Silver Lining / Blessing #2: Stupid moments

As a speculative fiction writer, I deal with and live for fantastic worlds and unlikely stories. Sometimes, as a writer, you throw yourself plot curve balls to break writer's block or move the action in a new direction. Sometimes you simply want to throw the unexpected at readers. Sometimes such attempts just wind up totally stupid and out of left field. Those stupid moments get trashed. But today, I'm thankful for real-life stupid moments that turn a bad mood around. I had that sort of moment yesterday:

Energizer Bunny Girl and I had left the house for her rock-climbing practice. I needed gas and I needed a giant cup of coffee (I write in the lobby of the climbing venue for two hours while she climbs.) So we pulled into the Dunkin' Donuts parking lot, and I reached into my bag for my purse--which wasn't there. No coffee. No gas. No driver's license if I get pulled over. Now Murphy, his law, and I are tight, so I knew I had to go home (8 minutes back) and get my purse. I did so, but at the cost of running late.

Take two:  We're back on the road. EBK is stressing that she'll have to do umpteen extra rounds of warmup for being late, and I know I don't have time to get gas or coffee.  She's nagging me; I'm grumbling and tense. We're back on the road, approaching the highway, when I realize I'm heading to the on ramp of the wrong highway. I use two highways regularly and well ... ooops! So now I'm practically growling, EBK is wondering what sort of alien organism is eating away at her mother's brain, and I turn onto a dead end street to make a U-ee.

As I drive down the street to find a good place to turn, we come across two wild turkeys walking down the side of the road--not a common sight by me. I've seen one other in the fifteen years I've live here. It was so unexpected that we began laughing. Realizing that the dumb turkey I feel like has come upon actual turkeys, I roll down the window as EBK and I make turkey noises. Then I remember a story about a flying turkey slamming into someone's windshield, so I quickly roll up the window as they move closer. We continue past, make the U-ee, and ... suddenly we have two turkeys charging the car! I veer left, they follow, right, they follow. I slow down and stop the car. They move under the car, EBK and I can't stop laughing, and after a minute, we see this:


And they won't move.  I don't dare get out of the car to scare them  off, because obviously our turkey talk offended them, so I hit the horn. They practically scream back at us for a couple of minutes, and then one moves to the driver side, clearly ticked off:


I call this shot, "Wanna piece of me?"

Eventually, the turkey at the front of the car takes off, and the one on the side loses interest:


There is nothing like an attempted carjacking by two turkeys to put you in a better mood. It's okay to be late. It's better to have a stupid moment. It would have been priceless to have the presence of mind to record the entire thing and put it on YouTube. But that probably requires a brain that remembers its purse and which highway to take. :)

 Care to share a stupid moment? 

Silver Lining / Blessing #1: My outdoor office

Sometimes, when it seems like you've lost far more than you've gained, it's tough to "look on the bright side" of things ... to see a silver lining of sorts. In fact, sometimes you just want to punch the person who suggests you do so.  Of course, people don't express themselves that way to make you feel worse. So what sort of person would deck someone who is only trying to help? After all, they could be right. My family's future has never been so uncertain, but don't the most unexpected doors open when you let go of (or get ripped away from) comfort zones to navigate chaos? (Say 'yes', won't you? I'm counting on it!) The goal for my blog this summer is to pepper it with positive posts about the good things going on in my life. Today? My backyard ... aka ... the outdoor office.


My yard is not the sort you'll find in Better Homes & Gardens. It is a nice size, but we don't exactly have a landscaping budget, so other than mowing and planting a few living things here or there, nature is our interior ... or exterior, rather, decorator. There are uneven patches of grass, the shed is weakening, and chipmunk holes pop up all over the place. Not to mention, my grass gets cigarette butts dropped on it, courtesy of the neighbors.


Yeeeehp, that's right. Nice, huh? We're hoping the most recent exchange over that issue will encourage them to keep the piggery on their side of the fence.

All that said, my yard is my sanctuary in the summer, and truthfully? I don't mind the chipmunk population and their holes. In fact, I can only imagine the catacombs they have going on below ground.  Insane squirrels spar on top of my fence. Birds gather around the bird feeder, and Energizer Bunny Girl creates chalk art on the back of the house each summer.

