04 January 2016

The Finger Trap

Pretty sure you've all met Johnny Worthen on this blog before. He's a strange chap that insists upon wearing tie-dye shirts no matter where he is or what he is doing. As a matter of fact, near the end of The Finger Trap the main character, Tony, sports his own tie-dye shirt. (Don't think I didn't catch that, Johnny.)

So, I know Johnny. He's a great guy and a (I might choke on this) literary writer. If you know me, I'm a commercial fiction girl. To each his or her own-I go one way, Johnny goes the other. A few months ago he asked (okay, begged, because that's what we authors really want for Christmas, our birthdays and every Thursday) for people to review his new book, The Finger Trap.

First off, the cover is awesome. Jolly Fish Press might not boast a big office or Brandon Sanderson as one of their authors, but their covers are top notch. I'm neither a literary fiction or a mystery girl, but the cover was enough to get me to agree to read it.

I'm not the audience for this book. There's more language than I like, and the pacing is a little slow (remember, I'm a blow things up now and ask questions later kind of a girl). It took me quite a while to get into the story. The main character starts out as a charming loser, with the charming barely overpowering the loser at the beginning.

However, and this was a big surprise for me, between the beautiful writing, the quirky voice of Tony and the transformation he goes through, I must admit that by the end I was actually cheering for the guy. Not the jump out of your chair and fist pump, but the sly smile of, "Oh, these guys are in so much trouble, Tony is going to take them apart piece by piece."

And he does. Not physically-he's not much of a fighter as illustrated by the number of times he gets beat up in the book-but mentally. He uses his strengths to pick the mystery apart, gather the pieces and put them back together in a brilliant ending.

Oh, did I mention he's been framed for the murder of a girl he barely met, he just went through a divorce that's been scheduled for six years and he's not a finisher?

Well, in this story he finds his reason to finish something. Which is why I'd recommend it. Like I said, some of the language and subject matter isn't what I would normally pick up and read, but I know that plenty of people don't mind it, so go read the book. The care the author put into the prose is apparent from the first chapter, the voice of the character is dry and funny and kept me going when I thought the story was a bit slow, and Tony's transformation is one of the best character arcs I've read in a long time.

If you want to stalk Johnny, go here.
He loves adoring fans, even if they chase him with sharp objects.

30 November 2015

A Slight Detour

I know I've been scarce for the past few months. I know I've neglected this blog...and a whole lot of other things in my life. I know that I should neglect Facebook and Instagram more and my poor hubby less, but I'm still working on that.

A few months ago I announced my plan to write four books in four months.

Don't panic, they're just rough drafts. A mere 60,000 words each.

Yes, this is an insane plan. I get it. My problem is, tiny plans don't always light a fire under me like a good dose of insanity can. Besides, why not shoot for the stars and hit the moon, or whatever?

This plan of mine has a method to its madness. I have a schedule in my mind for when I would like to get the rest of the Jagged Scars series out. The series is five books long, and only Fractured Memories, book 1, is out. The release schedule is also a bit on the aggressive side. Because...if I don't push myself, I roll back down the hill and lay at the bottom staring at the internet and eating whatever I can reach.

I took the month of September to plan four books. I spent a lot of hours working on characters and plot and bad guys and the world and everything I could think of.

In October, I typed out book 2. Right around 60,000 words. I finished a few days early (not sure how that happened, but yay) and read through it before starting book 3. I'm not going to lie, it was pretty good. And by pretty good, I mean really good for a rough draft that came out of me. So the planning paid off, and on to book 3 in November.

Ah, November. The month in which I got the stomach flu that put me on the couch for two days, I had the nerves in my hip muscles tense up so bad that I could only shuffle around for almost two weeks (couple that with the stomach flu), I had a writing retreat get cancelled due to a death in the family (another girl's family) and then there was Thanksgiving. Those are my excuses. Valid, every one of them.

Now don't get me wrong, I ended up with almost 52,000 words, and the whole book written except for the finale. I've read back through parts of it, and it's pretty good. Not as good as book 2, but for a rough draft, I'm satisfied.

Except for the end. Because I hadn't thought it out all the way, and the last few chapters are just outlined.

Yesterday, I sat at my computer, looked at the clock and said, "I have 5 hours. I can get 10,000 more words out. I can get to the end of the book. The hubby will bring me a Diet Coke slushy from Sonic. I can do this."

But a little voice—that little voice—began to yell at me from very, very far away.

