2017- The year of Writing Dangerously.

ghostintheparkkindlecoverGhost in the Park has been released and is available for purchase through Amazon and Kindle.  Click here for more info

Ghost at the College, book 2 of the Unruly Ghost series, has also been published and can be found here.

2017- The year of Writing Dangerously.  I took the jump and decided to go all in as an indie author. Before the year is out, I plan to have six- eight books released.  I have six published, one almost done, and plans for the eighth.

Big plans ahead.  My first six novels are available on Amazon and Kindle.  All my books are in Kindle Unlimited.

Just click the tab above that says “My Books” for links and information.

My newsletter has a free short story for signing up.  Haunting Bryce is a story from the world of Ghost in the Park. Click here to get a free copy of Haunting Bryce.

Comments are always welcome, but please note that comments are moderated.  I have an entire herd of bogus folks making spam comments, so I prefer to screen and delete before these comments get to the page. Thanks!

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Big Fun Dystopian Giveaway

Love Hunger Games, Zombie Apocalypse, Mad Max, and other tales of our post apocalyptic anti-utopian world?  Have I got a deal for you.

My Dystopian novella, Winter, is in a great big giveaway!  The Sci-Fi/ Dystopian giveaway goes from now until the 25th.  There’s a great group of books and novellas in this promotion, so if you enjoy a good end of the world as we know it tale, this is the giveaway for you.

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Just click the pic!

About Winter:

Traveling through the bleak world after the explosions that caused the sudden decline of civilization in North America, Charlie must find the supplies that she and her family need to survive.  In a world where nothing grows, and every other human she meets is a possible danger, Charlie’s once normal life has become one of monotony and caution.  Though the people in the city are a threat, Charlie’s own ignorance of what has happened to the world frightens her far more.  With that in mind, Charlie undertakes a dangerous journey to acquire the books she needs to learn what has happened to America, and what she can expect from the future.

Winter promo

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Superheroes for sale- Cheap!

Superheroes for sale- Cheap!

There’s an awesome book promotion going on now through the 15th.  Superhero books are on sale for $.99, including my own Nick of Time.  DN Promotions is heading up this super sale, and David always does a good job.  DavidNethBooks.com/Promo

Stop buy and get your own superhero today!

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Nick has to save people. Every. Damn. Day.
Nick Callaghan’s life has become an exhausting series of strange coincidences. Wherever he goes, Nick finds himself in a position to help others when they need it most. From foiling an armed stalker to grabbing a child in a broken roller-coaster car, Nick’s life is constant chaos. He has no idea what sort of force could have turned him into the world’s guardian angel, but he wants it to stop. There’s only one person who knows what Irish legend he’s fallen afoul of, but Grandmother isn’t talking.

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Because it’s MY Blog, That’s Why.

I moderate all the comments on my blog.  I have a small herd of spammers trying, time after time, to comment about my improving my SEO by giving them money, etc.  Spam has no place on my blog, comments from people do.  Since I began this blog, back in 2012, I have never screened comments for content.

Until today.

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Until today it was all sunshine and sunflowers.

I’ve had comments from folks who didn’t agree with me on some point or another.  I’ve had comments from people who didn’t seem to like me too much.  I’ve had comments from people who didn’t like my writing style.

I approved them all.

I write a blog and I often discuss my opinion of something.  I don’t expect everyone to agree.  I have a conversational tone than sometimes gets a bit snarky and humorous.  I don’t expect everyone to dig that.  I’m a chainsaw-owning, opinionated woman, I don’t expect everyone to like me.

And that’s okay.  Rock on.  I love every single one of you.

But today, I had a comment that went quickly from someone who disagrees with me on an issue to someone that thinks one subset of human beings is inherently superior to another subset of human beings.  They actually used the word “superior.”  Out of habit, I almost approved the comment and responded to it. Then I stopped myself, thought for a moment, and put it straight in the trash.

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Baby swallows judge you, superior dude.  They do not approve.

If you want to spout your “My people are superior to all the other people” nonsense, you can get right the fuck off of my blog, you judgmental twat.

I will post all sorts of comments on my blog, but I am not going to post any sort of hate speech, whether it’s blatant or thinly veiled.  I’m not certain why this person thought I would post that comment.  I am not a member of the “superior” human group this person was going on about.  Even if I was, I would never buy what this twat was selling.  I know all sorts of people who are in that group and the vast majority are not douches.

I love all the peoples, in all their beautiful diversity.  This God fellow, he must love variety, he made so many different kinds of us.

Twatface also seemed like they hadn’t even read the post they were commenting on.  They missed the entire point.  I’m not surprised.

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Billy also judges you, douche-canoe.  He finds you wanting.

So, there you have it.  I used to never screen actual non-spammy comments.  Now, I almost never do.  Comment away, gentle readers!  Unless you post some crap about one group of people being all better than everyone else, I will probably approve your comment.

But if any trolls want to make free with the hate speech, they can pedal that crap somewhere else.

Because it’s my blog.  That’s why.

