Is that a “donate” button?

You may notice that I’ve added a PayPal donate button to the bottom of posts appearing on this site. I thought it deserved a bit of explanation.

I don’t expect donations. I’m going to continue writing on this blog for as long as I feel like writing on this blog. But I’d like to be able to write more, and donations might allow me to do that.

Plus, this site does cost me money. I have hosting and admin costs. That’s money going out of my pocket every month. It’s not much, but then again, I wouldn’t expect to get much in the way of donations.

Don’t feel obligated to give me money. If you read this blog and enjoy it, that’s all I can ask for. Pass it along to your friends. Share it on Twitter or Facebook if you feel like it. Or just read it yourself when you have time.

But if you’ve enjoyed this blog, and you’ve found the content useful, and you have a couple dollars to spare and you feel like throwing them my way, now you have a simple way to do that.

My First Short Film is Now Live

I’ve finally made my first short film live. I finished the initial version last year, entered it into some festivals, didn’t get into any, and set it aside for awhile. Then I re-cut it and decided to put it up online, for the world to see. Terrifying, to say the least.

But here it is:

Here’s the description:

An experimental short.

The main goal here was to prove I could make a short all by myself (other than the music, I did everything from writing to acting to camera work to editing). My other goal was to create something that could evoke strong emotions from the viewer. I think I accomplished that.

Music: “Opening Credits” and “Sundown”, both by johnny_ripper and licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike v3.0 License.

Book Three in The Steam and Steel Chronicles is Now Here!

So it’s been almost two years since I released anything in The Steam and Steel Chronicles, but the third novella is now live on Amazon! The Quest for the Demon Disconcerter is only $2.99! Here’s the blurb:

The American West has been a new frontier for Captain Stig Rayner and Miss Isabelle Feeney Hemsworth and their joint business venture. And the fact that they can work together and yet still avoid one another is a nice bonus.

But unexpected news drives a wedge between them that just might push them apart for good. The return of am estranged family member only adds to the tension.

An attack on Isabelle’s life and livelihood may not be enough to bring them back together, though counsel from a wise elder just might be. In the end, the chance they’ve always wanted might finally come, but is the price too high?

The Quest for the Demon Disconcerter follows Stig and Isabelle through what could be the most tumultuous time in their years-long journey to find peace together.

Check it out and leave a review if you want!

It should be live on Barnes & Noble in another day or two. It will be available on Smashwords soon (I still have to do the formatting for that one).


I first heard about The Next Big Thing Blog Hop on a Facebook writer’s group, when Kimberly Menozzi posted to ask if anyone was interested in participating. I had no clue what it was, so of course I jumped right in with both feet! ‘Cause what else could I possibly do?

Kim sent me the basics of what the NBT Blog Hop is (I’d done a similar one years and years ago when I first started blogging).

Basically, it’s an Independent Authors game of tag.

One author posts, and then tags five other authors, who each link back to them. Exponentially it is a marketing gold mine, and you my fair reader have hopefully just increased your to-read list. Finding new and exciting authors you may never have found otherwise. Some of us are still writing, others are just being released.

Either way, for you Fiction Lovers, a treasure trove awaits and I’d like to thank fellow Author Kimberly Menozzi for tagging me to participate.

Click the links to find out about Kimberly’s books.
Blog | Purchase link | Twitter Continue reading

AH! NaNoWriMo Starts in 12 Hours and I have No Story Idea!

Maybe you’ve just heard about NaNoWriMo and you think it’s too late to join this year, since it starts in 12 hours. Or maybe you thought you had an idea and now you hate it and the thought of writing it makes you throw up just a little bit in your mouth.

Don’t let a little thing like not having a story idea prevent you from participating in NaNoWriMo. It’s just an excuse, not a real reason. So, just so that you can’t use it as an excuse, I’ve come up with a little guide to coming up with a story idea in the next 12 hours.

Side note: The first year I did NaNo, I didn’t start until November 3rd! And I still managed to get 90,000 words done during the month! So I don’t want to hear “it’s too late!”

