Good news!

I finished up my last project. It’s now siting comfortable in the To Be Edited Q.

Also good news!

I really like the novel that I was feeling like I ought to write the follow up to. It was good enough that as I was doing a reread to make sure I knew where I was at I got engaged with the characters, I didn’t get frustrated about the edit work (I know it needs 2-4 passes!), and I did the same excited walking around the house with the iPad in hand reading thing I do when I’m really into a book. But it was my book! That was pretty cool. I do love the main character. I love the world.  So I’ve made a decision. Jenna’s second book it will be.

Bad news?

I have no idea what the next arc is for this character. I’ve got some longer term ideas. But I destroyed (or the main character resolved…) some of the major potential villains.  So I have to start building new characters that may generate conflict.


Terrible Minds talks about Outlines – long


I think I’m going to try to take part in the NaNo webinar they have coming up about building diverse characters and planning. (I’ve felt like these have been hit or miss in the past so I’m trying to not get too excited about them.)

Short Fiction!

The planning tactic that has worked best for me has been writing short (200-2000 words) fiction pieces about the characters. I’ve got dozens of random pieces of fiction, some within the universe, some totally not…about characters. This has been wildly helpful for me to figure out who a character is, how they’d respond to things, and making them into a fully fleshed human being (or not…as the case may be).

Index Cards

I also use index cards. Which does kind of contrast with the rest of my writing and planning. But I don’t care. It works for me for now. Action cards are one color. Character cards are another color. Artifact (cursed objects, software programs, ships, shoes, anything that factors in that I will get the details wrong on if I’m not paying attention.

Other Resources

Snowflake Planning

Holy Prep Calendar Batman

The last year’s worth of Writing Excuses (well all of them… but 2015 is super tasty)



It’s October so for me that means, time to start planning for NaNoWriMo.

Must finish faster:

I do have a novella I’m nearly done with that I would like to finish before I move onto the next project. It is a part of the series I’m working to put together based on a group of shifters who fight their own fires.

For Nano:

I don’t know which novel or character or plan I’m going to go with. I’ve always had a plan by this time in the year previously and then spent October hashing out the details of the plan. I feel a little like it ought to be one character, and I know I’ll be perfectly happy with her once I pull her out of the Novel Box and clean her up and start polishing her again. But I’m a little over-enamored with  one of my characters from a short and I kind of want to write what comes next for her.



Inspired by the Flash Fiction challenge at Terrible Minds I have thoughts about titles.

I’m horrible with titles. Positively awful.

When I work on projects they are usually named by main character or a primary characteristic. So a few of my current and recent works in progress are labeled in my files as:

  • Mountain Lion Man
  • Faye
  • Lia
  • Peregrine Falcon
  • Robin Hood AI

Exactly zero of these are good names. Most of them are just ways to refer to the stories and because “Untitled 14” isn’t really effective.

When I get around to actually naming the stories I always feel stumped. I sort of feel like I only nailed one title. The rest just feel mushy still. I’m not even sure what makes for a good title, something that grabs the reader, conveys the tone of the story, but how do I do that?!

I’m going with “Your Password Here” for the challenge.



Flash Fiction Challenge – Borrowed Character

I spent most of the day so far hammering through a read aloud/record/listen pass of my short for the upcoming anthology (new author added! Check Ariele Sieling’s stuff out).

But I took a break to clear my head and meet the flash fiction challenge of the week from terrible minds.

I borrowed the character Karen Boyd from the Scary Hippopotamus for the terrible minds flash fiction challenge of the week. Karen sounds awesome (go read!) and I’m not sure I did her justice, but I hope you enjoy her.

I have 18 minutes.

I hope I have 18 minutes. I slip into the chair of the station manager and grin. Ellis never locks his desk, getting in within the first five minutes means it won’t demand identification. I set my taser on the desk, pointed at the door. I’d spent weeks making sure that not only did I know every single person on ship, but I have an idea of who might come in, who I will need to shoot, who I will need to sweet talk, who I might be able to share the truth with.

I’m not completely sure what I’m looking for today. This might be the first of many trips to dig through files and see what answers I can find. I start to go through the files, schedules, process documents, a glossary for all the acronyms we use. I didn’t think I’d find a manifesto detailing all the lies they’d told, the way they’d built people, the purpose of the mission, but it would have been nice if it was there.

I select the search function and look through the recent searches. Schedules. Everything around here is always about the schedule so I don’t know how I could be surprised that it was all about schedules.

Personnel files, they must be in here somewhere. I dig deeper, trying to make sure I’m not doing anything that can be noticed later as out of place. I’d really just like to type my own name into the search function, but that would be the fastest way to give me away.

