Thursday, December 29, 2016

Resolve to survive the January blahs

January is a terrible time to resolve to do anything.

Yes, I know that it’s the start of a new year, and the whole new year=new you mythos is what started the whole New Year’s Resolution mess in the first place, but there’s literally nothing else to recommend it. It’s the calendar equivalent of a ditch, a cold, empty stretch of time that we all fall into after the bright, delicious fun of the holiday season. People’s bank accounts are still recovering from the expenditures of Christmas, school starts back up, and nowhere has anything fun planned because people need to actually get some work done after all that time off they took in December.

In short, January is absolutely the worst time of year to try to scrape enough of your willpower together to make any kind of significant changes in your life. Not only is your willpower completely out of practice because of the holidays, but there are some days in January where you need every shred of willpower you have left to get through the dreary grayness of an average day. The third Monday in January is actually referred to as Blue Monday, and is officially recognized as the most depressing day of the entire year. Look it up if  you don’t believe me.

And when you add New Year’s Resolutions on top of this, things somehow manage to get even worse. Because the kind of resolutions that end up getting capital letters are always big, serious resolutions with a lot of moving parts. I’m going to lose 20 pounds. I’m going to go to the gym every single day. I’m finally going to write the novel I’ve always dreamed about.

These things are hard enough to do when you’re at your best, and in January literally no one is at their best. But the unrelenting gray of the weather is getting to you and you’re desperate for some hope, and you charge ahead like you can magically fix yourself if you just want it badly enough. You’ll push ahead toward your goal for a few days, maybe even a few weeks if you’re feeling really determined.

Sadly, most of your internal resources are devoted to just making it through January and you don’t have enough to deal with how overwhelming your resolution suddenly feels. You’ll give up, if not in that moment then soon after, because not only are you tired but your goal suddenly seems even further away than when you started. Then, of course, you’ll feel even worse about yourself because you’re now one of those dreaded “quitters,” and will possibly try to drown your sorrows in some indulgence that will cause you to fall even further behind on that great scale of becoming a Better Person (TM).

So if you’re going to do any big resolutions, wait until spring. It’s got even more symbolic juice behind it that the new year – nature is restarting, plants are growing, everything is waking up and renewing itself – and a general atmosphere that’s way less depressing than January. Anything you start then will have more of a chance.

And if you insist on beginning your self-improvement project in January, start small. Pick one fairly simple thing you can do in a day. If you don’t accomplish it, don’t worry – that’s now officially become your goal for tomorrow. When you do accomplish it, find another small goal you can achieve in 24 hours. It’s fine to even make it the same goal, if that’s what helps you.

These are the kind of resolutions meant for a month like January. Good luck out there. 

Thursday, December 15, 2016

"The Muppet Christmas Carol," "Elf," and the eternal debate over Christmas movies

©  Disney
When it comes to Christmas movies, a certain amount of negotiation is usually required.

Thanksgiving generally marks the official beginning of Christmas movie season, the first point where people pull out blu-rays of their favorites and holiday specials are capable of popping up anywhere. It also once again renews the question of what the “true” Christmas movies are, a question that can differ dramatically from person to person and from household to household.

Even movies generally thought of as being on the “Greatest Hits of Christmas” list can be up for debate. “It's a Wonderful Life” and "Miracle on 34th Street" are both seen as Christmas classics, but a lot of people I've talked to who love one of the movies have almost zero interest in the other. Then there's the question of the black and white versus the colored versions of the movies, which can get more intense than people not interested in either movie could possibly imagine.

“A Christmas Carol” is an entire argument all on its own. There are enough versions of the movie to fill several different pages of Google, even when you don’t include modern variations, and fans of the story all have their favorites. The dozens of different factors that are involved – animated versus live action, classic retellings versus modern variations, fealty to the original story versus more streamlined retellings – and each argument has its champions on both sides. My personal votes are 1992’s “A Muppet Christmas Carol” for best original version – yes, I know, but the story is actually fairly faithful – and 1988’s “Scrooged” for best modern adaptation.

Then there's a comedy subsection, the most common representatives of which are “A Christmas Story” and “National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.” Technically, both are period movies – “A Christmas Story” intentionally evokes the 1950s, and “Lampoon’s” due to the fact that we’re moving increasing further away from the 1980s – and involve significant amounts of slapstick. Still, it’s nearly impossible to find both movies on a person’s “must see” Christmas list, and that’s not including those people who would happily ignore either for “Home Alone.”

Though it’s also a comedy, “Elf” seems to be in a category all its own. Discussions about holiday movies suggest that there are two very different opinions on the movie – either people love it and watch it every year, or they tried it once and immediately vowed never to watch it again. In case you’re curious, the people in the latter category always look faintly pained at the mere mention of it.