1. Start With a Concept

This is kind of like a theme, but not quite. The concept for The Difference Between Flying and Falling was the idea that just because two people love each other with all their hearts doesn’t mean they won’t be shitty to each other and hurt each other. That gave me the basis for the rest of the story.

One way to come up with your concept is to start asking yourself “What if…?” questions. What if someone started leaving anonymous gifts on your front porch? What if dragons were real but only kids could see them? What if pigs could fly? What if someone hated ice cream?

2. Create a Mashup

This is kind of how I came up with the idea for my other NaNoWriMo project, Music for the End of the World. It’s a mashup of Firefly, Tank Girl, Mad Max, and The Road, with some steampunk elements thrown in for good measure. Think about some of your favorite stories, whether they’re books, TV shows, movies, or something else, and think of what might result if you combined them.

3. Retell an Old Story

Pick your favorite classic or fairy tale and retell it. Give it a modern twist, or set it in a different time period (Cinderella in the Great Depression, anyone?), change the gender of the main character, transform it into a different genre (sci-fi Pride & Prejudice, maybe?), or make any other changes you think could make it better/awesomer/wordier.

Related: Write fan fiction for a modern story. Just realize you won’t be able to publish it.

4. Visit the NaNoWriMo Adoption Society

The NaNoWriMo Adoption Society is the most wonderful part of the entire forums, as far as I’m concerned. There are adoption threads for everything you could possibly think of, including entire plots. This is where I got the titles for both of my projects this year.

5. Look at the News

This is particularly effective if you want to write a tragedy. Or something that’s completely unbelievable.

6. Give a Familiar Trope a New Spin

TV Tropes is a great place to get ideas. See what’s already been done and give it a new twist. Combine completely unrelated tropes and see what happens.

7. Check Out Your Friends’ Facebook Timelines for Juicy Ideas

Okay, this is potentially a great way to ruin some friendships if you don’t change a lot of details. But have you ever really looked at the drama that people broadcast on Facebook? From a writer’s perspective, it’s kinda awesome.

8. Brainstorm or Free Write for 15 Minutes

Write down absolutely everything that comes to mind, no matter how stupid or pointless it seems. See if any great ideas pop up.

Related: Go for a long walk or drive and let your mind wander. Go down roads you’ve never been on before.

9. Reverse an Expectation

Take a familiar character or situation, and look at it from the opposite perspective. Make an unlikely character your protagonist (or villain). Make something happen in an unlikely place. See where this takes you. Probably the most famous example of this kind of writing is Wicked (The Wizard of Oz told from the Wicked Witch of the West’s point of view).

Bonus: Create a Step Outline

Once you have your idea, you may want to create a very basic outline to help guide you throughout November. Here’s what to include:

Inciting Incident/Call to Action: This is what gets the story started.

End of Act I: A high-conflict story that falls about a quarter of the way through the story.

Midpoint: This should be another high-conflict scene.

End of Act II: A major, high-stakes test that propels the story toward the climax.

Climax: The last conflict scene, where the story’s outcome is decided.

This gives you points to aim for throughout the story. Just don’t be afraid to change it as you write, if you feel the need to.

A Playlist for NaNoWriMo

Music is a huge part of my creative process. It inspires me in so many ways, more so than any other creative medium. So for each novel or screenplay I write, I like to compile a playlist that I think matches the tone, feel, and story of whatever it is I’m writing, to listen to while I’m working. I listen to it at other times, too, to get the creativity flowing.

For NaNoWriMo this year, I have two projects, and so far I’ve only come up with a playlist for one (The Difference Between Flying and Falling). I’ll come up with one for the other novel I’m working on as I start writing it, as the tone for the two projects is very, very different. Continue reading

Gearing up for NaNoWriMo 2012!

National Novel Writing Month 2012 (aka NaNoWriMo or just NaNo) starts in just over a week: November 1st! This will be my fifth year doing NaNo, and hopefully my fourth win. I’ve been slacking on my fiction writing this year, but am really getting back into things now. I’ve got the third book in The Steam and Steel Chronicles nearly done (I’ll be starting on revisions to the fourth likely after NaNo). And I’ve got two ideas I’ll be working on during NaNo.

