Pandora’s Tacklebox Returns!

Last year, as some of you remember, my theme for the Blogging From A to Z Challenge was Pandora’s Tacklebox: The Worst Romance Novel Ever Written In 26 Days. I showed everyone who showed up for the challenge how NOT to write, through the adventures of manly billionaire Highlander cowboy Hawk MacHardcastle and his mermaid lover Dropsy Velvet.

Many of you got a laugh out of this, and it’s been brought up over and over during my theme reveal for this year. Some of you suggested I should put Pandora’s Tacklebox in e-book format for distribution, and so guess what I went and did?

PANDORA’S TACKLEBOX IS NOW AN E-BOOK! Ahem, that is, a FREE e-book (I wouldn’t try to charge you good people for this nonsense). You can download it in tons of different formats on Smashwords!

Let me teach you how NOT to write a book…

Billionaire Highlander cowboy Hawk MacHardcastle is tired of living the jetset life of champagne, bucking broncos, kilts, fast cars, and burning bundles of cash for warmth. Desperate to find meaning in his life, he retires to his family’s isolated cabin in the wilds of New Jersey, on the shores of majestic Lake Latrine.

There, Hawk plans on self-reflection and pursuing the great love of his life—fishing. However, Hawk’s self-imposed loneliness comes to an end when he makes a most unusual companion and fishing buddy.

Dropsy Velvet was once a young woman living on the shores of Lake Latrine with her settler family. However, a curse turned her into a mermaid and now she lives, sad and alone, in the depths of the lake. She hasn’t had human contact for close to fifty years, thanks to everyone either being terrified of her or thinking they’re drunk when they see her—but Hawk may be the connection to the world she’s been craving. Charmed by her innocent face, sparkling wit, and huge bare breasts, Hawk decides to help her find a way to lift the curse, as she will lift his: the curse of ennui and affluenza. But time is running out, for something sinister wants to flush Latrine away forever…


This book was originally a collection of blog posts that made up my theme for the April 2016 Blogging From A to Z Challenge, which lasts 26 days and covers each letter of the alphabet. My hoped-for goal, gentle readers and writers, is to teach you how not to write a book. From awful dialog to awkward foreshadowing, cartoonish villains and even more cartoonish heroes, useless details, too many details, plot that goes nowhere, and metaphor-laced drivel, there will be something to offend even the most seasoned writer/agent/editor/beta reader/long-suffering friend of an author who thinks they’ve seen it all. Take notes, learn, discuss, and most importantly–laugh.



Spring has finally sprung, at least here in the northern hemisphere! Well, spring has ‘officially’ sprung, anyway. In Cleveland it’s still cold and snowy, but it’s all uphill from this point forward, right? (Unless we get one of our spring blizzards.) Soon we’ll have flowers and green and sunny days. Spring is one of my favorite seasons. Actually, all of them are my favorite except winter.

Spring being in the air also means the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge is right around the corner! Did you check out my theme reveal this week?

Here’s to bright skies ahead!

It’s Coming!

I realized with a shock this past weekend that January is almost over, and The Blogging From A to Z Challenge will be upon us in three short months! I always try to queue up my posts in February so that when April rolls around, I can sail through the challenge. Last year, of course, my theme was Pandora’s Tacklebox, the worst romance novel ever written in 26 days. I came up with a theme for this year while writing this week’s IWSG post. Now let’s see if I can capture any of the wit and humor of last year.

Nothing is officially scheduled on the site yet, but I hover anxiously, awaiting sign-ups. Are you in this year?

Edit: There will be a big announcement about the challenge February 6th!

5 Reasons You Should Start A Blog

On Wednesday, I talked about the reasons you should write a book. Even if the industry has too many books and not enough readers, that doesn’t mean we don’t need your book, or that you don’t need your book. If you’re looking for reasons to keep typing, go check it out.

Today, I’m going to tell you why you should start a blog.

I blog three days a week–usually Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, though sometimes it varies. So you may be surprised to hear that I, for the most part, freakin’ hate blogging. More often than not, I’m wracking my brain for the next blog topic and it’s aggravating. I never know what I’m going to write most weeks, unless I already have something lined up. I’m a tour host for Goddess Fish Promotions, because I want to promote other writers, but also because on average it gives me one ready-made post per week. I’m part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group because it’s an awesome, fun group, but it also gives me a blog topic once a month. I like when it’s easy.

