So my favorite time of year is officially here! Sweet Autumn. I love everything about fall; from the rain to the leaves to the thermal socks and the flannel shirts and the scarves and hoodies and boots and cider and cocoa and did I mention the rain? But Autumn isn’t just aesthetic for me – it’s also when my wedding anniversary is, and my husband’s birthday. And, almost best of all, NaNoWriMo.

This year, I’ll be working on #MoEm for the second NaNo in a row. I expect I’ll need to do some heavy re-writes, and it’s been ages since I’ve dipped my metaphorical toes into this story so who knows what could change, but I’m so excited. #WBMAM is nearing the conclusion of the first book (20-ish scenes left!) and I’m hoping to be done by the end of October. Luckily, because I’ve missed most of #Preptober, #MoEm won’t need much planning.

One of my favorite parts of NaNo nowadays is getting to make a cover. So, here you go!

Mother Empress Canva Cover 001 JPEG edited slightly.jpg


Movies to Watch for Steampunk and/or Dystopian Genres

In one of the writing groups I am in on Facebook, someone asked for recommendations in these genres. I ended up with a pretty big list, and I realized it might be useful one day. So, in the spirit of sharing, here it is. It’s a combined list for both genres, because many of them overlap. (I did, however, begin with Steampunk, so those specifically may be more toward the top of the list, if that helps.)


Treasure Planet

Mutant Chronicles

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

A Series of Unfortunate Events

League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

Journey to the Center of the Earth



the Zero Theorem



Howl’s Moving Castle

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea



Repo Man


Southland Tales


Enders Game

Fist of the North Star



Ghost in the Shell




the Lobster

They Live





2001: A Space Odyssey

A Boy and his Dog

the Road

the Maze Runner

Sin City


A Scanner Darkly



Soylent Green

Æon Flux


Mad Max (Fury Road is my fave)

V for Vendetta

Clockwork Orange

Minority Report


the Fifth Element

Planet of the Apes

the Book of Eli

District 9



Dark City

I, Robot

the Hunger Games

Starship Troopers

the Running Man

the Island




Repo Man


Southland Tales


Enders Game

Fist of the North Star



Ghost in the Shell




the Lobster

They Live

September Update

This is going to be a short update, but it’s a pretty big one! I have fewer than 3 scenes left until the end of this draft for #WBMAM! Of course, once they’re done, I’ll have to go back and add in a few sections that couldn’t be written at the time (*cough* or that I didn’t want to write… *cough*) but STILL. This draft has been 10 years in production. It’s about time I finally get to the end!

And last night, I hit the 111,111 word mark. 🙂


September Update

Sometimes I frustrate myself. I have had a few days totally free and I’ve gotten remarkably little done. I have the desire, even the itch, but… I can’t manage to get anything out. At least, nothing that moves things farther along. I’ve got tons of notes, but I am so close to finishing this draft and I find myself almost… frozen when I open the doc. I’d call it writer’s block, I suppose, but I don’t really like that. I believe in it to a degree, but it’s often an excuse.

I am putting effort forth. I’m re-reading, I’m plotting, I’m world building, I’m seeking inspiration, I’m doing the legwork. And still, the last few days it’s been almost useless. I’m even considering (and attempting to) work on other projects but I’m literally bored with all of them just looking at them.

I need a change in something. I guess I should figure out what.


It’s been a heck of a ride so far, this 365 Challenge. I mean, I suppose when I started I knew it would be, but looking back on it is a little amazing. It’s been eight solid months and there are only four left – and here’s the really wild part: I’m already thinking about next year. I’m already looking forward to it. I’m already excited about what this year has produced and how staggeringly close I am to finishing a very important draft. I have been working on #WBMAM for a decade. As we start the ninth month of this year, I am 100k into a brand new, actually cohesive, draft of a book I have spent so, so much time pouring myself into.

I think if you’d asked me two years ago where I’d be with this particular project, I’d have laughed and shrugged. By then, I’d tried three or four times to work on the damned thing. Each time got a hard plot re-tooling. Each time, I felt more like I was fighting the natural tide of the story.

