Wednesday, June 30, 2021

What does frothy mean?

Helloooooo, Wednesday. Today I'm supposed to be talking about the frothiest thing I've ever written, but honestly? No idea what "frothy" means. Like...fluffy? Funny? Lighthearted? Something in that range? Most of my stuff is a rollercoaster mix of funny-ish smacking right into stone-cold angst and then unraveling itself out again, and I have no idea if any of it qualifies as a summery beach read type thing. So, instead of educating myself on the definition and canon of froth, I'll just leave a scenelet from my work in progress, a Regency-flavored space opera that is mostly banter and desperately needs a better title:

Ash stared hard at the duvet. “Did you not notice how few people are here? No staff whatsoever, and just one governess for five young ladies, at least two of whom are treasures of their incredibly important families and indubitably have staffs numbering in the dozens back home? Yet they are here, even without their personal guards.”

He had a point, but… “Maybe it’s simply a very exclusive mart? Isolating a young lady before her debut is not uncommon.” 

He was kind enough not to remind her that such isolation used to be less common, before her own debut. 

“But governesses who go missing and are thereafter completely unmentioned sort of are uncommon,” he said.

“What? Who went missing?”

“Your predecessors. You were not the first governess hired here, Hestia. What’s more, Mrs. Basselhurst used to have a Mr. Basselhurst, which is why that provision about spouses was even in Eidolon’s charter.”

“Let me guess: the planet ate him, too?”

Ash raised both eyebrows, as if she had overdramatized the matter. She had not. Evil planets were evil.

“Did she tell you all of this while you two enjoyed your tête-à-tête?”

He did something then that surprised her utterly. He groaned, ran his hands through his hair, and flopped back onto the bed. The gesture was so casual, so familiar, so un-him that it jumbled Hestia’s thoughts momentarily. It wasn’t like she had never imagined this man lying in her bed. She just had never expected it to happen in the context of dynastic matches and murderous planets.

“Leaving me alone with her was cruel, but you knew that. You torment me deliberately.”

She really did.

“However, yes, I was able to get a good deal of alarming information out of the very chatty Mrs. Basselhurst. And none of it makes sense.”

If Hestia stretched her feet out beneath the duvet, she could touch him with her toes. Of course, there were more direct ways to initiate contact, but he had been skittish in the past. Best not to alarm him. Best to sneak up on him, as it were.

He didn’t even flinch. “Did you just kick me?”

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Protag Face-Off: Bigger Funny Bone

Our topic this week is "Our Frothiest Book." 

clears throat

While I crack jokes aplenty in my books, I don't know that any of them meet the "frothy" threshold. Though, when it comes down to choosing which of my protagonists has a more robust sense of humor, I think Bix, an old AF cosmic entity, leading the Immortal Spy UF series has a bigger funny bone than Vadrigyn, the parasite-wielding fire warrior starring in LARCOUT. It's not that Vadrigyn doesn't find shit amusing, it's just that when she says she's going to slay you, she means that literally...language barriers being what they are and all.

Bix being her charming self:

Tobek held her gaze as he detached his prosthetic arm and handed it off. His expression took on a hint of wariness.

She wagged a finger at the rough puckers of his amputated flesh and whispered loudly, “Where are the alien worms?”

His brows drew together. 
She couldn’t stop the snort-giggle. “With that kind of a buildup, I expected some sort of secondary life form. At least a dozen. Maybe purple and covered in mucus? Lots of teeth, no eyes? A regular shortened arm is kind of disappointing, frankly.”

Vadrigyn trying her best to blend in:
Vadrigyn pivoted. Her fist connected squarely with the nose of the closest fool…and punched through the back of his skull. Blood and brain oozed down her wrist and stained her vambrace. The body reduced to sand, leaving her with a skull bracelet.
Fragile blood-beings.
All progress toward Sana ceased. Silence filled the orchard save for the keening wind. Sana wiped gore from her face then abruptly twisted away, vomiting.
Vadrigyn recited a Morsam litany. Soft blows, barely more than a swat at the air, would suffice to incapacitate a blood-being. She knew that. Gentle. She must be gentle in combat.
How absurd.

Sunday, June 27, 2021


At the SFF Seven this week, we're recommending our frothiest books for a light summer read. Well, if you're one of those who likes to celebrate the midwinter holidays in the heat of summer, I've got one for you!


