Thursday, May 31, 2012

On Your MARK! Get SET! (BuNoWriMo TOOLS)

Which is NOT to say people doing BuNoWriMo are tools, but rather to GIVE tools to people doing BuNoWriMo...

 Countee Countee Bo Bountee
 (the two here are from last year)

What Ales Me
is 30% complete

15000 / 50000 words written

The first year we did this, Jason, the only man in the Burrow, did some fancy schmancy programming and turned the lovely GRAPHIC, designed by Joris (an official FRIEND of the Burrow) and turned it into a word count meter.

What Ales Me
is 80% complete

40000 / 50000 words written

I love how it builds up... I am showing you a few from my last year's entry, just to give you a feel...

You can share directly to Facebook or copy the code for htlm to add to your blog. It can be FOUND, HERE:

Heavenly #Hashtags

Now most of this activity is done on Facebook—it just was infinitely easier to 'start a group' than design, upkeep and pay for a website. But we've done a little Twittering in the past.

Well this year, we've had a special request. Our buddy Alex DOESN'T Facebook, but he wants to join. So I thought maybe we could pull Twitter in more officially. Discussions there are A-Okay, but I thought ESPECIALLY, at the end of our writing day, check in to Twitter with your #BuNoWriMo Word count—both a day total and a cumulative would be FABULOUS!

Writing Sprints

The first time I engaged in these was last NaNoWriMo and they are AMAZING. Word sprints are just setting a timer, shouting GO and dropping everything for the hour (or half hour). I find what this allows me to do is ignore the world without guilt... I will get BACK to it when my SPRINT is over. I know people who do these on Twitter—not sure what the hashtag is, but if you wanted to do it under the #BuNoWriMo, have atter. We ALSO have a Facebook Group: Writing Sprints R Us

BuNoWriMo Graphics

If you search my label BuNoWriMo, you will see a huge variety of our image in various color. You are free to use them, though we would appreciate it, if featured in a blog or someplace outside of the Facebook setting that you attribute Joris Ammerlaan for the design.

And finally... If you've been slow to commit but want to join: BuNoWriMo on Facebook

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Crazy Cozy Countdown


Hear that? In six days I will be a PUBLISHED AUTHOR! I am so excited. And there is a TON of exciting build up stuff happening.

My Barnes & Noble spy has given me the number of MY books in HER warehouse and if I do a little math, that is MEGA lotta books out there! Holy CRAP! (I adore having a spy, by the way... it makes me feel powerful, and honestly, life is a little hard right now—hubby's health, plus an aunt with some trouble—so it is SO NICE to have a positive!)

Yesterday I posted on Facebook that I had a week and asked people to like my page, and people responded in DROVES! (35 new likes, I think?  Seemed big for one request, at least compared to the past, but I think it is because it is LOOMING!!! I felt so warm and fuzzy! So I thought I'd bring it in here...

My PLEAS for how you might help me out: (because you know... can't hurt to ask, ne?)

Like me on Facebook: Alyse Carlson
Add me on Goodreads (to read)
Like my BOOK on Amazon: The Azalea Assault (hint: you can like both the paperback and Kindle versions *shifty* though there is also a book there that isn't mine... but you can like that, too, if you like...)

I have a confession. I've already started checking my Amazon ranking. I make up elaborate tales for why it sometimes drops then goes back up (dropping is good, as #1 is best). I know it's calculated daily and I THINK ties are broken by previous sales (obviously these are all pre-order) but my lowest number has been about 50,000 (though I've been #25 in Cozy Mystery, so I have that going for me)

I've ALSO has a couple shout outs in Blogs and on Facebook and the comments of strangers are SO NICE—I love seeing that people are excited to read!

And look at this!  Elizabeth just alerted me to this video featuring June's cozy mysteries:

And here is the biggie, but I think I should clarify a bit.

Crazy Cozy Blogfest:  June 5th

We would LOVE it if you could participate in our release date event.  I think we've given the impression this is harder than it is. We are NOT asking you to write a Cozy mystery. We are asking you to pitch an IDEA FOR a cozy mystery: an elevator pitch with a few details.

This should be SUPER fun—zany silliness in ideas shared—just some good laughs all around, and a chance to win BOTH Elizabeth's and my book (2 winners win both)

1)  Sleuth (age, occupation, maybe a little family info)
2)  Sidekick (either friend or foil, but someone who always seems to be around)
3)  Setting (town, city, or other sort of place)
4)  Theme (go nuts)
5)  Twist (be as creative as you like)

Write it up in 150-250 words (so short)--for the blogfest portion anyway—we want people to be able to read a bunch of these without too much burden. Keep the traditions in mind, but we are judging on entertainment value--which we enjoy most, not how realistic it is to make a best seller. We want people to laugh.  WE want to laugh. (so consider those rules more like guidelines, really)

And then we ask you either include a little info about our books, or a link to this page so people can find it for themselves:

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Plotting Sideways

So for BuNoWriMo this year, I am trying something I've SORT of done, but not really. I've dappled in the idea of it for mysteries, because it seems to make sense, but this is the first time I am coming at it for a suspense (which admittedly has mystery underneath it, of course, but it is more a 'what the heck happened' than a 'whodunnit'... though who dunnit matters quite a lot, but the finding the what and the who will happen simultaneously). All they KNOW is the AFTERMATH.

So what is this crazy idea of mine? I timeline more than outline normally—you know that, yes? This is because outlining makes my writing sound canned (but pantsing writes me into a sad corner of abandoning my book). I need more room to meander than an outline, though. But see... with a mystery, there is an underlying story that needs uncovering.

So I am outlining THAT. What really happened before the book ever starts? Who is involved and how do they execute it. I've done a lot of this (for this book--not much prior to this), but NEXT, I am going to go through and figure out how my MC learns of it.  Use another color of pen and write in how somebody SHE gets involved with learns it.  Then I can sprinkle info by manipulating when she meets people, rather than having them hold back anything (that often irritates me--seems contrived). I really think I am getting there.

So WHY would this be so urgent? BuNoWriMo starts FRIDAY!!!!

