Category Archives: linktastic

Last Chance to Enter!

Teri Polen’s giveaway (signed paperback copy of bound, mermaid charm, sea glass, and assorted papery swag) is ending soon! She’ll be announcing the winner July 31, which means there’s only a day or so left to enter. This is a fantastic prize from a generous reader, so be sure to enter!

(US and Canada only for this one, but I’ve got something different coming up for everyone else next month)



Click here to enter. Good luck!


Hey, You Found Me!

It’s time now for another wousing wownd… er, rousing round of “how the heck did you end up here?”

In other words, we’re going to see what searches have led people to this blog over the past month or two, because it’s fun, and because I like to try to be helpful and answer search queries, even if they have nothing to do with me.

Let’s see what we’ve got here:


Kate Sparkes torn release date (4 variations) – hooray, I can help with that! Kind of! Still winter 2015. Still February or early March, depending on editing and such. Probably up for pre-order a few weeks ahead of time, but I’m still deciding on that. Thoughts?

Bound/Bound Trilogy Kate Sparkes (5 variations) – again, I can help! *points to cover image at top right corner of page* All of your info is there.

witch order to read the amy snow books – Ooh, can’t help there. My Amy Snow is probably not the one you wanted. Hope you liked pictures of our zombie elf, though! Zombie… not witch.

how to make nescafe cuppacino so its not lumpy – Okay, this sounds random, but I can actually help. I assume this person found the right post. Just remember: TINY WHISK THINGY.

rated r fairy tales stories on wattpad/ – Sorry, mine’s just PG13. But it has vampires… I hear Anne Rice has some explicit fairy tale stuff. Still need to check that out. But not on Wattpad.

read bound by kate sparkes online free – Sorry. Chapter one is up there *points to “free fiction”, and you can get a larger sample on Amazon, but right now you have to either buy it (such a good deal) or risk viruses and crushing guilt on a pirate site. Thanks for your interest, though! Let’s be friends.

ant’s storage of fungus harvests – I assume you saw this post. Sorry it wasn’t more helpful. Do check out the insectarium if you’re ever in Deer Lake, though. Lovely fungus ants.

fruits kiss kids – not a month goes by when someone doesn’t get here via this search or something similar. I hope my post was appropriately creepy.

pool rusted from bottom flooded basement insurance won’t cover – Damn, that sucks. I feel your pain. It was our septic tank, not a pool, but I get the insurance thing. I can’t help, but I get it. I do. I posted about it here.

“the barmaid didn’t offer her name to me”She didn’t to Aren, either! Too weird!

dildo dad – I… um… Okay, I think we’re done here.





Best Thing I’ve Read Today… So Far

I think chuck Wendig nailed it (again) in his post 25 Things I Want to Say to So-Called “Aspiring” Writers.

If you write, you’re a writer. If you don’t, you’re not. If you want to write but aren’t doing it, maybe then you can call yourself an aspiring writer. But if you’re doing the work, OWN it. If you’re dragging your ass out of bed early, fitting in a few sentences while the kids are sleeping, or maybe banging out five words at a time at stoplights*, you ARE a writer. Even if you’re unpublished. Even if nobody wants to read it. Even if those pages are going straight into a box under your bed, or into a bonfire.**

As always with Mr Wendig, language warning.  But there’s nots of great advice here regarding things other than what we call ourselves. Worth a read.

I also liked this:

“Self-publishing is a viable path. It is not, however, the easy path. Get shut of this notion. You don’t just do a little ballerina twirl and a book falls out of your vagina. (And if that does happen, please see a doctor. Especially if you’re a dude.) It takes a lot of effort to bring a proper self-published book to life. Divest yourself of the idea that it’s the cheaper, easier, also-ran path. Faster, yes. But that’s all.”

True words.



*Seriously, though, don’t do this.

**I also don’t like the term “baby writer” or anything else that sounds condescending to people who are newer at this. I think “novice writer” works. But that’s another topic.

Do You Believe in Magic?

Fantastic (ha!) thoughts on not leaving magic behind when we grow up. I know I prefer a book with a little magic in it, and I’ll take a true adventure story over a book about real life any day. 🙂

(and I second the recommendation for KL Schwengel’s books. They’re fantastic. Dark, rich Fantasy stuff, not for the faint of heart, but worth a read. Full disclosure, she’s one of my valued critiquers. She kicked my ass, and I thanked her for it. OK, I’m done.)

El Space--The Blog of L. Marie

I wasn’t going to post today, but the thoughts were fresh in my mind, thanks to a conversation with a friend, and couldn’t be ignored. I’m in a rather soapboxy mood, so feel free to tune in or tune out.

Remember in the movie version of The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion discovered the “wizard” hiding behind the curtain? This “wizard” tried to play it off by his warning to them to “pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.”