A sharp rap on the door pulls my attention up. My hand goes to my taser, I’m going to have to use it, go with Plan B.

“I believe I am to report here for orders.” I didn’t recognize the man at the door. I know everyone on this damn ship. We are on a space ship. In space. I know everyone on the ship, that is in space. This isn’t possible. He doesn’t recognize me.

“Ma’am,” The man speaks again. “They told me that I was to report here for orders. I just got out of cry and I don’t remember much ma’am so I’d appreciate if you could tell me…who you are, what I’m doing here…just about anything.”

I think back to when I came out on the ship. When I was printed and built. They told me I was woken out of cryo. They told me to report to the station manager.

“Yes, come in and have a seat.” I sit up a little straighter.

15 minutes left.

I wave at the seat. “It is a little disorienting isn’t it?” I give a friendly smile.

“Yes ma’am it is.” He sits down looking greatly relieved. He nods. “I can’t remember much of anything. What am I doing here? This is a space ship right?” He leans forward at the last looking around a bit confused.

I laugh. It isn’t the most official thing to do, but I can’t help myself. “Yes, we are on a space ship. You’ll have a full briefing packet in your room.” I don’t know if I should tell him the truth, as much of it as I know, make an ally.

“Thank you so much ma’am.”

“Karen Boyd. Do you know what your name is?” Someone will know I’ve been here so I might as well go all in. I turn to the computer and type my name into the search field.

“No ma’am.” His confusion is thick. “I mean Karen. I mean Ms Boyd. I mean …” He pauses and looks at me, he’s sorting through his thoughts. I start moving files to the drive I’d managed to secure. Anything with my name on it, lots of schedules, but some things that look promising. I’m not even bothering to open them.

12 minutes left.

“I’m not sure what I mean ma’am. Ma’am sort of seems like the thing seems the most natural.” The man frowns. He examines his hands. I move more files.

In my haste I open one of my files. I nod at him absently. A thought suddenly occurs to me. We only have resources on the ship for an exact number of people I know every person on this ship. Except the man in front of me. How are we going to feed one more person? How are we going to house one more person? We need oxygen and greens.

I try to hide my confusion. The file is a schedule. I go to close it and then glance at the names. I scan the list for my name. It’s on there. I feel a tiny bit of relief. I start to read the rest of the names, looking for one that is missing.

“Ma’am?” The man across from me catches my attention again. He is watching me, like I’m the one with authority. He thinks I’m the one in charge I remind myself. A name I don’t recognize on the sheet jumps out.

“Reginald.” I smile at him. I don’t know who is missing, but this must be the man in front of me. Who is Reginald?

8 minutes left.

“That doesn’t sound like my name.” He frowns. He repeats it to himself quietly. I keep looking for the missing name, but there are a couple hundred people on the station. Not so many I can’t know them all, but apparently enough that I can’t find the missing name in a matter of minutes. “Is there anything else you can tell me about why we are on a ship in space, we are in space right?”

“Yes, we are in space.” I know this story, I’ve heard it a hundred times before. “We are on a colonization mission. We had one final transmission from Earth, where we came from,” I can’t remember if this was something I knew or something I’d learned, “but it was a mess. We don’t know what it was. We have to assume we are the last of humanity.”

I wait for the surprise. It doesn’t come. He nods, like this is something he knows already. Maybe he is the person I need to talk to. “That seems familiar. Is that supposed to be familiar? I feel like maybe I know about communications? Is that possible?” He looks to me for the answers.

3 minutes left. I need to leave now.

I stand. He stands. I grab the drive from the computer. They are going to know I was here. Eventually. I’m going to try to make sense of everything I can first.

“Let me show you where you can get something to eat, we can have a brief chat.” I wave him toward the door and he steps out.

There is probably a ticking clock now. I need to learn more about the files, about what this man knows, and I need to do it before someone figures out what I’m doing.

Time’s up.


A character

The latest Flash Fiction Challenge at terribleminds. A character in 250 words. (Luckily not 250 characters…)

I pull the blankets up over my face and whine. I hide in the warmth of the bed, but my brain won’t shut up. I sigh dramatically and throw the heavy quilt off, swinging my feet over the edge of the bed. The familiar metal on cement sound of my feet rings out. I stomp over to the stove and pull it open tossing in more wood and coughing at the smoke.

I check the news and toss it aside in seconds. I’m looking for something, but I don’t know what it is. Every day I make sure the house is secure, I read the news, I play games, I fix what breaks. Mostly though, I wait.

The good days are the ones when things break, on the house or me. Then I spend hours, if I’m lucky days or weeks in the shop fixing it. The problem is every time I fix something it’s less likely to break down, a few more months and I’ll have upgraded everything.

