Rules of Thumb

So I’m forty-two now.  When I turned forty, I didn’t suffer from any extra insight into life or anything; I certainly didn’t have a mid-life crisis, unless you want to count having some random thoughts that I hadn’t accomplished much for my age.  Then I remembered how much time I spent trying to be the ideal wife and mother and “female,” and had to laugh.

Forty-two, though.

have wasted time.

It isn’t just that I spent all that time doing stuff that I was supposed to do for free, it’s that I internalized the logic of it and applied it to the rest of my life.

I believed I had no right to say no.

I could tell my daughter no, but only if she was going to hurt herself, short-term or long-term.  Everything else, I was supposed to be supportive and understanding of.

I could tell my husband no, but only if it conflicted with another duty that I had or was going to be physically detrimental (and even then, I was supposed to drug up and get over it).

I could tell other men no, but only because I was a wife and mother.

Everything else, I was supposed to bend over backward for.

Imagine how well that worked for me as a freelance writer and editor.

RULE OF THUMB:  No means no.

You only get the one chance.  As soon as I say no, and you don’t take that as an answer, you’re out of my life.  I do try to separate whining from trying to get around my boundaries, but only for so long–and then I know it’s not just whining.

Last October I had a stalker client that wouldn’t take no for an answer–fortunately he was overseas.  He harassed me over multiple emails, sending other clients of his to beg me to take him back, and still shows up in my spam from time to time.

I walked after the first time he wouldn’t take no for an answer–and it was January before he let things slow down.  Imagine what it would have been like if I had once said yes.  He never would have given up:  some people are addicted to the possibility that they might get what they want if they try just one more time.  Just ask anyone at a casino.

This was the easiest one to understand, but almost impossible to implement at first.

RULE OF THUMB:  Politeness counts.

Two chances here; it’s not as immediate a threat.  If you are rude to me once, then I challenge you to make sure the rudeness was intentional.  If so, it’s open season, although I generally tend to give people the boot.  They’re always so shocked that their behavior could possibly be considered unacceptable.

The root of politeness is treating other people as if their free will matters.  When you try to control people–or when you run over them because they’re in your way–that’s rude.  You don’t have the right to do what you’re doing.  You don’t have the right to be in my way.  You don’t have the right to feel differently on this issue than I do.  You don’t have the right to exist.

Now, some people like to take the issue of politeness and claim that people who insist on being treated politely are intolerant, because they aren’t tolerating other people’s actions and feelings.

Which is bullshit; “politeness” isn’t about putting up with other people’s behavior, no matter what.  It’s an agreement.  If someone refuses to, for example, stop calling me names, then there’s no reason to continue with the agreement and I am perfectly within bounds to be rude.  Politeness is the social embodiment of a game strategy for winning the Prisoner’s Dilemma–tit for tat.

If you are not censuring the people who are rude to you–you’re not being polite, just passive.

That one took a long time to learn but has been lots more fun.

RULE OF THUMB:  Equal standing

Here’s the new one.

If I have to tell someone to stop doing something twice, or if they try to make me “prove” that they need to stop before they’ll stop, then I gotta walk.  People who see you as their equals stop first and look for reasons after.

This seems to be what I’m working on this year.  Not only have I had to use it in my personal life and business life this year, but I’ve used it as advice for someone else.  It always seems to make more immediate, direct sense if I put it like this, though:

If you were having sex with someone and they hurt you, and you told them to stop multiple times and they didn’t or if they told you that you had to prove that you were significantly hurt (by their judgment, not yours) before they’d stop–you wouldn’t make excuses for them.  Why would you make excuses for the same kind of behavior in “real” life?

People who are interested in working with you rather than using you will work on keeping you happy and interested in the relationship, whether it’s personal or otherwise.  If you aren’t happy, they aren’t happy, and their priority when you express hurt or discomfort is to stop and find out what’s going on–whether it’s something that’s an issue on your end that’s not really their problem (like stress or overwork) or something on theirs (say, for example, a bad contract).