You'd think kids' movies would be considered universally acceptable, but even they have some mortal enemies. My best friend absolutely loathes all Rankin/Bass Christmas movies, particularly the classic “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” Her least favorite character in that movie is the elf who wants to be a dentist, so much so that even a mention of him is enough to inspire a rant. It’s bad enough that she’d rather watch any number of schmaltzy Christmas movies, which she also dislikes, rather than be forced to watch a Rankin/Bass special.

Then, of course, there are wild card favorites. Some people argue that “Die Hard” is the only acceptable movie (it counts – the setting is a Christmas party), and others who consider “Nightmare Before Christmas” to be required viewing for both Halloween and Christmas. There’s even a few people who love “Ernest Saves Christmas,” but most probably won’t admit it in public.

The real answer to the question of the best Christmas movie, however, is surprisingly simple. It’s the one that makes you think of favorite childhood Christmas memories, or the one that makes your child smile. It’s the movie that still makes you laugh, even though you’ve seen it no less than 20 times, or the one that still reliably chokes you up even though you know it well enough to have all the dialogue memorizes. It’s whatever movie makes you not mind the snow outside (if there is snow) and makes you feel like Christmas lights look in the darkness.

So champion your Christmas movie, loud and proud, but don’t knock anyone else’s, either. It means Christmas to them, and that’s what matters. 

Monday, December 5, 2016

Not quite human

Have you ever had anyone look at you like you were an alien from another planet?

And I know I shouldn't complain, not really. I'm white, and cis, and so I've never had hate speech tossed at me. I've never had to fear for my life. And on top of that, I have people who love me. In a lot of ways, I'm really lucky.

But there's a look, people get sometimes. It's not the same as the "oh, she's so quirky" look, or even the "you poor awkward thing, why did anyone let you out of the house?" look. The latter makes it clear they're slightly charmed, and the latter inevitably falls somewhere between amusement and pity.

No, the "alien" look is far more clinical, as if you're being genuinely studied. It's worse than an insult, sometimes, because the person honestly looks they have no idea what on earth you're doing standing in front of them. It's a look that says, at least to them, you don't quite pass as being human. And because they never actually say the words, you can't even fight it.

It burns. And it scars. Because no matter how many people are kind to you, who look at you and see nothing wrong, there is a part of you that will always remember that, in some people's eyes, you don't count.

To anyone who has ever looked at anyone like that, whether it's because of their race, their faith, their gender, their sexual preference, or the fact that they're the quiet kid in the back of the class who smells kind of funny, don't you dare think that you're any better than those people who hurl insults at them or try to hurt them. Don't you dare think your silence buys you any kind of civility, or that your thoughts don't condemn you just as thoroughly as your words would. Because you cut them just as thoroughly, your brothers and sisters who are just as human as you are (and how dare you even for a second think otherwise) and you should be just as damned for it. You are the reason the world is broken.

And if you've ever been looked at like that, by anyone, please know that they're wrong. The fact that they can't see you correctly is their failing, not yours, and I wish I could be there to punch all of them in the face for daring to be dismissive of your magnificence. Because you are magnificent. You are precious, you are beautiful, you are amazing, and whoever you are I know this to the very depths of my soul. I pray that each and every one of you find someone who looks at you and sees the wonder that you are, because you deserve it.

Friday, December 2, 2016

"Dreamless" fancast vol. 2 - starring Cate Blanchett, Patrick Stewart and Jeremy Irons

Back for more "Dreamless" fancasts, and this time we're taking on the book's main villain and some of the more colorful supporting cast.

Ariadne - Cate Blanchett

In my mind, Blanchett is the only choice for Elena's aunt, who needs to be so many things throughout the course of the story - loyal, loving, jealous, angry, passionate, heartbroken, penitent, cold, hopeful.... Not only does Blanchett have the range to handle all that and more, but she exudes the kind of poise and power Ariadne would have needed to have at the top of her game. Also, she actually looks like she could be related to Elena and Queen Illiana, which is always a nice touch.

Dr. Flyte - Patrick Stewart

I imagine this would be a voice acting gig, though it's possible the CGI team could use Stewart's features to make the suggestion of the good doctor's face in the surface of the magic mirror. I'd want Stewart for the gig because he could handle both the doctor's humor and more clinical side equally well, along with the caretaker-style warmth he feels for Elena. Also, his voice is rich and varied enough that it can make up for the fact that, as a magical mirror-turned-therapist, the character doesn't have any limbs or really defined facial features to act with.

Braeth - Jeremy Irons

Another voice role, this time for an undead wraith who also happens to be another old family friend of Elena's. Irons is perfect because he can inject so much disdain and sarcasm into his voice while still keeping it wonderfully cultured, which is just what I'd expect from someone who has hundreds of years of knowledge and experience on everyone he talks to. At the same time, he can also sound gentle, which is important because undead wraiths still know how to care about people. I might modify Irons voice a little to give it more of an echo, though - I'm not entirely certain Braeth has a mouth or vocal chords as we recognize them.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Update on short story collection!