I try the new harpoon I installed in my arm, mostly it’s a fire stirrer,  leaning in too close, I my face and shoulders get scorchingly hot. I pull it out of the fire, covered in soot and curse. I pick up the cloth in my hand to wipe the poker off. It’s still too hot to touch and I curse some more.

I wander into the shop and start messing with the printer to try something new for today.


Mothman’s Bride – A Flash Fiction Challenge

For the Flash Fiction Pop Culture Challenge from Chuck Wendig I rolled up a 7 for The Mothman Prophecies (which of course I have not seen, however I have seen many shows on cryptoeverything, read books, listened to podcasts —Monster Talk is awesome– so I decided to go with what I know of Mothman the cryptid and call that a win) and Princess Bride (which I have seen, most notably at a midnight showing I once went to alone because it was a really bad no good horrible time but the feel in a packed theater of people who knew all the lines was both the most warm fuzzy thing and the closest to a cult I’ve ever been).

Mothman’s Bride

I stomped down the well worn stone path. My bag and sword were heavy and hot. I was sticky and uncomfortable. The air wasn’t even cool at night.

I saw it again. The huge thing, eight feet tall, wings as wide as four men’s arms stretched tip to tip, bright glowing red eyes, he sat perched on top of something I couldn’t make out. The moonlight only illuminated his plate sized red eyes.

“Yes, I’m coming for you.” I shouted at it. It felt like the thousandth time. “I will avenge my parents. Now if you could just wait there for a few minutes and we can properly have this out.”

I didn’t bother to drop my bag or draw my sword. He’d fly off as soon as I got close. I stopped and peeled my shirt away from my skin and fanned it trying to get some air flow going. “It’s like a thousand degrees here, could you at least like flap your wings for a breeze?” At least I wasn’t wearing trousers, mom had been right about a long, light skirt being surprisingly travel friendly.

“Oh, fine.” I drew my sword and charged forward. As I neared the fence post it dove at me. I lifted the sword, aiming for the side, just damage one of his wings. He’d be down and I could fight him face to face.

I managed to connect with the edge of the leathery wing, but adding one more small cut wasn’t enough to take him down today. The force of the wind generated nearly knocked me over but I was ready this time.

After he flew away I turned to face the danger. Wherever he went, there was danger.

An old woman came out of a hut a short distance from the overly tall fence post. “You’re here to steal my son, you hussy! Well, you can’t have him!” She threw something at me. She had a great arm for an old woman. It landed near me, but didn’t hit me. I crouched down to examine it.

As soon as I did I stood up, when the jerk with the wings shows up there is danger and you run away. I turned and a rat the size of a large dog leapt at me. I swung my sword making a connection, but its hide was too thick to cut through easily.

Another came at me from the side. I swung again, connecting with its side, I knocked it away it gave a horrible squeal.

“No!” The deep bellow startled me but I managed to keep my attention on the third rat coming at me. I swung my sword aiming to hit its face with the flat side of my sword, it squealed and ran away and I turned for the next.

Except when I turned there was a man, a giant, twice as tall as me. He reached down and picked up the fourth rat pulling it out of the way of my sword. I kept going with my swing and toppled over.

A fifth rat, they seemed to run away after they were hit, managed to get its teeth into my leg. As I lifted my sword the giant lifted the rat who didn’t let go of me.

The giant held up the rat by the tail, the rat held me by the leg. I was dangling with my sword above my head, which was of course actually below me. Mom never warned me that a skirt could get in the way if I was being hung upside down by a giant holding onto a rat who was biting me.

“Go away!” The giant shook us. I clung to the sword, the rat clung to me, the giant clung to the rat.

“I’m trying to, but your friend won’t let go of me.” I shouted up to the giant.

“Mitsy, drop it!” The rat let go of me and I fell to the ground. The giant cradled the huge rat against his chest and grabbed another.

I scrambled to my feet and started to run away.

“You stay away from my baby!” The old woman yelled again.

“I’m trying to stay away!” I ran down the hill past the hut shouting. Another rat was coming after me but it stopped. I hoped it meant that the giant had grabbed his friend.

I heard a screech. I hoped it was the horrible man with the wings and not the rats.

I’d walked for weeks looking for the winged man without seeing him. Lately I’d been seeing him more than once a day. I was getting closer. I would avenge my parents. He collapsed a bridge on them.

I kept on running and stumbling forward. I finally regained my balance and put my sword away. I turned around and looked back. I could see the giant sitting on the ground with the rats climbing over him. I slowed and continued down the path.

The screech came again. I looked for the red plate sized glowing eyes. I spotted them in a dark wood to the side.