If ANY of the Following Apply to you, PLEASE consider joining us for BuNoWriMo:

۞ You want to write a book in June.
۞ You want to FINISH writing a book in June (ideally that has at least 50K left, but you can finish one and start another if you prefer. (have I made it clear I'm easy?)
۞ You want to do a major rewrite in June
۞ You want support for some OTHER large writing project and would like to declare your commitment and do it as part of a group.

Joining is EASY PEASY if you have a facebook account: Go HERE and request to join. I let anybody in... I just can't find the button anymore to make it an open group, but besides that, I like the convos to be between members, even if ANYBODY can be a member.

If you need more information before making a decision, you can see HERE.

Monday, May 28, 2012

The Beauty of a BFF

Azalea Assault's Main Character is PERFECTLY suited to solving mysteries. She has been professionally trained at damage control is just a little bit nosy (okay, maybe a lot). But for the most part, Cam is a rules gal. She is professional and a little conservative in her ways. She is balanced though, by what some of you may recognize as... well.  Me.  I mean it's more complicated than that, but Annie has a guest blog today over at Killer Characters. I'd love you to take a look.

And if you are curious what Annie LOOKS LIKE in my head, Rosie's mix if happiness and mischief is about what she looks like. Only significantly more contemporary... well okay... sort of hippie contemporary... And she has a pierced nose. But short and curvy and always trying to pull everybody into trouble.

Back to real posting tomorrow!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Memorial Days—Old School Style

One of my clearest childhood memories... and maybe it isn't actually clear, so much as repeated, step-by-step, year after year, is visiting the cemetery with my mom and grandparents on the Friday of Memorial Day Weekend.

My mom and I would drive over to my grandparents house (all six blocks) and make sure they were on their way. I always wanted to ride with them instead of my mom because that is sort of the kind of brat I was... (Actually, I am clear—parents HAVE to discipline, grandparents get to be all fun, all the time), but this yearly pilgrimage found them with a back seat full of buckets. Buckets of peonies in water. Buckets of iris. Buckets of lilac some years. And a bucket with shears and trimmers and a sponge.

We drove in two cars because of the buckets.

The cemetery is barely out of town on the easy slope of a hill overlooking wheat fields and with the mountains in the distance. It is a pretty place to spend eternity... you know... other than the underground part. But underground was really the only option ever considered until about the 80s, so as far as burial spots go, this is a nice one. It is certainly a nice place for the loved ones to come spend some time with those who've passed.

But it's a NASTY turn in. It is a left turn off the highway and the view ahead TURNS, so it is WAY too short a view for the speed. I think since then, the slowdown coming into town starts a lot earlier, but I do remember some near misses turning into the cemetery It was a little too heart-pumping for our destination, but it wasn't like that was our fault.

The roads in the cemetery were one lane, but of course that weekend, we were rarely the only ones present. Still, there were also a lot of graves unattended.

See... humanoid form, or flat cement rectangle?
I wanted to explore the fancy statues, but our dead were from a more frugal era--fewer trees, because it was the new part, for one. But also the scale. Their children had survived the depression and buried them with humble, flat headstones. The trimmers were to outline the stones so the grass didn't overtake them. My grandma trimmed the neighbors, too—it wouldn't do to let those lying next to those we love be forgotten. Then she'd go fill one of the buckets with water and sponge off the dust accumulated over the year. My great grandparents were always the primary stop, though we also looked for family friends and would stop to clean up any we found. We left flowers by all of them.

I loved wandering the headstones—looking for those born a REALLY long time ago (I adore old stuff and the stuff in Idaho is only so old)... or those who lived really short lives. Those always made me sad—the tombstones of the children. Still, they were also the treasures—the saddest stories there (and possibly the reward for those who did math easily). Maybe my inner storyteller was already at it.

In 1977 we added my dad to the stops for the first time. That was hard. It wasn't like I ever forgot he was gone, but it was the first time we were visiting 'my grave'--one for somebody I'd really known and loved. I mean one of my great grandmother's was there and I knew her, but she died when I was about 5 and lived in a nursing home my whole living memory, so that isn't the same.

This one! But we came at it from the other end. 50 years later.
But as sad as it was, it also was a time of family closeness. A ritual we did together. And it was always followed by a long weekend at the lake—usually the first warm one of the year. My grandparents had a lake cabin that had a big room upstairs with three double beds and two cots, and a big room downstairs with another foldout bed, so the whole fam-damily could fit if we forced it (and those were my FAVORITE weekends--when we all crammed in)--fishing with my grandpa, making forts with my cousin, canoeing in the lake (WAY too cold to swim in a snowmelt lake until AT LEAST the 4th of July), hiking to the train tracks where we'd place pennies to be flattened and dare each other (if no adults were present) farther and farther onto the tressle.

They were wonderful weekends, but I think all the more amazing for the bittersweet start.

I wish you all a wonderful long weekend with just the right amount of remembering.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Jessica Bell and Fabric!

Halo, fine friends!  

Today I'm celebrating the release of Jessica Bell's new poetry collection, Fabric ... Wait! Please don't close the tab at the the mention of poetry! Trust me, just read a little note from the author herself before deciding to disappear ...

Jessica says:

My poetry will not baffle you with phrasing that scholars award for academic genius and that can only be understood by those who wrote it. My poetry is for the everyday reader. In fact, it is even for those who don’t like to read poetry at all. Because it is real, stark and simple.

The poems in Fabric are no different. They explore specific moments in different people’s lives that are significant to whom they have become, the choices they’ve made. It’s about how they perceive the world around them, and how each and every one of their thoughts and actions contributes to the fabric of society. Perhaps you will even learn something new about yourself.

So, even if you do not usually read poetry, I urge you to give this one a go. Not because I want sales (though, they are fun!), but because I want more people to understand that not all poetry is scary and complex. Not all poetry is going to take you back to high school English, and not all poetry is going make you feel “stupid”.

You can still say to people that you don’t read poetry … I really don’t mind. Because if you read Fabric, you’re not reading poetry, you’re reading about people. And that’s what reading is about, yes? Living the lives of others?
Are you still here? I hope so!

