Shake It off/Talk it out

So I had this whole post ready about my frustrations on editing (those frustrations are really still the same). I feel as if I’m standing still yet moving forward. Baby steps are in mm and it is taking me way longer than I hoped to get this book ready for the real world.

This isn’t that post. As I said, all of those feelings still apply, but as I wrote out that other post and whined on Twitter, something miraculous happened: I had an epiphany. I am still a little scared of said epiphany because this means that yet another character’s POV will be thrown into the equation, but I’m excited to see how things go from the villain’s POV.

So that brings me to my actual point: don’t forget the things that help you get to your destination. For me, this is talking things out. What looks like complaints and whining to some is me trying to wrap my head around what is wrong. Often times, the more I say something, the less it bugs me. It also helps to unburden my brain with one less worry that doesn’t need to be there.

The moral of the story: Do what you need to in order to get things to work out. If you need to take a break from a story, do it. Go read, watch tv, or harass other people until you feel like you can come back with fresh eyes. Editing a pain in your behind? Ask others for help, look at how other authors do it, or again, take a break. If whining helps you figure out your next move, do it. To hell with what other people think.

I still don’t love editing. Many of the problems I’ve been stressed about will still be there after I write these new chapters, but I hope I’ll have a slightly different perspective when I’m done with them. Either way, I’m back on my feet for the time being and headed in a forward direction. Until I’m not, I’ll just keep on trucking. So I guess that means the other moral of the story is: Don’t Quit.

Now, go write something or you know, whine about something.


Dreaming Big

After attending the Write Camp unconference in Milwaukee,WI  this year, I got to thinking how I would love to have something like that where I live. Not that I’m far from Milwaukee, but any excuse to have writers get together and learn is good enough for me.

Write Camp is free. Anyone who wants to teach a session does so and anyone who wants to show up, the same. The only real rule is the rule of two feet: if you don’t like the session you’re in, feel free to leave and check out a different one. This rule comes in very handy when you want to see many sessions all planned at the same time.

Starting small is my goal. Finding out how many other writers would want to (and be able to)  come to Southeastern WI. How many would even be interested? Another goal would be to provide sessions/lessons that writers can find useful.

So I finally come to my point: How many would be interested in a free writerly learning experience and if something like this was available to you, what kinds of sessions would you like to see?

Another thought (separate thing) would be to do something online. Have a Skype chat or something similar to get writers together.

I would love to hear everyone’s opinions and thoughts in the comments!

Of Contests and Patience

Pretty contests. Pretty, pretty contests. Do you know what it’s like to have a finished (but not finished) manuscript when contests come rolling around?! It’s AGONY! I want to reach out and pet them.  I want to be truly finished so bad and I know I’m close. It is a terrible situation to be in. I know most of the major plot holes are fixed. Characters are well-formed, and, reading through it, I don’t hate it. It’s not done, though. There are still small nuances that I have to sneak in. Better wording. More visuals and less telling. More depth can still be added into the characters. In other words, it’s not finished and most definitely not ready for an agent’s keen eye.

It is an ugly lesson in patience that I have to keep reminding myself about each time a new contest screams “Enter me” (go ahead. Laugh. I’ll wait). Ok, are you better now? Back to what I was saying. I have to think how mortified I would be to send my MS as-is to an agent right this second, and that puts me in my place. Being a perfectionist is finally coming in handy! Let this be a lesson to us all: WAIT! You want to send the best possible version of your baby into the world, right? Sending it to contests when it is “almost” polished really isn’t doing you any favors, and you are giving agents a less than stellar idea of your work. Why not give them the best it can be rather than the okayest it is right now?

The other temptation is all these success stories! People who met their CP’s or found their agent through a contest. I wanna be a success too (imagine this said in whiniest voice possible).  This is probably why the lure of the contests is so strong. We are weakened by the possibility of hearing/seeing those magic little words “Full request” or even “Partial request.” So easily swayed, we writers are. Dangle a piece of paper that says Request and watch our eyes glaze over.

