Writing Compromised and the Liebster Award


Ever have that experience where you’re editing a manuscript and you come across a section that’s horribly written compared to the rest. After some thought you recall that you wrote that section when you were sick with a bad cold, sinus infection, flu or whatever. You make a vow to yourself as you slog through trying to fix it that you will never ever again let yourself write while sick. Only you know, deep down inside, that when that time comes you’ll try not to work and big guilt-wielding fists inside your mind will beat you up over the work that isn’t getting done until you give in and start writing.


I’m at that point now, that sick point. In a valiant effort to mitigate damage, however, I am letting those guilt-wielding fists win in the form of a blog post because I have an easy one in the queue thanks to the fantastic Briana Vedsted who recently nominated me for the Liebster Blog Award. Thanks Briana!

The Rules

  1. Accept the award, post the picture of the Liebster Award on the top of post, say who nominated you for the award, and list their blog site (see above).
  2. List 11 random facts about me.
  3. Nominate 11 other bloggers for the Liebster Award and list their blog sites.
  4. Notify the bloggers of their award.
  5. Ask the award winners 11 questions to answer when they accept their Liebster Award.
  6. Answer the questions left for me by the blogger who gave me the award.

11 Random Facts about Me

  1. I love stacking things to the point that if you put a board game in front of me I would almost rather make sculptures out of the dice and game pieces than actually play the game.
  2. I love playing board games (Arkham Horror or Dominion anyone?), almost as much as I love stacking the pieces.
  3. I also love video games. Single player RPGs mostly, though I can be talked into a good adventure game now and then.
  4. I don’t drink beer, but I have discovered a soft spot for good cider.
  5. I’m afraid of heights unless I’m in a cave.
  6. I love history, especially in the form of historical structures and artifacts. The true stories behind such things give me a world of ideas.
  7. I love to prompt conversation then sit back and listen (unless someone asks me about my writing, then I never shut up).
  8. My favorite instrument is the violin.
  9. I’m addicted to Burt’s Bees lip balm. Seriously. There are 2 by my bed, one in my truck, one in my purse, one on my desk, one by where I sit in the living room, one in my kayak emergency kit,  and a few in a drawer in the kitchen in case I run out.
  10. I’m addicted to Science Fiction television to the point of throwing a Firefly screening party and loosing considerable sleep over the occasional Doctor Who marathon.
  11. I don’t sing in the shower, but I do sing in my truck (all the time).

My traveling stereo.

My Questions from Briana

  1. What is your favorite movie? The Fifth Element maybe, or Howl’s Moving Castle, or How to Train Your Dragon. Too many great movies to choose from really.
  2. What is your favorite book? Again, too many to choose from, but I think the Last Herald Mage trilogy would be one of the top picks (yeah, I cheated and picked a trilogy).
  3. Do you like sunset or sunrise better? Sunrise. It marks the start of a new day with tons of potential.
  4. Are you a cat person, or a dog person? Cats. Nothing against dogs, but I am very much a cat person.
  5. Have you ever eaten any wild game? Yes. It has happened.
  6. If you could change one thing about your life, what would it be? I would be in less pain all the time I suppose (too many injuries).
  7. Do you have someone in your life that is your best friend? Who is it? I’m fortunate to have many people in my life who I would call my best friends for varying reasons. I think different people play different roles in our lives so calling only one person a best friend is really rather misleading in a way. If I had to pick, I imagine my husband and my mom would top the list.
  8. Where would you like to go on vacation? Just got back from London (where I finally got to see in person many of the places I wrote about in The Girl and The Clockwork Cat and get ideas for use in books two and three) and Dublin (where I got to see places that may show up in future books). I would like to go to Japan or Malta next.
  9. Are you happy or sad when it rains? Depends on the day. Rain can be fun or depressing or indifferent depending on my mood that day.
  10. What is your favorite food? Popcorn. That’s a dietary staple, right?
  11. Do you have a hobby? What is it? I have many hobbies including kayaking, horseback riding, caving, dancing, iaido, and so on. Too many perhaps.