Please support the life of poetry today by spreading the news about Fabric. Hey, perhaps you might even like to purchase a copy for yourself? The e-book is only $1.99 and the paperback $5.50. Although I haven't had the chance to review myself (I am a confessed Poetraphobic) I've read several reviews and they all reinforce this poetry is approachable and moving.  So move over Dr. Seuss!  You need to make room for Jessica as my new favorite poet!

Here are the links:

Let's keep poetry alive! Because not all poetry is "dead" boring ...

About Jessica Bell:

If Jessica Bell could choose only one creative mentor, she’d give the role to Euterpe, the Greek muse of music and lyrics. And not because she currently lives in Greece, either. The Australian-native author, poet and singer/songwriter/guitarist has her roots firmly planted in music, and admits inspiration often stems from lyrics she’s written.

If you are still unconvinced, you should watch her trailer:

She is the Co-Publishing Editor of Vine Leaves Literary Journal, and co-hosts the Homeric Writers' Retreat & Workshop on the Greek Isle of Ithaca, with Chuck Sambuchino of Writer’s Digest.

For more information about Jessica Bell, please visit:


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Little Lending Library

So normally when I go for a walk, I'm like WHOOSH WHOOSH WHOOSH down the street at super speed, going so fast I barely notice ANYTHING (unless the fat squirrel is out—we always stop to feed the fat squirrel). But this week, since hubby has been home, I've been walking with him... at about 1/32nd my normal pace. You think I'm exaggerating, don't you? Well if he were walking his NORMAL pace, I only double him (seriously--I do--he meanders, I power walk). But he is low on blood and tires easily. I don't want him to fall down. So we've SLOWED down even from HIS poky pace. And I've noticed something a little bit precious on my block...

Two houses have these signs in front of their house... and then these BOXES of Books!(not just boxes--weatherproof havens)  Outside, right there to borrow on the honor system.

Now I've been part of workplaces before that had bookshelves for sharing. In fact I've found some of my FAVORITE EVER books that way (The Poisonwood Bible and The Red Tent come to mind)--books I may not have bought for their description, but that I ADORED when I read them. They were profound. So I love a system like this.

But I've never seen it somewhere BESIDES a workplace (if you don't count me pilfering books from my mother's house). What a BRILLIANT idea this is at a neighborhood level!

What I REALLY want to know is... is this some official bigger thing? Is this an Only In Ann Arbor thing? Is it regional? National? A website people can order from to implement wherever somebody gets the wild hair? Have any of YOU ever seen it? I suppose having a box of books sitting outside, unwatched, is something you'd need a crime-free neighborhood for--not just for theft, but vandals, too. But how cool is this!?

I can tell you MY plan. I have my eyes open for June (the woman in the house—she's been in our neighborhood... maybe from the start—a long time, anyway)—I want to ask permission to put a copy of my book in it. And as I finish my LARGE TBR pile, I am HAPPY to donate to it. I love the idea. I might even consider one at our house in the future, but not while we have the birdies in our mailbox. I wouldn't want all the extra activity just yet.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Who Your Friends Are

Man, there is nothing like a serious illness to bring people out of the woodwork. I'm feeling extremely blessed at the moment.

As most of you who hop in regularly know, HWMNBMOTI was in the hospital last week for a GI bleed. It was serious. VERY serious. He was actually there Sunday to Thursday, and you KNOW insurance dictates nobody stay any longer than absolutely necessary. I was worried and scared. And I was effectively a single mom all week on top of it, so only the very most basic things got done.

I shopped and cooked. I did a little laundry. I worked and visited my husband. But the NORMAL stuff that gets done in a week didn't get done.

But then the Help started flowing.

Jackie, my couch to keg buddy, brought by some soup and couscous salad, and then drank a glass of wine with me to let me worry and vent.

Neighbor after neighbor asked what we needed.

Caden mowed our front yard.

Jean mowed our back yard.

Last night he went for a walk and bit off more than he could chew, so Stephanie drove him home.

So to everyone who has helped--THANK YOU!  And thank you ALSO to all willing who haven't been called upon, yet.

Seriously, though—I have lost track of how many people have offered to help us out. It is humbling and heartwarming. I love where we live. My husband gets the credit for establishing most of these relationships—he is out and about, walking the dog. He meets people. He keeps an eye out for the comings and goings and is early to notice if something big happens—when the man down the street passed after YEARS of illness—when someone has a new puppy or is pregnant. I joke that he is Mrs. Kravitz, but people appreciate that someone knows what time it is on the street.

I'm the geek writing in the basement most of the time, but I'm trying to walk with him now, as he is still pretty wobbly. Apparently blood loss is something very slow to recover from. If it had been down to me, none of these people ever would have even noticed. But he is good. He knows everyone.

And that investment is coming back in spades.

So this summer, as you scrap for your writing time, don't forget that investment in real life people. Spending some time to make and maintain friendships might be something you really need one day, and you will be glad you've put in the effort.

soon, we hope, though we haven't looked for eggs
On a Side Note

Our birdies are still happily nested in the mailbox. The female is sort of used to us. She will fly off if you stop and stare, but when we come and go, she is fine and I can see her in there, nested in her little hidey hole. There is a white line at her neck when she is hunched down, so I can tell if she is there or not pretty quickly. But so long as I keep moving, I can move slowly, now and she puts up with me. She really is so cute! Hopefully we will have babies one day soon.

Monday, May 21, 2012

BuNoWriMo, Blogfest and Beelzebub

Time is FLYING and I am feeling a bit frantic, but I think it will help if I throw out some reminders...

First, BuNoWriMo

...starts in 11 days!!! Is your stuff adequately wound up?

My May projects seem ENDLESS, and I am still not done. I've made very good progress on Kahlotus Disposal Site. I am on the LAST read through before I send it back to Amy to send out for submissions. I think the improvements are good. My task was to add some SPARK to my MC, Helen. Helen is a ghost, and the narrative spent a lot of time in her head, as only a few people can see her, so I added a second ghost—a crotchety old man who never leaves the room where he died—who sends her away every times she tries to engage him. But what it allowed me to do was have SOME of her narrative be told to HIM, and SHOW a little more of her personality because there is a chance to interact.

