Thursday, December 26, 2013

Bring on 2014: Resolutions for the New Year. Sort of.

I did it. I survived a tense and slightly awkward Christmas. More than that, I survived the hell that was 2013. If there was ever a year that fate had me by the shirt tails it was 2013. I'm glad to see the end of it.

My personal goals for 2014 are...

  • Spend less time on the internet.
  • Spend more time on what matters.
  • Accept that perfection is an illusion.
  • Accept that I am responsible for my own feelings.
  • Seek happiness.
  • Be at peace.
  • Trust myself more.
  • Value myself more. 
  • Stop letting others tear me down.
  • Stop trying to seem strong when I'm really not.
  • Grow where I'm planted.
  • Let go of attachments. 
  • Let go of fear.
  • Let go of fear.
  • Let go of fear.
  • Let go of fear.  

Thursday, December 19, 2013

December, The Month of Crazy

December, you are the month of crazy. I'm not even talking about shopping for Xmas. That has it's own scale of insanity.

Pre-registration at Delta for the semester starts tomorrow. I have to call and make an appointment with my adviser, and at some point I need to find out which campus I have to go to for testing. I've gotten three answers so far. Two of them have posted that we can't use calculators (not that it will make much difference for me, I'm sure), but the other post said we can bring them as long as they don't have internet access or a qwerty keypad.

After I find out all the details to the testing madness, I have to track down my shot records. Hello, does the place where I received my vaccinations even exist anymore?  The last vaccine I remember was when I was fourteen and got a tetanus shot at the clinic across from the city park. My mom drove me over there. The shot was required for school, and I was pretty much ready to get it over with. It was a quick, over and done deal, but I have no idea if the building is even there anymore. On top of that, I think I may need another tetanus shot to have everything up to date, which is fine. I just need to know something for sure.

This weekend, hubby and I have to buy a new bed and set it up for Oldest. He's coming home for Xmas, next week. We'll be picking him up from the airport on Xmas Eve's Eve, so we're cutting it close. Poor dude, he has no idea he's coming home to no heating. That reminds me, we're going to have to buy a space heater for his room as well.

Now for writing. This, yeah, see, this is what has me super anxious these days. I have two novels printed up and ready for my attention. They both need to be heavily revised before I can submit them. One novel is very high priority, but I have this nervous aversion to working on it. And I have printed copies of my Werekind stories that need to be re-edited. There's a lot of work to be done, and it has me very antsy. I'm thinking once I get everything to a point where I can send it out, I can delegate some of the necessary steps. We'll see.

Deep breath. And another. These days I have to continually remind myself  I can only do one thing at a time.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

How to Delete Your Myspace Account - Effective for 2013

My original Myspace profile
bathroom portrait,
aka Cora's first "selfie".
Ah, Myspace. The first social networking site I ever joined. I don't have a problem with the site, personally. However, I no longer use it or have a need for a Myspace account.

Since I recently got the rights back for many of my books, I knew I would have to log in and take down the old book covers I had displayed there. It seemed like it would be easier to simply delete my account.

So I logged into my account and spent over an hour trying to navigate the new site, which had changed dramatically during the span of six years or so that I'd been away. I couldn't find a tab for settings. On my profile itself, such a tab didn't exist. So, I went to YouTube to look up tutorials on how to delete my Myspace account. All the videos I watched said I needed to go to a non-existent settings tab.

With the help of Google, I found a Myspace Guide on the Myspace website itself. Just imagine the possibilities if that help page was easy to find! Well, now it is. Below, I've linked directly to the page that has the directions for deleting your Myspace account (tested effective as of December 10th, 2013):

Go here:

When you arrive at the page listed above, you'll find a text link ("Settings" in blue typeface). That text link will take you to the account settings page where you can delete the whole shebang. Read the full guide page first, since the blue delete button isn't immediately visible on the settings page. You have to click the downward arrow to reveal it.

The full process is this: SETTINGS > Profile > Delete Account (toggle the downward arrow) > Delete Button 

Before you delete your account, Myspace generates a survey prompt. So don't panic if you receive a pop up. Simply click a circle and submit. Easy peasy.

If you've been trying to figure out how to delete your Myspace page, I hope this guide will save you some time and frustration. 

Monday, December 09, 2013

Writerly Weekend Bliss

Today's picture actually happened on Sunday, December 8th. Poor SassiePup. She was cold and tired after romping in the backyard and digging holes with JakeDog. Mini let her and Jake in through the back door, and SassiePup dashed into the den where I was cozied up on the couch watching Futurama. 

With no further ado, she decided to join in. She jumped up on the couch and fell backwards onto me. Within minutes she was snuggled up and fast asleep. During that snuggling in time, MiniBeast came back to the couch, and we all covered up with a flannel blanket. (That's Mini's big toe at the bottom of the picture, by the way.) That picture pretty much describes my entire Sunday. Warm and homey. Total relaxation bliss. 

On to writerly things, I'm on the 2nd draft of my Desire novel, and it's moving along nicely. I recently downloaded Scrivener, and I'm going to give it a shot. I think if I can see my novel broken down on screen, it will help me push through this treacherous round of rewrites to the final draft. And yes, it's definitely going to need another round of rewrites. As it stands, the story is there, but it's très clunky. More power needed for this one, Dr. Frankenstein. Back to the lab. 

My vamp novel is cruising along. It's around 43k and growing. I love, love, love this story. It has lots of intense emotion and action, and so many unexpected things have popped up while writing it. Not only that, but despite the large size of the cast, all the characters fit together so well. I do believe this story is going to be my new favorite.

I'm moving ahead with Austin's story as well. It's in the deep planning stages, and a lot of writing has been done on it already. I anticipate this book being available in 2014, if I can keep up my current schedule. I have a lot of ideas for the series that I really can't talk about at the moment. I'll post updates as soon as I'm able. 

Last but not least, I have a dark fantasy erotic romance sitting on my desk ready for edits. I haven't decided whether I'm going to submit it somewhere or publish it myself. If I do end up publishing it myself, it will probably be one of the first books in my publishing cue for 2014. So, there's that. 

Whew. Okay. Yes, I have a lot of writerly happenings going on. Now to complete them, get them edited (or submitted), and take the next step forward. A writerly friend and I have been jumping feet first into 2014. She has convinced me to start setting an overall word count goal for the year. For example: 400,000 words. I'm going to do that. I just haven't settled on a number yet. At any rate, my New Year's resolution for 2014 is to write more and without fear. Emphasis on the without fear part. 
Another thing coming up in 2014...I'm doing away with my yahoo group. If you're interested in hearing about my new releases, writerly tidbits, and other good news, please consider signing up for my email newsletter. Starting in January, I'll be doing a quarterly giveaway. A winner will be chosen from my subscriber list at the release of each new issue. Also in January, I will be featuring an article on voice. If you're a writer and struggling to understand voice and style, you won't want to miss the next issue of my newsletter. To sign up (it's 100% free), visit my website and fill in the handy-dandy sign up box

That's all for now. I'm off to let KippyCat in the house and work on rewrites. Wherever you are, I hope you're staying warm and cozy. Until next time. Happy wishes.

