What I Have Been Up To

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

Share

Working Hard-Still Not Nice Publishing News

StillNotNice2 (2) (267x400)

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!

SNN Image

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.

Share

Writing and Wrangling

DSCN4499

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!

Share

NOT NICE Gets An Update

NotNice (2)

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:

NotNice (2)

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!

Share

Independence

Until then, I'll keep on my dancing shoes.

Please note: the website is currently under renovations. Don’t mind the dust. Work progresses as time allows. There’s missing studs and holes in the walls, but we’re getting there. Thanks for your patience!

 

I have been an indie from the get-go, since I was a tiny person. It’s in my nature and I can’t help it. I’ve always cavorted to a tune it seems no one else could hear; independent to a fault, some might say. It has its ups and downs, pros and cons, highs and lows. During my lifetime, I have been both rewarded and punished for it. I was raised to be independent, and my life’s journey has trained me to be independent.

And while you might be able to teach an old dog new tricks, it’s much more difficult to change an intrinsic part of your personality.

vivi
I’m always ready to learn something new. But it better be good.

When I started my writing career, it was a no-brainer for me to go independent. I might be a bit of a control freak, and when it comes to my fiction, I want to be the one in charge. After all, fiction has been and always will be a gigantic part of my life. It means so much to me I can hardly bear the idea of handing off something into which I’ve poured my life’s blood and soul to someone else.

But in the changing tides of today’s publishing, it makes good business sense to keep your options open.

I have come to realize everyone’s circumstances are different. What works for one writer may not work for another. I’m not built to follow the road most traveled, anyway, and most of my close personal friends would scream, “HALLELUJAH” to that statement. I have to make the best decisions for myself without looking to see what other people are doing. I’ve lived most of my life that way, and it hasn’t turned out too badly, despite some spectacular failures. Hey, go big or stay home.

I have also discovered if something scares me witless, it’s probably the thing I need to do the most. I live with a lot of fear—but I never let it stop me. I was scared to go freelance when writing non-fiction. BOOYAH. I was scared to dive into fiction. Double BOOYAH. I was terrified to venture into editing. HAH.

So when I contemplated my next business move, I considered sending a novel to a traditional publisher. I almost talked myself out of it. Was I scared of rejection? Nope. Been rejected on several levels, many times. What I am scared of is success.

Which told me I needed to do it.

So I sat my happy ass down and took a few hours to do something for ME. I wrote a synopsis, put together the first three chapters, and wrote a cover letter. As we speak, my little package is winging its way to a traditional publishing house to see what we can see. I’m not even worried if they don’t like it. I’m worried that they WILL.

Then what?

Well then, we’ll just go from there, won’t we?

Until then, I'll keep on my dancing shoes.
Until then, I’ll keep on my dancing shoes.

 

Photos courtesy of morguefile.com. 

Share

Inspiration For Mondays-Josip Novakovich

Josip Novakovich

When I first started writing flash fiction, I was lucky enough to fall into a workshop of writers who were amazing people. They had a profound influence on my writing, and without them I’m not sure where I’d be right now in my writing career. Workshops are tricky things–they can make or break you as a writer. I learned so much from these generous and talented people, and that’s a debt I will never be able to repay.

In between workshops, I ran across a book titled Fiction Writer’s Workshop by Josip Novakovich. The blurb under the title reads, “The key elements of a writing workshop; clear instruction, illustrated by contemporary and classic works, innovative exercises and methods to gauge your progress.”

Josip Novakovich

It’s one of my favorites of the writing books in my library; I’ve had it and used it for close to fifteen years. The exercises are excellent, with chapters on sources, setting, character, plot, POV, dialog and scene, beginning and endings, description and word choice, voice, and revision. There are 127 exercises in all, and you can take them in a linear way or pick and choose.

Participating in a workshop can be a most amazing experience, but it does take time and effort. And a workshopping environment isn’t for everyone. This book fills the gap nicely, and I highly recommend it for both beginners and old-timers, because while beginners thirst for knowledge, you are never too old to learn something new.

