Month: April 2013

The Quest to Update Covers…

Now that I have been through an excellent covers class from Dean and Allyson…I am building new covers!  And cleaning up outdated ebook files!  And doing pretty things with fonts!  Starting from oldest to newest…here are the two I have done so far:

I’ve moved A Fly in Amber” from my name to Diane’s…little did I know, when I published my first ebook in, uh, early 2011 that I would be setting up a mystery pen name.  And this?  Is a mystery.

Someone added a neat review for it while I wasn’t looking, too:

a delightful, inspiring short story that tells how desperate the beverage companies are competing with one another. And you can’t imagine what they might have added to your favorite drink.

Thank you, Leung Hoi Tung.  Heh.

Another old-to-new cover:

Oh, yes.  Most bunnies are cute, fuzzy, loveable…but not Nibbles.   Nibbles is out for revenge.

What’s up next?

For cover updates, next is Zombie Girl Invasion.  The art won’t change, just the typography…and the interior…and the bio…and all the fiddly little bits that drive a good formatter insane…

I also have a new cozy mystery novel, Your Souffle Must Die, going through copyedits.

And my next kids’ book is called Guinea Pig Apocalypse.

And my next DeAnna story is called…”Red Meat Riding Hood.”

It feels good to be back in the swing of putting up ebooks for myself.  I took some time off to get things under control on the back end (ha ha), but mostly to get some more training under my belt.  And am now am feeling far more confident about what I can accomplish!



Results for the “Done” Short Story Contest

Congratulations to everyone who entered the contest!  Here were the rules, which I put up at the Pikes Peak Writers’ Conference:

Do you have what it takes to write a perfect short story?  Me either.  So we’re not going for “Great.” We’re going for “Done.”

  • Your character is an insecure traveler who is obsessed with obtaining something in particular.  You get to pick what they’re obsessed about.
  • An ancient ruin in the middle of a forest.  Any place, any time, doesn’t have to be our world.
  • Your character is about to get married to the wrong person (whether they know it or not).
  • Story AND PROOF OF SUBMISSION must be emailed to by midnight Wednesday, April 24


  • $50 Amazon Gift Card for first story received.
  • Two $25 Amazon Gift Cards drawn from all stories received by deadline.
  • No other judging will be performed.  Goofy?  Serious?  Planet destroyed by aliens, the end?  All we care about is done!

The point of all this?

  • To help motivate people to write, finish what they write, and submit what they write (look up Heinlein’s Rules sometime).
  • To take perfection out of the equation and just have fun!

Here are the results:

We had 10 entries.  Yay!  Each entrant had a one-in-ten chance of winning.   But wait…

Of the 10 entries, in the end, five didn’t give proof that they submitted the story to a market.  Upon rereading the directions, I allowed that it might have been easy to overlook that requirement, so I emailed all the people who didn’t send proof to let them know…and still ended up with five who didn’t get back to me.

Which mean that each entrant had a one-in-five chance of winning.  But wait…

Of the five remaining entries, two were received past the deadline.

Which mean that each entrant had a one-in-three chance of winning.  But wait…

There are three prizes.

So!  Everyone who followed directions…gets an Amazon gift card out of this.  I’ll reveal names in a minute.

Other items of interest:

  • Wordcount ranged from 705 to 5700 words.
  • Genres submitted: SF, Fantasy, Adventure (Mainstream or, mmm, maybe Thriller on that one), Modern fairytale (fantasy), Western Romance, Romance, Fantasy, Pulp Adventure (Mainstream or Mystery/Crime, depending on how the writer was feeling about markets that day), Magic Realism (Mainstream or Fantasy), and Mainstream Fiction (that could easily slide into Mystery/Crime with a few edits).

Two of the stories used the same-ish setting (Mexico), but in commmpletely different ways.

What did we learn out of this?