I will continue writing the new work that has been reignited recently and let my circus baby sit so I can come back to it with fresh eyes. I will run through it again and let other eyes tear it apart with their laser beam precision (Jason, that’s you, for starters). I will make this baby sparkle and shine before it is subjected to the mercies of any contests. Besides, if you’re on Twitter, you might have noticed by now, there is always a contest. Every few months, another one pops up. So let’s all vow together that we will not fall prey to the siren song of the contest….shiny….no, fight the shiny pretty! *internet connection goes dead*

Just a quick bit of info

So, if you follow @xHeatherxMariex on Twitter or her blog, you should see that she is giving away a…..KINDLE!  I love to support other writers so I thought I would just share that she is doing this fabulous little giveaway. Make sure to mosey over to

and get your chance to win. And while you’re there, make sure to read some of her other posts. Enjoy!


Thank you all for participating. I loved everyone’s and it was a tough decision but the winner stuck in my head after I read it and kept making me think about it. To everyone else, your stories were fabulous. I’m so glad I got to read them! And now, here is our winner:

Natalia Lopez-Woodside

The bus stopped with a jerk. Passengers closest to the windows crammed their faces to the glass while the rest pushed themselves up to see what the commotion was about.

Zoe bit back a laugh. They were looking the wrong way. Oh, they’d see him out there. He’d step out from within a shadow, and smile with only his dead black eyes, and they’d scream and cower and wish they’d never looked out the window.

But they wouldn’t see her. They never did.

And even if they did, they wouldn’t think anything of it, except maybe, why is that little girl sitting all by herself? Where’s your mommy, sweetie?

Zoe concentrated on making him appear again. It wasn’t easy to summon something from nothing, a monster from a shadow, but Zoe was good at it — just as they’d known she would be.

There. There he was, wearing the shadow she made him from like a cape, tilting his head as if asking a question, and every person on that bus heard it as a whisper in their own thoughts: When did you realize you were going to die today? The screams started almost instantly and Zoe drank their panic in like thick, pulpy juice.

She wanted to make it last forever, but that’s not why she was there. Zoe scanned the frantic faces. One of these would not be like the others. Somewhere in here would be someone having fun.

You think you’re looking for me.

Zoe calmly weighed the words in her head. It was in her own voice. Had she thought them without meaning to or…?

Are you jealous of little sister?

Zoe smiled. The one she was there to find was far more advanced than she had been told. Good. A challenge. Zoe cleared her mind with practiced ease, let white space fill into the cracks like cement. When she finally formed the thought, it echoed: Come play with me. I’ll show you horror you’ve only dreamed of.

Zoe scanned the people in the crowd again, more carefully this time. Nothing. She tried not to worry, but she knew that time was running out, that at some point she would falter and the veil of fear she had shrouded the people in would slip away. And then, the people would blink, and she would lose everything.

You’re dead. You’ve already lost everything.

Still no one in the crowd stood out to her. How could this be? She was the best. They’d told her that. They’d said they had never seen any human take to death like she had, not with such thirst, with such craving for more. She had never had trouble finding anyone she had been sent after before — finding and eliminating them. Then again, none of them had ever spoken to her in her mind before.

You think I’m like you. But I’m not.

You are me.

Zoe wasn’t sure which of them had thought it. Her voice, her mind, but how could it be true? They had sent her to find herself?

Everything spun. And then she heard it. The whisper. She laughed.

When did you realize you were going to die today?

A Date with Kai Kiriyama and Pathogen: Patient Zero

I’m so lucky to get to do a post for a lovely writer I hope you all come to know and love like I do. Kai Kiriyama has now published her second book, Pathogen: Patient Zero through Lemorn Literary Works.   

Kai was great enough to talk a little about her book and zombies for me so without further ado, a little zombie talk with Kai.

First off, I would like to say hello to everyone and a HUGE thank you to Red for hosting me on this, the very last stop of the Pathogen: Patient Zero blog tour. It’s been a pretty crazy 10 days and I’ve met and chatted with so many awesome people about my new book and about writing and life in general. I wouldn’t be here without the support of my peers and my friends and there are not enough words to thank you all for the support you’ve given me.


All right, enough of the sappy thank you crap. Let’s talk Zombies.


So, it’s pretty obvious that I’m a bit of a zombie nut. I mean, Pathogen is slated to be a trilogy. I have been working for Zombie Training Magazine ( for over a year now and a serial novel of mine is being published there as well. My room is full of zombie stuff. I have a bunch of Walking Dead merchandise. I have met several key cast members. I have a little inflatable zombie punching bag on my desk that I named Joe and I use for stress relief when I’m busy writing. Hell, I have weapons in my room so that they’re close at hand in case of zombies. It’s pretty safe to say that I’m a little bit obsessed.