From the introduction:

“As a writer you need a strong sense of independence, of being and thinking on your own–so go ahead, work alone. I will give you a lot of advice, but you need not take it. Especially when you disagree, you will formulate your own principles. No matter what advice I suggest in this book, which is designed to be a fiction workshop you can attend on your own, you ought to write freely. Ought and free don’t seem to fit together, and that’s another paradox of writing: If you can incorporate several writing principles and yet retain and even advance your independence of writing, you’ve got it made.”

Do you have any favorite books on writing fiction? Please share in the comments!

Share

Finding the Time to Write – The Sequel

Back in 2008, I wrote a blog post about finding the time to write. I thought I’d re-visit the topic, especially since a lot of things have changed since then, although the basic issues I address in that particular blog post still apply. Right now I know many writers who are neck-deep in NaNoWriMo, and finding the time to write is really a concern. But for most writers, it’s an ongoing issue since the majority of us hold full-time jobs, have families, or would just like a spare moment to eat a meal, visit with friends and family, or even take a pee break.

Finding time to write
You think there’s a lot of time. But never enough.

When I wrote the original post, I was just launching a career in writing, which at the time meant writing non-fiction copy. Fitting in fiction was difficult, especially since there were these pesky things like “deadlines” and “rent”. It’s hard to make that brain switch between non-fiction and fiction, and sometimes I couldn’t do it at all. I mean, there are only so many hours in a day and my brain can handle just so much.

My brain on cauliflower
This is my brain. Yes, it looks like a cauliflower. I’m aware.

Even still, I managed to put together my flash fiction collection, other shorts, and my first publishable novel, Athena’s Promise. Since then, my career has changed (change is the only constant, I’ve found) and I am working quite steadily as a successful fiction content editor. I realize how lucky I am; I have a dream job, work for no one but myself and from home, and therefore, set my own schedule.

But I put in long hours and still have deadlines and there’s always that damned rent thing. So finding time to write my own fiction is…challenging, like it is for most of us who have this deep, abiding passion to throw words on a page to see what sticks. I still have other things to do, like eat, sleep, try to get the word out on my own fiction efforts; mop the floors, clean the litter box, and run my business. I struggle with brain re-charging, dealing with family issues, health issues, keeping up with the industry, networking, finding new clients so my cat and I don’t end up living in a cardboard box. I count myself very, very fortunate because even with all that, I’m doing what I love to do so I’m not complaining. Not even one damned bit.

But it wasn’t always so. It has always been a challenge to find the time to write, and I am sure it always will be. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

When I started writing fiction, I had a full-time job in the Out, and three kids to raise as a single mom. I think it’s the main reason I started with flash fiction, which will always be my first love. I still maintain writing flash is one of the best training grounds for writers — but that’s another topic. The point is, finding time to write it was almost impossible. But with this burning need, I really didn’t have a choice. It was write or die. And I don’t know about you, but writing sounds a whole lot better than dying.

Cemetary
Yeah. Not fixing to end up here just yet.

So I managed. After working eight or ten hours a day, taking care of the house and the kids, I’d scratch out what I could and just put all my nuts in a basket. Nuts which later turned into a collection of which I’m very proud. I was on my way. I also started a daily blog (yes, DAILY) in which I’d write something, ANYTHING, no matter how banal and stupid it might have seemed to me, just to get into the habit of writing something every single day. This is known as “discipline”.

Fast forward a few years (what, you think this shit happens overnight. Heh. You funny.) and I’m working in a hotel. Long hours. LONG. Brain-numbing, in fact. I just didn’t have time to write fiction, although I kept up the habit of blogging every. Single. Day. Even through an awful storm knocking out the power for five days, I wrote a blog post in longhand on yellow legal pads, and then posted them later. I did this for a total of six years. I tried NaNo once, without computer access during my imprisonment–uh–I mean EMPLOYMENT at the hotel, by using the same method–you know, real paper with a real ink pen, no spellcheck–and crapped out at 25k. What I wrote was awful and will never see the light of day while I draw breath, but I tried.

FIRE
This is where my first novel attempt ended up. Believe me, it was for the best.