People who are interested in using you will work on controlling you.  Any behavior of yours that interferes with their control will be punished, regardless of whose “fault” it is.  Examples:  “Just suck it up, you big baby,” “Life isn’t fair, get over it,”  “You were asking for it,” “If you didn’t want to get burned, don’t go into the kitchen.”

But that’s not how this works.

Sucking up, in this case, means that you accept that you’re not the equal of the person who is hurting you, making your life harder, making you uncomfortable, etc.

There is no situation in which you are not the fundamental equal of another human being.  There are situations in which you give up some of your standing for one reason or another–but those are, or should be, voluntary, an agreement to be terminated at will, and which should be equitably recompensed.

When someone treats you as less of a human being, and it happens a lot, then you aren’t required to cooperate.*

For example, I just walked away from a client who wouldn’t stop doing something that was preventing me from doing my job, and who otherwise showed a pattern of taking advantage of me without providing equitable recompense.  I told him to rethink what he was doing twice; I gave him options.

He didn’t take them and tried to push me into accepting the same kind of treatment all over again.  To him, I was being irrational and he was being generous.

I walked.

Every time I put up with that kind of bullshit, it’s a waste of my time.


I gotta wonder how much of my life was sucked down the drain over that one thing, the belief that I wasn’t worth as much as the people who were telling me what to do.


*And yes, I get that I’m saying this from a position of privilege, and that people are killed all the time for not cooperating with someone who thinks they’re better than they are.  Sometimes you do what you have to, in order to survive, and it sucks, and I’m sorry, and it shouldn’t be this way.

Defining Story.

So I’m only writing this down because my subconscious is insisting on it; I’ve been struggling with my actual, pays-me-money writing for the last two days straight, trying to fight off the urge to blog about this.

Because it is so supremely nutty.

(Don’t say that, you can’t say that, people will think you’re even more nuts than they already do.)

I’ve found a definition of story, though.  And it isn’t even mine, except that it is, because I went on an epic quest to find out something I already knew, and when you do that with something, it’s yours, like a smelly, matted-fur cat with bloody cuts on its paws and a missing tooth, which you have invited in your house with tuna.  Even if you kick it out, it’s coming back and peeing on things.

And so here I will claim the idea as my own (it isn’t) and let it move into my writer-brain, and move on with my life.

I’m pretty sure it’s the case that there’s no teaching people what a story is; you have to find out for yourself.  And you can’t just look it up; there are no sources that can accurately tell you what a story is.  Zeeeee-ro.   It’s not that it can’t be told; it’s that we don’t have the ability to hear.  Believe me, I’ve tried.

I mean, I just talked to a writer who told me about a session at a recent writers’ conference taught by the guy who writes the Dexter books.  He had this exercise where the students would take one story–I don’t know, The Da Vinci Code–and change it from one format to another (fiction to songwriting to a poem, etc.).  The idea, as far as I could tell, was that you were supposed to extrapolate story by noticing what fell by the wayside, and what remained.

But no:  that doesn’t define story.  That exercise, while possibly helpful, would never get me where I wanted to go.  I’m too analytical for that.  I don’t actually trust that kind of intuitive bullshit–you’re just supposed to know, and if you don’t, it’s because of some flaw in you, not the exercise.  Jeff Lindsay.  That’s the guy’s name.

(Personally, he struck me as a Conquistador who had found the Fountain of Youth quite some time ago and has been screwing around and bilking people out of money one way or another ever since.

(I was pressed into telling him that–he didn’t care for it, not one bit.  I may have turned him off to me personally, though, because before that I was talking to him with a rather conservative writer who went off the deep end with conspiracy theories earlier in the conference, and I suspect he had me labeled as a neo-Nazi after that.  I forget what the theory was exactly, but it left a ghastly frozen smile on my face at the time, the kind you get from whatever the Joker gasses you with when he wants to leave an amusing corpse.

