Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010 in Review

And not it's time for (old timey male announcer voice:) Year in Review.

2010 was eventful!
I launched my website (, released my first book, my second book, and three short stories. I did a bunch of illustrations.

My work was downloaded or read through various outlets over 1100 times, which barely registers as any attention at all in the grand world of pubishing. For underdog me, it's pretty awesome. The first book came out at the end of May, so that's really only 7 months worth of stats. I'm also not counting downloads (fiction freebies) from my blog or website because I don't have any way to track those.

And now for some lists:

I learned things this year:
1. Be completely in love with your title before you publish. I never loved the first title for my first book. I wasn't great with titles in the beginning. I am getting better though! Seriously, changing a title and/or cover art is a royal pain in the ass.
2. I learned to let go. My writing will never be perfect. No matter who a writer is, there is always room for improvement - more concise wording or a more poetic way to convey a message, whatever. The important thing is not to hold out for perfection because it doesn't exist. That way, madness lies.
3. People really like free stuff. Most of the downloads of my writing were the freebies, I will admit. I don't have an issue with that because I would rather have someone read what I write. I don't want to toil in obscurity holding out for that 80 cents royalty I might have made. I don't plan to give away everything though, FYI.
4. I should be more proactive about getting book reviews (and maybe some sort of publicity) before the books are published.
5. How to format ebooks and print books in a somewhat professional manner.
6. How long various publishing activities take.
7. Publishing through createspace is more cost effective for me and my readers than going through lulu.

Goals for 2011
1. Release the novella in January or February
2. Write and release 2 novels, maybe 3 if I really get moving.
3. Put 1 novel up on authonomy prior to publication to get some feedback.
4. Release 1 audiobook or maybe do a short reading for download. - this requires me to move past some insecurities. I've never read my work aloud for an audience. If it's a whole book, I will probably see if I can enlist someone else to do it.
5. Create at least 1 book trailer and release it on youtube.
6. Sell (or get people to download) twice as many books as they did this year. That shouldn't be too difficult, seeing as my writing was only released at the end of May.
7. Be better about announcing releases and maintaining the e-mail list. If you would like to subscribe to release announcements, send a blank message with the word 'subscribe' in the subject line to I will actually send some this year.
8. Get some better profile pics of me that a. are not cartoon and b. don't make me look ten years older than I actually am.
9. Get at least one copy of my book on a library shelf.
10. Non-book related- Change up the illustration gallery a bit to be more house decoration friendly. I like the weird stuff, but where would one hang it?

Ok, I think that's it. 2010 was awesome. Hopefully 2011 will be even better!

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Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Today is a day of various updates

Weather: dreary

Current audio obsession: The Beginning, Black Eyed Peas

I'm still sick, but slightly better.

AnnaBeth 2 - 33 pages

Novella cover art - nearing completion. I just need to push a bit harder to get it finished. I'm starting to think I have a fear of sucess with this particular project. Also, choosing a font is proving difficult. I usually have no trouble with that task.

Lady Editor has finished editing. Now I just need to get my copy back so I can make the changes.

Favorite website of the moment - Scribd. They have a new system which let's you sample a book online and download it to your computer if you want. Also, there is an option to e-mail books to your smartphone. Very cool. I have some stuff on there, so look me up if you log on. The first five chapters of MacDowell Sisters & AnnaBeth are there.

Like Clockwork is up and running on Barnes and Noble, so if you got a Nook for Christmas, please be sure to check it out. Is freebie.

Now if I could just get them to update the rest of my stuff...

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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

coupla movies

Hello all. I think the holiday weekend of running in and out of the cold weather finally caught up with me. I have a cold or what could also possibly be an allergic reaction to all the chocolate I ate. Regardless, I feel a bit like the Christmas ribbon my cat ate and subsequently regurgitated.

Today is half-ass movie review day.

We had a couple of interesting choices.

First was - A Walk on the Moon (1999)

It's about this family that goes to a summer camp for Jewish families in the sixties. Dad has to go to work through the week. Mom gets antsy and starts flirting with the man who comes to the camp in a bus to sell blouses. He is referred to as the 'blouse man'.

This is a story about how selfish and self-centered people can be, especially if they begin to feel trapped in a marriage. The movie has an awesome soundtrack, talented actors (Diane Lane, Liev Schreiber, Viggo Mortenson, and Anna Paquin), and a decent story. B+.

Second movie - After.Life (2009)

They should just save everyone some time and trouble and call this movie Christina Ricci, Naked. Las Bubies are the stars of the show. She spends an inordinate amount of time wearing very little or nothing.

After.Life is about a girl who is dissatisfied with her life. She wakes up in a mortuary with Liam Neison looming over her. He tells her that she died, and she doesn't buy it. Her boyfriend also suspects that she's alive and comes looking for her.

The plot is slow in some parts, but overall creepy enough to keep one watching. Also B+.

I have a year in review post that will probably go up Thursday. Other than that my blog attendance may be sporadic depending on how I feel.

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Friday, December 24, 2010

House on the Rock

I said I wouldn't be here, but I am anyway. I can't help myself, I guess.

So like I said before, I'm reading American Gods, by Neil Gaiman, which I totally love.

There is this place in the novel called House on the Rock and as I was reading, I thought - this is so freaky weird that there is no way it isn't real. So I googled it. House on the Rock is real!!! And it looks every bit as creepy and bizarre as Gaiman described it.

Here is a link to their website. You MUST see the photo gallery, every picture if you have time. I would really like to see this place in person.

And if you're sitting there wondering how I could possibly not know about House on the Rock - kissmyasssowhat. I'm a hermit. We don't get out much.

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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Helllooooooo! Merry Christmoo!

I am taking the next couple of days off the blog for the holiday. Here is an illustration to hold y'all over.

This is my beloved feline once more. The name of the illustration is Merry Christmoo. His name is Max, but sometimes I call him Moo because he's black and white like a dairy cow.

Everyone have a Merry Christmas!

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

aw, I feel like a real writer

I got my first bad review. awwww...I know. It makes me feel like a real writer. I'm kind of excited about it. This is actually two reviews and 20 ratings with a 2 star average. Ouch!

This screen is from Barnes and Noble. Apparently, my story is 'totally lame'. LOL.

I could sit here and pick apart the reviews and be all bitter, but that's not me. People are entitled to their opinions. The story is what I planned for it to be. People on Smashwords seemed to like it well enough.

There's an actual blog post below this one, so keep scrolling if you want more stuff to read. Hopefully it won't be totally lame.

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one more movie plus book working

The hubby and I watched two movies this weekend. The other was Paranormal Activity. I'm just going to do a quick rundown of that one because I'm short on attention span today.

Paranormal Activity is about a couple who is experiencing visits from a demon. Boyfriend buys a camera and other equipment to record evidence of the presence, much to the dismay of his girlfriend. He also does various things to provoke the demon in the interest of catching it on tape. Not a good idea.

There were parts of this movie that I loved and parts that I hated. First, that camcorder filming makes me nauseous, really a lot. Needless whipping of the camera causes my stomach to lurch. I actually had to cover my eyes during some parts of the movie to keep from vomiting.

Acting was meh.

The best thing this film has going for it is that the scary parts were really scary. The demon visits at night when the couple is asleep, ie at their most vulnerable. The true scariness doesn't really start until about halfway through.

I would give this one a B-. Without the scary parts, I would give it a D.

End movie time.

I'm probably going to push the novella release out to February. I'm working slow motion lately. I barely worked on the cover this weekend.

There will be no indie review this month due to a busy schedule, multiple projects and the fact that I started reading American Gods, by Neil Gaiman.

I've hit page 117 and I really like it so far. The voice is very masculine. One of my projects for next year is a novel written from a man's perspective. I'm trying to learn what I can from this book so I can apply it to my own work.

I like the level of detail in the setting and the people in the book. There's also a high level of weird. I'm no stranger to oddness in writing but something about reading this book renewed this sense of ok-to-be-weird-ness in me.

After I spent that four years writing and rewriting Babylon Dragon, I steered away from the stranger things in my writing because I worried that people didn't really get it or were put off by all the surrealness of some of it.

I think I'm ready to be abnormal again...after I finish the current work in progress.

Anyway, that's all I have for now.

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Monday, December 20, 2010

Movie: Robin Hood (2010)

I really didn't know much about this movie before we watched it. I assumed the plot was the same old rehash, which really didn't keep me from wanting to watch it.

This Robin Hood is actually a prequel. This story is of how Robin became Robin Hood and how he met his men.

It opens with Robin Longstride fighting in the crusades with King Richard who was actually kind of an ass. Richard gets an arrow through the neck and Robin leaves.