Then, I started freelancing, and trust me, I worked harder than I ever did in an Outside Job. That’s the nature of the beast, but being no stranger to hard work, it didn’t faze me. In this time, I wrote “Athena’s Promise” and although it was slow going, I got it done. I set myself a goal every day, and no matter what, every day I hit it. I hit it as hard as I could.

Currently, I am more often than not neck-deep in Other People’s Words. And I love it. I absolutely love what I do for a living. It’s not easy, but my Momma always told me life was not easy. While she may have been wrong about a lot of things, about this she was absolutely, 100% correct. Life is not easy and it’s not meant to be easy. Switching my brain from Other People’s Words to my own is difficult. You know, deadlines and stuff. Immersing myself into a world of someone else’s creation and picking apart the mechanics. Another switch to click and all that. But the voices in my own head are loud, and chatty, and just won’t shut the eff up. And I have yet to train my cat to clean out her own litter box. (She’s an asshole.)

And so, more material was wrought, and remembering my lessons on discipline, I have been working on the sequel to “Promise” titled “Athena’s Chains” and am halfway there. In the meantime, I have completed the first in a series of novellas, titled “The Trailer Park Tiara and Goat Incident–The Adventures of Sally Mae Riddley” (coming soon) and started the second, working title “You Ain’t The Boss Of Me – The Adventures of Sally Mae Riddley Volume Two” with three more (at least, if Sally Mae doesn’t quiet down) planned.

How do I find the time to write? I make it. Late at night, with my asshole cat prowling around yowling it’s time for bed or destroying yet another roll of toilet paper, I set aside at least an hour after a grueling 12-16 hour day to make it happen. Because I know if I don’t, it’s not going to happen. Nobody’s going to write these stories but me. I have to make it work, because I AM A WRITER. I am a lot of things, but at my core I AM A WRITER. And writers write, even in sub-optimal conditions. Tired? Sure. Obstacles? Definitely. So. What. Even if it’s only a hundred words, a thousand. Whatever it is, I’ll take it. Because here’s the thing; you take a small thing, and add another small thing, keep going, and the next thing you know…you have a Big Thing. (Yes, I know that’s a lot of “things”.)

Mountain
How do you climb a mountain? One step at a time, motherheifer. One step at a time.

If you want it bad enough, you make it happen. YOU. No matter what stands in your way, no matter what it takes, YOU are the only one who can make it happen. The obstacles or challenges just make the journey that much more rewarding. And really, in the grand scheme of things, it’s not the destination which matters as much as the journey.

Happy trails. Keep on keeping on. YOU CAN DO THIS. Now, get to it.

*All photos courtesy of Morguefile.com

Need a content editor? I do that. Check my rates and services here.

Share

First Chapter of “Athena’s Promise” and a Cover Reveal!

Just for you, here is the print cover for “Athena’s Promise” and the first chapter. I hope you enjoy it! Don’t forget, you can pre-order autographed copies here. The official launch of the e-version is scheduled for Friday, October 28th. Thanks for all your support! *MUAH*!

Chapter One

Hearing the phone ring a full hour before the start of my shift was usually a sure sign the day was going to go right down the toilet. Living on site in a hotel as the front desk manager has its perks, but being on call 24/7 sure wasn’t one of them. I guess I should have been used to it, but that didn’t mean I hated it any less.

Of course, since the accident at Atlantis some twenty years ago, opening the Portal and allowing just any creature to cross over, calls like this were all too common. What awaited me this morning? A pissed- off centaur, a drunk and disorderly minor league wizard, what? Working in a hotel located on the edge of Zombietown sure made for interesting guests. Not to mention the staff.

I rolled over in the king-sized bed, one of my favorite perks, and picked up the receiver. Before I even lifted it to my ear I heard Lilah, the pixie working two night shifts a week, screeching in her twangy voice. Oh lord, it’s gonna be a long day, I thought, and I don’t even have my eyes open yet.

“Miz Pallas! I swear to all the Gods, you gotta get down here. I can’t get this stupid horse – yes, I just called you a horse! – to understand if he checks in this early he has to pay for two nights. –Don’t you shit on this floor mister, you just better not!”