(Anyway, no blood no foul, Jeff Lindsay.  And South Dakota is a real state, by the way.  If it weren’t, then the government couldn’t store all their quasi-mystical crap in a warehouse out in the Badlands.)

So what is story?

I don’t like to come right out and say it; you can’t get there from here.

I’ll give you one of those “what it ain’t” definitions:

It is not a diagram.

If you can diagram it, it’s plot.  Or narrative tension (whatever the hell that is).  Or emotional arcs.  Or character arcs.  Or timelines (a.k.a. plot).

Whatever.  It’s not story.

Like every single tool you could hand to a writer, diagrams are both a help and a hindrance.  At first they help you sort out the mush in your head.  But they can only take you so far, and then they start holding you back, and you either ditch that kind of thinking or stay in one spot, forever, like some kind of Greek demigod who got in trouble with the celestial CEOs.  Diagrams are hubris, I tell you, hubris.

If it’s a tool, then it’s not story.

Let me tell you, since I’m still not willing to come right out and say the definition, how I got here:  my epic quest.

It went like this.

First, I was a kid who ran around and made crap up.  I would walk and talk to myself (and anyone who would listen) for hours.  I made up some terribly vain things–for some reason, I would spend hours designing dresses in which only my main character would be featured in her adventures; I didn’t care how anyone else was dressed.  I thought they were so original, but of course they all happened to have broad shoulders, a v-shape somewhere in the waistline, and a somewhat-poofy skirt.  Ah, the Eighties.  Those dresses would make me look tough and yet still attractive, and I would have silver hair and silver eyes, because what I really was, was a dragon (let’s not pretend that I thought my parents weren’t my parents, here; it was more that I knew that we were all dragons and they were just too scared of revealing themselves to the outside world to risk telling me).

Instead, my eyesight got weaker and weaker.  I have terrible eyesight.  No silver involved.

And then, in high school, I ran into a teacher who kindly dragged me kicking and screaming into a writer program in which I was driven to the other side of a state with a group of teenagers who were all more interesting than I was, including the guy with the tan hair and skin, who was a communist and had sai that he brought with him on the trip.  Oh, God.  I was a boring, introverted kid.  Why they even bothered taking me I didn’t know and couldn’t imagine.

I had written a perfectly awful story.  When I got there, the coolest person there was a poet, who was also a dancer, who had long, curly black hair.  I wanted to be her.  Unfortunately, no.  Just no.  At any rate, I was stuck in a short story workshop when clearly where I needed to be was in the poetry workshop, with my Muse.

I survived that travesty and started writing poetry, typing it on the school typewriters and printing copies on the school copy machines.  It wasn’t great, but I got a couple of things published, and at least the school didn’t make me pay for making copies.  It was better than the fiction I was writing, at any rate.

Jump ahead:  I’ve written so much poetry that turns into some kind of tale that I’ve decided to break down and switch to fiction.  I don’t care what anyone says.  Fiction is harder.  (I’m up in the air about plays and screenplays and comic book scripts.)

Jump ahead again:  I’m deciding to stop screwing around, get serious about this writing thing.  I vow to write a hundred words a day.

Jump further:  I’m publishing an ebook on how the really important thing is to get the words done.  A hundred rejections, that’s nothing.  Your first million words, that’s nothing.

Jump even further:  I’m taking a ton of classes from a couple of professional writers, Kris & Dean, and eating increasingly large (and yet always insufficient) slices of humble pie.

Jump even further yet:  I’m at a backyard concert with my husband, I’m a full-time freelance ghost writer who can barely pay her bills, and I’m listening to a singer who’s pretty good but isn’t great, and I’m working out why he’s not great, and I come down to these three principles:

–Stories want to be retold

–Stories want to resonate

–Stories want to be remembered

But I still can’t put a finger on why the guy isn’t moving me, not the way some singers do.  He’s good at tapping into existing melody and song structures; the songs sound almost familiar.  And yet I can barely remember the song before the current song he’s singing, the songs are pretty to listen to but don’t give me any feels (that’s the current slang for “resonate,” by the way:  all the feels).

