Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Art Projects: Padded Work

Dancing needles flashing in and out of cloth has been absorbing my art time the past few months. I taught a class on smocking and one on net darning in November and that took a lot of prep work. But I have devoted some time to "me" projects as well.

Padded Work Project (June-July)

In June I attended a two-hour class on padded work. The "simple" project took several weeks to complete, but I got it done!

First I basted the fabric together with bright red thread. Next I drew the teacher-provided design using chalk and then basted that using white thread because the chalk was going to come out quickly with all the hand work.

Now the fun starts. I put in the true outline, slowly removing the basting. At the same time I started the speckling - itsy, bitsy stitches bringing down the fluff. In the first photo you can see the right flower petal is half-completed.

I bounced around a lot, as you can see in the second photo. The leaves were nearly completely speckled, but the big bumps on each of the flower petals still needed work.

Eventually I got all the outline and speckling done. The last major step of the embroidery part of the project is to run thick yarn through the edges of all the flower petals, raising them even higher next to the matted down speckling. I did though through the back of the project.

With the embroidery complete, I needed to back the padded work pillow. I added yarn around the edge to hide where I joined the backing fabric to the embroidery ground.

Next came the tassels, because throw pillow should have tassels. I made them from the same yarn I edged the pillow in.

And Complete. 

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Flash: Three Wishes Granted (Part 1)

Image courtesy of Tuomas_Lehtinen at

Smoke curled upward from the flickering candles like fingers clawing the moving shadows hiding the gymnasium ceiling. A fat red candle burned grudgingly at each corner of a triangle. Storebrand sea salt, its box discarded on top of the pile of winter coats and purses in the bleachers, had been poured onto the waxed but scarred wooden surface recently used in a sport ceremony most humans call basketball to form the outer triangle with the red candles. A young woman sat on each side of the triangle, her bare ass just touching but not moving the sea salt, facing the inner black triangle created from crushed coal and burned school work. None of their body parts touched the black shape. Each corner of that triangle had a black taper burning far steadier and faster than the red pillars, but, eerily, no pools of light illuminated the women’s faces from the inner candles or glittered on the embroidered symbols decorating short linen tunics they wore covering their breasts and hovering just above their bellybuttons.

One of the woman, her back to the home team basket, said words which skittered across the mind like fingernails on a chalkboard. The other two hummed and growled responses.

The home team had won. Finally. The college wasn’t known for its sports teams. Jessica, a cheerleader to meet the sports requirement of the liberal arts school, immediately called Emily and Kiran. They had been waiting four months to cast this spell requiring a victorious battleground for their tribal warriors.

Waiting had been a bitch. The setup for the spell required three days of abstinence beforehand, which meant they had been going without sex for nearly four months. Kiran hadn’t minded since she hadn’t been dating anyone, but Emily’s beau dropped her like a rock when she hadn’t put out regularly and Jessica and Austin had degenerated to screaming matches. She knew he was fucking Roxanne on the side, but coven before lovin’.

Jessica sung-shouted the last word, tearing her throat on the power of the Name. Emily and Kiran echoed the Name of the fallen angel, bouncing the Word around the gymnasium in an ever-growing cacophony with each echo taking the Name higher or lower by half a note. Flats and sharps destroyed the beauty of the angelic Name until all the sounds reformed into a new name “Lucifer!”

Sound stopped.

The dim light sneaking in from the hallway backed out. Only the light of the six candles remain and the harsh breathing of the women as they gasped for oxygen after chanting for two hours. Time hovered at three o’clock Sunday morning, the time between the Jewish Sabbath and the Christian Lord’s Day.

Kiran turned her head and whispered to Jessica, “Do you think it worked?”

“Shh!” Jessica glared at their newest coven member.

Kiran bit her generous lip. The other two were seniors who had picked up the freshman out-of-state student for their group after their third member graduated last year.

A dozen heartbeats passed, then a dozen more, and a dozen after that.

Long after the hallway light hesitantly returned to create two small rectangles of light on the north end, Jessica reached out her arms straight out to both sides. The cold wood floor had completely numbed her butt. Kiran immediately put out her arms either side, and Emily slowly followed suit until all three of their fingertips touched.

“Do you remember how to clear the spell, Kiran?” Emily smiled encouragingly.