Monday, December 02, 2013

December Already

Lighted Gazebo in Cat Refuge
It's December, y'all. It doesn't feel like it, yet. Not to me. Maybe once we put up the tree and decorate the house, it will start feeling more seasonal. Tomorrow I'm going to start with the decorations. Hubby will be home, and he can help me get the tree out of the storage shed. From there, I can handle the rest, although I'm sure Mini will want to help decorate the tree.

Thanksgiving went well. It rained all week right up until Thanksgiving day, which kind of bummed out Mini. He wanted to play outside, but it was rainy and super cold. He also wanted to go to his grandma's, but we figured he'd probably be bored within a day given the weather - so, we made him wait until Thursday. On Thanksgiving day, he packed his bag, and we took off to visit my parents. It was a low key, cozy dinner. And the sun came out. The boy was so happy to be able to romp outside. We all had a really good time. We stayed a few hours, then sans Mini, hubby and I came home to the furbabies. Hubby had to go back to working nights the following Friday, so I ended up spending much of the weekend home by myself. I spent most of my time snuggled up with the critters and writing.

Speaking of writing, I managed 32k on my NaNoWriMo project this year. Not a winner, but I've made good, forward strides on this project. I'm happy with it so far. I should have this expanded draft finished in another 2 weeks, give or take. It won't be much longer before it's finished. Then I can print it up and start tearing the story apart again. Sigh. I hate revisions.

I know I shouldn't fuss about revision. Until yesterday, I had no way to print out a hard copy. On Sunday, I drove to Mom and Dad's to pick up Mini and bring him back home. I ended up having lunch with them, and directly afterward, dad went out to his work shop and brought back a Canon printer. It's a sign shop printer, and it still works great, but he bought a new one with a higher DPI to use with his vector programs (to make vinyl graphics/stickers), so he's no longer using the Canon. It's been in storage for a few months, but it's otherwise in great shape/working, etc. He gave me the software and the printer. Full of happy, I dragged it home.

I didn't take it out of the car right away. I needed to make room for it before bringing it inside. Initially, I planned to set it up tonight. Then hubby surprised me yesterday. He didn't know anything about the Canon Dad gave me, so he bought me a new printer - an HP Deskjet 2542 from Wally World. So now I have these two printers to choose from. Mini's going to help me set up the HP tonight. I'm going to use it first, not because it's new, but because hubby bought extra ink cartridges for it. So yay! I can print my brains out already. I have a storage box, and I'm going to put the Canon in the closet for emergencies. Or, in case Dad's new printer goes kaput. At any rate, I'm happy to be able to printy print.

That's all I've got for now. I'm off to check on MiniBeast and visit with Hubby before he leaves for work. Until next time, wishing you all the best.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Morning Rain and Fog

I love rainy, foggy days. They're perfect for writing. Today's picture was taken while waiting for the school bus. I was standing on the patio with Mini and dodging raindrops. Before the bus arrived, I took a couple of cute pictures of little man, too.

Now that SassiePup is home recuperating from her adventures at the vet, the house feels more at peace. I have to watch her so she doesn't pop her stitches, but she's no longer isolated from Jake. He gets within two feet of her and she lets him know she's not in the mood to play. That's my grumpy girl!

Last night she was ready to sack out on the bed with us. Once she was on the bed, she stretched out on her side and sighed heavily, perfectly content. And when I climbed into bed and and covered up, she picked up her head and rested it  on my ankle. She stayed like that most of the night. I'd say she missed us. Poor beast.

That's all for now. I'm going to try to catch up on my NaNo project. The last few days have been so hectic, I haven't had time to sit down and write much. Time to break out my timer and hit this story hard. Wish me luck!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Cora's Picks: WordTyrant

This is the last post in my writing apps series. You can read about the 50k/30 writing app here. And you can read about Werdsmith here. (No pictures for Werdsmith article, sorry!) 

WordTyrant isn't for writing, per say. It's a word count tracker that you can use for tracking multiple projects. The pictures below are shown on my iPod Touch. It's available for iPhone and iPad also. The app costs .99 cents, and you can view the specs here:

Note: I do not receive any compensation for you clicking my links. The links are there simply for your convenience. I'm not paid to review any apps, nor am I an affiliate of WordTyrant, etc., etc. 

Of all the writing apps I've purchased recently, WordTyrant is my favorite. I've always liked having progress counters on my blog, but the website that hosted my favorite counters went dark many years ago. I have yet to find an easily customized word count widget for blogger that isn't too large, clunky, or drop dead ugly. So, I switched to using Excel sheets. Personally, I'm not a fan of Excel for tracking my word counts. I often forget to use them. So, I decided it was time to purchase an app. 

WordTyrant offers everything I need in word counter/tracker. I can track multiple projects, easily choose a monthly word count target, share my results via email and twitter, and I can link WordTyrant with DropBox to save my information.   

The splash screen. Hard to photograph!
Only lasts a couple of seconds before
switching over to the app's interface.

Once you're off the splash screen, you can view your overall writing stats, or choose a project and check the individual stats. The stats show you your total word count, your average words written per day, the words you have left to reach your goal, and the required wordage needed per day to reach your goal on time. 

You can track multiple projects. This
screen will show your overall progress.
Note the little message it gives me here:
Time to break out the coffee and
pull an all nighter. Heh.

See the four "dots" on the picture above? Beneath the fancy advice to pull an all nighter? That shows the number of graph options available to you. You can flick the black portion of the page to the left to reveal different graph options. See your progress on a bar graph or in a pie chart.

Click on a story title to view the
word count progress on that particular
story. You can tweet and/or email
your results.
I like the way WordTyrant shows you a percentage. This tells you how far along you are in your book, just like a traditional word counter. The word count for my cowboy story is shown as 40% complete. If you look at the overall stats page, it shows me at being 23% complete for the entire month. That's because I haven't worked on the Vamp story as frequently as the Cowboy story. This shows you where you're putting in most of your writing time. For productivity hounds, this is worth gold. You can see where you need to put in more effort. In my case, the vampires can wait until I'm finished with the cowboys. ;o) 

The settings page allows you
to link your work with Dropbox.
The settings page isn't overly complex. I admit I have no idea what the Name entry is for. Bucket? Other than that, most of what's present is intuitive. Do you want to create a monthly target? Toggle it on or off. Do you want to add a chart to your tweets? Toggle it on or off.  What is your target word count - click the "greater than" arrow/symbol and put in your word count goal. Beneath the Link with Dropbox section there is a white box that shows the version of WordTyrant you're currently using. I'm suing 1.1.1 (build #74)

This is what it looks like when you tweet your progress stats.