Gir chalk

So I'm thankful for this place, aware that not everyone has a backyard. And I'll bet some people have neighbors capable of throwing worse over the fence than cigarettes. So my yard is a fabulous blessing with its two trees that grew the perfect distance apart for a hammock...


And the hammock, while not in the best shape, is the best place ever for reading over work.


We have a pool we've put up every summer for five years now. Each summer there's a new hole that needs patching, but (knock on wood) it still holds itself up!


I get visited by all sorts of "muses" when I work in the "outdoor office," and they demonstrate that being around nature truly is soothing. Some of my muses are a bit more welcome than others....

Bunny   Spiderrrr

So for as long as I have it, I'm going to enjoy my yard this summer, write within its fences while Grooveshark  plays in the backround, ignore the neighbors, not care that most wouldn't consider this fine outdoor living, and pour myself into books ... the ones I write and the ones I read.

What's on your bright side this summer?


The Contributor Trilogy

Congratulations to fellow Infinite Ink Author, Nicole Ciacchella, on the release of her third and final book in the Contributor series! Please check out her dystopian YA series!

Instigator cover (2)

The final book in the post-apocalyptic and dystopian young adult/new adult Contributor trilogy.

Disillusioned and angry at the revelation of the Free Thinkers’ secret patron, Dara isn’t sure whether her decision to join them was the right choice. Guilt over Letizia’s loss plagues her, and she feels betrayed by one of the few people in whom she placed her trust.

Adjusting to life outside of the domes hasn’t been easy over the past six months, especially because the Free Thinkers’ progress is so frustratingly slow. Nothing has changed, and she doesn’t know how much longer she can deny her searing need for vengeance, or even whether she should place her faith in the Free Thinkers. The more the truth about both them and the Creators is revealed, the less certain she is that the two are all that different. What if she handed them the incriminating evidence they need to exploit to ensure a future that looks a lot like what the Creators envisioned?

Yet Dara has never been more certain of one thing: the Creators must pay—for what they did to her mother, for what they did to Letizia, and for what they’ve done to humanity.


“Storm coming?” Javier asked, joining her. He folded his arms over his chest, adopting his usual carefree expression and posture, but she’d come to know he wore it like a mask. Almost everything he did was calculated, and behind his placid exterior was a mind rarely at rest.

“I don’t think so,” she said after studying the sky for a moment longer. Conditions didn’t feel quite right for the vicious dust storms that ripped through the area with surprising frequency but little warning. She had developed a healthy respect for them; they were not to be messed with.

“Another sabotage mission completed,” he remarked. He sounded as if he were satisfied with a day’s work well done, but she heard a note of something in his voice, a note that mirrored the disquiet in her own head.

“Prick, prick, prick,” she said, unable to keep the sarcasm from her tone. “Think the Creators will bleed to death anytime soon?”

He smiled. “Doubtful. Still, I guess we are annoying them and setting back their master plan. They can’t be too happy with us about that.”

“So they have to wait for their toys. Poor dears.” Disdain dripped from her words, but the thought didn’t make her feel any better. Who cared if they inconvenienced the Creators? Inconveniencing them was the least of what she’d had in mind.

“The time isn’t right. You must be patient,” he said, mimicking Mal’s tight voice, making Dara smile despite herself.

“I’m really sick of that word.”

“You’re not alone there.”

“Do you think an actual plan exists?”

“Depends on which day of the week it is,” he said, giving her a crooked smile. He leaned against a rusting beam, seeming unconcerned about it crumbling under his weight. “I know they have plenty of plans, I’m just not sure what those plans are and whether they’re the plans I’d like them to be.”

“Raj keeps telling me we can’t be rash.”

“Inertia. I thought the Creators were the only ones who suffered from it. Looks like I was wrong about that.”


3470337Nicole has progressed from scribbling in notebooks to banging on keyboards, but she's never managed to stop daydreaming at inappropriate moments.

When not answering the demands of her characters, Nicole can often be found curled up with a good book or spending far too many hours acting the hero in whatever video game is her obsession of the moment.

One of Nicole's other great passions is travel. She loves being married to a native Belgian, both because she likes the idea of being "The American" and because it gives her plenty of excuses to visit Europe—that wondrous land of coffee, chocolate, pastry, and some other stuff—as often as possible.

Michigan born and raised, Nicole lives there with her honorary Michigander/Belgian husband and her two children. A Michigan State University alum, Nicole bleeds green and is a Spartan for life.

