photo of the edge of a cliff

Standing on the Edge of Publishing

Once upon a time, I stood at the edge of Jumping Rock at Waimea Bay in Hawaii.

My friend and I had watched dozens of kids climbing up and jumping into water below. I laughed, thinking they were crazy. Then my friend said he was going to do it too, and for some reason, I didn’t want to miss out.

There was no way I could ever do such a terrifying thing myself. The rock was 35 feet high. But as I watched everyone do it, temptation sunk its evil hooks into me. I scaled the rock in my bare feet, knowing that I could never get back down without hurting myself.

Then I was there, like so many people before me, looking down at the water way below me.

It was easy, right? Just jump. It didn’t seem that risky. The water was clear, and sufficiently deep. The bottom was sand as far as the eye could see.

But jumping from that height was madness, especially for someone with a moderate fear of heights. How could I ever do it? What had I gotten myself into?

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nanowrimo2015-design-by-eric-nyffeler

Tips from a NaNoWriMo Evangelist

Al card from the tarot deck of Jean Dodal of Lyon, c.1701-1715. Source: Wikipedia
A card from the tarot deck of Jean Dodal of Lyon, c.1701-1715. Source: Wikipedia

Once again, I have embarked on the journey of invention and self-discovery that is NaNoWriMo.

This will be my third National Novel Writing Month attempt. It also marks my first year as a Municipal Liaison (for the Austin/Central Texas region), a position I volunteered for because I love NaNoWriMo so very much.

Here are a few of the lessons I learned from my first two “wins” (successful NaNoWriMo challenges):

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Edinburgh Castle. Source: Wikipedia

Belatedly late update

I’ve been up to a lot lately, and sadly, blogging hasn’t been as high on my list as I’d like.

The important thing is that I’ve been writing a lot. Between my professional copywriting gigs and my novels, I generate a lot of extra vowels each day. I’ve also submitted two different short stories to contests, and I hope to do a few more of those in the next few months.

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Two cover images

Tales of Androids and Gunslingers

1280px-Dead_plant_in_potsAuthors without readers are like house plants without water. While at first they are filled with life and promise, if they go unnoticed long enough, they will wither and fade away.

So it’s important that excellent books get the attention they deserve. Independent authors, who cannot rely on the marketing departments of traditionally-published authors, depend heavily on their readers to help promote their work and grow their careers. A key component of reader promotion comes in the form of book reviews, which play a huge part in selling books and bringing in new readers.

With that in mind, I recently finished two books that I enjoyed very much, and as a challenge, I decided to try reviewing them together. The books are The Whirlwind in the Thorn Tree by S. A. Hunt and Brother, Frankenstein by Michael Bunker.

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rosemarygladstar-firecider

You won’t believe what the US Trademark Office is doing

Bosnian land mine warning sign. Source : Wikipedia
Bosnian landmine warning sign. Source: Wikipedia

Imagine that words and phrases in the English language could be bought. A company could purchase words and become the only entity who could ever use them.

It would fill our language with landmines, forcing writers to navigate through a whole new kind of stylebook. If we used a forbidden word, we could be sued by the word’s owner. One day our use of words like “iced tea” or “notebook” might be completely fine; the next day, if we tried to use that turn of phrase, we could get our websites shut down.

Sounds like crazy science fiction, doesn’t it?

It’s not.

The US Trademark Office is allowing companies to trademark phrases in common and widespread use, such as the term “fire cider,” just because a company wants to have exclusive rights to using a phrase for a product.

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Photo by  Benjamin Sloth via  Unsplash.com

My journey to become a novelist

Although I didn’t know it at the time, I started my first novel as a senior in high school.

It began as a short story about two characters in a fantasy world, and as I recall was inspired by the 1980s Robin Hood television show. Before I began my novel, I had completed a beast of a project, a 20-page short story. It was for one of my classes, and until that point had been the longest thing I had ever written. After that challenge, I would have been scandalized if someone told me I could write an entire novel.

So I wasn’t writing a novel that day. I just had an image, a scene in my head that wouldn’t leave me alone.

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books

Judging a book by its cover

Novels are a collection of ideas and images and characters and philosophies and stories, all twisted up in a blender until all the bits come together into a coherent series of words that we recognize as a book.

These words then get wrapped up in their cover like a Christmas present, with shiny and colorful paper that includes the title and author.

Some books have fantastic covers, others… not so much.

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