I’ve been putting together my list of Rs for stories for a couple of weeks now, maybe a month.  I threw some other items out, both because they didn’t start with Rs and because I wasn’t getting any juice out of them.  When I came up with the “retold” rule of thumb, new things started popping out at me:  here was a Cinderella story,  there was a high-fantasy Deadpool remake with less cursing.  As you do.

The “remembered” rule I came up with a couple of years ago, from reading the submissions pile (slush) of a couple of online magazines.  I had forgotten it for a while, but appropriately remembered it.  It seems self-evident, although no writer wants to admit their work is forgettable.  Forgettable work can be sellable…but it’s gonna get beat down by memorable work every time.

The “resonate” rule is the latest one, which I came up with at the concert–I just wasn’t feeling all the feels.  It’s not that I lack empathy, either.  (Although I definitely lack tact, which people seem to get confused for empathy a lot of the time.)  I was tapping my toe, nodding my head, and enjoying every aspect of the songs.  I just couldn’t remember it.

Until the guy got to his last song, and sang something about his goddamn bicycle getting stolen, time and time again.  At first he simply complained.  Then he admitted it was probably happening because he was kind of an airhead and a dreamer.  But finally he really just wanted to know who’d taken his goddamned bicycle.  It’s been days now, and I still remember that song.

It also happened to resonate with me:  I’ve been an airhead all my life.

Is the song “retellable”?  I don’t know.  I, personally, have no urge to retell it.

But what, I wondered, made that one song stick out?

It came to me.

Wait…that can’t be right.

I listened to the rest of the song, walked around in a daze, and babbled to my poor spouse all the way home.  Yes?  No?  I remembered that there might be a reference somewhere in the Sandman graphic novels to the same idea, the one I was chasing.  I knew who the character was who said it; I even knew the particular storyline and sequence where he said it.  (I was right about the character but not the sequence.)

I could tell you now; you wouldn’t agree with me but you might be able to see the rough direction that I was coming from.  But let’s wait.  Not to build up suspense but to note a caveat:

Human beings can take things that don’t go together and stick them together in such a way that they are a) completely plausible, mentally, and b) compelling, emotionally. So when I say something like “stories want to be retold,” I’m giving an example of that.  Stories don’t actually want anything.  They aren’t alive.  They have no free will.

They’re something, though, that appears to live and appears to have free will–because of how our minds are built.  “Rumors have a life of their own,” I can say, and that will resonate.  You know it’s true, even though it literally can’t be.

So before I get to my definition, let’s stipulate that a good story takes on a life of its own.  That life isn’t  like the lives of other stories, not really.  Bad stories are a lot alike; good stories–really good stories–are all different.

Sure, they can be retellings of other stories–Shakespeare ripped off everyone.  But West Side Story is not Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, which is not Dire Straits’s “Romeo and Juliet.”  Not even close.

They share tropes; they share plot and other elements.  They’re memorable, they resonate; people rewatch and relisten to them all the time.

And yet they aren’t the same–and not every story based on the same lovers has the same appeal, plot, emotional arc, or even ending.  These elements are not the sum total of story.

So when I tell you, keep in mind that people sometimes credit intention and motivation to inanimate objects, like cars, and even nonexistent things, like Justice and Love (which are, by the way, both blind).

…and yet I still don’t want to tell you.  I want to listen to covers of the Dire Straits “Romeo & Juliet” and close off here, so that you’ll never know what I figured out, because it’s still not going to mean to you what it means to me, not unless you go on your own epic quest, and then you’re still likely to come back and say, “That’s not it, that’s not quite it…”

But no.  The cool thing is that I get to tell you what a story is, and it will still be a mystery.  (I think that would please at least one of the characters in Sandman.)

Here it is:

Story is a point of view.