Now, I’m not saying that “holy hell, YES, zombies are gonna happen like tomorrow! Prepare! PREEEPAAARE!”


Mostly ’cause that’s crazy.


On the other hand, being prepared for a “zombie apocalypse” means that you’re very likely prepared to deal with a natural disaster or other major catastrophe. I’m rebuilding my emergency kits in my home, and I’m planning one for my mom’s car. Simple things like a 72 hour emergency kit – something that even the CDC tells you that you should have – are great steps forward in preparing yourself for zombies. Or floods, fires, hurricanes, tornadoes, winter storms that knock out the power, or even major threats to a city like bomb threats.


To be honest, I also wanna get out of the city. I want a farm. If you’re familiar with Walking Dead, then you’ll know Hershel and his farm. I want something like that. But with a prison wall around the property. I’m not paranoid. I promise.


In one of the first stops on this tour, you’ll remember that I said that zombies are the one monster in pop culture that hasn’t “lost their bite” and I still stand by that. Zombies are scary as hell. They’re the one thing that you really can’t make sexy. (Unless you’re into necrophilia, and in that case I’d suggest that you walk away and please don’t talk to me.) Zombies are dead, rotting corpses. They are killing machines. They don’t feel pain, and they’re only after their next meal. Like undead sharks. (And I think I just wrote a B-movie. I’ll keep y’all posted on Necro-Shark.)


Zombies are the one monster that could theoretically happen at any given time. A lab accident that mutates salmonella, or a virus unearthed from deep inside the Congo. Or, and this is my personal theory, the makeup companies learn how to revive dead cells to make women appear younger and then that gets out of control and BOOM, we have zombies. Scary when you think about it, right? Especially in that context!

Zombie evolution

Anyway, I’m a fan of zombies, and I write zombie stories because it’s something that I love and want to share with everyone else. I really think that my stories are a little bit more unique than the standard run-and-kill stories and I hope that they’re something that you all will read and enjoy.


Thank you again for coming with me on this crazy journey full of undead mayhem and stuff. It’s been rad. I hope to hear from y’all soon, and I really hope that you’ll all read Pathogen: Patient Zero and lemme know what you think.


A question for you before I go, answer me in the comments: What’s your zombie apocalypse theory? How do you think the zombies are gonna start and what are you doing to prepare?


Thanks again!


-Kai Kiriyama




New Contesty Thing!

So I loved the amazing stories I got last time, I’ve decided to do another contest! There will be Inspiration Dice involved! I will only give a blurb this time (no quizzes about me!) and you write 500 words or less to add to it. There might be some other things besides the dice for the winner, but you won’t know unless you try! You have from today until Sunday May 5th to get entries in. I will announce a winner on Wednesday May 8th.

And here’s the start to your mini-story:

The bus stopped with a jerk. Passengers closest to the windows crammed their faces to the glass while the rest pushed themselves up to see what the commotion was about.

And you’re off! Make it funny, make it scary, add some drama. Do whatever you please to write a great story!