On the way home, he encounters the king's right hand knight. The dying knight gives Robin a sword to deliver to his father. He takes the sword home, meets Marion, and deals with some at-home issues and an invasion by the French.

This movie is quite realistic. Everyone is dirty and the castles and villages look real. You can really tell where the 200 million dollar budget went. Acting by Russell Crowe (Robin) and Cate Blanchett (Marion) is flawless. Max von Sydow is endearing as the blind, slightly loopy yet good-natured Sir Walter. Oscar Isaac makes a wonderfully repulsive and self-centered Prince John.

Robin Hood is a very intelligent and complex movie. This is not an invite-your-drunk-friends-over movie. You actually have to pay attention to fully understand what's happening and appreciate the story to the fullest. It definitely gets an A.

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Saturday, December 18, 2010

My Grey Dawn

I went to work today for a while. The driving of certain older people has terrified me the last couple of days. There's been some scary swerving and the best of all - merging onto a 70 mph highway going 30mph. 30!!!! Terrifying!

I was reminded of a certain episode of south park. I managed to locate a trailer for it on the YouTube. I have posted it here for your viewing enjoyment.

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Friday, December 17, 2010

book working on a friday

Ok. I've reached this point in the 2nd AnnaBeth book that I consider the end of Act 1. I had a scene in mind that was always going to be a turning point for the story, but I've decided it's also going to be a major character turning point as well.

In MacDowell Sisters and AnnaBeth (the first novel), AB is thrown into this new life in which everything from her home to her dating life to the way she interacts with the world around her changes. She discovers what she is capable of on several levels and reacts in ways that a lot of people would probably react.

This second book is different. I'm still relatively new to novel writing. I've never written a sequel before. I started one for Babylon Dragon, but I set it aside. I didn't write enough of it to get to this particular issue in a story.

Anyway, this is me focusing. So AB changes as her environment changes. In the sequel, the environment is already established. The element of discovery is somewhat diminished. There are new characters and new settings, but the world is already built.

Also, at the beginning of the sequel, AnnaBeth is so averse to acting as a fate that she is reluctant to interfere with anything. She has seen that side of her power and really doesn't want anything to do with it.

The turning point of the story needs to do more than take the story in a different direction; it needs to forcibly remove her from this mode of thinking in which she believes she's staying out of trouble.

The sequel begins with several aspects of her life slipping into chaos. Her problems are mounting regardless of what she feels shshould do. I think it's time for AnnaBeth to make some trouble for someone else.

If you would like to read the first installment of the series, here is a quick batch of links.

MacDowell Sisters & AnnaBeth on Amazon

MacDowell Sisters & AnnaBeth on Smashwords

MacDowell Sisters & AnnaBeth on Barnes and Noble

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Thursday, December 16, 2010

a facebook rant and Maxwell Dean's disapproval

I have lately noticed a crowd on the facebook who seems to not quite grasp the concept of the status post. People slap up vague exclamations that don't really say anything.

Sort of like this - "finally!" or "so excited!" or "not again!"

I think this may be an effort to elicit some attention.

The point of the status update is to post something that tells your facebook friends what you're up to. On my Facebook app on my phone, the status box asks, "What's going on?"

If someone in real life walked up and asked - "What's going on?" and you responded - not again! Frown emoticon - how would they react? Would they a) back away slowly, b) look at you as though they have reached the conclusion that you are in fact a moron, or c) jump up and down with excitement because they get to repeat their original inquiry? Hint: C is not the correct answer.

I mean, are we really all so starved for attention? What reaction do these people expect?

Is this how we want "friends" to respond - Golly gosh darn gee whiz, I will just die a little inside unless you elaborate. Please tell me, oh pleeez?

In fact, I just might start doing that.

Next time I read - so excited! Or something of the like, I may just have to respond with stalker level enthusiasm. And if I discourage them from posting that inane crap on the wall, then I will have done the world a service, my friend.

Now for a picture of my beloved feline. Maxwell Dean would like you to know that he also disapproves.

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

random wednesday updates

Good Wednesday, weblings.

Let's see.

The outdoors is really, really cold right now. The temp was 1 when I left my house, 0 on the way, but 5 by the time I reached work. I think we finally made it up to 20 something degrees. Woo! Summa time!

I hope we get some reprieve in the form of warmer temperatures soon. I don't know how much longer I want to play in the snow.

Ah, also if you are on my Christmas shopping list and you are not one of my wild children, I have not yet purchased your gift. Yes, I am one of those people this year.

Like Clockwork is currently being evaluated for the premium catalog on Smashwords. If you don't want to wait for it to hit Barnes and Noble, etc, then here is a link to the download in various formats on the Smashwords site itself. They offer just about any sort of format you could want from kindle to ipad regular old html.

I apologize there is no print version. A couple of people have asked. If you want to print it out, it’s only about 28 pages.

I'm still working on the second AnnaBeth book in a half-assed sort of way. Well, the writing isn't half-ass, my dilligence in working on it is. I think this cold weather is making me sluggish. I don't really feel like doing anything but stuffing my face full of food and sleeping.

The story is really different from the first book but in a good way. The level of danger is much higher and there are threats to AB from almost every direction.

The primary project right now is the novella cover art. That is a rocky road. The work is slow, mainly because I'm learning a lot while I move along.

This project has helped me to realize that I've become too comfortable with what I perceive as my limitations. There are times I lack in the confidence department, especially when it comes to drawing.

For instance, the cover for Babylon Dragon is not what I originally envisioned. Don't get me wrong, I really love the way it turned out. But I gave up on the original idea because I thought it was beyond my art skill level.

Last weekend, the annoying voice of my insecurity surfaced in the form of the idea that maybe I should have a backup plan for the cover. A backup plan might as well be the white flag of surrender. I'm not going to give myself that out.

The drawing may be slow, but it is progressing. The cover is going to turn out fine if I just keep moving.

End transmission.

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

a Tuesday questionnaire

Today I’m doing something a little differently. On Inside the Actor’s Studio, an interviewer named James Lipton asks stars questions adapted from the Proust Questionnaire. There’s a link to more info about that at the end of this post.

I am borrowing his questions for this post and answering them for myself. Hopefully he won’t mind.

1. What is your favorite word?
I really like the word 'vermicular', mostly just because I like the way it sounds. It means wormlike. There just aren't enough times I can use it in everyday conversation.

2. What is your least favorite word?
Panties. Who came up with that crap - the heavy breathing stranger on the other side of the phone line?

3. What turns you on?
I love a good manly man. That metrosexual business is for the birds.

4. What turns you off?

5. What sound or noise do you love?
I love the sound of ocean waves. I don't get to hear them often because I live quite a way inland.

6. What sound or noise do you hate?
People shouting and arguing. The world would be a more pleasant place if everyone would just shut the heck up once in a while.

7. What is your favorite curse word?
I love the F word, which I would much rather verbalize than type. It's so versatile. You can use it as just about any kind of word - noun, adjective, verb, maybe not so much an adverb. He skipped fuckily down the street. Um, no.

8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
I would like to attempt some archaeology; although I'm not sure those sciencey types would let me play in the dirt with them.

9. What profession would you not like to do?
Nurse! Those men and women, God bless them for putting up with the germs and the personality quirks of the masses. They are saints. There is no way in hell I could ever enter that profession.

10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
That'll do, pig.


Wiki link to info about the Proust Questionnaire

Here’s a link to the Inside the Actor’s Studio show in case you want to see some people who are more famous than me answer the above questions.

Monday, December 13, 2010

movie Killers

Killers is a movie starring Ashton Kutcher and Katherine Heigl. They play a couple who meets in France and ends up getting married. That might sound like a spoiler but the movie covers a lot of relationship ground in the first half hour.

When they first meet Spencer (Kutcher) is a hit man employed by a super shady government agency. Jen (Heigl) is on vacation with her parents after a breakup. Basically, the two end up together. He retires from the hitman business to be with her.

The story then flashes forward a few years. They live in a nice house in the suburbs. They have good jobs, etc.

Then, Spencer's life as a hitman comes back to haunt him when his old boss makes contact. His wife, who didn't know about his previous line of work, is displeased. They go on the run from would-be assassins while trying to solve the mystery of why people are attacking them.

Killers is equal parts action movie and romantic comedy. There are gunfights, car chases, and things blowing up but also some entertaining relationship issues.

The two cast members who really made this movie were Tom Selleck and Catherine O’Hara (mom from Beetlejuice). They played Jen's parents. Dad is sort of overprotective. Mom is an oblivious lush who is completely hilarious.