Not, you know, like first person or third person omnisicient.  Story is a way of seeing the world.  That’s why people say things like “Stephen King could write a grocery list and I’d read it.”  Because it isn’t about plot, or character, or theme, or…whatever.  It’s about a guy who believes in scaring himself first, a guy who has a serious thing about Maine, a guy who plays guitar in a writer band, a guy who loves baseball and who bought the van that hit and almost killed him, so it wouldn’t show up on eBay.

point of view.

So while you’re shaking your head and pretending to ponder that (good grief, all that leadup, and that was it?), let me leave you with two things.

First, a link to a great version of Mark Knopfler playing “Romeo & Juliet” with an orchestra.  Because I don’t want this self-indulgent blog post to be a total waste of your time.  And second, the panel from Sandman (spoiler alert):

I think I finally get it.

(It’s okay, Abel.  I first read that line in 1997 and I didn’t get it then, almost eight years after I started my quest, and I didn’t get it for another nineteen years after that.  I’m not spoiling anything.)

You and me babe, how bout it?







Fiction: The Sixth Extinction

The fluorescent lights sound like bug zappers up and down the hallway. Everything smells of chlorine bleach and lemon-pine cleaner, so strong your eyes sting and your taste buds shut down. The floor shifts underfoot. Your husband tells you, jovially, that the constant sensation of feeling the ocean moving underneath you will eventually go away.

The door of your cabin has a key card reader. Okay, that makes sense. But next to it on the wall is a round door with a lock you can only open with a key. The door’s made out of metal and doesn’t match the wallpaper. At all. Nobody else’s door has a round…thing in the wall like this.

On the inside of the cabin there isn’t anything, no mark, no dent or bulge showing that there’s a locked, round, and hingeless panel in the wall on the other side.

The wall isn’t even that thick.

The matching luggage is unpacked and it’s time for supper, one of those buffets that start out as inviting and end up as a special kind of horror, the kind of thing you have nightmares about in which you can’t stop eating, no matter how uncomfortable you are, no matter how much everyone else is laughing at you. 

Your husband says it’s time to go.

You start to follow him, pretend to remember that you’ve forgotten something, and tell him you’ll catch up with him in a minute. You bat your eyes at him and he laughs.

You retreat to the bathroom in the cabin, a tiny space that resembles an alien testing facility more than anything else. You turn on the fan and wait for five minutes. He knocks on the door and asks you if you’re all right, then laughs when you tell him just one more minute. After another five minutes, he laughs again and leaves. You hear him close the cabin door. 

When you were unpacking you saw the key in the drawer. You palmed it, then shoved it in the minuscule pants pocket in your culottes that nobody ever uses. The last place, you’re sure, that anyone would look.

You step into the cabin, then check the corridor. Empty, except for a man in a crew member’s polo at the far end. The lights flicker.

You put the key in, eyes locked with the distant shape waiting at the end of the corridor.

The ship moves underfoot, your eyes sting, everything wavers.

Then the door opens.

Later, you ask for a refill on your green tea, which looks like swamp water.

“I paid for all this booze,” your husband says. “Aren’t you going to drink any of it?”

You rub your stomach. “Maybe in a day or two,” you say. “On shore.”

The Captain passes your table, pats your shoulder, gives you a smile.


Note:  I just finished The Sixth Extinction:  An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert.  I’ve also been working on subtext lately.  Then came Becky Clark’s invitation to write a short story (at 200 words max) based on a photo she posted on her Facebook author page…as you can probably guess, I ran overlong and wrote a story she’s probably gonna hate :P  What are ya gonna do?

People watching skills: Shoes

I hadn’t realized that not everyone bothers to look at people’s shoes when they people watch, so let me make some notes here.  I’m pretty sure this is a combination of something that Kris & Dean said, plus a couple of acting classes I took in college.

People watching.

In general, people watching is fun (and profitable, if you’re a writer).  Making up stories about other people–profiling them, if you will–is one of life’s little pleasures for me, especially when I can narrate out loud a nonsense version of what’s going on inside their heads and thereby make fun of them.