“Why can’t you ever be like in a nice warm cabin with a cozy fire?” I was hopeful that the last cut to the wing would slow him down. Maybe after all these years I was finally making progress.

He screeched again. He unfurled the huge wings. Behind him something lit up the space and I got a very good look at his wings. Over the years I’d gotten a few cuts into the rough leathery wings, so maybe it was finally making a difference.

I entered the woods and off to my left a flare of light caught my attention. A flare of fire rising up out of the ground. I stepped away but it burned for a few moments and then died down. I walked over to it and kicked at the ground. It smelled like sulfur. There were no trees or bushes growing around it.

“This is a danger I can handle. I looked around for rocks with moss on them and followed the path of them, avoiding the occasional spurts of fire.” The giant man folded his wings around him.  Usually he unfurled them to take off as I got closer.

“Hey!” I figured I might as well try something different since I was this close now. I stepped around a bare sandy area and watched a rock sink in fast. “Moss good, sand bad. Check.” I kept moving toward the man slowly. “Stick around for a moment and have a chat with me.”

He seemed to be leaning against a tree. He didn’t move away. I didn’t pull my sword out, but I did keep a very close eye on where all the sandy spots were and where the ground was safely mossy. I wasn’t quite close enough to strike but the ground around me was growing and green so I stopped.

“You killed my parents. Tell me why.” I didn’t care why, I just wanted to avenge them. I watched carefully to see what he’d do. If I could get closer I could strike.

He screeched again, then he spoke. His voice was weirdly thin and reedy, it seemed like it would blow away. It didn’t fit at all with his giant size. “I don’t kill anyone or hurt anyone. I warn. Why do you chase danger?”

I frowned. “I don’t chase danger, I’m chasing you. You collapsed the bridge on my parents. Do you even remember killing them?” I struggled to remember watching the bridge that fell. My parents were in a boat below the bridge and the boat was destroyed, they weren’t able to swim out with all the debris falling around them.

“I remember. You started chasing danger that day. The only thing you’ve gotten better at is finding trouble. I didn’t do anything to them. The bridge was collapsing, I was trying to warn people away.” He unfurled his wings.

This was my last moment. I had to make a difference now. I saw the five steps that it would take to close the distance to him. I pulled out my sword and closed four of them. His wings drooped, he didn’t take off.

I closed the final step and stabbed at his torso. I was going to avenge them. The sword went in more smoothly than I expected.

He didn’t move away. He didn’t scream. He didn’t pull back. He sighed. “I told you, I warn. I’m not here to hurt you. I didn’t hurt them.”

I frowned and pulled the sword out and swung again. This time slicing at his wing. I could feel the sword as it cut through, but nothing on the wing changed. It was like I hadn’t done anything.

He sighed again. I swung over and over. At his neck, I even tried to stab at his weird giant plate eyes. Nothing mattered. “Do you feel any better?”

“Not really.” I jerked and tugged to get the sword out of the tree behind him. He just kept standing there, looking bored.

“Sometimes bad things happen. I’m there to warn people away from bad things. If you don’t take the warning I can’t help you.” He flexed his wings a bit, the edges looked exactly the same amount of frayed as they always had.

My parents, I couldn’t avenge them. I’d tried for over half my life and I couldn’t even manage to do that. I’d learned to sword fight. I’d become an expert tracker. I’d fought all kinds of crazy things. But I couldn’t fight something that wouldn’t die.

But I could try. I stepped forward and punched him. My fist connected with him, he felt like a man, my hand hurt like I’d punched a man in the jaw. He was totally unfazed. I stepped back, watching the fire spurt up beside him, running right through his wing.

“Well, what do I do now?” I put my sword away and plopped on the ground, away from the sand and sulfur smell. My life had no goal, no meaning, no aim. I hung my head defeated.

“Have you considered becoming a pirate?”


Anthology in the works

I’m currently excited to be working on an anthology with a good friend, Stefan Budansew, from NaNoWriMo. The pieces are Urban Fantasy. It’s a great group of people with different styles. I’m really looking forward to our finished project.
My piece is a short about a woman who helps an abandoned dog, only to find out he’s a lot more. Never quite sure what you’ll find when you take in a dog. Usually love. Sometimes more!

“You kind of look like you bit the head off something. I doubt it was a bat, but I think I’ll call you Ozzy. Unless they have a name for you.” I spoke in a soothing coo, but my words were completely drowned out by his reverberating growl. “It doesn’t look like you have a collar. We’ll get you cleaned up and check for a chip too. Though I’ll bet a cup of coffee you don’t have one.” He licked some of the blood off his fangs.


Looking into the future and seeing magic