"Sure, you can get those 10,000 words written today. You can meet your word count goal, but you know, and I know, that you'll have to completely rewrite at least 75% of them. Probably more."

"Quiet, I'm not backing down from this."

"I thought the whole point of this plan was so you would have rough drafts that you could easily edit, not that you had to rewrite huge chunks of."


"You haven't worked this finale out. You haven't actually sat down and planned it. You could write the last chapter, but leading up to that will most likely be rubbish."

"You think I write trash now?"

"You do when you start shooting from the hip."

"Leave my hips out of this."

"I'm just saying, you should outline the rest."


"And then you should take the month of December to revise books 2 and 3. Get the characters right, put the emotions in."

"Whoa, wait. No. That's not part of the plan. I have to write book 4 in December."

"You don't have too."

"Yes, I do."

"If you take the time to revise, I promise you'll have a better foundation for the last two books. You wouldn't want to have to rewrite 75% of each of them, would you?"


"I'm just saying."

So the little voice has won. December will consist of probably 100 hours of editing and rewriting and planning for the last two books. And I might be desperately typing on New Year's Eve to get ready for book 4 in January. My hope is that it will be worth it. I'll let you know what happens.

And if nothing else, right now I have two books written that I didn't have 60 days ago. Pretty awesome.

02 November 2015

Find the Bright Side of Life

Everyone has heard this phrase.

"Be Grateful"

Am I right? I know I have, and I know how these two little words can change the course of your life. Or, sometimes more importantly, your day.

The last couple of years have been hard. I started dating, went to my kempo class less, ate out more, got engaged, then married, moved, went to Kempo class even less, fought with depression (between birth control and a new neighborhood that wasn't fun), gained more weight than I want to talk about, tried to lose weight, tore up my elbow, tore up one hip joint, gained more weight, failed to meet my writing goals and in general felt quite useless.

I've been trying to pull myself out of this spiral for a while. It's finally working. In an attempt to find the bright side of life, I've fashioned a new outlook on the past two years.

I invited a boy I wanted to get to know to a movie. We started dating a few months later.

I went to Israel with a really good friend just before things got bad over there. Traveling to the Holy Land had been a dream of mine for twenty years.

I rode 45 miles on a bike for MS.

I got engaged.

I lived through said engagement and got married to an adorkable man who treats me like a queen and keeps me on my toes.

I learned a valuable lesson that messing with my own hormones is a really bad idea.

I've met a lot of great people in my new neighborhood that I never would have had the chance to associate with if I hadn't moved here.

I received firsthand experience about how important consistency in exercise is. I 'd always understood it in regards to spiritual things, but now I know a whole lot more. And knowing is half the battle. Or so I learned from afternoon cartoons.

My body isn't getting any younger, but I'm figuring out how to gently guide it back on course.

I start each day thinking about how great it's going to be. Seriously, this is me talking to myself as I'm on the toilet. (Sorry for the image, but it's true.) I go through what I'm going to accomplish and how good it will make me feel (crossing things off my to-do list is like a drug for me). I make a mental note of something nice to do for someone, and I keep my irritable self in the corner of my mind, where she pouts because she's being ignored so much. Which I'm totally fine with. 

It sounds disgustingly ideal, and I sometimes feel like an idiot having self-affirmation talks with myself, but I can tell you, if you stick with it, it can work. It works for me. Not everyday is perfect-I almost walked out of my day job crying last week, but didn't because I'd convinced myself beforehand that everything was going to be fine. No part of my self worth has to be tied with a few issues at work. I'm still an awesome person, even if every product I put into the shop last week blew up in spectacular and expensive ways. Just keep breathing. Stop hating yourself. Take a five minute walk and think about this:

I am grateful.
I am blessed.
I am living today.
I look forward to tomorrow.

26 October 2015

Why it's Taken Me Two Months to Get Through the New Star Wars Novel

Forget for a moment, that Disney bought the Star Wars franchise, and go back to the old universe. My sisters and I read most of the novels that came out. I did give up when Jacen Solo turned into a total idiot and started killing everyone he could get his hands on, so I never did finish the entire lot of novels. But in general, I'm a huge fan of Star Wars and the expanded universe.

Now you will recall that Disney has bought the Star Wars franchise. I saw a new book advertised, and almost ran out and bought it that day. I hesitated-I was probably writing like a mad woman. Anyway, I saw on Instagram that a neighbor had it. I may have put up a post akin to, "I need!"

Two days  later, his wife dropped the book of at my house.

A little chorus of heaven sounded there for a second.