Some general things to look for:

  • Quick intuitive flash.  Sometimes you just get these from people, and then have to deconstruct why.  I tend to flash on stalkerish types.  Go, get out of here now!
  • Hair:  what color, is it cared for or allowed to do what it wants, does it hide or reveal the face, is it styled in current or outmoded fashion, is it dyed to conceal gray, etc.
  • Clothes:  how expensive, how well cared for, do the clothes reveal personality or conceal it in favor of revealing social status, do they fit properly, are they appropriate for the weather, are they in fashion/out of fashion, are they focused on comfort, style, quality/endurance, or status, etc.
  • Body language:  open/closed/aggressive, how quick are the movements, are there any limitations to movement, do the movements reflect strength/dexterity/harmony, how much personal space, etc.

But a lot of people miss the significance of shoes.


Shoes are a special case; they not only act as protective wear and articles of fashion, but they also affect our body language:  someone in high heels doesn’t walk the same way as someone in work boots.  And because your shoes tend to be (barring obvious things like nudity) the most vital article of clothing for physical comfort, people tend to reflect more of their long-term priorities with their shoes than, say, their shirts.

Things to watch for with shoes:

  • How expensive are the shoes?  If you can afford expensive, long-wearing, extremely comfortable shoes, they tend to show up in your wardrobe over flip-flops, even on days when you’re otherwise dressed like a slob.  Conversely, if you’re putting up a good financial front, your shoes will tend to be cheap knockoffs, have thin soles, and fall apart quickly.
  • How do the shoes affect the person’s walk?  Is the person forced to limit their walk, by shortening their stride, shuffling, or by trying to avoid wear and tear on their feet (blisters, sore feet)?  Is the person’s walk bouncier, faster, skipping, flat-out running?  Are the person’s hips, buttocks, and breasts put more (high heels) or less (flats) prominently on display?  Is the person’s height affected (or, in the case of extremely flat shoes, visually “reduced”)?
  • What is the order of importance in the following factors:  comfort, durability, fashion/style?  For example, Crocs are extremely comfortable, not very durable, and not at all stylish.  Doc Martens are comfortable, durable, and stylish.  Most stiletto heels are uncomfortable (no matter how well made, they can’t compare to Crocs, for example), not durable, but extremely stylish.  Any of these elements that are past the average reflect a person’s priorities.
  • How worn are the shoes?  How are the shoes worn?  New vs. scuffed vs. polished.  Soles worn slightly vs. all the way through vs. only at the heel or toe or outside edge.  Are the shoes falling apart (cheaply made) or beat the holy hell out of?  How dirty are the shoes?  Are the shoes worn all day, or switched out with a pair of walking shoes?  Does the person go barefoot behind their desk?  Are the shoes modified for more comfort or some other reason–arch support, heel protectors, lifts, one-sided lifts for spinal alignment, etc.?  What kind of socks, if any, are worn with the shoes?
  • Do the shoes have some sort of technical significance that might reflect a job type or pastime?  Huiraches made with car tire soles and jute twine, for example, are a thing with some long-distance runners who try to run with as little foot protection as possible.  Closed-top Crocs might reflect someone in the nursing or restaurant business (Mario Batali’s orange ones are almost a signature).

I was pointing this out to a couple of people.  We had on:  a pair of immaculate Danskos, a pair of gaudy but somewhat worn flat sandals that showed off the toenails, and a pair of beat-up suede hiking mocs.  Guess which one was the E.R. nurse.

One of the things I like to do is go to the Flea Market in Colorado Springs and people watch.  If you watch, you can spot the professional stuff-flippers by a) their method of carrying stuff (a lightweight, highly-expandable backpack of some kind, a rolling wire basket, or, in one case, a stolen shopping cart), and b) their shoes:  worn but high-quality, name brand all-purpose tennis shoes.  LOTS of Nike swooshes.  Contrariwise, the real amateurs are wearing flat-soled, uncushioned sandals with thin or decorative straps with no back straps, so you have to shuffle a little to get around.  These people could be wearing the same clothing–but the shoes will tell.

