Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Are Websites Important for Authors?

At long last, my personal website is up and running! It's been a labor of love, and I have to say I got really lucky working with the team I hired. Brian and Ashley Reed, web designers extraordinaire, I thank you! You created a site that is unique and to my specifications!

Are websites important to a writer? After all, isn't it the work, the words that matter most? Of course, those are important, but what happens if a reader wants to know more about you, the writer? That's where your website proves to be very handy. Here, the interested reader can sit down and get a feel for who you are, what your likes are, and hopefully, read your blog and become a follower. 

The website allows you to display your books, excerpts, favorite links, play lists--whatever. If you venture to my website, you may notice on my links page I have a link to No Control Radio. You know why? Because that's the station my main character, Nathan Ink, listens to. Eager readers may get a better feel for what's going on in Nathan's angelic head if they listen to his music. 

Let's say you aren't a "published" author yet, but are looking for an agent and a platform. Having a website is a great way to start. It shows you're serious about the craft, and you are willing to do the marketing that goes along with it. Agents and publishers don't want to work with someone who isn't willing to do some self promotion.

Now, I can already hear a few naysayers going "Wait a second. Can't I just include all that stuff on my blog pages." Sure you can. But blogs can only do so much when it comes to design. Hiring a web designer gives you a lot more options and really allows you to take your creativity to a new place. If you are just starting out, blog sites are great. If you're ready to get serious and maybe spend a little money, start looking for a designer.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy my website. You can click here to take a peek at it. Please feel free to leave a comment.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Personal vs. Online Promotion

I'm learning there's a big difference! Online promotion seems time consuming, but it's not really. You type something up, you have time to edit and fix it up, then you post it somewhere: your own blog, someone else's, a forum, facebook, twitter, newsletter. That's it.

In person promotion is something else. For one thing, putting yourself out there is antithetical to most writers' personalities. You have days to prepare, plus you have to physically go somewhere. I knew I might have to something with media someday, but didn't know it would come so soon.

I had my very first experience with this on Saturday. Through the miracles of networking (and the wonderful author, Janice Hamrick), I got an invitation to do a radio interview for KAZI, Austin's local non-commercial FM station (88.7). The book reviewer, Hopeton Hay, read my book and was well acquainted not only with it, but with my whole life history when I arrived at the recording studio early Saturday morning. (I'd never been inside a radio station.)
I was so nervous for days before. I listened to his other interviews (he's interviewed Harlan Coben!) to try to get an idea of what he would ask, but couldn't detect a lot of canned questions. So I figured I'd better be prepared for anything. I printed out thirteen pages of things I've written for online interviews. Maybe I would forget the names of my characters, the name of my book, my own name!

Not to worry, the host knew all that. We chatted a bit first, I practiced putting my lips 1/16 of an inch from the big, cushy-looking mike, and making the electronic signal go into the space at the end of the bar, then we started. He lobbed me easy questions, things I could talk about! It was like we were just chatting for ten minutes, then it was done. Whew!

Dare I try TV?

Public domain photo taken by Johhnystir

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

5 Ways to Get Past Writer's Block

I was reading Kaye's recent post about what gets you inspired when writing short stories. It immediately sparked a thousand thoughts in my tiny brain (you can imagine the pain I suffered), and then it made me think about an interview I did recently with writer, Morgen Bailey. One of the questions she asked me was have you ever had writer's block and how do you get past it? What happens when the inspiration isn't coming?

Yeah. What do you do when you've got an idea but can't get it started? Or you've started it, but now you're stuck? Of course, I've heard some people say that writer's block is a myth, or it's just a way for writers to be lazy. Sometimes I would agree with that. Other times, I truly feel stumped and don't know what the next course of action is. So what then?

Well, everyone has their little tricks. Here are a few of mine.

1. Take a walk. Ah, the old standby of fresh air. Sometimes a change in environment can bring inspiration. Or it can start a really bad allergy attack.

2. Read some Shakespeare. C'mon. The guy came up with every possible plot scenario there is. People have been "borrowing" from him for 400 years. Now it's your turn! (For Five Reasons You Should Know Shakespeare go to this fun site:

3. Pull a NaNoWriMo. National Novel Writing Month is in November, and the idea is to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. It's fun, but daunting at times because it's easy to get stuck. In NaNoWriMo, it's cool to put your character in some outrageous situation to keep the plot moving. Try it in your story and see what happens! You can always go back and edit it later.