I also tried to address my other weak point—too little dimension on the 'villain'. I show a little more behind the WHY of his awfulness. Hopefully it is the boost the book needs to sell.

My LAST editing round (well, before June, anyway) is another revision of Chrysanthemum Campaign. I've gotten feedback from Colene, and have it coming very soon from Tara on 'big-picture stuff (confusion, consistency, too much, too little)... I will respond to what they notice, then send it to readers for a slightly more fine-toothed read.

Can I do all that in 11 days? I REALLY hope so... fewer, even, as I'd like readers to have it a couple days before they start BuNoWriMo, if in fact they are... (I think one is, one isn't).

So if YOU want to write a Novel in June, HERE is more information on what it entails and how to join us.

Blogfest: Crazy Cozy Blogfest, I mean

It is only FIFTEEN days until MY FIRST BOOK RELEASE!!!!! I'm so excited! (and nervous as heck, and not adequately organized), but ONE of the big plans is The Crazy Cozy Blogfest! It should be super fun, both to participate and to read. I could REALLY USE some widespread participation so the entries have some variation. We are giving away book prizes and I'm very excited to see what people come up with.

So what I'm asking is twofold: Please JOIN US (here is how and the signup is below), and will you also please help spread the word?

Not attractive, but Satan is a little harsh.
And finally, Beelzebub

You know... Beelzebub was a minor deity, minding his own business until Christianity coopted his name as a synonym for Satan. The was Lord of the Flies. Seriously. I wonder if Golding knew. It seems so fitting, doesn't it—to name a book for a minor god that then has Satan imposed upon him... I like that the book about that island that brought out the very worst in those boys is named for something that in a certain context is just pesky, but in certain circumstances can become the very worst of humanity—that we all have it in us, if we don't fight it back.

I should probably disclose that I don't actually believe in Satan. I DO, however, believe in that darkness. And I do think almost everyone is capable of it. And in this Beelzebub, Lord of the Flies interpretation, I suppose that is fitting.

So are you BuNoWriMoing? Are you Crazy Cozy Blogfesting? Do you look up arbitrary things and try to see if you can turn them into wisdom?

Have a great week, everyone!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

My Personal Narcissism

So I got my advanced copies, full with covers, yesterday... Oh, MAN, how I've been craving these... And I proceeded to build a tower with them, but I have a deep fantasy of being so important that I get enough copies to build a fort I can get inside...

That is all for today except the update that YESTERDAY's update on Mr. Tart was premature. His hemoglobin fell, they scoped again, and wanted to watch for longer. So not home. Possibly not home today.  This made him VERY crabby until they let him eat a hamburger, and then he sort of came to peace with it (though not really--his patience isn't great). There is no OTHER sign of worse than the hemoglobin, so I am hoping that is from the food deprivation and that burger will have solved it by next measure. But then I think we've established that I am delusionally optimistic.


Update:  Checking him out this afternoon!  YAY!


Also wik:  HE'S HOME!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

February Grace and Godspeed

I'm thrilled with my guest today. February Grace, otherwise known as Bru (which is fabulous—I always think Bruhaha) has been a friend of mine for a few years now and I think her name suits her well. What do I mean? February is a month of challenges—winter is feeling really long and our tempers run short... and I think there is no higher praise than handling February with Grace.

And it's true. Bru has has health challenges—illnesses, threats to her eyesight. And still she keeps plugging forward with profound Grace. When I found out her book was coming out and invited her to be a guest, she asked me if I had a topic in mind, and I said I would LOVE to hear a bit about conquering obstacles. We all, as writers, have to persevere. I think it is the number one trait behind success. So how inspiring is it to see someone who has conquered not just the ordinary obstacles, but some huge ones.

So welcome Bru!!!


I, for one, cannot personally recommend having a stroke, going blind, or having fifteen surgeries between 2009 and 2011 with a bonus thirty-three days of IV antibiotics that knock you on your ever-loving keister.

Nor can I recommend dealing with Bipolar 1, PTSD, or OCD.

I also cannot, in good conscience, recommend spending your summer holidays on Tatooine because the dust storms are awfully bad that time of year.

(Guess which one of those things I have not actually done.)

It’s true; all but the last of those things fought me as I tried to see through my dream of writing the novel of my heart, GODSPEED.

The stroke a decade ago took a lot from me. Going blind really changed everything. Suddenly you can’t navigate a public restroom and you’re doing things like setting your sleeve on fire on the stove because you’re in denial you can still do things you can’t.

The eye surgeries were hard enough, the complications, unimaginable. I’d regain some of my sight but remain legally blind permanently without aphakia glasses and in some situations even with them.

The other operations — barbaric. At one point I went 22 days without solid food. IV med treatments, exhausting. Every day I would cry and think, I can’t do this again. But a friend would say to me, “Do it again, one more day, for me,” so I did.

One night amidst all of this, I was recovering from surgery and my medication wore off. I woke up, heart pounding from the pain, unable to hold up my head and desperate to distract myself until I could gather the strength to stand.

The only sound in the room besides the sound of my heart beating in my ears was the ticking of a clock with three faces; a clock I dearly love. As I listened to it the thought suddenly occurred to me…what if?

In that moment, the idea for GODSPEED was born.

I grabbed a piece of paper and scrawled the words “What is a heart if not the ultimate clockwork?” and a few others, then somehow managed to fall back to sleep.

Despite continuing IV treatments, with the encouragement of friends and my daughter, I started GODSPEED in the fall of 2010, typing propped up on pillows and often with my eyes closed.

Health issues forced me to set it aside for a while but finally in 2011 I was determined to finish it. Sadly, medication complications forced me to stop mid-way and the book was still unfinished.

No matter what, I longed to see the book through. The characters, especially the most vulnerable, would keep me up nights. They represented people so real to me, people so often overlooked in our society that I HAD to finish this; I had to tell their story. I could not let them down.

Finally, after two years of doubt and tears and sleepless nights, I held the proof copy of GODSPEED in my hands and for once in my life, I didn’t cry. I smiled, because I had done them justice. With the added support of a brilliant copy editor, cover artist, and dear friend who formatted the book, the dream was realized.

I kept my promise to my characters and myself, and no amount of physical pain or disability was able to stop it.

