Ideal Insurgent by ME!

>> Monday, March 12, 2018

Have you been looking for that fantastic stand alone science fiction book with enough science to satisfy your inner nerd, enough clever plot twistes and proactive adventure to get both your heart pumping and your mind racing and enough humanity that you feel totally connected to the characters involved?

Hey, folks, I'm here for you. Introducing Ideal Insurgent which comes out on ebook tomorrow and is available now in paperback at both amazon and Barnes and Noble on-line stores. Or you can get a signed copy from me for $14 (list price) sent free anywhere in the US.

Preorder it on amazon, buy it in trade paperback on amazon, preorder it from Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, or Kobo. Also, the iStore though I can't give you the link.

 Not ready to invest in an unknown author (or maybe you love my writing but aren't so sure about science fiction)? You can get a taste of the various characters here in a free (everywhere but Amazon who makes me charge $.99) collection of short stories. All are prequels so no spoilers. Even if you get the novel, why not get the extras for free?

You can find it for free on Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, iStore (no idea what the link is), Kobo and for a nominal fee from Amazon.


Square Peg in a Round Hole

>> Saturday, February 17, 2018

A few weeks ago, again, I got smacked (again) via FB with the mantra that "a writer writes every day, sits at a desk, pounds it out no matter how hard it hurts or they're lazy and/or liars" screed. Inspiration? Who needs it! Muses? Folly! Writer's block? Sheer laziness! Excuses! Horse manure! Treat it like a job, write even if it's awful or you're not really a writer. You can always fix it in editing and the very act of writing will inspire your writing. (I'm paraphrasing)

That seemed to inspire a few more posts over the next few days of the same theme (I hang with a lot of writers).

I don't write that way. No, I can't write that way. If I sit and force myself to write crap, not only will have such odoriferous crap that can be saved only by blow-torching my computer, my back brain (which does all my best creative writing) will go on vacation for months to teach me a lesson. I know. I've tried. My OCD will tell me I suck as a writer and can't move one step further until I fix (or torch) said writing. My extremely overcrowded list of priorities will go, "You have things that need to be done that are more important than the garbage you're generating." Most importantly, I will hate writing, and hate what I'm writing.

Now, let me stop and say, that this method genuinely works for some people, even some great literary artists. More power to them. More power to whatever method works for you, whether it's locking yourself on a beanbag chair with a tablet computer and a thermos of coffee in your closet to get away from distractions or sitting in your neighborhood cafe with a spiral notebook.

But it doesn't work for me. And I love writing. I write because I love it, knowing it will never make me rich, but I take the thousands of hours I squeeze from my overbooked schedule and devote it to writing because I love writing and love the end result of all that time and sweat and tears. I'm not willing to hate it so I can be a "real" writer. Thanks.

That's aside from the fact that, like most writers, I have a day job. And a family. And things that have to get done that aren't writing related, so I write when I can and, at least in my case, when I'm inspired because that means I'm carving out time in my busy schedule doing something that makes me happy and excited. That will give me a product I love. I will not apologize for it.

I have had dry spells and likely will again, often in times of considerable stress or when overwhelmed in my non-writing world. I have fought my way back every time not because I'm a "professional" but because I love writing.

So, I won't apologize and don't expect anyone to apologize for whatever method works for them. Because, and I feel this strongly, the real criteria to be a "real writer" is your product. And I don't care if you wrote your masterpiece dangling upside down from the ceiling in Grand Central Station or write only for three hours a month under the light of the full moon. No one who produces good writing is anything less than a "real" writer.

In fact, I find pushing to find one's voice to be better advice (though I have one and managed to do everything noted here on my own when I was a kid without a particular plan). Better advice for me, I should say because we are not all the same. The uniqueness of our experiences is why writing is so diverse. Why in the world would we think writers should all be the same but somehow produce unique products?

And (reminding folks that, if the "every day at the desk" method works for you, DO IT), this notion that we have to produce product, so much daily, like a craftsman, should not negate the crazy unpredictable flurry of insane activity of the occasional artist. I absolutely agree that craftsman tend to be paid better and more consistently. But we remember the artists centuries later.

One last note. Many of us labeled as "lazy" are working in non-visible ways. And it shows in our end products. Much like this.


Debbie Manber Kupfer is back with author info and a sale - it's a twofer!

>> Sunday, January 7, 2018

I've talked about Debbie Manber Kupfer before. I mean, her series is all about different kinds of shape shifters. How can I not love that? So, when I got tagged about some author writing questions, I tagged her and she wrote up answers to put in my blog. (I'll put mine up next time, unless I forget--stupid absent-mindedness!).

