Bring It On, 2015

Well, here we are. It’s the last few days of 2014. I don’t know how it’s been for you, but a lot of 2014 has felt like this for me:

robin meltdownAnd I know I’m not the only one. Just in my circle of friends, we’ve had deaths in the family, threats of foreclosure, divorce, illness, ends of business relationships, books cancelled, plans shot to hell. There have been some good things, too. Property bought. Business relationships begun. Toxic ties cut. Friendships and partnerships started. But the highs have been not nearly high enough to drag most of us up from the lows, and at times this year’s treatment of me and my loved ones has felt like Achilles dragging Hector’s mangled corpse behind his chariot.

My husband and I have been trying to close on a house since December 2. Our new closing date is tomorrow, 12/30, and I have no idea yet whether or not we’ll actually manage to sign the paperwork and transfer the keys. Especially since we were supposed to do a walk-through today, and no one could FIND the keys.

It’s the last few days of the year, and instead of celebrating, I feel like this:

stressed gif

This year has punched me in the teeth repeatedly. This year was the tenth anniversary of my older breath’s death. My mom’s sister died suddenly on my mom’s birthday. I’ve watched relationships around me crumble, seen friends suffer and suffered some myself. My career is going through tough new growing pains, and I spent a large portion of the year struggling to even put words to the page. The first house we were under contract for, hubs and I ended up not buying, and the fights we had during that time were among the worst we’ve had in the ten years we’ve been together.

I’m so ready to see the back of this year, I may well just sleep through the ball dropping and do my celebrating once it’s actually 2015.

“So, what?” you’re asking. “What does any of this even mean, beyond serving as the biggest buzz kill since they offed The Mother on HIMYM?”

joy thief

Honestly, I’m not sure. It probably doesn’t mean anything. Lots of us have had crappy years. Some people will have crappy years next year, too, and some people will have great years. Still more will have highs that balance out the lows, and 2015 will pass in a blur of excitement and disappointment.

I don’t want to bid farewell to this year on a negative note. I know there’s every chance 2015 won’t be remarkably better. But if I give in to the negativity that has threatened to crush me and mine almost every week since this time last year, I won’t be able to get out of bed tomorrow morning.

frowny face

This has not been my best year. But when I think about where I was last year, in spite of all the suffering I’ve experienced and seen, I know things have improved in a lot of ways. My professional situation is better, even if it feels like I’ve taken three giants steps back. Hubs and I will likely have a new home very soon, even if it doesn’t happen in these last days of 2014, and our relationship is even stronger than it was before we got started down this road. My friends, despite some very serious troubles, will come out the other side stronger, and we’re lucky we’ve been there for each other. My poor family has been through worse.

And while it feels like tempting fate to try to count my blessings, like searching for the silver lining will only cause a cave-in of the mines of Fate, I have to hold on to the wonderful things that have happened this year. Things like seeing my writing friends at Sirens Con in Portland, experiences like learning to spin and making my own yarn, bonds like the ones I share with my husband and my best friends—those are my talismans against another year of struggle. Even when things got bad, my loved ones held my hand and helped pull me through it—and, even better, I think I’ve done the same for some of them.


Yes, this year sucked. But I bet all of us can find a few nice things to say about 2015. And in spite of that irrational (and incredibly common) fear that focusing on the good might bring on the negative, most of us have a few bright moments to cling to, a few friends to hug tightly, a few smoldering hopes and dreams that only need a breath of air to spring back into the burning fire that keeps us going.

Even if 2015 isn’t a whole new world, it is a good breaking point, a natural end and beginning. Maybe it won’t be your best year yet. Maybe it won’t be mine, either.

But maybe… just maybe… it will be.

Happy New Year.





A Few of My 2014 #WeNeedDiverseBooks Reads

I was going to write something about my current writing process and do a little introspection on my debut novel and the one I’m currently working on for this post, but it was going to be a little dreary for the holiday season. So instead I’ve decided since it’s the end of the year and people love year end list type thingies, why not do a little retrospective on some of the stuff I read in 2014?

