Book Review! The Watchers: Book One, Knight of Light

I’ve been given a book to review!

For an upcoming blog tour, I am reviewing The Watchers: Book One, Knight of Light, by Deirdre Eden.  It is the debut novel of a fantasy series set in medieval England.

Ms. Eden is a writer and speaker who runs Eden Literary, a company that provides services to writers such as editing, critiquing, promotion, book trailers, and others.  I feel honored that I was chosen for a Powerful Woman Writer Award by her blog, A Storybook World.  You can see it at the bottom of my page and find the link to the site in my blogroll.

Eden’s Amazon biography says:

My goal in writing is to saturate my books with intrigue, mystery, romance, and plot twists that will keep my readers in suspense. I want to see fingerprints on the front and back covers where readers have gripped the novel with white knuckles! 

Aside from writing, I enjoy jousting in arenas, planning invasions, horseback riding through open meadows, swimming in the ocean, hiking up mountains, camping in cool shady woods, climbing trees barefoot, and going on adventures.

She’s well qualified to write the action scenes in this book.  And looks the part as well.  This picture is super cool.

Deirdre Eden knight Zion PHotography Studio

Photo:  Zion’s Studio Photography at

In The Watchers: Book One, we meet fiery haired orphan Auriella, who has discovered a strange new power within her.  Charged with witchcraft, soon she is on the run, pursued by wolves and the dreaded Shadow Legion.  They are the nemeses of the mysterious and legendary Lady of Neviah, whose identity soon becomes apparent.

Auriella and a fellow captive, a chirpy pixie named Cassi, are rescued from the clutches of an evil hag by Ruburt the dwarf.  The three friends travel through a dangerous world, until they reach the patronage of Lady Hannah, who adopts Auriella.

Enchanted by her new life and a burgeoning first love affair, Auriella begins to turn away from her destiny.  But she cannot escape it for long, and soon, her comfort and safety is threatened, along with everything and everyone she has grown to love.

Through heartbreak and loss and with newfound skills and experience, Auriella must face her enemy and fight for her chance to become not only a legend but a knighted protector of the kingdom.

Though I’m not a reader of high fantasy, I enjoyed this book.  Tiny pixie Cassi in particular was an amusing character.  She and Ruburt the dwarf provide comic relief, and they stick loyally by Auriella through thick and thin, as real friends do.

Eden is a Mormon writer, and the theological research she draws on in her writing supports the story beautifully without being intrusive.  Not being Mormon myself, I don’t know a lot of it, but the whole Watchers thing (see the Books of Enoch) doesn’t come across as preachy or even particularly religious.

I would have liked the author to take me through some of the transitions a bit more slowly–some of them seemed rushed.  But I’ve just read The Lord of the Rings again and recently finished Stephen King’s 11/22/63, so the slow tempo of both those books (especially Tolkien’s) may be coloring my perception.

This story would be fine for younger readers who can handle chapter books.  It’s fast-paced and the language isn’t too hard for them.  Young adults and even grown-ups who like a quick read and a good adventure will enjoy it too.  While reading, I found myself wishing I had a nerdy bookworm kid with whom to share it.  This blog post will appear on my Facebook page, and I’ll make sure my parent friends see it.

It looks as though Eden has at least six books planned in the series.  I’m anxious to see what happens next, and how Auriella’s adventures play out.  I think it would make a neat animated film (or a series of them).

Find The Watchers: Book One, Knight of Light on Amazon. Watch this cool book trailer here:

Exciting, yes?

Thanks to Laura Watkins and Theresa Sneed, Book Manager and Blog Tour Assistant of Eden Literary for providing a review copy to me.  Now go read!

RIP Robin Williams

No matter how we try to imagine it, we can’t know what is truly going on inside other people.  Actor and comedian Robin Williams battled many demons—among them addiction and depression.  This morning, he lost his fight.  My heart goes out to his family and friends as they mourn the loss of their loved one.

Rest in peace, dear man.  We’ll miss you dreadfully.