Well, that popped my eyes open in a hurry. I knew exactly the target of Lilah’s screeching .

I sat up in bed. “Lilah! Lilah, I know you’re upset but calm down. You can’t talk to a guest like that, not even Cedric. Tell him to hang on; I’ll be there in ten minutes. You’d better hope Medusa doesn’t hear you from the back. Go to the laundry room if you have to and cool off.” I loved Lilah, I really did. She was a cute little thing, brown and sparkly with eyes shaped like almonds, but those damned pixies were so high strung!

She finally started to settle down. “Oh, oh, oh! I’m sorry Miz Pallas, sorry. Sorry. You’re coming down, right?” I heard her say, “Oh, now you gonna deal with Miz Pallas! How you like that?” and I couldn’t quite suppress my grin. I hated it when Lilah got upset, although most of it was just pixie dramatics, but Cedric could be a handful. I knew from pulling too many double shifts the night shift around here could get really hairy. And of course, no one wanted to deal with a pissed-off Medusa. That was strictly my job.

“I can’t get dressed if you keep me on the phone. Just hang up and bug out. I’m on my way. Cedric can leave or wait till I get there; I don’t care what he does.” I hung up and contemplated for the thousandth time why I was still at this job after three years of dealing with “critters” – the crossovers from every fable, folklore tale, myth, and legend you can think of. I must be crazy.

I sighed and scrambled into my uniform of the day – a navy blue polo and a pair of khakis. Sneakers, my red hair pulled into a hasty ponytail, and I booked out the door. Hey, with the running around I did, it didn’t pay to be girly. I just usually ended up sweating off the makeup and perfume. Not to mention the days when I was so frazzled my hair resembled Medusa’s. I cleaned up pretty well, I’ve been told, but this job was not for sissies.

I headed for the elevator. My suite was on the third floor, at the far end of the hallway. When I first started working here at the Traveler’s Haven, I made the mistake of taking a room on the first floor as close to the lobby as I could get. Big mistake. On the first floor everyone thought nothing of just walking over and knocking on my door at all hours of the day and night. On the third floor I could take the back stairs and no one knew my business, even though living on property was like living in a fish bowl. Privacy could be a problem.

With Cedric kicking up a fuss, I couldn’t even stop off at the little breakfast café to grab my daily cup of coffee, and that pissed me off. The food served there was gross, but I guess three years of anything would seem gross. However, the coffee was excellent and sometimes it was the only thing to get me though the day. I nodded to Luke, the breakfast host, on my way by. He was a new employee, hired by Medusa, and I had yet to become well-acquainted with him, but he seemed like a nice enough guy. Still, I’d been around the block enough times to know looks can be deceiving.

Cedric didn’t see me at first. He was busy feeling up the blond (Skank Number One) while the brunette (Skank Number Two) swayed back and forth on her feet and tried to snatch at Cedric’s tail. I sniffed the air as I approached the front desk, and thankfully I didn’t smell anything other than the odor of horseflesh and the perfume of the two floozies twined around Cedric. I saw no sign of Lilah – a good thing.

I sure wasn’t happy to see this bunch in my lobby. The hotel was at the edge of Zombietown, it’s true, and we received a lot of business from the local strip clubs and bars. But Medusa and I worked really hard to cultivate a better clientele than inhabited the hotel here when we first took over. The owners, three gnome brothers, didn’t seem to care where the money came from as long as it kept coming, but in the meantime guests like Cedric gave the “normal” clientele the wrong impression of our place, an impression we were trying to change.

“Cedric, what’s going on?” I pasted the “Guest Service” smile on my face, hiding my irritation at being called out early for this. I leaned against the front desk and crossed my arms. Oh, he appeared in fine form. From what I understood, centaurs were usually not so ostentatious, but Cedric seemed to be an exception to the rule. His light brown hair and mane were plaited with ribbons of all colors; sparkling bling around his neck, on his fingers, around his wrists. I knew his stuff wasn’t genuine, or he’d be staying at a much nicer place than this. The ice in his ears might have been real, but the rest of it was strictly for show. His clear blue hooves, probably the only thing I found attractive on the douchebag, were drilled out and embedded with more fake bling, ruining, in my opinion, his best feature.

