It’s a tricky thing, beginning with words. It’s critical, in the first two dozen syllables, to reach out with a sudden, merciless, vicious grip, grasp your reader by the throat, pull him close, and murmur into his ear with the voice of a lover,

“Come with me. It won’t hurt…much.”

You write those words, you lay that trap, and then you pray like hell you’re someone’s siren. Sometimes you are (and that, friends, is a powerful drug). Usually, you’re not. Usually, the words echo back at you, a lone voice in an abandoned cave. Or worse, you never actually give the words the fresh breath of someone else’s eyes, and they linger in that powder blue nowhere purgatory, otherwise known as The File on Your Desktop You Pretend to Ignore (most of my words have ended up here).

Being a writer takes guts. It takes vulnerability. It takes a rigid and supple will. It takes discipline in the extreme and free-thinking in the extreme. It takes an artist’s spirit and a business guru’s acumen. It takes the thickest skin you can imagine, and the most tender soul. It takes yin and yang. It takes duality.

God, it sucks. Don’t get me wrong; it’s wonderful, too. But it sucks.

It sucks (and is wonderful) because once a writer realizes she is a writer it’s all over for her. Once a writer realizes what she is, a writer is what she will be until the day she dies, no matter her level of success or failure. No matter how vehemently she’ll try to deny her art when her muse decides to go on unannounced hiatus.

The particular muse in question has been missing for years. Years. If you happen to see her out and about, could you ask her to send a postcard home? It’d be nice to know she’s alive.

But I’m not here to talk about muses or the agony and ecstasy of being a writer. I’m here to talk about words; specifically, those first words. Because here’s the honest-to-God-truth:

Those first words you read in that novel on your bedside? Or the first words in that biography that’s gathering dust on your bookshelf? Those aren’t the first words that were written in that book. Most likely they were crafted months after the book began its long sojourn down the treacherous birth canal of the writer’s mind; those effortless words (oh, God, how every writer hopes those opening lines look effortless) that you read in a matter of seconds were most likely written and re-written, culled back and replanted, sanded down and polished, subjected to a wrecking ball then built back up, until the author was covered in dirt and sawdust, high on fumes (and most likely running on fumes), hardhat discarded at her feet, blood dripping from the place in her chest where she cut herself wide open for the sake of the cause.

Authors suffer for great beginnings. But as hard as those very first few words are to get just right, there are harder words. I’m talking about the words that are hiding behind that skinny, black, blinking line at the top of the page. Every writer knows that every story must begin in the nothing-land of the blank page (blank analog pages are just as intimidating as their digital counterparts, btw). The cursor or pen is a portal of sorts, opening up the inner chambers of our minds so that we might channel the worlds and characters and stories that live so vividly in the gray matter behind our eyes into the stark black and white of the page. The goal, in the end, is to do those stories justice—to relay them with words that give them fidelity.

It’s a daunting and intimidating matter, to step into that skinny, black, blinking line and unleash the worlds that are compressed in our minds, safely kept under wraps in the sleepy spaces of our imaginations.

And it’s at this place—staring down that small, mighty cursor—that I find myself. Because the truth is, I wasn’t being completely honest before: my muse has already written home—I’ve just been too afraid to acknowledge her postcard, a 4 x 6 matte black affair, written in silver script:

I’m coming home, and I’m bringing the story with me.

Friends, Archethenia is near.

The story is coming home.


Gray Is My Second-Favorite Color

I’m finding myself in a little bit of an identity crisis. Not me, specifically, but my writing self, and my blogging self.

I’ve gotten some recent feedback that suggested that my blog doesn’t exactly reach out to my readers, and my books don’t exactly fit into a single, marketable genre. That I’m not specific in execution, that I’m not aiming at a target audience for my writing.

They’re totally right. I don’t have a target audience that I can squeeze into one little box. Some of you are young. Some of you aren’t. Some of you are female. Some of you aren’t. Some of you have kids. Some of you don’t. Some of you are highly educated. Some of you aren’t. Some of you think pickled cabbage is the best thing since sliced bread. Some of you don’t.

I know Shrilugh is a YA novel, but so many of my readers aren’t young adults. And honestly, I’m not a YA writer. The novel I’m currently working on isn’t young adult. It’s adult fiction, with an edge of fantasy/paranormal and sci-fi and romance (it sounds like a mess, but I promise, it’s not).

I don’t write traditional fantasy. I don’t write traditional paranormal. I don’t write traditional science fiction or romance. My books don’t fully fit in any of those categories. I jumped into this profession with the some-what selfish intention to write the kind of books that I want to read – books that are about people who are normal enough to relate to, with enough fantastical elements to take a person away, but not so much that a reader like me would feel alienated. There’s nothing wrong with fully-immersed fantasy or paranormal fiction (obviously, people love it and are whole-heartedly devoted to it), but it’s never been my thing, and it’s not what I write. But I’m not sure where that leaves me in a genre-hunt. Half-Assed Fantasy? Sorta-Para-Normal? Almost-Romance?

I’m a misfit. My books are misfits. And you guys, dear readers, are a bunch of misfits, too. (I hope you know how much that endears you to me.)

I know I’m rambling on, and that this is more like a journal entry than a blog post, and I’m sorry.

Anyway, I think I’m going to have to lay this issue to rest, and be content. We are all what we are, and while I’ll always, always strive to be a better me than I was yesterday, I think I’m ready to hang my hat on a hook and make myself at home in the gray land I’ve seemed to have fallen into. Gray’s always been one of my favorite colors, anyway.

{end of journal-like entry. i won’t indulge like this again, promise}


Countdown to SHRILUGH: 3

{ 3 }

Three days until SHRILUGH comes out! 

To help tide you over until then, here is a snippet from Part One of the book. How did I choose this snippet? Why, because it has the word ‘three’ in it, of course. This bit of the story is told from Brig Cooper’s perspective. He’s a good guy, a boy-next-door, take-home-to-meet-your-parents kind of guy.


Brig sighed heavily.  “Why?”

“It’s Josie, Brig.  She’s evil.  She pulled it out of me.”  Shannon grinned sheepishly at his son.  His grown-up version of a crush on Josie O’Leary was no secret to Brig or Aydan.  Though he’d never summoned up enough courage to ask her out in the three years since her ex-husband took off, he’d managed to develop a knack for frequently bumping into her.  If it had been anybody else, Brig would have goaded him to go for it, but the thought of being Sarah O’Leary’s step-brother, or anything remotely close to that, was almost enough to make him want to call his mom and beg her to come back.

“You won’t mind a little extra company, will you, Brig?  You weren’t planning anything special tonight, right?”   Shannon’s keen eyes were trained on his son.

“It’s Aydan’s graduation, Dad,” Brig answered defensively, wondering if Shannon’s questions meant he suspected what Brig was set on doing.  “She doesn’t want to spend the evening with those girls.”


For more information on SHRILUGH, click the button on the right side of this page. Or, like me on Facebook. Or, check me out on Goodreads. Or, follow me on Twitter. Or take a look-see at this Pinterest board. This one, too.

That’s right, social media. I own you.

Hey, and while you’re at it, check out this uber-cool review. Prudence got an advance copy of SHRILUGH, and this is what she had to say about it.