Punctuation – #FlashFiction

The second exercise from Ursula K. Le Guin’s Steering the Craft is all about punctuation. Write a paragraph without any punctuation at all. Is it readable? Does the subject matter fit the format? What follows is a short piece of flash fiction that I wrote for this exercise.


The line of people camped out around the electronics store building buzzed with anticipation at five minutes till opening on Black Friday when the clock struck seven am the buzz built into a roar as people packed up their tents and sleeping bags and foldable camp chairs some began to shove and push and shout and trip and fall and bruise and skin knees the click clack of keys in the door could only be heard from inside the store where an army of employees in blue shirts prepared for the onslaught of battle the doors burst open nearly shattering the shatterproof glass blue shirts shoved aside as the stampede flooded into the enormous room trampling over tidy displays knocking over cardboard cutouts advertising aspects of the sale battered blue shirts hunkered down behind counters and cash registers fingers ready to call in the police for backup if necessary chaos reigned a cacophony of yells and shouts customers breaking into fist fights over the last new game cartridge TVs flashing a variety of nature programs and music videos and action-packed movies as customers emptied the store of its contents the riot died down to embers individuals complaining demanding a rain check on the sale price of the item in question management pointing out the advertisement small print while supplies last

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Focus on Sound – #FlashFiction

The other day I was at the library browsing through the non-fiction section on the craft of writing, and I picked up Ursula K. Le Guin’s Steering the Craft. I’m going through the exercises, which has been really fun so far, and I thought I’d share them with you over the coming weeks.

The first exercise is about focusing on sound (onomatopoeia, alliteration, repetition, rhythmic effects, etc., but NOT rhyme or meter). What follows is a short piece of flash fiction that I wrote for this exercise.


The seaweed sits on the beach, strung like a strand of pearls of varying size and imperfect shape. A glowing amber against pale sand, soft and gritty between my toes. A slimy sheen reflects the blinding white sky. Fanned feathers create circling shadows of relief from the sharp glare. The deafening crash and whoosh of waves assaults the sandy shore, leaving uneven trails of salty foam wiggling across the tide line. Damp footprints cast from bare skin lead up and down and in and out of the surf, disappearing, melting away, then forming again, first soft, then more defined. A toe dragged in the sand draws a line, a curve, a face at once playful and knowing. Paw prints dance a swirling samba circumnavigating driftwood, punctuating the damp beach next to trailing vines of kelp. The aftermath of a crashing wave laps cool, salty water over exposed toes and stings the freshly cut skin of my sole.

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Breaking Free (and a general update)

I know, I know. It’s been far too long since I posted anything here. In 2015, I had hand surgery and became asthmatic, both of which slowed me down a bit. I volunteered at three summer writing camps for grade school kids, which was super fun. I made a lot of progress editing my second novel and wrote several short stories and poems. I haven’t written much flash fiction since I stopped posting weekly, but I did write one piece recently, which was a lot of fun, so maybe I’ll get back into it. A few months ago, I took my first novel and started re-writing it, removing one of two POV characters entirely from the story (about 45% of the content) and switching from third person past tense to first person present tense. I’m only a few chapters in, but it’s interesting and fun so far, so I’m going to stick with it and see what happens.

The real reason I’m writing is that the latest anthology from Scripting Change, Breaking Free, is now available!

It includes a poem of mine.

Proceeds from the anthology will benefit Reach, an organization based in Massachusetts which supports domestic violence victims of all backgrounds and ages, while also increasing awareness in local communities.

The digital collection is available through:

The Scripting Change store
Smashwords (set your own price!)
Amazon in the US
Amazon in the UK
Amazon in Canada
Barnes and Noble

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#BestReads2014

Here is a list of my favorite first-time reads in 2014, in no particular order:

A Working Theory of LoveA Working Theory of Love by Scott Hutchins

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ve never read a book like this before. What do I mean by that? Well, for one, this book is honest about the messiness of relationships, and all of the questions and self-doubt that occurs for most of us. Hutchins sprinkles hilarity throughout to lighten the seriousness of Neill’s journey through relationships. I laughed, hard. I shed a few tears. Many times, I came across a sentence or paragraph that caused me to stop and think for a while. This is the type of book that causes the reader to drift off into self-reflection.

I imagine the book particularly resonated with me because of the setting. I worked as an engineer in Silicon Valley for eight years. I also lost my father suddenly two years ago, and appreciated Hutchins’ exploration of Neill’s relationship with his father. The use of an AI to explore how relationships change over time is nothing short of brilliant.

I think that in order to fully appreciate this book, the reader has to have lived and loved for a while, and/or lost a parent.