There were some familiar faces plucked from some favorite TV shows of mine: Kevin Sussman (Big Bang Theory), Casey Wilson (SNL), Alex Borstein (Mad TV), and Rob Riggle (Gary Unmarried).

Killers gets A for awesome with extra points for the oftshirtless and delectable slice of man meat that is Ashton Kutcher. Applause for pretty!

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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

various arghs

Today I feel like whining and complaining.

and hence.

Google Books has MacDowell Sisters & AnnaBeth with my editor/publisher listed as the author. Hell no! I have e-mailed them to change

see the eff up LINK

It is December 8th and I have purchased almost no Christmas gifts! AAAAAAA!!! yes, I am one of those last minute people, apparently. I really don't like buying people gifts because I think I'm not very good at it. When people unwrap the gifts I give them, I sometimes get looks. I try! I really do! oh well.

And it is butt ass cold outside, which is making me not really want to leave my house. I rarely want to leave the house as it is. You add in some single digit temperatures and I am officially in hibernation.

I may be out for the next couple of days. I am still working on the cover art. If I can finish it this weekend, then NEXT weekend, I can get to work on the book trailer.

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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

happy google books day!

Google Books finally launched!

I poked around on their site for a while and here are some initial impressions.

The site runs smoothly and has a nice display of books and magazines on the home page with a list of category links on the lefty.

The magazines samples had a fair amount of content, about 30 pages in the ones I read. There are supposedly a bunch of public domain on there for free and current books for sale. I didn't dive into any books today.

My complaint - the website does not function well on the blackberry and there is also no blackberry app as of yet.

You spoiled iphone and ipad users, of course, already have an app ready to go. But I'm not bitter. Ok, maybe I’m a little bitter.

Google Books also does not work on Kindle. Although, I think I read that if you buy a book, you can select a mobi (kindle) file type.

Babylon Dragon (my first novel) is on there. I submitted it months ago. Here is the link. The preview and the cover art don’t seem to be working. I need to work on that.

Click here to go.

I think the site is awesome. I will probably spend hours on it.

That's all I have for now.

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Monday, December 6, 2010

guns and art

First up, movie time.

The Expendables
I love this movie! Major gunplay and hand to hand combat and throwing knives! I reiterate - throwing knives! The Expendables is chock-full of bad assery.

The plot – A band of mercenaries is hired to assassinate a dictator on an island in South America. When two of them go on a scouting mission, they learn just how bad the situation is for the residents of that island. They are chased away and end up returning with the full team.

The cast was a-fricking-mazing. We have: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham (YUM), Mickey Rourke, Jet Li, Eric Roberts, Steve Austin, the list goes on. There are also cameos by Ahnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis.

The action is nonstop, pretty much from the beginning. The movie is a pyromaniac's dream. Everything, especially the climax of the movie is laden with explosions and fires. The fights are awesome too. There is a whole lot of kicking and punching.

I really liked the relationship dynamic between the Expendables. They were like bad ass Golden Girls. There was a tendency to bicker but they still cared about each other.

This movie gets an A. Sequel, please. Thank you.

Note on the gallery:

I moved the illustration gallery from Zazzle over to Deviant Art. DA gets better traffic and the community seems friendlier. Their prices are lower too, which is always good.

I will probably keep some t-shirt designs up at Zazzle for the time being.

I like DA's website better too.

Here is the link to the new gallery.

I'm still working on the cover art for the novella as well.

It's going pretty well. I think I may actually be able to draw a man who looks like a man. This is easier said than done for me. My drawing style is very feminine. I'm okay with that feminity most of the time, but it's not really helpng me all that much right now.

I keep wishing I was one of those people who can just draw freely and whatever comes out is the way it needs to be instantly. I've never been like that. For anything with significant detail, I always need to do like ten rough sketches. I agonize over every line because it isn't right the first million times I draw it. Oh well. I'll get there eventually, I guess.

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Thursday, December 2, 2010

it puts the thursday lotion on the thursday skin

The title really has nothing to do with the post. I was just thinking about how it was Thursday whilst applying hand lotion and that popped into my head.

I don't have much going on.

I would like to comment that Scribd is hassling the shiz out of me. I keep trying to post Clockwork and I can't even get the site to load! argh!

Today I have an illustration. I know I said they were on hiatus, but I did this one anyway. What can I say? I guess I can't help myself.

This is a second incarnation of an old, crappy illustration of mine. The old one never saw the light of day. In fact, when I pulled it up on my computer, I was filled with shame for the utter suckness.

This is Little Red Riding Hood, of course. The first idea I had was to make the wolf look like one of those chinese dragons and loom over little red riding hood. There was a huge moon in the background and some pointy trees. I did like the background, but the execution of the rest of it was totally lame.

For this second version, I ditched the chinese dragon idea and replaced the moon/forest background with what I think looks like burned paper.

I'm still not sure if I'm entirely happy with this one. There may be a third incarnation yet.

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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

novella project notes

It is SO FREAKING COLD outside! Aah! I do not love it. There was snow on the ground this morning when I left the house and traffic absolutely crawled. But I made it. That’s what counts, right?


The novella is off to Lady Editor tomorrow! That leaves me to work on cover art and the book trailer for the next month or so.

Book artwork always makes me a bit nervous. I always have an idea of what I want to do, but I have this fear that I won’t have the skills to execute to the level I want to.

This cover is going to be a sort of comic book style. If you’ve been reading the blog for a while, you may have read my earlier post about wanting to learn how to draw that way. Well I bought and read a book about drawing by Stan Lee and John Buscema. Who better to learn from than Stan Lee, right? He is the master of all that is comic book!

The cover art is going to be the base for the book trailer as well, so that makes it twice as important. I plan to do some animation-ish things with the art, fading in on the different parts.

I’ve also started writing a script, which is strange for me. I’ve never written a script before.

So that’s what’s going on with the novella. This weekend’s major project is the beginning of the cover art. It’s going to take a while.
That’s all I have for now.

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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

u don't have to

I read an article this morning about how Amazon is lifting free ebooks from my beloved Project Gutenberg and selling them. They are making a profit from content that's available elsewhere for free.

There's a reason they can do that.

Amazon has done a really good job of chaining Kindle users to their website. The Kindle can connect to their website via a wireless internet connection, log in automatically, and boom - you can buy an ebook without removing butt from couch.

Woo! Convenience! Well, convenience sometimes costs you money, honey.

Guess what. You don't HAVE to get all your ebooks from Barnes and Noble or Amazon or whoever else sold you that shiny ereader.

I have a Kindle, so I'm going to talk about that one.

When you plug your Kindle into your computer with a USB cord, it can be read as a mass storage device, like a USB drive. If you download an ebook to your computer and want to add it to the Kindle, you go to My Computer --> Removable Storage Media (or whatever your computer calls it) --> Documents.

Your books are in that documents folder. All you have to do is drag and drop ebook files from the computer into that Documents folder. I'm willing to bet that other ereaders work in a similar fashion.

There is probably a way to download from other sites wirelessly too (on the Kindle itself), but I don't do it that way.

Anyway, now that I have hopefully liberated at least one person from the Kindle store, I will offer direction.

Free public domain ebooks are available at the Project Gutenberg website.

Smashwords has pay and free ebooks by many an indie author who would love to have your support.

Also, many authors (like me) offer free ebooks via their websites. See Fiction Freebie tab above.

That is all. Go forth and download, my minions.
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Monday, November 29, 2010

Newish Freebie Release Monday!

Under the Freebie Fiction tab, the old freebies have been replaced with one new freebie. Well, it's a newish freebie.
Like Clockwork and A Tangled Mind is a collection of three short stories. Two of them - Amy and Mischief in Reau Garden are previous releases.

The new story is called A Great Man. It's about a guy named Charlie who leaves a bar with a girl and wakes up at her place. She doesn't want him to leave. He doesn't have his car and they are at an isolated location in the country, so he doesn't have much say in the matter.

Amy is second in the lineup. I describe it as a zombie love story. I tweaked Amy slightly for this new release. Some of my reviewers on Smashwords offered constructive criticism that I happened to agree with, so I made changes. I also found parts that I wanted to change. The story is fundamentally the same though.

Then we have Mischief in Reau Garden. This story is a companion to my novel, MacDowell Sisters & Annabeth. The girls in Mischief are the child versions of elderly women in the novel.

I wouldn't call this story a prequel, necessarily, but the relationship dynamic between the girls is one that lasts into their later years. Also it takes place at a Victorian mansion called Reau House, which is a vital setting in MacDowell Sisters & AnnaBeth.

The free ebook can be found in two other places aside from the blog. It’s also on my website:

If you don’t love pdf, you can find it in a variety of ebook formats on Smashwords.