I happened to have finished Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by John Le Carre the other day; he mentioned that when tailing someone, you should keep an eye on the shoes–it’s rarer for someone to switch their shoes than their clothes when changing a disguise.

Admittedly, most people aren’t professional spies, but we all tend to disguise ourselves a little in social situations.  But unless you’re conscious of fashion, you probably won’t be able to disguise your feet as easily as you change your shirt.

Choose Your Doom: Zombie Apocalypse back in business!

So. The word is that the Choose Your Doom: Zombie Apocalypse ebook is delayed but still in progress. The second printing is up and running.  You can find a copy here on Amazon:
HOWEVER, if you’re a Goodreads member, the last of the first edition print books are on sale here for $6.50 plus shipping & handling.
If you’re asking yourself what this is all about…it’s a pick-your-own-adventure type book with 0 happy endings.  All doom, all the time.  You might be killed by a zombie.  You might be a zombie killed by your girlfriend.  But you will be killed.
The important part is what you can accomplish before you go…

Kobo November Promotion: Romance, Thrillers, Sci Fi, Fantasy/Horror

Today begins the November Kobo promotion, focusing on Romance, Thrillers, SF/F/H.  My current title in the promo is my lovely horror/Weird Western novel, Chance Damnation, which, when I think about it, is really one long piece of sarcasm about how some people have trouble coping with change–even if they are in the middle of inflicting the same change on someone else.

As you do.


Click here to check out the books in the promotion, or here for a discounted copy of Chance.  The promo code, to be entered at checkout, is NOV30.


Wolfsinger Press Releases: Misunderstood & Under a Dark Sign

I have a short story, “Attack on Pirion,” in the Misunderstood anthology from Wolfsinger Press.  The publisher, Carol Hightshoe, says that we are a GO for promoting it.


If you are a book reviewer or blogger, let me know and I’ll arrange that you get a free copy of either ebook.  Otherwise, please enjoy :)



Misunderstood (Smashwords, coupon code DZ94X for 25% off through November 15th, or Amazon, no discount)

Are you the kind of person who cheers for the underdog? Or in this case, under-gargoyle, homunculus, or orc? When the action’s at its fullest, are you peering past the hero or heroine, looking to see what the supporting cast is up to?

If so, this is the anthology for you! 

From a feline familiar who’s got to fill his boss’s shoes to a minotaur who is forced to fight to entertain humans, and trolls who are completely out of control, Misunderstood is twenty-six tales of the characters who usually stand on the sidelines supporting either the derring-do or dastardly deeds of the main character. You’ve read their tantalizing few lines in popular fiction. Now read their stories, and hopefully they will no longer be—misunderstood.

Featuring stories by:

Jody Lynn Nye, Bonnie Rehage, Brenda Clough, Cynthia Ward, DeAnna Knippling, Edward Ahern, JA Campbell, Rebecca McFarland Kyle, LR Broberg -Moffitt, Nina Kiriki Hoffmann, Philip Thorogood, Jonathan Shipley, Jonathan S. Pembroke, Andrew M. Seddon, DJ Tyrer, Cael Jacobs, Jason Lairamore, Joseph Ramshaw, Claire Davon, John Lance, Sara Lundberg, Douglas Sanburn, Shane Porteous, Jean Graham, Carol Hightshoe, David Turnbull and Lyn Godfrey




Under a Dark Sign (Smashwords, coupon code TH89M for 25% off through November 15th, or Amazon, no discount)

From a training academy for henchmen to a super-villain’s final throes and last thoughts, enter the dark world of scoundrels where the line between good and evil is drawn and crossed. 

You’ll meet scheming mad scientists, career desperadoes, evil queens, necromancers, and people of questionable character defeating even more dubious foes. These pages contain mayhem, devilry, and outright evil. Proceed, if you dare.