So I promised you more on the short story collection, and here it is. It's called "Once Upon A Tale," will only be available in e-book format, and will ALSO only be available on the Tapas app. For those of you who don't know it, the app is available for both iPhones/iPads/etc and Android devices and lets you read ebooks and comics an "episode" (aka a smaller chunk of the overall book/story) at a time. You can either pay by episode, or earn points to get the next episodes completely free. More info about the app is available online here.

Now, about the collection. As I said before, there are four stories, two of which are connected to "Fairy Godmothers, Inc." and two of which are connected to "Beast Charming." Though some of my early, faithful readers may have seen early versions of one story and the beginning of the second, everything has been considerably expanded/rewritten and the experience is entirely new.

A breakdown:

"Uninvited Guests" (Beast Charming)
Beauty wakes up in a bed meant for another sleeping beauty. Now she has to find the poor enchanted girl her father hid somewhere and figure out how to save the day.

"Some Assembly Required" (Fairy Godmothers, Inc.)
On her current assignment, Kate tries to help a zombie girl find her happily-ever-after. Things get complicated when someone far more monstrous shows up.

"Belief" (Beast Charming)
Take a peek into Waverly and Manny's pasts, where the duo runs afoul of an enchanted ring and a ghost who really doesn't understand the whole business of being a conman.

"Happily Ever After" (Fairy Godmothers, Inc.)
Set after the novel. Rellie takes on her very first Fairy Godmother assignment when a toad shows up at the castle to insist on his very own dose of romantic magic.

A sneak peek is going up on Tapas TODAY, and the entire thing will be available next Tuesday. If you have any questions, let me know.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Local Authors and You event

I'll be signing books at this, as well as teaching a workshop on how to get started on all those fantastic novel ideas many of you have burning inside your heads. If you're in town, I'd love to see you there!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Update and exclusive!!!

As you may have heard, it turns out that Jolly Fish has been sold rather than shut down completely. What this means is that "Fairy Godmothers, Inc.," "Beast Charming" and "Dreamless" will live on, though they'll now be published by North Star Editions. North Star, for those of you who don't know, also owns the Flux imprint, which was the first home for author Maggie Steifvater (of "The Raven Boys" fame).

In the meantime, feel free to get excited about my brand-new e-book short story collection, "Once Upon A Tale," exclusive to the Tapas reading app. The collection includes brand-new short stories featuring characters from both "Fairy Godmothers, Inc." and "Beast Charming," including a short-story sequel to "Fairy Godmothers, Inc." It's being put together at the moment, and I'll let everyone know the second I have more details.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Jolly Fish may be dead, but I'm not

So, as you guys may have heard, there’s no more Jolly Fish Press. Which means that, as of Oct. 31, there will be no more copies of the Jolly Fish Press version of any of my three novels.

The good thing about this is that, when that happens, the rights to everything revert back to me. The bad thing is that it’ll take a little scrambling to get the books available again once Jolly Fish finishes imploding, since I’ll have to find new covers for everything. E-books will come up fastest, but physical copies are going to take a little more time.

If there are any graphic artists out there who want to talk to me about new covers, I’d LOVE to hear from you. Otherwise, feel free to e-mail me at with any questions you might have. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

So You Want to Rule the World: : Writing the Perfect Villainous Note

At some point in whatever evil plot you have brewing at the moment, you may be tempted to compose some sort of threatening missive for either your heroic arch-nemesis or a government of some kind. Done correctly, these notes can be particularly chilling, and will help spread the word about your evil. 

Done wrong, however, they can make you a laughing stock of everyone from nearby villains to the local news media. A misspelled threat can turn you from a credible enemy to an Internet meme in moments, at which point the only solution is a complete costume/theme change and a year-long hiatus so that everyone can forget who you are.

In order to make certain that doesn’t happen to you, it’s imperative you follow these handy guidelines.

1. Examine your reasoning

First, be honest with yourself. Do you really need to write the note at all? I understand wanting to, of course – part of the reason we got into this business in the first place is because we love an audience – but in some cases your crimes should speak for themselves. Which will the media take more seriously – a written taunt, or freezing an entire bank (after you’ve made off with everything of value inside, of course)?

Be particularly careful when writing notes to heroes. Yes, threatening them can be entertaining, but saying too much can also give away vital details of your plan. A villainous monologue can be dangerous, whether on paper or out loud, and you don’t want the authorities to get wind of your plan until it’s too late for them to stop it. Remember, signing your work is just as much fun after it’s already happened.

The one exception where you should always write a note is if you’ve captured their family member/sidekick/love interest/friend. The entire reason you kidnapped that person in particular is to watch the hero’s pain, and the entire thing will be pointless if he or she is too busy fumbling around somewhere else looking for clues. There’s nothing that kills a villainous buzz more than a clueless hero.