One of the great happenings in the publishing world during 2014 was the rise to prominence of #WeNeedDiverseBook, a social media movement and non-profit organization dedicated to increasing the breadth and scope of diverse creators and characters in fiction. Their focus is mostly dedicated to kids books, but there has also been, and should continue, many diverse offering in adult books, especially SFF. So why not take a look back some of the most diverse books I read over the last year?

My first novel was pretty much a traditional Euro-centric fantasy, and even with that setting, I’d like to think there was decent amount of diversity in it, though. I’ve tried to be mindful in my current projects to have real meaning representation in each of them, not just diversity for the sake of diversity, but give true purpose and agency to LGBT and PoC characters.

So in that spirit – here’s four of my favorite diverse reads from the past year – two novels and two comics, because OMG there are so many great things going on in comics right now and we need to talk about them.

And I swear, really I do, every post I write here at the Scribes is not going to be a list of some kind.

Ms Marvel


One of the breakout surprises in comics this year was G. Willow Wilson’s MS MARVEL. It’s the story of Kamala Khan, a Pakistani-American teenager from Jersey City, who inexplicably finds herself with the power to change her size and shape. She decides to take up the mantle her favorite superhero and idol, Ms. Marvel, to defend her neighborhood against villainous elements that have taken root in her backyard.

As much a slice-of-life story as it is a superhero yarn, Kamala’s exploits are a poignant coming-of-age story about a girl trying to find her place in the world. Kamala feels like a outcast because of her Muslim faith and her overbearing parents, and at first uses her powers as a means to acceptance, thinking if she becomes a hero, she won’t be seen an outsider by her peers. But she soon discovers its not the powers that make her special, but her own love for her family and friends.

Kamala is one of the best new comic characters to come along in years. I think she’s the modern day Peter Parker. While she doesn’t have the tragedy (so far) that drove much of Peter’s transformation into Spiderman, she is an outcast like he was, trying to find her place in the world. Like him, she finds a purpose in her powers, something that can give direction and focus to a life adrift. She’s an inspiration for a new and more diverse generation of comic book readers.

Willow Wilson, a Muslim woman herself, as become one of the rising stars at Marvel because of the success of this book, and Adrian Alphona, who hasn’t done much work in the industry since RUNAWAYS in the early 2000s has found a new lease on life. His dynamic artwork, unlike anything I’ve seen in comics provides Wilson’s cast with a distinct look and livelihood apart from every other book on the shelf.

Killing Moon


This one was on my To-Read pile for way way too long and I finally picked it up earlier this year. I shouldn’t have waited so long, because it was fantastic. The story follows the exploits of a pair of Gatherers, an ancient guild of that kills or heals by invading people’s dreams and extracting Dream Blood from them, as they try to unravel a conspiracy within their ranks and try to prevent a war between too nations.

Jemisin’s world building is really tremendous in this novel, the diversity and scope of the society and its various faiths and peoples is truly awe-inspiring. For example, instead of the traditional Euro-centric fantasy setting, this novel takes place in a Middle Eastern and Egyptian style environment. It also features a cast of entirely PoC characters, as one would expect from such a setting, but as we’ve seen even just recently in the movie EXODUS, whitewashing is still a thing.

The main character of the story is Ehiru, a male Gatherer, but the female protagonist Sinadi is a WoC who is given as much importance and agency as he is. She’s really the bond that holds the whole story together, and unites the major plot threads together. She’s also a stabilizing element when the chaos of the novel’s event overwhelms the Gatherers and threatens to unravel everything.

Rat Queens


One of the silliest things I’ve ever read when it come to diversity in fiction is that it’s too difficult to write diverse characters in a traditional fantasy setting because ‘that’s not the way it was back then’. Yeah, I remember the time Joan of Arc rode a dragon to battle an army of orcs at the Siege of Orleans too.