I plan to release it on a couple of other ebook websites as well in the near future.
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Thursday, November 25, 2010

guest post Inception, by Gunter Jameson

Inception: Mind Trippingly Satisfying

Christopher Nolan is the not the kind of filmmaker who rushes around from one project to the next. He takes his time, considers his material, and painstakingly puts together worlds and scenarios that twist audience’s minds around in five different directions at the same time before settling on an ending that always leave you wanting more. In fact, Nolan may be the current master of artistically complicated thrillers, and his latest film, Inception, is a master showcase for his abilities.

A dream within a dream within a dream . . .

Inception, due out on DVD December 7th, is a mind-bending thriller that takes audiences deep into a dream world where ideas can be stolen and planted in a high-stakes game of corporate espionage. Dom (Leonardo DiCaprio), is the best in the world at extraction, a process whereby he enters a person’s dreams and steals their ideas, selling them to the highest bidder. But since the death of his wife, he’s been on the run, accused of her murder.

When he fails an extraction audition for wealthy businessman Saito (Ken Watanabe), he is offered a chance to redeem himself and clear the murder charge by planting an idea in the head of the CEO of a rival company. With the help of other masters of dream manipulation (including Ellen Page, and Joseph Gordon-Leavitt), Dom builds the most complicated dream scenario he has ever created, involving multiple layers of dreams within dreams, in order to make the executive (Cillian Murphy) feel as if he was the one that came up with the idea.

What ensues is a head-tripping thriller that not only leaves you sitting on the edge of your seat but also forces you to reconcile multiple dream worlds into an overarching philosophical and metaphysical message about the power of ideas and the strength of memory in shaping our lives. Overall, it’s not the type of movie that you can passively sit through; it makes you work, but following Nolan’s complicated dance feels less like homework than it does like finishing the NY Times crossword puzzle—difficult, but immensely satisfying.

The right cast

Although Nolan is at the head of this crazy train, he could not have pulled off the level of storytelling that he does without the fantastic acting work done by DiCaprio, Marion Cotillard (as Dom’s dead wife), Ken Watanabe, and Joseph Gordon-Leavitt who create realistic and engaging characters with their performances. In addition, Nolan’s dream world is made all the more beautiful and frightening by cinematographer, Wally Pfister, who is also known for his fantastic work on other Nolan films like The Dark Knight and Momento.

Inception is a movie that will stay with you a long time as you continue to mull its conundrums around in your head, proving that Nolan is one of the greatest filmmakers working today.

Gunter Jameson writes about several topics including travel, minimalism and pell grants

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

random wednesday updates

Reading: Algernon Blackwood, Four Weird Tales
Soundtrack of the day: Almost Alice, various artists

Almost Thanksgiving greetings!

Ok, so I'm pushing the free short story ebook thingy release until probably Sunday. I planned to release this week but with the holiday going on, is anyone really going to be paying attention? I probably won't be.

So. Sunday, unless I experience technical difficulties, which is always a possibility. I will blog about/officially announce the release/provide links on Monday. Exciting times! I hope everyone will read it.

The three stories aren't really that long, so if you wanted to read them on a computer screen or print them out on paper, the experience wouldn't be too obnoxious.

That leaves the novella, which may travel toward Lady Editor's desk this week. I like it a lot. The novella is also going to be a freebie, possibly released in January.

I'm trying a few different things with the marketing this time around, so I need some extra time to get that all put together. It is also short enough that printing it or reading it on the computer screen wouldn't be too much of a pain.

AnnaBeth book 2 is up to almost 20 pages. That is the way out into the future release. I probably won't hardcore work on it until the novella is done.

Don't forget - if you want to be notified when things are released (even free things), you can sign up for notifications by sending a blank e-mail with the word 'subscribe' to I promise not to share your e-mail address with anyone else or drive you crazy by sending messages every other freaking day like DSW does to me.

What else is going on.

Ah, Tron drops next month! I am so ready to go see it. We have the first one on DVD and we plan to watch that a day or two before we go to the theatre, just to refresh our memory of the story. I will definitely post about it here on the blog.

I have one last guest post for tomorrow about the movie Inception. The post is written by Gunter Jameson. He will be the last one for this round of guest posts.

I hope to hook up some author interviews for the beginning of next year. I think that would be exciting!

I may or may not be in Friday. Probably not unless I have some words just burning a hole in my brain.

Have a nice holiday!

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

guest post, Five-Plus Reasons Why Writing Keeps Me (Us?) Coming Back by Brian Bujdos

Five-Plus Reasons Why Writing Keeps Me (Us?) Coming Back

A lot of us spend so much time writing that we probably never take a step back and admire what we like about plying our trade. I mean, we all enjoy the art of words, but what about writing really gets us going?

1. For me, the one reason I enjoy writing is simple – freedom! I have the freedom to carry on with my words however I want. I can take this blog in any direction, and you can’t stop me. Neither can the government (for the most part). This blog may make little or no sense to anyone, including me, in about 10 minutes, but I’m in charge here. And that’s comforting.

2. Another cool thing about writing is that our skills are constantly evolving. I believe I can be a better writer tomorrow than today. Not sure about you, but when I see a word that I’m not familiar with, I need to find out more. I am guessing most writers are that way. We are creative beings who are naturally enamored with language. For me, the language is kind of like a puzzle with no border (not so different than the Southwestern United States. Wait, this isn’t a political piece, but…)

3. Writing gives us a voice. Typically, writers have plenty to say. We enjoy communicating, and since many of us have chosen this as our profession, we like to communicate effectively. This allows us to influence other people – sometimes with the intent to change their mind, but often simply to report facts or to give them something to think about. Writers have an inherent ability and need to share something with others (or even just ourselves on occasion).

4. The Top 40 always changes. By this I mean there’s always another award-winning, or self-fulfilling story, article, blog or poem to be written. It’s kind of like the idea that hundreds of thousands of babies are born every day, but none of them look like anyone who’s already here. And to top that off, I find it interesting that I could have sat down two hours or to days later to write this “exact” blog, but it too would be quite different from what I am writing at this moment. Man, writer types are deep.

5. Writing is an escape (but you can still get paid for it). Maybe the best single thing about writing is that people will pay you to move your fingers around on a keyboard. For many writers, including myself, I feel blessed to be creative and passionate about writing – and that I can make a career out of doing what I enjoy. This may not be true for all writers, but for me, writing is an escape as well. Irrespective of the positive or negative things in my life, there’s a certain cognitive place to which writing leads me. It’s kind of like the place Bob Ross found when he painted his happy trees. Or something like that.

Of course, there are plenty of other things to enjoy about writing – such as the important contributions the written word can make in the lives of others. This might come in the form of an objective report about a horrible tragedy, or the penmanship of a captivating novel enjoyed on the beach.

If nothing else, I hope my rambling allowed you to reflect on why writing is enjoyable to you.

Brian Bujdos earned his B.A. in Journalism from Syracuse University in 1994. Brian is a guest writer and blogger for, a safe U.S. medication facilitator with over 12 years of pharmaceutical experience. You can read more about Viamedic & their customer milestone of more than 1.5 million orders processed on

Monday, November 22, 2010

movie Jonah Hex

Jonah Hex is a movie based on a DC comic book. It takes place during the civil war era.

Hex is a bounty hunter bent on revenge for the murder of his family. His enemy, Quentin Turnbull, is back from the dead and causing trouble. Jonah Hex is enlisted by the government to stop him.

Interesting facts: he can talk to dead people and has a couple of Gatling guns somehow affixed to his horse.

Josh Brolin played the ever grouchy, ever snarling Jonah Hex. The makeup and special effects artists really did a great job of making Brolin’s face look messed up. I did wonder if he had to hold the side of his mouth up the whole time he acted the part or if the makeup people rigged it up that way.

John Malkovich plays Quentin Turnbull. Will Arnett is in the mix too. He’s a Lieutenant.

Special cameo bonus - the guy who plays Broyles on Fringe! YES!

Megan Fox plays Lilah, a prostitute with a soft spot for Hex.

The corset they crammed that poor girl into probably did some sort of internal damage. Her waist looked painfully small.

I read a lot about Megan Fox (mild celeb gossip addiction), people giving her crap, calling her crazy, etc. The girl has skills, not necessarily great acting skills, but skills, nonetheless. She looks good and can pull off action sequences. That’s what she’s good at. Really, what else do we need her to do?

She didn’t really get much screen time until the almost the end of the movie, which I thought was sort of interesting, given that she was so heavily featured in the trailers.