Too late. He’d already been exposed as a complete sham—a humbug, according to the Scarecrow. He didn’t have a drop of magic within him, and couldn’t really give them what they desired—a brain for the Scarecrow, a heart for the Tin Man, courage for the Cowardly Lion, and a trip home for Dorothy—except through nonmagical means. But there was magic…

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Disregard That Last Post

That thing asking for thoughts on piracy? Forget it. Other people have written better posts on the topic, and when I disagree with them it’s all my own opinion, which at this point counts for very little.

So in a way that was a waste of 3,000 words today, but I feel like by drafting the posts, I understand my own feelings on the subject better. And words are words. Experience. Not a total loss. I needed a break from fiction, anyway 🙂

(But seriously, why can’t my fiction output be as efficient as my blog output?)

Melinda Atlas pointed out that it’s a topic that’s everywhere right now, and she’s right. Though I wanted to look at why people do it (and why I agree/disagree, and alternative approaches) rather than why OMG IT’S BAD STOP IT or SOMEBODY DO SOMETHING, there’s already enough of that out there. Instead, I’d like to compile a list of interesting reads on the topic, with your help.

First, Chuck Wendig (a post which Melinda also reminded me about). Why does he get to be first? Because I adore his blog. The man is brilliant. He has turned crass language into an art form, but he’s actually incredibly encouraging and far less of a hard-ass than some people on publishing topics. And HAVE YOU SEEN THAT MAGNIFICENT BEARD?!

Also, he covers a lot of issues I wanted to discuss with y’all, more succinctly and humorously than I could. So go read this. I agree completely that people have reasons for illegally downloading books, though I was going to add a few to the list. I also agree that artists deserve to get paid for their work, consistently, even if that’s a dream that just ain’t gonna come true.

Check out the comments, too, in which people address other arguments like the “it’s no worse than a library/borrowing a book” issue, and his Why I Hope You Don’t Pirate My Book post, which is beautiful.

Joe Konrath has some interesting thoughts on piracy, which basically boil down to “It’s not hurting you, you can’t stop it, quit bitching.” That’s what I mean about Chuck Wendig being less of a hard-ass. Mr Konrath says it better than that, but that’s the message I get. If you get angry when people speak plainly on topics you might disagree with, I’d skip that one. Really interesting if you don’t mind the attitude, though. I like him, myself, even if I disagree on some points. I do completely agree with him on why hard-ass laws and things like DRM do more harm than good, and the fact that piracy would be less of an issue if e-books were affordable* ($5.99 and under seems reasonable to me as both a reader and an author; if I won’t spend that on a book, I probably didn’t want it that badly. More than that, and I feel cheated).

There are more. Link away in the comments (I’ll spring you from spam jail if you’re legit), or share your own stories or thoughts on the topic (though you might also want to comment on the original posts, if applicable).

I want to know. I want to learn.

*Side note: the price-and-availability issue is one of the top reasons I’m self-publishing.

I Suck, You Suck, We All Suck for Quite a While!

(Wow. That really didn’t rhyme at all. Sorry.)

I seem to spend a lot of time explaining things to my older son that are actually lessons that I need to learn for myself, or that I’ve learned only recently. This means that either I never learned them as a child, or I did, and it took another twenty years for the lessons to stick. I’d like to blame the former, but let’s be honest: I can be a bit dense. I have no one to blame but myself.

Yesterday’s (attempted) lesson involved something we’ve talked about here before: This tendency that I and many others have to expect our first efforts to be spectacular. Oh, sure, we understand that other people need to practice a lot before they’re good at something, but there’s something in each of us (human nature, or perhaps a heavy focus on self-esteem building in our youth) that makes us think that we are special. We might think we’ll be able to learn to play guitar remarkably quickly, and do it exceptionally well, or that (in my son’s case) we’ll be able to draw things well just because we want to. Sure, Stephen King was writing short stories and novels for most of his life before he sold a novel, but we think that the first thing we write will be brilliant and sell a million copies and make us rich and famous and…

Sure, we say modestly, it will need a bit of editing, but the world will love it when it’s ready. We read (repeatedly, if we’re doing our research) that most books by new authors, no matter how they’re published, sell a disappointing number of copies. They don’t make a splash, don’t earn out their advance, don’t break even on what the author spent on editors and cover designers… but we still think we, individually, going to be the next J.K. Rowling/Stephanie Meyer/Insert Big-Time Debut Author Here.

And kids, it just ain’t so. It’s a fun dream, but as goals go, it… well, it sucks harder than the first draft of a first story.