Happy Feet Two - European Premiere - Inside Arrivals

Image Credit: Dave Hogan/Getty Images

The Buttersmiths’ Gold and An Unfortunate Announcement

Look, Deirdra A. Eden of A Storybook World sent me this!  A friend of hers, Adam Glendon Sidwell, has a book coming out.  It’s a middle grade novella called The Buttersmiths’ Gold, and it’s coming out May 2.  I love kids’ books, and this looks pretty cool.   Here’s a bit more about it.

The Buttersmiths’ Gold



Everyone knows the most coveted treasure of the Viking Age was blueberry muffins. Blueberry muffins so succulent that if you sniffed just a whiff, you’d want a whole bite. If you bit a bite, you’d want a batch; if you snatched a batch, you’d stop at nothing short of going to war just to claim them all.

Young Torbjorn Trofastsonn comes from the clan that makes them. He’s a Viking through and through – he’s thirteen winters old, larger than most respectable rocks, and most of all, a Buttersmith. That’s what he thinks anyway, until a charismatic merchant makes Torbjorn question his place among the muffin-makers. When Torbjorn lets the secret of his clan’s muffin recipe slip, he calls doom and destruction down upon his peaceful village and forces his brother Storfjell and his clansmen to do the one thing they are ill-prepared to do: battle for their lives.

About The Buttersmiths’ Gold

The Buttersmiths’ Gold is a spin off novella in the Evertaster series that tells the story of two Viking brothers and their adventurous past. The Evertaster series (Book #1 released June 14, 2012) is about Guster Johnsonville, who goes searching for a legendary taste rumored to be the most delicious in all of history. Along the way he meets a slew of mysterious characters, including two Viking brothers Torbjorn and Storfjell. The Buttersmiths’ Gold is their story. 124 pages. By Adam Glendon Sidwell. Published by Future House Publishing.

If you’re interested in checking out Book 1, here is what it’s all about:

Evertaster, Book #1:

A legendary taste. Sought after for centuries. Shrouded in secrecy.

When eleven-year-old Guster Johnsonville rejects his mother’s casserole for the umpteenth time, she takes him into the city of New Orleans to find him something to eat. There, in a dark, abandoned corner of the city they meet a dying pastry maker. In his last breath he entrusts them with a secret: an ancient recipe that makes the most delicious taste the world will ever know — a taste that will change the fate of humanity forever.

Forced to flee by a cult of murderous chefs, the Johnsonvilles embark on a perilous journey to ancient ruins, faraway jungles and forgotten caves. Along the way they discover the truth: Guster is an Evertaster — a kid so picky that nothing but the legendary taste itself will save him from starvation. With the sinister chefs hot on Guster’s heels and the chefs’ reign of terror spreading, Guster and his family must find the legendary taste before it’s too late.


Those sound awesome, don’t they?  Now that I’ve gotten you all excited about Adam’s book(s), I need to tell you something.

I have to quit the Blogging from A-Z Challenge.

This is the worst thing ever.  I was really looking forward to the Challenge, but I just cannot post every day right now.  I thought I could handle it, but I just can’t.   This class won’t be over until May, and I just cannot do all the assignments and post every day.

This blog is already three A-Z posts behind, and I don’t foresee catching up at all.  You know everything has been pretty crappy for a while.  Well, it’s not getting any better, unfortunately.  If I don’t cut something, I’m not going to make it.

Perhaps next year I’ll be able to do it.  I apologize to anyone who signed up because of the Challenge.  A couple of things:

  • I’m not going to stop posting; it just won’t be every day.  This yearly thing gets me motivated to post at least twice a week, and with the book in development, it’s not like I have nothing to say.
  • The 300th post thing will still happen—just not when I thought it would.  (It involves cookies, so stay tuned, since that’s what you voted for.)
  • The announcement I was going to do on April 30th will still happen, where I tell you more about Tunerville.

Thank you for reading and commenting and for all your support.  Now go check out Adam’s books!

Skating Programs Tell a Story Too

The ISU Grand Prix begins today with Skate America, live from Kent, WA.  I have a vested interest in this year’s competition series:  I know one of the competitors!

Gracie Gold, 2012 U.S. Junior National Champion, will be competing at Skate Canada and at the Rostelecom Cup (Cup of Russia).  We both began at my home rink, although she now trains in the Chicago area.  She’s worked extremely hard and sacrificed a lot, with the full support of her parents and twin sister Carly (also a very talented competitive skater!), and we’re all very proud of her.

