funny

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.

GET IT FREE AT SMASHWORDS!

Blogging From A to Z Challenge Theme Reveal

This is my third year doing the challenge, and it’s time to bring the truth.

For the Blogging From A to Z Challenge I’m doing you all a huge favor and filling you in on the 26 Things To Hate About Writing.** I’m hoping by the end of April, I will have convinced all of you not to indulge in the wild insanity of becoming a writer. If I can save even one person from offering themselves up in sacrifice to the mad and fickle word gods, I will have done some good in this world.

Here’s 26 things that are just the worst about writing:

A – Authors
B – Books
C – Creating Characters
D – Dialog
E – Edits
F – Fantasy Worlds
G – Grammar
H – Homophones
I – Inconsistencies
J – Jealousy
K – Killing Your Darlings
L – Language
M – Message
N – Notes
0 – Originality
P – Plot
Q – Quantity
R – Readers
S – Self-Publishing
T – Transitions
U – Unfinished Manuscripts
V – Viewpoint
W – Word Count
X – Xeriscaping
Y – You
Z – Zero Days

Take heed! Hear my warning. Do not let yourself fall prey to this insidious pastime called writing, for down that path is nothing but tears, aggravation, folly, and disappointment. Not to mention: deadlines! Plot holes! Poor character development! Awful dialog! Rejection! Grammar mistakes! Bad reviews! Oooooh, it’s enough to chill the blood. WRITE AT YOUR OWN RISK.


**Disclaimer: If you haven’t figured it out, this theme will be pure satire and simply a humorous way to vent my writing frustrations. No offense is intended to anyone. Please, become or continue being a writer. It’s awesome, I swear. It’s super…duper, awesome…heh heh.

Our Favorite Toys

I was trying to come up with a topic for today’s post, and as I sometimes do, I asked my cat what I should write about. As she always does when I ask her what I should write about, she said “me.” Well, maybe it was closer to me-ow, but I got the point. So, why not?

My cat has a flippin’ lot of toys:

Sorry, I don’t have enough to share…

I say this as though she went out and spent her own money on an exorbitant amount of cat toys. No, I bought them for her, because I spoil her. She also gets a Kitnip Box every month, adding to her collection. My son is an adult now but my apartment sometimes looks like I have a toddler because of the toys everywhere.

The thing is, as many toys as she has, a few are her favorites. Whenever she wants to play she almost always picks the same ball or plushie, and she loves to maul anything with feathers attached to it. My son sometimes engages her with the lesser-played with toys, but she always ends up going back to her favorites. I’m sure they smell like her and she finds them the most interesting and entertaining.

As writers, we have our favorite ‘toys.’ That is, plots we love to write variations of, character types we enjoy working with, and formulas we feel comfortable sketching out. Also, the genres we tend to work in. Even with a huge box of ideas to choose from, we pick our favorites. Sometimes we try out a new idea, or something we don’t usually toss around, but it’s not always as rewarding to play with as the one that squeaks, or the one that rattles, or the super squishy one that’s fun to chew on.

Is this a bad thing? No, not at all. Many authors are known for the plots and types of characters they write. Some authors even bank hugely on the fact that their readers fully and eagerly expect them to bring the same toy to play with, if in slightly different colors with different jingles and whistles on it. They want the same plot and formula, and the author knows how to build it, twist it around a bit so it’s not identical every single time, and keep readers coming back for more.

We feel comfortable with the things we like to write, the things we’re good at writing, the things we understand in our heart and can turn into stories. It’s okay to think outside the toybox too, and find something new to play with from time to time. And what if all the toys are your favorite? That’s okay too. Have a blast!

But if you just like the one with feathers, pounce on it!

A Wild Week

Apologies for the lack of meaty posts on the blog this week. White Witch Magic came out this past Tuesday and I’ve been wrapped up in new release stuff and promotion. I promise next week it will be back to your regularly scheduled blogging, starting with a guest tour and giveaway! Until Monday…

10 Reasons You Should Write A Book

If you follow any writing industry blogs and/or news sites, you’ve probably read the disheartening information a million times: less people are reading books these days! Book sales are down! Print/ebooks (whichever one they’re predicting doom and gloom for this week) have had a huge dip in sales and will be obsolete by this time next year! The exact genre you write in is trash and no one is buying those kind of books anymore!

I take most industry ‘facts’ with a grain of salt, largely because I read statistics on one site and the exact opposite projections on another. It’s true we live in a weird age for books because it’s a much more digital age where people are consuming their entertainment in varying forms in ways they’ve never been able to before. I know publishing is very different now than when I first started writing many years ago. It’s true that publishing is easier but it’s harder to get people to read our books, because they’re not a limited commodity that only has one specific path to access anymore.