Overall, I love this app. It does exactly what I need it to do, and it keeps my stats very well organized. No more hunting for clunky widgets and word count Excel sheets that you have to swap out yearly. When you're finished with a project, simply save your stats to Dropbox or email them to yourself, then create a new project. I can see myself using this app for a long time to come.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

NaNo Panic and Word Tyrant

This morning I thought I'd lost 2,000 words on my current wip. I searched through my project folder and the file wasn't there. I was starting to really sweat it until I noticed a document caught up in a file full of recent pictures. I clicked it open and breathed a sigh of relief. I found my lost document. 

What's kind of funny is that I've been saying for a few weeks that I truly hate this book, that I hate even thinking about it. Motivating myself to work on it has been a chore. And yet, when I think I've lost a chunk of it, I find myself in panic mode. Um, yeah, time for a attitude adjustment, I think. Obviously the project matters to me or I wouldn't be so nervous about losing it. 

My goal today is to write 2300 brand new words. That will put me at the (approximately) 45% mark. 

I have so much story to go back and weave in, I'm kind of sweating it. At the same time, I'm determined to finish the redraft this month. Then I can spend December baking cookies, trimming the tree, and trimming the flab out of my story. First things first, I need to hit my targeted word count of 50-55k. 

I'm using an app called Word Tyrant to record my word count. It tells me how much I need to write per day to meet my goal, and more. As soon as I can take some screen shots, I'll post a thorough review. 

I used to have writing progress trackers on the sidebar of my blog, but my favorite site went dark in 2007. I still haven't found a comparable widget. The widgets available now are either too large, too clunky, don't allow enough customization, or they require you to remake the status bar every time you update your word count. Baloney on that. I went to the App Store looking for something better. Word Tyrant it is. 

Moving along...

If you visit my website please consider signing up for my new newsletter. You can find the newsletter sign up on this page: . I will be doing away with my yahoo group next year. I will be hosting a giveaway after the first of the year that is exclusive to my newsletter subscribers. Oh, and no worries about spam. The same as my yahoo group, I don't send out a newsletter unless I have important book release news to share, or if there's an upcoming book event my readers might want to know about.

That's all I've got for now. I need to get going on this wip. I'm going to do two 1k1hr writings and see where that lands me.

Wishing you a happy day! 

Poor Kips. He didn't want his picture taken. It was too cold to be cute...or so he thought. ;o)

Sunday, November 10, 2013

50k/30 :: Writing a Novel on Your Phone

In the spirit of NaNoWriMo, I'm continuing my blog series about writing a novel on your phone or iPod Touch. To view my previous post, you can read what I had to say about the Werdsmith app here:

Another writing app I like is 50k/30. It's $1.99 in the iTunes store, and it's well worth the price. It's so easy to use, there really isn't even a learning curve. You click the "write" button and start typing. It auto saves your work, so you can close it down in a hurry. Best of all, it has no ads. Bless the designer's heart. No ads.

You can pick up a copy for your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch (5.1 OS or later) at the iTunes store:

I'm actually using the 50k/30 app more than the others I've bought and/or downloaded for free. It's perfect for NaNoWriMo. It has a simple, streamlined launch screen. You simply tap the Write button at the bottom of the screen to bring up the text space for writing. Or you click the flower/gear in the bottom right corner to adjust the app settings.

(Click the pictures to make them larger.)

There are six color themes to choose from.
I selected black because it was easier to
photograph in my office. 
One of the things you can adjust on the settings page is the theme's colors. In the YouTube demonstration, the theme bar is color coded. Mine isn't. You can clearly see the theme bar on my app screen is off white/gray. However, the color changer works fine for me. Just click one of the segments on the theme bar and you'll get a new color. In this case, it's pink.

Available theme colors are black, gray, pink, lavender, bright turquoise blue, and aqua green. All of the colors are shown on the 50k/30 app page in the iTunes store. 

Also on the settings page, you can adjust the font face and font size, you can turn auto correct on or off, and you can adjust how you want the app to count your words.

One of the things I like best about this app is that you set how you want the word count tracker to figure up your words. You can get it to show you an exact word count as you type it. Or, you can go to settings, and set the word tracker to give you a count down showing how many words you have left to reach 50k. You can see an example of both in the photos below.

The writing page is the simple to use. It auto saves your work, so there is no worry about forgetting to click a save button. There are only two icons to work with. The house icon will take you back to the 50k/30 launch screen. The envelope button allows you to email your work.

I love this app. It's my favorite so far. It's simple to use, has a streamlined interface, works exactly the way it is advertised, and doesn't take up a lot of space on your device. Added bonus - like I said before - no ads. Beautiful. I highly recommend 50k/30.

Notice: I purchased the 50k/30 app with my own money, and the article reflects my honest opinion. I do not get paid in any way for endorsing this product. I am not an affiliate of 50k/30 or iTunes. I do not receive any compensation for readers clicking on my links. They are there simply for your convenience.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Werdsmith for iPod Touch - Writing On The Go

I'd be lost without my iPod Touch. I use it for everything. When I'm at home, it serves as my alarm clock, my recipe saver, my digital camera, my blogging platform, and my private diary. I have the Kindle app installed, which I use regularly. The notepad is currently chock full of information tidbits - notes to myself, fragments of dreams and other stuff I don't want to forget such as story ideas and research information. The list goes on. I even have a few tarot card apps for fun.

I recently read an article about an author who wrote her first novel using her phone. Since I usually carry either my phone or my iPod around the house with me, I figured it might be fun to find a writing app for when I'm away from the computer. I did some searching over at the iTunes App Store and tried out a few of the freebie writing apps. I'm still on the fence about using the iPod for more than just spontaneous writing fits, but if I find it to be a productive computer alternative, I'll probably end up downloading the app to my phone as well.

Currently, my favorite writing productivity app is Werdsmith. It's described as a portable writing studio. I'm using the free version, but there is an upgrade ($2.99), which is supposed to remove the writing limit. If I end up using the app a lot, I'll end up springing for the upgrade.

The free version is really nice. Simply slide your thumb down the screen to start working on a new project. You can also sort your work by projects versus ideas. To turn an idea into a project, simply give it a word count goal. You can then track your goal on the export page. Oh, yeah, I guess I should have mentioned that part already. You can export your work, no strings attached. I email my snips directly to my inbox.

On the export page, there's also a word counter to tell you how many words you've written, and how long it will take to read your snip. Or, you can skip exporting via email altogether. There are buttons to share and publish your work. At the moment, I'm not sure where the publish button sends your project. If you test it out, be sure to let me know!

When you update your profile on the app, from what I can tell, it gives you a profile page on the Werdsmith website where you can share samples of your work. I don't see myself using that feature, but it's there so I figured it's worth mentioning.