Rat Queens follows a band of female mercenaries as they hack and slash their way to notoriety in a traditional Euro-inspired medieval setting. The main characters are diverse in gender, race and orientation, making for an extremely well rounded group of representation and breaking the mold of what we usually expect from a traditional fantasy setting. And this book does not pull any punches, either. Gratuitous violence, sex and profanity are abound in Rat Queens. This is an actual quote from one of the issues:

We are hosting a party tonight. I want to get drunk. I want to get high. I want to have sex with Orc Dave. They can happen in any order or all at once. Any objections?

It revels in the boldness and the sexuality of its characters, where many times in fiction, especially in comics, female sexuality is used merely as a means of titillation or distraction to the other male characters or the reader. Not here. In Rat Queens the character’s sexuality emboldens and empowers them.

Rat Queens was an unexpected sensation in comics this year, picking up critical and fan acclaim and even an Eisner nod. Regretfully, this momentum was stunted when the former artist , Roc Upchurch, was arrest for a domestic violence incident this past fall. Writer Kurt Weibie did the right thing and removed Upchruch from the book, as it would have been completely toxic if he stayed on, in my opinion. I would have liked a female artist brought on in light of this incident, someone like Amy Reeder or Rebeckah Issacs would have been perfect, but it was announced that Stjepan Šejić would be new artist a couple weeks ago. I think he’ll do a fine job, his art really captures the sexy sword and sorcery style of the Queens.

Ancillary Justice


I just finished this one up a couple of days ago, and it was really unlike anything I’ve ever read before. Real Talk – I read more of the F in SFF that the SF, but all the positive buzz about this novel made me pick it up.

And wow.

The plot revolves around Breq, a wayward Ancillary (corpse soldier that’s part of an AI (!!!!!)) and the last remaining piece of the spaceship, Justice of Toren’s, AI system that was destroyed many years ago. She’s on a quest for revenge against the parties responsible for separating her from Toren. Basically the ships in this novel are comprised of multifaceted AIs, spread out across various Ancillaries, Breq being the only piece of this consciousness that survived the ship’s destruction. It’s really wild and high concept stuff.

Remarkable, aside from the big ideas presented in ANCILLARY JUSTICE about artificial intelligence and the nature of one’s self, is the fact the entire cast is female. Even Breq, who it not technically human, but a corpse reanimated with genetic and technological enhancements. What I also found quite interesting was that even though all the characters are present biologically as female, depending on the culture they’re interacting with, not always are they referred to with female pronouns.

For a good portion of the novel, Breq and her companion Seivarden are on distant planet, where Seivardian, while presented as female to the reader, is referred to with male pronouns by some of the planet’s inhabitants. Similarly there a various points in the novel where Breq pauses to make sure she’s using the proper pronouns when addressing other characters. I found this a great way to weave awareness of present day differentiating gender expressions and norms into a far future world in a way that RAT QUEENS was able to do for modern race and sexual orientation awareness in a traditional fantasy setting.

So, my friends, what kind of diverse reads did you all enjoy this year and what ones are you looking forward to in 2015?

Not Quite Christmas Movies

I admit quite a weakness for the Christmas movie genre. Whether it’s The Santa Clause, The Muppet Christmas Carol, or the latest by-the-numbers Hallmark tearjerker, I am a sucker for movies themed around “the most wonderful time of the year.” So every year around this time, I find myself watching every Christmas movie I can get my hands on. And every year I am reminded of the surprising number of movies that contain Christmas and yet aren’t quite Christmas movies. Today we’re going to talk about two of my favorite “Not Quite Christmas Movies.”


Gremlins is a movie that traumatized a generation. The trauma it inflected on families who thought they were going to see a cute holiday movie about a boy who gets a Mogwai combined with Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom convinced movie-makers that the PG-13 rating needed to be invented. Thus most people remember Gremlins as a movie about breaking rules and the horrible things that can ensue. Any if you’re like me, you often forget it’s even a Christmas movie.

And yet, it is. This movie takes place at Christmas. That is why Billy gets Gizmo in the first place. He is a Christmas present.