 

 

Crucible KS promo

Crucible Station is in the middle of a Kindle Scout campaign. I could really use some nominations. All it takes to nominate is an Amazon account and sixty seconds of your time. It’s easy peasy. All nominators will get a free copy of the e-book whether it is selected by Kindle Press or not. If it is not selected, I will announce the free dates here shortly after I publish it. If it is selected, nominating it will be the only way you can get a free copy.

Click here to see Crucible Station’s Kindle Scout campaign.

 

 

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So you have to write a blurb for your novel.

The blurb.  That tiny bit of writing that stands guard at the gate and decides if people will buy your book or not.  I’m in a small herd of writing groups and folks are always asking for help with their blurbs.  It’s understandable.  First, a writer has to have a good cover to get people to click on it and then they have to have an engaging blurb that convinces readers they must read this book.

It’s difficult to write an effective blurb.  That’s exactly why I read so many that are not doing their job.  Do yourself a favor before you write your blurb.  Do some research on what makes a blurb effective and go to the top sellers in your genre and read some examples of good blurbs.

I’m going to start this rodeo by attempting to write the worst blurb ever and then I’ll pick it apart and tell you why it sucks.

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It’s over a hundred years in our future and Earth doesn’t look at all like itself.  The planet has become so polluted that few things will grow and those plants only grow in a few scattered domed enclosures. People either work on various food and energy farms, or they are shoved into giant metropolises the size of America’s former states. The city governors rule everything and if you break the rules you are put to death, which they call recycling.

Marj, her mom Daisy, and her dad Hawk live in a tiny apartment in a skyscraper in the city. Her mom has lost her job and there isn’t enough food to go around. Marj often has to skip meals, but her teacher, Ms. Cherry, is very kind and tries to slip Marj food during lunchtime at school. Eventually, Marj is taken from her family and shipped off to The Home. At The Home, a nasty teacher named Miss Hyacinth is the bane of her existence. If it wasn’t for her friends Crocus and Hosta, and a nice staff member named Mr. Badger, Marj wouldn’t be able to stand it.

A lucky break comes in the form of unrest amongst the wards of The Home. Marj jumps at the chance to abandon ship and sneaks outside as quietly as a mouse. But Miss Hyacinth has an ax to grind and drags Marj back to The Home just as she was about to cowboy up and accept an invitation to The Trials at Crucible Station.

No one is allowed to interfere with an invitation to The Trials. Citizens who pass The Trials get to work on The Project, which is said to be for the benefit of all mankind. Will she pass The Trials and get to work on The Project? Will she fail and be shipped off to work at a farm? Or, even worse, will The Trials end up killing her? You’ll never know unless you read Crucible Station!

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If that was my blurb, no one would ever read my book.

Right. I must say, that is perhaps the worst blurb I’ve ever written in my life. I’ve done it in paragraphs and highlighted a common blurb faux pas in each one, so let’s take them in order.

Paragraph 1-Too much world-building.

The easiest way to lose your potential reader is to bore them to tears with far too much world-building. Yes, if your book is set in a dystopian world, or on a spaceship, or in a rabid wombat habitat, you have to let your readers know. This should not take more than a sentence or two and you get bonus points for combining that bit of world-building with something that tells the reader a little bit about your main character. Sentence after sentence of world-building has no place in a blurb. It’s boring and you will lose your readers.

Paragraph 2-Too many characters.

Oh my goodness, could I have added any more character names to that paragraph? Let’s count them up, shall we? Good golly, there’s eight of them. Even if you don’t shove them all into the same paragraph, too many characters take time away from your main character. Your top job in writing a blurb is to tell your readers why they want to read an entire book about your MC. You absolutely cannot do this if you have an entire cast of characters in your blurb. Each added name actually make’s your blurb less interesting. The meat of your blurb should be about your MC and you could add another character to that, two at most. More than that will confuse and bore your reader.

Also in this paragraph, too many details. A few details are a good thing and can make your blurb more interesting. Too many details will do the opposite. I don’t need to say it’s a tiny apartment, and that it’s in a skyscraper, and that it’s in the city. You wouldn’t expect a skyscraper to be out in the woods, nor would you think a tiny apartment was a one family dwelling. To be honest, it isn’t important where the family lives at all, that’s just useless and boring information. I also go on and on about Marj not having food when one small mention is enough. Your readers are not stupid, you don’t have to spoon-feed them every detail.

There’s also a cliché that I slipped in there.

Paragraph 3-Too many clichés.

This is my favorite paragraph. I tried to stuff as many clichés into the short paragraph as I could. Clichés give a writer a false sense of excitement where their blurb is concerned. Instead of looking for engaging language that is specific to their book, they jot down an overused cliché thinking that it makes the blurb more exciting and gives the reader more information than it actually does. Clichés do not add excitement, they are old hat for a reason. (See what I did there?) Look through your blurb and kill clichés with fire. Find your own engaging language, which is pertinent to your particular story, and leave the clichés in the trash where they belong.

Paragraph 4-Too many questions.

In a blurb, a single question can be a quite effective means of grabbing the reader’s attention. For each additional question you add, this effect is greatly diminished. Personally, I try to avoid questions in blurbs altogether. I try to keep my blurbs short, engaging, and tight. I can’t do that if I throw questions into the mix. An engaging and interesting blurb will cause the reader to ask their own questions. Once again, you don’t have to spoon-feed them. Let the meat of your story speak for itself.