2. Consider your medium

The key to a successful villainous note is drama. Handwriting is for shopping lists, not villainy, and letters cut out of magazines are meant for criminals far more common than you are. The only time paper should be involved at all is if the note is written in blood, and even then it would be more effective scaled up to a wall in the target’s home or private sanctum. It doesn’t even have to be the blood of someone particularly special – unless they have a forensic lab, or have special super-sniffing powers, they won’t be able to tell.

Unless blood is involved, scale up even further whenever possible. Outside walls are better than inner walls, so more people can see the note, and surfaces that are harder to clean/paint over are preferable. Burning can be fun, whether it’s fire or a laser beam of some kind, though more traditional kinds of carving can often take too long to be efficient.

Note: Don’t scale up too high unless your target/nemesis can fly or has regular access to some sort of jet. There’s no point in burning letters big enough to be seen from space if the person who’s meant to read them can’t make it up that high.

3. Spellcheck, spellcheck, spellcheck

In some ways, this is the most important thing you can do. There’s nothing that robs a threatening note of all its horror than spelling a word wrong, or using a word that’s technically spelled correctly but is used in the wrong context. Since spellcheck and grammar check aren’t an option on your final work – why type when you can carve the words into the side of a mountain with a laser – write it out in advance and copy from there. If you make a mistake in the transfer, turn whatever you were writing on to rubble and start over again on another building or landmark.

Monday, September 19, 2016

"Dreamless" fancast, Vol. 1 - starring Elle Fanning, Lucas Till and Charlize Theron

So, I have a little bit of a confession to make - I love fancasts, especially for my own writing. Because I'm great at knowing what the inside of a character's head is like - I can tell you all about their complicated relationship with their families, what their stance on a certain issue/situation would be, and possibly even share a hilarious childhood memory or two if you ask - but I'm not that great on picturing the exact arrangement of their facial features in my head.

So I'm starting fancasts for my latest book, "Dreamless," because I like having the pictures in my head and thought maybe you would to. I'm also including a brief explanation as to why I made each choice, because as a movie critic I know that looks are far from the only indicator of whether a person is the right fit for a role. As always, I welcome any arguments or alternate suggestions.


Elena - Elle Fanning

This was, surprisingly, my simplest choice, though I'll admit that (other than the hair) it came as something of a surprise to me. Still, it's a perfect fit - she looks like she has too much knowledge behind her eyes, and there's (red carpet) photographic proof that she can do Elena's "ice queen" routine with the best of them. But whens she smiles she looks really young, light and happy, and I think she'd do a really good job in those moments when Elena is allowed to tap into that. Also, she's actually 18, and I really didn't want to fall into that trap of casting a 25 year old as an 18 year old.

Cameron - Lucas Till

This was actually a considerably harder choice. Though Till is older than I would have preferred (26), I can't think of another young actor that I know of who could pull off Cam's easygoing charm, his attempt to make it look like he doesn't care about anything, and the deep anger and emotional commitment he's also capable of. Also, I believe he could play a harassed little brother as well as a responsible older brother, which you'll find out is important when you meet Cam's family.

Queen Illiana - Charlize Theron

I know that Theron has been making her mark as an evil queen in movies lately, but I think she could pull off a good queen as well (and besides, Illiana did study to be an evil sorceress at one point). Elena's mom has a lot of emotion she has to deal with throughout the story - her grief over her husband, her complicated relationship with her daughter, her super complicated relationship with her older sister, the stresses of queening all on your own - and Theron has proven in various movies over the years that she can pull it off. Also, as you can see, she has the regal stare thing down.

(Note: For those of you who pay attention to things like what the author says the hair color of various characters is - not that you have to, I myself blithely ignore it in several of my favorite books - "Dreamless" sort of became my "book of the blonds." I realized I didn't write many blond characters, and then look what happened.

It wasn't until the book was published that I realized I also wrote a lot of white characters, a fact that I addressed in my e-book "Two Left Feet" - out now, by the way - and in the full-length novel I'm currently working on, "Piper's Song.")

There are several other significant characters in the story, so more of these will be coming.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Talk to me, people

What do I have to do to get you folks to start posting reviews of my books? I don't need them to be fancy - just star ratings, either on Goodreads, Amazon or Barnes & Noble. On Amazon you can post a review if you're signed in to your account,and with Goodreads you can even sign in with your Facebook account. It doesn't have to be anything fancy - just a star rating and a few words on what you thought about the book. Even a sentence would do it.

I'm serious - these reviews can mean life or death for an indie author. I am begging you all on my hands and knees. I will bribe you if you want - just tell me what kind of treats you want me to give you. "Two Left Feet" has ZERO reviews at the moment. ZERO! Please. Just take a minute or two out of your day. Anything would be welcome.

EDIT: The search links for both "Dreamless" and "Two Left Feet" have been fixed on their Goodreads description pages. If anyone runs into any more troubles, please let me know.