Can't wait to read ... No Return by Zoe Cannon

The day has come. A new book is waiting for me on my Kindle tonight! The third and final book of Zoe Cannon's Internal Defense series, No Return, launched today. If you haven't read this YA dystopian series yet, please give it a try. Lead character Becca is a complex heroine who every dystopian fan should experience.

      671981     7627678      No Return B3


Blurb for ... No Return

The conclusion to the Internal Defense series

 Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords | paperback

Add it to your Goodreads shelves here

Every dissident knows about Becca Dalcourt.

They know about the lives she’s saved. About the prison break she carried out against impossible odds. They know she turned a dying resistance into the first real threat Internal Defense has faced in a long time.

And even now, with the resistance under attack from the inside, they know Becca can save them.

They’re wrong.

The conclusion to the story that began with The Torturer’s Daughter and Necessary SacrificesNo Return explores what happens when an ordinary person becomes a legend – and how to choose between who you are and who the world needs you to be.






Diversity in Books

There's a discussion happening on Twitter on Many 1st, and it's all about diversity in books. Why do we need it? How can we get more of it?

How can you be a part of it? #WeNeedDiverseBooks.

I love writing about different races, species, and cultures in my fantasy series. Of course, in Treehugger and Risktaker, diversity is often about extra limbs, odd forms, strange skin colors, and beliefs most Earthlings might find odd. Still, I enjoy challenging my characters to relate to each other despite their differences. The entire Jacondorian experiment brings diverse beings together to the point where differences are their common denominator. As a result, the sentinels involved have developed tremendous empathy and understanding in their acceptance of each other and the cultures they meet.

Here on Earth, learning about and experiencing our fellow human beings can bring us closer to accepting our differences and finding the more common traits we share. Ask yourself if you've ever read a book whose main character practices a different religion or comes from a different culture. What about a character with a handicap? If we only read about people who are just like us, we risk boxing ourselves in and losing another opportunity to find our commonalities and understand our differences. 

Please check out We Need Diverse Books to learn about their campaign. Thank you!

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No Return by Zoe Cannon - Cover Reveal!

I've been waiting for this one! Fellow Infinite Ink author, Zoe Cannon, has revealed the cover for No Return -- the third book of her Internal Defense Trilogy. If you haven't read the first two books, I highly recommend them! Please read on to learn more about the amazing Zoe Cannon and her work.

No Return .... The Cover!

No Return B3

Every dissident knows about Becca Dalcourt.

They know about the lives she’s saved. About the prison break she carried out against impossible odds. They know she turned a dying resistance into the first real threat Internal Defense has faced in a long time.

And even now, with the resistance under attack from the inside, they know Becca can save them.

They’re wrong.

The conclusion to the story that began with The Torturer’s Daughter and Necessary SacrificesNo Return explores what happens when an ordinary person becomes a legend – and how to choose between who you are and who the world needs you to be.

No Return will be released on May 21st, 2014.

No Return on Goodreads


Authorphoto-high-150 (2)

Zoe Cannon writes about the things that fascinate her: outsiders, societies no sane person would want to live in, questions with no easy answers, and the inner workings of the mind. If she couldn't be a writer, she would probably be a psychologist, a penniless philosopher, or a hermit in a cave somewhere. While she'll read anything that isn't nailed down, she considers herself a YA reader and writer at heart. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and a giant teddy bear of a dog, and spends entirely too much time on the internet.

Website | Mailing List | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Face the Book TV - Check it out!

Comic_TVToday, Melissa Mertz and I had the privilege of guesting on Face the Book TV  during their children's series round table. So we got to talk about our favorite Middle Grade guy, Ned the Ninja! Please head on over to You Tube to view the show and hear more about Ned and other great children's series books. Thanks so much to Charlotte Pierce for including us!

Characters from the ground up ...

A57d33e4900501f787a1be7fd4fd0528c2966a56Most stories are in the eye of the beholder. One reader's trash is another's treasure. The strength found in a character will keep one reader flipping the pages in anticipation, yet bore the hell out of another. Some readers live for "love at first sight" plot devices. Others detest them. We bring a bit of ourselves and who we are at the moment into every book we read ... and every book we write.

