Harper’s Island-A Sick Day Perspective

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For my birthday, the Universe saw fit to introduce me to a rather nasty virus I have been battling for the last six days.

I am not a good patient–I will be the first to admit this. I have so much to do I end up totally pissed off at my body’s betrayal. But you can’t argue with it (I tried!) so the best thing to do is just roll with the punches and wait for a better day.

So, to ease my boredom, I binge watched a show called Harper’s Island which is streaming free for Amazon Prime members. It popped up on my feed, and when I read the description I was intrigued.

“Harper’s Island is an American horror mystery limited series created by Ari Schlossberg for CBS. Schlossberg, Jeffrey Jackson Bell and Jon Turteltaub served as executive producers. The series followed a group of family and friends that travel to the titular locale for a destination wedding, only to learn that there is a killer among them. At the center of the mystery is Abby Mills (played by Elaine Cassidy), whose mother was one of several people murdered by John Wakefield seven years prior. At least one character, and as many as five, were killed off in each episode.”

It sounded a lot like one of my favorite Agatha Christie books, And Then There Were None.

It’s only one season, aired in 2009. I figured, what the hell? I’ll give it a shot.

I’m really glad I did. The ending surprised me, and it was fun to rule out suspect after suspect. The series doesn’t seem to take itself so seriously in spite of the gruesome plot, with a wink and a nod to many horror/slasher/mystery movies that have come before it, such as Scream. But of course, as a writer/editor, I watched with great curiosity why, in spite of some pretty glaring potholes and deus ex machina moments, I was so hooked and could look past the plot.

Part of it was the diverse cast of characters. Some I liked, some I loathed, but during the course of the series they really came across as real people in an unreal situation. Another part was the mystery of it all–who the hell was behind what happened, and WHY? I was dying to find out, and it kind of carried me over the plot bits that as an editor, I would chew the writer’s liver out for attempting.

You know, just when you think you have it figured out…BOOM. Nope.

Also, the writers and directors really did a good job in creating tension, but even better, they paid attention to the flow of tension. This is not an easy task. None of the actors were told when they were going to die until the day before they got the script, so maybe this was a contributing factor.

All-in-all, I really liked it. I would love to see another “mystery event” like this, in a different setting with a different cast. I don’t know if you can catch magic in a bottle more than once, but I’d be willing to watch another show like this.

Check it out and let me know what you think!

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Another Year In The Bag

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I have completed another revolution around the sun. And while I am fighting a head cold, I’m pretty happy.

Birthdays are a time of reflection, I’ve come to find out. Sometimes it’s New Year’s, but birthdays are more personal and conducive to looking behind to see where I am now. To see and appreciate the journey so far. Because life is all about the journey, not necessarily the destination. So far, it’s been a wild ride, and I don’t see that changing.

I never really had any idea of where my life would go. To be honest, the majority of it I’ve spent in survival mode, and it was all I could do to keep my head above water and just…well, survive. These days I’m looking to thrive. There’s a big difference, and thriving takes just as much effort, but with better returns. It can be difficult to change that mind-set, but I can tell you it’s worth it.

I was never able to imagine my life at this point, but now that I’m here, I can’t imagine it any other way.

This year, I turn eighteen with forty years experience. I still have a lot to learn, but this is what I’ve learned so far:

1. Listen to your head, but follow your heart. And when your gut speaks, it trumps all. LISTEN TO YOUR GUT.

2. Erase the word “can’t” from your vocabulary. If you want it bad enough, you can make anything happen. Even magic. ESPECIALLY magic.

3. “Failure” is not a dirty word. A mistake is not a failure. You will learn more from your failures and mistakes than you will from your successes. Embrace them for the valuable lessons and then move on.

4. If you think it sounds mean in your head, it will sound meaner if you say it out loud. Think long and hard, then err on the side of kindness. Kindness doesn’t cost a thing but meanness will extract an expensive toll. By the same token, if someone is mean to you, that’s their problem, not yours. Don’t take it personally. It says a lot more about their struggle and character than it does yours.

5. Self-care is not selfish. It is necessary. When you love yourself, it’s much easier to love other people, with all their faults and magnificent humanness. Still, don’t be afraid to walk away from toxic relationships. Yes, it includes family. Sometimes the only way to treat an infection is to cut and cauterize. This is part of self-care.