Two Left Feet:
Barnes and Noble

Barnes and Noble

Monday, August 15, 2016

Growing up for the kids’ sake

There’s nothing that matures you faster than having to take care of someone smaller than you are.

Because let’s face it, most of us aren’t that great when it comes to taking care of ourselves. We know everything we should do to keep ourselves happy, healthy and relatively functional, but we tend to ignore the bits that we don’t have time for or we feel like are too hard for some reason. It’s even easier to ignore if the problems it causes aren’t immediately apparent, because it’s much harder to worry about 10 or 15 years in the future when you’re focused on making it through a particular day.

But when you have a kid, or become responsible for a kid for some reason, suddenly it’s much harder avoid thinking about all the things you should be doing. Or, more specifically, all the things that someone should be doing for this particular child, who is relatively young and innocent and still feels like they should listen when people tell them what to do. Horrifically, you have somehow become the person who’s supposed to pass on all the advice you’ve been happily ignoring for years.

Which means that you not only have to remember all that advice, but you have to figure out how to sort out the useful information from the random fads that get news sites all excited on slow news days. Because this child hasn’t lived long enough to tell the difference between what’s healthy and what’s complete nonsense, so you have to figure out how to do it for them.

Even though you’ve (probably) been successfully avoiding a Healthy and Responsible Life (tm) for several years, it’s your job to explain to this child how to live that kind of life for themselves. Because you may have opted out, but they’re not old enough to make that choice for themselves yet.

Which means, unfortunately, that it’s your job to choose for them until they can. You have to learn how to watch out for those moments when they’re screwing up, and figure out how to get them back on track. Even more importantly, you need to be on the lookout for dangers they haven’t figured out yet, or you forgot to tell them, and help keep them from falling into them. As a bonus round, you also have to figure out when you need to start letting them make choices on their own so they learn how.

On top of all of that, you have to be a good example, because this kid is going to look up to you. No matter how ridiculous you are, all this child is going to see is a loving and responsible adult in their lives. They’re going to want to pattern themselves after you, often zeroing in on the traits you least wish they would notice and immediately copying them. Which means that, even if you don’t particularly worry about keeping yourself healthy and safe, now is probably a good time to start.

It’s not for you – it’s so your favorite small person doesn’t start making all the terrible decisions you’ve been happily making for most of your life.  

Monday, July 25, 2016

"Two Left Feet" available July 29!

My new e-book, "Two Left Feet," is finally up in various formats and available for pre-order. It's my take on "The Twelve Dancing Princesses," which has always left me so full of questions. Was it really so bad the girls wanted to go dancing every night? Was murder really the best option for all those poor random guys? Who got all 12 sisters to agree on all doing the same thing at the same time, even if it was just dancing? Why do most variations of the story make the hero the random soldier guy instead of, oh, I don't know, the actual princesses who the story is named after?

So, as is my usual habit when I'm left unsatisfied by a fairy tale, I wrote my own.


What do you do when you're one of the 12 Dancing Princesses but are really, really bad at dancing? For Thea, it was a choice between boredom and accidentally maiming her dance partners, and she wasn't terribly fond of either option. But just as the nightly dances start to get interesting, their father hires someone to discover his daughters' secrets and stop their nightly adventures. Can Thea and her sisters figure out how to keep the party going?

Read or download an excerpt here

Pre-order now:

Barnes and Noble

Monday, June 27, 2016

Down but not out

No matter how bad your mistake is, there's no possible way it
can be as bad as Hugh Jackman's decision to look like this.
We all backslide sometimes.

No matter what goal we've set for ourselves, there will be times when we trip and fall flat on our faces on the way to achieving it. It's not the same thing as not trying – we all know when we're only pretending, and when we give it up it's almost a relief. Most goals never make it past wishful thinking, or conversations with friends or co-workers.

It's when we're actually trying that it really hurts. You have to have covered some ground before backsliding becomes noticeable, fighting your way through that first hump of "why did I say I'd exercise every single morning" or "I'm still counting the hours since my last donut." It usually hits when you've finally gotten into the swing of things, when that early frustration and despair over what you're  denying yourself has faded into something almost like hope. When you find yourself starting to think that, somehow, you might actually be able to do this.

But then something happens.  The day gets so busy that suddenly you're going to bed and you realize that you missed your exercise routine for the day. We swear to ourselves we're going to stop smoking, but then work turns into a nightmare and we get so stressed out there's suddenly a cigarette in our hand. We're at a party surrounded by all the fats and sugars we were so careful avoiding, and our self-control finally snaps like a twig. Between one breath and the next, it feels like we've undone every bit of the progress we've made.

