Captivate, Inspire…Dream.

Sometimes writing’s hard to do.  At other times, it’s effortless.  But then there are the times when you’re like — Writing, who?

I’m a writer and I confess.  I get writer’s block. <sitting down>

Most of  the time the wordless time periods come from having a lot going on in my personal life.  For instance, the last 3 years has been rather dry.  Why?  I am an older woman who now has a 3-year-old, a son in college and one in his last year of high school.  <Dumb.  I get it.>

That leaves me in a position of parenting up, and down.  Needs have changed.  Diets have morphed.  And my need for sleep has skyrocketed.  <Yeah, uh-huh.>  Then, there’s just the shocks of life, the absence of life via passing to that next realm of which we know little.  That happened late last year to three close family members.  I was devastated.

How do you move forward without negating their existences?  Without “properly” mourning them?  This is what I’ve finally learned — you LIVE.  You continue to do what you know you’re supposed to do.  For me, that’s to write.  To go to my day job.  To have deep conversations with my children.  To play with my daughter.  To wrestle with my budget to make it stretch further.  To be human.

That’s why I’ve stopped the madness and forced myself to look at my ‘inventory.’  My longer works still are in need of editing.  However, my short fiction was in pretty decent shape.  So, The SciFi End of the Supernatural, a collection of science fiction short stories came into being.  It will be available on Jan 30th in print and ebook formats.

This book wouldn’t have been possible without my writing communities #WriteStuff and #StoryDam.  Both groups support me, and listen to me, and I them.  They help me get it that writers are a kooky bunch.  We’re NOT normal, nor were we ever meant to be.  That’s the way it is.

Our job is to translate the madness in our psyches into readily digestible written forms of entertainment so that you can pass the time away when your life becomes overwhelming.  That’s what we do.

What do you do to captivate, inspire and dream?


Day 1: MDC3 Con: Creatures, Crimes & Creativity Conference

Friday, September 30, 2016 — At the Sheraton Columbia Town Center Hotel, Columbia, MD


PANEL: Writing Outside the Box: Crossing Genre Lines to Tell Your Story

Panelists: Dana King (moderator), Bruce Kingsolver and Sandra Webster

Sandra’s salient points:

  • Write for the art of writing, OR write for the business of writing — you cannot do both and do them well
  • She ignores “genres.”  She allows others to put the genre(s) to her books (after the books are written).  Instead (of writing to market), she strives to tell a story that pulls you in, and the story she wants to write.
  • Question from audience: If she sees an opportunity to add a genre trope to the story will she go with it?  Yes, she will if it will not take away from the story.  She will do it, if possible, in order give that particular group of readers what they are expecting.
  • Some people write their endings first and then write the rest of the book

Bruce’s salient points:

  • When you cross genre, you can do anything you want.  But, there are certain tropes you must have, within the book, if you claim that genre.  If you miss a trope of that genre (you claim) it’s unforgivable.
  • He analyzes his work and will decide its genre after reviewing what’s in the book (after it has been written).  If the tropes of a specific genre are not there, or not strong enough, he will refrain from using that genre category in his marketing efforts.
  • Question about where do writers get ideas from.  Ideas are not the problem.  It’s the implementation and the expression of the idea that is the issue.
  • Question about how to keep a story moving throughout the middle.  He remembers a quote but cannot recall who said it, “In the middle, make sure no one has time to sit down.”

Dana’s salient points:

  • He does a simple chart of the book and writes a sentence for each chapter of the book.  Then, when he sits down to write, he knows what has to happen for the chapter — but doe not know how it will all come to pass.  He has to write it to find out.
  • Ideas are everywhere.  We trip over ideas, but which one will we write.  And, more importantly, which idea(s) do we have the expertise to write?

PANEL: Mysterys – Noir, Cozy, Police Procedural, Detective, etc.  What makes them so different?