Finally, finally, I have something that feels like it’s going in the right direction. Like it’s managed to find its true north. It’s very exciting for me. I’ve begun working up a Revisions Notebook. It’s sort of a bullet journal. I’m hoping that, designed properly, it will be a very helpful tool for Edits, and then subsequent drafts. (I’m also excited for those – like, is that weird? I’m not even done yet and I’m excited to rewrite it again.) I’m hoping I designed it well enough that it will last me through until the final draft. I think if anything, I’ll have to get an additional notebook for beta notes, but that was going to happen anyway as that would be hard to cram into one notebook that didn’t end up weighing roughly a ton.

I don’t have much else to really report, otherwise. I’ve written a few random poems. I’ve kept my writing goals for most every day, and the few I’ve missed didn’t matter much. Most of my writing days are 2k+ lately, so that’s awesome. I’m hoping it’s because I’ve hit a solid stride and rhythm and have established the habit well enough.

With the life changes going on, though, we’ll see if I can keep it up.

Regardless, my goal of 365k is within reach, I think. I might even get to 500k. If I keep this up.

A Review: Master Lists for Writers

Recently I came into possession of a book that has proved itself to be one of the most useful books on any of my shelves. I’m here today to tell you about it.

I have been putting Master Lists for Writers through its paces since I got it and it has not failed me yet. Every time I flip to a section, I’m amazed at the effort and meticulous attention that was put into compiling it. Bryn has done us all an enormous favor by gathering all of this into one book, and I think you’ll agree.

Bryn Donovan has crafted a spectacularly helpful collection of plot ideas, names, character traits and backstory ideas, and even tips on “showing not telling” – in addition to specialized thesauruses for descriptions, expressions, gestures, and most anything else you could need!

Every time I sit down to write, I make sure this book is close by. Have you lost time searching Google for some plot twists you could throw at your characters? Spent fruitless hours trying to think of other ways to describe the way a character shows animosity? Poured over a hundred webpages with “unique names” that all sound the same? Tried a dozen different gestures to show frustration? Wondered how to add more humor to your dialog? All of those searches, the scouring of the internet for the benefit of a single line, can be a thing of the past.

With this book, you could flip through the pages at random and would probably wind up with a fresh story idea. Find new and more unique ways to have readers connect to your characters by giving them qualities that often get overlooked in search of more mainstream tropes. Inject fresh conflict and description into your work and see how much more excited and productive you can be without losing yourself down the rabbit hole of name generators and story prompts that all feel flat. This book is a magic trick up your sleeve when you’re staring writers block in the face. It’s a flashlight in the darkness of your uncooperative imagination.

As for reference books, I can’t say I’ve ever had a better one. If I could afford to, I’d send a copy of this book to every writer I know.

5 out of 5 stars. 10/10 would recommend.

A short fiction piece based on a prompt

I wrote this tonight on a whim, as a response to a little prompt in the writing group I manage. The prompt is the quote that is used as the final line in the story. This is a completely raw piece; it hasn’t even been re-read, let alone even a cursory edit. Forgive any errors.


Quin didn’t have a good reason to be outside in the middle of the night, at least, not if he tried to explain it to his mother. She’d ground him and take away his laptop and his cell phone and would refuse to give him the wifi password because she’d long ago learned about live gaming. Briefly, he thought about how much he still wanted to punch Kyle in the face for ratting him out, but he remembered that his brother was serving time in lockdown back at the house and smirked.

The woods were quiet except for the random hooting of hunting owls and the skittering noises underfoot as their prey fled. The moon was high but through the canopy of leaves he couldn’t tell. Here or there a few stars peered down, but Quin didn’t bother looking up.

Deep in the woods, at the place where he had assembled all the stolen wooden planks and nails he could from his father’s tool shed, he climbed the ragged knot ladder into his treehouse. He had to shoo away a few squirrels but otherwise, the dirty hideout was as he’d left it. Adding in a bird’s nest in one of the corners. He left the birds alone.