In addition to having too many questions, this paragraph of the blurb revisits the arena of too much information. The last thing you want to end your blurb with is a load of world-building.

There’s also the dreaded plea for readers, complete with exclamation mark.  No.

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Less is more, except when it comes to sushi.

So, you seem to ask, what should I put in my blurb?

There’s a simple formula of questions a writer should ask themselves when writing a blurb. Keep in mind that the answers to these questions need to be written in a logical order while using language which engages the reader.

Who is the MC?
What does the MC want?
What stands in the MC’s way?
What will happen if the MC fails to get what they want?

These questions are a tried and true method of getting to the meat of your story without a ton of unnecessary and boring details. To illustrate this method, here is the actual blurb I wrote for Crucible Station. Is it the awesomeness blurb ever blurbbed? No, I’m sure it isn’t. But it’s not bad and I have already had some readers say that this blurb makes them want to read the rest of the story. That’s the blurb’s job. The only job a blurb has is to get readers to want to read the rest of the story.


Life in New Liberty is tough, but it’s the only life Marjoram has ever known. At fourteen, she lives with her parents and wears a breathing mask to survive the polluted city streets on the way to school. Crucible Station offers a better life to any citizen smart enough to receive an invitation, but Marj won’t leave her family. When she is thrown into a detestable government home because her family can’t feed her, Crucible Station is the only way out–if she is clever enough to pass The Trials.


That’s it. Short and sweet. The only characters are Marj and her family. The blurb centers around Marj at all times. We learn a little about the world of Crucible Station by seeing how it affects my main character. Every sentence in this blurb is about Marj. It isn’t about the world, the city, the hardship, or even Crucible Station. It is from the point of view of the main character, but not in first person.

My biggest critique of my own blurb is that the stakes (what does the MC want?) Are a little wishy-washy. The primary stakes are that Marj wants a better life. Her secondary stakes are that she doesn’t want to leave her family, but she has to do so in order to improve her life. It’s difficult to manage a blurb for sci-fi dystopian story in five hundred characters or less so that it can be used for Kindle Scout. Considering that five hundred character limit, I think I did a good job.

In fact, I think this is a great way to get to the meat of your blurb and simplify it. Write your blurb and then cut it down so that it is five hundred characters or less. It is a very effective way to discover what is actually important in your blurb. Once it’s cut, you can carefully add back anything that you feel truly adds interest and clarity.

Crucible KS promo

Speaking of Kindle Scout

Crucible Station is in the middle of a Kindle Scout campaign. I could really use some nominations. All it takes to nominate is an Amazon account and sixty seconds of your time. It’s easy peasy. All nominators will get a free copy of the e-book whether it is selected by Kindle Press or not. If it is not selected, I will announce the free dates here shortly after I publish it. If it is selected, nominating it will be the only way you can get a free copy.

Click here to see Crucible Station’s Kindle Scout campaign.

Posted in Crucible Station, Fiction, Self Publishing, writing, Writing Advice | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Guest Blogger- Author Lincoln Cole

Today’s Blog is by awesome guest blogger, Lincoln Cole.  I met Lincoln through my involvement through the Kindle Scout program and if any of you want to know about Scout, Lincoln is the guy to ask.  His blog and the guide he has written about Scout are full of useful information and stats.  Overall, Lincoln is well on his way to being a successful and very marketing savvy Indie author.

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In addition, Lincoln has written a book I truly enjoyed, Raven’s Peak and has a new release right now that I pre-ordered because I was so excited about it.  The Everett Exorcism is available on Amazon and you can grab a copy right now for $.99.

 

Guest blogger- Lincoln Cole

When I launched the first several books I wrote, basically all I did was hit the publish button and hope for the best. My books weren’t edited as tight as they should have been and I had no marketing strategy or goals. To be honest, they actually did fairly well considering how unprepared I was for all of it, and I learned a lot of lessons since then.

The next stage of my career was actually releasing a book through Amazon’s Kindle Scout program after I won a contract, and that changed things quite a bit. For one thing, it meant my book was exclusive to Amazon and I didn’t have any control over the pricing. It also meant that Amazon would put a lot of work into the marketing, at least early in the process, and as a result, it has done fairly well and sold around ten thousand copies across the series.

But, with my newest book I wanted to try things a little differently. I wanted to take my time, prepare a lot more, and put everything I had learned through my first few book launch attempts to use. I set up landing pages, promotional marketing campaigns, requested reviews from everyone I could find, and more. As of now, I have dozens of new release promotions planned during the launch (a horror book out around Halloween) and about four-hundred people reading advance copies to leave reviews around the launch. It’s my most ambitious launch by a long shot and hopefully it will pay off in results.

If you’re curious about reading my launch plan, you can it here. I’m running it like a Netflix style book launch with book II coming out a week after book I (and right on Halloween) with the pre-orders for all three books linked on the site before it goes live.

If you want to check out The Everett Exorcism and the rest of the World of Shadows series, you can find it here.