If I continue using this app, I'll likely end up adding it to my phone as well. I've been looking for a better way to write while in waiting rooms and while riding in the car, and I think I may have found it. ☺

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Featured Book : Rane Sjodin's Death Dealer

Featured Book 
by Rane Sjodin

Order at Smashwords 
Barnes & Noble
Kobo Books
Amazon Kindle
Amazon Paperback
Copyright © 2013 by Rane Sjodin
eBook ISBN: 978-0-9899610-0-4
Paperback ISBN: 978-0-9899610-1-1
Full Length Novel. Release Date 10/29/2013.

My name is Cimmerian. I’m a dragon shifter living in New Orleans. Someone is screwing up my pre-Mardi Gras plans by leaving mutilated human bodies all over town. I have to find out whether or not a demon is behind this. If so, are they building a human to animate with demon magic? If not, we have a human serial killer just in time for the town to flood with tourists.
Things were so much quieter on vacation.
Damn, I’m glad to be back at work.


Never play poker with a dragon. A full house in my hand, I sat at a table with five young demons playing cards. As a six foot five inch dragon living in New Orleans, I was used to dangerous situations. My name is Cimmerian, known as the Death Dealer for my ability to behead demons and drink in their putrid struggling souls. After ten years away from my job enforcing the laws of the Arcane Court here in New Orleans, I was back.

My extended vacation followed my attempted murder by a demon, Nitha. The Court removed her powers giving me a decade off. I’d saved Wretched Spawn from her four hundred years ago. From that day on, his aunt painted a red-hot target on my forehead and ass. Authority wasn’t my thing, but I had nowhere to hide from her. My best bet was to stay with Wretch and fight his psychotic aunt on the Court’s payroll. It helped too that he and I became the best of friends.

The demons and I sat around a backroom table in a bar on Bourbon Street. Tonight, in my human form, I’d decided on a game with talkative demons to see if there was anything we should investigate. Something I could use to blow off steam. My claws had started to itch.
“Are you sure you boys wouldn’t rather play Go Fish?” I looked at the demons who showed up tonight dressed for a gangster movie. “Or would you like to get back to the set of Boardwalk Empire?”

They laughed in response, and then from their appointed leader. “You don’t threaten us, Death Dealer. Your talons have been disabled.”
The largest demon in the group, who was armed with a machine gun, pointed it at my chest. Shifting to dragon was the most natural thing for me to do. I started the shift. Nothing happened. My chest wouldn’t deflect bullets without my scales, and my heart began to pound. They had spelled me so I couldn’t change. Demons were born with the ability to do magic organically. I had to get that power by devouring their souls. I was empty.

“You are useless.” The leader leaned back in his chair like this was a show.

The smell of sulfur infused every breath I took as the demons’ excited stench ran the cloud of cologne away. I tried to shift again, but when it didn’t work, I knew I was in trouble. The guy with the machine gun shot at me. I pushed down hard with my heels and pushed myself over backward in the chair. As soon as I was on the ground, demons covered me with punches to my chest and legs. The dragon strength present, even in human form, allowed me to feel the blows without pain. The only way to break the spell was by moonlight. If I waited for them to wear out, I could walk outside and shift.

They tried to pull my arms out while the man with the gun stood next to me. I flipped over to protect my heart and hands while they pulled my shirt and pants off kicking and punching me. Annoyed at their antics, I was tempted to let them continue until fatigued. This wasn’t the first time an amateurish group of demons had tried to boost their reputation by beating me up. With a stronger muscle structure and virtually unbreakable bones, their feeble blows came off as little more than stings.

The gun was the threat I needed to avoid in the room, not the demons. These idiots would make a mistake, so I waited.
“Look at the pretty colors on his back,” one said.

“Let’s see if his ass turns colors.” Another ripped off my underwear.

What the fuck? That pissed me off. I pulled my hands under my chest and pushed up while tucking my legs under in one motion. The sudden move stopped the pummeling as they regrouped, or the big guy aimed his machine gun. I didn’t know and didn’t wait to find out.

Someone’s feet appeared on my right side. I grabbed each ankle in one of my hands and yanked him as I stood up holding him in front of me. He didn’t cover my entire body only shielding my chest area. The sounds of rapid gunfire and the thrashing of the demon in my hands accompanied the reek of sweat, sulfur, and gunpowder. The shooter stopped. Lowering the demon, I peered between his legs. The rest of the group stood there dumbfounded. It seemed they had come to the end of their plans.

“That’s all you have?” I threw the demon to the floor.

“It’s still four to one.” The largest one tossed the gun away and pulled a grenade from his pocket.

“You brought a grenade to a poker game?” Outnumbered and now outgunned I didn’t have much choice. I threw the table at him and took off as he grunted on impact.

Running down the road I searched for an alley away from humans and large enough for my wings. I put twenty yards between us within the first block. Not the best way to end a poker game. I should’ve attracted attention. But it was New Orleans at three in the morning, and I was just another naked man running down Bourbon Street. •

For more information about Rane Sjodin, you can visit the author's blog at

Friday, November 01, 2013

Welcome to November :: National Novel Writing Month

quillsvilleIt's November 1st! Good luck all you NaNoWriMo folks out there! 

It's National Novel Writing Month, aka NaNoWriMo. Are you joining in the madness this year? I've participated several times. It's great fun. I'm going to be working on a side project for NaNo this year, but it will be off the record, since I really need to focus most of my attention on wrapping up a requested book. 

If you've never tried NaNoWriMo, I highly recommend it. It's really a good motivator, especially if you struggle to finish your works in progress. 

Visit to sign up for free. There is a message board where you can find others in your area or across your genre for "pep talks and support". Some areas even host "write-ins", where NaNo-ers meet up at designated locations and to do group writings, find local writing friends, and motivate each other to finish their projects. 

If you're participating this year, I wish you the best of luck. Remember, it's not about crafting the perfect book on the first go, but rather to get the book out of your head and on the page. It can be broken. It can be messy. You can clean it up later. Just write, write, write!  After a month of nose to the grindstone writing, it's immensely satisfying to type those two beautiful words every writer longs to hear - The End. 

I wish all the 2013 participants the best of luck. Happy Writing! 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween 2013

Happy Halloween 2013! 

It's been a rainy mess all day. It was also SassiePup vet day, which meant we were stuck driving in less than favorable conditions. I heard Halloween in the Park was cancelled due to the flash flood warning, but we didn't drive into town to find out if the rumors were true. The roads were just too nasty to go a second round. 

When Mini made it home from school, we dressed him in his ninja costume and took him trick or treating around the neighborhood. Almost no one had any candy, never mind we have a swarm of elementary school aged kids on our street. Baffling, but whatever. Back home, we were prepared in the candy department. We filled up Mini's bucket and doled out boxes of Nerds, and watermelon flavored candy blood bags that came with glow in the dark vampire fangs. The rest we gave to the neighbor kids. Then we had to monitor the kids so they didn't chomp each other with the plastic vampire fangs. Seriously! 