4. Try a graphic organizer to help put your thoughts together. There's a million of them out there so pick one and give it a shot.

5. Work on something else for awhile. Yep. Stick the story in a drawer and just leave it be for a few days. Your brain will give you the solution when it's ready.

Any tips out there from the peanut gallery? Share please!

Monday, June 20, 2011

How Do You Start?

The starting line at Delphi, Greece

How do your short stories start? Do you begin with a character or a setting? Or do news articles spark ideas?

Sometimes a name pops into my head and a character appears to match it, fully formed, and I know I have a story. Sometimes I write from a prompt and have to wrap my head around some disparate objects and include them into some sort of cohesive whole. Sometimes I start off a whiz-bang idea and it fizzles on the second page. Never does go anywhere. Those stories are patiently sitting in a file, waiting for me to be smart enough to figure out how to finish them.

Do people you know inspire you? If so, do you include them, thinly or thickly disguised? And, if you do that, do they ever recognize themselves? I think it might be okay. It seems folks love to be characters in mystery stories. Those items--the opportunity to have yourself in a writer's next book--go for a lot of money at charity auctions, provided the author is well known to the audience. The bidders don't mind being the killer or the victim, either.

Once you have the idea, what do you do with it? I pull out folders that tell me about short story structure if I'm stuck. But if the story flows from beginning to end, almost without my intervention (except for my fingers on the keyboard), I let it. Funny thing, I don't need to clean those stories up much. I think my subconscious is a better story writer than my conscious.

One thing I do that seems like a good idea, is save ideas in a file folder. These are for times when I'm stuck for an idea. But I never look at them since I always get new ideas. If I do happen to go through them, cleaning out a drawer, I see that I've used some, so they lodged somewhere in my mind, just by the act of printing them out or clipping them and putting them into a folder.

Minds play funny tricks. I wonder if writers' minds play funnier ones than non-writers'.

Photo: The starting line at the stadium used for the Pythian Games at Delphi, Greece
This starting line has a design representative of that of many ancient Greek stadiums: stones with two lines in which the athletes nudged their toes, and round holes in which posts could be erected to support the start signaling mechanism.
The stone steps for sitting the public behind were erected under the Romans.
Photo shot by myself
Copyright © 2004 David Monniaux

Brain diagram public domain

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Zombie Monologues by Steve E. Metze--Book Review

Tis the season for summer reading--and for summer brain eating if you are a zombie! Hmmm....brains...yummy.....I have to say that we could probably start a website called All Things Zombie, and it would be swarmed with viewers the very first day. Zombies are in fashion right now and after reading the hilarious book, The Zombie Monologues by Steve E. Metze, I can see why! Mr. Metze's book offers a different view of zombie living (so to speak), and it's about the other side of the apocalypse story.

Told in an interview and laboratory note style, the book chronicles the studies of Eve Langley, a doctor doing research on what is called Necrotizing Ambulation Disorder (NAD) Experiences. It seems a virus has broken out called Athena's Disease (named for the movie star who suddenly turned into a zombie on stage at the Academy Awards), and it has swept across the world. Rather than just turn their backs on the infected creatures--which would be a bad idea anyway, unless your goal is to get eaten--the NAD group has created a software that allows them to document "undead" memories and conversations. Through a special device, they can actually communicate with the zombies and get their perspective on what it's like to go through the change, what people taste like, and how they became infected in the first place. The result is some seriously funny conversations!

Metze's book moves at a fast pace with well developed "dead" characters. The plot is definitely a twist on the traditional zombie tale, making them appear more sympathetic and their actions understandable. He introduces some new ideas that will keep the zombie huggers entertained, as well as, bringing in science theories that are fresh compared to the mass of zombie movies we've all seen of late.

All in all, it was a great read. It made me hungry, too. For brains....Just kidding!

You can buy it at Amazon in paperback and for the Kindle! Happy eating...I mean, reading.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Writer Support

I know where I'd be without my supporters right now. Unpublished. I wrote for years and years, by myself, on my own. Writing has to be lonely, for the most part. Unless you're collaborating with someone else who is sitting beside you, you write alone. It's not for people who don't like to be alone.

That said, we need human contact, just like everyone else, sometimes. Hey, we have to get our material somewhere. If I didn't overhear conversations, I'd be missing a lot. I've gotten some of my best idea from eavesdropping. People say the darndest things in public. It only gets better with cell phones, except I can't hear the other person.