Good luck, Gracie!

Watching skating for me is both entertaining and feeds my own attempts.  There’s no way in hell I’ll ever get to the elite level.  As you can tell by my repeated posts about it, I do enjoy it even if I kind of suck.  I like to copy what I can, which given my limited technical ability, isn’t much.

I couldn’t do a sport that didn’t have creativity at its heart, and skating does.  Putting together my latest program always starts with the following elements, which are very close to how I construct a story.


I only pick music that speaks to me.  Since I’m an adult skater, my coach doesn’t choose it.  Only once has that happened, and she picked Schindler’s List, which is John Williams so I can live with that.  It has to have an emotional component, which I also seek in story subject matter.  The music is the idea, the basis for a skating program.

Your idea is what you’ll build your story on.  The possibilities are endless—true love, the zombie apocalypse, a trip to another world, or any combination thereof.

Here’s something I skated to (I had to cut it for time):


Each movement communicates the idea or mood to the audience.  For the somber “I Could Have Done More” from Schindler’s List, I used long, slow strokes and smooth movements to express sadness and regret.  Jumps by their very nature are explosive.  But you can temper them with the surrounding elements and connecting moves.  For “Dance of the Witches,” in the above link, I used taps, turns, and hops to reflect the more lively music.

In writing, fast-paced action sequences call for short, staccato words.  Longer sentences and phrasing fit stream-of-consciousness passages and introspection.  Words are how a writer shows movement and mood, the way choreography shows it in dance and skating.  That’s one way different arts share similar elements.


Admit it—you like to see what they’re wearing.  I know I do; the costumes are one of the reasons I always wanted to skate!

And flying. Yes, doing spirals is like flying.

Image: Vesperholly / Wikimedia Commons

Dark colors impart a serious or melancholy feel, but so can very delicate colors if they’re muted.  Sparkles?  Yes, I like them.  If you’re not careful, an excess looks too flashy for a conservative program.  Costumes are rarely literal, but a jazzy number may have fringe or long gloves, while classical music lends itself to flowing, poetic fabrics.

I make my own dresses to save money.  Costumes are the cover on my little two-minute book. Okay, I haven’t tested Adult Bronze level yet, so technically it’s only 1:50.  Sue me!


Four kinds of music used in competitive programs that you tend to see each skating season:

  • Exotic (usually Spanish, sometimes tribal, Celtic or global stuff)
  • Jazz-flavored
  • Classical
  • Rock/modern

I’m almost at the point where I can tell by the costume what kind of music I’m going to hear.  And skaters recycle music like nobody’s business.  There are certain pieces that just lend themselves to skating, with variation in tempo and crescendo, and give skaters a lot of room for interpretation.  The genre dictates the program, the costume, and everything else.

Show programs, like the ones you see at the final exhibitions or in ice shows, are flashier, looser, and less serious.  Comedy is always welcome.  Evgeni Plusheko, three-time Olympic medalist, skated a good example in 2006:

The general writing equivalents would probably be:

  • Ethnic
  • Historical
  • Literary
  • Mainstream

You have to know into what genre your idea fits.  This will color the way you write it, and determine the way it’s marketed.  There are certain standard plot elements in genre fiction also, and although readers like a fresh approach, they still expect the basics.


Check your local listings for the Grand Prix series, which airs on NBC through December 9.  Below, see a schedule someone was nice enough to post online. Thanks, Heather Winfield!


Figure skating dresses aren’t just for skinnies!

I spend most Saturday mornings skating, either with or without a lesson.  Today I worked on my Adult Bronze Freestyle program, set to music from Final Fantasy X.  I’m still wondering what I’m going to wear when I finally test it.

Elite athletes spend big bucks for the right costumes, some put together especially for them by top designers.  Kids’ outfits are often made by their moms, or purchased plain and then embellished by same.  Adults are mostly on their own.

We can’t ALL wear Vera Wang.


Most skaters never reach Nancy Kerrigan level.  Good quality skating dresses can cost over a hundred bucks for something simple.  And manufacturers of ready-made outfits don’t seem to realize that most adult skaters aren’t five-foot stick figures.