So, here are the questions with answers and then I'll tell you a little somethin'-somethin' about her sale starting January 7!

1) Which of your characters are you most like?

Well, there’s a lot of me in a lot of my characters, but probably the one that’s most like me is Miri. So many of her experiences are based on my own. I was very close to my omama (grandma) who died when I was 10 years old. She was from Vienna and made the best cakes, and yes I used to bake with her in my own little cake pans. And since being an adult I’ve never managed to make sponge cakes that tasted like hers despite inheriting her recipe books.

I also had a best friend called Jenny when I was small, who moved away when I was around 11 or 12 years old. We used to play “fairies” on the stairs in my childhood home. My favorite book, like Miri’s was Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. And even Miri’s cat form (black with one white whisker) is based on my childhood cat, Snowy.

Like Miri I am clumsy and have a tendency to live in a dream world and have always loved to write. I was also bullied at school. The bullying scene early in P.A.W.S. is based very much on a true memory. Sadly though I have never been able to turn myself into a cat!

2) What is important to you in your character building?

That I know a lot about my characters. Not at the beginning, but after a while my characters become old friends and I get excited when an odd character I wrote in one story turns up in an unexpected place in another. (I’m convinced that the world of all my stories is linked together even if it’s not apparent at the start.)

3) How much do you know about your characters ahead of time?

Very little. I’m a discovery writer. As I write my characters come to life. Often, like with Miri, they are based on my own experiences or on people I know, but often they just emerge in all their weird and wonderful glory. So I end up with wild warlocks, a goat of healing, and even a wereduck.

4) What genre do you admire but not write?

I’m in awe of good mystery writers who can make plots twist and turn to keep readers on their toes. I couldn’t even begin to write a mystery.

5) What haven’t you tackled yet but plan to?

I’d like to write a game book, probably set in my P.A.W.S. world. When I’m not writing fiction I write puzzles for magazines so combining writing and puzzles in this way is something that’s immensely attractive. It also seems like venturing down a rabbit hole though, so I will need to finish my series before I’m embark on this.

So, what's this about a sale? You can get all four of Debbie's delightful P.A.W.S. saga for 99 cents from January 7 (that's today) through the January 13. That's a deal and a half right there (which I won't take because I've already got them all, but, hey, my sister's birthday is coming up...). You can find them all here.


Promoting other Authors: New Release "Lesser of Two" by Mirren Hogan and Erin Yoshikawa

>> Monday, November 6, 2017

Lesser of Two is a thrller/suspense, written by Mirren Hogan and Erin Yoshikawa. It's their second book together and Mirren's fourth. Although they often write fantasy, Lesser of Two contains the same humour, darkness, and strong characters featured in all their work.

You can buy it here: Lesser of Two

Sometimes trusting the wrong person can get you killed.

Popular novelist Nick Riley has the perfect life and a loving girlfriend, until he accompanies his friend Al to Thailand. Here, he discovers Al’s penchant for murder. Can Nick save the himself and the people he loves before a string of deaths is pinned on him?

Experience the twisted heart of evil.

Normal blogger's note: Although this is all promo stuff written by Mirren Hogan, I have to say I've read this book. Again, not my normal type of read but I did find it compelling and hard to put down. Characterizations were strong and you know that always gets big points from me.


The Holidays Are Coming: "Grandma's Cooking"

>> Saturday, October 28, 2017

If you are thinking of hosting a holiday get together shortly or if someone is trying to push you into one, just know there are ways to get out of things like that like a boss. If you want to do it, I have no idea what to tell you. But, if you don't, take some notes because Dotty is a Grand Master.

This is "Grandma's Cooking" from my anthology Legacy and you can find her as a side character in Saving Tessa.

Grandma's Cooking

"Detention? This is a culinary school!" Chef Ramon Sharif tried to hand back the file in his hands and bent it when the director refused to take it. 

 His watch said 4:30 here in Seattle, just after the last classes at the Sharif Culinary Institute, but Sharif was still on European time where it was a good deal after midnight. He had never learned to sleep on a plane. 

If only he hadn't had to come back to his office to retrieve his omelette pan. Damn it, Hans! If Hans wasn't always scratching up his favorite pans, Sharif could have left it at home. But who would have expected the director and three teaching chefs to ambush him in his own office?

"We're calling it 'special classes,'" said Chef Bray.

"We were at wits' end. We had to do something!" said Chef White.

"Can't put the other students at physical risk!" said Chef Icchan.

Sharif, head already swimming from fatigue, snapped up at that. "Physical risk? What the hell do you mean by that?"

