Search Histories

Here are some of the things I googled for the first two rounds of this writing contest:

  • robotic dogsmacbookpro
  • how do robots move
  • do robots have hydraulics
  • would hydraulics work on Mars
  • power sources for robots
  • how much oxygen on Mars
  • can airplanes fly on Mars
  • how to make oxygen on Mars
  • maps of Mars
  • Mars landing sites
  • robotic drone soldiers
  • how can you kill someone quietly in their sleep
  • psychopaths
  • psychopath characteristics
  • psychopaths in literature
  • what high school sports teams have jerseys

What did writers do before the internet???

Crazy Prompts, Fun Times

goldfishbowlI’m 3/4 of the way done with a draft of my story for round two of the NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge and I am Having So Much Fun!

My prompts are: Genre – Suspense, Topic – Funeral, Character – Tutor. Yup, by tomorrow at 11:59 EST, I will submit a 2,000 word suspense story about a funeral and a tutor. This round of the contest gives us 72 hours to write.

Some people are reluctant to enter any writing contests that include a fee to participate, but I will say that the $55 entry for this one is 100% worth it to me.

I love the random prompts. I love the short deadlines. I love the tight word limits.

These things combined force me to create things I would NEVER write otherwise, force me to push myself in new directions.

It’s exciting.

I will have a complete draft done in the next few hours, then solicit some beta readers. I would LOVE to make it to round three.

The contest started with just over 3,000 writers. Round two is down to 500. Round three goes down to 80 people who get 24 hours to write a 1,500 word story with their prompts.

Wish me luck!

Round 2 – Short Story Contest!

round-twoWoot! My story took first place in my heat (of 30ish folks) for Round 1 of the NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge. I love my story “Abso.” I’m happy others like it, too.

This means I move on to Round 2. We’ll get prompts at 11:59 pm EST Thursday; story’s due 11:59 pm EST Sunday. 2,000 word limit. Another random genre, character and subject.

I guess I know what I’ll be doing this weekend! I would LOVE to make it to Round 3. Cross your fingers for me.

And let me know if you’d be willing to do a quick read & quick turnaround critique of this story sometime over the weekend!


Last night, I arrived home after an exhilarating and exhausting conference for NACADA Region 5. I presented, talked to first-time attendees, led a state meeting, attended meetings, attended sessions, AND Every Single Day, I went back up to my hotel room and met my minimum daily writing goal.

16behwyFelt pretty damned good. Now, my minimum goal is NOT as high as my “most days I should” goal, but in these circumstances, it was enough.

Book 3, Rising Wolf, is developing nicely–with many tweaks and false starts along the way so far. I keep trying to push this story, then realizing I need to back up and let it move through the plot arc in the way it wants to. Learning.

“Final” edits for Waxing Moon should arrive soon. Our book blurb has been approved, cover art should be following in the near future. I’m hoping this timeline means the book will be released in late summer/early fall. EXCITING.

Point of View

perspectiveI’ve been thinking about point of view lately. Dark Moon Wolf and the other two books in my series Calling the Moon are written in first person, from Julie Hall’s perspective.

There are both advantages and disadvantages to first person.

Some of the advantages:

  1. As the reader, you feel a closer, personal connection to my protagonist. You’re in her mind. You see what she sees, you hear her thoughts, you feel her emotions. This increases the book’s immediacy and can lead to heightened emotional involvement with the story. The reader identifies with the protagonist.
  2. As a writer, I can develop tension between what Julie thinks/feels/knows and what the reader gradually begins to understand as the larger truth. Even with a mostly-reliable narrator, there’s also tension between Julie’s inner life–what she thinks and feels–and what she says out loud to other characters. There’s a certain mystery to the inner lives of other characters and the reader, like Julie, must guess at what’s going on for them. These are all nice sources of tension.

Some of the disadvantages:

  1. I’m stuck in Julie’s head. If I want to detour into something that happens with other characters, I have to present it as Julie’s learning about it. If not careful, this can lead to a lot of “telling” instead of “showing.”
  2. Writing in first person, especially women writing in first person–ESPECIALLY women writing in first person in less-respected (marginalized, vernacular, feminized) genres (like paranormal, fantasy, romance)–can lead readers to conflate the author and the narrator. Lots of discussion of this in literary criticism.