I’m an adult recreational figure skater, and while I’m not obese, I ain’t skinny either.  I can’t afford to buy dresses or have them made for me, so I bought a sewing machine and learned to make my own.

I use Kwik Sew patterns, which are interchangeable.  If the skirt is too short on one, I can substitute something else.  I’m also tall, so I had to lengthen the bodice and sleeve patterns.  The instructions are easy, and the patterns simple.

I have two ready-made dresses, and I only wore one of them once.  It’s a lovely purple dress with spaghetti straps .  Let’s get one thing straight.  I’m a woman, and I have boobs.  The only way I felt comfortable in the thing was to wear a nude leotard under it.

Mostly, I try to stay away from:

Excess crystals

I don’t have the body for these (yet—I’m working on it).  No need to accentuate bumps I don’t want anyone to notice.  Besides, the good ones are pricey.  I don’t want to waste them on a homemade crap costume.

Circular skirts

They flare out nicely, but unless they are a bit longer than usual, they make my hips look bigger.  Flat skirts actually are better for a fuller figure.

Poofy sleeves

If you have sticklike arms, go for it.  Or, preferably, if you’re under ten years old.

Cute if you’re six; not so much if you’re sixty.

Image:  northernice&

Tiny anything

Ever notice what happens when a lady in a figure skating dress skates backward really fast?  The underpants on that dress need to cover your butt completely.

Bare outfits

The purple spaghetti strap dress I mentioned earlier is covered with sparkles and is flowy and beautiful.  I can’t bear to get rid of it.  It’s like a faint, closeted hope that I may someday be able to go bra-less.  But without something underneath, one jump and Janet Jackson will be on her knees thanking God she’s not me.

Thin fabrics

It’s cold in there, dammit.  Not only do thin fabrics show things I wish they wouldn’t, they’re not warm enough.  I favor stretch velvet, not too shiny.  Sometimes it’s still not enough, so I use a stretch lining fabric or that extra leotard.

An extra layer also helps conceal any supportive garments.  Technically, you’re not supposed to wear anything under a skating dress, but I’d rather not distract the audience with flying body parts.

Here’s an example of a gorgeous costume on a mature skater.  This is Dr. Marci Richards, competing at the Adult National Figure Skating Championships.

You go girl!


Skating costumes reflect the character of the music.  They’re not as literal as stage costumes, unless you’re in Disney on Ice.   Like the words you choose when you’re writing, your colors and embellishments help set the tone for your program.

For adult skaters, it’s certainly possible to look as great as you skate!


Prometheus: Afraid of its Own Ideas?

Image:  20th Century Fox Film Corp. /

Prometheus opened in theaters Friday, and I went to see it yesterday after skating practice.  Directed by Ridley Scott of both Alien and Blade Runner, and written by Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof, this prequel to Alien is set in the same universe.  It’s rounded out by a sweeping and ominous score by Marc Streitenfeld.

I have both praise and criticism.  First of all, you need to see this movie in the theater.  You don’t need to see it in 3D.


Prometheus tells the story of a space mission seeking the answer to an age-old question:  where did we come from?   The title is the name of the ship, which comes from the Greek myth of Prometheus, punished by the gods for creating man from clay. 

Breath-taking overhead shots of a primordial landscape open the film.  Gradually we zoom in on a humanoid creature picking its way along the edge of an enormous waterfall.  It drinks a black liquid, deteriorates in agony, and falls over the edge.  DNA strands permeate the water.


Image:  20th Century Fox Corp. /

A recurring motif of stars in ancient artwork is discovered by archaeologists and lovers Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green).  They trace the configuration to a distant system containing rocky planet LV-223.

The mission is bankrolled by an elderly businessman, Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce, unrecognizable in heavy makeup), who has become intrigued by the thesis that humankind originated from space creatures Shaw and Holloway have dubbed “Engineers.”

Along for the ride are practical captain Janek (Idris Elba), surly geologist Fifield (Sean Harris), nerdy biologist Milburn (Rafe Spall, son of Timothy Spall) and Charlize Theron as Meredith Vickers, a coldly corporate mission director.  Michael Fassbender is David, an android who looks after things while the crew is in stasis.