But, I digress. That's not my topic. My topic is the people who support me as a writer. My Tuesday night critique group, Austin Mystery Writers; my online Sisters in Crime chapter, Guppies; my physical chapter, Heart of Texas; and many other online groups, even random people who email or comment on facebook or forward my tweets and click my "like" buttons and Amazon tags.

You won't find a more supportive, friendly group of people than mystery writers. I suspect romance and horror writers could say the same. I've had a taste of horror writers with the few stories I've done and they're a terrific bunch, too. Maybe I should say genre writers. Including my blog mates here! And we write across genres in this bunch.

It spreads to librarians and readers, people writers also depend on. They can be counted on to support writers, too. I appreciate the writing community so much!

Photo of Notre Dame, Paris, flying buttresses by Jean Lemoine from Béthisy-Saint-Martin, France, used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license. 

Thursday, June 9, 2011

What is Steampunk?

Having just released my Steampunk Role-Playing-Game at Comicpalooza (shameless plug -, people came up to my booth all day asking, "What exactly is Steampunk?"

Good question.

If you see someone asked that question on TV, or read quick definitions online, you usually get something to the tune of "fiction in a 19th Century setting" and then something like, "with all the imaginary technology that never-was" or "with retro futuristic technology" or "if the Communications Revolution happened 100 years earlier" etc. Then they go on to describe devices like Nemo's Nautilus, or armored airships and zeppelins filling the skies, steam-powered robots, gear-powered prosthetic limbs, goggles with specially advanced lenses, or artificially intelligent Babbage engines (analog computers) as big as a room with contacts made from brass.

I say they are half right. They have the technology part down, but saying Steampunk is only about the technology is like saying cyberpunk is only about the technology.

Here's how I define it in my game.

Steam = “Steam” in this case sets up the technology of the world, and to some respect, the historical context of that technology. The two simple rules of thumb are

1) If it is mechanical in any way, it can run off steam or gears, and
2) Any scientific theory can be considered reality if it sounds convincing enough in a drawing room over a snifter of brandy.

I then go into all the wild scientific theories that go with that. For example, The earth is hollow, iron clad automatons and robots are possible, cloning and other weird bio-science is possible (don't forget Frankenstein), it is easy to modify people using steam or gear operated mechanical devices, there is air on all planets and moons, the space between all things is the Aether, time travel is possible, Babbage Engines can do anything, and anything (no matter how big or heavy) can be made to fly or swim.

I further expand that with "Steam" comes the sensibilities and aesthetic of the 19th Century, usually, but not always like Victorian London. While a Steampunk story could take place in 1800s England, it could also take place in the United States (especially the Wild Wild West), or other countries, or in alternate timelines, or in completely different worlds altogether.

Regardless of where or when it takes place, there are still some common themes to keep within the Steampunk aesthetic.

1) There are significant and radical differences between the classes, the genders, and in some cases, the races (whether or not we are talking about ‘race’ in a colloquial sense of different ethnicities, or actual different species of creatures like tiger-people, or aliens, or fairies). Most protagonists will tend to be Egalitarians, above such trivial distinctions.
2) New advances in food production and medicine mean massive overcrowded cities. These cities will almost always have at least one set of slums.
3) Expect that prostitutes, scientists, alcoholics and orphans will play a significant part in any setting.
4) Likewise, expect factories, mines, mills, secret societies and guilds to play a significant part in any setting.
5) There may or may not be factions of people (sometimes referred to as Luddites) who violently oppose technological advances, fearing they will lose their jobs to it.
6) Any technology you would see made of out plastic today, would in a Steampunk setting be crafted from hand-carved wood (Mahogany and Rosewood are favorite choices), brass, copper or iron.
7) The dress, architecture, and manner of speech of a Steampunk world will be guided at least in some respect by those from historical Victorian times.

Punk = In most cases, “punk” refers to people striving for individual freedoms in a world where such things are generally oppressed or otherwise put down. The setting will define how oppressive the government and the society are. The characters will have their own ways for how they personally “rebel” against whatever travesty it is they choose to rebel against. Long story short, the more emphasis on the “Punk” part of the world, the less pleasant a place it is to be. Gritty, dark, and entirely free of happy endings might be a good way to think of it.