Now that the hubbub is over, we're chillaxing and watching scary movies. Mini's movie pick - Christine. What can I say? He loves anything with cars in it. Once he's off to bed, I'm going to watch the original Halloween staring Jamie Lee Curtis and PJ Soles (LOVE her!). 

That's all for now. I'm about to slip into the kitchen and put a kettle on for some tea. If you celebrate the season, I hope you have a Happy Halloween and a blessed Samhain! 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Cora's Picks : Style That Sizzles & Pacing For Power

I recently ordered a "few" books from Amazon. Okay, a lot of books. I cleared out my Kindle and downloaded a ton of horror novels and erotic romances. Swoon, right? I also picked up a couple of new paperbacks. 

Jodie Renner's Style That Sizzles & Pacing For Power has been on my Amazon wishlist for several months. To balance out some of the fiction I've been reading, I finally gave in to temptation and ordered the paperback version. For reference, I greatly prefer print books because - yes - I write notes in the margins. I also figured if this book turned out to be helpful I'd want to add it to my keeper shelf.

Including the author information, the indexes, and the writing resources at the back of the book, Style That Sizzles is 158 pages long. That hits within my preferred reference book length - 120-250 pages. Reference books longer than that are difficult for me to absorb in just one reading. I always feel like I'm going to forget something, or that I'm trying to bite off more information than it's humanly possible to digest. I usually have to read longer reference guides twice to "get everything down". I'm not saying longer reference books aren't helpful - they are. But I like slim reference guides the best, especially when they tell me what I need to know in a no-fuss, concise manner.  

Let me start by saying what I hoped to get out of this book - pacing tips. Not necessarily ways to speed up or slow down the narrative in my own writing, but rather ways to effectively weave in backstory without taking a character off the beaten track within a scene. Or worse, turning the scene into a slog fest. 

Ms. Renner covers the backstory topic in Chapters 8 and 9. There is also an entire section that covers ways to Write Tight (pp. 53-85) and how to fix Flow and Pacing (pp.86-105). Both sections, at least in my opinion, are loosely related to the information I was looking for, and therefore they were helpful.

On the other hand, while the topic of backstory is covered, the material presented wasn't exactly what I was looking for. It was helpful, but it didn't answer my specific writing questions. Or maybe the topic just wasn't covered in the depth I needed to understand what's going on with my own writing. However, I feel like that's my failing, and not necessarily a problem with the book.

With that in mind, Ms. Renner does cover topics such as Expressing Thought-Reactions in Fiction (found in Chapter 26; p. 135-138). That's another section I feel is related to the pacing/backstory problems I'm having. I've highlighted that section so I can refer to it again. I like the way the author has this section divided by types of thought. She also provides examples, and a list of no-nos. This is all written in a very streamlined, nuts and bolts way, which I found to be extremely helpful. There was no wading through unnecessary tidbits to get to the good stuff.

A few of the elements presented in the book have appeared in other reference books, such as R.U.E. (resist the urge to explain) which I first encountered when I read Self Editing for Fiction Writers (by Browne and King). Writers that own a lot of reference guides may find some material in Style That Sizzles that they're already familiar with. 

On the flip side of that, the book features a lot of fresh advice I haven't found anywhere else, such as Ms. Renner's tips for decluttering sentences (p. 65), and what is probably the most simplistic, no-nonsense guide to varying sentences that I've found so far (p. 87-92)

Overall, Style That Sizzles & Pacing For Power is a worthwhile guide chock full of sound tips to help writers of any experience level brush up on basic and advanced writing techniques. It's a compact book, and the information presented is to the point and easy to reference via the table of contents. It's definitely a book for the keeper shelf. 

Afterthought: Christmas is on the way. If you're in the market for a gift to give the budding writer in your life, I recommend pairing Style That Sizzles (Jodie Renner) with a copy of Self-Editing For Fiction Writers (by Browne and King). Together, these books would create a wonderful reference gift set. They would also make a great centerpiece in a writerly-themed gift basket.☺

Monday, October 28, 2013

Featured Author: Nancy Henderson talks about Shadow's Promise

Hi Cora!  Thanks for inviting me to your blog!  I have a new release out.  It’s a historical romance with a Native American hero. 

Jessie McCrea flees to the colonial frontier for a new life free from servitude. When she uncovers a tomahawk buried on her property, she never expects to find a most insufferable Mohawk warrior attached to it. Shadow represents everything she's escaped from and she will stop at nothing to maintain her life of peace and solitude.

Haunted by his past, Shadow must keep his people from being destroyed in the upcoming war between the Colonists and the British. Jessie is everything Shadow left behind. He does not deserve her, yet he is uncontrollably attracted to her. He must make Jessie see that life with him will be anything but captivity. 

A captive heart is a dangerous prospect...

“Woman, you are trespassing.”
            Nearly jumping out of her skin, Jessie dropped the tomahawk.  She whirled to find a half-naked Indian standing within inches of her.
            She was too dumbstruck to do anything but stare.  With the exception of a string of beaver claws suspended from his neck, the man wore nothing but a leather breechcloth which exposed bold, well-defined muscles.  He had sleek, foxlike features, high cheekbones, and a prominent jaw.  His hair, black as night, fell nearly to his waist, and his left ear was pierced with copper rings.
            “You are trespassing.” His English was astonishingly good.  Never taking his gaze from her, he threw down the two large bundles of beaver pelts he carried, picked up the tomahawk and inspected it.  “Who are you?”
            Jessie froze, her gaze fixed on the huge knife at his belt.
            This man was as wild looking as if he had come from the fiery gates of hell.  She had heard too many horror tales.  Of innocent babies getting their heads bashed against tree trunks.  Of men burned alive or forced to run gauntlets of two or three hundred warriors.  And she didn’t even want to think about what they did to women.
            She stared at the musket he had thrown down with his pelts.  It was not a heavy barreled gun but a long, narrow fowling piece.  She wondered if it still worked. Any more rusted, it would be considered nothing more than blacksmith scrap.
            “Who are you, trespasser?”  His voice rose gruffly, as if he were trying to frighten her.
            “Jessica—uh, Jess,” she stammered still eyeing the musket. She had heard it was better to put a gun to your head than to be taken as an Indian’s prisoner. Well, she had not escaped six years of hell to commit suicide.  If anyone was coming out of this alive, it would be her.
            She held her chin up, refusing to let him see how scared she was.  “My name is Jessie McCrea, and I am not a trespasser.”
            His eyes, like two flecks of night, stared at her with intense curiosity.  “I am called Shadow.  Shadow of the Wolf Clan, of the People of the Flint, of the Hodenosaunee, Six Nations.  I say you are a trespasser.”