My First Ever Writers’ Conference

I walked into my hotel room, hopped on to my fluffy pillowtop bed and relaxed. Tomorrow was the unexpected—my first writers’ conference. A weekend of being surrounded by other writers. Would they all be more advanced than me? The info for the University of Wisconsin Writers’ Institute (UWWI) said writers of all levels were welcome. The sessions offered looked interesting. The Female Superhero. Earning Your Artistic Stripes. The Deep Edit. As long as I could learn a thing or two, it would be worth it.
Then it was day one. Somewhere I read there would be food, but we all know that means maybe a dinky pastry or two so I ate my hotel’s continental breakfast, stuffed my bag with Poptarts and granola bars, and headed to catch the shuttle. I thought I missed the shuttle which turns out it was just late so I huffed it over to the Madison Concourse Hotel. Sweaty, I followed the herd to the lines of those registering. My food assumption was way wrong as I stood next to giant tables filled with pastries, fruit, coffee, tea, juice, and made a mental note to chow down on a second breakfast after I checked in.
The Concourse was a new venue for the UWWI but they’ve been doing this for 24 years so they know their stuff. I looked through the binder I received. It had notes for every session offered which came in very handy when trying to narrow down choices of which session to hit at which time since there were typically four going on in the same time frame.  Opting out of doing any agent pitches, I could focus on the other sessions. I’m still editing my first book and didn’t feel ready to pitch. I am an honest person in some situations and knowing I was ranting about an unfinished work doesn’t thrill me. I’m still ok with this decision and don’t regret it. It was my first conference and not feeling pressured while I was still getting the lay of the land worked out perfect for me.
The first panel was a group of published authors that freely discussed the secrets of published authors. They had good info and I ended up seeing two of them in sessions they presented for. I chose YA trends, How to write a Query letter, and the Deep Edit for day one.  A panel of agents ended our day. So much good info.
Day two was more of the same goodness. Another panel with local publishers started our day. One of the deciding factors in coming to the conference was an agent I Twitterstalk (yes, I freely admit it). She spoke about YA trends and researching/querying agents, but gave more info from a different perspective. I love that you could have duplicate topics that were really different because one was from an author’s perspective and one from the agent’s. I also went to Plotting, Earning Your Artistic Stripes, and The Sane Writing the Insane: Keeping the Dark on the page. Somewhere in the last three, I learned vodka is great for getting through tough scenes (feel free to use whatever method loosens and relaxes you. Point is, relax before the tough scenes). These authors/speakers were candid and offered their email/info should we have questions. The support was unreal. They had a book signing with all the authors, many of whom were success stories from previous UWWI’s, and we got to see all their pretty, shiny babies. I touched the books and dreamed that I could be one of those people someday.
If you ever debate if you should consider going to one of these conferences, I would urge you to do it. I am already saving up for next year! The opportunity to meet people who can become your CP’s or support group is fantastic along with the priceless information that authors who have gone through the publishing process can give. And the access to agents and publishers! You can touch them (though I wouldn’t recommend getting caught. They might think you’ve lost your fruit loops). There are tons of different conferences, workshops, and institutes across the country so do a little research for one that works for your budget and timeframe.  Even if you’re shy, you’ll learn great things from experienced authors and agents that might just spark your imagination. I came up with at least 3 new ideas from a few authors mentioning a couple of words. In fact, during plotting I was plotting one of them! Who knew a joke about downing vodka and pills for the end of the world would spur an idea (Thanks Tanya Chernov).  Did I mention there were a few 80 year old men in the sessions on YA and we all had a lovely discussion as to why there is a market for OA (old adult or golden adult) but no such designation for books? Such gems and more can be yours if you’re brave enough to sign up and go.

A little about me

So, now that the contest is over, I figured you were all dying to know the real answers. In most cases, I loved your answers better than the truth, but life is crazy like that so I’m stuck with the hand I’m dealt!

1. What color is my hair? Fluorescent Orange! Hehe, just kidding. Auburn or red

2. What movie(s) have I seen over 50 times? Aliens, Pride and Prejudice, Starship Troopers, Princess Bride. Goonies is probably at about 20 times along with The Covenant. This list could go on forever since I own so many movies!

3. What is my favorite writing place? If anyone has ever read the other blog I participate on (Samurai Scribes) Common Grounds coffee shop is my writing place of choice.

4. What is my biggest pet peeve at my writing place? Noisy people drive me nuts when I’m writing.

5. What is my middle name? Ann

6. What is my cat’s name? Trix

7. What is my birthday? December 27th

8. What animal would my Patronus be? A Unicorn

9. What is my favorite Disney Princess? Ariel or Merida. It is a hard toss-up between the two.

10. What is my favorite candy? Gummies. Bonus points would have been Dots. Double bonus points Tropical Dots.

11. How many siblings do I have? 1 sister

12. Name a show I watch (hint: I’ve probably tweeted about it!) Arrow, Supernatural, The Walking Dead, The Voice, Castle, Lost Girl

13. What Kickstarter did I recently give to? Most recent was Veronica Mars (did you see the GIF?) or Inspiration Dice. The only two I’ve given to!

Thank you all for participating! I will definitely have something like this again.

Give away Plan B

Ok, so my whole purpose of the give away wasn’t just to give stuff away! It was for people to make stuff up. Since using my info seems to scare people away, I’m going a slightly simpler route. I will give you a sentence and you will make up 250 words or less to add to it. Again, the prizes are: A copy of Save the Cat by Blake Snyder, a unicorn, and a movie of the winner(s) choice: The Goonies, Skyfall, The Princess Bride, Wreck-It Ralph, Brave, or The Guardians. I might also add extra goodies. So now, here’s your sentence:

The little red haired girl looked furtively into the dark forest.

Contest ends Monday March 25th 8pm CST.