Here's where it gets tricky. Maybe the reason is because you feel guilty that you've stumbled, and the thing that you usually use to comfort yourself is probably the thing you're trying so hard to stay away from in the first place. Or maybe the guilt turns into a shame spiral, and you decide suddenly that you were a fool for setting whatever goal you were trying for. You tell yourself you were a fool for ever trying it, that all your hard work has just gone down the drain, and there's nothing left for you but to give up on all of it.

The bravest thing you can do in these moments is ignore all of that and keep going. Yes, you screwed up, but the truth is that you're probably going to screw up several more times before you make it anywhere close to your goal. Even the best baseball players don't hit the ball every time they're up to bat, and even the best actors and actresses in the world will occasionally go out of their way to make a really, really terrible movie (I'm looking at you, Hugh Jackman). Everyone fails.

But you can't let that stop you. It's not the fall that everyone will remember, it's what you do next – you could lay down on the ground and bemoan your fate, or you could get back up again and keep charging forward. If you get knocked down – even if it's by yourself – don't stay down.

In the end, that's all success really means.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Cover reveal: Two Left Feet

In honor of my birthday today, here's the cover for the new e-book I'm going to release this summer, "Two Left Feet." It's a twist on "The Twelve Dancing Princesses," except our poor heroine can't actually dance at all (and get dragged along by her sisters anyway). Still, she's a clever girl, and manages to find plenty to do anyway.

Barring some sort of hilarious cosmic disaster, I plan on having it available on a variety of different platforms by Aug. 1.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Teaser: "Two Left Feet."

Because you guys should get something new even though my publisher and IPG can't figure out how to get a freaking book out on time, here's a teaser for the new short-story e-book I'll be releasing this summer, "Two Left Feet."


Everyone wants their life to be a fairy tale, right?

"So sorry, Princess Thea. I would love to dance with you, but I'm afraid I've developed a terrible cramp in my foot."

"My apologies as well, Princess Thea. Touch of food poisoning. I'd hate to vomit all over that lovely gown you're wearing."

"I'll be honest, Princess Thea. My doctor has forbidden me from dancing with you until my feet heal."

Well, make sure you're the one who gets to decide what fairy tale it is.

Thea waved away the noblemen who'd made their apologies – she hadn't even asked to dance with them, which meant that the mere sight of her now panicked them into immediate denials – and immediately took off her heels. Then, with a wave to let her oldest sister know where she was going, Thea headed to one of the benches positioned around the edge of the dance floor.

 Dropping down onto it, she sighed as she took a look at the party that was happening all around her. The ballroom seemed to be immense, ringed with white pillars that offered glimpses of a gleaming metallic forest that was either just an illusion or housed enough magical creatures to potentially kill anyone who wandered inside. Floating chandeliers illuminated the room, a trick that had awed her the first few times she'd seen it but now just seemed to blend into the scenery. They hadn't changed the decorations at all in the three weeks she and her sisters had been coming to these things, and once she'd looked up the spell that kept them aloft she'd lost all interest in them.

Not that anyone else here seemed to care. All 11 of her sisters were out there somewhere, lost in a crowd of other hopeful princes, princesses and other random nobles who'd all received the same magical invitations to this nightly party. Thea had put in an official protest when the glittering card had first been delivered – it seemed like a ready-made kidnapping plan, and even though their kingdom was small they did have some value has hostages. But she'd been outvoted, and her requests that she be allowed to stay behind were similarly ignored.

Which left her here, either injuring random nobility with her terrible dancing skills or sitting on a bench doing her best impression of a wallflower.

"Your highness." The server appeared out of nowhere, his pointed ears standing out sharply against the waterfall of inky black hair. Balanced on one hand were a tray of glasses, all full of a silvery liquid that sparkled like diamonds. "Would you care for a drink?"

Thea gave him a polite smile, pulling out her pocket magic mirror and opening it to a novel she'd been reading. "Thank you, but no." She'd read enough stories about eating and drinking in the fairy realm not to want to risk it. Her sisters were all present and accounted for every time they went home in the morning, and Thea assumed that meant they hadn't tried it, either. "I won't need anything the rest of the evening."

The elf stayed hovering nearby, the fixed politeness of his expression taking on a pained edge. "You appear as if you're settling in for the night." His eyes flicked back to the crowd. "Does the dancing not please you?"

She raised an eyebrow at him. Thea understood needing to be solicitous of the clientele, but she was a 23-year-old wearing a gown that was at least two years out of fashion because it was infinitely more comfortable than what everyone else was wearing. Her frizz-prone, mud-brown hair should have been styled or at least put in a bun, but she hadn't wanted to deal with it tonight. "Actually, I'm just trying not to injure any more of the men here." This time, her smile wasn't quite so polite. "Next time you send out magical invitations, make sure that everyone who receives one knows how to dance."

Monday, April 25, 2016

"Dreamless" chapters!

Finally! Though I can't give you the whole novel yet, I present to you the first three chapters of my latest book, "Dreamless" (due out May 17). The story is my take on "Sleeping Beauty," with considerably more magic, a little bit of therapy, and one of those people you're forced to spend time with in childhood and hope to never meet again (but you inevitably do, because the universe has a terrible sense of humor).