The director shook his head. "She has already destroyed the kitchens on three floors." The school director looked distinctly sheepish.

"Destroyed? In my culinary school?" Sharif was aghast. "Throw her out!"

"Well, she is a special case, sir. She's a beginner."

"Beginner? This is a school for accomplished chefs!" 

The director coughed. "We had a special request by a Mr. Chroz to let her attend. He offered a significant incentive over and above the normal fee." 

Sharif stopped trying to shove the crumpled file into the director's hands. "A Mr. Chroz?"


"Of Chroz Industries? That Mr. Chroz?"


"Hmm." Sharif paused to smooth the file in his hands. "What was the incentive?"

"He's got us a television show to showcase our top students," said Bray.

"And the damages were paid, too," said White. 

"Oh." Sharif held the folder a little more closely. "Cable?"

"Network. Primetime," said Icchan.

"Still, detention seems ludicrous and, even if it's not, why should I be involved? I only teach the master chef class." He sighed. "I'm not even over my jet lag. Why can't one of you do it?"

"We tried to stay firm," said Bray, "but she's so…"

"It didn't take well," Icchan sighed, "not that Dotty doesn't give her all…"

"Well, with all the bounties at stake, one doesn't want to be overly harsh," the director confided. "She is quite the charming old girl."

"That's right, Sharif. No one quite has the heart for it." White said. 

"Given this difficulty, we were confident you could do it," the director said, with another polite cough. "You do pride yourself on kitchen discipline."

Sharif preened. Then sighed. He was so tired. "As you will. Best bring me some coffee and I shall deal with Ms. Miller. Where is she waiting?"

"Practice Kitchen #5," the director said, regarding Sharif with sympathy as he stumbled from the room.

"Going one on one with Dotty?" Bray shook his head. 

"He's going to need more than coffee," White agreed. 

"He'd do better with cognac, the good stuff," said Icchan.

The director sighed. "I'll fetch the bottle."

Chef Sharif was reading Ms. Miller's file as he came in. "Ms. Miller," he said without looking up. "You are sixty-two years old? While I admire your initiative, doesn't it seem late in the game…" He looked up from the file and then just stopped talking.

"But I must!" The apparition before him, tiny and willowy, clasped her hands soulfully, and rattled with dozens of chains, bangles, and earrings as she sprang from her stool. Her sundress and some sort of gauzy jacket were a brilliant mix of pinks and oranges, peeping at him from the open white tunic. Her hair, floating about her head despite the white hat, was somehow orange with pink highlights. Her impossibly large cerulean eyes brimmed with unshed tears in a face that looked half its age. When she traipsed toward him, he half expected her to drift. She couldn't be real. But the drama in her voice was very real. "I must cook or die!"

"Really, Ms. Miller, there's no need for such, er, passion." 

"Oh, call me Dotty," she said, offering him a hand emblazoned on the back with a lamb. "I just know you'll be able to help me."

Sharif steeled himself to the wistful smile. Kitchen discipline required authority to be clear from the beginning. "Now, Ms. Miller…"


"Ms. Miller, there is no reason to be so melodramatic. Cooking is not a life or death proposition."

The blue eyes were suspicious. "What do you know of my motivation to learn cooking?"

"Me? Well, nothing."

"See?" she said triumphantly. "So you'll just have to trust me."

Unsure if the dizziness were due to exhaustion or Ms. Miller, Sharif tore his eyes away from her and back to the file, and then gasped at her amazing list of catastrophes, given she'd only been there three days. "You blew a hole through the west wing wall?"

"A pressure cooker seemed a perfectly reasonable way to cook sauce," Dotty explained, the picture of contrition. "Maybe, if it hadn't been quite so full, it wouldn't have clogged the relief valve."

"You were lucky no one was hurt, Ms. Miller," he said in his most withering tones.

She hung her head, her easy tears at work again. "Yes. I'm so glad the class was empty. And it's Dotty."

"The stove was on after you left?" Sharif had to forcibly keep himself from gaping at her.

"I knew I'd forgotten something," she said, eyes wide with innocent regret. "I might also have had the heat up a trifle high. The new stove will be here on Friday."

Sharif closed his eyes, wishing he'd asked for cognac instead of coffee. "And a fire destroyed Kitchen Nine?"

"I just assumed when they said, 'Sauté' it was supposed to be flambé. Isn't everything better flambé?"

"Not my kitchen." 

"Well, yes, I can see that. Perhaps I should have used tablespoons of oil, not cups," she mused. "Or something other than ice water to put it out."

"We have fire extinguishers in every kitchen, Ms. Miller."