Also interesting was the mention of Eli Whitney. You may know him as the inventor of the cotton gin. In this story, he invented a super weapon.

I read some bad reviews of this movie when it first premiered in the theaters. I actually thought it was good. There was plenty of action and the acting was fine. I’m not sure what those other reviewers were expecting.

I give it an A-.

Tomorrow! Tomorrow we have a guest post by Brian Bujdos about the joy of writing.
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Friday, November 19, 2010

The Chronicles of a Lost Soul, by Michael LaRocca

The Chronicles of a Lost Soul is a collection of short stories and poems written by Michael LaRocca.

I'm not going to go through every story individually because we'll be here all day. So, I'm doing a brief overview with some highlights.

In various parts of the book, the writing style was reminiscent of King, Poe, or Dante. The book had everything from philosophy to suspense to creepiness to humor to goriness.

One thing I really noticed was the author's ability to alter his 'voice'. The stories were each written in a distinct manner.

There were only a couple parts of the book that I didn't love. One of them was a story told from a dog's perspective.

All in all, I really enjoyed this book. If you would like to check it out, the link to smashwords is below.

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Thursday, November 18, 2010

guest post Laura Hogg

Please welcome author Laura Hogg! She is here to share some information about and an excerpt from her historical romance, Descent Into Darkness.

Title: Descent Into Darkness
Author: Laura Hogg
Author’s email:
Genre: historical romanc
He has come back from war, fighting Napoleon’s men on a ship. She is a lovely shopkeeper with a great sense of humor. A heroic heart rests inside this insecure, intelligent beauty, and she will be called to prove it. She and her love are pitted against each other for the sake of their families and some terrible accusations. She will be in constant peril as she gathers evidence to convict his dangerous brother of a harrowing crime. His heart breaks when he discovers something about her sister. Can their love survive the results of their investigations? They devise a dangerous plan to get to the truth, which brings them into the heart of Napoleon’s camp in 1812 Russia as spies. Risking everything, they must get to the truth.


“You want me gone?” The corners of his lips turned down.
She brought pleading eyes to his face. “I merely want you separated from your brother.”
“Something happened. He…” She wrung her hands.
He studied her.
“Take me with you.” Her lip quivered.
He curled his fingers around her arm. “No. It would be risky.”
“Where are we going?”
“I pray you, Duncan.” She bowed her head and squeezed her eyes shut. “Please.”
“It’s dangerous.”
She opened her eyes. “I don’t mind that, as long as I'm by your side. If you left me here, it’s a certainty that you’ll come back a widower.” Her beseeching gaze tore at his heart.
He sighed and embraced her trembling form, rubbing his hand in comfort over her back. “You’re truly terrified. All right. I’ll take you. It’s fortunate you speak French. And French manners and customs?”
Her brow narrowed. “Of course, but what does that have to do with anything?” She stood.
“We are to be Monsieur et Madame—what French name do you fancy?”
She could do nothing but stare.
“Where are we going?”
“To see the Emperor Napoleon.”
She paled and fell backward. He caught her around the waist before she hit the mattress.

buy link:

Ooh la la! Sounds exciting! Thank you for stopping by, Laura.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

in which I rambled about books and publishing

Hey hey Hump Day!

I want to remind anyone reading this that my novels are free in ebook form on this month. The codes can be used up to one gajillion times but the fun ends on 11/30 when they expire.

MacDowell Sisters and AnnaBeth
Coupon code: BE88Q
Expires 11/30/2010

Babylon Dragon
Coupon Code: EL96C
Expires 11/30/2010

If you don’t have a Smashwords account, you should totally sign up for one. There are many freebie books in just about any ebook format you could want. That includes pdf, Kindle (.mobi), epub, palm, txt and even html.

Even if you are not in possession one of those fancy ebook readers, you could download a copy for evaluation purposes and then order a copy on the Amazon if you like it. Hmm? Hmmmmmmm? Yes.

In unrelated news, there is a couple of publishing world stories that have renewed my sense of satisfaction with my indie writer status.

First we have Frey. This guy is crazy. He is pushing this package to fledgling writers. Basically, you give him your novel rights and your name (and maybe a small piece of your soul) and you get, drumroll please, $250! Ok, ok, there's a little more to it than that, but trust me, it's not pretty.

This is a contract for the desperate. There are plenty of people willing to prey on the dreams of others.

Personally, I would rather be indie. I don't feel desperate. I don't have to deal with rejections or the possibility of being rejected for the entirety of my career. But then again, I'm writing because I love it, not for fame and fortune. Although fame and fortune wouldn't hurt a bit.

//whispered aside to traditional publishing: caaallll meee//


So, this next bit of ridiculocity comes from the New York mother effin' Times. This is an entire article written about a literary agency moving their office out of what is considered the epicenter of publishing. Yes. Someone actually reported on this.

Really? You moved across a bridge? How rebellious! How progressive! Gee, I hope they have e-mail and telephones in that wild frontier. Gimme a break.

This really shows how rigid people in this business can be. This agency actually had to consider whether this move might damage their literary agency business. Wow.

And doesn't the NYT have something more important to report?

That's all for today. Tune in upon the morrow for a guest post from author Laura Hogg!

Other places to find me:

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

a guest post here, a guest post there, everywhere a guest guest

Heyooo! Today we have two posts. The one from this morning is written by Liz Cutten and is about slashing your book budget, so be sure to scroll down a have a look there if you haven't already.

And then guess what. Fellow author Laura Hogg was kind enough to let the riffraff (ie me) onto her patch of cyber space to post information about my novel, MacDowell Sisters & AnnaBeth, and an excerpt!

Thanks Laura!

She will be this Thursday's guest poster.

That's all I have for now. Have a lovely evening.

Other places to find me:

guest post Liz Cutten, Ways to Save Big Money on Books

This guest post was written by Liz Cutten. She posts hot deals, as well as promo codes and more all at MyCCFinder.

If you’re a fan of purchasing books, I wanted to give you a few tips and tricks that I use, when I set out to purchase a book that I want to read. What you will find by following these simple steps is that you’re going to be able to save 99% of the time.

#1 Buy used: If you don’t mind buying someone else’s book, you can save a ton by doing this. What you will find out is that you can save 70% on the book alone. Use services like Amazon to find used books, but when you want to purchase one, make sure you’re buying from a legit seller that leaves a good description of the book.

#2 Use price comparison sites: I love sites like, as well as other ones such as PriceGrabber. What you can do is type in the book that you want, or if you have the ISBN, you can search for the book that way too. You will find that they will list a few merchants, and how much each one is charging. It’s a great way to find out who is offering the cheapest price.

#3 Search hot deals: Forums such as is a great way to find hot deals from various merchants, as well as items. If you have your eyes set on a particular book, see if you can find a coupon code or coupon for a merchant that is selling the book. There’s a great search function that you can use to find the best deal possible.

#4 Look for printable coupons: If you’re a part of the Borders, or Barnes and Noble membership program, you will want to keep your eyes peeled in your e-mail, as well as online. You will find that they send out coupons all the time. At least once a month, I always see a 30% or 40% off coupon that I can use. Most of the time, you will find that these coupons make the book cheaper than buying them used.

These four tips should help you save a few extra bucks, no matter what book that you’re looking to purchase. Test them out, and see how much you can save on your next purchase either online, or in store!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

movie Skyline

The husband and I saw Skyline today. I know I usually don’t blog on Saturdays but I wanted to write this up while the movie is still fresh in my mind.

Warning – spoilers ahead.

Skyline is a movie that both succeeds and fails.

First, husband didn’t like it. I thought it was okay.

Skyline is about a massive, War of the Worlds scale alien invasion. The story follows one couple in particular but some other people as well. There were some familiar faces, mostly from very good TV shows – Eric Balfour (Six Feet Under), David Zayas (Dexter), Donald Faison (Scrubs), and Scottie Thompson (NCIS several episodes in 2007 and 2008).

Where it succeeds –

The acting was good.

Super awesome special effects. The aliens and their ships are really friggin’ big. Some of the larger aliens look to be a few stories tall and moved as agilely as primates. Others reminded me a lot of those squid looking things in the Matrix.
The action is almost nonstop.

Where it fails –

Lack of variation of setting. Ninety five percent of this movie takes place in or around the same apartment building. I kept waiting to see the characters try to make a run through Los Angeles and that never happened.

The ending was stupid. I didn’t love it because, well, it didn’t really resolve the problems. I think it’s presumptuous when a movie that may not have a sequel ends at what could be considered a to-be-continued point. And given that the theater wasn’t even half full, I don’t foresee a sequel for this one.