Panelists: Allan Ansorge (moderator), Dana King, Donna Andrews and Millie Mack

Donna’s salient points:

  • In complete battle with the term “cozy”; her books do not contain recipes, nor tips on a craft.  She feels that a sub-genre has colored the entire term and therefore, many expect organizational tips, recipes, and step-by-step how-to’s within a book in the genre “cozy”.  She feels this expectation should not be the case.
  • Any subject can be used (within a story/genre) if you handle it properly.  She had pornography in her first cozy book but she did not tell the reader about the images seen.  She instead described the character’s reactions to what she was seeing on the computer screen — multiple screens popping open, the character’s facial expressions, etc.
  • Definition/distinction — Mystery: Is a Whodunit and then solve it.  Thriller: Something bag is going to happen but what, and where will this bad thing happen is unknown.  This is what the hero must figure out.
  • Show your detective character and how they can assist cops in seeing what the cops cannot/will not see

Dana’s salient points:

  • Writes hard-boiled cop procedurals
  • A typical police procedural = Barney Miller
  • A typical classic mystery = Agatha Christie
  • An awesome line of detective mystery are the Mickey Spillane books [Mike Hammer]
  • Current forensics are currently changing constantly. It’s always being upgraded.  So, if you write about a specific forensics test in your book, by the time it’s published it could be out of date and no longer utilized.  This is why his books are set in a small town with limited forensic resources.
  • 90% of the crimes that take place today are solved by cops talking to people; not by forensics.
  • Forensics rarely solves a case; forensics come more into play for the court case if the results come back in time.
  • DNA testing results take 16 – 18 months to come back, if it comes back at all.
  • Important to take note of: In most states, there are no medical qualifications are necessary to become a coroner.  A coroner is an appointed position.  So it becomes very difficult to label a murder, a murder, if the coroner doesn’t say it is.  There’s no leverage for anyone to say, do an autopsy because the corner has no medical knowledge!
  • The biggest asset to cops in the solving of cases is TIME and the changes wrought in the people involved in the cases.  In cold cases, a man now with a daughter approaching the age of a girl murdered, may have a change of heart and spill his guts about his doubts/observations of what he knows of xyz during the time(s) in question.  Thereby giving the detective new pieces to add to the puzzle of the long cold case possibly enough to solve it.


Developing One’s Writing Voice

For the past few months, I’ve been speaking with writer friends, reading about how other’s find their writing voices, and have been ruminating on this topic in quiet moments.  With all of this, what have I come to?

Finding one’s writing voice is intensely personalized.  No one way works for each and every writer.  Each writer must find his, or her, own way over whatever time period that the process takes.

For me, the process involves finding my true self, the self buried under the foolishness and mundane layers of social propriety.  Yeah, the real me!  LOL. (Scary!)

voice and voice bubbles chart

What I’ve found is that I like to write different things at different times.  I would not self-identify as only a “horror” writer, or only a “SciFi” writer, or a “women’s fiction” writer.  I would say I am a writer moved to write about different life experiences.

I’m finding my voice by writing different things, by trying different genres and seeing how it feels as I complete these projects.  With some projects I love the way I feel as I am writing.  With other projects, I absolutely abhor what I write and the emotional pulses as I write repulse me.  These are all signs to me that I never really paid attention to before.  I just wrote.  Now, I am writing to find out what I really want and like to write.  This is probably something I should have figured out before but I was told we could write anything we want to write.  We’re writers, after all.  True.  But each of us has our own personal writing path/journey.  I guess I am clarifying what my path is right now.  It’s my time.

writing painting of voice_voltaire

I like Voltaire’s quote.  It comforts me.  And, most importantly, I find it to be true.  My writing voice reflects where I am at that moment in time.

What has your journey been?  How have you found your writing voice?

Bleeding on the Page

It’s been a while since I’ve posted.  And, there’s a lot going on good stuff, mainly.  My day job’s been quite busy.  My children are growing up but still needing time and attention.  (Gee, imagine that.  They still need a mom…)  And, to boot, I added in some fun work in mid-April — curating the Horror Writers Association Twitter feed.  I am one of the contributors.

Did I mention that my New Year’s goal for 2016 was to write a new short story each month?  Oh, and then try to submit a story, or two, each month?  (Not necessarily the one just written.  I do have quite a few stories written from previous times that I NEVER did anything with; except write them.)

So, I’m in the middle of all of this.  Hubby just keeps watching me and asking if I’m alright.  As well he should!

Going along now for several months and my writing goal is going as planned.  But in April, I hit a snag.  Yes, that’s when I took on a bit of extra fun work and I had to get used to fitting in the work curating entailed.  That took a few weeks but then all of a sudden it was PitDark (May 12, 2016)!  I had only a few days to prepare.  It crept up on me.  And that’s when the big wham-o happened.