When you see people in Steampunk attire, they aren't always just wearing Victorian suits or dresses and goggles (although some do). They have tattoos, piercings, and dyed hair as part of the outfit, none of which would have probably happened in 19th Century London. They dress with leather bracers, they carry large impossible guns, they have insignia with skulls and wings - in short, air pirates are very popular. These all hint at the "rebellion" or "punk" aspect of the genre. It is about fighting for or against something bigger than oneself.

In fiction, you'll see things like,

1) Women might wear men’s clothing, or they might wear comfortable or practical clothing, and actually participate in science and adventuring.
2) People carrying weapons all the time
3) People modifying themselves for appearance or function with mechanical alternations such as artificial limbs or eyes.
4) Displaying gadgetry and inventions on their person, such as powered gauntlets, mechanical wings, or technologically enhanced goggles.

Some common things for Steampunk characters to rebel against
1) Capitalism
2) Nationalism
3) Non-Representative governments
4) All politics or government, or simply the taxes which pay them.
5) Abuse of human rights
6) Abuse of rights of privacy
7) Classism
8) The unequal distribution of wealth
9) The celebration of debauchery and self-indulgence, particularly by the wealthy.
10) The “ideals” or “morals” of society
11) Exploitation of any group
12) Racism
13) Sexism
14) Technology
15) Secret Societies
16) Wars or misuse of military


There are three core Steampunk world views:
1) STEAMpunk (heavy on technology, light on punk)
2) steamPUNK (focuses on the oppression and darkness of the world)
3) Fantasy Steampunk (incorporating fantastic races and creatures such as fairies and goblins, along with magic mixing with technology).

When choosing a world view, feel free to mix and match between the options. For example, to an aristocrat who has never left the "good” side of town, the entire world might seem more in line with STEAMpunk until that day a mysterious messenger leads them into the city slums, or they lose their entire fortune in a series of bad investments and learn the hard way the brutal living conditions of the lower classes. Likewise, a Fantasy Steampunk campaign could have roots in a utopian society just as easily as a dystopian one.

A STEAMpunk world is one where not only has technology progressed faster than the historic pace, but it has done so to the benefit of society in general. While there might still be a significant economic difference between the classes, food is plentiful, and cities relatively clean. A lot of the Japanese animated Steampunk movies fall in this category.

  • The People – The lower classes would still be poor, but not oppressed physically or mentally, and they might still have access to at least some health care. While always present, criminals would be obvious and not particularly effective, and relegated to the expected parts of the city. Prostitutes, beggars and orphans would be friendly and helpful, as would most members of the slums provided you treated them with respect.

  • The Technology – Mass transit methods such as Omnibus rail systems, passenger zeppelins, public submersibles, and subterranean tube systems might be possible, while individuals zip about on smaller propeller-driven dirigibles, on automatonic horses, or with spinning blades from steam-powered backpacks. Most personal body modifications would be for self-improvement or repair (replacing a lost limb, better eyesight, etc.) or possibly to aid in distant expeditions to far off dangerous places.

  • The Government – The government, or at least many of the aristocrats, would take an active part in pushing for more human rights, and it would not be uncommon to see celebrations concerning the discoveries of adventurers and explorers, or celebrating social reforms or new technology.

  • Secret Societies – They would be rational and calculated, moving with subtle motions in the background to bend things to their will. They might acknowledge defeat in a respectable fashion before retreating off to make their plans for another day.

  • Guilds – Guilds would manage their crafts and the people who perform them. Some rival guilds would compete economically, of course, and competition to join a guild might be fierce, but other than that they would simply serve as nodes of power within the framework of the city or country.

  • Fuel – In this world, whatever powers steam-engines is a clean source of energy, or it simply isn't discussed. Pollution would be at a minimum, and automatons would be available for any number of manual or unpleasant tasks.

  • Enemies -- Here the real enemy would usually come from the Outside. The most common enemies may be threats to society from the Aether, or from other worlds (either above it or below it), or from good-intentioned science experiments gone awry, or from natural disasters. Other options include exploring fringe locations or distant regions which haven’t yet risen to the standards of modern civilization.

  • steamPUNK More of the written fiction falls in this 'darker' category. A steamPUNK world is one where the technological advances primarily benefit the upper classes, the government, or the military, many times at the expense of the lower classes. The economic difference between the classes is harsh and cruel. Take anything positive from the STEAMpunk list above and add the phrase “only for the upper class,” to the end.