Shadow’s Promise is available in E-book format or in print.  Here’s the link:

Nancy loves to hear from readers.  Here are some of the places she can be found:

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Cozy Weekend :: 23 Years

Happy 23rd Anniversary to hubby and me!  We went to lunch on Friday and did some shopping. Basically, we picked up a handful of five dollar horror movies to watch over the weekend, and I picked up some Halloween stationery. This is my favorite time of year to buy office supplies. I love all the cute skulls, bats, and ghosts printed on everything.

Anyway, that's about the extent of the anniversary festivities for us this year, and I'm perfectly okay with that. I never brush off a chance to lounge around the house with the man. This is our secret to a happy marriage. It's not so much where you go or what you do, but who you're with that counts.  

We're still without hot water, and who knows when we'll have the gas lines reworked. Did I even blog about that before? Hmm. I can't remember. Anyway, the gas servicemen came out to our house and detected a gas leak. So, no propane to heat the house. We can't use the hot water heater or the stove. So, we've been using a hot plate to cook on and heat water for baths. It's not fun, but it's functional. Sort of like camping 24/7 at home.

Anyway, on our shopping expedition, which was mainly about buying groceries, I picked up a few bins for my office. I'll post a picture of my newly organized shelves very soon. I also picked up a copy of Bella Andre's I Only Have Eyes For You. I'd intended to purchase a copy of Janice Maynard's latest Wolff brothers story (Harlequin Desire), but my area Walmart can't seem to get their crap together and carry the books each month. They might have them August and September, for example, then they won't shelve Desires again until February. It's very frustrating, since that's the Harlequin line I prefer to read. If I want the books each month, I have to go on a scavenger hunt across northern Louisiana trying to find the latest books. I used to do that, but with the shelving inconsistency, I'm no longer willing to spend the gas money.

Last night I finished reading Richard Laymon's Beware, which arrived in the mail on Friday. His books aren't for everyone, but I love the way he puts his words together. Since there are a finite number of Laymon books out there, I've been looking for other authors with a similar writing style. Sadly, I haven't found anyone that compares. I'll have to keep searching.

On to writerly things, I'm a guest over at Nancy Henderson's blog today. Yay! Drop by and take a peek at my excerpt from my new release A Trick of Light. It's a snip from my story The Ghost Train. Perfect for Halloween!

Nancy will be a guest here on the blog tomorrow, October 28th. Her book, Shadow's Promise is being featured. I hope you'll drop by to say hello. :o)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Cora's Picks: A Beauty Uncovered and Writing Telephone Conversations

I recently read Andrea Laurence's A Beauty Uncovered (Harlequin Desire #2259, October 2013). Other than the yummy hero, one of the interesting things that stood out in this book for me was the masterfully written telephone conversation between Brody and his brother Xander on pages 40-44.

In my opinion, telephone conversations can either make or break a scene. More often than not, telephone scenes have pacing issues (the conversation is broken, unnatural sounding, or hard to follow), there is too much awkward "phone handling" action, or the scenes are just plain clunky.

If you're going to include a telephone conversation in your book, I recommend they do one of three things - help establish something important about your characters, serve to relay important plot information to your characters (and to your readers), or fulfill a plot point.

Just for the sake of saying so, I've rarely seen a telephone conversation used specifically to fulfill a plot point in a romance. I'm not saying it can't happen. I've just noticed it usually happens in thrillers or horror novels. For example, a political thriller where a military officer calls in a set of missile launch codes. Or a character is trapped in a building and is using a walkie-talkie/cell phone to stay in contact with the police/terrorists. Or a potential (horror movie) survivor calls the police after being on the run from a homicidal maniac during the first half of a book or film.

The telephone conversation in A Beauty Uncovered is well written, and it offers the reader a ton of information about the involved characters - who they are, how they act, and what their relationship is like - all this while moving the story forward. I recommend reading the book to see a telephone conversation used effectively in a romance.

There are no hard and fast rules for writing a phone scene that I'm aware of. As far as that goes, you could write an entire book about nothing but two characters talking on the phone if you wanted to. That said, I'm compiling this list to make note of a few things I've noticed about my favorite romantic phone scenes.

  1. They are usually brief, often no more than five pages long.
  2. No head hopping. Choose a POV character and stick with that character for the duration of the scene.
  3. Good dialogue still applies. The dialogue should feel "natural". I've noticed the best phone conversations read as if the people speaking are in the same room together. If your character is speaking to an automated voice, keep the fleshy character's actions/reactions as real as possible. 
  4. Banter is a good thing. Flirty, funny, cruel, angry, whatever.  Just make sure it fits the tone of the scene. 
  5. Don't juggle the phone. Once the phone is in action, it's not necessary to interrupt your dialogue just to remind the reader your character is talking on the phone. It's not necessary to continually swap ears, twirl the cord, etc. The conversation is probably more important than how the phone is held, so try not to interrupt your dialogue with a series of unnecessary and distracting actions. 
  6. Don't let the conversation take place in a vacuum. Orient the reader briefly during the conversation. Is the character walking when he pulls out the phone and dials the heroine's number? Does he sit on the couch to prepare to call his mother? Does he step outside the hospital into the cool night air to make a difficult phone call? Give the reader just enough information to create a concrete sense of mood, time, and place, then let 'er rip.
  7. It's okay to mix exposition in with the dialogue, but keep description to a minimum. To keep the scene flowing, stay in character and keep the exposition relevant to the conversation. One thing to watch out for: the exposition shouldn't go on so long the reader forgets what the conversation itself is about. 

I recommend reading A Beauty Uncovered to see all the elements pulled together. The page numbers for the telephone scene are listed at the top of this blog post. If you do buy and read the book, I'd love to hear what you think of it.

If you'd like to read my review of A Beauty Uncovered, you can click the link to check it out at Goodreads. If you'd like to purchase a copy of the book, click here to go to Barnes and Noble online. (Important note: I do not receive anything - no affiliate points, money, or rewards, etc. - in return for you clicking on my links. They are there simply for your convenience.)

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Fall Break, The Idea Faerie, and High Stakes Musical Chairs

I'm finally settled into the new office. All my equipment and work stuff is in here. I have a few things left in the closets in the back bedroom, but no where to put that stuff at the moment, so it has to stay back there for the time being. Next order of business is to move the portable air conditioner and repaint that back room. Everything's got to be done before I bring in a new bed.

I recently bought a new rug for the office. Nothing fancy, just a fifteen dollar area carpet. I put it down so my roller chair doesn't scuff up the floor too much. As soon as I'd unrolled one side of the carpet, SassiePup came in and sat on it. I had to shoo her out of the room twice just to get the rug unrolled all the way. Today's picture shows the Sass and Jake a mere ten minutes after the rug made its appearance. Poor beasts. A few minutes after this was taken, CharlieCat came in and tested the rug out too.