The acting is sincere.  Viewers may recognize Rapace from the Swedish adaptations of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, et. al.  Her Shaw is likeable, though not as tough as Ripley.  Theron is always a pleasure to watch.  Marshall-Green is appropriately excited without being too cocky.  The rest of the cast has a lot of personality for such token characters.

Fassbender steals every scene he’s in.   His David idolizes T.E. Lawrence, and echoes Ash, the rogue android from Alien, Data, Star Trek: The Next Generation’s humanoid wanna-be, and HAL from 2001.  We can’t determine if he has emotions or not.  One decision smacks of pure spite, but could also be seen as clinical curiosity about the consequences.

Famous last words: “I know what I’m doing!”

Image: 20th Century Fox Corp. /

Much of the film was shot in Iceland, an area of Earth still close to its primordial state.  It makes a decent substitute for LV-223.

Set designers revisited the biomechanical style of Swiss surrealist H.R. Giger, who designed the derelict ship in Alien and the xenomorph we know so well.  Giger himself produced the alien murals on LV-223.

Prometheus tackles big ideas, namely the theory of ancient astronauts who spread their DNA to earth and originated our species.  This idea is a natural outcrop of panspermia, that Earth and / or other planets may have been seeded long ago by asteroids carrying life ingredients around the universe.

It also briefly touches on the idea of humans assuming this god-like function, and how appallingly naïve they are about it.  David asks Holloway why he himself was created.  “Because we could,” is the flip reply, with Holloway not understanding the depth of what he has just said.

In time, LV-223 reveals many of its secrets.  Here is where the script collapses away from philosophizing and into frenetic, action/horror mode.

I found myself laughing at one unnecessary scene.  Horror directors always seem to make this same mistake: inserting a crazy aside.  A good example is the pharmacy scene in The Mist, which brings the story to a screeching halt to show you a really gross special effect, thus evaporating the tension.  I expected better from Scott.

Anyone who saw Alien will recognize certain things on LV-223. The identity of the space jockey, a giant fossilized being discovered on LV-426 by the Nostromo crew, is finally revealed.

“Wonder what happened here?” You don’t wanna know….


But one gaping question is left unanswered, and Scott leaves the ending somewhat open.  I was disappointed, because I was hoping for answers NOW.  I’m still intrigued.  I would have liked to see what happened if it hadn’t ended the way it did, without waiting for another film.  I smell a sequel…but what would you call a sequel to a prequel?

It seemed to me that Prometheus sits on the very edge of being really profound through the entire first half, especially with that opening scene, but never takes the plunge.  Instead, it lapses into comfortable, sci-fi stereotypes.  The subsequent action eclipses the idea of the mission and becomes clichéd, predictable and non-scary.

I didn’t hate it.  But I didn’t love it, either.

Rating:  7 out of 10 (for effort)

First Fiction Contest Win!

Well I’ll be hornswoggled—I won a fiction contest!

Yeah, yeah, I was the only entry.  But still!

The story is called “Te Absolvo,” which is Latin (or something) for “I forgive.”  It’s my take on a famous historical personage, whose identity you’ll probably guess easily.  I hope you enjoy it.   You can read it here at The Soap Boxers blog. 

While you’re there, knock around a bit.  Read Kosmo and some of the other writers at the site.  That ought to keep you out of trouble for a while, heh heh.


Watch Out — Anthony Giangregorio and Protecting Yourself

Beware of Anthony Giangregorio.

I wasn’t going to give this particular guy any press, but horror novelist Brian Keene posted this on his blog and on Facebook, and I felt I really needed to get the word out to any readers who may not be aware of it.  Tim Lieder posted about him here also, as did Kelli Dunlap.   And poor Mandy DeGeit, who was so excited that her story was going to be included in an anthology from Giangregorio’s small Undead Press (he also runs Living Dead Press, and Open Casket Press), until she found…..

Well, click her name for the story.  It’s pretty unbelievable.

In short, Giangregorio joins a list of disgustingly nasty people who prey on UNPUBs who want to see their work in print.  There are other small presses out there that do this.  In this case, I think this guy is a poser.  Even so, he’s damaged other writers and deserves to be called out.