6. Depression lies. Fear lies. THEY ARE DIRTY LYING LIARS. Do not buy what they are selling. They are straw soldiers and you are a warrior.

7. Create, create, create! It is the heart of life, no matter what form it takes. It could be writing, painting, sculpting, coloring…it could be cooking, keeping house, anything.

8. If it doesn’t work out, your life wasn’t meant to go that way. Instead of focusing on what you haven’t achieved, train that focus on the opportunities ahead.

9. Don’t worry about what other people say or what other people think. It is none of your business, and you have better things to do. Do them.

10. Pay it forward, in any way you can. Even small deeds can make a big difference.

I’m ready for another year. In fact, I’m really looking forward to it.

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What I Have Been Up To

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Well, it’s been quite a while since I’ve had any writing news to update. To sum up: It’s been a hell of a year so far.

SHORT FICTION

Earlier this year I participated in the The Short Story Challenge sponsored by NYC Midnight. It was a BLAST. In the second round, I placed first in my group with my story, Dust Baby. Unfortunately, I was eliminated in the final round, but I ain’t mad. I was so proud of Dust Baby I sent it to Tin House for their consideration. It’s still there, awaiting final word.

TAKING THE PLUNGE

Then, at the last minute, I decided I’d give NaNoWriMo a whirl. (If you’re interested, I’m Netta50 on NaNo. Let’s buddy up!) I’m working on a novel called Broken Arrows, which has been in my brain for approximately seven years. I’m not much of a plotter, although over the years it seems I have morphed into a pantser/plotter hybrid. I joined a local Facebook group (Yay, STLWriMos!) and in doing so, have learned a lot about my writing process for longer works. The eureka moment came when I started doing writing sprints as opposed to hours banging away at the keys. And by “hours banging away at the keys” I mean staring blankly at a page for hours wondering what the hell I was writing. Or not writing, as it happens.

I hit the sweet spot at 15 minute sprints. The words are flowing! And fifteen minute sprints are easy to fit into busy days when I’m editing other people’s words. I’m thrilled.

BROKEN ARROWS

Here’s the preliminary blurb:

A warrior, sick from death and destruction, is separated from his company and in the wake of a horrible tragedy, comes upon a strange girl in the forest. She dances upon a bed of broken arrows, feet bleeding. He rescues her only to find he has changed the very fabric of the war devastating the land.

He is faced with an agonizing choice at great personal cost in a life where he has given or lost everything. What does he choose? How can he choose?

The fate of his life, his heart, and his land hangs in the balance.

It’s quite different from anything I’ve attempted before, but so far I don’t hate the story and I’m making progress. I’d call that a win. I have hope that once I finish this novel, I can put my new process to the test and finish off the AEGEAN TRILOGY and Sally Mae’s latest romp. Wheeeee!

Tell me what you’ve been doing!

For editing news, visit Word Webbing! Don’t forget to sign up for my writing newsletter in case I have earth-shattering news about my fiction. If you’re interested in the editing side of things, I have a sign-up for that as well on Word Webbing.

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STILL NOT NICE OR THE STRANGE PLANET INSIDE MY HEAD Has Landed!

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WHEEEEEEEE!

*Phew* Well, as anyone who has done this knows, publishing a book is a shit-ton of work. But finally, STILL NOT NICE OR THE STRANGE PLANET INSIDE MY HEAD is now available!

I feel like I just gave birth to a buffalo. Heh.

Check out the nifty trailer! And go grab yourself a copy!

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Working Hard-Still Not Nice Publishing News

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Whew!

Seriously, things have been a blur for months now. Busy is good they say–idle hands are the Devil’s workshop. But sometimes busy hands are that way too. MUAHAHAHA!

Which brings me to STILL NOT NICE or THE STRANGE PLANET INSIDE MY HEAD.

Yes, this is a new volume of short and flash fiction. Yippee! STILL NOT NICE is an unusual volume–there’s fiction, ruminations, and observations. There are a couple of stories about Sally Mae Riddley, my Fire Child, that have never been seen before. A couple of pieces from contest writing, and…well, a mixed bag, really. I’m very pleased with how it has come together.