Personally, I enjoy reading about characters who start at the bottom and need to scratch and claw their way to victory, self acceptance, revelation ... whatever they need in life. I'm not interested in following the perfect powerhouse hero or heroine. I'd rather watch them become that way or suddenly struggle with an expected flaw. And I love writing about characters like that, too. For those who have read the first two books in my Young Adult Scifi Fantasy series, that's no surprise. Central character Chloe/Star is introduced at her worst self in Treehugger. Book two, Risktaker, takes a more put-together heroine and throws her into the often-debilitating experience of first love, while giving her the chance to prove her new-found strength. Book Three? Well, you'll just have to see what happens there, but I'll give you a clue: Star will need to become stronger than she has ever been at any point in her life. And still ... it might not be enough to save herself or anyone else.  Duo books

Recently, I had the chance to write about another character who starts at the bottom. This time the story is Middle Grade and humor-driven. This six-book series called, The Secret Path of Ned the Ninja, begins with Book One, Reluctant Hero. The  series is martial arts-themed and about a boy who needs to confront himself as much as he does his personal bully. Co-authored with fifth-level black belt Melissa Mertz, Reluctant Hero has enjoyed huge pre-order buzz and offers middle-grade readers the chance to walk alongside Ned as he navigates a very strange path toward finding his unique strengths.

Melissa and I have so much fun with Ned and the way he views life. We are excited about his debut and hope you'll check him out. Reluctant Hero is available in print and ebook formats at and

Ned RH 3D             Ned back cover


Wok and Roll

I was super impatient yesterday. Nothing was found, completed, remembered, or acted upon fast enough for me. Just one 0f those days, I suppose. What took so long? Want a list? Either way, here it is:

1) One goal was simple: Season my new wok and cook a healthy stir fry dinner. Do you have any idea how long it takes to season a wok? The instructions basically said it would take a total of forty minutes. Well, not much was happening after the second attempt, so I hit You Tube for tutorials. It's working now, but it takes forever. One houseful of burning oil fumes later, we are only at this point....

Apparently, it's supposed to get as dark all over as it is in the center.

Stir fry did not happen last night. It wouldl take me the rest of the day to heat, then cool this pan three more times. Maybe tonight.

2) My Middle Grade series, The Secret Path of Ned the Ninja, launches April 9th. The final changes were made and uploaded for file approval. The process takes about 24-hours ... no surprise there. Still, I'm antsy to check a digital proof and finish prepping for launch. Honestly, if this process went faster, I never wouldn't have gone near the wok.

Ned RH Fullsize front

3) I have a particular purple pen I use for signing books and writing notes. There are at least six of them in this house. Think I could find one? I'd show you what it looks like, but ... well, if I could do that....

4) The book that follows Risktaker in my Based on a Dream series is in edit mode. The way I work, editing runs many passes. Due to a bunch of family obligations this week, I have missed four days of edit work. It's killing me. But, such is life. I get to dig back in today....


 5) I need true spring weather to make a commitment. Winter for most of us was brutal, wasn't it? I was freezing again yesterday afternoon when I had to grab something out of the backyard. Suddenly, something caught my eye from a corner, near the fence.....



And, hopefully, it won't be long before I can work in my "backyard office."

Anyone else seen signs of spring? Know a faster way to season a wok?

EMBRACE the Ides of March!

Button (2)Why should we embrace the Ides of March, rather than beware of it? Because today, March 15, 2014 marks the launch of Infinite Ink Authors. I'm proud to be part of this new, nine-author co-op, which focuses on Young Adult Speculative Fiction. If you're not familiar with what speculative fiction is, think of it as all the most exciting genres in YA fiction. That is ... fantasy, dystopian, and science fiction. Speculative fiction is the sort of stuff that is born of an author's wild imagination and delves deep into the minds of readers to tickle their imaginations.

To celebrate the launch of Infinite Ink Authors, we have put together a super giveaway. Just enter the Rafflecopter below or on our IIA website and you could win Amazon Gift Cards or Kindle Packs of our books. You can't go wrong with winning any of it--the books are super! We hope you'll try our work, and if you already have ... please pass this opportunity on to your friends. Thanks! : )

Oh, wait! I just thought of a reason to BEWARE the Ides of March! If you win any of our books, you'll probably wind up reading big time, but forget to do much of anything else!


a Rafflecopter giveaway