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The Top 4 Pitfalls of Running a Newsletter

At first, I was resistant to having an author newsletter.  After talking to some readers who told me of their love of author newsletters, including a friend who subscribes to over twenty of them, I changed my mind.  My newsletter has been live for a few months now and I have to say that I love it.  I love writing it and more than that, I love hearing from readers.

There’s all sorts of articles out there about how to write an effective newsletter, how to set it up, and which service to use.  I’m not going to go into any of that.  This article is specifically to address some of the pitfalls that those who have a newsletter can fall into, or even do on purpose.

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Don’t send multiple newsletters a week.

Nothing frustrates a newsletter subscriber more than getting multiple mailings every week, sometimes several in one day.  I once got on the mailing list of some company that sells flower bulbs. Oh, hell no.  The sheer number of emails I got from that company not only had me hitting the unsubscribe button, it made me vow that for as long as I continue to exist on this big blue marble, I was never, ever, going to order one damn thing from that company.  Ever.  Want to piss your readers off so that they will never read another one of your books?  Send them too many emails.

Do send regular emails.

According to the readers I have spoken to, the sweet spot for how many newsletters you send out is once a week to once every two weeks.  Readers do enjoy hearing from you on a regular basis.  Those writers who only send out an email once a month are going to have subscribers that forget who they are and then stroll down to that unsubscribe button.  Once every week or two, with the very rare extra newsletter about a special or release, is a good rule of thumb.

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I love my small town P O Box!

Don’t set up a virtual P O Box.

To comply with United States anti-spam laws, any company or person that sends out newsletters with commercial content must have a physical mailing address on every newsletter they send.  Writers, for obvious reasons, don’t want to use their actual home address.  Browsing this issue online, you will see a plethora of folks telling you to just use some free service that gives you a virtual snail mail address.  That’s an oxymoron in itself.  A virtual address does not make you compliant with anti-spam laws.  The law is very specific. You need a real snail mail address to comply with the laws.  Those who ignore this law can be prosecuted.

Do get a real physical address.

It’s truly not that hard or that expensive if you are willing to shop around.  My personal research sent me straight to the good old United States Post Office.  If one isn’t too picky about what town one buys a P O Box from, this was by far the cheapest option.  I have relatives in a nearby small town.  Small?  We are talking the tiniest cutest little town ever.  I love that place.  Their post office is only open a couple hours a day.  My P O Box costs about $40 a year.  Far cheaper than in my hometown. I love my small town P O Box!

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Best spam-blocker ever.

Don’t share your subscriber list. Ever.

I keep reading about innocent folks who end up on newsletter lists they never signed up for.  Often, they suddenly find themselves on fifty newsletters they never signed up for.  How did this happen?  Well, it all starts when you share your subscriber list’s emails.  While newsletter swaps (writers sharing other authors’ information in their own newsletter) are common and awesome, the instant you share your subscriber’s email addresses with another writer or even worse, a service, you are breaking privacy laws.   To have a newsletter that is compliant with anti-spam and privacy laws, you must post a privacy policy.  Know what’s in that privacy policy? A statement that you will not share people’s personal information, like their email, for example.  To follow the laws, subscribers have to actually decide to subscribe and people who send the newsletters have to keep private information private.

Do use lawful means to build your newsletter subscriber list.

Use places like Instafreebie to build subscribers.  Use newsletter swaps where another writer puts some information about your newsletter in their own newsletter.  They share your information rather than anyone exchanging private information about your subscribers.  Run from any person or service that asks you to provide the email addresses of your subscribers.  It is absolutely wrong to share your readers’ personal information.  Build your list in compliance with the anti-spam and privacy laws.

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So many ads.

Don’t have nothing but ads in your newsletter.

If your newsletter is nothing but:
Buy my book!
Buy my friends book!
Look at these promos!
Book release!
Advertising, advertising, advertising!

Nothing is going to turn your readers off faster than each newsletter being chock full of nothing but advertisements.

Do have some actual news in your newsletter.

What’s going on in your life?  What are you working on right now? What book have you read lately and what did you think of it?  By all means, tell your subscribers when you have a new release or a sale going on, but don’t let that be all your content is.  Have some news in your newsletter.  Write a short story that’s only for your subscribers, or a short that they get to read before anyone else. I don’t just mean sneak peeks of upcoming books, though that is great on occasion. Give them a real reason to keep opening those emails from you.  Advertising your books and other people’s books should only be part of your content, not the entire shebang.

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I hope this article helps answer some questions you have about newsletters and I hope it helps you steer clear of practices that will put you on the wrong side of the laws protecting readers’ privacy and helping us keep our email boxes from being filled with more spam than they already are.  The true secret to building a subscriber list is having a newsletter people enjoy reading and getting the word out in an upfront way.  That’s all there is too it.

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Ghost at the College is free until Oct. 13th

My newest paranormal mystery, Ghost at the College, is available free on Kindle until Friday the 13th. This is the second book in the Unruly Ghost Mysteries. It contains spoilers for book one, but can be read as a standalone. Speaking of book one, Ghost in the Park is discounted to $.99 for the release.

Abducted kids, a ghost, and Teddy Roosevelt.