Kiran closed her eyes a moment and mouthed a few words before opening her eyes again and responding, “Yes.” As the youngest of those present, backing out of a spell fell on her and a summoning spell is not a magic to leave half-intact by a misremembering. She had been studying her part every day for five months.

“Giving up so soon?”

All three sets of eyes snapped to the center of their formation. The dark candles’ flame finally reflected off of something as all darkness within the inner triangle formed into a man. The handsome devil wore a tuxedo, ruby cufflinks flashing as he snapped the sleeves firmly into place with a jerk at the cuff. His brilliant red bowtie and satin cummerbund brought out the color of his glowing eyes to a stunningly scary sexy perfection. Black hair with frosted tips curled past his shoulders and accented his cheekbones and goatee.

Emily gasped, her hands covering her mouth. Kiran started forward but froze when Jessica ordered, “Don’t cross the lines!”, before standing.

Though the tallest of the women, Jessica at five foot eight still was half a foot shorter than the being trapped in the inner triangle. But she was barefoot and the man was wearing Oxford shoes, so the height difference wasn’t as bad as it seemed. Even so, appearing anyway like a supplicant before anyone wasn’t for her.

Kiran and Emily followed their leader’s action and also stood. The freshman, nearly fifty pounds heavier than her five foot three inch frame should be holding, had the hardest time standing in the limited space between the salt and the coal lines.

The satisfaction Jessica felt twisted her lips up. “What, you were hoping we were some idiots and wouldn’t clean up our little mess? Is that why you didn’t manifest until now?”

“Why would I ever do something as devious as that?” The man in the middle matched Jessica’s evil smile with one of his own. “I live for being pulled away from Hell to revenge some adolescent imagined slight.” He took the one step closer to Jessica, as close as the black coal allowed. Lowering his voice, his red eyes banked to burning coals, he asked, “So what tune are you going to have me play my little witch?”

Jessica licked her lips and controlled the urge to sway closer so the tips of her peaked nipples would rub the linen tunic against his wool tux. No crossing the lines, she reminded herself. “Actually our summoning is to make a deal. Our souls for our wishes.”

A wider grin replaced Lucifer’s smile as he returned to the center of the summoning symbol. “Your soul? I always like collecting red-head souls; it so enhances the myth that the gingers are all my servants. State your wish and we may strike a bargain.”

Jessica shifted. “I’m blonde.”

“And your thatch is red, my dear. You dye that mane of yours.”

The blush started at Jessica’s belly, visible below the short hem of the tunic, popped up above the fabric at the beginning of her cleavage and suffuse her face. She had forgotten they were all naked below the waist.

“Oh, I do seem to have an unfair advantage.” Lucifer started taking out his cufflinks. “How un-gallant of me.” Before they could stop him, the devil had his jacket tossed back into the darkness and his shirt hung open, unbuttoned. He turned a slow circle within the confines of the black triangle, arms open wide, skittering his large hands along the edge of the spell, leaving black cracks in the invisible shield and making his knuckles bleed. “Is this enough or do you want me to remove more? As you can see by my chest hair, I am actually blond but people prefer their demons dark, not the Morning Star.” He stroked down his bare chest leaving a light trail of blood behind.

Kiran stared as his hand stroked over his rock-hard abs and hovered for a moment over a growing bulge in his pants. “Would you like a taste my dark-skin beauty?” He stepped closer to the freshman, opening the flap of his pants to expose buttons and popped the top one.

“Kiran, no!” Emily shouted, but didn’t move from her position within the symbol.

Kiran pulled her hand back before it broke the cracking barrier and whimpered, “I’m so wet.” Shaking she slipped to the floor far more gracefully than she rose.

“Yes you are little one. I can smell you.” He flicked his forked tongue out. “I would love to taste you.”

Kiran moaned, her hands dropping to her thick thighs, rubbing them. Her head twisting back and forth so she wouldn’t stare at his now-eye-level crotch or meet the glowing coal-red eyes. Her nipples pressed against the symbols of protection embroidered in gold and silver on her linen tunic, the magic fighting the seduction charm leaking through the cracked dark triangle, sending tingles from her tits to her core with each strike and repost of the charm and counter-charm.