So why do I blog, if I don’t really like it? Well, after you read the list below, maybe you’ll understand.

And here are some reasons why you should add another blog to the internet, because clearly what the internet needs is more blogs:

Five reasons you should start a blog:

  1. It’s cathartic to talk to yourself. When you start out, probably no one is going to be reading your blog, except maybe a few friends who are too nice to tell you no when you ask them to follow you. That’s okay. Blogging is kinda like a diary when you first start out, and it helps you sort your thoughts and learn how you feel about things. It also gives you time to practice before people actually start reading your blog. The more you do it, the better you get at it, and the more interesting things you have to say. It’s okay to fumble around when you first start. Somehow, miraculously, after two years of blogging I have over a thousand subscribers. That means I have to provide some content instead of just talking to myself–and hopefully, I’m managing that. Talk to yourself first, and you will learn to talk to the public.
  2. If you suck at social media, it will give you a platform. I really suck at Twitter and Facebook. I had a personal Twitter a long time ago, and loved using it, but eventually my Twitter fever went away. I have a personal Facebook I’m much more active on than my writing one, but it’s locked to friends and family. My writing Facebook, Twitter, G+, and everywhere else I’m expected to be are mostly full of promotion and regurgitating my blog posts. At least with a blog I’m still reaching an audience, and I can say more here anyway. I can be present without having to be good at everything.
  3. It’s great for procrastinating on your writing. I should be working on the book I’m writing right now, but I’m blogging instead. And I can still say I’m ‘working.’ Ha! Take THAT, productivity!
  4. You can reach people who don’t even read the kind of stuff you write. I know that most of my subscribers don’t even read romance and erotica, but we’ve made friends and enjoy talking to each other because we’ve found each other through places like the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. This is why I started a general writing blog instead of focusing on one genre of writing. I’m more interested in engaging other writers than specifically engaging other romance writers. This is up to you, though–but remember, if you make your blog very specific, you need to find a way to reach that specific audience. Sometimes broader is better. It also gives you a lot of freedom in topic matter, too.
  5. It provides site content. If your website is lacking content, if there’s not much to put on there, a blog puts some meat on the skeleton of your online presence. Also, it can be really good for driving traffic to your site. People come to read your posts and check out the rest of the site–that’s a big bonus!

Whether you have a blog already or you’re considering starting one, you should know this: the internet is infinite, and there’s room for you. If you want to blog, then blog! You have a right to express yourself just like everyone else. And even if you find it aggravating, there’s a lot of good reasons to keep at it

Have a great weekend!

The Writing Community

One reason I love the Insecure Writer’s Support Group and participate in the monthly blog hop is because of the support it provides. It’s a huge blog hop, and it’s easy to get lost sometimes and there’s so many bloggers involved it’s hard to get to them all, but it’s a great, supportive community of writers who always have your back. By sharing what’s on our minds and what’s bringing us down each month, we find camaraderie, commiseration, and most important of all, sympathetic ears and shoulders to cry on.

This week I posted about how life has been getting in the way of my writing and I’m feeling drained and haven’t made much progress. The outpouring of support was overwhelming and I really want to thank all of you. It makes me feel better to know that other writers struggle with the same issues, and that all of us drop out of the race from time to time. The fact that we’re there to help each other get back in is heartening.

Lots of things can sideline writers and make it so we can’t get our fingers on that keyboard and produce anything:

  • Real life stress and responsibilities
  • Major life changes
  • Health problems
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Holidays
  • Too much on one’s plate

If you’re dealing with any of these things, I’m pulling for you, and I’m here for you. If you need to talk to someone about it or just moan and share your woes, I’m always available. You can comment here or contact me via email, if you would rather discuss something privately. It’s important as writers that we support each other and help each other get back up when we fall. It doesn’t matter what genre we write in, we all have the same love of writing in our hearts.

If you would like to talk in the comments, or you’re in a good place right now and you would like to offer other struggling writers your support, feel free!

A Little Update

I apologize for the lack of posts this week. I had an unexpected hospital stay over the weekend and didn’t have anything lined up for the blog. I’m doing fine and recovering now, but it’s going to be quiet on the blog this week. I will be hosting author Tamela Miles’ book tour on Thursday, but other than that I’m going to take a break this week and rest up.