Someone is stealing Louisville’s children. The deceptive kidnapper prowls unnoticed, making every park and gathering their hunting grounds. In this sequel to Ghost in the Park, Bryce saves one child from abduction but sees another snatched before his eyes. He’d stop this child stealing spree, but he needs help. Enter Bridget. She might be a ghost, but she will do anything she can to help her missing brother. Together, they will find the culprit, even if they have to recruit every ghost in town.

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Click on the pic to go to Ghost at the College’s Amazon page.

The Unruly Ghost Mysteries follow Bryce Campbell as he helps his police officer friend Chase solve crimes. Bryce is a writer and college professor, but his ability to hear the dead and have occasional flashes of psychic insight help solve the mystery in each book.

This book was a bit of a challenge for me. It’s the 6th novel I’ve written, but the first time I’ve had to write the second book of a series before. It was a new experience to find a way to repeat necessary information from the first book without going overboard. I’ll let the readers decide if I managed the feat with any sort of grace.

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Click here for Ghost in the Park

Also on sale until the 15th, in honor of all things Halloween, Teatime of the Living Dead. Nothing like a romp through downtown Louisville with thousands of zombies chasing you.  Grab a copy for $ .99.

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Click here for Teatime

Posted in Book release, Ebooks, Free Books, reading, writing | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Short Story- The Wolf

It’s almost Halloween, my favorite holiday of them all.  I recently sent out a wolfy short story to my newsletter subscribers and now I will share it with you.  I send out a newsletter once a week, and in every issue I include a story or sneak peek.  If you want to get in on this, there’s a button to the right to sign up for my newsletter.  In addition to free stories, I announce new releases, cover reveals, and when my books are discounted.

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The Wolf

The wolf had good time sense and woke shortly before sunset. Luke had learned to trust the wolf’s instincts. Though he retained much of his human mind during the change, he needed those instincts to move as the wolf’s body required. Giving himself a good shake to rid himself of the last dregs of sleep, Luke padded towards the door, thinking wryly that he would soon have more reason than usual to depend on the instincts of the wolf.

A small group of hunters was on his trail. He’d tried to hide by using a spell he’d purchased from a white witch. Unfortunately, the spell had backfired spectacularly and done nothing more than get Luke stuck in his wolf form. Normally, this wouldn’t be a bother, but he was in the middle of London and the wolf would stick out like a sore thumb. If he wanted to avoid the blasted hunters, he must escape the city and get to the enclave in Scotland. One of the magic folk there would be able to reverse whatever the cheap spell had done, and he’d be hidden from the hunters there as well.

Reaching the front door, Luke struggled with it for some time before giving up on it in disgust. The knob was round and the lock was engaged. No matter how he grasped with his teeth and twisted his head Luke could not budge the blasted thing. His bad luck that he had used that incompetent witch’s spell after he had locked up his shabby little house for the night. The inner wolf wasn’t feeling any better about being trapped than Luke was. Almost before he knew what he was doing, Luke found himself running full tilt at the nearest window and barreling through it mid-leap. Landing in a heap on the porch, Luke took a moment to assess his injuries. The thick pelt of the wolf had protected him from serious injury, but he had scratches on his nose and one ragged but shallow gash down one side. Knowing he could do nothing about his nose, Luke licked at the wound on his side until his saliva stopped the bleeding. Standing, he lifted his nose to scent the wind. It was a completely useless act. All he could smell at the moment was the blood from the scratches on his nose. He hadn’t even begun his journey and he was already handicapped. Until the scratches scabbed over, he would have to try to rely on his sight and hearing alone. To be honest, it would have almost been easier if he’d been blinded. Wolves relied on their powerful sense of smell for most of their information about the world around them.

Well…no use crying over it. I’ll just have to be especially alert until I get out of the city. I’d best try to keep to the less lighted alleys and smaller roads. If no one gets a close look at me, they will simply take me for a scruffy dog.

Luke couldn’t have been more correct. Traveling as fast as was prudent towards the north edge of the city, Luke was occasionally spotted by the odd non-magical person. Some called to him in a friendly fashion while some yelled at him. One old drunk, sitting propped up against an alley wall, threw an empty bottle at his retreating form with enough force to bruise his flank. People were the least of his worries; he was as cautious as he was quick. Even when someone gave chase, Luke quickly outdistanced him and lost him in the shadowy alleys. Soon he ran into a much more difficult adversary.