“I don’t think so.” Jessica stated as she picked up the removed the athame strapped inside the tunic on her left arm. “Emily, follow my lead.”

Without hesitation, Emily pulled out her ceremonial blade and drew it across her palm in unison with Jessica. They then flung the blood at the invisible barrier. As the droplets hit, non-light splashed out vanquishing the cracks on their sides.

“No!” The devil ordered and crashed his hands against the side Kiran was on. Her head flung back as she screamed, an orgasm taking her.

The witches switched hands with the blades and cut their other hands and flung the blood as close to the side Kiran was on without leaving their positions. The splatter created new centers of healing the barrier and wrapped around the corner, nearly meeting in the center on the freshman’s and throwing the devil to the corner opposite her. His shirt burned and fell off, leaving angry marks. His knuckles no longer bleed, but his hands and shoulders were blistered. The shirt pooled into a dozen shadows and faded.

Kiran had somehow managed to control her fall and lay perfectly between the white salt line and the black coal line with neither smudged. She twitched, moaning as the ecstasy faded.

The man leaped to his feet in the center, his chest expanding and contracting rapidly, the hair on his head even longer, now falling to midwaist, and completely blond. Fists shook either side of his body as he turned to face the coven leader.

“Your eyes.” Jessica stared at the angelic blue eyes set in the most beautiful face she had ever seen.

Gleaming white teeth ground. The devil closed his eyes, tension left his face and it shifted into something darker, more human and less divine. After a moment he opened them and they were gleaming red coals again.

“Your bargain.” He growled.

(To be continued)

(1,737 words, first published 11/27/2016)

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Other Cool Blogs: Jody Hedlund October 2015

Image courtesy of

Stuffing a Story

"Show, don't tell." How many times have you heard that instruction? I can't tell you how many times I have written it on a manuscript while editing.

Then I read my writing and realize I have completely stripped all description from a story. How much stuffing do I need to put into the story so the flavor comes through without making the beast pop?

Jody Hedlund shared "How to Balance Showing versus Telling" on her blog towards the end of 2015. I have previous pointed you toward this author with her 3 Stages of Editing way back in January.

No, the posting does not give the exact balance - genre drives part of the balance; for example, thriller will have less telling than science fiction. The article does point out not all telling is bad and a balance is needed, a fairly unique voice among the publishing industry demands to make writing look and sound more like the visual media of television and movies.

Need the link again? Well, let me stop telling you about the post and show you instead:

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Writing Exercise: Ticking Clock

Image copied from Learn About Parkour:

Ticking Clock

You may be familiar with "ticking clocks" from the thriller genre, but they also occur in other genre. A few things to remember with Ticking Clocks:

1. Be precise about the passage of time.
"When we talked earlier today" ; "The other day"
GOOD: "When we talked before lunch in second period" ; "The day before yesterday"

The passage of time needs to feel important to everyone. If the clock is ticking off hours, be precise about the hours - if ticking off days, be precise at the day level.

2. Don't slow down. As the deadline approaches increase the challenges. Torture your characters.

3. Remind your readers of the Ticking Clock through the urgency the main character feels, not reminding the reader by relaying the countdown through the prose.
NOT GOOD: Charlie tore down the sidewalks because he only had moments to meet his true love, according to the street soothsayer.
GOOD: The soothsayer told him he needed to be at the corner of Second and Main at 5:08 sharp. Charlie's breath burned in his lungs as he ran. He never was good at running, but to meet true love he would arrive gasping.

WRITING EXERCISE: Write a Ticking Clock - At least three sentences and share below. Make us feel the urgency.

Make us feel like we are back in school taking a final of 150 multiple choices in one hour ... urgent ... and realize the last question is an essay and we have 10 minutes left .... building, racing toward the end, getting more difficult ...Then realize that the essay is 25% of the grade. I did mention torturing the characters, right?


Charlie rounded the corner to Main, plowing through the professionals pouring out of the Maddox building. He was going to make it; only one city block left and it was a short side.

The bright orange cones would not have stopped him, but the caution tape was at ankle, waist, and eye level. They were repairing the sidewalk and directing foot traffic across the street. He didn't have time.

His eyes darted for a way as his feet continued to move.

Subway, had two exits, one on Third and the other on Second.