He published and sold unauthorized sequels to George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead.  One poster on Kelli Dunlap’s blog entry mentions he read one of Giangregorio’s books, and realized it was a complete rip-off of Stephen King’s The Mist.  Some author, huh?


According to Brian, he’s apparently begun to threaten people who speak out against him.  Um, that’s not very smart, when everything on the Internet stays there FOREVER.

And ever…and ever…hallelujah…hallelujah…

 Image: Road to Infinity by Jugni / Wikimedia Commons

Alyn Day had a run-in with him and she posts about it here.  (If it asks you about adult Previewcontent, say yes; it’s not dirty or anything).  She’s the one who had the veiled threat messaged in Facebook.

How can writers avoid people like this?

Victoria Strauss at Writer Beware (who also posted about Anthony Giangregorio and editing clauses in contracts) reminds writers to make sure editing clauses include their cooperation.  A true professional will indeed work with you on changes, but it MUST be in your contract.

Lessons learned?


If you don’t understand something, ask about it.  If you need time to have a lawyer (preferably one that has publishing experience) take a look at it, do so.  Remember, anyone, ANYWHERE, who pushes you to sign anything, does not have YOUR interests at heart.  Don’t sign until you understand every word and have come to a mutual agreement as to the terms.

#2 – Check out agents and publishers before submitting

You can look them up at Writer Beware, or Preditors and Editors, or google the name of the press or agent along with “scam,” and “review.”  Look for a decent website rather than just a Facebook page or email.  Absolute Write Water Cooler has forums where people post their impressions and experiences with industry people.  The link will take you to the beware page.

#3 – Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is

This is the golden rule to avoid scams of any kind.  And remember, with the exception of self-publishing (that’s a whole other can of scammer worms right there), money should flow TO the author, not FROM the author.  Do your homework on the industry so you know what is normal and accepted practice.

Hey, chicky, wanna sell a story? Have I got a deal for you…


#4 – Report people who are unscrupulous, who threaten you, or otherwise act in an unprofessional manner.

This assumes, of course, that YOU didn’t act in an unprofessional manner, such as throwing an email fit when an agent politely says no, etc.   You can squeal on them at the links in #3.

People like Anthony Giangregorio who pull this type of shit give small publishers a bad name.  It’s worthwhile to out them, so if they sleaze their way over into another genre, they’ll be recognized for what they are.





Writing and Relationships

Wow, I found this awesome post by Brian Hodge, A Survival Guide for Writers in Love (And Those Who Love Them), with contributions from Brian Keene, Barb Hendee, Mark Alan Gunnells, and Elizabeth Massie.  It reveals some hard truths about what it’s like not only to have a relationship as a writer, but with one as well.  Thanks to Brian Keene for bringing it to my attention on Facebook, in a link to his blog.

Read it; I’ll wait.


It gave me some things to think about.  Egon is pretty supportive, but I wonder how that would play out if we weren’t long-distance, and I was pounding out a novel all day.  If I were totally freelance, my workday would coincide with his and we’d both be done by five.  One problem with creative work, however, is that your muse doesn’t always keep regular hours.

In addition, many writers are also juggling full-time jobs.  Because, you know, writing unpublished novels doesn’t pay anything.  Even published writers often don’t make enough to go rogue and quit the rat race.

Say your partner is working and you are working, and then you come home and start writing.  Basically, you have two jobs.  That doesn’t leave much time or energy for anything.

The post talked mostly about romantic partnerships, but a creative track can mess with other relationships as well.  I’ve run into misunderstandings with family members whose most egregious offenses were attempts to dictate the content of my work, or uninformed advice about the progression of my fledgling career.  While spouses can be guilty of this as well, someone you live with every day is bound to see a bit more of the reality than people you only hang with on Turkey Day.

Distilling the advice from the post and throwing in some of my own, I came up with these points:

Questions or concerns on either side? Voice them

As Hodge writes, and the others agree, writers and their partners are not mind-readers.  If you don’t talk about problems or ask questions, you’ll mire yourself in a swamp of assumptions.  Fears are huge when they’re inside your head.  Drag them out into the light through your mouth and they shrivel and die.