This is a prequel novella to my Heirs of Magic series, previously published in the UNDER A WINTER SKY anthology, and now available as a standalone. If you want a bit of wintery magic, this story will transport you to a fantasy world where the longest night is celebrated at Castle Ordnung. A circle of grown-up childhood friends gather to dance, drink, celebrate the rare sighting of the full Crystalline Moon - and perhaps attempt to rekindle a long-lost love affair. 

For a short time, you can snag this novella for only 0.99c from my website store. As the retailer links go live, you'll find them here - THE LONG NIGHT OF THE CRYSTALLINE MOON - and the price goes up. 

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Peanut Butter and Mayo Sandwiches


Y'all this is about as controversial as I get. With unpopular opinions being the topic here on the SFF Seven this week, I honestly couldn't think of many options for this post. I guess I never think about what's popular? *insert introverted laughter

Opinions are opinions. When people stand up against facts (real ones, btw) is when I get a little louder.

But! This is not that, and it's not writerly in any way. This is smooth, creamy peanut butter with some mayo (or even Miracle Whip) slathered on white bread. It's so good, though it's been many years since I've eaten it. When I tell people how fabulous it is, I unfailingly get the most disgusted looks shot back at me. :)

My grandmother was born in 1910 and therefore lived through the Great Depression. Many of my childhood meals were a result of her experience, the PB & Mayo Sandwich included.

I dare you to try it.

**OH, and James is on point with his post this week. Listen to your editors, people. We aren't dedicating hours and hours of our lives to your work for the paycheck, trust me on this. Editors are usually genuinely trying to help you succeed and produce your best work. If you don't like your editor, then that's an issue. If you don't like anyone touching your work and you're clinging to your darlings, learn to let that stuff go. 

Happy writing! And PB & Mayo Sandwiches!

Friday, June 25, 2021

Unpopular Opinions? Welcome to my TED Talk.

  1. Insomnia's not so bad.
    No, really! It has its limited, mind-numbing, exhausting uses. I mean, I finally got on Tik-Tok and followed people who slay me. Laughing my ass off without waking my family or peeing my pants in the middle of the night counts as exercise, right?
  2. Being warm is overrated.
    Those of you not enduring a scorching heatwave right now, hear me out. Moving to a warm climate where a good, hard frost is perishingly rare just ain't all it's cracked up to be. Ask the allergic asthmatic how they know.
  3. Firefly.
    I'm team Vivien on this one. It can be problematic as hell - just like most human beings I'd posit. But y'know, it did a lot right from a scripting and conflict standpoint. Mostly, I just remember it as a really good time that ended too soon. Of course, had it come out today, it's possible I'd have liked it less because of the yuck factors associated with it.
  4. Snakes.
    Don't care. I like 'em. Not in my house necessarily, but I like seeing them. I like knowing they're out there in the world doing snake things. 
  5. Old cats are the best.
    Sure kittens are cute and adorable, but they grow up. Old cats are opinionated, cranky, eccentric as hell, and set in their ways. They might be stiff with arthritis and their hearing may be gone. They might live for another few weeks or for years - getting more assertive and opinionated each day. But they are the cats who appreciate everything you do for them. They're suckers for a warm lap and a few soft pets. The relationship you've forged with them is settled and established. As their worlds get smaller, you move closer and closer to the center of it.
  6. Having your parents live with you can be a win.
    Don't think I'm not aware of the incredible privilege I enjoy - my relationship with my folks is pretty damned good and a lot of people aren't that fortunate. In this case, it's even more privileged than that. I get to have this time with a parent who's becoming frailer and whose world is (like the elderly cat's) getting smaller. When we moved my parents into the house, it was to help them age in place and to never need a nursing home. That's a pretty big gift to give and to get. I hope we can sustain it. Are there hard days? Oh, yeah. But you know what? One of the parents brings me tea at random intervals throughout the day and makes fake ice cream every afternoon. It's the little things.
  7. Pronouns are no big deal.
    Ask what people prefer. Use the preferred pronouns. Mess it up? Correct yourself. No flailing or apology or groveling necessary. Correct. Move on. Impacted people care that you're trying - though at some point - trying needs to move into habit. Otherwise, affected people may be forgiven for bringing an air horn into the conversation to provide demotivating commentary on being misgendered for the thousandth time.
  8. Book lights don't actually light up books.
    I'd like to think this isn't an age thing, but it could totally be an age thing. Those tiny LED book lights that so cleverly clip to your book cover and adjust to illuminate the pages you're reading? Yeah, they don't. Sure, I can see the pages and that there are letters on the pages. But provide enough contrast to actually allow my migraine addled brain and eyes to bring those letters into focus so they can be seen, read, and registered? Not a chance. The book light is enough to keep me from killing a cat or dying because I tripped over a cat in the middle of the night, though. So there is that.
 TikTok comedy anyone?