He half-jumped the steps and half-slid the rails down; more a control fall than anything else. God, who would have thought he would be doing parkour? He forgot to breathe during the distance across tiles between the staircases. He gasp a new breath as he faced the second set of stairs, trying to ignore the digital clock above letting the commuters know it was 5:07. He had failed at everything he had ever tried unless it was a total deadend, like his job at the coffee shop.

True love was seconds away, if he made it up the three flights of stairs.

(words 42 +195 = 237 - first published 7/11/2015; republished in new blog format 11/29/2017)

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Nano: Opening of The Swan

The Opening page of The Swan, so far. I received feedback that the physical description came too soon and the opening is too "purple". Also the name "Dougie" read like "Doogie" and threw people out of the story. I kind-of want the name to be Douglas for its name meaning. Do you agree with the feedback I have received? Do you have additional feedback. Comment below.

The Swan and the Kitty (Urban Fantasy)

The scream rending the night’s air in two, separating the indistinguishable grayness from half lit street poles into bright white full moon pools and black shadows, caught Dougie in the heart. He didn’t think twice before setting his laundry duffle securely across his shoulders and putting his four hundred pound, six foot frame lumbering in the direction of the noise. Echoing barks countered the caterwauls.

Tucked between the forgotten buildings of Tuscon’s south side Douglas discovered another battle in the age-old war between the canine pack predators and a feline solo hunter. Douglas cursed under his breath about pet owners who abandoned their pets when they stopped being cute. The Maine Coon cat had managed to get in an elevated area but was bleeding from several bites. Below it, four feral dogs each nearly twice the size of the admittedly very large cat jumped and barked, spittle flying.

He hated bullies.

After twisting the drying towels he had been carrying outside the bag tightly around his arms, Dougie stomped forward yelling and waving his arms.

Eerily the dogs immediately stopped barking and turned to face him. The bright black, brown and blue eyes staring at him were far too intelligent for discarded half-starved pets. The largest of the pack, a black creature with Rottweiler in its mixed line, yipped twice and the yellow and brown dogs broke from the pack while the Alpha and the fourth dog returned to monitoring their primary prey.

(243 words, first published 11/20/2016)

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Geeking Science: All the Dirt

Image courtesy of adamr at

November, election month, what better time to talk about dirt? I've been totally into dirt this year with my gardening project, which is finally winding down just as the winter holidays begun. Hopefully everything I planted will survive the winter and the benign neglect, who am I kidding - full out neglect, until tax season is over.

Now to Geeking about medicine and dirt.

In 2015 a new possible antibiotic, the first in 30 years, was found and named teixobactin. This is way cool as superbugs continue to develop because far too many people do not take the full course of medication. Now we have something new to fight the fast evolving bacteria.

But even cooler is how they found teixobactin. They got it studying dirt.

Scientists have known dirt has a lot of possibilities for suppression of bacteria, viruses and other microlife; the challenge has been when soil is removed from its culture and studied, all the good stuff in it quickly dies. They couldn't keep what they needed to study alive long enough to study it with the sampling methods available to them.

This changed when Northeastern University (Boston, MA) created a new way to isolate chemical compounds in soil using an electronic chip.

Now a whole new world has opened up for studying the microbes in dirt.

And for the science-fiction people - what this means is we may have a way to study dirt while terraforming planets. The first stage to make a planet hospitable will be creation of dirt and atmosphere. Humanity has gotten a good handle on the atmosphere at this point but making living soil, with all of its aspects, has been inconceivable - we didn't even know what we didn't know about dirt. Being able to study soil with this new tool changes the impossible to the impractical. We will need more tools to make it practical, but we are getting there.

The full scholarly article can be found at: Teixobactin, the first of a new class of antibiotics discovered by iChip technology? by Laura J.V. Piddock. Published June 18, 2015 in Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Author Spotlight: George R. Dickson

Book Cover from Amazon

While in recent years Heinlein has been considered the father of military Science Fiction with his Starship Troopers released in 1959, the truth is Dorsai! by George R. Dickson came out the same year and they could arguably considered co-fathers of the military subgenre. I believe Mr. Dickson's works didn't gain the mass popularity of Heinlein's works because the battle focused on a officer planning and preparation standpoint instead of the survival of the grunts; more people have been enlisted than officers. Also Mr. Dickson's books had less sex, that likely had some impact on young men picking up the books.