I’ve been thinking and reading a lot about this last point lately. Authorial voice versus narrator’s voice. What is the reader’s perception of the author/narrator relationship? Does that change when the reader personally knows the author? I’ll continue thinking and may share more if I come to any conclusions. Do you have thoughts? Share in comments, if so!

WIP updates:

Edits on book two, Waxing Moon, are back with my editor. I think we may be close on this one. Book three, Rising Wolf, rolling along–a bit slower than I’d like, because life is so very busy. But I’m making solid progress and it feels good. (Drafts are drafts; the magic happens in the rewrite and editing phase!!)

Releases, Edits, and Real Life

Dark Moon Wolf has been out for a week and my world hasn’t changed yet, haha. It’s
be371px-we_can_editen quite fun talking to folks about my book, from Twitter to blogs to a Facebook event. Every Amazon review that pops up is exciting! Most of the initial reviews have been from people I do NOT know–and they’ve been really positive.

I do think the line between promotion and being a pushy jerk is hard to find! Anyone have tips on that?

I sent off the latest round of edits for Waxing Moon yesterday, after spending about 8 hours editing over the weekend. Can’t wait til that’s further in the process and I get to see the cover art. I hope it will be released in early fall. Cross fingers the timing goes smoothly!

Finally, there’s real life. Work. Kids. Home. If there were less of some of that, there’d be more time for writing Rising Wolf, book three in Calling the Moon. Ah well.




Parkinson’s, Oscars, and Willful Ignorance

And now for something completely different.

You may not know that my husband Gary has Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease. He was diagnosed at the age of 30, just like Michael J. Fox, but without the millions of dollars.*

MJF was on the Oscar’s the other night. I didn’t watch it live, but saw several Facebook posts where people mentioned how great he looks. One person said that she wouldn’t have any idea he has Parkinson’s, if she didn’t already know. Lots of people commented on how happy they were that he was doing so well. Everyone seemed to think he looked great and couldn’t believe how well he functioned.

482cba07ffd69300dec4dd253e94b374I went and watched the clip, of course: Oscar clip.

He does look good. He’s 25+ years out from diagnosis, and I’m so pleased that he’s able to do things like be on the Oscar’s.

At the same time, I watch him and see all the signs and symptoms of PD. Notice how he starts on the other side of the Delorean and does not actually get out of the car–he starts standing behind and out of view, because getting up and out of the car would be so difficult. Notice how his left leg doesn’t bend, how it drags when he walks. Notice his frozen left shoulder and lack of arm swing. Notice how he keeps his hands in his pockets, so he won’t display any tremor or dyskinesia. (Dyskinesia refers to the involuntary muscle movements caused by high levels of PD medications. It can sometimes look like swaying or swinging or a type of contortions.) Notice the lack of affect in his voice and his difficulty articulating.

I mean none of this to criticize MJF. Rather, I point out how much easier it is to say, “Oh, he looks great” and ignore the reality of PD. We’d like to pretend we don’t see the symptoms, that everything is fine, that modern medicine is miraculous. (It is miraculous–thank the gods for modern medicine. And yet.) We’d like to pretend that PD is nothing more than a bit of a hand tremor. We’d like to ignore the lived reality of it, because it’s easier not to know.

I know the cost he pays for this kind of appearance. I imagine how carefully they arranged his medications to make sure he was optimally dosed with levodopa/carbidopa for this precise moment on stage. Not too much. Not too little. How much antidepressant? How much anti-anxiety meds? How much pain killer or other stimulants?

Those of us who live with Parkinson’s know its symptoms encompass all areas of life and can’t be shrugged away so easily with a glossy coating of Oscar gold.

I hope MJF is doing well. I hope we continue to find new therapies and medicines. I hope.

I hope.


*That’s a joke I make often, but it’s also a statement full of rue. Millions of dollars help. With millions of dollars, you can get the best therapies, the best medicines, the best home health aid. With millions of dollars, I would be able to stay home and make sure Gary takes all his meds on time. Make sure he gets to his doctor’s appointments. Make more doctors appointments, for things like regular physical therapy. Join the Y and get him to the PD Rock Steady boxing class or other therapies on a regular basis. But. We don’t have millions of dollars, so we do the best we can.