  • The People – The lower classes would include the extremely destitute, and all desperate to latch onto any opportunity, no matter how seedy, to improve their station. Four or five families might live in a single room, the ones furthest from the door having to pay toll to the others in order to leave or go to the privies. Beggars might be intentionally deformed by their parents to encourage more donations, and factories could be filled with lost souls literally shackled to their workstations. Criminals may exist in far greater numbers, or have organized into gangs or possibly even guilds. Orphans would constantly fear for their lives and react accordingly whenever approached. Slums would be death sentences to outsiders, and Opium dens would not be unusual to find in the city.

  • The Technology – Mass transit methods would still exist, but separated into the “common” unsafe types, both filthy and prone to fatal accidents, and the upper class extravagant versions with their own team of servants. Individual transportation would be technologically based for the wealthy, but would still be based on beast of burden for the lower to middle classes. Body modification could be just for spite, or for criminal activity, or self-protection. Hidden weapons, secret compartments, devices that confound security measures, spying tools, and just overt displays of strength might all be incorporated into steam powered limbs or body replacements. Scientific experiments on the poor might also be common, testing new medical theories or gadgets on the living for the promise of a few coins.

  • The Government – Here the government, and particularly the aristocrats, would primarily focus on what benefits them and keeps them in power. Laws would be written to maintain the status quo, and to prevent any groups from rising above their current station in life. Celebrations might still be common, but for things the upper classes cheer for while the lower classes curse at or actively protest them.

  • Secret Societies – They might rival the governments for power, or be the only hope against real change in the government. While the core leadership might be fairly rational, they might have hordes of minions to do their bidding, all to be discarded when their tasks are done.

  • Guilds – Guilds would take on the role of the megacorporations of their time, which just as much power and contempt for the people who serve them. They would maintain their own guards, or militias, or possibly even armies to fight in distant wars over resources. For the smaller guilds who couldn’t afford to keep a staff of ruffians for protection, fighting, thieving, spying and assassinating, there would be a guild of special mercenaries to rent them out. Guilds would have an uneasy alliance with the government, neither able to easily overthrow the other, although they would constantly watch for any possible opportunity to do so. On the streets, guild law and city law would be kept separate wherever possible, the guilds free to run things how they wish so long as it doesn’t disturb the upper classes or the grand order of things.

  • Fuel – In this world, steam-powered engines all come with a side-effect, filling the cities with smoke and smog. People would make cheaper workers than automatons, and with less required maintenance. Masks are a part of many a Steampunk costume for a reason.

  • Enemies -- Here there are as many enemies within the city as outside it. Conflicts between two guilds could result in their executives drinking tea and watching their lackeys fight to the death to decide the outcome of the ‘negotiations.’ Automatons could go crazy, or band together to overthrow the ‘organic menace.’ Luddites might make repeated attempt to sabotage technology, no matter what the effects on the general population. Simply bumping the wrong member of the upper class could result in a death warrant. The shadows would be filled with the unspeakable activities of organized crime and secret societies. The simplest of ‘for hire’ jobs could be part of a larger plan filled with layers of deception and unseen dangers as nobles, guilds, secret organizations, and criminals constantly war against each other with commoners as their pawns.

    Fantasy Steampunk While putting “Fantasy” in front of Steampunk may seem redundant, in this case it is used to incorporate a specific element not common in most Steampunk literature. Given the popularity of the belief in fairies during the 19th Century, it isn’t a giant leap to add such creatures of the imagination into a Steampunk world. Also, the 19th Century was a time of incredible scientific advances happening quicker than most people could grasp them. There was no reason not to believe that if an armored zeppelin could fly, why couldn't a little girl on a broom? Since advanced technology is essentially "magic" to people who don't understand even the fundamentals behind it, the idea of actual arcane magic existing beside new technological marvels seems to make sense.

    Besides, orks with cannons for arms? Female elves in Steampunk garb with blaster pistols and pointed ears? Fairies (or their skeletons) on display in jars? Using a gear-powered box to predict the future or speak with the dead? 19th Century zombies and vampires? That's just cool stuff...

    Here is a (very small) list of some sample Steampunk books...