Skyline is probably worth a rental on DVD. As far as paying to see it in the movie theater? Maybe, if you are seeing it purely to see stuff blow up on a big screen. I give it a C.
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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Guest Post! Cindy Marie Bell - Haibun

My 6 Favorite Haibun

Each of the haibun on my list have something in common despite their many stylistic differences; they are all journey's of the heart, leaving one with what Jeffrey Harpeng describes as "the ghost in the haibun."

So, here are my 6 favorite haibun --

Marjorie Buettner's Forgotten Roads takes us with her, and reminds us, much like Mary Oliver's Poem, Wild Geese, there is space for each of us, but it does so in an intensely rhythmic fashion.

Zolo's Implacable Time And the Long, Slow Pull of the Irresitable Sun is a piece that almost imparts a nostalgia of sorts. It brings, to my mind at least, a bygone era and it's people.

Billie Wilson's Wordless Poems evokes a dream in which anything is possible. It is a haibun that connects with a deep sense of the power words, and especially haibun, to speak on the intuitive level.

Ray Rasmussen's Fly Fishing evokes a zen-like quality in the description of an "everyday" hike. It brings with it a sensitivity to living that I admire.

Jeffrey Woodward's Question's For the Flowers is a scholarly piece evoking a sense of one's place in the ages. It ponders an age old question we all face: Who am I to commit my words to paper?

Ellen Kombiyil's The Night Sky's Answer is a haibun that center's us in place and time, but too, it places us in the greater context of the universe while broaching the topic of life after death.

How about an explanation about the writing form haibun? I've made this cute video and that explains why everyone can write haibun!


Cindy Marie Bell
The Graphic Haibuneer
Life Begins With the Haibun

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

synopsis working

Today's project was a study of the synopsis. I never feel like I have synopses right. They are basically a huge pain in my ass.

I decided that in order to suck less at this particular activity, I would study synopses for some best sellers.

The goal is to make a reader want to read the book. This can be done in many ways.

The beginning can be the most important part.

Some jump right into the conflict with the first sentence.

Some set the stage first. These tended to be the books that took place in idyllic or exotic locales.

Some began by relating to the reader. They asked the "you" question. What if YOU were abducted by aliens and given an uncomfortable probe? What if YOU had to save YOUR kid sister's pet rabbit from a burning building?

Synopses for sequels began with a quick one to two-sentence rundown of what happened in the previous installment of the series.

They go on to give useful information, such as primary conflict, personal obstacles our hero or heroine faces over the course of the story, and their name, of course.

and the vocab.
Powerful, urgent words!! The standard writing advice says show don't tell, which means you describe what is happening in the story, rather than just spelling it out for the reader.

Instead of - "She was sad", you write something more like, "She buried her face in her hands and cried like she never cried before".

The synopsis seems to be the opposite, probably due to the limited space you have to convey your message to the reader.

Power words I noticed in the synopses included: gruesome, sinister, pitch-black, unstoppable, action-packed, instant, terror, explodes!!!, chaos, shocking, nastiest, madness, riveting, prevail, heart-pounding.

Hopefully I have improved my skills.

Tomorrow is guest post day! The post is written by Cindy Marie Bell and is about Haibun poetry! We all learn something.
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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Guest Post! Margo Smith, The Fiction of Mysteries

I have learned to love mysteries. I like to read them or watch them. I can’t get enough of a good Agatha Christie, either on screen or in print. I need a good dose of a mystery novel or “Monk,” “NCIS,” “Midsomer Murders,” and “Inspector Lewis” quite often or I get a bit edgy. A bit excessive you say? Perhaps it is.

I got to thinking about what the draw is for me. Christie – perhaps the most published mystery writer to date – pokes fun of mysteries herself in her books as being a lesser form of reading. For someone whose favorite books of all time are Hugo’s Les Misérables and Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, how did I become such a mystery hound? It isn’t the gore – I usually look away during those parts. I spend a good time while watching NCIS with my eyes averted actually. It is not the plot – once you have seen enough of any one of these, you can generally make some pretty close predictions for the outcome. I do love a good and completely unexpected plot twist, I’ll admit. Is it the characters? In the case of Monk, perhaps the answer is yes. But it is still something else for me.

What is it? Upon further reflection, I came to realize that it is the resolution at the end. Oscar Wilde said it best, “The good ended happily and the bad unhappily, that is what fiction means.” Now there are frequently some good people who don’t make it to the end of a mystery, but the person responsible is always caught or at least known. Unlike real life, we are not left dangling or with something unresolved. They are fairy tales for adults. I guess I still like fairy tales where it is all summed up for me and the bad guys have to pay, while I cheer on the good guys. It’s simple, it’s direct and it’s all wrapped up neatly. That is why I love mysteries.

About the Author
Margo Smith graduated with a B.S. degree from BYU. Working through college and being in the corporate world give her a great deal to say about subjects as diverse as employee motivation to online schools to kite making.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

helllloooooooo there.

Today is a day of free.

But first an announcement.

I am putting together an e-mail subscription list. If you would like to opt in, please send a blank e-mail with the word 'subscribe' in the subject line to

I know, I know. I had a subscription list before but something happened to it.

I will only e-mail when there are big time announcements like novel or story releases and maybe interviews.

Ok, that out of the way, I have free e-book codes for use on! Woo!!

These are the full novels.

MacDowell Sisters and AnnaBeth
Coupon code: BE88Q
Expires 11/30/2010

Babylon Dragon
Coupon Code: EL96C
Expires 11/30/2010

Please feel free to share with friends.

Other places to find me:

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

My Best Friend's Girl, movie

Today we have a movie post! Yay!

We watched My Best Friend's Girl with Kate Hudson, Dane Cook, and Jason Biggs (American Pie). The movie is a couple of years old (2008), but guess what, it's my blog and I write about what I want.

This movie is equal parts chick flick and raunchy guy humor. You have the romantic story line - Dane Cook's character (Tank) gets paid to go out on dates and be an asshole so the girls run back to previously rejected 'nice' guys. When his best friend, Jason Bigg's character (Dustin) hires him, Tank decides he likes the girl.

The aforementioned funny parts of the movie involve Dane Cook's efforts to repel women. He plays loud, obnoxious music, takes them to inappropriate establishments (one of which serves dog meat), tells crude jokes, makes over the top rude comments, you get the idea.

What I really thought was interesting about this movie was how much Dane Cook's appearence has changed. He has somehow aged ten years in like five actual years. I used to think he was quite hot.

Now he sorta looks like that guy with prison hand tattoos working at the gas station down the street. Get this man a facial and some moisturizer stat, cuz damn!

The movie was good, not buying it good, but definitely renting it good. B+

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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Teaser Tuesday as my 200th post!

Hey there blog readers! Today is Teaser Tuesday.

Below is a scene from my novel MacDowell Sisters & AnnaBeth. Links to the book on Amazon and Smashwords follow the excerpt.

There is probably some spoiler-ish material in here, so if you are sensitive about that sort of thing, you might not want to read on. This is a scene from Chapter 6, Night at Reau House.

AnnaBeth (our 19 year old protagonist) has delivered some spare body parts from the funeral home for the MacDowell sisters, her elderly witch mentors, at their request. This part of the scene begins in mid-conversation. The MacDowell Sisters have just finished explaining that they use bones and bone fragments as vessels for their will.

A few quick bits of info. These witches call themselves 'fates' because they deal in people's destinies and Havens Path is AnnaBeth's house.

Vestra and Madeline MacDowell live in Reau House. This scene takes place in the cellar where there are old corpses piled on dirt ledges.


I thought of the pendant I saw Thomas Williams leave with on my first visit to Reau House. The MacDowell sisters didn't want him to have children and he took their will home with him in the form of a necklace, a necklace with bone inside.

"What about Ophelia's teeth?"

Vestra answered, "We were friends with dear Ophelia and didn't want to take much from her.
Teeth are easily accessible and we don't have to break them down."

"We ordered only the teeth out of respect for our friend."

Emboldened by how easily I was getting answers, I asked another question.

"Why can't you use the bones of the people down here?"

"They do in a pinch but they don't hold energy like the fresher ones."

Fresher ones?

"Okay, that's probably enough for today," Vestra declared. She'd probably tired of my questioning. "Maddy and I have to deal with the bones, and it's already so late."

Madeline moved to show me to the door, then I remembered something.

"Cecile said she needed replacement because she took too much."

"Ah, another use for our old friends down here. Is Rachel being cremated?"


"That really is the most earth friendly way to do it." Madeline nodded.

"I think they call it 'eco' now, sister." Then to me Vestra said, "AnnaBeth, before you go, would you pack up two femurs and two tibias into one of the bone bags. Lady Madeline will show you where they are. We'll drop them off at Cecile's first thing in the morning."