This movie isn’t really about Christmas at all. There isn’t a particularly Christmas-like moral. There is no Christmas miracle that saves the town. Santa doesn’t show up at the end, and there is no mention of the religious implications of anything. So why was it that the creators of this film chose to set it at Christmas time when Billy could have just as easily gotten Gizmo as a gift for his birthday?

I’m not really sure. Personally I think it’s to contrast the destruction of the gremlins with the expectation of a Christmas “silent night.” But other than that, there is no particular reason for this movie to take place at Christmas.

Iron Man 3

I always forget this movie takes place at Christmas. I’ll be marathoning Marvel movies, this one will be up next on the list and suddenly Tony Stark is dancing to Christmas music. TonyStark_dancing

And every time I watch this movie I ask myself one question: Why? Why does this movie take place at Christmas time?

The answer is I have no idea. I have watched this movie innumerable times and I have yet to figure out why exactly it takes place during this festive time of year. It’s rare that I can’t even begin to hypothesize why a Marvel movie does what it does, because breaking down Marvel movies to their smallest detail is what I love to do, but frankly I’ve got nothing. Other than I suppose watching Tony Stark dance to Christmas carols is pleasant.

These are just two examples of not-quite Christmas movies. From Die Hard to Edward Scissorhands, there are a fair number of movies that take place at Christmas but have nothing to do with the holiday itself.

Personally I think not only is this a good thing, but it’s an important thing. Movies like Iron Man 3 and Die Hard show us that life doesn’t stop just because it’s the holidays. Our lives don’t magically transform into romantic comedies where Santa sets us up with the person of our dreams. Life still goes on as normal, and heck, sometimes life gets harder. Because sometimes we’re dealing with the drama of Christmas while Aldrich Killian is blowing up our Malibu mansion.

And this is why in the midst of all my sappy movies about matchmaking Santas, time traveling Scrooges, and claymation characters, I still find time for Gremlins and Iron Man 3. To remind me that while Christmas is important, sometimes it’s nothing more than a backdrop to an even grander adventure.

Favorite Holiday Reads

The air is chilly and smells of pine needles and frost and woodsmoke. Christmas lights are strung in the boughs of trees and holiday carols jingle from storefronts. Shoppers bustle to and fro, clutching brightly colored bags and packages. Where ever you live, or which ever holiday you celebrate, it’s wintertime once more. And you need a good wintry book to curl up in front of a fireplace with.

Well, get that mug of hot cocoa ready, because I’ve got you covered. The holiday season is definitely my favorite time of year, and there’s nothing I love more than getting lost in a great book that reflects the season. But who wants to read A Christmas Carol again? Not me, and not you. So here’s a selection of my favorite books with  Christmas/holiday/solstice/winter themes! Enjoy!

The Dark is Rising, by Susan Cooper

In this fantastic coming-of-age adventure, Will longs for snow on the eve of his 11th birthday, which falls on the night of the winter solstice. But little does he know that with the snow comes a life-changing destiny–he has been chosen to fight in the ancient battle against the menacing forces of darkness.

Quote: “The snow lay thin and apologetic over the world. That wide grey sweep was the lawn, with the straggling trees of the orchard still dark beyond; the white squares were the roofs of the garage, the old barn, the rabbit hutches, the chicken coops. Further back there were only the flat fields of Dawson’s farm, dimly white-striped. All the broad sky was grey, full of more snow that refused to fall. There was no colour anywhere.”

Shiver, by Maggie Stiefvater

In this atmospheric, gorgeous teen romance, Grace can’t wait for the snow to fall so that her strange-eyed wolf will return to the woods behind her home. But even as temperatures drop, long-cold secrets begin to thaw….

Quote: “As the hours crept by, the afternoon sunlight bleached all the books on the shelves to pale, gilded versions of themselves and warmed the paper and ink inside the covers so that the smell of unread words hung in the air.”

whitewitch3The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, by C. S. Lewis

Narnia is plunged in what may possibly be the longest Advent season ever by the dread White Witch. Revisit this childhood favorite for Turkish Delight, snow-covered forests, talking animals, and the long awaited return of Father Christmas.