Want to see the cover? Sure you do!

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All thanks to the awesome Melinda VanLone for the amazing cover. I just love it.

The final details are being tweaked even as we speak! SOON! Sign up for my newsletter if you haven’t already to be alerted as soon as it’s live.

It is really a strange planet inside my head. Come on in and take a look. I won’t bite…at least, I won’t bite hard. Heh.

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Writing and Wrangling

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Words, words, and more words. Life is good!

The second edition of Not Nice and Other Understatements is on track to release October 15th. Wheeeee! She’s all polished up, and I’m beyond happy about this. People who purchased the Kindle edition in the past will receive the update at no charge, with a new print edition available for those who are interested. I’m hoping to offer signed copies through this website. She’s so PURTY now!

Hopefully Still Not Nice, or The Strange Planet Inside My Head will be close behind.

It’s a juggling act, between editing and writing. I have a lot of balls in the air.

Sometimes it's more like juggling FIRE. No lie.
Sometimes it’s more like juggling FIRE. No lie.

Flash Fiction Challenge

A couple of months back, a Very Good Friend pushed encouraged me to enter the Flash Fiction Challenge 2014. At first I was like, nah, I’m so out of practice and where am I going to find the time? But hey, it’s flash, my first love, and what would I have to lose? It’ll be fun.

Basically, there’s a field of over a thousand writers, broken up into 25 groups. Each group is assigned a genre, a location, and an object. The goal is to write a 1,000 word story to incorporate those three things in 48 hours. In the first two rounds, a score is given to the top fifteen stories in blind judging, meaning the name of the author does not appear anywhere on the work. After two rounds, the top five in each of the twenty-five groups moves on to the third round, which narrows the field to 125 writers.

The groups are then reassigned, given new genres etc., and the top five in each group moves to the fourth round where a winner is chosen.

I completed the first round and won my group with fifteen points. The genre was ghost story, the location was a museum, and the object was tracing paper. The story, Mosaic, came out creepier than hell and I scared myself. Heh.

And now the pressure is on.

The weekend of October 3rd, my group was assigned crime caper, a hunting lodge, and a notebook. After much angst and hair-pulling, it was Sally Mae Riddley and Becky Jo McFee to the rescue in The Antler Caper-A Sally Mae Riddley Adventure. It was so much fun hooking up with the girls again–they crack me up.

Results for that round will be given November 5th. I’ll find out then if I get to move on to the third round.

I’m just trying to have fun with it and I will tell you I have missed writing flash fiction something fierce. I still maintain it is the BEST training ground for writers. You have strict parameters, but the universe is at your fingertips. You have to chose each and every word carefully; you have to know your story structure inside and out. There is just no wriggle room at all. Beginning, middle, end. Problem, climax, resolution. There’s a cadence, a flow. In my opinion, it is the most challenging form of fiction you can write.

Whether I move on or not, I have two stories of which I’m very proud and a reminder of how much I love flash.

I’ll keep you updated how things work out. Wish me luck!

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Book Trailer For Not Nice and Other Understatements

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At last! Newsletter subscribers got to see this last week. If you don’t want to wait for news and want to be in on giveaways, previews, and exclusive tidbits, sign up for my newsletter right over yonder –> I don’t spam. That would be rude.

Not Nice is in the final stages of the re-haul, and honestly, it feels really good to tweak her out to her highest potential. And because I just love putting shit like this together, behold the book trailer!

Not too shabby, eh? So much fun. Let me know what you think in the comments :)

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Booty and Old Age

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I think I’m getting old.

This doesn’t really make me as sad as you might think.

Case in point: I just watched the new J Lo video, “Booty”. There goes four minutes of my life I’ll never get back, but hey. That’s on me. Horror of horrors, there’s even a version featuring some other “artists”, a couple with famous big booties. Whatevs.

First of all, I will readily admit I’m a pop music junkie. Can’t help it. I love all types of music, and that includes such gems as Spirit in the Sky and The Monkees. I also love me some Mumford and Sons and Of Monsters and Men. I even love me some Sir Mix A Lot.