I will resume normal blogging on Monday, I promise! Have a great week!


Next Week Update

Just a note that things will be a bit out of whack here on the blog next week, as The Burning City will be released on Tuesday and I’ll be focusing a lot on that.

As an update, unfortunately I’ve decided to cancel the Facebook party for release day due to lack of interest–however, I will be doing a giveaway here on the blog instead and there will be multiple giveaways on other blogs where I’m doing guest spots, as well. I’ll make sure to link to those on Tuesday so you have lots of chances to win!

Hope to see you on Tuesday for release day, and if you live in the U.S., have a great holiday weekend!

13 insane things…

I was trying to come up with a blog post subject for today and I decided to check out some ‘blog topic generators.’ There’s a bunch of them listed here, and I used the Portent’s Content Idea Generator. I put ‘writing’ in for the subject and I got some truly hilarious ideas, like this one: 13 Insane (But True) Things About Writing.

That made me laugh. Could I come up with 13 insane (but true) things about writing? Sure I can! Here you go:

13 Insane (But True!) Things About Writing:

  1. YOU kinda have to be insane to be a writer.
  2. People will never ask you things you can readily answer when you tell them you’re a writer. They’ll ask things like “how do you write a book?” (there’s no easy way to answer that) or “when do you have time to write???” (someone who doesn’t even know me asked me this recently, when they have no idea what my schedule/life is like) You will get more strange/hard to answer questions than things you actually want to chat about.
  3. You won’t make much money. But you’ll keep doing it! (See #1)
  4.  If you write urban fantasy, you will never meet a single person in real life who knows what that is, despite it being one of the biggest selling genres in books today.
  5. Additionally, if you write romance, you will inevitably get some sneers and eye rolls, despite the fact romance is THE top genre in books and has been a multi-BILLION dollar industry for multiple years running.
  6. Sometimes you write a whole book, then hate it and never look at it again.
  7. Or, you’ll pull out some God-awful thing you wrote ten years ago and think “hey, I can fix this up and make it better.” You can’t. Move on to something new. After two days of massive revisions, you’re going to hate ten-years-ago you and wish you could go back in time and stab yourself.
  8. You deliberately go read customer/Goodreads reviews on your book, even though you know you shouldn’t do this to yourself.
  9. Writing is a socially-acceptable form of dissociating and hallucinating for hours on end.
  10. At times you know less about what’s going to happen in your own story than a reader would.
  11. No matter how much stuff you have published, sometimes you will lay on the floor and angst about what a hack you are.
  12. Sometimes you ask your cat what’s supposed to happen next in your book.
  13. Sometimes the cat has great ideas.

Well, that was fun! Do you have any to add?

A to Z Reflections

For this year’s Blogging from A to Z Challenge, I came up with the worst romance novel ever written in 26 days. Pandora’s Tacklebox, an epic (mis)adventure involving an intrepid multi-tasking hero (with muscles of iron, a beard like a god, and a bank account of legend) and his poor cursed mermaid girlfriend, was an effort to both entertain and educate about writing techniques. Visitors to the blog seemed to enjoy it a lot. I got such a big and positive response!

This was my second year doing the challenge. Last year I talked about writing too, though not as entertainingly. This year was a much more organized and focused effort, and took a lot more work. However, like last year, I started writing my posts in February so they were all ready to go by April. This turned out to be quite smart, as I ended up moving house in April. I surely wouldn’t have been able to write day by day in the midst of that chaos. I recommend to everyone to decide early in the year if you want to participate and write your posts well ahead of time–then you can cruise through April on autopilot!

I do admit, by about ‘S’ I was starting to burn out on the challenge, even with all my posts done. Each day I still had to promote the posts on Facebook, Twitter, and the like, visit other blogs, and answer my comments. Perhaps my burnout was just because I was living amongst towers of boxes at the time and trying to put all my ducks in a row so the actual move (which took place on April 30th) went smoothly. I was distracted a lot and it eventually felt kind of grueling to immerse myself in the challenge.

I met some new blogger friends this year though, and enjoyed the challenge overall. I got to participate in a few of the Twitter chats and that was fun.

Will I do it again next year? Of course! I looked forward to the challenge this year and couldn’t wait for it to get under way. Maybe next year I’ll try something a little less complex, though.

Check out the other reflection posts on the A to Z Challenge site!