A handsome critter, Cedric, but a player all the way. Actually, I was surprised he only had two females with him. Those girls just can’t seem to resist Cedric’s uh…other assets. I’m sure I don’t have to draw a picture.

“Ah, Miss Pallas! Finally some competence here.” Cedric’s deep voice rumbled as he untangled himself from Skank Number One to reach for my hand, dropping what I’m sure he thought of as a charming kiss on the back of it. To me, it was disgusting. His tail switched back and forth in agitation.

“Cedric, that’s not fair and you know it. How many times have you stayed with us?” I surreptitiously wiped the back of my hand on the side of my pants. See? That’s why I didn’t dress up. “You know the policy. Check-in is at three o’clock. You check in this early, you have to pay for two nights; check-out is tomorrow at eleven. I’ve explained this to you before.”

Cedric stomped a hoof, barely missing Skank Number Two. “Come on, Pallas, it’s not fair. You mean to tell me if I check in right now I have to check out at eleven or pay for two nights?” His tail switching stepped up a notch. I noticed he dropped the “Miss”. He stomped his hoof again, and I started to do a slow burn. “That sucks. I probably won’t even stay until tomorrow. ” He snorted and pushed away the loving arms of Skank Number One, who pouted and promptly sat down on the tile floor and thanks to her short skirt, I saw everything but Jesus. This was getting out of hand, and in a hurry.

“Cedric, it’s the policy and you know it. I can check you in right now, but if you pay for one night you’re checking out at eleven. Period.” My patience ran out. “It’s not my policy, it’s hotel policy, and I’m not jeopardizing my job for you. Pay or go. I don’t care which, just make up your mind.” I had to get this asshole and his two uh…companions out of the lobby before respectable people started showing up.

I walked right up to him and put my hands on my hips. I might have been a foot and a half shorter than this critter, but you bet I had a bigger attitude. “You can quit switching your tail, because I swear to the Gods if you shit on my lobby floor you’re banned for life. Now, do you want the room or not? Because I’m not in the mood to stand here and argue with you one more minute.” I stared him straight in the eyes, and he backed down, just like I knew he would.

He reached for Skank Number Two, and almost stepped on Skank Number One. “All right, all right. Gimme the room until tomorrow.” I heard him complaining and mumbling as I made my way around the long desk to the computer terminal to check him in, but that was okay. I loved it when they called me a bitch behind my back. Didn’t bother me in the least.

I checked him in and charged him top dollar, oh yes I did.
As soon as Cedric and his lovlies cleared the lobby, Lilah came flitting out of her hidey-hole.

“Miz Pallas, I’m sorry I called you early, I truly am.” She giggled into her tiny hands. “You sure gave him what for, and he sure had it coming.”

I stapled the paperwork together and threw it in the “in” basket. “Lilah, you can’t talk to guests that way and you know it. I know Cedric is an asswipe, but he’s a guest. Sometimes, you just have to grin and take it.” I sighed, because six in the morning was too early to lecture, and I needed some caffeine. Like, right now.

Lilah nodded as if she actually cared, and I said, “I’m getting some coffee. Might as well finish up your shift paperwork, girl, and you can leave early.” She brightened and glittered. I loved it when pixies did that, you know, got all glittery-like? It happened when they’re happy, and it was really cool to watch. This makes pixies dangerous to most people, because humans will go above and beyond to make a pixie happy just for the sparkle. This, in turn, makes pixies the most spoiled bunch of brats you’ll ever meet, but I didn’t take any shit from them. Lilah knew it and was smart enough not to push me past my limit. That would be a very bad thing for all involved. Good thing I had such a sweet temperament.

I made straight for the breakfast café. It wasn’t much, really – basic stuff like fruit juice, pastries, cereal and the like. The food sucked to me, but the coffee was fabulous. Critters could request special items, like roe eggs for the merepeople (mermaids were popular at the strip joints nearby and stayed here often) or protein shakes for the undead. I tried not to think about those items.