So under this landslide of books and this lack of readership, why should you still write a book? Because, you’re a writer! And here’s some other reasons why:

Ten reasons you should write a book:

  1. Because non-writers think it’s cool. Seriously, most people in my life who don’t write, no matter if they’re readers or not, think I’m performing some kind of arcane magic. They think I wave a wand when in reality I grit my teeth and yank my hair out a lot.
  2. It gives you reasons to be on your laptop. When people are like “are you gonna stare at that screen all day?” you can tell them you’re working, and shh, please leave me alone I’m trying to concentrate really hard. Make sure you minimize the tab full of cat memes first.
  3. You can get out of boring social situations. Feel free to turn down that invitation to your aunt’s goat’s birthday party by telling her you have a deadline to meet.
  4. You learn how to write blurbs/taglines. Every time someone asks you what your book is about you get a little bit better at telling them in as few words as possible. This trains you to write those short descriptions that have to encapsulate the entire book in one breath. The WHOLE book, in ONE sentence? Are you playing with me right now, Mr. Editor???
  5. On that note, you learn how to deal with disinterest. When people ask you what your book is about, and you tell them, and their eyes glaze over, this prepares you for when no one cares about your book on release day.
  6. Real life is boring. You get to create the fun, fast-paced, exciting world that you wish this one was, so you don’t go crazy like everyone else.
  7. It gives you something to talk about at social gatherings. At least for the first twenty seconds until people’s eyes start to glaze over.
  8. It’s fun to commiserate with other writers. Like ones who write humor-filled yet harrowing lists about what it’s like to be a writer.
  9. If you don’t write, you’re going to have to find some other creative outlet so your brain doesn’t eat itself. And frankly, no one is impressed by my ability to draw a mean stick figure.
  10. Because even if it’s true less people are reading today, and the book market is oversaturated, and it’s harder than ever to make it, somewhere out there, there’s an avid reader who is longing to get lost in the kind of worlds you create, and you need each other.

It’s a hard knock life being a writer, but most of us wouldn’t trade it for the world.

On Friday, I’ll give you five reasons why you should start a blog. Because like books, what we clearly need is more blogs!

A Writer’s Christmas List

All I want for Christmas is:

  • An unfettered flow of great ideas.
  • Characters that turn out as real on the page as they are in my head.
  • No awkward scene transitions.
  • Engaging, witty dialog.
  • A spellchecker that knows when I’m screwing up my homophones.
  • Brilliant, catchy names for characters that will never be forgotten by my readers.
  • A movie deal.
  • Okay, a book club deal is good too.
  • Just like, me saying “buy this book” and the person says “okay, deal.”
  • A breathtaking romance captured perfectly.
  • Barring that, an interesting cat lady.
  • No filler.
  • No tangents.
  • Not forgetting that detail I put in chapter two that was supposed to be important later on.
  • Looming foreshadowing.
  • Heart-pounding suspense.
  • To have characters that just for once don’t visit a restaurant/diner in one of my stories.
  • To have enough readers to laugh at my inside jokes about my writing.
  • Minimal edits.
  • Okay, at least less edits?
  • SLIGHTLY LESS EDITS.
  • A quelling of my desire to put an exclamation point at the end of every sentence of dialog!
  • No characters having jobs/hobbies I have to research for a solid three months before I can begin writing.

What’s on your writer’s Christmas list?

Ten (More) Life Lessons We Can Learn From Our Cats

One of the most popular posts on this blog is Ten Life Lessons We Can Learn From Our Cats. Since, like that day, I’m struggling to come up with a topic, I thought why not find ten more lessons to keep you laughing? So here we go:

Ten (More) Life Lessons We Can Learn From Our Cats:

  1. If you don’t like your food, complain until someone gets you something better.
  2. Sometimes you just have to let the hairball it all out.
  3. If you hear a weird noise at night, it’s best to be over-alert and anxiously on guard. It might have been just the wind, but it’s probably an axe murderer breaking into the house to chop you to pieces.
  4. On that note: always overreact and hide from most noises.
  5. The most comfortable sleeping positions are weirdly the ones that twist you into strange shapes.
  6. Find a high spot and watch the world from above, with an air of superiority. That’s why you’re up there, after all, because you’re better than everyone else.
  7. Don’t wait for treats, find them and take them.
  8. A sunbeam is a good place for a nap.
  9. If someone accuses you of something, just give them big eyes and make cute noises, they’ll forget about it.
  10. If you don’t want to be touched, bite.

Have a great Wednesday!

Brooding About Writing

One of the things that gives me the most pleasure in life is writing. Throwing myself into a good, intense writing session clears my head of my worries, helps me focus in a way nothing else does, calms me, and leaves me with a happy, peaceful, content feeling when I’m done. I know I’m a writer because of how writing feels. There’s nothing else that gives me the sense of accomplishment and fulfilment that it does.

So why do I, like so many other writers, spend so much time not writing? It’s easy to procrastinate. If you can’t find excuses not to write, you can definitely make some up. If there’s anything a writer is good at besides writing, it’s not writing. Nothing gives me more joy than putting the words on the page, and nothing makes me grouchier, angrier, and more despairing than not having my creative outlet. There’s an easy solution to this of course, but heaven forbid I do anything the easy way.