The sample chapters are here, and can be read online or downloaded. (If there's anything wrong with the link, please let me know). 

Monday, April 18, 2016

"Fairy Godmothers, Inc." audio book?

Now that the "Beast Charming" audio book has been out for  a bit, I was wondering what interest levels would be in a "Fairy Godmothers, Inc." audio book. It would follow the same format, and ideally would have the same narrator as "Beast Charming" (I'd have to get her to agree, of course). Sadly, "Dreamless" probably won't get an audiobook - I don't wholly own the rights to it - so "Fairy Godmothers, Inc." would be the last one. Any thoughts? 

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The speed of time, according to humans

Scientists now have a pretty good idea of why time seems to move faster as we get older.

Like with everything else in our lives, it’s all a matter of perception. Specifically, how we perceive a smaller chunk of time – such as a day, month, or year – compared to the whole of our lives. When you’re 16, a year is 1/16th of the entire time we’ve been alive, which feels like an immense chunk of time. When you’re 60, however, it’s only 1/60th of the time you’ve spent alive. Though it’s the same amount of time for both people, the percentages make it feel like a vastly different amount of time by comparison.

Stated another way, a year to a 16 year old feels like 62.5 feet of a 1,000 mile journey, while for 60-year-olds it’s just under 17 feet. To an eight year old, by comparison, it’s 125 feet. In our minds, that translates to the 16-year-old feeling like the year has gone by twice as fast as it did for the eight-year-old, and for the 60-year-old it feels like it’s gone by six times as fast. Each year becomes a smaller and smaller percentage of the experiences we’ve racked up, and farther ahead we travel the blurrier our memories become of the miles we traveled when we were just starting out.

On some level, this could be seen as inherently depressing. Personally, my first thought whenever I hear this is all about hourglasses, and the endless metaphors people use of the sand running out and time slipping through our fingers.

But my second thought is always one of absolute relief, because when you have enough of something it means there are always fewer consequences to completely screwing up one of them. One bad year out of 60 is far less obvious than one bad year out of 20, and even if you rack up a couple – as many of us have – they’ll soon get lost enough in the shuffle that they’ll be harder to remember.

And even when you’re going through them, they seem more manageable the more life experience you have under your belt. When you’re young and haven’t done much living, odds are that it will be the first time you’ve run into a particular trauma. Maybe it’s the first time you’ve run into any trauma, which will inevitably make whatever it is seem like the worst thing in the world.

When you’re older, however, your standards for what trauma is and what the “worst thing in the world” is get much higher. You’ve had practice surviving, and solving problems, and even when bad things happen your toolbox for dealing with them is much bigger.

And once they’ve passed, older people have more average and good memories in their heads to help crowd out the bad ones. Even traumatic years become just a few miles of the road we’ve traveled, a relatively small portion of what usually turns out to be a pleasant, rewarding overall journey.  

So don’t feel bad when time slips away faster than it used to. That just means you’ve gone a lot farther than you once had.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Cut emotional baggage out of your life

There a lot of ways to be good to your heart.

 The physical aspects, of course, are important. Eating right, exercising, and getting regular check-ups can add years to your life, and improve the quality of the years you do get. If nothing else, getting a new model is nearly impossible (and costs a lot of effort and trouble even if by some miracle you do manage it).

But there are more subtle ways to take care of your heart. Stress can also take years off your life, forcing your heart to do a lot more work than it would normally have to. Some stresses can't be avoided – work and bills, for example – and we're forced to turn to de-stressing techniques from yoga and meditation to taking long, relaxing walks and thinking about the positive elements in your life. 

One of the best de-stressing techniques, however, is surprisingly simple. We're taught from when we're young that we should just cope with emotional stress, powering our way through sadness and swallowing anger or worry. Men aren't supposed to be allowed to cry, and women aren't supposed to make a fuss. Adulthood, we're always told, is about growing up and just accepting the mess that life sometimes insists on shoveling at us.

But just swallowing our emotions causes its own level of emotional stress on our hearts. If nothing else, it can lead to one of those awful moments when we "snap" – suddenly screaming at a child, spouse, co-worker or other driver over some relatively small infraction. Often, moments like that happen as the result of a bunch of tiny stresses, piling one on top of the other until the entire load becomes overwhelming.

We hear a co-worker's comment and let it eat at us, or we second-guess a decision we made until we drive ourselves crazy. Recognizing those smaller moments and working through them rather than letting them eat at you, can do wonders for lowering your overall stress.

The best way to do this is to talk through your feelings with someone you trust. If it's a problem with a co-worker or a family member you can go straight to them, but even if you're not ready for that another friend can sometimes help you get a different perspective on whatever happened. Someone outside the situation can always see it more clearly, and without the emotional coloring that you inevitably feel. And even if they can't give insight on the situation itself, there's pretty good odds that they'll say something that can make you feel better.