"Dotty. There are two in mine at home," she said brightly. "It never seems to be enough."

"I don't doubt it." Sharif continued with her file. "And what's this? The oven in Kitchen Three was been completely contaminated?"

"Who knew soufflés exploded at high temperatures?" she explained

"One of my chefs let you make a soufflé on your second day?"

Dotty placed a tiny hand, emblazoned with a tiger on its back, on his sleeve. "Well, no, but it looked so interesting, I wanted to try it," she confided. "It's so tiresome to have others about you making delightful things while you're relegated to prep work. Of course, I might not have had the right ingredients for a chocolate soufflé. I always take the recipe as a starting point."

"What? Marshmallows!?" Sharif closed the file with a snap. "You cannot," Sharif said in his sternest voice, "just strike out on your own. Cooking requires learning the basics. How could you reach an advanced age without…?"

Dotty's face was a study in crestfallen misery. "But I have to learn. When my granddaughter married my lover's son, he was left all alone. I must make something memorable for his birthday in three weeks."

"I don't think memorable is the problem… Wait, if your lover's son was married, why would he be left all alone?"

"Dylan wasn't left alone. Tessa is with him."

"Who is Tessa?

"My granddaughter, weren't you listening?"

"Your granddaughter married Dylan?"

"Why is that so surprising?" Dotty said with a flash of temper. "Are you saying my granddaughter isn't good enough for Dylan Chroz?"

"Good God, no! Why would I say that? I don't even know the man!"

"I should think not!" Dotty huffed.

"So, wait, if Dylan Chroz married your granddaughter, then his father, Hugo Chroz, is your…?"

"My lover." She didn't say, "Duh," but her expression implied it.

"Of Chroz Industries? That Hugo Chroz?" His voice squeaked. He had thought Hugo Chroz might be her son. Good thing he hadn't voiced that notion.


"The one who paid for the damages?"

"I paid for the damages. I am not a pauper. I'm an accomplished author. He arranged for the show as a favor to me." 

Sharif took a moment to try to reorient himself but she seemed to take that as disbelief. 

"I am not a kept woman. You," and Dotty managed to inject a wealth of loathing into the word, "may not believe it, but Hugo knows I love him for himself. That's why I simply must give him something special money can't buy for his birthday." 

Sharif searched himself for a bit of diplomacy. Maybe Dotty could be assuaged without his school being put into mortal danger.

"Clearly, he cares for you. I'm sure anything you cook for him would be…"

Dotty's eyes blazed and her body positively glowed with rage. "Hugo said I couldn't be trusted in a kitchen. He barred me from cooking unless I graduated from cooking school. You see why I must succeed!" 

Her anger evaporated into tears that fell without restraint yet didn't impact her beauty in any way. "Do you think he can thwart me and get away with it? Are you on his side, too?" 

Well, Sharif was, actually, but there was no way he'd say so with her crying like that. Nor could Sharif afford to infuriate her either.

"Well, you're here in detention, er, special class, to learn. What have you worked on today?"

"Pretzels!" She was all smiles again, then gestured at an array of something… that didn't look like pretzels. 

Sharif held up a blackened ball of dough and broke it open to find it gooey on the inside. "Why is it in this shape?"

"Well, wouldn't pretzels be more interesting in different knots? That's a diamond knot!"

"And this?" He held a lumpy pretzel but couldn't bring himself to taste it. 

"That's a sheepshank."

"Yes, well, why is it lumpy?" His fingers began to sting

"Pretzels are so bland. I added habaneros and pineapple!" 

Sharif dropped it and rubbed his tingling fingertips on his shirt. He picked up a large orange pretzel and tried not to image what the black bits were. "And this?"

"The Savoy? Oh, that's cheese!" she exulted and he bit. "And, of course, broccoli."

Manfully, Sharif swallowed, the desiccated broccoli scoring his throat. "When did you say Hugo's—I mean, Mr. Chroz'—birthday was, again?"


As the dessert plates were removed, Hugo Chroz sat back with a satisfied smile. Their guests looked equally sated, and praise for the food was a frequent topic. Even Dylan, who seemed to treat all food not cooked by his bride as so much dust, had noted the quality. "Dotty, my love," Hugo said, "Thank you. Dinner was amazing."


"But how did you get Chef Sharif to cater? He won't do private events. He's turned down the President."

"I can be persuasive," she said sweetly. 

"I can vouch for that. But you didn't have any luck when you tried to get him to cater the kids' wedding, you know. You were so vexed."

"Oh yes, but you know me, darling." She kissed him on the cheek and whispered, "Do you think he can thwart me and get away with it?"



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