If his nose had been able to smell more than the blood seeping from his muzzle, Luke might have avoided the dog altogether. A German shepherd, and a stray by the looks of it. It was just Luke’s luck that he ran into a breed that tended to fight much as a wolf did, remaining silent instead of giving itself away by barking a warning like other breeds. Because of the dog’s silence, Luke almost ran into it before a low growl alerted Luke to its presence. Normally any dog, even a shepherd, would leave a wolf alone. Though the animals were related, the wolf was stronger; the ruff of fur around its neck thicker and more protective. The wolf’s jaws were evolved to snap through the legs of deer and elk and had almost three times the bite pressure of the Shepherd. The wolf would be recognized as an alpha predator among most dogs and any with the sense God gave a goat would give him a wide berth. Unfortunately for Luke, he had run directly into the ragged stray’s territory and Luke smelled of blood and injury. The smell excited the dog and made him brave enough to defend his home even from his wilder, stronger cousin.
The dog lunged at Luke even as he became aware of it. Letting the wolf’s instincts take over, Luke leaped cleanly over the dog barreling towards him. Twisting mid-leap, Luke made an immediate counterattack, his sharp incisors raking over the dog’s flank. He was rewarded by a gush of blood and the rich taste of it sent his wolf senses into high gear. Luke may have smelt of injury, but he was still strong and quick. Spinning to face him, the dog paused, weight braced on stiff, slightly splayed forelegs. Its hackles were raised and it growled, deep and loud as it bared its teeth at the wolf. Returning the growl, Luke added just a touch of wild howl to the sound, which seemed to drive the dog to distraction. Hurtling abruptly towards Luke, the dog got a lucky grip on Luke’ throat and bit down savagely. Though his thick fur protected him from the dog’s teeth, Luke was nevertheless in trouble. The vise-like grip was cutting off his air. Throwing himself backward, the wolf rolled, breaking the dog’s hold by pushing hard with all four legs. Landing with a thump on his back, the dog had no time to regain his feet before the faster wolf was upon him.

Growling, Luke clamped his own muzzle over the smaller dog’s throat, holding it firmly against the ground with his greater weight. When Luke bore down on his grip and gave the dog’s throat a small shake—threatening to break its neck—the dog whined in submission. The bloodlust that held the wolf was almost too strong; the temptation to kill the dog who attacked him was great. Using every scrap of his human compassion, Luke, at last, was able to withdraw from the dog. Backing away, he eyed the dog warily as it scrambled to its feet. The dog had endured enough, apparently. As it gained its feet, it gave Luke one distrustful look before it dashed away down the alley.

Making his own dash the other direction, Luke ran for some time before pausing to get his breath. Despite the fact that his breath wheezed through his bruised throat, he wanted to ensure that he was out of the dog’s territory before he paused to rest and take stock of his situation. Seeking out the darkest, most dismal alley he could find, Luke hid amidst a pile of dilapidated garbage cans and assessed his position. The fight with the dog had slowed him down; it was near dawn. He was exhausted, the cut on his side from the window stung, his hip throbbed from the drunk’s thrown bottle, and his abused throat ached with each breath. His best guess was that he still had many kilometers to travel before he reached the outskirts of the city. There was nothing for it.

Knowing that he would never escape the city before dawn, Luke resigned himself to rest where he was throughout the daylight hours until nightfall. No matter how he wished to hurry, he knew that he mustn’t risk traveling in the light of day. London was a huge city and full of odd sights, but the sight of a wolf running down the streets in broad daylight would be too strange to escape notice. The hunters on his trail would have their ears perked for any rumors of a wolf running through the streets of London. With a weary sigh, Luke curled up as best he could on the cold pavement behind the cans and went to sleep.

His ears woke him sometime before sunset. Though the night had not yet arrived, the alley Luke inhabited was already dark, quiet, and abandoned, aside from the scurrying sound which had awakened him. Lifting his head slowly, Luke was pleased that his sense of smell was returning. The wounds on his muzzle had, at last, scabbed over and the smell of blood was far less invading. Pricking his ears at what he now smelled, his stomach gave a low rumble of hunger. Rats were not a wolf’s chosen prey; they preferred larger animals. However, Luke was too smart to let such an easy meal go unmolested. Gods knew that he needed to waste as little of his nights in hunting as possible if he wished to get to the enclave with all speed. Rising slowly to his feet, Luke slunk silently out from amongst the dustbins.

Though wolves preferred larger prey, they knew the mouse pounce as well as their smaller fox cousins did. Spotting his first victim, Luke leaped with his front legs stiff and closely held together. Coming down hard on the rat, both his front paws found their mark and snapped the small creature’s spine. It was a matter of seconds before the first rat was devoured and Luke continued flushing out its fellows. By the time full dark had descended, Luke had a full stomach and was impatient to get moving. His hip was still sore, and the scratch down his side was tight and painful, but his throat was much improved. With his sense of smell more or less intact, Luke traveled out of London with no further difficulty.

The grass felt good under his paws; Luke noted much of his tension lifting as he left the roads to travel across country when he slipped into Hertfordshire. Reminding himself that he must still be wary, Luke had to turn aside often from his north-northwest heading to circle around a multitude of small towns. When the sun rose, Luke secluded himself in a dense thicket to sleep away the daylight. Having pushed himself hard during the night–along with the easy meal of rats—by the time Luke ended the second day of his journey he had made it to the outskirts of Bedfordshire. Pleased by his progress, Luke slid into sleep with hope in his heart.

The setting of the sun found Luke awake and rested but not at ease. His hip and throat were well but the shallow scratch along his side hurt worse than ever. Luke’s nose told him that the seemingly harmless scratch was infected and he spent a good hour licking it clean as best he could. It was frustrating that he might grow dangerously sick from a scratch that he would normally be able to heal with ease. Wishing that things were different would get him nowhere; Luke put the wound out of his mind and resumed his trek.