Luke came out of the kitchen with a load of cinnamon rolls. When I nodded, he smiled. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of him. He seemed charming enough; he showed up every day on time; he did his job well. Cute, I guess. Tall, shaggy brown hair he kept in a neat pony tail, brown eyes. Medusa hired him as Breakfast Host without any input from me, not our standard operating procedure. But, whatever.

“Morning, Pallas. Coffee’s fresh. Want a roll?” He breezed over to the warming station and started filling it up with cinnamon rolls. After smelling them every single day for the last three years, the aroma made me want to barf. Copiously.
“Uh, no. Thanks anyway. I just need caffeine.” I walked back to the small kitchen to grab my oversized caffeinator – I didn’t mess around. It held about a half a pot of coffee. No matter how quiet the day began, the joint started jumping around check-out time and I never knew what was going to happen.

Perky was not my thing in the morning, especially when I had to come on an hour early. The staff knew it, and they walked careful. Even Luke, new to this gig, knew that much and kept his mouth shut, which told me he might be smarter than he looks.

After filling up my tank of coffee, I walked around to the back of the front desk to my tiny corner of heaven. Medusa occupied the back office, and rarely came out front. There’s a reason. She had this unfortunate handicap, you see. When riled, she had a tendency to turn people to stone. Therefore, the bulk of the front desk duties fell to me. We got along fine – I didn’t have a problem with her, I was still standing, and I ran interference. The Gnome Brothers had a love/hate relationship with her, and with me…well, I despised the little fuckers and if it wasn’t so illegal I’d love to see her turn them into nothing more than a lump of rocks. But, I digress.

I sat down at my corner, just a space carved out big enough to do a little paperwork but not much more. The security monitor, mounted over my head, and the monstrosity of a copy machine constructed sometime around when dinosaurs roamed the earth made for a tight space. A night window, seldom used, helped me keep an eye on everything. Or try to, anyway.

Looking over the schedule for the housekeeping staff, I saw Miss Esther, the head housekeeper, had four zombies on for today. That’ll work, I mused – it’s a slow day and they should be done by one o’clock, saving on payroll. Those little gnome brothers were always carping about payroll, but they carped all the time. They had more money than King Midas, and yet they screamed poverty constantly. Typical.

Oh, the zombie thing. Look, I knew most people wouldn’t have anything to do with zombies, and I understood. There’s a lot of misinformation out there about them, but living and working on the edge of Zombietown gave me a different perspective. Zombies aren’t quite what they’re made out to be by Hollywood. Their condition is not their fault. They weren’t contagious until the Turn, and zombies could be quite lively for a long time – sometimes as long as a decade until the Turn happens. That was when they became feral and a danger. It meant they had to be put down. Usually, families took care of their own, but there was a unit which specifically took care of feral zombies when they Turned. They were called the Z-Squad. Original name, right?

Until then, zombies were perfectly nice people. We employed about eight as housekeepers. Yes, there was the stench, but commercial deodorants usually masked the worst of it. Our zombies were certified as required by law, meaning their “birthdate” was confirmed so we could anticipate the approximate date of their Turn, but most of them didn’t last that long. As they got up in age, certain body parts fell off and they couldn’t do the job.

It was a sad thing, to be a zombie, but the ones I met were some of the best peeps I’ve known. I took care of them, they took care of me. In the hotel business, loyalty counted for a lot.

I sighed and sifted through group booking requests, supply forms, invoices and a slew of other stuff I had no interest in dealing with. I heard Lilah counting her drawer, humming to herself and sparkling. I loved it when she sparkled, have I mentioned it? Otherwise, I expected another quiet morning at the ranch.

Lilah finished up and bounced over to me, singing in her pixie way, “All set, Miss Pallas.”

“Go ahead, punch out. See you in a couple of days. Stay out of trouble, will you?”

She giggled. “Oh, Miss Pallas. You know I stay out of trouble. I’ll be back for the second shift on Thursday, right?” Damned pixies never kept track of their shifts, but at least Lilah knew enough to confirm every time she left property.