Hart said she thought the above was a story worth telling, I hope so, and I hope that whatever struggles you may face in your writing you will keep going. Because you, and your characters, deserve for you to see it through.

My sincerest thanks to Hart, for hosting me today!


[see, I told you--POWERFUL story of perseverance]

About Bru

February Grace is a writer, artist and poet. She sings on key, plays by ear, and is more than mildly obsessed with science fiction.

Her poetry, prose, and/or flash fiction have appeared in The Rusty Nail Literary Magazine (twice) Vine Leaves Literary Journal, and will appear in the Rose & Thorn Journal, Spring Issue 2012.

GODSPEED is her debut novel, and a labor of love she refers to as "Literary romance with steampunk embellishments." It was released in May 2012.

Book Blurb

Abigail’s young life was saved by the kindness of strangers: Schuyler Algernon, the man who found her collapsed on cold city streets, and Quinn Godspeed, the doctor who risked everything by breaking the law to keep her fragile heart beating.

As the truth about what she’s become and her feelings for her savior overtake her, Abigail is forced to ask what constitutes life, living, and what dark secrets are contained within Godspeed’s past and the walls of Schuyler’s house.

Amazon link

[And just an update: HWMNBMOTI is MUCH better. Probably they will send him home today, provided the morning checking out of him goes fine, which it should. Thank you all for being so amazing yesterday!]

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Sunday, Scary Sunday

So some of you may have noticed my total absence the last two days. And not just from here, but from Facebook and anywhere else. We've had a wee emergency... or not wee. In fact it what pretty darned scary.

HWMNBMOTI (he who must not be mentioned on the internet, for the uninitiated) had what seemed like the flu Saturday... except in retrospect the vomit was the wrong color (TMI, right? But read anyway, as I had NO CLUE how important this might be)--it was coffee colored and mucousy. When his DIET had NOT been. (that is the clue to remember--coffee colored).

Then he seemed flu-ee all day—fever, sweats, chills... He vomited... I guess 3 more times... only once more in a place I had to clean it up... yup... still coffee colored... as was the bowel stuff—black and tarry. (as in... like tar). Ick.

And then on Sunday morning.... okay, we get to the real TMI part... with a 5 am bowel movement he could no longer stand—nearly lost consciousness... Called for me, I called the ambulance, as he couldn't get up...

We spent all Sunday morning in the ER... he was bleeding SOMEWHERE in his digestive system... A LOT (this would be the CAUSE of coffee-colored vomit and/or black tarry stool--so you KNOW.... They estimated he lost 1/3 of his blood--through this GI bleed. But FINDING FROM WHERE is another matter. They flushed fluids in then out of the stomach (through a tube in the nose *shivers*) and can see what is there... initially it was the black flaky of dried blood but by the time they get him all poked and prodded and moved up to critical care it was red... so the bleed was either stomach or upper GI...

They did a scope and FOUND it (upper intestine near the duodenum)--a clot they thought was over an aspirin induced ulcer—they clipped the clot (twice) to stop the places it was leaking blood. But they WEREN'T sure that was the only internal injury—though his numbers have all stabilized.

They moved him from critical care to a regular hospital room yesterday, but will keep him at least another day.

So my apologies for not getting around like I should yesterday and Sunday—I will try to catch up. And apologies for my absence. But as you all know, sometimes life takes over.

HWMNBMOTI has a VERY good prognosis, though I am a little nervous as to whether they resolved it... it's highly likely the next few flu episodes will send us to urgent care, just to avoid this.

Anyway, that's where I've been and why I've been scarce. I will work hard to catch up, as tomorrow I have a special guest (February Grace) and want her to get the full attention she deserves.

So there you have it... my excuses, regrets, and pleas to not hold it against me or my guests. I will get back to normal (for me) shortly.

Monday, May 14, 2012

First Loves Blogfest

This color:  red-violet--my earliest purple shade
Brought to you by the color PURPLE, supersoft stuffed kitties, and peonies (my early favorite things).

I thought a list with a couple explainers might be the best way to go on this:

First Book Loves

Where the Red Fern Grows: (first book that made me cry, which I LOVE—the being that connected thing)

The Shining: First book I loved so much I felt compelled to carry it everywhere and read any time I got a minute.

especially this scene where her dress changes back and forth
First Movie Love

Sleeping Beauty—I was in love with this before I ever saw it because my grandma had the book.

First Activity Loves

I preferred to be wet or upsidedown (not so much both): Swimming and Tumbling. I spent my young life doing one or the other.

First Celebrity Crush

Yeah, I admit it. So I was a tween in 1977.

First LOVES loves...

Well there was Aaron in my first grade class, but that was just a crush from afar...
And there was Eric, the first boy I 'went with'
And Bryan, the first boy I obsessively wrote to...
And Dave, my first truly obsessive crush

Note: the last three of these were ALL in 7th grade. It's possible my REAL first love was that I was a bit in love with LOVE.

I think I should stop there, as we are getting close now to the kiss and tell potential, and I really try not to do that. Especially as the ones I really loved (and there were a fair few) are mostly still in my life, but just as friends. I wouldn't want to create any friction.

To see MORE first love entries:  First Loves Blogfest

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Motherly Ponderings

Totally me (they were rescued btw)
I sometimes feel like a bit of a fraud as a mom. I am not the selfless, put others ahead of me at all times person it seems mothers are known for. I sometimes joke that if it weren't for my husband, I would forget I HAD children.... which is of course a gross exaggeration. I'd never forget them. Just their appointments, commitments, assignments, events... My tunnel vision can be immense and my short term memory (or lack thereof) doesn't help in the slightest.

Thankfully I married someone much better at all these details. He is a nurturer, a caretaker, a worrier... by traditional definitions, HE is the mom. I am the play parent, the joke parent... the easygoing one you tell when you are worried about getting into trouble so the blow can be softened. It's in no way fair to the one who does most of the work and is stuck being the disciplinarian, but those are our personalities.