Bedfordshire made for easy travel. The odd small town was easily avoided and the farmland simple to navigate. Halfway through the night, Luke gave into his rumbling stomach and stealthily approached a farmyard. His journey that night had flushed no prey and he felt the speed of an easy meal outweighed the danger of getting closer to the farm. Soon he spotted just what he hoped to find; a chicken coop lay on the outskirts of the farm buildings. Smelling the traces of a dog on the air, Luke hoped that he could get in and out with his meal before the dog became aware of his presence. For once luck was with him, he never saw hide nor hair of the farm dog and he got into the coop with little trouble. The coop may have been made with the intention of keeping predators out, but the simple latch on the coop door gave Luke no problem at all. In fact, after he had killed two of the dozing hens and carried them outside, Luke carefully re-latched the door of the pen so that the farmers would not have to chase chickens the following day. They may end up a bit puzzled as to how two of their birds had gone missing, but at least they would have no further trouble on his account. Dragging the chickens far from the farm, Luke’s teeth made short work of them before he resumed his journey.

The ache in his side slowed Luke down that night, as did his detour to the chicken coop. When dawn approached and Luke hid in a small copse to await the night, he had barely gotten through Bedfordshire. Nightfall found Luke rising to sore, travel-weary feet and the ache in his side had grown worse. Shocked that he had slept past sunset, he nevertheless spent the time necessary to carefully lick his infected side clean before he started that days trek. After all, speed would not help him should he become too ill to go on. Resting a moment, Luke considered his route.

Blasted scratch! It’s nothing but a blasted scratch! I can’t die from one minor injury, can I? I’d give anything to see the enclave healers right now; they’d have me fixed up in no time. I’ll never see any of them…if I don’t get a move on. But which way now?

Luke knew very well that the enclave lay straight as the crow flies on the north-northwest path he had traveled since leaving London. However, if he headed directly North from his current position he could travel through Lincolnshire. Covered in woods and fens, Lincolnshire would be easy traveling for the wolf and he ought to be able to flush some prey without taking any more risks at farms. It would add length to his journey, and he would have to circle west around York when he got there, but Luke decided in this case the safer route was worth the extra time. Quandary at an end, Luke gave a very human nod of his head and turned due north.

Once again Luke was blessed by an uneventful evening’s travel. Though his side continued to pain him, he was lucky enough to flush a brown hare while trotting through a copse. The hare was large and more than enough to keep a wolf going for another day. Despite the ease of his travel, Luke was shocked to see how much his infected side slowed him down. When he woke on the fifth evening of his journey, Luke could tell the infected scratch was making him ill. Midway through Lincolnshire, he was not yet halfway to the enclave and already his pace was slowing. Knowing that turning back to London would do him no good, Luke determined to make it to the enclave if he had to crawl. As he doggedly walked onward, the nights began to run together in his weary and fevered mind. Many hours he walked forward as if in a trance, only the wolf’s instincts kept him away from human settlements and pointed toward the magical village he sought. It was fifteen days from the start of his trek before Luke entered the southernmost reaches of the forest that surrounded the enclave. Almost to the crawling point, Luke was distressed that he had come so very far yet was lacking the strength to manage the last bit. Lying down on that fifteenth morning, he fell into an exhausted sleep. One more rest and he’d reach the healers in the morning.

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Thoughts and Prayers Aren’t Enough

Thoughts and Prayers Aren’t Enough

Now, don’t get me wrong.  Empathy for others is what changes the world and I believe in the power of both positive thought and prayer.  These are important concepts to a civilization that is trying it’s best to grow and change into something better.  What is disturbing me is the trend in my society that thoughts and prayers being offered up is a solution in and of itself.  There are people on social media who post their thoughts and prayers and think they’re done.  No further action is needed.

Americans in Puerto Rico are dying.  A couple of days ago, nine million children in America lost their health insurance because congress couldn’t be bothered.  Now, fifty-eight folks at a concert in Las Vegas are dead and tons more are injured because of a mentally ill man with a bunch of guns.

Your thoughts and prayers are all very well, but people need actual help.  Offering nothing more than a moment of your mental time is selfish and lazy.  By all means, pray for these people, but then do something.  Call your representatives and ask what is being done about the children who have lost their healthcare. Give ’em hell!  Make a donation to help those devastated by the natural disasters of this hurricane season.  Make a donation to those people struggling with loss and medical care costs in Las Vegas.  Even if all you can afford is five bucks, it adds up.  If every adult in America donated only five buck each, it would raise over a billion dollars.

Now, I’m not trying to shame anyone.  There are folks who can’t even afford five dollars.  I’ve been there.  You work on staying afloat and let the rest of us handle this. I’m talking to the people who can help, but don’t get around to it, or post their thoughts and prayers and think they’ve done their part.  Your thoughts and prayers were great, now stand up and do something.

To donate to Puerto Rico or relief for victims of Irma, Harvey, or Maria:

Direct Relief is a vetted group working to get medicine and health care to those in need.  They need cash donations to do this.  You can find them here:

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United For Puerto Rico is another way to get money directly to those in need.