(It's important to find someone who respects your feelings, though. Having your emotional reaction be completely dismissed will only increase your stress, as well as your chances that you'll punch whoever dismissed you).

No matter what anyone says, being an adult doesn't mean it's your job to carry around unnecessary emotional baggage. Talking your feelings out, rather than just suffering through them, is one of the best gifts you can give your heart.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

UPDATED: "Beast Charming" now in audiobook format!

I’m a big believer in books being available in every possible format, whether that be print, e-book, or even audio (I’d add skywriting, but I’ve found that makes a book awkward to read). Given the number of requests I've received over the last year, I'm guessing I'm not alone in that belief.

On that note, I’m happy to announce that “Beast Charming” is finally available as an audiobook! I hand-picked the narrator, Morgan Ganahl, because listening to her is the closest you can get to having me read it to you without forcing you to listen to the number of times I say “um” or “like” when speaking out loud.”

It’s available through, iTunes and Amazon.

Happy listening!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Cover reveal: "Dreamless"

So, apparently luck doesn't hold forever when it comes to covers.

This is the cover of my new book, "Dreamless," which is set in the same universe as "Fairy Godmothers, Inc." and "Beast Charming." As you might guess from the unconscious woman, this time I'm playing with "Sleeping Beauty."

This is definitely my least favorite cover, not because it's not cute but because it looks like it's advertising the kind of romantic comedy that would have starred Meg Ryan had it been released in the mid-90s. As those who have read my previous books, know, my romantic comedies are both darker and distinctly quirkier than that, so I'd like to apologize in advance for anyone who considers this false advertising.

What do you folks think?

(I'm still looking for original art I can use for advertising, by the way. Anything you'd be interested in sending would be incredibly welcome and fully credited to you.)

More about the book:

Sleeping Beauty never had troubles like this

For most princesses, a sleeping curse means a few inconvenient weeks unconscious followed by a happily-ever-after with their true love. Seventeen-year-old Elena's curse, however, was designed without a cure, which means that she's getting a century-long nap for her 18th birthday whether she wants it or not. After years of study she's still no closer to finding a cure, even with the help of an undead godfather and an enchanted mirror-turned-therapist. With only a year until the deadline she's learned to accept her fate. 

Sadly, there's one prince who doesn't seem to have gotten the memo and who’s continually trying to activate the curse so he can be the one to wake her up again. Only slightly less annoying is Cam, her new bodyguard and former childhood acquaintance who disagrees with Elena at pretty much every turn. When the curse threatens to come early, however, they both realize that fate is a lot more complicated than they'd ever imagined. 

"Dreamless" is set to be released March 15. Find it on

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Excerpt: Piper's Song

Here's a little something from the most recent chapter of what I'm working on right now. I should maybe apologize....


Jess hadn't quite been lying when she said Crispin wasn't going to kill her. 

It was more like an exaggeration, really. It made sense that he wouldn't kill her – he couldn't get a power boost off her death, and if he put any thought into it Crispin would realize she was no use to him dead. He needed a captive audience too badly, and the fact that she habitually insulted him would only make her subjugation that much sweeter. Killing her would stop all his fun way too quickly.
Of course, the fact that Crispin had turned out to be an insane killer pretty much threw her entire ability to read people into question. And even if she was right, there were any number of incredibly painful things Crispin could try that wouldn't technically kill her. 

But as long as Thomas stayed in the shadows, as long as he was as safe as she could possibly make him, she'd accept "technically."  

Keeping her eyes fixed on Crispin, she took a few more casual-looking steps forward. She couldn't let herself even glance over at Thomas's hiding place, and the further she was out of range the easier that would be. "So, I'm still a little fuzzy on the details," she said, seemingly ignoring the threat he'd just delivered. "Clearly you're a sorcerer now, which I'm sure is very exciting for you, but it seems like a relatively new development. Did you discover your parents were secretly evil sorcerers? Pick up a new skill while taking night classes?"

Crispin narrowed his eyes at her, clearly annoyed that she wasn't more impressed. He didn’t look like he had either the cloak or scythe activated, but if Thomas was right he wouldn’t need either to cause her damage. "I could kill you at any moment, you know.” He tightened his hand around the ID, making it even more impossible to read any information off of it, then muttered something as light started glowing around his fingers. There was an instant for Jess to wonder whether dodging would do any good, then he flicked his fingers at her. “I have more than enough power left in me for one little waste of space.”  

Searing pain suddenly shot across her upper arm, and she wasn’t quite able to swallow the pained sound completely. She doubled over, gritting her teeth as she slapped a hand over the now-burned skin. Out of the corner of her eye, she could see movement in Thomas’s alleyway, and she squeezed her eyes shut for a second and silently begged him to stay where he was.