Quote: The Queen let another drop fall from her bottle on to the snow, and instantly there appeared a round box, tied with green silk ribbon, which, when opened, turned out to contain several pounds of the best Turkish Delight. Each piece was sweet and light to the very centre and Edmund had never tasted anything more delicious. He was quite warm now, and very comfortable.

The Dead, by James Joyce

This long-ish short story is rich, sad and wonderful, touching on mortality, love, family. The clink of glasses, melancholy Irish songs, and drunken relations–isn’t that what Christmas is all about?

Quote: “His soul swooned softly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.”

The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt

A darker, more serious option for your reading pleasure. Although the story isn’t consigned to the holiday season, Tartt includes many poignant, stunning descriptions of Christmas and the winter season.

Quote: “Hordes of people in the street, lighted Christmas trees sparkling high on penthouse balconies and complacent Christmas music floating out of shops, and weaving in and out of crowds I had a strange feeling of being already dead, of moving in a vaster sidewalk grayness than the street or even the city could encompass, my soul disconnected from my body and drifting among other souls in a mist somewhere between past and present.”

Catcher in the Rye, by J. D. Salinger

Holden Caulfield may be a confused, emotionally inept jerk, but everyone needs to follow him around New York City at Christmastime while he complains about phonies at least once.

Quote: “I said old Jesus probably would’ve puked if He could see it – all those fancy costumes and all. Sally said I was a sacrilegious atheist. I probably am. The thing Jesus really would’ve liked would be the guy who plays the kettle drums in the orchestra.”

The Left Hand of Darkness, by Ursula K. LeGuin

In this seminal science fiction novel, a human envoy to an alien planet must trek through a hostile winter-scape to complete his mission. A meditation on gender, love, and ultimately, humanity itself.

Quote: “It is a terrible thing, this kindess that human beings do not lose. Terrible, because when we are finally naked in the dark and cold, it is all we have. We who are so rich, so full of strength, we end up with that small change. We have nothing else to give. ”

Black Swan Green, by David Mitchell

In this semi-autobiographical novel about growing up in Cold War era England, Mitchell includes many gorgeous and haunting descriptions of winter and the holiday season.

Quote: “The ice shrucked me off my feet. For a helterskeltery moment I was in midair at an unlikely height. Bruce Lee doing a karate kick, that high. I knew it wasn’t going to be a soft landing but I hadn’t guessed how painful a slam it’d be. The crack shattered from my ankle to my jaw to my knuckles, like an ice cube plopped into warm squash. No, bigger than an ice cube. A mirror, dropped from Skylab height. Where it hit the earth, where it smashed into daggers and thorns and invisible splinters, that’s my ankle. I spun and slid to a shuddery stop by the edge of the lake.”

hogwarts-christmasHarry Potter Series, J. K. Rowling

I’ll never forget getting Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone for Christmas when I was twelve. I read it in one sitting, curled in front of a roaring fire. Although each book encompasses a whole school year, some of my favorite Potter moments are at Christmas time: Ron and Harry swapping chocolate frogs and wearing Mrs Weasley’s ugly jumpers, the Yule Ball, Christmas feasts and Wizard Crackers.

Quote: “One can never have enough socks,” said Dumbledore. “Another Christmas has come and gone and I didn’t get a single pair. People will insist on giving me books.”

That’s all, folks! And don’t forget to check out fellow Scribe’s new Matilda Kavanagh book, Yuletide! Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Blessed Solstice, and Happy New Year!

Ideas But No Time

As I’m on deadline and procrastinating because that’s what I do…I started thinking about my next project.

Do you ever feel like you have all the ideas but no time to finish them? What do you do about that?

I have a folder of new ideas. One or two sentences to describe a plot or character. Those are the “I’ll get to them eventually” ideas. Then there are the stories I’ve started, but haven’t finished. Those are in their own folders. I go to them when I need a break from my current project.