  • ME: Write clearer directions.  WRITERS:  If submission guidelines aren’t clear–ask.  And follow up on feedback ASAP!
  • ME: Specify standard manuscript format.  WRITERS:  Always submit your work in standard manuscript format unless specifically instructed otherwise.  I prefer Times New Roman subs, but hey, Courier’s cool.  Do not show up at your writer-job-interview wearing bunny slippers.  Sadly: LOTS of bunny slippers here.
  • ME: You have to draw the line somewhere.  WRITERS:  Deadline, deadline, deadline.
  • ME:  People were a lot more positive about this than I expected.  However, a lot of people I remember saying “Oh, what a cool idea” didn’t send anything.  A couple of people told me that they started but didn’t finish (extra props to them…but no $).  WRITERS:  No, you can’t chase down every opportunity that comes your way, but you should be chasing down as many as you can.  Repeatedly.  Because often if you follow the directions…you win.

Where the stories any good?  Ahhh, that wasn’t part of the contest, was it?  But let me say – they were stories, no better or worse than what I see come through the slush pile.

Great job to everyone who participated!  Keep working on professionalism…you’re already ahead of the people who didn’t turn anything in.  As for the people who didn’t submit:  You can’t win if you don’t play.  Rejection isn’t losing, it’s just a busted lottery ticket 🙂


  • First in – John K. Patterson ($50 gift card).
  • In by deadline – Dori McCraw ($25 gift card).
  • In by deadline – AmyBeth Inverness ($25 gift card).

Thanks all, and we’ll have to do this again sometime 🙂



4-Hour Short Story…go!

Right, at the last minute I decided to not submit to my own contest, but to just write for it using the same parameters.  I’m itching to write something fun and fast today, and I don’t have a lot of time.  We’ll see how it goes.

Anyway, here’s my steps:

1) Pick genre (and market).  I’m planning to submit to Neverland’s Library: 9:37 a.m.

Neverland’s Library will be an anthology focusing on the rediscovery of the fantastic; magic, dragons, the supernatural, etc. We are looking for stories which highlight finding that which was once thought lost, incorporating fantastical and/or fictitious elements. We will not restrict how the story is told. All styles, settings, and tones are welcome.

2) Wrote log line and blogged.  9:57 a.m.

An insecure school teacher obsessed with finding a fiction blade, Flamestriker, from one of her favorite novels, flees her wedding to go to a lost temple in southern Mexico to find it.  But when she finds it, will she be strong enough to keep it from murdering her handsome tour guide…or her archaeologist fiance?


Opening done, 275 words.  10:21.

First try/fail cycle done, 803 words.  10:49.  Hungry, time to make some ramen.

Second try/fail cycle done, 1726 words.   11:50, with 20-minute break for lunch.  I went sliiightly overboard on this section, almost 1000 words.

Third try/fail cycle done, 2152 words.  12:12.  Poor, poor Elaine.

Climax done, 3054 words.  1:09.  Galadriel goes into the West.

Validation done, 3400 words. 1:21.

Ugh, editing.  The joy of writing is collapsed like a souffle poked by the brutal fork of analysis.

Time to quote myself:

The temple itself isn’t terribly large.  Once past the intimidating exterior and the baleful glares of monkeys stuffing their faces with cockroaches and mangoes, sunning themselves, and picking bugs out of each others’ fur in the dawn light, it is cool inside, and deliciously free of bugs, although admittedly the ammonia from the bat guano burnt my nose and lungs severely, to the point of coughing a few thin trickles of blood.  The stones are rather plain and free of carving, except for the first few dozen feet of the entrance hall.  For all I know, the twisted, grotesque carvings could mean, “Abandon all hope ye who enter here” or “Twelve bedrooms, two baths, no insects!!! If you love bats, call Nahuatl Chimalli, 555-9973.”

Done editing.  3652 words.

Sent to Neverland’s Library and reported on  2:04.

Total time: about four hours.  That is, about four hours and 20 minutes, less 20 minutes for lunch.  (I also took another 10 minute break in there while I was working out the ending and did dishes.  Cleaning things helps put my thoughts in order.)

Final note:

Successfully ignoring the voice in my head–shouting–“You suck you suck you suck!!!!”  That is, I hear it, but now that I’ve clicked “Send” it’s too late for it to do anything about it!  Now off to do the editing and 1001 other things I’m already behind on.  But I feel pretty good anyway.

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