But today my REAL pondering is to give credit to MY mom, without whom, I wouldn't have had a strong enough personality to see the way things usually were and assert that it wasn't for me. She raised me wanting me to have choices. She urged me to get a good education so I COULD stay home, but I could have a good job, instead if I wanted—so I didn't have to be dependent on somebody else--because you never knew what would happen. Never mind that now it really TAKES two incomes... I managed—I've been my family's primary wage-earner ALWAYS. I like what I do and while I'm not making remotely GREAT money, it isn't bad. It is almost enough my husband doesn't need to work.

But she didn't just talk the talk.

Mom and I, not long before my dad died
She went back to college after my dad died because she wanted a strong skill set that would always help her have a reliable job. Now she got an accounting degree, and since then has said she wished she hadn't been QUITE as set on stability—I mean you can have an education that leads to a FUN skill set. But I think that is the greatest service she could have done as a mom--PROVE how important an education was to the options a person had. SHOW ME how hard work really paid off. I really admire my friends who are or have been students AFTER the family piece because I KNOW what dedication that takes.  She somehow managed to BOTH set a career in motion AND be a mom who put her child first. I'm not sure how she did it. She also kept things very clean and organized—something so far out of my skill set I don't even ASPIRE to it.

I guess we do what we have to. My dad died when I was little, so she HAD to do it all. But I don't think that makes it any less heroic. And on top of it, she instilled in me a (nearly obnoxiously) strong self-esteem and set of values to keep pursuing what I intend to do no matter what. Oh, sure... a bit of my father's sense of play hasn't hurt (I wouldn't be me without that), but I wouldn't be SUCCESSFUL without my mom's work ethic and the belief she instilled in me that I can do anything.

So THANKS, MOM! I love you!

This was 8 years ago, but the last 4 generation with my grandma

Friday, May 11, 2012

Graham Parke Giveaway and Promo

I don't normally take cold requests for guests and promo, but sometimes somebody catches my eye, whether it is the wit or the book, or in this case, both... Graham is launching his second book and his first is being made into a movie--(Wow, right?)  But that first line of the promo below is what REALLY grabbed me. I want to be both luckier AND more attractive!

So I will let Graham give you the scoop!

Unspent Time Launch Party

Get free books and win a Kindle Fire or a Kindle Touch

Warning: reading this novel may make you more attractive and elevate your random luck by about 9.332%*
(* These statements have not been evaluated by any person of consequence!)

From the award winning author of ‘No Hope for Gomez!’ comes a collection of impossible tales. Permeating the cracks between the past and the present is the realm of Unspent Time; time that was allotted but never spent. This is where we find the stories that could have been true.
Read how to enter below.

Saturday. Decided to do a little detective work. Headed over to the hospital and queued up at the front desk to ask about visitor's hours. The nurse told me they'd just started.

"Great," I said. "Can I just walk in?"

"You can," she said. "Who did you want to see?"

"Mr. Joseph Miller. He was brought in two days ago."

The nurse consulted her computer, frowned, then shook her head. "No, I'm sorry," she said. "Mr. Miller's dead. He died late last night." She looked up from her screen. "Would you like to see somebody else?"

"What? No! I really need to talk to Mr. Miller. Are you absolutely sure he's passed away?"

"I can recheck if you want." She typed away. "Sometimes this program mixes up some of the... ah, I see what I've done now." She gave me an apologetic smile. "Stupid little me," she said. "I had the stats of several files mixed up."

I breathed a sigh of relief. "So, he didn't pass away?"

"Oh, no," the nurse said, shaking her head, "he's still dead, but he died this morning rather than last night." She held up her hand with a small amount of space between her thumb and index finger. "You missed him by that much."

"I see," I said. "Does it at least say what he died of?"

She browsed her screen, bit her lip, and mumbled, "Yes, no, wait a minute. I saw something about.. Ah, yes. Yes, it does." She looked up again. For a long moment we stared at each other. When I finally arched an eyebrow, she said, "Are you a relative? I'm not supposed to give out this kind of information to just anybody."

I tried to think fast. I really needed that information but I didn't know Joseph other than from the clinic waiting area. We'd never even spoken. Then, out of nowhere, the perfect answer just came to me. I told her, "Yes."

"Okay then." She was about to tell me when her face clouded over again. "You really should be getting this information from his doctor, though."

I waved it away, told her it would be fine.

"Well," she said, reading from her screen, "it says here he died of dehydration and malnutrition."

"He was found passed out in his apartment," I told her. "Apparently he'd been out for a while. Does it say what caused him to lose consciousness in the first place?"

The nurse perused the file for a long time, then shook her head. "No, sorry," she said. "I'll have to get the doctor for that. Just a moment." She reached for the phone.

"That's okay," I said. I didn't want to get into trouble for impersonating a relative. "I need to go. Pressed for time. Thank you."

As I turned to leave, she called after me, "Are you sure you don't want to visit anyone else? There are some really nice people up on the second floor. Much nicer than Mr. Miller. They'd love to talk to you."

... continued in No Hope for Gomez!

How to enter:
For the launch of the new novel I decided to discount it to $0.99 for today (PC and eBook), give away some exclusive content, and raffle off two Kindles. All entrants will get:

  • An exclusive spin-off novelette (not available for purchase anywhere!)
  • Making of Gomez: behind the scenes eBook
  • Signature for their paperback or kindle edition
  • Chance to win a Kindle Fire or a Kindle Touch

(Prizes can be traded for Amazon gift certificates if you already own them.)
Just email your receipt to to enter.
Each purchase counts, so stock up on birthday presents (for people you don't like that much, for instance) The discount ends today, but be sure to send the receipts no later than June 1st.

(Or order the books from any bookstore.)
Coupon code for today: ZB77D

And then get by ing about your purchase and another by mentioning it on facebook

Sound bites from Unspent Time:

“I'm looking into my past lives. I'm convinced some of them still owe me money.”

“I'm very polite by nature, even the voices in my head let each other finish their sentences.”

“I didn’t actually want to do it,” Kiala told the boy. “The universe just kind of conspired to force me to make a fool of myself. It does that quite a lot, actually.”

“Sadly, my socks are like snowflakes, no two are exactly alike.”