I read on Facebook the other day and author post that she had tons of ideas but when it’s time to start a new book none of them seem right. Some are too similar to what she’s already written. Others don’t have enough umph. It’s another problem of having all the ideas and not enough time. Because let’s face it, when we are on deadline or limited in time we have to go with the idea that flies from our fingers as we type.

It was good to see I’m not the only one who looks back at my folder of possibilities only to feel like nothing would work.

I’m curious…what do you do with all of your ideas?

Never Say Never…

NEVER SAY NEVERYou know the old phrase “Never say never?” Yeah, I used to ignore it, thinking I knew my heart and wouldn’t change my mind. Now, not so much. As I’m getting older (all of 35) I’m coming to realize that most of the things I said I’d never do are exactly what I end up doing. There are more examples, but here are a few that come to mind:

Exhibits A and B (they are related)
I was born three months premature. I mention that only because I had a lot of health problems when I was young (but thankfully nothing nearly as serious as it could have been) that required me to be in and out of the hospital. Hence, I developed a hatred/phobia of hospitals that lingers to this day. So, naturally, when I was old enough to start thinking about my career path, I swore I’d never work in a hospital or in health care.

Toward the end of high school and early into college I was a big Days of Our Lives fan. During that time, they ran a storyline where Carrie – the idol of most young girls at the time – was a PR representative for the local Salem hospital. I’ve forgotten the particulars of the storyline, but I very vividly remember a scene where she was hounded by reporters asking for a statement. I was so stressed just watching her deal with them that I swore I would never work in public relations, especially for a hospital, because I didn’t want to go through that.

Fast forward about a dozen years. I’m in my second (and current) job. Doing what? Working in the PR department…of a health system (corporate office, not hospital, but still).

Exhibit C
In the past, I’ve made no secret about not being a huge fan of the romance genre. The root of my issue goes back to when I was about 10 or 11 and my great aunt gave me my first romance novel, Navy Brat by Debbie Macomber. Obviously, I was too emotionally and sexually immature to be reading that book because it scarred me for life, even though it was nothing compared  to some of the books out there today. I remember thinking while reading one sex scene, “Why would you do that and how is that even physically possible?” After that, I swore I would never write romance novels.

Cut to December 2014: I’m not only a writer, but a writer of romantic comedies (in addition to historical fiction) who just joined the Romance Writers of America (RWA). What’s more I just entered one of my books their Golden Heart Awards and am considering writing a short story for an upcoming anthology. I still prefer the sweeter/less graphic side of the romance genre, but I’m quickly coming around, despite my previous vow.

Exhibit D
In the ultimate case of irony, when I first started taking my writing seriously, probably back in 2009 or 2010, my best friend Courtney suggested that I start blogging. I was adamantly against it, saying it would take away from my writing time and that I didn’t have anything to say that anyone would want to hear. I was dead set against it and I swore I would never blog.

Now, I’ve been blogging for 3.5 years, on my author blog, here and over at Femina Aequalitas, another group blog. And, I love it!


I really, really need to learn to never say never. It’s not that any of these things are bad; on the contrary, they have all turned out to be wonderful opportunities. My training in public relations is very valuable to my job as an author. Blogging has helped me meet so many wonderful people (I love all of you readers) and gives me an outlet for my endless research and constant opinions on everything. Joining RWA has already opened some amazing doors for me, not to mention opening my mind to the genre.

Based on this, I’m starting to wonder if I should say, “I’ll never get a book contract” or “I’ll never be a best seller.” If my previous pattern holds, all I’ll need to do is wait a bit and that will be exactly what happens. Nah. On second thought, I’m too much of a believer in manifestation to utter such negative phrases. But I will watch what I say “never” about from now on!

Can you relate? Do you have your own “never say never” story? I’d love to hear it in the comments.

Too. Many. Books.

So this is a post about books. Specifically, buying books. Actually, it’s about buying more books than any one human could read in their lifetime. Or my lifetime, as it were.