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To help the victims in the Las Vegas shooting:

Steve Sisolak, chairman of the Clark County Commission, has set up a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds for the victims.

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If you are in the Las Vegas area, please consider donating blood.  That will help as well.

 

To find your representatives and ask what’s going on with CHIP, the program that gave health care to 9 million children, visit this website:

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I’m a struggling writer without a day job.  I’ve donated, have you?

Posted in Helping disaster victims, writing | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

To Write or not to Write the Word Fuck

Fuck is my favorite curse word. I like it because it’s fairly nondenominational. It does not insult anyone’s religion, race, or creed. It’s a word that can be used for everything but doesn’t actually mean much of anything. I say it a lot. If you’ve read my blog before, I used it in my writing at times as well, but not as often as I would like. My writing style is very conversational but there are times when I have to limit it. I don’t like limiting the way I speak or the way I write. It’s a necessity rather than a desire. Curtailing my use of the word fuck makes me feel a little less myself, a little less honest. So, why do I do it?

Because people don’t like it.

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View from the bridge at McCloud Nature Park.  Fucking beautiful day!

I live in America, land of the free as long as you don’t say the word fuck too much. Americans don’t like the fucking word. An American can take the names of various deities in vain and get a slap on the wrist from society but say the word fuck at the wrong time or in the wrong place and you risk outright censure. For the reasons I stated above, it’s a shame. In American society, a curse word that implies something sexual is considered far worse than those which denote violence or negativity towards people’s religious beliefs.

I have a friend from Australia. She says the word fuck quite a lot. It’s her favorite curse word too. One of the hardest things she’s had to learn while being in America is to not say it in front of children. She refuses to curtail her use of it in front of adults, regardless of location or situation. My friend finds it ridiculous that people are offended by such a nonsense word. She does indeed try not to say fuck in front of children, though that is difficult for her because in Australia nobody cares. Around grown-ups, she doesn’t bother. In her opinion, if people judge her harshly for it, they can fuck right off.

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This is the huge fucking rainbow that recently made an appearance over my house.

Picture this: you’re in Chuck E Cheese amidst an entire herd of happily playing children. You hear people say damn, you hear people right and left saying thet’re going to kill someone, and no one bats an eye. Say the word fuck too loudly and you’ll likely be asked to leave the establishment. Because in America, it’s quite alright if you threaten to kill children, but heaven forbid you say the word fuck. That will apparently scar them for life.

I try not to say the word fuck in front of children. I try not cuss in front of them at all. Sometimes I fail. When I do, the conversation goes rather like this:

“Sorry about that,” I say, chagrined.
“Don’t worry about it,” says the child. “It’s not like I haven’t heard that word before.”
“I know, but I’m allowed to say it and you aren’t, so I don’t think it’s fair of me to say it around you.”

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Here is one of the wee children I try not to say “fuck” around.

That’s what I always say because that’s what I believe. I don’t think any word in the English language is going to traumatize a child. Where children are concerned, the only rule I agree with is not saying curse words around children too young to know better than to say it themselves. That will get the child in trouble if it runs around cursing and doesn’t understand why it shouldn’t. I don’t want to get children in trouble. With older kids, I’m more concerned with the unfairness of it. And when I give children that explanation, it makes sense to them, and they accept my apology for using the words they are not yet old enough to get away with. That’s what it’s about really. I don’t think you’ll find a child psychologist in the world who thinks an accidental curse word will ruin a child’s life. Far worse, in my opinion, is the casual way we treat words that denote physical threats. It makes it seem like threatening someone with physical violence is no big deal, but saying a word that sounds sexual is a horrible sin.

As a writer, I wanted to be true to my own voice and my books had the word fuck in them. My romance novel, Descending, still has a few instances of that word. I think if a character is being threatened by a grizzly bear, they have the right to say the word fuck. However, I de-fuckified the rest of my books. While in my heart I wish I could remain true to my love of the word fuck, the truth is that I am an American writer writing for an audience which is comprised mostly of American readers. While I believe very strongly that the word fuck is not the bugaboo that many people think, I decided that I did not want readers to miss out on any of my books because of one tiny word.

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What I said when I saw this in a parking lot, “It’s the fucking Weinermobile!

My work still has cuss words and it, I’m not that dishonest. I write adult fiction for adults. There’s adult situations, occasional violence, and strong language involved. But not the word fuck, that is, unless you read Descending. I never did de-fuckify that one. Perhaps I will when I get the time.

It mystifies me though. We have teen fiction that has graphic violence, sex, and drug use, yet a writer of adult fiction has to make this big decision about whether they’re going to use the word fuck. It seems to me our priorities are bit fucking backward.

If you write fiction for adults, you will have to make this decision too. It is absolutely your right to use any language and any words you wish, but know that your choices will have a real effect on who reads your books and who chooses not to. I dream of an America where people are more concerned with their children hearing about violence and seen it in movies and on the TV then they are worried about their child hearing the word fuck. I think we have a long way to go to get there.

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Don’t forget to nominate Ghost in the College at Kindle Scout!  Everyone who nominates it will get a free copy.

Posted in Habits in writing, Kindle, Kindle Scout, writing, Writing Advice | Tagged , | 8 Comments