What the heck was I doing writing a graphic horror novel?!  (This thought comes fully two years after it’s written; 102K+ words.)  Shocker to my system, I tell ya.  You think you know yourself and then — oops, you don’t.

Somehow, this book poured out of me and characters were born (a few died, of course).  An awesome book cover is all in place and I’m feeling like a skittish bride — right before PitDark.  You could say it was classic cold feet as it was my first online pitchfest.  You could say it was fear of rejection.  You could say it was regret at not having written say, a romantic comedy.  You could.  What do I say?  I dunno.

I ignored the sensations, prepped my tweets in advance.  Had writer friends peek at them.  I revised them.  Took the day off so I could focus on the tweets and possibly revise my tweets as the day went on (as advised by many experienced pitchfest attendees/hosts).  I was as prepped as possible.  And what happened?  I received one ‘official’ like late in the day after having held my breath ALL day.  Imagine my exultation at knowing someone out there in publishing wanted to take a gander at my full MS!  Wahoo!  I happydanced until my heart felt it would burst (all of 30 seconds).  Then, I got to work submitting my book the proper way.  It took me a couple hours to get it all done.  Now, for the hard part — the waiting for a response.  I’m still waiting.  LOL.  That’s publishing folks.

During this time, I re-focused back on my short stories and wrote two new stories in May and increased my stories in submission by 3.  Total stories in submission right now is just under 10.

Even with all of this activity, there’s a thing still happening with me.  What’s that thing?  The question of what kind of writer am I.  I researched and talked to some writing friends and researched some more.  The most helpful article I found is this one by Holly Lisle:

Ten Steps to Finding Your Writing Voice

There are many pieces out there but this one resonated with me especially because it suggested I create lists — I love lists! 🙂 — More importantly, you’re supposed to play games with your lists.  How frickin’ cool is that?  (Yes, yes.  Nerdy writer.)

Feeling some kind of way about having hit this particular wall so many years into my writing career.  I definitely thought I had my ‘voice’ down pat.  It seems I didn’t, don’t.  This is the underlying discomfort I had surrounding the horror novel.

But, here’s the thing.  That novel?  It came so easily!  The voice, the characters, the plotting, the plot shifts — it all flowed so well.  Some of it scared me out of my wits.  It’s supposed to — it’s a horror novel.  But, I didn’t think about it, I just wrote.  I was also pregnant with my third child during the majority of the writing of that story.  Maybe that freed me up and allowed the story out.

Now, I am past postpartum emotions.  I’m back to ‘me’ again.  And, herein lies the problem.  I’m back to me.  The horror novel?  I did what Hemingway suggested.  I sat at my laptop and bled a little.  Maybe, more than a little.  While pregnant, it didn’t bother me.  Now, not pregnant.  It bothers me — a lot.

Hemingway_bleed 2 quote

It seems I played it ‘safe’ with my stories and my readers.  Without getting pregnant again, how do I bleed onto the pages?  That’s the question.  Working through it.  Will let you know when I come out the other side…



Re-Jiggering the Ship

It’s truly fascinating how the mind plays tricks on us.  We think we are striving and pushing towards xyz goal, right?  And somehow, years pass and the goal is not realized.  We stop.  Scratch our collective head and wonder aloud what went wrong.

We review our steps.  That’s always the best way to go right?  But alas, we don’t see anything we’ve done incorrectly.  We begin looking around for *experts* who can direct us, help us to see what we may have missed.  We get bounced about as the expert suggests someone else.  Then, second expert waffles and redirects us yet again.  Finally, we arrive at an expert who stops the whole parade of silliness and states the problem.

What do we find out?  That we did all of the work.  We did what we were supposed to do.  We took the proper and necessary steps — for the wrong area/genre/niche!

turning ship around

The solution?  Do it ALL OVER AGAIN for the proper area of our goal.  Sheesh.

Life as a writer is challenging.  Heck, Life as a person is challenging!  LOL.

And how was your week?

Merry Christmas!

Xmas Tree 2015

I am with my family.  They are doing what they do best: whine (2-year-old), wander aimlessly while claiming to be getting dressed (19-year-old), playing with his *friends* online in the latest version of whatever gun-game it is (16-year-old).

We’re to pick up the final three gifts we need.  You see it’s a little after 3:00 pm on Christmas Eve.  And stores close when??  In about, 2 hours!