This is what fear looks like. It mostly comes at night….mostly.


Neither one of you is more important than the other

You can’t have a relationship without the other person.  When you spend time with her, pay attention.  Just sitting in the same room doesn’t count.   You’re in a relationship because you care about this person.  If she is only a vehicle to your future literary superstardom who pays the bills and cleans the house, you are a gold-digging jerk.  Leave now and let a real man come into her life!

Creative work is mostly mental

Hodge makes a great point in that writing doesn’t always look like writing.  I may not be tapping on the keyboard.  You might see me doing something that looks totally unrelated, yet with a spaced-out look.  I’m THINKING.  If you ask me something and I say, “Huuhhh…duuuuhhh,” back off a bit.  I promise, I’ll come back to you.

Career advice from a non-writer should be withheld, or nicely ignored

Please don’t tell your writer what to do.  She has (hopefully) spent time learning important tidbits about submittals, queries, formatting, or keeping up with industry news and trends.  When you say, “You know what you oughta do?” she’s gonna tune you out.  You wouldn’t tell a firefighter how to fight a fire, would you?

Let’s see you try this.

Image:  Tokino / Wikimedia Commons

Exception:  if we ask for feedback.  Honest and thoughtful are the watchwords here.  Believe me, if you blast us, we won’t ask again.

Don’t scream at well-meaning family members who offer advice.  If you think they’ll listen, you can point out that yeah, it would be nice if Mom called that agent and insisted he read her baby boy’s manuscript, but that’s not how it works.  Thank them and save the eye-rolling for when they’re not in the room.

Which leads me to:

Share judiciously


I made this mistake.  Now some people won’t leave me the hell alone.  I put enough pressure on myself; now I have people bugging me about when it will be finished, when can they read it, etc. etc. ETC. AAAAAAHH!!!!!

This can derail a project at the speed of light.  I’ll finish it when I finish it.  Back off!

Discussing certain concepts with research in mind is not the same thing.  But make sure you choose carefully with whom you share.  Nagging isn’t productive.

Sorry, Grandma, the bloody zombie apocalypse cannibal gorefest isn’t done yet.

Image: Ambro /


Don’t take anything I say as a mandate or an insult.  It’s a two-way street, this understanding that goes on in relationships and families.  Like Pink Floyd says, just keep talking.




SOPA Web Strike!

On Wednesday, January 18, 2012, this blog and many, many other sites including Wikipedia, the entire Cheezburger Network and the Center for Democracy & Technology will go dark.  We are protesting the SOPA and PIPA bills looming in Congress, in which lawmakers who don’t understand how the Internet works are trying to throw a blanket over piracy.

The intent is to prevent rogue websites overseas from reaching U.S. users and pirating movies, etc.  There are better ways to do this.   Tim O’Reilly, founder and CEO of O’Reilly Media, is a staunch supporter of open-source software and a major content producer.  He made some very intelligent remarks that are summarized on this post at

See more here at, with a list of some of the sites participating.

These bills are too far-reaching and the enforcement is too vague to be anything but trouble.  In this story on CNN, the White House has said it will not support the bills.  Maybe our geeky Crackberry-toting president means it.  Let’s hope so.

Writers should care about this because it could have a devastating effect on our content.  If a website or blog gets tagged under these rules, it can be shut down.   Fair use of licensed content may be targeted.

The really scary part is that accusation alone can allow the government to remove your content, block your posts and restrict your speech.  So anyone who doesn’t like your opinions, or that you shared an LOLcat, can report you.  And you can’t do squat until you prove you didn’t commit copyright infringement.

If you did, even unintentionally (and this goes on all over the Internet), you can’t make it right.  The system we’re under now means if you copy a post here and post it on your own blog, I can email you and say “Hey, did you mean to link to this, or what,”  thus giving you a chance to fix it and still reference the content.

SOPA and PIPA undermine the legal structure that permits the Internet to exist in its current accessible form.  They are a step toward the censorship that plagues countries such as Iran, China and North Korea.

Please email or call your senator (BE POLITE!) and tell him/her you oppose this legislation.  Thank you.