Even though I was under a big deadline for my own writing stuff, I snuggled into the couch and pulled the pages open. The hard cover felt heavy but familiar in my hands, and my eyes eagerly swept over the first few chapters.

I was expecting the Star Wars feel. I was expecting more than one familiar character. I was expecting a Point of View I cared about, or was even interested in. I didn't really get any of that.

I'm not familiar with the author or any of his other works. Perhaps his writing style is heavy on the ADD side, and that jumping from character to character every two pages is normal. Plus it's in present tense, which is distracting for the first two or three paragraphs of every character switch. Which, like I said, take place ever two pages.

I hate it. With so many unfamiliar names, places and races (and hey, I'm a good reader. I can usually keep track of this info-dumpy stuff) I got confused. And annoyed. And more confused.

Each time the author went back to an interesting character, he or she only lasted a few pages before we were whisked off to another corner of the story to see another minor detail that I'm sure, if I could persist, would be a tiny thread in the beautiful web that this book is supposed to build.

And the metaphors. I'm all about immersing oneself into the universe, but this guy takes it too far. I give him credit for trying to make each character's voice sound different, but "The bala-bala lurched forward like a tauntaun with its tail stepped on" gets old after 300 pages. There are dozens of them, and while they are clever, I simply found them distracting. As if the author tried just a little too hard, and got in the way of his own storytelling.

Yes, this is harsh. But that's how I feel. I'm hoping the next one will be better, because I'd hate to have to ignore all of those lovely, Star Wars novels.

Although, I do have all of the comic books so far. So maybe I'll be okay.

12 October 2015

Life Gave Me the Bird

Fridays are my writing days. I don't have to go to my day job. I get to sleep in. I'm a morning person, so that means I'm up and going before 8am. Unless my rotten husband has kept me up late watching Supernatural or some other Netflix temptation. Still, I'm up by 8:30am. So much to do, so little time.

A few Fridays ago, I got up before 8am, exercised, showered and was in the midst of getting ready when the hubby finally rolled out of the house for work.

On a side note, my hubby is not a morning person, and I find it intensely gratifying to harass him until he gets out of bed. Flickering lights, curtains flung open, tickling toes, stealing blankets...I pretty much torture him. I may not go to heaven anyway, might as well make the most of it, right?

As I'm drying my hair, I hear a strange, metallic scratching sound. I thought it was the garage door or something, and ignored it. When it happened again, I continued to ignore it so I could finish my hair.

Don't judge me. My hair is fickle, and if I don't do it all at once, horrible, fluffy things happen.

Let's also note that we have indeed been watching Supernatural. I've never seen it before, so we're in the first few seasons where they go up against all of the good old urban legends. Creepy. I don't like weird noises.

The sound goes away. I'm ready for one last, intense session of outlining for my Jagged Scars series, I get breakfast, break out the lap top, position the TV tray, set everything down, sit down, am about to take a bite of my turkey sausage and egg white breakfast burrito (which tastes better than it sounded just then) and the scratching starts again.

Like four feet from my face.

I'm out of the couch and half way across the room before I realize that 1) I somehow managed to put my burrito down safely and 2) the sound is coming from the fireplace.

Scratching. Fireplace. In the living room. I have to put my heart back in my chest and take a few breaths before I can think straight.

Only once before in my life have I encountered something in my fireplace. It was a bird. That time I could hear the poor thing flapping. This intruder was just scratching.


Wonderful. I've never opened the doors to the fireplace, let alone figured out how to open the flue. And there could be a giant rat in there, which would drop down and dart around me and into the house. And it could be big enough to ram the doors hard enough to get out even if I did manage to get the glass doors closed before it could escape.

So what did I want? A giant rat in my house, or was I willing to listen to frantic, scratching noises all day until the hubby came home?

It only took me a few minutes to realize, the answer was neither.

I don't like wild animals. At all. Nature is great when it stays outside. I'm all for keeping it there.

But the scratching kept coming, and even with music on and all the way in my office, I could hear it. Crazed, angry, insistent claws on metal that, each time it sounded, made the hair on the back of my neck stand on end.

Let's also mention that I was about to embark on a very sensitive time of the month.

I only lasted about an hour before I decided something had to be done. But I was NOT going to open that door or the flue. No, no, no.

In today's world, what does one do when you have a problem? That's right, Google.

The mighty Google suggested that for a rodent down a chimney, to drop a rope for it to climb out with.