I vastly preferred George R. Dickson growing up, my mother feeding me both authors as I expressed interest. Even in my early teens I craved worldbuilding, and the Child Cycle had it all: religion, politics, environmental features impacting battle plans, A LIBRARY (oh, the library!)... Military leadership has to have a big picture and Mr. Dickson supplied it. The series spanned his entire fifty-year writing career, with side journeys into fantasy, children books, and short stories. Over sixty book in all published during his lifetime, not including collections of his short stories.

My high school freshman year research paper on a famous author was on Mr. Dickson's Child Cycle - someone my teacher hadn't hear of and never had had a paper on before. He actually took me aside to talk about the paper; the teacher clearly enjoyed having a new topic to read about rather than another Charlotte Bonte or other literary master from the school's "must-read" list.

If you have never read anything by Mr. Dickson before, I would recommend starting with Tactics of Mistake. Try the Amazon preview and see if appeals. If you asked me what influenced my earliest study of writing, I would point you to this man.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Flash: On Call

“Don’t you dare take that call.” Brianna hissed.

Wally gave her an enigmatic smile of apology while stepping away to activate his implant.

Brianna hated his job. Yes, the pay was fantastic, but as the system specialist he was on call 24-7. His multi-trillion dollar company even paid for the new telly-com implant so he would never miss a contact. Often when they were at dinner, he would start scrolling through his email. Before when she wanted alone time with him, she would hide the tablet or arrange for the battery to run out. Now he was the battery.

(words 99 - originally appearing at Sunday Fun on Breathless Press 12/23/2012 with the visual prompt inspiring it before the site was taken down as well as my blog; could not find photo copyright permissions so did not copy; republished new blog format 11/13/2016)

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Other Cool Blogs: Pictures

Image acquired without permission from (multiple) Facebook postings
Published March 2, 1972 - Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz
Peanuts comic can be found here:
(I could not find link to original strip on the website.)

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Editing Rant: Copper Pennies

Image Courtesy of Gualberto107 at

What do your characters know?

So last editing rant I went off about Know Your Topic. You don't want to lose readers because you presented parasailing or embroidery incorrectly. If you don't know the topic find someone who does: topic experts, beta readers, at least a research librarian whom you are keeping in chocolates and coffee.

Equally important be aware of what you character knows.

This isn't limited to the more common Point of View (POV) main character (MC) limitations; you may know character B dyed her hair yesterday, but MC doesn't know yet so describes character B as a blonde. Don't get me wrong, as an author making certain you only let your MC work from the information known to them rather than to you as the writer is essential. And challenging.

But you also need to limit them on what they are familiar with. Having a twenty-fourth century engineer know how to use a twentieth century keyboard to input information into a computer system is improbable.

Or a twenty-something person forty years after the zombie Apocalypse comparing the scent of blood to new pennies. Yes, this is a common comparison to the point of being clique. But someone born after coins stopped being minted isn't likely to know what new pennies smelled like.

A person who has never seen the shore would not understand what the salty breeze meant.

Someone who had never been off a spaceship isn't only going to be shocked by no sky - no walls is as big an issue. And the ship isn't breathing. Could they even sleep at night? No mechanical noise means "we are all about to die". How long does it take for the panic to wear off?

Back to the Smell of Blood - as an editor I couldn't rewrite the line about new pennies. But I did find an article on the scent of blood. If you are describing lycanthropes, vampires, or just have splashes of blood throughout your manuscript you may want to follow the link to Writeworld - "Describing the Smell of Blood".

(sigh) ... And it is research like this that puts writers on watch lists.

WRITING EXERCISE: Create a scene (500 words are less) where your WIP character describes a common day item on your desk s/he is not familiar with and what the actions are taken to discover its use.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Flash: Lonely on the Road

Image Courtesy of Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee at

Twisting the wrench yielded no results, so Kelly kicked the rental’s tire and walked along the berm cursing herself, her uncharged phone, and, most especially, Jim. She adjusted her purse’s shoulder strap after tucking the wrench inside and headed north along the isolated highway. The last exit was 5 miles back, the next exit was promised to be only 3 miles forward.