Well, it’s mainly their gifts.  With them being so grown I think it’s best they choose their own gifts.  Therefore, when we get there — we get there.

That’s what this season is all about; relaxing and going with the flow and ebb of everyone’s more relaxed schedules.  Allowing each member of the family to be themselves.  Lying when necessary (to prevent a gift from being detected…).  Like the video below imparts…Family is forever.

Ah!  The sun has come out!  Perfection.  It’s warm.  Our shopping is almost done and we don’t need to wear coats.  This is a blessing on December 24th on the East Coast.  Merry Christmas El Nino!

And, Merry Christmas to you all!



What’s Happening with The Fury?


This is a quick update to let readers of the From Hell series know what’s going on with their favorite 700+ year old demon.  Fury From Hell is not available, at the moment, as I am doing some additional edits to the book and some expansions.  Based upon reader feedback, I wanted to be as attentive as possible and bring even more to the table.  This way, when Demon From Hell (book 2), hits you — you will be ready for it!


Inspiration for Book 2: Demon From Hell

To find out when, in early 2016, Book 1 will be re-released, and when Book 2 will be released, please subscribe to the “From Hell” series notification list by clicking HERE. (It will take you to my author page  There will be special discounts and giveaways for subscribers only (and, not just of my own books!).

Please feel free to share any, and all, comments about Fury From Hell and your thoughts!  If you’d like to share your review in the comments below, that would be awesome!  Rock out! 🙂

All the best to each and every one of you & thank you for stopping by!

Warm regards,


Really quickly…

I’m driving myself CRAZY with battening down my grammar lessons.  While editing my book, I am checking and double-checking all the rules, deciding how I feel about the Oxford comma and making sure that I use the words “passed” and “past” correctly.

Do you drive yourself crazy with grammar and the mechanics of writing??!  Please share.

(Yeah, I know you, and I, are not really crazy.  We’re grammarists.  It simply feels like we are a bit coo-coo at times!)

crazy person saying

Thankful for Writing and #Writer Wednesday

On this #WriterWednesday, I wanted to share something writerly.  So, I thought about it and nearly smacked myself on the head.  I’ve recently had an epiphany about my WIP and I would prefer not to sweep it under the rug (as I often do).  So, here it is.

This January, I started writing vigorously on a “new” project.  I put it in quotation marks because it is actually an older project that I re-invigorated and revived from 3 years ago.  It’s a generational time slip story that spans 300 years.

To do this story justice, I researched books, journals, old newspapers, etc.  I began reading book after book.  Yet, the subject matter was heavy; this WIP deals with emotional baggage carried from generation to generation as well as the general societal concerns American society has/had with people of color.

As I was doing the research, so many of the themes from the old books I was reading were in play in current events.  Watching CNN’s coverage of the University of Missouri racism scandal that resulted in two top University officials resignations made me cringe.

It was only days after these unsettling events that I realized I could not work on this WIP right now.  I have put it aside in hopes that there will come a day when I will be able to better handle the angst that arises within me as I work on this novel.


For each writer/author, there is a different set of checks and balances that allow them to create the works that the reader will eventually enjoy.  While attempting to write this novel (I have written almost 30K words), I learned that there are moments in time that I am incapable of properly handling a subject matter.  I hope that my WIPs are akin to the caterpillar; they will evolve and become things of creative beauty.

I have returned my focus to a writing project I do enjoy — the sequel to Fury From Hell.

In this second book, NYPD Detective Jennifer Holden returns along with her cronies in this novel ready to finish what they started — finding Kyma Barnes’ killer and ensuring that Fury Abatu doesn’t re-possess the good detective!  In this story, Jen has to find her way forward emotionally.  This former atheist has no idea what believing in something greater than herself looks like — even if that thing is love.  However, she doesn’t have much time to dwell on her personal demons.  Almost immediately, there are some mysterious deaths that don’t pass muster; the killer, or killers, do not seem to have a discernible motivation except to brutally kill their victims.  Or, if Jen is right, Fury Abatu is back…

I am loving the writing process and how I work through challenges of what to work on next and the feelings I experience during these mental gyrations.  Being a writer is truly a novel experience!

In the meantime, enjoy your Thanksgiving holiday.  Eat lots of good food.  Enjoy time spent with family, good friends and loved ones.  Each day with them is precious.

Thanksgiving 2015