That sounds so easy. But remember, we've only lived her for two years, and neither of us had a house before that. So we're lacking a few things. Two of them being a rope that's bigger than twine, and a ladder that reaches the roof.

Seriously, I never knew how many things you needed to maintain a house.

By this point my independent nature had come out to see what was up, and decided that I could put my big girl pants on and get this thing done all by myself! As long as I didn't have to open the flue.

First problem, a ladder. Can't drop a rope if I can't get on the roof. So I sent a text to one of my neighbors, seeing if her hubby (who works nights) was up and if they had a ladder I could borrow. After an array of text messages and calls, her hubby dropped off the ladder and set it up for me.

I looked at the top of the ladder and noticed that it didn't extend very far above the roof.

At that moment, the rain started, and I said, "I guess I'll do this later. Don't want to go up there in the rain." My awesome neighbor left. I waited until  he was long gone, before gingerly climbing up the ladder until my head came even with the rain gutter.

The foot of ladder above the gutter instilled nothing but horror. The quick jerk I gave it dispelled any notions that I would be climbing up that thing without backup. I could get up, but that remount on the way down was going to be way too sketchy.

At this point I'd burned a good hour and a half, and had a lunch appointment. So I left for two hours, had a lovely time a lunch, watched the weather turn from rain to sleet to hail and back again before finally sort of cleared up.

By the time I got home, the sun was shining.

Big girl pants, just kept chanting in my mind, so I bugged my neighbor again and borrowed his two boys to come and be my back up.

I tried to sound tough as I nonchalantly asked them to hold the ladder while I climbed up and took care of the problem. The younger of the two asked, "What if whatever is in there climbs up while you're still up there?"

Great, there goes my cool demeanor.  I said,  "Well, you'll probably hear a lot of screaming."

I think he encouraged me not to fall off if that happened. Thanks, kid.

I have to admit, I got on the roof like a pro. I found the small hole in the mesh around the chimney cap, tied a tiny screwdriver to the rope I'd bought at Lowes, then lowered it down. I then tied the rope off, took a picture (duh, this is 2015) and then climbed back down.

Good thing for the boys, or I would have taken forever to get onto the ladder. Because they were watching, and I couldn't look weak, I only shook once before descending. I said thanks. They left. I went back inside and waited.

No scratching.

Hooray! I did it!

Time for some writing. Book 4 was still having some problems in the Bad Guys....


I froze and glared through the wall into the living room.

More scratching.

Dang it!

By this point it was late afternoon, so I gave my hubby a call. I told him what had happened, told him that I was supposed to meet his sister for dinner and shopping, and that I officially turned the problem over to him.

Tag honey, you're it.

I feel bad that I didn't feel bad just leaving him to it. By himself. Probably because he said, "Oh, is that what's been making that scratching sound since yesterday morning?"

Brat. Serves him right.

Turns out it was a bird. The hubby didn't Google (he's a man, and that would be like asking for directions) so after getting it out of the flue, he grabbed it and tossed it out the door. At least he put gloves on. Google would have told him to toss a shirt or something over it to calm it down. Instead, he almost got pecked. But not quite, so he's good.

And I supposed he's my hero.

And I still have to get back on the roof to patch the mesh around the cap.

Stupid bird. Way to mess up my Friday. If I don't make my 4 books in a month goal, I'm blaming you.

05 October 2015

Out of the Way, Nanowrimo, I'm Coming Through!

I mentioned a few weeks ago, that I went to the League of Utah Writers fall writing conference. It was lovely. Much better than I expected, and I learned a whole lot of little writing things. Or perhaps I needed reminding, and this was my venue. Either way, I'm glad I went.

As you all probably know, I Indie published a book called Fractured Memories at the end of May. It is the first installment of the Jagged Scars series. This is the story that's been kicking around in my head for almost twenty years. Wendy's been waiting to see the light of day for a long time.

I'm happy with the way the first book turned out. Most of the reviews the book has received have been positive, with people saying they would read the next book.

Well, I had a plan for the next book  to come out sometime next spring. I also had a plan for New Sight 2 to come out this fall and some short stories to go along with it that should already be out. If you read my last post, the short story plan mostly failed. And New Sight 2, while it's written, needs some serious revamping. Jagged Scars series was just a placeholder in the back of my mind.

While I was at the LUW conference, sitting in those splendid (sarcasm) chairs and listening to people talk, I had an idea strike me. Hard.

Like a kick to the jaw. I've taken a few of those in my time, so I know what it feels like. Yes, this felt like that. A wake up call of epic proportions that said, "What are you doing? Get off your duff and get writing what people want to read."