"You want me to touch the bones?" I asked disbelievingly.

"Yes, dear. Fates have dirty work too. Our old friends don't mind."

I was willing to bet the old friends would mind if they knew and would say so if they had tongues with which to protest.

Madeline suggested, "Maybe some arm bones too."

"AnnaBeth, help Madeline. I will stay here and get started on this portion of the dirty work."
Madeline and I went back the way we came in. She stopped at a wide stepladder rammed up against the front of one of the ledges. She bent to pick up a canvas sack, shook a cloud of dust from it and handed it to me.

"Here we are."

I was about to desecrate a corpse. There had to be some bad juju in that, bad karma or something. If there is a next life, I would end up as a dung beetle or a feeder rat for someone's pet python. Dinner and a show. I stared at Madeline for a few seconds, hoping she'd expose the assignment as a joke.

Instead, she said, "Try to get the bones from one of our friends in the back. They are the oldest and have the least value to us."

Why did they keep calling them friends?

As I reluctantly climbed the stepladder, pounding came from Vestra at the back of the cellar, rhythmic sounds of metal cracking bone. She was breaking Rachel’s bones down into smaller pieces.

I shuddered. Not that my dirty work was much better, but at least I didn't know these people, these friends propped on ledges.

I reached the top of the stepladder and saw into the spread of dry bodies that went on to the far walls of the cellar. There was a thin strip of bare ledge which allowed room for me to climb up before I plunged into the sea of dead. I lay there on my side, staring into bundles of bones and ancient formalwear.

"Is something wrong, AnnaBeth?" Madeline inquired from the floor below.

"No, I'm just taking a moment to adjust."

"Watch for sharp pieces." She warned.

I shut my eyes tight and put a hand in. It landed on a dirt encrusted, ruffled lacy piece of a dress. Not so bad. Old and dry like everything else on the ledge.

Old and dry, old and dry, I chanted to myself internally as I clawed my way across bodies. I guess the idea comforted me because I preferred them in that state rather than the alternative, which is fresh and moist.

Dust flew where I stirred it and clogged my throat. I didn't even want to think about what that dust was made of. I tried not to breathe, which only left me to gasping when I needed air.

Leaning on clothes to avoid direct skin on corpse contact, I felt bones snap beneath fabric. I officially had enough at the halfway point. I chose a skeleton which unlike everyone else around it did not wear clothing. I wouldn't have to undress him or her.

The bones separated easily at the knees and elbows. I cringed every time I made a pull. The person wasn’t alive, but I still experienced some anxiety for separating the pieces. I wouldn’t want this for my bones or anyone else’s.

"Are you far in already?" Madeline asked me when she heard the sound of bones knocking together in the sack.

"Far enough." The firmness in my voice surprised me.

I was caked in dirt and beyond ready for bed by the time I climbed down from the ledge.

"Here." Still breathless from lack of oxygen, I handed the sack to Madeline. I couldn't remember another day seeming so long and perfectly exhausting. My bones ached, perhaps out of sympathy for the Reau House dead. "I'm going home."

I walked away without waiting for Madeline to respond. I didn't want to see her or Vestra or even Justin for a while. Had moving Havens Path been an option, I would have moved her to the westernmost corner of Hawaii, the farther the better.

"Don't worry about coming for your next lesson. We've covered enough for one week." Vestra yelled from the back of the cellar.

"Good night!" Madeline chirped as I trudged up the stairs into blessed fresh air and darkness.

"Sleep tight!" Vestra chimed.

I added in a weak hearted mumble, "Don't let the bedbugs bite."


MacDowell Sisters & AnnaBeth in print on Amazon

For Kindle

On Smashwords

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Monday, November 1, 2010

book working + goings on + illustration

Halloween was awesome! I hung out with my babies and took the little one trick or treating. The surly teenager went with her friends for the first time ever and returned home with a suspiciously small amount of candy.

Personally, I think she has a secret sugar stash somewhere in or around the neighborhood. The search is ongoing.

In book working news, I finally figured out what I wanted to change about the novella. I had this epiphany over the weekend whilst doing sketches for cover art.

The story is not creepy enough! Yes! I feel much better knowing what I need to work on specifically.

The story itself isn't intended to be a horror. However, looking back over the title, the subject matter and what will probably be the cover art, I realized what I need to tweak. So, that's the project this week - adding in some creepy and more intensity.

I did some research on the internet to try and come up with some ways to meet that end, but didn't find anything substantially helpful.

Much like the candy stash situation, the search is ongoing. If I find anything truly helpful, I'll post links here.

And here is an illustration I'm calling - dark carousel. Prints are up in AvinaLeo. Please click the pic if you wish to acquire one of your very own.

Tomorrow I'm participating in my very first Teaser Tuesday. People on twitter put up excerpts of their writing either on blogs or on Twitter itself if the excerpts are really really short. So yeah, I'm doing that here tomorrow with a scene from MacDowell Sisters and AnnaBeth.

The post will be longer than the usual because of that.

If you already read the book, the scene won't be anything new to you, but hey, you could share with a friend...or something.

TTFN, ta-ta for now.

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Friday, October 29, 2010

Private by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro

Private came out earlier this year as the debut for a new series featuring the main character Jack Morgan. His father gives him the files for a private investigation firm named, you guessed it, Private.

There are three cases in this story: a serial killer, a friend's murder, and an NFL game rigging, um, plot.

The book was pretty good. Like most Patterson books, it wasn't Shakespeare but it was alright for a read. My only complaint was the rather large cast of characters. By the end of the story, I kind of adjusted but at first, I thought -holy crap I need a chart!

That's all I have for this week. Have a lovely weekend and good night.

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Thursday, October 28, 2010

book working and such

Agh! This week is just barely slogging along.

I finished transferring on-paper changes for the first edit on the novella yesterday. The quality of the story is approaching the level I'm aiming for, but it isn't there quite yet.

There's still something missing from the story, and I really want to take the time to figure out what it is. I never thought I would put so much effort into something I plan to give away for free (the digital version anyway).

I'm starting to think about the cover art too. It may involve at least one jackal.

I saw the other day where an author posted five versions of a cover for her upcoming novel and had readers vote which one they liked best. That was pretty cool. I might do that here if I can get motivated to create more than one version of the cover.

What else is going on?

Oh yeah, I have been on the Project Gutenberg website like crazy since getting the Kindle. They have SO many classics I want to read. I downloaded another round of them this evening.

Little kid me seriously would have loved that website. Hell, grown-up me loves it. Although, I am starting to feel like I owe them a donation.

I have to quit though. I'm quickly reading and writing myself closer to mental exhaustion. That usually means it's time to draw something and watch Dr. Who reruns for a while.

In the spirit of Halloween, I'm posting a link to some truly awesome cemetery photograph slideshows. They really make me want to dress up like the ghost whisperer and lurk about the dead and snap photos.

Anybody I know wanna go with me? Hm? Hmmmmm???

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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

is really a lovely evening for a rant

I read a quote one day recently that might have been from Katy Perry. She said something along the lines of - there's room for everyone (as in musical artists) on people's ipods.

I thought of that today as I read this article written by a crusty dinosaur. He was lamenting the loss of the customized rejection letter in lieu of impersonal e-mail rejections. He goes on to lament other losses as well.

At one point he said the world needs fewer writers and ‘smarter’ readers. Um, excuse me? I am both a writer and a reader, so I take offense on two levels.

First off, no one I know who reads books on a regular basis is unintelligent, just the opposite in fact. They may not be pompous ‘intellectual' jackasses, but they still have brains in their heads. They are perfectly capable of selecting their own reading material without the assistance of a corporation.

He thinks there are too many books. Maybe there are, so freaking what? I don't apologize for wanting to express myself creatively in that way. I'm not sorry that your publication gatekeepers are losing their relevence.

Not that I would by any means count myself among them, but how many brilliant writers have been rejected into oblivion or worse, discouraged from writing altogether because some editor or agent or whoever didn't find their book marketable?

Traditional publishing is only romanticized by people who suffered and overcame those obstacles. Good for them. Thankfully there are other options, which I plan to continue pursuing. Life is too short to waste my time knocking on firmly locked doors.

There's room for all of us on everyone's shelves, kindles, nooks, ipads or whatever.

Here's the link to the article if you would also like to be offended by a crusty dinosaur.

I do not plan to read his books.
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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

technical difficulties

Whattup internets? Long time, no see, primarily due to the massive software failure on my beloved laptop.

I had a weekend that was filled with equal parts awesome and suck.