Mwaaa haaa haaa!

Featuring stories by:

Jason Lairamore 
Russ Bickerstaff 
Spencer Carvalho 
Amanda Davis 
Ken Goldman 
David Perlmutter 
Sheryl Normandeau 
JJ Steinfeld 
Ericka Kahler 
David B. Riley 
Tom Howard 
Russell Hemmell 
J.A. Campbell/Rebecca McFarland Kyle 
Vivian Caethe 
Cynthia Ward 
John Lance 
Dale W. Glaser
Robert Lowell Russell
Manfred Gabriel
Caroline Miller
Ted Pennella
C. R. Asay
TJ O’Hare
Fern G. Z. Carr
Max D. Stanton
Rhonda Eudaly
R. Donald James Gavreau
A Cautionary Tale – Rie Sheridan Rose
The Butcher’s Daughter – Shannen Malone 
The Last Will and Testament of a Career Villain – Shoshanah Holl

Halloween Jack’s Genre Goody Grab Bag


Treats for Halloween!  Click here for a collection of fifteen authors with free and discounted ebooks over at the fine website of M. Todd Gallowglas, author of the Halloween Jack books.  I have Alice’s Adventures in Underland posted for U.S. $0.99 on Amazon today (and comparable low prices in other countries.)



Kobo Sales: Alice a dollar; half off all Kobo-published titles.

Two promos on Kobo:

1.  Alice’s Adventures in Underland: The Queen of Stilled Hearts (all the episodes, that is), is on sale for $0.99 at Kobo from October 28-30.

2.  You can redeem 50% off any title published by KWL (Kobo Writers’ Life) by using the promo codes below.  The code can be used an unlimited number of times.  See below for the exact dates for each region.

My applicable titles include:

A Murder of Crows: Seventeen Tales of Monsters and the Macabre

 Alice’s Adventures in Underland: The Queen of Stilled Hearts

Tales Told Under the Covers: Zombie Girl Invasion & Other Stories (middle grade, 8-12 years old, pen name De Kenyon)

Guinea Pig Apocalypse (middle grade, 8-12 years old, pen name De Kenyon)


October 28th – October 31st
Promo Code: CA50SALE

United States/Australia/New Zealand
October 27th – October 30th
Promo Code: GET50SALE

United Kingdom
October 30th – November 2nd
Promo Code: UK50SALE


I think what this means is that you can get Alice for $.50, if you play your coupons right :)

Wonderland Press: Books in Progress

Here at Wonderland Press, we are always fighting the extreme shininess of multiple projects, pen names, and various distractions, including both Real Life and Facebook.

It would probably be smarter to shepherd one book at a time through the process, but we don’t do so well when we aren’t writing every day.  (It probably would have been smarter not to despair that the stories one was writing were horrible shite and thus one would not have such a horrendous backlog of unpublished work, but that’s another story.)

The current rotation/progress report thus looks something like this:

  • Currently Writing:  Unnamed Gothic/Ghost Story ~10K words of ~90K words finished.  Pen name:  Probably Kitty Lafontaine.  This is extremely melodramatic.
  • Currently Storyboarding/Sanitizing (as in, “making more sane because I didn’t know who done it when I started”):  The Second Cabin, muder mystery.  Not quite cozy; thinking of marketing it as an amateur sleuth and putting “A Disturbingly Cozy Mystery” as the tagline.  Pen name:  Diane R. Thompson.
  • Currently Prepping for Publication: Exotics Book 4.  Kids’ book in the Exotics series.  Pen name:  De Kenyon.
  • Just Released: Alice’s Adventures in Underland: The Queen of Stilled Hearts.  [Only reviewers accepted on this one, as it has been published.]

If you are interested in being a beta reader/reviewer (beta readers get the manuscript before final edits; editors get the ebook after final edits) for any of these books, let me know.



Page 1 of 267

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén