through everything over and over again until you fix all those little things. Like the name that was spelled wrong even after three edits and my own proof reading. Or the time I formatted it with the wrong page size. Or trying to get the map to lay in the book JUST RIGHT. All those little things and more.

This means that I have to finish the next two books. I’m just glad they are already mostly done, lol, because this process takes a while.


Posted by on April 30, 2015 in On Writing


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