“Yes, dearie, and you’ll be relieving me, so don’t be late.” She giggled again, and I had to grit my teeth. Sometimes, her chipper attitude in the morning was a lot for me to take, so it was. She flitted off, and I heard her punch the time clock on her way out.

I gathered my paperwork and moved to the front desk, where I had more room to sort out the stuff I needed to speak to Medusa about and the stuff that could wait. I liked having everything organized. It kept her happy and it was a good thing to be on her best side.

I flipped through the group requests and bird-dogged one from a band traveling through here on a regular circuit. They wanted to book two weekends in July; a nice piece of business, but I happened to know their manager served Lucifer himself, and they could be trouble. Not only the band, but the groupies following them. Another group request on the list, a tour bus from Pennsylvania; a group of vampires coming for a convention. I liked this, because they slept all day and were gone all night, which meant no service from housekeeping.

I shuffled papers and started making notes; grateful today seemed low-key and calm. Boy, seldom have I ever been so wrong. When things blew up, they really blew. I had no idea then how bad it would get.

Cedric was the least of my problems.

Share

Change Is The Only Constant

Yep, some changes in Netta-Land, and while change is not necessarily a bad thing, it can be a little disconcerting.
So, if you’re tired of the same old story…turn some pages.

This is me — turning some pages.

***

One of the biggest changes and one I am ecstatic over, is the position I’ve accepted at Etopia Press as a Content Editor. I am over the moon.

This moon. Not the other kind of moon. That would just be wrong.

I am so happy about this because fiction has always been my first love, story my passion. I really enjoy working with new authors and taking a manuscript to the next level. This position allows me to expand my scope and exercise my Mad Editing Skillz, as well as provide an opportunity to meet and work with some outstanding authors. I am very excited about this!

I decided to sign with Etopia for many reasons. One of them was because of the fabulous Managing Editor and founder, Annie Melton. Not only is she smart and savvy, she and I share the same driving passion for story and what really resonates with me is her respect for writers in general. She gets it. Annie has a lot of experience in the publishing and editing field, and she has the kind of high standards I can get behind 100%. I feel very fortunate.

So, if you are interested in working with an indie press dedicated to nurturing and supporting both new and established writers, take a look at Etopia Press. If you think it would be a fit, use their submission form and if you would like to work with me, include my name. If accepted, your story, novella or novel will come to me and we would get to play together! Doesn’t that sound like fun?!

Don't be scared. Those are fake horns. Mostly.

I am interested in all genres, but I will admit a fondness for speculative fiction, horror, paranormal, urban fantasy…you get the picture. Length doesn’t matter (so many jokes here, so little time, but I’ll spare you, heh!) because I love short stories as much as I do longer works.

Send me what you have! I’d love to see it.

***

And not so much of a change, but in addition, I have some new releases on my Amazon. Three of the covers I did myself, but the cover of The Blood is Not Enough was done by Laurie O’Hare who totally nailed it on the first try. I love this cover so much, I’m thinking about getting a tattoo. The story means a lot to me, and could be in development as a longer work.

My other cover, for Of Virgins and Indigestion was done by graphic artist Rebecca Treadway. She brought George to life, and it is SO COOL! This is the first Netta Character ever to have a face, and I’m so happy with it. I love George, bless his heart.

Both of these stories appear in Not Nice and Other Understatements but stand quite nicely on their own. I’ve also packaged a selection of stories in On the Edge of Insanity – A Triptych of Crazy and Little Rebellions for those who aren’t sure they want the whole collection. (And why not?)

For something new, I’ve released a volume of twelve stories called Musical Chairs – A Jamming Bio, a unique look at significant memories over a period of time inexorably linked to a selection of popular music.

More projects in the works as time allows. Stay tuned.

***

Another major change in Netta-Land is I’ve decided, except for a few select clients, to retire from writing web copy. I’ve had a good run, but it looks as though the Universe is poking me to travel in a different direction. To that end, I am currently on the hunt for an Outside Job Involving Real People. (Oh, the horror! Heh. For me, not them! Although some people may differ on that opinion.)