Why had she decided to surprise Jim? Sure his corporate construction job kept him away a month at a time wherever a new facility needed building, but the weekends he came home were magical. With the long weekend, she had thought to bring the magic to him.

Well, the surprise was on her. She had known he shared rooms with other guys to cut costs. But she hadn’t known he had shared his bed. Her mind’s eye briefly flashed a picture of the two men she found wrestling in his unlocked bedroom. Two suntanned muscular bodies naked and humping madly.

For a second her imagination added her between the males. Okay, a threesome was her favorite masturbation fantasy.

But the point was Jim was cheating on her! He could have told her he was bi and she could have handled it. Loved to have handled it. Since hooking up with him, she had been monogamous. For three years she had been with only one man; it was kind-of creepy after nicks she had put into her bedpost before they had gotten together. Keeping faithful though didn’t mean she hadn’t looked or wanted more. Kelly could have provided him all sorts of suggestions for male booty calls.

Focus. Cheating. Doesn’t matter if it is male or female, it is still cheating.

Behind her a car beeped. Kelly turned around to see Jim’s beatup pickup pulling over, scattering the gravel. She gave him the single finger salute while he unbuckled and continued walking away.

His long legs ate up the distance. “Kelly wait! Damn it, I’m sorry. It doesn’t mean anything. Wait, Kelly.” He got a little ahead and started walking backwards in front of her. “I didn’t want you to find out that way.”

“So how did you want me to find out?” Kelly stopped to save all her breath to yell at him.

Jim stopped too, scratching the back of his head. His jeans hung low, showcasing his six-pack and a little more. He hadn’t bothered to grab a shirt before following her, or put on shoes. That gravel had to hurt.

“Actually, never,” he admitted.

“Finally something honest!”

He looked hurt. “I’m always honest.”

“Except about sleeping around,” Kelly accused.

“Umm, I never lied about it, I just never mentioned it.”

She closed the distance to hiss up into his face. “The truth, the WHOLE truth and nothing but the truth.”

Pushing his chest she demanded “What? Am I suppose to have you swear on a stack of bibles every time you came home?!!”

Muscle-bound ape that he was, her push didn’t rock him, but he took a step back from her fury anyway. “…No?” he responded, clearly hoping it was the right answer.

“Damn right, no.” Kelly pushed her hair back so she could look up and watch his face while she stood toe-to-toe. She kept encroaching into his space. “A relationship is about trust. I don’t care how much I love you, but if I can’t trust you – we got nothing.”

She stepped around him and started stomping north again. “Kelly, don’t be this way,” he begged trotting after her. “It doesn’t mean anything.” He grabbed her arm to stop her.

“So how long have you been sleeping with him?” Kelly turned back to him to stare him in the eye. “And don’t lie to me now – I will wash your briefs with the red towels.”

His mouth stopped half-way opened. He closed it a second, sighed, and admitted. “Luis and I have been bunkmates for about nine months now.”

“Bunkmates?” Kelly laughed harshly. “Is that what they call it now? … And who was before him.”

“I don’t know, Carlo, maybe.” Jim shrugged. “I don’t really keep track.”

Her eyes grew round. They had started trying for a child a year ago.

“Oh, no, no. Sweetheart, I always use a condom, and I get tested twice a year. I ain’t stupid.”

“Could have fooled me,” she said icily, putting her hands on her hips. “So do you only cheat on me with guys?”

He stood up straighter, looking indigent. “I’ve never cheated on you. Not ever. Yeah, I sleep with guys, but I don’t love them or anything. It’s just sex. And loneliness, a whole lot of loneliness when you are not around.”

Kelly rolled her eyes. “Been saving that one up?”

“Nope, just kind-of came to me,” Jim smiled boyishly. “Good though, right?”

Damn, why did she have to love him so much. “Yep, that was pretty good. … Only guys, right?”

“You are the only girl for me. In fact, …” He yanked the back of his jeans up and down a bit before kneeling in front of her. “Will you marry me?”

In his hands was a dark blue velvet box. He opened it to reveal a Marzin cut diamond surrounded by a rainbow of precious smaller gems.

She looked at the box, then him kneeling in gravel, then at the box again. “You’ve got to be fucking kidding me.”