See, the other morning, this was my status update on Facebook:

Must stop buying books FB

In addition to the ‘likes’, there were 20-some comments, mostly people commiserating with me. I posted that status after I saw a link from an author I like. He’d published a Christmas story on Amazon, and it was FREE for a limited time. (Jump HERE to see if “Matches” is still free.)  Then I saw another FB post, about another book that’s been sitting on my Amazon wish list. The author had dropped the price to $0.99, and the sample was great, so of course…

(Jump HERE to see if Miss Guided is still $0.99)

My bedroom bookshelf. It’s short, so I stack ’em double.

In the space of ten minutes, I’d added two more books to my stacks. And seriously, I have stacks. Just look at these pictures! We – I’m including my husband and teenagers in this – have more books than any four people ought to.

And though I mentioned the rest of the family, I think it’s safe to say I deserve most of the blame. There are too many to count hard copy books squirreled away here at Chez Rancourt, and when I tried to count our Kindle books, I lost track at about 400. I’ve probably read half, maybe 60% of the books in our Amazon cloud. I also usually have a couple books checked out from the library, and download books from Netgalley, too.

I have a problem.

One wall in the basement. There are two more bookcases, and yeah, these are stacked double too.
One wall in the basement. There are two more bookcases, and yeah, these are stacked double too.

It’s just so easy. Every day I one-click intriguing links on Facebook or fascinating tweets on Twitter.  There are authors who make me hyperventilate when I know they’ve got something new coming out. I love seeing what my friends are working on, and nothing gets me more excited than telling someone about an author they haven’t read before, to get them to one-click the same way I did…or do.

Because I do. All the time.

Recently I told a friend at work – who I know is a voracious reader – about The Magpie Lord, the first book in a fantastic trilogy. She sounded interested, and I asked her when she’d be back to work. I might have snickered a bit, too. She told me, and asked why I was laughing.

“I just wanted to see if you’d have time to read all three before I see you again.”

She had.

All three.

Made. My. Night.

In fact my biggest dissatisfaction with ebooks is that I can’t lend them to people the way I used to share paperbacks. I know it’s possible, but not for every book, and it’s not nearly as easy as tossing a  paperback in my purse. I have (had?) a couple copies of Dead Until Dark just for the purpose of lending them out, and have lost track of the number of people who’ve fallen in love with Sookie’s world because of me.

Well, I helped anyway.

So as we’re heading in to the heart of the holiday season, know that I’m the easiest one on your shopping list. Amazon gift card, please. Or a gift certificate to ARe, or one to iBooks, or Kobo, or…

Leave me a comment if you share my one-click addiction. It’s always more fun with friends!


Oh, and one more thing…while you’re in the one-click mood, my holiday story The Santa Drag is $0.99 on Amazon. Jump HERE to check it out!


NaNo’s over. Now what?

Well, hello my darlings! Welcome back, I hope you had a wonderful holiday and not too many of you died to become a Tale of Black Friday. I do hope some of you participated in Small Business Saturday – and remember, you can keep that up just by buying books because authors are small businesses. Even if our books are sold on big retailers, we ourselves are small businesses. Like me, my royalties pay my bills, allow me to hire my editor, Cassie, who is an independent editor, and allows me to pay my proof reader, and to pay my cover artist. See? Me plus three people, that’s a small business.

Before I dive into the crux of this post I’d like to say “Welcome!” to our newest Scribe, Brian O’conor, and tell him what a fantastic job he did with his first post. If you have read it yet, I hope you’ll pop over and read it (after mine of course).

So, I thought, this first week of December, it would be good to talk about what to do now that NaNoWriMo is over.

You won NaNoWriMo, now what? Or maybe, you failed at NaNoWrimo, now what? Or maybe still, you were too scared or intimidated to try to attempt NaNoWriMo, now what?

All valid questions.