Yes, subconscious, I hear you. Please stop slapping me around.

Ouch! Cut it out!

Here's how it went in my head.

"You want these books to be around 60,000 words each, right? You can type 60,000 words in a month."
"Duh, of course I can."
"If you start on the first of September, you'll be finished with all four books by the end of the year."
"Yeah, and?"
"So, do it."
"Why not?"
"Because, I'll have to totally revise them all. I hate doing that."
"Okay, how can you prevent that?"
"I'm thinking."

Then it hit me.
What if I spent a month plotting. I mean, really plotting out the rest of the series? Plot arc, character arcs, bad guy arcs, cause and effect, world building, motivations, betrayals, love, hate...all of it.

I like to outline, but it's usually pretty loose, and I often stray from it.

I tried to ignore it, but this idea wouldn't leave me alone.

So guess what I've spent the last month doing? Plotting. Uncovering the puzzle pieces of my story and fitting them together in a way that I really, really hope will work.

The mad typing starts October 1st. 60,000 words (ish) each month through the end of January. I can do it.

For me, simply getting each novel finished will be satisfying, but I'm trying to figure out what kind of a reward I can give myself after each one.

Ideas? Please, fuel my insanity.

28 September 2015

Why Comic Con and PMS Don’t Go Together

I’ve been to conventions before. Star Wars, Star Trek, writing, reading, work related...but my crowning jewel is Salt Lake City Comic Con. I’ve been three times now. And once to FanEx, if you’re counting that.

Four glorious, stressful, feet throbbing, back aching, wallet taxing times.

I’ve never been to a different Comic Con, but I figure it can’t be that different. Size and shape may vary, but considering the subject matter, the basics have to be similar. Crazed geeks run around in caped costumes or funny t-shirts, looking at geeky merchandise like its gold, wading through the artist and author booths searching for a diamond in the rough, waiting in long lines to catch a glimpse of their favorite celebrities or doing their happy dance when they get 8 whole seconds with said celebrity for a photo op.

Yes, they can really do it in 8 seconds. I was there. I counted.

All of these things are wonderful. And terrible. And if you’re PMSing, you should probably bring a chocolate/caffeine IV and shove it under your Carmon SanDiego trench coat. And pop a pain pill every two hours. Ignore the warnings, the condition of your feet will be much, much worse.

First off, people touch you. Everywhere. Pretty sure no one was doing it on purpose, but frankly, who can tell?

My husband is a big guy—tall and wide. So I’m used to getting pushed around by his gut. (On the flip side, he’s great for parting a crowd, but I need to install brake lights.) I’m quite conscious of my own spatial footprint as well, and I do my best not to intrude on others.

Well, standing in line for one of the 8-second photo ops (there should be a rodeo reference here, but my mind is drawing a blank) there was a man of similar size and girth behind me. And granted, they did squish two lines together, and most of us were bigger people. But I’m pretty sure that it wasn’t necessary for the guy to be rubbing his gut on my back. For twenty minutes.

Each and every time I found some space to move forward, he closed the gap again. His wife said nothing, and I’ve determined that he’s one of those guys who doesn’t even think about it. He probably tailgates the person in front of him on the freeway, no matter how slow or fast they’re going. It’s his happy place.

Eventually I found a spot where I could take a few steps forward. I did so, then conveniently turned with my elbow out to speak with one of the girls I was with as he stepped in.

Take that buddy. I still have some ninja skills. He apologized (so did I, fake is it might have been) and he finally backed off. Of course we were only in line for another minute or so.

Other things that might send a PMSing woman over the edge are:
Teenagers, in all of their glory
Clueless adults
Vendors not listing the price of their items where you can see it
Having to turn left in the vendor booth area
Waiting in lines
The smell
The noise
The lack of anything resembling healthy food (this is okay for the first two days…)
Tiny seats and big butts
Costumes with tall hats
Your cape getting caught on something (Edna knows what she’s talking about)
Concrete floors
Yourself as you get more and more irritable
The bathrooms being nowhere near where you are (although the men lines were longer than the women lines, which was somewhat refreshing)

However, unless one of these things will actually induce you to violence, go anyway. Hide some chocolate in your pack and brave the crowds. It’s awesome. It’s annoying. It’s hysterical. It’s amazing. It’s geek life at its finest! Where else can you see a balloon AT-AT walker pointed at the T.A.R.D.I.S.? (Or close anyway.)

But don’t forget the drugs.