I want to read more books like this, so if you know of any, tell me.

I noted some of the passages that had particular impact on me as I was reading. The one below didn’t fit in the update box.

“When you spend significant amounts of time with someone they offer constant feedback, becoming part of the patterning of your brain. In other words, part of you. But I take your point–constant feedback is not always deep feedback. A good measure of how much of you they’ve become is your level of distress when they’re gone. If they form a large part of your patterning, then you’ll experience a major culling of the self. That’s what’s known as grief.” –Henry Livorno, speaking to the protagonist, Neill.

Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That HappenedHyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened by Allie Brosh

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love how honest Brosh is. The dog chapters are hilarious. The chapters on depression and self-image combine ugly, raw truths with really funny pictures, softening the blow. I felt contemplative while reading this book. I would highly recommend it to anyone, particularly if you have dogs.

Words of Radiance (The Stormlight Archive, #2)Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I LOVED this book. The Way of Kings set my expectations high. WORDS OF RADIANCE did not disappoint. I very much look forward to the rest of the series. I love the characters, the worldbuilding, the plot, everything. Read this series. Read it now.

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the CrematorySmoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Hilarious and thought-provoking, with excellent job details. I read this because I’m considering a mortician character, and I got more out of it than I could have ever hoped for. A real eye-opener into the current state of the death industry. The author is witty and thoughtful, and her background in medieval studies enhances her narrative.

I book I recommend to anyone and everyone.

The Drowning GirlThe Drowning Girl by Caitlín R. Kiernan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is unlike anything I have ever read before. It could be the most fascinating book I’ve ever read. You should give it a try.

Reading it, for me, is an exercise in self-exploration, to a degree. The book is written as a memoir, in the style of a journal, almost, by a schizophrenic character who is exploring herself, searching for the truth, and the facts, exorcising the ghosts of her past. It is thoroughly inspiring. I’m not sure how, exactly, yet, but I just know that it is–to me as an author, and also, I think, to me as a person. It references a bunch of different mythologies that I find very interesting, some I already knew about and some new to me. I find it particularly interesting because I’m interested in writing urban fantasy that incorporates different mythologies.

Deathless (Deathless, #1)Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is excellent. If you like historical fantasy, and you like the real, gritty fairytales, you will love this book.

If that’s not enough, here are my status updates:

A quote from Baba Yaga: “Better married than rendered into girl-broth and maiden-cutlets.” 🙂

Baba Yaga is one of the most awesome characters I’ve ever read. “The littlest fly on a lump of goat shit interests me more than what you want.”

The Slow Regard of Silent ThingsThe Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

There is a wonderful, touching innocence to Auri’s childlike whimsy. Rothfuss’s diction is impeccable, Auri’s voice crystal clear, a poetic rhythm to his writing; a beautiful thing. The painful darkness that surrounds her is heartrending. The joy she finds in little things is magical; the distress she finds in them is gut wrenching. An unobtrusive, bright intelligence shines through her simple facade.

I should note: don’t read this until you’ve read the first two books in the Kingkiller Chronicles. And don’t read it if you aren’t intrigued by Auri’s character. If you’ve read the other books, and Auri has stolen a piece of your heart, you’ll love this slice of her life story.

View all my reviews

Cindy Vaskova is hosting a list of #BestReads2014 over on her blog. Check out what books other people loved last year! What were some of your favorites?

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Beyond the Words, a Scripting Change project

Hello faithful readers!

I’m happy to announce that I have a piece in the new Scripting Change anthology, Beyond the Words. Check it out!

Scripting Change Cover Reveal & Release-day Blast

The community writing project, Scripting Change, is incredibly excited to announce the release of their second anthology: Beyond the Words!

Absolutely every piece of this e-book, from the coordination, to the contents, to the beautiful cover art, was volunteered, and 100% of proceeds will be donated to nonprofit organizations championing literacy in their communities.  Read on to find out why!
About the Project:
Scripting Change is a writing initiative that aims to bring together the vast community of writers and readers in support of responsible nonprofit organizations.
The project accepts submissions from writers, relating to a theme that reflects an important cause.  The selected pieces are combined in an anthology which is published as an e-book, in this case: Beyond the Words.  Proceeds from this and every Scripting Change e-books’ sales are donated to the matched organization that champions each e-book’s cause.
By focusing on the compelling words of writers, Scripting Change is able to raise not only funds but also awareness for the causes of the organizations they support.  The time and talents of everyone involved are offered freely, so the project has absolutely no overhead costs, which means every dollar raised is donated to positively impact our society!
About the Nonprofits:
It is impossible to overstate the importance of literacy, yet so many struggle with this crucial skill. So, Scripting Change has decided to donate proceeds from Beyond the Words to not one, but three nonprofits throughout the United States, all of which foster literacy in their communities.