1. You won NaNoWriMo, now what?


That all depends. Is you book finished? I mean really? Most 50k word books are middle grade or lower – unless your goal was to write a Novella and in that case you are done. Novels (YA and older) really tend to be 75k and higher, so if you’re finished at 50k, make sure you’re in the right age group. If 50k isn’t a reasonable word count, the answer to that question is: KEEP GOING! Keep up the momentum and habits that got you this far and finish. If you keep up your pace, you should be done before the holiday and it’ll be like a wonderful present for yourself. If you started your book before Nov 1st and you really are really done for real, then your next step is to take a break. Yes. Close the document (AFTER SAVING AND BACKING IT UP AT LEAST 2 DIFFERENT WAYS) and walk away from it for at least a week. Really, two weeks would be better, or even a month is good. Then you can come back to it with pen and paper and read the whole thing over and start fixing it. What you just finished was a rough draft, it is not ready for submission or publication by any means, I don’t care if you’re a 10x NYT Best Seller. That puppy needs revision. Probably more than one. Some writers start each revision with different goals in mind. One revision will be to look for plot holes. The next, typos, and so on and so on. It’s not uncommon to need 3-5 revisions before you give it to someone else to help revise, like an editor or a beta/critique partner.

2. You failed at NaNoWrimo, now what?

Supernatural, prophet, Chuck

Never fear! Did you write something? Good! That’s the real goal of Nano – to get words down you might not have gotten without the momentum of NaNo. Keep going, keep writing. That community of people you found through NaNo is still out there, people are still writing, still need sprinting partners, still need all the support you need, too. You’re not alone and there’s no shame in not winning NaNo. It’s not for everyone. Not everyone can fast draft and sometimes you don’t know if you can until you try. I do highly recommend Camp NaNo in the summer. In Camp NaNo you pick your own writing goal, so if 50k was too much for you, you could make a goal of 35k or 25k or even just 15k. Sometimes you just need a win, sometimes you need to build up your ability to fast draft. When I first started out I just asked myself to write 1k words a day five days a week. That’s not bad with a full time job. That was 5k a week, which was about a chapter a week. So in 20 weeks I had a full book written. That’s a book in 5 months – with weekends off! That’s not bad at all. Then I built up from there and now I can win NaNo and then some when I put my mind to it. It’s just like any thing else that you need to practice at to get better, stronger, faster. Typing, running, weight lifting, reading. The more you do it the faster you’ll become. Or not. We’re all different.

3. You were too scared or intimidated to try to attempt NaNoWriMo, now what?

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That’s perfectly okay. Like I said in #2, not everyone can fast draft, but you won’t know until you try and maybe 50k was too much for you to try the first time. So, again, I recommend Camp NaNo and set your own goal for the month. But, maybe you’re just itching to try writing this month, or next, and don’t want to wait that long. Good! Don’t wait! Set out a goal. Maybe just 500 words a day. If you write every day, don’t take weekends off, you’ll write 15,500 words in December. Or, if you think you can do 1k, you’ll get 31,000 words. THAT’S HUGE! Then you’ve started a habit and maybe next month you can convince yourself you could do 1.5k a day and in January you’ll write an additional 46,500 words, add that to your 31k from December and you’ll have 77,500 words. And you know what? That’s a novel, yo!


It doesn’t matter if you won, if you fell short, or if you were too intimidated to do NaNo. All that matters is you don’t give yourself excuses to stop now. Keep going. Even 100 words a day is more than zero and you’ll never write that book you’ve always wanted to write if you never try. And remember, that first draft is crap. Doesn’t matter who you are or how much practice you have at it or how good it might actually be, compared to what it will be when you polish and revise it is crap, but that’s okay. You need the clay to mold into that really awesome sculpture. You need something to start with. Keep going.

And for a little shameless self-promotion. I actually finished the first Matilda Kavanagh Novel, Wytchcraft, during Nano ’12. And now, the third book in the series, Yuletide is up for pre-order! If you’d like a non-traditional holiday story for a little escape, pre-order your copy now!

Amazon/Barnes and Noble/iTunes/Kobo

Yuletide PB