I have playlists of nothing but mindless dance tunes, hits from every decade, the blues, rockabilly, classical–and that’s only the tip of the iceberg–I have to stop there or I could be here all day. I love music, period. Sometimes it speaks when I cannot.

I love it all.
I love it all.

But the latest by Lopez? Yeah. Not so much.

I really felt my age when the first thought popping into my head was, “I wonder what her kids will think of this video?” I KNOW! She has a boy and a girl, right? Jeezum, what a message she’s sending them both. I, for one, would not want to see my mother, at any age, bending over and showing the world everything but Jesus and the Apostles. Just saying. Not a picture I want in my head. And not to be a real bitch, but the woman is FORTY-FIVE years old. When is she going to outgrow the clubbing persona?

And be crabby and old, LIKE THE REST OF US.
And be crabby and old, LIKE THE REST OF US.

Okay, I might be a teensy bit jealous of that bod. It is slammin’, I’ll give it to Jenny from the Block. But come on, now. Girl, you are not twenty any more. Are you really still grabbing men from the dance floor and giving him what he asked for? Do you want your daughter to do this? It sounds like an interesting way to catch a social disease at the very least.

There’s nothing to the lyrics but a lot of ass. That would be all right if the music carried the lyrics, but such is not the case. So you really have a lose/lose situation here.

I’m not saying you have to act a certain way when you reach your fourth decade, or that you have to dress a certain way, either. To each their own. I’m all for expressing your sexuality any way you feel is necessary to your happiness. Still, it feels like to me this is the video of a woman who is desperate to hold on to the remnants of her twenties and that’s just sad, to me. Especially since the music sucks. I bet she thanks the Universe for autotune every day of her life.

What do you think? Am I just a crabby old lady? Let me have it.

Don’t forget to sign up for my occasional newsletter about my current writing projects, book trailers, and new releases. Spam free and zero calories!

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I Love Book Trailers

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It’s true. I love book trailers and I cannot lie. I love watching them, I love making them. I don’t really care if it’s “fashionable” or not, don’t really care if it’s trendy or not. I probably should, but I think it’s well-documented by now I don’t really march to a normal drum beat. Whatever “normal” is supposed to be. Heh.

This is probably not normal drumming. But who am I to judge?
This is probably not normal drumming. But who am I to judge?

I just know what I like.

So yes, I am working on a book trailer for the re-launch of NOT NICE AND OTHER UNDERSTATEMENTS. Squee!

Want to see it? SURE THING! Just sign up for my newsletter over yonder -> and next Friday you shall behold first, before all others!

This newsletter will be strictly about my writing endeavors, giveaways, and new releases, which means you’ll probably hear from me a LOT less than your mother. Promise.

And no bitching, either. WIN/WIN!

Yes, swag is on the way. I love swag almost as much as I love book trailers. So sign up! If I become too annoying you can always tell me to KNOCK IT OFF, RIBKEN!

Thanks :)

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NOT NICE Gets An Update

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I’ve had plans to publish another collection of flash fiction for quite some time, but waited until I had enough time to devote to the project, you know? So I’m happy to announce STILL NOT NICE or THE STRANGE PLANET INSIDE MY HEAD will launch on or about November 1, 2014. It’s an important anniversary to me, and I’ll share the details of why when we get closer.

Come on, now! Patience is a virtue!

In the meantime, I wanted to spruce up Not Nice and Other Understatements so she can hang with the new chick on the block. We have a SPANKING cover by the talented Melinda VanLone, and bonus material which did not make it into the final publication.

And since I just can’t wait, here’s the new cover:

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How cool is that? I’m very pleased with it.

I also have another surprise…but you’ll have to sign up for my newsletter to see it first :) I do put out a monthly newsletter about editing, but this one is strictly for new releases and special tidbits for my own work. Trust me, you won’t be spammed (spam is gross in ANY FORM) and you’ll most likely get a newsletter a mere few times a year. If you want to keep up with my blistering publication schedule (okay, that might have been a tiny bit sarcastic) sign up for notifications of new releases and who knows? At some point I may just throw in a plastic rocket! BECAUSE I’M CRAZY LIKE THAT!

I really am. I wouldn't lie to you.
I really am. I wouldn’t lie to you.

Let me know in the comments what you think of the new cover, and stay tuned for more shenanigans!

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