Read for Literacy

    , in Northwestern Ohio, provides learning opportunities for readers of all ages and backgrounds, with three tailored programs: Creating Young Readers, for children in kindergarten through 2nd grade; Adult Basic Education; and English Language Learners, for non-native English speakers.

Literacy Action

    , in Atlanta, Georgia, offers an incredibly wide array of literacy programs for adults — from literal reading assistance, to workplace literacy, family literacy & education, and much more, this organization provides its community with crucial support, enhancing so many lives!

Page Ahead

    , in Seattle, Washington, focuses its literacy efforts on children, allowing elementary-school children to browse book fairs at the end of the school year & choose their own books for the summer — which are then provided to them by Page Ahead! They bolster this program by also working with parents, helping them engage their young readers.
Now it’s your turn!
Scripting Change depends entirely upon the support of the community as a whole.  The writers, and our cover designer, have done their part; the coordinators have brought it all together; the bloggers have graciously helped us spread the word – now it’s up to the readers.  We hope you will enjoy the anthology!

Beyond the Words is available through:

Smashwords ~*~ Amazon: USUK ~*~ Barnes & Noble

Learn more about this project at: ScriptingChange.blogspot.com
Find them on Facebook or on Twitter: @ScriptingChange

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Addicted – #Poetry

I’m addicted
No matter how many times
I try to walk away
I always find myself crawling
back to you

I close my eyes and dream
About the way you smell
The intoxicating aroma
drives every other thought
from my head
About the taste of you
on my lips
hot and wet
bitter and sweet

I need you

I need to
Breathe in your scent
Lick the taste of you
from my lips

I can’t go on without you
I can’t get through the day

You’re my one
my only addiction
coffee

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Did you know what this poem was about before the last line?

My first impulse is to apologize for not posting in almost a month, but I’m not sorry. I’ve been focused on finishing a draft of the novel I’m working on, and I think I’ll be done in a few days, so I’m excited and happy about that. I should write my 80,000th word today. I do miss writing flash fiction and poetry regularly, but it’s been worth it to concentrate on my novel.

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First Page – Are You Hooked?

Miss Snark’s First Victim, Authoress, is currently hosting a first page critique for adult novels.

You can read the first page of my novel here and provide (much appreciated) feedback! Let me know if you’re hooked! Take a look at some of the other entries while you’re there!

Guidelines for critique can be found here.

Thank you for commenting!

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MCWC – The Mendocino Coast Writers Conference

I just got back from a fantastic trip to the Mendocino Coast Writers Conference in Fort Bragg (California). I participated in the novel workshop and received some wonderful feedback on the beginning of the novel I’m working on. I was inspired to really buckle down and get this novel ready to submit.

On Friday afternoon, I read a five-minute excerpt from a dystopic, science fiction short story that won first place in the conference participants short fiction contest. It was inspired by this piece of flash fiction I wrote last November, which is the way the story begins.

Marion (who writes awesome fantasy) summed up all the contest winners here.

If I met you at the conference and you’re reading this, thank you for stopping by! Please browse around and let me know what you think.

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Slow Jazz – #FridayFlash

Nina Simone’s deep, bluesy voice caressed the speakers. I trailed a finger across my collarbone and my hips moved of their own accord, a gentle rocking side to side. My foot left the floor, knee bending. My arch followed the curve of my calf, then my leg straightened to the side. My hands outlined my silhouette and stretched above my head. My wrists bent and my fingers swirled through the air like smoke. I bent forward and my shoulders danced.

My sultry gaze met yours—you, who watched my every move. A slow ecstasy bloomed on your face as my tongue tasted my lower lip. You started to stand, but I waggled my finger at you and you relaxed into your chair with a grin.

I raised my left eyebrow as Nina said “I want some sugar in my bowl.” You downed your scotch and I turned around. My toe slid across the floor as my shoulder dipped. I leisurely slinked toward the door. My palm slid up the doorframe, and I glanced over my shoulder, beckoning you with a nod.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
A remix of a Nina Simone song came on to the Pandora station I was listening to, and that combined with watching Leslie Caron dance in “Daddy Long Legs” last night inspired this flash fiction piece (I know it’s not Friday, but I’m still calling it #FridayFlash).

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Fiction – #Poetry

A seed of truth
watered by imagination
fertilized by lies
illuminated by language
grows into fiction

Creative yet authentic
with characters flawed and full
of real emotion

Settings fantastical yet believable
dialogue natural yet dramatic
a story of challenges and growth
flowers to life

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Ominous Whimsy