He turned on his kerosene lamp and sat on the lumpy cushion from his mother’s old couch. From his pack he withdrew a few items he’d recently pilfered – a pocket knife from his father’s junk drawer, a few stray wooden matches with red tips, and a fistful of his mother’s favorite chocolates. He ate some of them while he tried to flip the pocket knife around between the fingers of one hand.

When Quin knicked himself for the first time on the knife, he paused, quietly observing how painless it was at first. A droplet of blood welled, bubbled up from the slit in his skin, and slid down the tip of his finger to drip onto the floor. At the same moment his blood hit the wood, a terrible sound came from down below. A screech like he had never heard – more closely resembling the pitiful wail of a fawn when its mother had been shot; that had been a sound he thought he would never stop hearing, but he had, a few weeks later. His father didn’t speak of it anymore and never invited him hunting. He stuffed the remaining chocolates into his pocket, worried he would get caught eating them.

Quin crept up to the doorway and inched his face over the opening until he could see down. At the base of the tree was a shape that wriggled, all shadow except for the occasional glint of scales. A pair of wings unfurled from the back and pumped at the air a few times. They did not appear to be of much use yet.

The creature let out another cry. Quin, curious now, checked the area as far as he could see but found no sign of a parent creature. Careful to be quiet, he slipped over the edge of the doorway and dropped himself down a few notches on his rope ladder. The baby creature looked up at him and he froze. For an instant, the two stared at each other. Quin was amazed at what he was seeing, it was like nothing he had ever seen. Not even movies could compare.

The eyes of the creature were milk white and shimmery – they reminded him of his mother’s pearls. Everything else about it was cast in darkness, the shadow of the night too thick to make out any other colors. The creature cried again, louder this time, seeming to be talking to him.

“What is it?” He whispered, unsure of whether or not he thought it would answer him.

It screamed a reply and he slid down a few more knots. The creature scratched its paws at the base of the tree excitedly and made another noise – less alarming, but still too loud. Quin dropped the rest of the way down and brushed off his hands on his shirt. The creature wagged its tail so hard that its entire body seemed to vibrate.

Quin held his breath. He could not believe his own eyes – the creature in front of him, no taller than his kneecap, was a dragon. Unmistakably so. Its thick, bulbous snout and its useless little leather wings were proof enough. All at once, it rammed into him with its huge snout and made the second noise again. It nibbled at his pant leg, near the pocket where he’d stuffed his chocolates.

Tentatively, Quin drew one out and flicked it up into the air. He certainly didn’t want the thing to take his hand off. The dragon jumped up and snatched it right out of the air with a tiny puff of smoke as it snapped its jaws closed. Quin laughed, delighted. The dragon was happy too, he could tell by the swishing of its whole lower body.

Excitement took over. Quin could not wait to get it back to the house, to show Kyle. Immediately, he began making gentle noises to coax it along with him. He walked backwards out of the woods, tripping only two or three times, as he lead it. It followed him, keeping pace and swishing its tail. When it got distracted, he would pull out another chocolate and so it would follow him another few minutes with renewed focus.

At the house, Kyle did not want to be woken up. It was difficult to get him to listen beyond telling Quin to “shut up and go back to bed.” He did not believe that there was a dragon in the backyard, so Quin brought the dragon into the house. The creature loped around the living room, sniffing and bumping into things. The clatter annoyed Kyle enough that he came storming downstairs, his nostrils flairing. “Damn it, Quin, shut up. You’ll get us both in trouble if you wake Mom or Dad.”

Kyle came around the corner into the living room and stopped mid-stride. His eyes went round. “Quin what is going on?”

“I told you! I found a dragon! He likes chocolate.”

The dragon, moving around the room without interruption, had found the small, golden box of chocolates their mother kept on the coffee table. Neither stopped it from chomping on it, though it did not seem to have teeth enough to break through.

“A dragon. You found a dragon.” Kyle’s eyes had not gone back to normal yet. He was amazed. Even more amazed than Quin had expected him to be.

“I’m going to train it,” Quin said. “I’ll teach it tricks and we can sell tickets.”

“Quin, you’re a kid. You can’t train a dragon.” Kyle was dismissive. Quin hated being told he was just a kid. Kyle went on, “Where the heck did you even find the thing?”

Quin scowled. “I found it in the woods, and I’m ten years old! I’m not a kid!”

The dragon hiccuped and a whooshing sound filled the room. A tendril of flame licked out from the tiny dragon and touched the couch. The fire caught instantly, spreading across the couch faster than Kyle could yell out a few curse words.

“You’re going to wake Mom and Dad! Stop cursing!”

Kyle shot him an angry look, his eyebrows knitted together so he could narrow his eyes at Quin. “I think they’ll notice the smoke detector, Quin.”

Kyle had been right, of course. Their parents had come barreling down the staircase only a minute later. They did not like seeing a dragon in their living room, and did he know how expensive couches were, and how was he going to help them fix the living room – which, they wanted to remind him, he had let a dragon set on fire? They didn’t want to hear any of his ideas on how to train it.

The fliers posted all around town were quite the gossip.

“Found lost magical pet, please collect immediately!”

Belated update

So there’s been some pretty serious avoidance going on related to this blog. I’m not sure if it’s because I just always struggle with keeping blogs or if it’s because I don’t feel like I’m keeping up well enough in this challenge so I don’t want to give updates that aren’t “good enough”. Maybe it’s both.

Regardless, it is what it is and I’m long overdue for an update.

I have just recently passed the 200k mark. I have 165k (minimum) left to write and 5 months to do it. I think it’ll be possible, if I stay focused. If I somehow ratchet up my productivity, the remaining 135k to my unlikely goal of 500k might even be within reach. Might.

I’ve done pretty well the last month plus. I’ve legitimately been busy with working on my novels. It’s pretty much a single focus right now, on #WBMAM, with only minor work being done on anything else. I do feel like I’m making great progress, though, and the world building that is happening is exciting and inspiring. I am very satisfied with this drafting, and I think it’s finally growing into its own overall.

Wildly enough, I’ve even picked up poetry again. Not a lot, and not daily, but once in a while now the urge strikes and I’ll jot a few lines down. I’m considering bringing my poetry blog out of retirement (I miss it, and it was only retired because I felt there wasn’t any poetry left for a while). Nothing is decided yet, but I am thinking it over.

I don’t really have too much more to say, I don’t think. Excerpts are on hold until I’ve got enough varied work to draw fresh scenes from without ruining any plots.

It’s 4AM now so I suppose I ought to get off this computer and head to bed.

Night, all.


mini update

This week wasn’t too bad overall for me. I managed to get myself a little more on track for my goals and get myself organized. I’ve started doing weekly “tracking” pages so I can make my to-do lists for projects and keep track of what I do and when and how much I get done, etc. It’s helping a lot to see my progress. I’ve been doing a lot of world building instead of chapter writing and it’s been bothering me, but I know myself and I obviously need to be working this stuff out before I get much else done. It’s my way, but sometimes I feel like I’m failing (even though the words still count? I don’t get it either). Last night alone I managed 2k in world building notes and even got a few hundred fresh words toward a scene! So that’s something.

Monthly Update

May wasn’t an especially productive month, admittedly.  As evidenced by the radio silence I’ve had here for so long.

I spent a good chunk of time saving all my work off a site where I’d spent a few years participating in a number of collaborative works and independent projects.  Over 1000 posts.  It was sad to say goodbye to a place that had helped to define me and the way I write.  As I spent hours (and hours, and hours) going through all of this, I really began to miss the collaborative nature of things.  Whether I realized it or not, it was a huge help to have others to be accountable to.  If I went too long without writing a chapter, I’d feel guilty.  It kept me motivated.  Not to mention the wealth of experience I got from working with others and learning how to develop an idea with so many other minds.

Aside from that, I have been doing a lot more world building than actual chapter writing, but that’s the nature of things sometimes.  My notes are inching up on 39k already for the year.

I have to keep reminding myself that it’s not a race.  I can catch up on my words, and I’m not even *that* behind.  I hate being behind at all, though.