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.



30%-Off Promo on Kobo Books – Horror/Dark Fantasy

My horror/dark fantasy short story collection, A Murder of Crows: Seventeen Tales of Monsters & the Macabre is 30% off of $1.99 today with the code OCT30.

You can use the same  code on a ton of other Kobo titles here.

A Murder of Crows

A Murder of Crows



How Do You Know When You’re Getting Stuff Done

When you’re working a day job, there’s a clear set of guidelines for getting stuff done:  show up and get paid.  There’s a performance review every year, and sometimes you’ll get feedback from your bosses and coworkers.

And yet these metrics have nothing to do with whether you actually accomplished something, do they?  Not really.  Which is why we all have that one coworker who does the bare minimum to keep the system off their backs.

When you’re a freelancer, things get more complex.  How do you know when you’re getting stuff done?  When you get paid.  Except that many of the tasks that you have to complete, from doing taxes to hustling for new jobs to continuing education to doing advertising and promotions have no clear relationship between action and payment.

And sometimes it’s not so much a question of getting paid as it is how much you’re getting paid.  Are you getting paid enough?  Are you working on projects that will build your career, or projects that will disappear so thoroughly that you can’t even list them on your resume? (Grumble.)

I had been measuring my getting-stuff-done factor by measuring word count.  For the last two years, I had no problem breaking 500,000 words per year.  Easy peasy.  But most of that wasn’t on stuff that I was writing for myself, and a lot of it was on redrafting over and over the stuff that I was.

I actually did better for myself as a writer when I a) was working toward a number of rejections (100 per year), and b) having a goal of self-publishing one short story a week.  And yet those goals won’t work anymore–I had less freelance work and more time on my hands back then.

I’m going to guesstimate that over the last year or so, for every ten thousand words I wrote for someone else, I wrote a thousand for myself, and then put maybe ten thousand of those out into the world.

I updated my process recently again, after searching around for something good over most of this year.

I’ve always liked Heinlein as a writer and have read most of his published work.  (I know there are issues with him as a writer; that’s a discussion for another day.)  He has these rules for writers, though, that I’ve always admired but never felt like I was a good enough writer to follow:

  • You must write.
  • You must finish what you write.
  • You must refrain from rewriting, except to editorial order.
  • You must put your story on the market.
  • You must keep it on the market until it has sold.

Well, I’m following them now.  With a spreadsheet.

I gain or add points based on how closely I follow the rules.  One point gained if I write 1000 words.  A hundred points if I finish what I start; a loss of same if I don’t. A rewrite costs me 25 points (spell checks and final cleanups are fine; I may give myself a pass so I can work on a plotting technique that I’m using to help me get past some weaknesses).  A point for putting a short story out on the market; ten for a novel (each time–so 5 points for 5 short story rejections, or 50 for sending a novel out to five publishers).  A hundred points for selling a story, OR for self-publishing it.

Ray says I get a treat for every hundred points.

It’s weird the ways your brain just automatically tries to game the system.  As soon as I had this worked out and Ray pointed out that I should be rewarding myself, I went, “I should stop being a lunatic wuss and send out my Patreon files, which I haven’t sent out, even though I should have done that when I released Alice.”

It wasn’t until I sat down to write this post that I went, “And of course that would be 100 extra points.”  I’m currently having this little mental argument over whether I should get separate points for this (the book’s already published so I shouldn’t count it twice, but clearly I have to bribe myself to post on Patreon at this point…).  I think I’ll probably go with some extra points, but not the full 100, because that’s giving myself double points, and, and, and…

(Not counting the hypothetical posting-to-Patreon points, my total since September 1 is 19 points.  Woot!)

30%-Off Promotion on Kobo

Alice's Adventures in Underland Book 1

Alice’s Adventures in Underland Book 1

Alice’s Adventures in Underland will be 30% off at Kobo through Monday if you use the following code at checkout:  SEPT30.  A ton of excellent books are on sale (besides my excellent book).  The full list is here.

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