“No joke. I made the last payment yesterday. Been working on buying it since we started this project and saw it at the mall.” Smiling hopefully he added, “I’m glad fate let me have it available at the right time.”

“That is another great line Jimbo.” Kelly sighed as she gently closed the box in his hands. “But until we work out other things, this will have to wait.”

Jim sagged. “So you are leaving me?”

“I didn’t say that either.” She offered him an arm to help him stand. “Let’s go back to the hotel. I want to meet this Luis and we can all have a good talk.”

(words 1,009- first published 5/7/2013; republished new blog format 11/06/2016)

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Other Cool Blogs: Magical Words June 25, 2012

Image courtesy of DigitalArt at

Helpful Advice in Editing
If everything is going as I hope it will (I am writing this in June), I am elbows deep in NaNo again. I wanted all the blog postings prepped so I can concentrate on writing, therefore I went through the Magical Words archives. There I ran across Carrie Ryan’s obscurely titled post “Not that … but that”.

It’s on editing. The very thing I am trying really hard not to do. It's a NaNo no-no during November...and my biggest weakness to meet the word counts.

When editing others, I’ve made a lot of tough calls. Should I provide another possible word or just tell the author to find a new word? Do I say information seems to be missing or do specifically state what I want added? If there is a hole, do I point out the hole (example: primary love interest is passive) or provide the author the shovel to fix the hole (example: add another love interest to fight)? In one case, I may be stepping on the author’s voice and creativity, and, in the other case, I work with a lot of new authors who are having enough headaches being edited I find giving vague solutions is more of a problem than a help. Should I provide both then – but editing is always on a tight schedule, most of the time I can only write one line and move on.

I love the “a-ha” moment Ms. Ryan shares on her first editing feedback. The editor tells her to add something which ended up sounding really strange to her, until she asked the editor “What problem does fix?” Once she knew what the problem was, she was able to fix the issue her own way.

If you attend critique groups as a participant, receive editing feedback, or review beta reads, (as reader, editor, or writer) I highly recommend this blog. Again the link is here:

Second takeaway from the blog – don’t be afraid to ask for clarification. Stand up for yourself. That is not to say fight your editor, but remember to be a participant in the partnership to make your book better.

And if you are participating in NaNo – good luck!

WRITING EXERCISE: Specifically approach someone you trust to be honest and ask them to beta read, critique, or edit something you wrote (at least 500 words and no more than 3,000), letting them know you are using this for practice of the editing process. After taking a day or two to look over their responses and get over the grief stage (see blog here on critique grief), practice asking for clarification without confrontation. Once completing the clarification portion, ask for feedback from your reviewer on how you did.

READING EXERCISE: Read a short story and write a critique or edit the story. Set it aside for two days. Come back and now pretend to be the author. Where do you think the author would like clarification on your critique.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Book Review: Seraphs (Rogue Mage #2)

Book Cover from Amazon

Seraphs (Rogue Mage #2) by Faith Hunter

Living among humans in a post- apocalyptic ice age, neomage Thorn St. Croix is a source of both fear and fascination for the people of Mineral City, and now she faces her ultimate test.

Deep under the snow-covered mountains beyond the village, an imprisoned fallen seraph desperately needs her help. There, hidden in the hellhole, the armies of Darkness assemble to ensure this subterranean rescue will be Thorn's final descent?

I started in the middle with "A Rogue Mage" series by Faith Hunter. I read Seraphs before reading Bloodring. And this book isn't *quite* standalone. Took me 4 to 6 chapters to understand most of the language of the world and the people and what happened previously.

But that is okay - the opening lines are "Claws gripped my throat, shutting off my air ..." And so we begin another novel by Mrs. Hunter - in the middle of things and continuing into a non-stop ride of urban fantasy adventure with just enough character development bits to catch a breath while the tension cranks you to the top of the next hill of the roller coaster. Then the bottom drops out again, and the curves are slamming you side to side with action and plot twists.

I have read a couple of the Jane Yellowrock stories. I am liking this story much better, and I liked those stories just fine.

The religious themes innate to this post-apocalyptic world may bother some readers, but are they also add so many layers to the world-building. Ahh, just figured out why I like this series more than Jane Yellowrock - it required a lot more world-building, and I just love a good world-building.