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Popular/Unpopular—Find What You Love

Two brown, cardboard boxes and one white ice cream pail filled with fresh picked strawberries all sitting on a bed of golden hay and a line of green shrubs in the background.


We’re nearing the end of June and I’ve been absent from the blog for a couple of weeks. Life has been busy and demanding, and my mental bandwidth has been maxed out. 

Today is a new day and this week we’re talking about unpopular opinions. I’d like to say…wait for it…I think I’m full of popular opinions! 

Strawberries are summertime and should be enjoyed in large quantities.

cup of coffee with patio and planters in hazy background

Sunsets are for taking a breath and being thankful for what the day has brought. 

Coffee is for quiet, book contemplations.

Furry side-kicks are for cuddling.

And wine is for sharing the patio with friends! 

What’s a popular opinion you’re in love with right now? 

I hope your week is filled with inspiration!

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Unpopular opinions of an unpopular person

I was not a popular kid in school. Not that I was bullied or anything, just mostly ignored, and since I lived chiefly inside my own imagination and books, that didn't bother me as much as it should have. Being awkward and a loner, I never really caught the wave of popular opinion, so it was only years later that I realized most of the things I loved were shoved into niche fandoms or heckled by mainstream popular culture. And then of course, there were the things I loved that were later shown to be problematic or created by problematic people. But try as I might, I couldn't just turn off the deep affection. Turns out love is a really hard thing to kill. 

So anyhow, "unpopular opinion" week on SFF Seven has given me an excuse to list a few of my personal loves that are very, very not loved by others (and that's okay*): 

  • Firefly. Yes, it's Whedon, yes it's weird in that a bunch of non-Chinese-looking people speak Chinese even when there are no Chinese-looking characters in the show. Yes, that joke about Shepherd Book's hair was uncomfortably racist. I know these things. I know we can do better. And I still love the show.
  • 80s rock n' roll with its avalanche of problematic lyrics. "He must've been about seventeen," in "I Love Rock n Roll," pretty much the entirety of "Dude Looks Like a Lady," the slut shaming in "Once Bitten Twice Shy," and the creepy pedo vibe in, well, several Police songs. I am embarrassed to admit I still sing along with these -- and others -- when I'm alone. 
  • Midriff-baring shirts and low-rise bell-bottoms from the 90s. Man, I thought I looked good. (You can laugh. It's okay.)
  • Reylo. Okay, yes, the relationship was toxic, and yes, Rey would have been much better off with Finn who is a cinnamon roll and a hero and better looking, and no I do not appreciate how this issue has divided the fandom because it really isn't that important, but also the chemistry onscreen was delicious and has spawned more fanfiction than I want to confess to right at this moment.
  • Orson Scott Card. I think he's a brilliant writer, whatever else he might be in his private, non-storytelling life. His early allegories are especially gorgeous. 
  • The Oxford Comma. I'm sorry, the serial comma is semantically necessary and none of you AP-Style-loving heathens will ever convince me otherwise.
  • English desperately needs a second-person plural, and "y'all" is right there, doing the work. Might as well make it official. (I also like "all y'all" as an extension.)
  • Stephen King will be remembered as the 20th century literary great of the English language just like Shakespeare. Updike can suck it. 
  • Chihuahuas can be the sweetest little dogs. I don't care how many times you got bitten by your neighbor's toothy deathhound, my Chihuahuas are tiny pacifists who just want treats and a nap. Proof:

* Omitting the serial comma is actually not okay, no matter what I said up there (photo from a page of Steven Pinker's The Sense of Style): 

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Unpopular Opinion: A Bit Morbid

 As I sit here surrounded by various medical reports for my hairy beastie's recently discovered $%&# cancer while waiting on more test results and debating whether to subject her to chemo, I can't help but think about quality versus quantity of life. Our society prioritizes quantity. We demand that even those enduring great suffering with no hope of reprieve continue to exist to appease the conscience of others and to continue to pay the ever-hungry capitalist machine...even after we pass on. We, justifiably, fear our fellow man will kill us without our consent, thus we leave no space for exiting with dignity.  