Here's what reviewers had to say:

"A veritable page turner of nonstop laughs!" -- Reader Views
"An unputdownable read. a Coens Brothers' film in book form." --
“Extremely witty and clever writing.” -- California Chronicle
"A Party for your Brain!" -- Warren Baxter

Graham Parke is responsible for a number of technical publications and has recently patented a self-folding map. He has been described as both a humanitarian and a pathological liar. Convincing evidence to support either allegation has yet to be produced.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


So I've been SWAMPED at work and have a couple HUGE editing projects I want to try to finish this month, so I have been TERRIBLE getting around to buddy blogs, new blogs... any blogs, really. So I am going to take a few days off here. I mean I won't be completely absent. I have the following planned:

On Friday I have a guest post coming. I need to find it in my email. Erm... cold request, but I thought the blurb sounded good and agreed... That is as far as my short term memory has gotten me at the moment.

And on Sunday, I will try to pull together something Mother's Day-ey...

And then DON'T forget Monday's First Loves Blogfest! (see my 'you're doing what?' for the link)

And there are two Newses...

Leigh gave me my first blog book review from my friend circuit! She was really nice to me! You should go read it.

And I finally spotted our bird friend (from Friday's post) face to face... four times... every time I came in or out our front door today, in fact--I wonder why they don't freeze like deer--she bailed from her nest each time I passed--I may start using the back door just so I don't bother her... though, I DID mention my short term memory, yes? She is very cute, but decidedly NOT a wren like I had the other day, but I looked up the traits and she is more like this Bewick's Wren (though the map says this is unlikely—it is a SW US bird...) still, it LOOKS just like this... pretty sure this is what she is--at least a near relative.
She's cute, yeah?

So my apology again for my absence the next few days. I will try to catch up a little with people who've stopped by, but I will be a little scarce.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Hooray Hooray the 8th of May!!!

(and a tardy A to Z review)

But FIRST!!!

You only need to dance if you like it...
It's (inter)National Outdoor Intercourse Day!!! I thought, in case there are any novices out there, that I would give you some helpful guidelines for your safety and pleasure.

I blogged about this two years ago, so I won't go into huge detail, though if you WANT huge detail, you can always read that post.

Mostly it is just encouragement to get it on with your honey (or alone... it's okay) OUTSIDE! Spring is HERE! Enjoy the perks! But some things to keep in mind...

Does anyone besides me think clothing is contraindicated?

*  If you decide to go naked all day to make this activity easier, I don't advise sitting on vinyl.
*  Tweed is also miserable.
*  Likewise, probably don't wear rhinestone jewelry, except maybe earrings or a tiara. Those tennis bracelets can SCRATCH if you catch it!
*  If you plan to climb trees, DON'T undress BEFORE you get up there. Or maybe just prop a ladder up to climb up there. Bark is ROUGH.
*  Be too quiet if there are wildlife who might stumble upon and BITE you... or conversely, be too LOUD if there are wildlife who will be provoked... know your critters and plan appropriately.
*  Along the same lines, don't lay your blanket on a nest of bugs—no matter the kind, they ruin the mood.
*  Don't lay down at ALL if you are in poisonous snake territory. There are PLENTY of standing and leaning positions.
*  Expose your bare butt to the sun too long unless you have sun screen or a solid base tan.
*  Get arrested. Though RISKING getting arrested is exciting, so you will just have to play it by ear.


*  Relax and enjoy it!
*  Collect a variety of experiences—sun is nice, so is rain, so are stars. Sand is nice. Grass is nice. Picnic tables are nice. Pools are nice. Make sure to get all you can!
*  BE PREPARED! Nothing worse than getting all hot and bothered and realizing you are missing: prop, toy, condom, smooth surface, privacy... you name it... I mean SURE you can make it work. And some people look to it as a challenge. But you want at least SOME of this stuff to just be enjoyable!
*  Spread the word! This is a holiday for all!!!

Okay... And now my belated A to Z Review

I love this event—I REALLY thank all the people who make it run SO smoothly. Lee and Alex, you guys ROCK—you are the heart of this little writing community that just keeps growing because of your efforts.

That said... I always start strong. I visit a lot of new blogs in the first week. I meet the spirit of the challenge... and then I feel like I spend the rest of the month just trying to keep up with people who comment or follow. April is a tough work month for me and so I can't steal the time I normally do from my work day to supplement. Besides that, I have had several big editing projects, two part of a deadline system, so my HOME time is also reduced.

This makes me feel guilty. I KNOW how this is meant to work, and I don't feel like I pull my weight... I tend to bring up the rear. I DID post all my blogs, but I really only had ONE week I was really good, and then another week TOTAL where I got to anything besides those reciprocations... Bad tart.

I must be spanked...

I DO have one suggestion for future years. I'd love to see a COUPLE lists, instead of one. I know the vast majority of us are writers, but there are sub-categories of us and it seems it would be most efficient to let us choose people with some common interests?

I mean, to pull out an example that I REALLY hope isn't rude: Gamers lose me. I've never played a playstation, Xbox or Wii game. Roleplaying... meh... I just am not their readership. Likewise, while I like blogs that INCLUDE crafting, in addition to writing/life (like I love Ellie's blog), blogs that are MOSTLY crafting aren't my thing. My art skills seized in kindergarten and I work full time and write full time. WHEN, pray tell, would I CRAFT? I KNOW these are really nice people, but if there are a thousand blogs to choose from, what I REALLY want are: writing/publishing process blogs, writing and LIFE blogs, funny blogs. Maybe even a note on genre, though a lot of my good friends write in really different genres, so the only reason there is targeting when there is only a chance to hit a subset of a huge number.

It could even just be as part of your name when we sign up:

Confessions of a Watery Tart: Writing/Silliness. That pretty much covers me.

So that would be my request, were I ruling the world...

Monday, May 7, 2012

Crazy Cozy Blogfest

Four weeks from tomorrow!!!

[Blogging A to Z Reflections coming Wednesday because I can't seem to keep track of what I'm supposed to do when]

So some of you may have seen this. I posted it last month for C day, but the fact of the matter is this. When we are blogging A to Z, we don't always go the places we normally go, so I figure MANY of you may have missed this. And now that it is less than a month away, I am here to BEG YOU to participate and help spread the word...