    • Steampunk (Collection of short stories edited by Ann and Jeff Vandermeer)
    • Steampunk’d (Collection of short stories edited by Jean Rabe and Martin H. Greenberg)
    • Extraordinary Engines (Collection of short stories edited by Nick Gevers)
    • The Steampunk Bible by Jeff Vandermeer with S. J. Chambers
    • Boneshaker by Cherie Priest (Steampunk AND zombies…)
    • The Difference Engine by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling
    • Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
    • The Girl Genius series by Phil and Kaja Foglio

    And Movies/TV Shows with at least a Steampunk theme

    • 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
    • 9
    • Howl’s Moving Castle
    • The Castle in the Sky: Laputa
    • The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
    • Sherlock Holmes
    • Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow
    • The Wild Wild West
    • The Island of Dr. Moreau
    • The Time Machine
    • The City of Lost Children
    • Warehouse 13

    • Wednesday, June 8, 2011

      Book Review: Choke by Kaye George

      Sausage, a wannabe P.I., and murder--what do these three things have in common? They are the core elements of Kaye George's humorous murder mystery, Choke. Set in the fictional small town of Saltlick, Texas, Choke centers on Imogene Duckworthy, or Immy as her friends call her, a naive young woman whose greatest ambition is to become a private investigator. Armed with a copy of the Moron's Compleat P.I. Guidebook, Immy sets out to solve the lastest murder in Saltlick--the mysterious choking death by frozen sausage of her own uncle. When Immy and her mother, the eloquent Hortense, become the prime suspects, her investigation gets a little more difficult!

      Kaye George does an excellent job of weaving humor and death into a fast paced read. With a fabulous and funny supporting cast of characters, it's easy to fall in love with Immy's endearing charm as she struggles to become independent from her superior mother and prove that she is worthy of being a real detective. It is Immy's "every woman" quality that keeps the reader engaged and the story moving. George has created a funny, carefully woven mystery that will have you in stitches with laughter and keep you wondering "who dunnit?" until the very end!

      Get your copy of Choke today at

      Monday, June 6, 2011

      The beautiful fluidity of language

      Grand Tetons photo taken by me

      At one point in my life I wanted to be a linguist. At another, an interpreter. I've studied a few languages, and now I'm a writer, so I guess you could say I have a lifelong interest in words. I'm pretty good at knowing what proper grammar is, but I'm fascinated by the way people use the English language in everyday speech.

      Those of us who care, know that you can lie down, but you must lay something down. But nobody talks that way! I go in the house to lay down when I'm speaking out loud. It would sound so affected to say I'm going to lie down.

      So the present tense of lie is becoming lay. Some day it will be standard English. That's the way standard English is formed, by usage. I love that about words. They are constantly being shifted and molded by the ways we use them.

      There are people who want to capture words and set them in stone so that they never change. That will never happen! Language is a living thing. The only languages that are not changing are the dead languages, Latin, ancient Greek, things like that.

      Someone mentioned the difference between the words 'that' and 'which'.* The first word is supposed to be used when removing it would make the sentence unclear. The building that is on the right is the one you should enter. Without the clause *that is on the right*, you don't know which building it is. Contrast with this. The building, which is painted green, is on the right. You can removed the *which* clause and the you still know which building it is. It's the one on the right, which happens to be painted green.

      Anyway, someday those usages won't matter any more either, because the shifting sands of language will have covered up the difference. And the winds of time will have uncovered brand new words and brand new usages that we don't even know about yet.

      It's beautiful.

      *I know the single quote belongs inside the period for  Americans, but if the British can do it that way, and if I prefer it that way, I can do it on my own blog. It makes more sense, OK?

      Wednesday, June 1, 2011

      7 Summer Writing Goals for the Neurotic

      I'm a teacher. I love what I do, but I'm ready for summer break. Summer is the time when I feel the stress in my shoulders dissipate and my fingers get that electric writing tingle. They know that for the next eight weeks they will have unlimited freedom to dance across the keyboard.

      I seem to get my best story ideas in summer, too. Maybe it's because I sleep better and don't worry as much, but the ideas often flow faster in the lazy heat of June and July. Sometimes I can't even keep up with them.

      Many of you know from previous posts that I am a goal setter. So of course, I have my summer goals to keep up with!

      1. Write every day. (Well, duh. Doesn't everyone do that anyway?)

      2. Write one short story every week. (That one might be reaching a bit for me.)

      3. Stop writing in parenthesis. (Okay, I don't--hey, wait a minute...)

      4. Blog weekly on All Things Writing and Loesch's Muse.

      5. Set up a blog tour for my urban fantasy, Nephilim which is due out July 18 from Lyrical Press, Inc.

      6. Re-write my YA.

      7. Start that new manuscript that keeps waking me up at night.

      Seven goals. Don't know if I'll conquer them all, but I'm giving it a shot.

      So what about you? What are your summer goals?