Yes, there are 9 states and DC with Aid-In-Dying laws for those who have a terminal illness with life expectancy not to exceed 6 months. If your terminal illness is a long-haul affair, too bad, so sad. Suck it up. But don't get addicted to the pain killers. Assuming you can pay for them. Better to be a burden on your family than to cause an inconvenient passing thought to a transient legislator. Waste away, would you? Quietly. But not in a place with a hot real estate market. Your decaying flesh bag isn't worth as much as the square footage occupied by your bed. Hang in there until your savings is spent and bankruptcy makes you inconvenient. Long-term hospice? You should've bought into the insurance plan for that. Too late now, though. You don't qualify. Don't you know a dignified death is only for those who can afford for it?

Quality of life, well, if we were to assert that as a priority, we'd break the institutions that blame the immigrant for "stealing jobs" instead of the CEO who suppresses wages to earn his multi-million dollar bonus. We'd break the system of education that teaches children to sit still, be quiet, pay attention, don't ask too many questions, don't make mistakes, don't dare fail, don't be the bent tine in the fork. Accept the scripture of process and precedent. Stay in your assigned lane. Be a good drone. We'd expose the fallacy that hard work earns just rewards. Money would no longer be king. The rules of power would be redefined and accessible to the masses.

My unpopular opinion is that humanity has a broken relationship with both the sanctity of life and the mercy of death. The desire for control drives the former, while the fear of losing it enables the latter. Both are wielded by unscrupulous powers to great cruelty. It'll take more than a social revolution to change that. Sadly.

Sunday, June 20, 2021

And now to piss off everyone...

Okay, not really. I actually had a long rambling post, but looking it over I realized that I don't agree with what I said. Sometimes being cntrary for no good reason is a waste of time. Here's my NEW disagreeable rant: editors serve a vital purpose and shoud be listned to in most cases.

Friday, June 18, 2021

How I Hook

 Hooks? We don't need no stinkin' hooks. 

I'm reading over the list of seven hooks and either I don't understand them - entirely possible because this week is the first time I'd seen them. Seems to me they lack a little imagination because I don't see an action hook. And y'all, that's my favorite! 

Though I am in a class right now that's teaching me to hook via character. This is alien territory for me, but in a romance novel, it makes total sense that you'd want your readers to connect with the characters before, or as, the story action kicks off.

  • Enemy Within: Sun glinting off the barrel of a gun stopped Captain Ari Idylle dead in her tracks. (I'm calling this the Oh, shit hook.)
  • Enemy Games: The communications panel trilled, echoing the call in the confines of the tiny cockpit. (Uhm. I dunno? This is the point where everything changes for the hero. Does that make this a why hook? Or just a weak hook?)
  • Enemy Storm: Holy Gods, don’t know what I did to piss you off, but dropping a starship on my head is overkill. (Ah, Edie. I'd like to imagine this is action and character combined, but that could be wishful thinking.)
  • Enemy Deliverance: Even though her eyes were closed, even though she’d done her best to relax in the tiny barracks pod that qualified as a bunk, even though rainwater dripped on her mattress in a lulling plip, plip, plip, Ildri Bynovan wasn’t asleep. (Character and setting.)
  • Enemy Mine: Priority Two Alert. Assassination contract for Captain Xiao Zhong verified. Guild assassin Mekise Tolenga en route.(Definitely a why)

 You can see a major change between books 1 to 3 and book 4. Also, sneak peak. You're getting to look at an opening line for a book that hasn't been published yet.

Well okay, Marcella. That's the SFR. What about the others?

Look at the fantasies.

  • Blood Knife: The sweet scent of coffee spiked with caramel syrup preceded the shadow that obscured the golden October sunshine pouring into my office. (Setting I think.)
  • Emissary: When I walked out of the Red Desert into the thin strip of fertile land I’d left as a girl, I barely recognized it. (I have no idea what this is.)
Urban Fantasy
  • Nightmare Ink: Funny how longing for something you can’t have gets blown away in the first swirl of snowflakes heralding an oncoming blizzard. (No idea what this is.)
  • Bound by Ink: Isa hadn’t intended to end up in a crowd of people so soon after getting rid of a Living Tattoo who’d wanted to kill her and take over her body for his own use. (This must be the Why.) 
The paranormal.
  • Damned if He Does: The problem with being damned was that no one would meet your eye.(Character, I think.)

Huh. Look at that. I only thought that action was my preference. Looking through my first lines, it looks like I've done far more character hooks than action hooks.

My illusions are so shattered. What is writing even?