There’s a lot of agonizing that goes on when you’re not writing. A lot of questions bounce around in your head. What if this thing I’m writing sucks? What if I can’t work out the plot? What if this isn’t what I want to write? What if I can’t finish it? The best way to answer any of these questions is to spend time with the story and find out. Yeah, sometimes the writing does suck, but if you don’t write it to begin with, you’ll never find out. Maybe that’s the fail safe. If I don’t write, it won’t be awful!

But it won’t be good either, and you won’t feel like you’ve accomplished something.

Some writers are magnificent in their prolificness. They write every day and churn out multiple books per year. They do the work instead of griping and moaning about it. If this is you, congratulations! Now, get out of my face and go write. (Just kidding. Sorta.)

I wish I could be more disciplined. I wish I could stop groaning about my writing and just sit down and do it. I mean, obviously I do it eventually, because I have lots to show for it, but sometimes it’s mysterious even to me when I got all this stuff done. All I remember is dragging around like a slug and feeding the cat for the fifth time instead of getting my words down for the day. I remember convincing myself the story is crap instead of writing it to find out. But eventually, I must have sat my butt in the seat and put the work in.

It’s hard to be a writer, dammit. There’s so much we have to complain about!

How about you? Do you find yourself procrastinating and brooding instead of writing?

What The Hell Is Urban Fantasy?

I get asked this question a lot. Especially in my daily life, when I tell people I write books and they ask what I write, I say “urban fantasy” and get blank stares. I have yet to distill down a simple and clear answer that won’t take ages to explain when they inevitably ask “what’s that?” Sometimes I try to point out movies and TV shows that have an urban fantasy vibe, to make it clearer. Of course, they’ve never seen any of them (in case you’re confused as well, here’s a list of TV shows, though I don’t necessarily agree that all of these are urban fantasy).

So what’s urban fantasy?! Well, here’s some key elements:

  • Usually set in a city. This is what makes it ‘urban.’ However, to complicate things further, not ALL urban fantasy has a city setting. Because:
  • A general gritty/modern/dark vibe. If it has this feel, it can be set outside an urban area and still be considered urban fantasy.
  • Paranormal elements. This is the actual one universal rule.
  • Usually has a female protagonist. Especially when it comes to urban fantasy books. However, guess what kids? This is not a hard and fast rule either.
  • Has some romantic elements. Again, not universal, but especially when it comes to books. Urban fantasy is often listed as a subgenre of romance. But does it have to be romantic? Of course not! None of this makes sense!
  • Has some action/high-stakes. This is another element that actually seems to be universal.

Is it any wonder I can’t explain to people what the hell urban fantasy is unless they actually read it? I guess it’s…a paranormal, action-y, gritty sorta romance with no clear perimeters on content?

I just write romance, guys. Romance! Let’s leave it at that.

Slow and Steady

If you’re an anxious sort of person who likes things to happen fast, the last thing you want to be is a writer. Writing and publishing are the slowest activities you can imagine. How anyone manages to make a stable career out of it is beyond me (I’m sure it takes a thousand years to get to that point). If you want to go fast, race stock cars. If you want to watch yourself slowly age while nothing happens, become a writer.

Every step of the writing and publishing process is slow:

  • Need an idea? If your brain is anything like mine, it’s going to take its sweet old time coming up with something for you to write. Even once you get that spark, the details need to be slowly untangled before you begin. If I try to push my brain for ideas it gets even more cranky and just goes to sleep.
  • Got an idea? Now write a book. How long do you think it will take? Weeks? Months? Years? Everyone is different. Sure, there’s some writers who can churn out a book in a few days or a week, but it probably took them a long time to get that fast, and also they probably sacrifice puppies to gain their dark magical power.
  • Now edit that book. This might take even longer than writing it, especially if it needs major rewrites.
  • Start sending it off to agents/editors. If you want to feel the true passage of endless time in all its horrifying reality, send a submission off and then keep refreshing your inbox while you wait for a reply. Stalk the agent/editor on Twitter as well if you really want to experience what eternity feels like.
  • Got an offer? Great! You think things will speed up now, don’t you? You sweet summer child. When they finally send you the contract, you’ll want to make sure you read that sucker thoroughly and consider all your options. Definitely not the time to rush.
  • Now your editor/cover artist/proofreader gets to make it into a real book. Days and weeks will go by where you’re fairly certain the publisher has forgotten they’ve taken you on board. Then, your editor will email you in the middle of the night with fifty pages of edits that they want back in two days.
  • Release day! Finally! …wait, I spent all that time waiting for this? Where is the choir of angels singing? Why isn’t Channing Tatum at my door ready to give me a lap dance? Why hasn’t Kim Kardashian called me up to take me on a shopping spree for being so clever and published? Now you get to wait for someone to care that you wrote a book.
  • Now wait to get paid. Keep waiting. Better start writing another book.

Writing is slow. Publishing is slow. But it’s all worth it in the end, right? Right?!