October and August are usually my busiest months of the year. I'm pretty sure this is why these months tend to put me in the worst fits of depression. Even though we're on better footing since hubby started the new job, it's hard to focus on anything. Work. Reading. Whatever. My brain (and heart) just isn't in it. Now that I think about it, I have no idea where my heart is, but my brain is outside somewhere, frolicking through piles of fallen leaves, browsing the pumpkin patch, and debating the best trick-or-treat candy to fill the bucket on the table. But I digress.

Today has been especially trying because it was parent/teacher conference day. You have to schedule an appointment, then go in and listen to the teachers talk about your child's faults. To reward you for doing this, you get to sign your kid's report card. Fun right?

I live really close to the school and got there about five minutes before my appointment time. Already, there was a line of parents outside the room. Of course, there are only two chairs to sit in, so I'm standing around waiting when the golden door of tragedy opens. Two bewildered looking parents stumble out of the classroom and make way for home, where they'll likely cry into their tumblers of scotch. Two down, so who's next? The purple shirt lady sitting in the first chair is called in.

Please keep in mind while I'm telling you this that we have appointments. You know, where you are scheduled time in advance then you show up to speak to the teachers? I mention this because there was a game of high stakes musical chairs going on outside that classroom. Never mind that's not going to get you into the room any faster. The appointments are in place for a reason. Some parents have to take off time from shift work at the local paper mill to drop by the school.

Never the less, when the purple shirt lady goes into the room and the door closes, lady in chair 2 moves to chair 1. I watched this, utterly fascinated. Can you imagine seeing that at a doctor's office. I'm like, what's going on out here?

This woman with two kids sees chair 2 become available. She gives me the evil eye and hops into the second chair. Her oldest kid, who is in the same grade as Mini, looks at me with a scowl on her face and shouts at me, "We're next!"

I was totally startled by her behavior, and yet, her mother did nothing to correct her. The woman doesn't speak to me, or ask me what time my appointment is to confirm if what her daughter just shouted at me is true or not. I'm like, whatever, people. I did twelve years of these meetings before Oldest graduated. I know how this crap goes down.

Fast forward fifteen minutes, the musical chairs rotate again. Woman with Brats hops up from chair 2 and sits quickly in chair 1. Not only that, but she puts her youngest brat in chair two. You know, to make double dang sure they are next in line. I guess Woman didn't get the memo. The. Visits. Are. Scheduled. By. Appointment. I didn't make the rules, people. It is what it is.

Fifteen endless minutes tick by, and finally the golden door opens and the purple shirt lady escapes the clutches of the teachers. The Woman with Brats gives me this squinty-eyed, dirty look as if to say, "Don't even think about it, sister! I'm next." And she begins picking up the kid's papers and crayons they've dumped on the floor of the hallway.

However, Mini's teacher comes to the door, looks directly at me and says, "Ms. Mini, we're ready for you."

Woman with Brats looked completely startled. She glared at me as if to say, "How dare you! No one bypasses the musical chairs!"

I headed to the golden door, and in passing, flashed the peace symbol at the Woman with Brats. I could tell it dawned on her then. Bros before hoes. No, I'm kidding. Appointments before chairs. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it, Miss Crabby Cow.

So onward to the meeting. Officially it should be called the stuff nightmares are made of. Even twenty minutes spent at my son's school is too many. Just pulling into their parking lot is enough to draw a cloud of depression over me. And I'm not just saying that because it's school. I'm saying it because I went through hell with Oldest, getting him through the gauntlet until graduation. And by the time Mini graduates, I will have spent twenty-six years stressing over crap at this school that truly doesn't weigh beans in the overall scheme of things. Grades suck? No problem. When you're older and ready to apply yourself where it matters, that's what community college is for. This stressful school crap really isn't worth it.

Needless to say, I left the school ready to drown myself in a bottle of wine. Mini's grades aren't terrible, but this is his lowest report card yet. The teachers, of course, have to grill us parents about getting the kids motivated because the Leap tests are coming up. Here's the thing. Kids aren't motivated because the fun in learning has shifted to learning in order to take tests that secure school funding. That's all it amounts to. The system isn't just broken, it sucks. And just for the sake of saying so, when I was Mini's age, I didn't give two farts about Lewis and Clark's expeditions either. No wonder he tossed his social studies folder out the bus window. But that's a story for another day.

On to happier writing.

I'm currently elbow deep in a writing project that I need to turn in by the end of the year. How simple and concise that sounds, right? I need to turn in a project by the end of the year. What you don't hear is the heart palpitations and subtle cursing as I write and rewrite and rewrite again huge chunks of this book. I'm a little tense writing this one, because I'd like it to stick. Or rather, I'd like to write for this company very, very much. So in order to keep me from pulling my hair out, now that I've got two of my self-publishing books off my desk and off my to-do list, I don't plan to start any new projects until this major one is finished and sent out into the wild. However, that doesn't stop the idea faerie from visiting me on a regular basis.

Speaking of the idea faerie, she dropped by a few nights ago and we had a little chat. She showered me with faerie dust, and I began pulling notes together for Austin's story. Who the heck is Austin, you ask? Any Werekind readers remember Austin from Bonding Experience? Quiet werewolf with a sexy scar and a cowboy hat? Yeah, that's the guy. I've been brainstorming ideas for him and putting together a file. Writing shall commence once the big, heart palpitations project is out of the way. I'll post more about it as things come together.

So there you have it. The latest news. Mini's out for Fall Break, which means I'm out for Fall Break. You won't hear me complaining. I'm going to try not to waste the entire holiday playing Smeet. It's kind of like Farmville but you don't have to annoy the crap out of anyone by sending game invites, or by begging them to send you items to complete a quest. The only thing that sucks about the Smeet is that everything is majorly expensive, and the system is very chintzy about doling out Dimes and Gold Coins so you can upgrade anything. The game would be so much better if dimes could be converted into gold coins, but I won't hold my breath. We'll see how long my fascination lasts.

I hope you all have a lovely Friday and a fabulous weekend. And if you have a few moment, please drop by my Smashwords page and give my latest book a like. I truly appreciate your support.

Monday, October 07, 2013

New Release: A Trick of Light

A Trick of Light: Four Supernatural Short Stories is available now on Smashwords!

About the book

A Trick of Light is a collection of four supernatural short stories. Find out how an old letter puts a woman face to face with a spectral train. Read the lost diary of a family man forced to make difficult choices in the midst of the zombie apocalypse. Witness a rebel angel's final battle against one of his own kind. A Trick of Light...where nothing is quite as it seems. 

Book page and buy link:

Price: .99 cents
Publisher notes: This is supernatural fiction, not a romance. 

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Cora's Picks - Cool Online Stuff and Cloud Atlas

Synchronized snoozing under the
ceiling fan.
Fire up the trumpets of celebration. I have internets again.