This is a hard lesson to learn for some of us, but not learning it comes with serious consequences:

  • We don’t do the work. It’s like an actor sitting around waiting to be “discovered” rather than putting the necessary hours into learning and failure and experience. It’s happened before, but it’s a terrible game plan.
  • We’re unwilling to try new things, because we know we won’t be “naturals.”
  • If we do try, we give up as soon as things get tough, or as soon as we realize that this work isn’t as perfect as we expected it to be…
  • …or as soon as someone criticizes our liberal use of triple exclamation points in our Historical Romance, or the fact that the cat’s leg in our painting looks like a furry penis.
  • In fact, it makes it damned hard to take any criticism at all.

And we need that to grow. We need to be able to fall down and scrape our knees and know that this has nothing to do with us being special snowflakes or not; it just means that there’s more to learn, and there’s no shame in that.

This can be exciting! I’ve discovered that there’s freedom in saying “Yes, I need help,” and finding that there are people willing to offer it. There’s freedom in understanding that this is freaking hard on so many levels, but there’s no shame in trying to improve, and there’s freedom in knowing that you don’t have to be the best of the best to contribute something to the world, whether it’s stories or sculptures or sermons or songs (or photos or recipes or lemonade, or other less-alliterative things).

It’s actually funny that my son and I were talking about this yesterday (Me: “They say it takes 10,000 hours to master anything*.” Him: “Wow. That’s more than two days.”). I wasn’t going to do a blog post about it, but this morning I opened a Weekly Inspiration e-mail from Life Manifestos, entitled “Yes, You Suck– Now Get Over It.” I recommend clicking on over there to take a look. It’s exactly what Simon and I (and now you and I) had been talking about: learning that we’re not the prodigies, naturals, or Mary-Sues** we dream we are, but going out there and doing it anyway.

This is why NaNoWriMo was and is so important to me. It’s not about being the best on your first shot. It’s about getting out there and doing the work that needs to be done before you can be great. It’s about not waiting for perfect inspiration or perfect skill to materialize out of thin air or to develop on its own, with no work or input from us. It’s about enjoying the journey, gaining a support group of people who are learning these same lessons, and having a ton of fun even as we work through the frustrations of revising, editing, maybe even publication… and then doing it all over again, knowing that it only gets better.

I hope my son will learn this lesson more quickly than his mom did. I don’t want him wrestling with perfectionism and insta-discouragement*** and thinking that everything he does should be amazing right away. I hope he’ll be open to improvement instead of being hurt by criticism like I was for so long. I hope he’ll learn to be willing to work and to put in something beyond the bare minimum (as this is a huge issue for him right now).

As for me… I’ve got to get back to work.

*No, I haven’t read Outliers yet, but it’s on the list.

**Come on, in our dreams we’re all that girl/guy who’s good at everything, the genius who everybody wants…

***Just add water!

Book Kittens



This is stuck to my desk right now. If you want the story behind it, check out Kelsey Macke’s vlog about sick writers.

I think I’ve found a cause to fight for. 🙂


Trac Changes: On Coverflipping, Misogyny, and, Oh Yeah—How You and I Are Part of the Problem

Trac Changes: On Coverflipping, Misogyny, and, Oh Yeah—How You and I Are Part of the Problem

An interesting interpretation of the “coverflipping” thing that I agree with, and which is written with more intelligence and self-awareness than I could ever contribute.

“…how about teaching our boys that there’s no shame in female or feminine things?”


What Not To Do (link)


Good morning, everyone. I hope last night treated you well. I was up way too late writing, but I have no regrets. My characters might, but I don’t.

Just wanted to share a quick link to something I found interesting. Nothing I hadn’t read before, but I like the way it’s presented, and the writer’s personal experience really fills out the information. Not information that all of you need, but I’m going to leave it care in case anyone wants to take a peek. 🙂

How Not to Publish a Novel in Seven Complicated Screw-Ups

What do you think? Would you debate any of these points? I can at least see the wisdom in all of them, though I know many writers do leave a lot of time between their first and second publications because of marketing pressures and stuff. I might try to have a second book almost ready before I publish the first one… if I decide to go that way, yadda yadda.

I’m going to leave you with this. Writing is fun, isn’t it?


Mother’s Day Isn’t Always Easy

This is incredibly powerful. I had to share.

c o r b a n a d d i s o n

Mother’s Day is a vulnerable time for a lot of women, my wife included. This year I asked her to put her thoughts into words. She wrote this:

To the mother whose kids woke up this morning with joy and smiles, and to the mother who feels she has failed 1000 times already today;

To the mother who is being celebrated with chocolate and tulips and scribbled cards, and to the single mother who works nonstop and still struggles to pay the bills;

To the mother who is being embraced by three generations of life, and to the mother who doesn’t know how many more hugs she has left to give;

To the mother who just heard that first little heartbeat, and to the mother who just buried her firstborn;

To the mother who found out she’s expecting, and to the not-yet mother crying in the bathroom as her prayers…

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