I’m doing something a little different this year: I’m going to be a NaNo rebel! I’ll be starting the month working on a screenplay: The Difference Between Flying and Falling (hereafter known as TDBFAF). The title was actually taken from a NaNoWriMo “Adopt a Title” thread. TDBFAF is going to be about two people who deeply love each other. But just because they’re absolutely in love doesn’t mean that they have it easy, or that they don’t hurt each other. In fact, I think because they’re so in love, they maybe hurt each other more. It’s going to be a super-low-budget feature, with only a handful of characters and a couple of sets.

Now, since screenplays usually only run 13,000 – 19,000 words, I’m obviously going to need to do more than just one project to reach 50,000 words before December 1st. That’s why I’ll be working on a novel after TDBFAF is complete. The novel will be titled Music For the End of the World (another title I lifted from the same “Adopt a Title” thread, hereafter known as MFEW), and will be post-apocalyptic sci-fantasy. I’m pretty excited about this one. It’s an idea that just came to me as I was reading through the adoption threads on the NaNo forums. It’s kind of a mix between Firefly, Mad Max, Tank Girl, and The Road. Continue reading

I ♥ Hugs

A hug is the shortest distance between friends. —Author Unknown

I will not play tug o’ war. I’d rather play hug o’ war. Where everyone hugs instead of tugs, Where everyone giggles and rolls on the rug, Where everyone kisses, and everyone grins, and everyone cuddles, and everyone wins. —Shel Silverstein

I love hugging. I wish I was an octopus, so I could hug ten people at a time. —Drew Barrymore

I’m a hugger. I LOVE hugs. Pretty much, if you don’t smell bad and you aren’t all sweaty and dirty (or, depending on who you are, even if you are sweaty and dirty…), I want a hug from you. Continue reading

It’s been a few months…

Any of you who have followed this site for long will notice the new theme. It’s Adelle from BluChic. At some point I’m going to design a completely custom theme for this site, but I just have not had time. I’m more worried about other projects I have going, rather than spending time on the design for this blog. It’s not a design blog, so I’m not really concerned with how original it is. I just want it to be readable and pretty.

My writing has suffered this summer. I’ve been more focused on my social life, to be honest. I spent my time recharging and recuperating from the events of the past year or so, and am starting to get the itch to write again. I’ve got a screenplay in the works, which I’ll hopefully be finishing in the next month or so. I’m also copyediting a friend’s book at the moment. And as soon as that’s done, I’m going to do the final copyedits on the last two books of The Steam and Steel Chronicles and get those out, hopefully before the end of the year.

Right now I’m waiting to hear back from four film festivals regarding the short film I made last winter, This Is All You Left Me. I’ll hear from all of them by the end of this month. Fingers crossed I make it into at least one. (If anyone is interested, the four festivals are the Hamptons International Film Festival, St. Louis International Film Festival, New Hampshire Film Festival, and Portland Maine Film Festival; the first two are long shots, but the second two I think I have a reasonable shot at.)

I’m going to be changing the focus of this blog a bit. I’ll still post about writing, but I’m going to take a more personal slant going forward, as well as talk about other professional pursuits (including web design and development, filmmaking, and possibly another business I’m looking into). And hopefully I won’t wait another two and a half months before posting again.

An Idea I’m Releasing Into the World

This is a completely off-topic post, but something that I think a lot of people would appreciate.

Have you ever wanted to create a playlist for an event, like a party or whatever, and you spend hours putting songs into a playlist only to then have to figure out what order they should go in. That’s even more time-consuming than finding the music in the first place.

What if there was an app that would analyze the music in that playlist and then arrange it so that one song could easily flow into the next. It could be based on things like tempo but also on things like genre and artist. And of course, after it rearranges all your music, you could then manually change things around if you wanted, too.

Anyway, since I’m not an app developer and likely will never have time to put something like this together, I’m releasing the idea into the wild. If someone does take this idea and run with it, I’d love to hear about it (or even beta test it!), so please let me know! Or, if there’s an app like this out there and I just don’t know about it, let me know that, too!