The rest of this particular blog is a reshare from earlier--so if you DID see that one, my apologies... but I figure it is all the same info, and I am running behind, so I thought I'd borrow...

Hurry! Tell all your friends!

Special thanks to my buddy Joris Ammerlaan for our buttons
Wait. It's possible I should tell YOU first.

See... I have my first ever book release June 5th of this year. And on the SAME day, my friend and mentor, Elizabeth Spann Craig is releasing the first in a new series of hers... Both Cozy Mysteries... both tons of fun! So we thought we'd share the fun with you.

First: What the Heck IS a Cozy Mystery?

Cozy Mysteries are like Mystery-Lite—there is still a dead body (or two), still a mystery to solve, and still lots of twists and turns. But they are low on gore (murder happens off the page), low on violence (happens off the page), low on sex (though not necessarily anti-innuendo or ogling—again, just not on the page) -- the whole thing is kept very PG-- and because the sleuth is an amateur, they are also low on technical forensic or police procedural language, making them very approachable. (and far easier for a non-cop to write)

But in ADDITION, they also tend to have a lot of humor, some quirky characters, a recurring cast, and frequently there is a THEME (Elizabeth's is quilting, mine is gardening).

Now of COURSE we want to promote our new books, but because cozies are so fun, we thought we'd SHARE the fun!

Crazy Cozy Blogfest

The idea is to think of the craziest, zaniest set-up for a cozy mystery you can—this is strictly for entertainment value—we don't plan to take these ideas and actually write series (though if you think YOU want to, go for it!). But we are asking you to come up with a wacky theme, a zany sleuth, a crazy setting for your OWN Crazy Cozy Mystery idea.

1)  Sleuth (age, occupation, maybe a little family info)
2)  Sidekick (either friend or foil, but someone who always seems to be around)
3)  Setting (town, city, or other sort of place)
4)  Theme (go nuts)
5)  Twist (be as creative as you like)

Write it up in 150-250 words (so short)--for the blogfest portion anyway—we want people to be able to read a bunch of these without too much burden. Keep the traditions in mind, but we are judging on entertainment value--which we enjoy most, not how realistic it is to make a best seller. We want people to laugh.  WE want to laugh. (so consider those rules more like guidelines, really)

And then please include either our book brief descriptions, a brief word of promo, or a link for people to FIND more if they want to (all related info below).

Prizes: (yes, I said prizes! erm...not extravagant, but we wanted to give you something) Each Elizabeth and I will choose our favorite and BOTH winners will get BOTH books (signed).

We'd love help promoting the blogfest, as well. Feel free to take the button and banner and/or share the Linky Tool below. And I'm sure you will be hearing more about this over the next two months.

Quilt or Innocence
Beatrice has a lot of gossip to catch up on—especially with the Patchwork Cottage quilt shop about to close. It seems that Judith, the landlord everyone loves to hate, wants to raise the rent, despite being a quilter herself… But when Judith is found dead, the harmless gossip becomes an intricate patchwork of mischievous motives. And it’s up to Beatrice’s expert eye to decipher the pattern and catch the killer, before her life gets sewn up for good.

Elizabeth Spann Craig: Elizabeth writes the Memphis Barbeque series for Penguin/Berkley (as Riley Adams), the Southern Quilting mysteries (2012) for Penguin/NAL, and the Myrtle Clover series for Midnight Ink. She blogs daily at Mystery Writing is Murder, which was named by Writer's Digest as one of the 101 Best Websites for Writers for 2010 and 2011.

As the mother of two, Elizabeth writes on the run as she juggles duties as Girl Scout leader, referees play dates, drives carpools, and is dragged along as a hostage/chaperone on field trips.

Barnes and Noble
Indie Bound
Mystery Writing is Murder

The Azalea Assault
Cam Harris loves her job as public relations manager for the Roanoke Garden Society. It allows her to combine her three loves, spinning the press, showing off her favorite town, and promoting her favorite activity. She's just achieved a huge coup by enlisting Garden Delights, the country's premiere gardening magazine, to feature the exquisite garden of RGS founder, Neil Patrick. She's even managed to enlist world-famous photographer Jean-Jacques Georges. Unfortunately, Jean-Jacques is a first-rate cad—insulting the RGS members and gardening, goosing every woman in the room, and drinking like a lush. It is hardly a surprise when he turns up dead. But when Cam's brother-in-law is accused and her sister begs her to solve the crime, that is when things really get prickly.

Alyse Carlson: Alyse Carlson is the pen name for Hart Johnson who writes books from her bathtub. By day she is an academic researcher at a large midwestern university. She lives with her husband, two teenage children and two fur balls. The dust bunnies don't count. This will be her first published book.

Barnes and Noble
Indie Bound
Confessions of a Watery Tart

Friday, May 4, 2012

Our Squatters

You'd think in a wealthy, suburban, college town we wouldn't have this problem. But there it is. A young couple has taken up residence at OUR HOUSE. We've tried tossing their things out, but they keep putting them back...

The quick view, walking by
*sigh *

You wanna know more?

See, about a month and a half ago, I noticed our mailbox was full of leaves and yard debris. I thought one of my son's friends was playing a prank on us—it really seemed that way. I removed all the stuff from the mailbox and tossed if off the side of the porch (admittedly, only about a six inch drop)... It has been back since then. My husband cleared it out. Then I did. Then my husband accused our son of being a prankster, but in spite of Loki-like tendencies, he denied it and we believed him...

Closer: Can you see the little tunnel in there?
Then this week, hubby spots them... BIRDS. These persistent little birds have built a nest in our mailbox and are intent on staying.

Hubby spoke with the mailman who agreed to bundle the mail and put it inside the screen door for the time being. Hubby and son are talking of building a birdhouse and trying to coax them in there instead, because if it's a real house, maybe they will pay some rent like they are suppose to...

Hubby described them--says they are small like a finch, brown, but with a black stripe on the back of their head and two white stripes to either side.  Looking it up, I think it must be a wren--the wren and the wren nest, both fit what I know so far, though so far I haven't seen them...

Wren:  I will have to ask if this is right, but the description fits.

I'm thinking something like this for what they build...

Happy Friday!!!