I’ve chosen to do this for many reasons. The main reason is I want to focus on my editing and writing endeavors. Right now that’s not enough to support me, so I will have to adapt. I can do that.

Decisions, decisions.

Another reason is I have become increasingly disenchanted with writing web copy, and this is partly due to the demanding deadlines. Now, I don’t have a problem with deadlines, and I have made it a priority to never miss one and I am proud to say I haven’t. But it is extremely wearing to always be “on alert”, so-to-speak, especially with other factors becoming major issues.

“What factors, Netta?”

Well, I’m glad you asked that question, Dear Reader. Factors like low pay, unreliable payments, disrespect and general Fucktardary (sure to be the subject of another NettaRant. I’m sure you can’t wait). I’ve had enough, to be perfectly blunt. Truth is, I know the world of fiction and publishing a lot better than I know the world of web copy, and I’m much more comfortable with fiction. I’ve straddled the line for almost three years, and it’s time to pick a side.

Talk to the hand.

So, I have.

I don’t count my years writing web copy full-time as a loss. I have learned so much that will serve me well in the fiction arena, and I feel as if those lessons will give me an edge. I’ve met and worked with some fabulous people, and I’ll still be working with a select few. I also feel as if it’s time to put my butt on the line in a different way, and to that end I will focus my energy on what I truly love to do.

Change is the only constant. I’m looking forward to the next chapter.

Share

Fabulous Fiction Friday Round-up

You might have been expecting this kind of round-up.

Yeeehaw! Okay, it’s not that kind of round-up. There are no cows or bulls, no ropes and no manure (although that might be a matter of opinion). What I thought I’d do is re-introduce you to some of the Fabulous Fiction Peeps I’ve had the honor to host on this blog.

First, you may have heard of this guy. He’s the best-selling author of The Warded Man and The Desert Spear, along with The Great Bazaar and Other Stories and Brayan’s Gold. His name is Peter V. Brett, and you can find my interview with him from 2009 here. I find his comments about publishing especially interesting.

Next up is an interview with Jeremy C. Shipp. I think he had the best answer I’ve ever heard about the future of publishing. Although I haven’t done a review of “Cursed” yet, it is on my list. Which is about as long as my left leg, right now. *sigh*

My next victim…uh, I mean my next GUEST…was a badass chick by the name of Susan Helene Gottfried, author of Trevor’s Song, Shapeshifter: The Demo Tapes – Year 1 and ShapeShifter: The Demo Tapes – Year 2. She inhabits the world of rock and roll, kicking asses and taking names.

Of course, I have a soft spot for editors, and I have two I’ve interviewed here. First is the “Goddess of Flash”, Esther Schrader, the Editor-in-Chief for Flashshot. Second is the Mad Aussie, aka Matthew Glenn Ward. In addition to his editor duties (although Skive has been regretfully retired) he found time to compose his novel, John F. Kennedy Lives in the Future! and is one of my favorite people.

Podcasting is a fast-growing portion of the fiction market, and to that end I wanted a word or two with Kate Sherrod who also composes some brilliant sonnets in her spare time. Besides the podcast point of view, Kate is A Very Interesting Person, and you can read the fascinating interview here.

MeiLin Miranda is probably one of the most innovative and hard-working indie authors I know. She’s recently won the Preditors and Editors Best Erotic Novel for 2010 as voted by the readers. You can find “Lovers and Beloveds” in a wide variety of formats, and you can find my interview with her here.

Last, but far from least, if you haven’t met him, now’s your chance. Yes, it’s Joseph Paul Haines, author of Ten With a Flag and Other Playthings. He’s got a lot to say, and pay attention. He knows what he’s talking about.

Quite a stellar line-up, if I do say so myself. Every one of these artists are hardworking, dedicated, twisted, demented and brilliantly talented. The have all inspired me in different ways to become better at my chosen career, they have offered hope that it can be done and lead by example. These guys don’t just talk the talk, people, they walk the walk. Every one has marched to their own beat and represents a different aspect of the writing journey. I hope you enjoy the interviews as much as I did conducting them.

Find your own drum. This one's mine.

Share