I've only begun untangling things here at home, starting with emails. I swear no one emails me for six months, but the minute my net goes down, my inbox gets flooded with important emails that I can't respond to because I can't get to a file. *fainting couch*

So what's going on with me? I moved my office from one end of the house to the other. What a chore! I still have some organizing to do, but everything is pretty much in place. The dogs like it in here because there's a ceiling fan. They rush inside with their tongues hanging out, ready to drop from digging in the backyard, and instead of going to the water bowl, they come into my office and fall out under the fan. Lately it's been really pleasant temperatures outside, too. It's not like the pups are forced to bake in the sun. Living that domesticated life, they are completely spoiled to the air conditioning. Poor beasts.

I'm days away from uploading Trick of Light to Smashwords. This go around, I formatted the book as I went, so it's not quite the mess "Android" was. Android took lots of reformatting to make it ready, this one, it's looking pretty clean, thankfully. I'll definitely try to go this route again when I prep Twilight's Edge for release. That said, the cover for Trick of Light is ready to go. The stories are complete and edited. At this point, I'm going over it with a fine tooth comb before letting it go. I'd rather check and double check than fight with the Smashwords meat grinder.

Once Trick of Light is posted, that will take care of all my non-romance backlist save for one story, which is still in print. By the way, I will be releasing a print edition of Trick of Light through CreateSpace once I've reformatted it for print. I'll post release dates and all that information as it happens.

Some cool things I've discovered lately... 

Okay, this first one isn't exactly new. I love reading about writerly processes. How authors build their characters. How they plot. Their daily rituals. I find it completely fascinating. That's one of the reasons I'm addicted to reading Cheryl Corbin's Learn to Write Fiction newsletter (LtWF) - which is a free subscription available via email or rss feed. I've been subscribed via email for over a year, and I love the way she details the writing life of popular authors.

A few days ago, I was feeling really down about my writing. Yeah, yeah, one of those days. Anyway, while tinkering around with my phone, I found a newsletter in my inbox from LtWF. It was about the writing life of Judy Blume. If you're familiar with my Goodsreads page, you'll know I'm a Judy Blume fan. I particularly love her novel Summer Sisters and give it my highest recommendation. So, you can imagine how excited I was to read about Ms. Blume's process in the LtWF newsletter (Volume 78). The article even mentioned Summer Sisters. I'm calling it a gift from the writing fairies. I will totally accept inspiration where it happens. That article made me feel a little better about my very messy writing process. So kudos to LtWF, Cheryl Corbin, and Judy Blume.

Another thing I've discovered lately is Feedspot, a feed reader/news aggregator. There are free and premium editions of the service. The premium edition seems very reasonably priced. I received a free, one-year gold subscription from Feedspot, and I'm really impressed with the setup so far. I like how streamlined it is and how easy it is to manage subscriptions. I was using Blogger for tracking my favorite blogs, but with Google Reader/Friend Connect no longer in service, I can't edit my lists. For more about Feedspot, you can check out a review of their service at TechCrunch, and read about the company on their Wikipedia page.

SassiePup Toes
Need a free online image editor? I am totally in love with Pixlr, so much so I've added it to my sidebar. You can use this handy image editor for free online, or download it to your mobile device. I especially love the bandage tool. It even supports layers. I completely love this image editor. Five stars all the way.

Moving along, moving along...

A couple of days ago, I watched Cloud Atlas, which is based on the novel by David Mitchell. It basically shows multiple characters existing across several lifetimes. There were some parts of it I liked better than others, but oh man, what a great study in characterization. Ignore the bad reviews of this movie. It was an ambitious project to start with, and the film makers did a great job pulling all the elements together. If you haven't watched Cloud Atlas yet, check it out.

Minor spoiler warning: There is one part of Cloud Atlas that really sticks out to me as truly brilliant writing. In one of Tom Hanks's character incarnations, he plays a Celtic goat herder that is plagued by Old Georgie, a leprechaun/devil character. Of course, Old Georgie is a product of the goat herder's imagination, but it is so bothersome to him that he visits the village healer/seer (Susan Sarandon) for advice. The seer goes into a trance and tells him Old Georgie is after his soul.

In a different incarnation, Tom Hanks's character is a colonial doctor. A young man has come to him for help with a brain parasite. On board a sailing ship home, the man's condition seems to worsen. Tom Hanks' character has been poisoning him systematically, because the young man wears an iron key around his neck that goes to a chest of gold...and Hanks's character wants it! Once more, although Old Georgie has not been mentioned, something dark (greed) has come after his soul.

What a great display of character consistency, and across multiple timelines to boot. The same can be said of Hugo Weaving's character, who remains a powerful bad guy throughout all his interesting incarnations. He seems to be a direct expression of the movie's theme, which is spoken by Halle Berry: Why we keep making the same mistakes...over and over.

No matter what you think of the overall movie, Cloud Atlas is a brilliant look at the character arc and the possibilities available to us when writing. Very inspiring stuff. I highly recommend watching the film.

That's all for now. I have more catching up to do. Until next time, I wish you all a cozy weekend.  

Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Woods are Dark

Finally, I'm able to update my blog! I'm currently without proper internet, and to do anything online, I have to use my dad's cell. It will be another week or two before the net is back up, so I'm really just glad I have a way to check up on my pages and see what's going on. The only thing is that my data usage is limited.

Anyway, Trick of Light is ready to go. As soon as I have it uploaded, I'll post more about it. I have the Twilight's Edge collection left to finish up, which will be ready by the end of November, and after that I'll be getting the files together for Vampyre Night. Through all this, I'm also working on my cowboy story for Desire, trying to expand it to the targeted 50k. I've been very busy working to get these books out as quickly as possible, without sacrificing quality. It's slow going, but little by little it's all coming together.

I'm currently reading The Stake by Richard Laymon. I love his writing style. It's very straight forward, no frills, but still he manages to dig deep with his characters. A lot of his books have rape in them, which I don't care for but I deal with, so I can't recommend him for every reader. However, there is a lot to be learned about characterisation, using setting as character, and sustaining tension from reading his books. Ressurrection Dreams is my favorite Layman novel, but I also liked the restored version of The Woods are Dark. I read it in one sitting a couple days ago.

In The Woods are Dark, there is a lot writers can learn from his first chapters, such as the way he starts the story in media rez with no backstory. We readers are simply put in the car with Neala and Sherri, and we figure out the laws of the story world right along with them. And in the restored edition of the book, you are taken for a similar ride with the Lander Dills family. Readers are gradually introduced to the characters, we grow to either like them or not within the first fifty pages, then we are carted along right with them as the author drags them through hell.

The Woods are Dark has a vague ending, but it was pieced together after the author's death. I still recommend reading it as a good example of characters staying true to their characterization throughout a novel--and while facing horrible circumstances.

That's all I have for today. I will try to blog again soon. I downloaded the blogger app for android so maybe that will help. Poor Dad, when he gets his phone back, he's going to have all my standard use apps on here. Hehe. That's all for now. Until next time, I wish you a happy weekend!