Awesome? My mimaw bought me a kindle for my birthday! Wooo! I am very excited. I read ebooks before but did so on my ipaq or my blackberry. Both have miniscule screens compared to the kindle. I already have like 15 books on the thing. Reading on it is way cool.

I had two large meals - one fried chicken and one steak!

Gifts included moola, wine, a book, espresso, pie, and a jacket and shoes and (sing it now) these are a few of my favorite thiiiiiings! I am an immensely spoiled girl.

My boy made several cards for me. He's such a sweet pea. He also wrote a play, which he planned to act out with husband and daughter. Unfortunately, he didn't get the participation he hoped for. He didn't seem to mind too much though. He is the happiest little creature I've ever met. I hope he stays that way.

One interesting thing - a couple of the cards he made for me were decorated with stars of David. I'm not sure where he picked those up because we aren't Jewish!

I did get birthday wishes from my girl too, although nothing as enthusiastic as what the boy did.

Now for the suck - I spent most of my three-day weekend working on the damned computers.

My laptop crashed. Boo. I managed to back up most (if not all) of my important files.

I did some research online and discovered the cause of my technical woes was a microsoft update. Thanks a fricking lot, microsoft.

So I located the software patch needed to fix it but my computer kept locking up before it could finish the installation. There was a lot of salty language thrown around.

I finally decided that I had to restore and start completely over. That was a drama in itself. I won't get into it because that would probably be boring. Let's just say it was a pain in the ass.

I also had to work on the boy's computer and some on the desktop. Being the geek squad of the house is sometimes very trying and time consuming.

I didn't get to work on anything I actually wanted to work on - no drawings, no writing. I should have finished the current round of edits on the novella on Saturday. I am now days behind! Argh.

But the good news is, I have fixed all computer issues and am up and running again. Everything seems to be functioning for the moment.

And I breathe.

I might not be on every day this week (obviously I missed monday) due to playing catch-up and various parental duties.

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Thursday, October 21, 2010


I don't have much to talk about today.

Here is the illustration though. Click it if you want to visit the website and print it.

The words in the background are from a public domain novel - Bulldog and Butterfly, by David Christie Murray. The ebook is available on the Project Gutenberg website.

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

birthday and other ramblings

My birthday is this weekend! Woooooo!

I await saturday with all the patience and restraint of a six year old.

I got early birthday gifts last weekend - a jacket and a pair of shoes that I've been stalking for like a year. Glorious times.

I have already made demands of my husband for this weekend which include (but are not limited to) a steak dinner with corn, potatoes and Hawaiian rolls. Dessert will likely be cheesecake, but I haven't decided all of the way yet.

And my mimaw is going to buy me a fried chicken lunch! Wheeeeeeeee!!! I truly love fried chicken. It's salty and greasy and kind of crunchy - all at the same time.

And my baby boy has some grand scheme he plans to execute. He has expressed a desire for me to get up super early on birthday morning. The scheme is not contingent on my early rising. He just really wants me to be awake when he's awake. We'll see how that goes.

As for the girl? She's a teenager. I don't think she has any grand mom birthday schemes. I do expect to at least receive a hug and positive birthday wishes.

Whiplash subject change. I don't think I'm doing an October indie review. I have too much reading to do right now. I'm reading Private by James Patterson and then, if all goes according to plan, American Gods by Neil Gaiman.

I poked around for an indie title but didn't see anything that struck my fancy. If anyone has a suggestion for a November indie title, please hit me up via e-mail, include synopsis.

Oh yeah, one more thing. I am going to start sending out release dates for novels and short stories to people who wish to receive them via e-mail. If you would like to receive such updates, please send a blank e-mail with the word 'subscribe' in the subject line to the e-mail address listed above. I promise not to bombard anyone. I really don't write all that quickly.

Tomorrow - illustration plus, um, some words about something. Probably.

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Monday, October 18, 2010

Iron Man 2 and How to Train Your Dragon

There were two movies this weekend. I'm just going to do short bits about each.

Iron Man 2
Robert Downey Jr. returns as the superhero. I love the Tony Stark character because he’s equal parts ego, intelligence and eccentricity.

Anyway, in this sequel, we find that the reactor thingy in Stark's chest is killing him because it's unstable and pumping poison into his bloodstream. Too, the government is breathing down his neck about the suit because they consider it a weapon, which it is.

Then Mickey Rourke's crazy ass Russian character, Ivan Vanko, shows up. His father was wronged by Stark's father, so he's out for revenge. Like Stark, he is brilliant. He makes his own iron man suit and attacks. There's more but I'm not going to sit here all day and type this shiz out.

Bottom line - Iron Man 2 is totally awesome. The action is intense, the special effects are amazing, acting is glorious, and the plot is complex but in a wonderful way that adds depth to the story. Iron Man 2 gets A+.

How to Train Your Dragon
Yea, it's a kids' movie, so what.
We actually bought this one for the children, so I guess it's a good thing we liked it!

It's about a kid in a Viking village. The village has a big problem with dragons doing nightly raids on the village, so most of the townspeople spend a lot of time and effort repelling the raids.

When name befriends a dragon he shoots out of the sky, he discovers that the dragons aren't the monsters the Vikings thought they were.

The dragons are kitties!

Now there's a sentence I never thought I would type.

They are reptiles, but there are some major kittyish behaviors such purring and swatting at moving objects, and a catnip-like love of a type of grass. The main dragon, Toothless, even has cat eyes.

How To Train Your Dragon was sweet and funny and filled with action. A+ too!
Yay we all win.

I don't have a set plan this week. I'm flying by the seat of my blog pants.

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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Thursday working updates + Halloween illustration

The book working has been somewhat erratic this week due to my efforts to finish reading the Lincoln book.

I didn't start actually start editing the novella until yesterday. I nearly forgot one of the most important rules of self-editing - distance yourself from what you wrote (rule knowledge courtesy of DM). I had to put it down for a while.

The week away from the novella also gave me some time to think about the story in a broader sort of way. I changed a character's name and a couple of other things.

Approximate time of finished project: December 1st? That is a reasonable time frame, I think. And the lucky dogs who receive ipads and kindles and similar e-reader devices for christmas will be looking for ebooks shortly thereafter. As always, I reserve the right to change my mind.

I started writing book 2 in the annabeth series too, just a few pages. The first chapter is always the hardest for me. Working everything in, important information and background, is sometimes difficult. I'm not doing a prologue this time. It will be my first novel with no prologue.

What else? Ah, yes. I got a new drawing book! I am finally trying to learn to draw comic book style. I've wanted to learn for years, and I finally committed to buying a book about it. I chose this one.

I don't actually want to draw comic books. However, I would like to do some comic book style illustrations. We'll see how that goes.

Having three projects going is kind of nice. I find my anxiety level is lowest when I have a lot to work on but no looming business deadlines.

And now, here is a Halloween illustration. If you want to print it, click the picture to head on over to my website. It's a freebie.

That's all I have for now.
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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
By: Seth Grahame-Smith

The novel is a fictional rewriting of Abraham Lincoln's life to include vampires - vampires vicitmizing various members of Abe's family, feeding on slaves, fighting in the civil war, vampires in politics and so on.

I have mixed feelings about this book.

First, what I didn't like.

When I picked up this book, I didn't realize it was written by the same author who wrote Pride Prejuidice and Zombies. If I had noticed, I might not have been interested at all. I don't dig the idea of literary mashups. Stealing mass amounts of someone else's work and changing it around a bit does not consitute writing.

I don't know how much of Vampire Hunter is lifted from other works.

I did notice some less than subtle cues taken from Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire.

We have a Lestat type vampire named Henry Sturges.

We have a vampire who contacts the author (in the story) about writing a novel about Abraham Lincoln’s vampire hunting. He provides the narrator with information. Sound familiar?

We have New Orleans as a hotspot for vampires.

I would be a little pissed off if I were Anne Rice. Please believe that if someone ripped off my story ideas in such an obvious way, I would have zero couth or diplomacy.

Now, what I liked about the novel.

Intriguing premise. Abraham Lincoln is an interesting real life character. You throw some vampires in there and the story gets even more exciting.

I also liked the appearences by famous, historic figures like Virginia Dare and Edgar Allan Poe. I know the stuff about vampires is fictional, but there was enough actual history mixed in that I looked up some of the names to see who some of the people were. Most of the lookups were Lincoln's friends like Ward Hill Lamon. Don't worry, I already knew that Poe and Virginia Dare were real.

The novel was reasonably good, despite the story dragging on a bit toward the end. I wouldn't buy the book (I checked it out from the library) but it was good for a read.

tomorrow: random updates plus a halloween illustration.

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