A sea of popcorn.

My Nominees

My Questions to those Nominees

  1. What’s one odd quirk or habit you have?
  2. Do you have any collections and what are they?
  3. When you get free time alone, how do you like to spend it?
  4. What’s your favorite season and why?
  5. What’s your favorite instrument?
  6. Do you prefer drama or comedy and what appeals to you about that preference?
  7. Beer or wine (or something else entirely)?
  8. What makes a party good?
  9. What do you typically do on vacation?
  10. Are you a morning person or an evening person?
  11. My cat wants to know if you prefer sparkly toys or feather toys and why?


Next week I'll take you with me (virtually of course) on my adventure traveling through many of the areas of London that played prominent roles in my novel The Girl and the Clockwork Cat complete with many photos.

Happy living!

One New Thing: September 2012 – Blades and Dark Places

I sprint in after putting yet another coat of paint on the soon-to-be steampunk Nerf guns, my thoughts racing with all the things I need to get done before the Halloween party tomorrow. Setting up the final playlist is a critical item I can knock off the list easily enough (I believe this will be version 4.0). I rush up the stairs to my office to complete the task, sit down at the computer, and think, "It's been a while since I posted on my blog." someecards.com - If I had a dollar for everytime I got distracted, I wish I had some ice cream.

For September, I finally did something that I’ve wanted to do for a while now. I attended my first Iaido seminar, the PNKF (Pacific Northwest Kendo Federation) 2012 Iaido Seminar & Tournament.

This was an amazing experience. This particular seminar was special in that there were a number of visiting instructors from Japan there to teach the sessions. I learned so much from these instructors and, as a fun bonus, got to work on my Japanese language skills as well since they were all using translators. I was even talked into participating in the team portion of the tournament on the second day. At the end of the weekend I was worn out and my head was spinning with new information. Time extremely well spent.

Since I don’t have any photos of this (beyond the lovely group photo above) I also thought I would share some pictures from our September caving trip. This wasn’t something new, but it's been a long time since I went on a good caving trip and we took someone along who was new to caving, so it’s close enough.

Now back to the playlist and the painting.

Happy adventuring!

One New Thing: June 2012 - Zombie Movie and Big Guns

June was full of new things. I went into the month with a clear plan of what my one new thing was going to be, but my plans are like my book plots, they always work out differently than I expected. I guess that’s because the people in my life, like the people in my head, have their own ideas about how things should go. The Plan: Go hang with my family in Indiana. Simple enough.

The trip opened with a visit to one of the coolest structures in the US. How many structures look this interesting from any angle?

This was my favorite photo, snapped out the car window on the way out of town.

On to Indiana. It’s always awesome hanging out with my sister and her family who I don’t get to see anywhere near often enough and I always love spending time with my mom who also flew out to Indiana for the week. However, since I’m sure you don’t want a blow-by-blow of the family visit, we’ll skip to the highlights.

For a portion of the trip, we went out to stay at my brother-in-laws family’s property out near the Shawnee National Forest.

There was the ‘civilized’ hunting cabin complete with showers and working toilets where we ‘roughed it’ for a few days.

And the not-so-civilized hunting cabin complete with a room of death (which I opted not to show here out of good taste) and some questionable eraser board art (which I also opted not to show because I write some young adult and it’s more fun to let you imagine what a pack of brave hunters settled to drinking and playing darts after a long day of chasing vicious deer around the countryside might come up with to draw on their eraser board).

Yes, the image is sideways and blurry. Just pretend you’re a drunken hunter.

This is where I discovered video. My mom had purchased a tiny video camera to take videos for my grandma who couldn’t come. I promptly commandeered the camera and began shooting a zombie flick, because that is so much more interesting and who's grandma wouldn't prefer some excitement in their family films.

For the sake of my loved ones (I don’t wish to be disowned), I will not share most of those videos, but here is a little bit of the setting that inspired my film project.

The creepy deserted cabin. Somebody needs to hide from zombies in this place. (Although they'd be lucky to make it this far without being sucked dry by ticks. We almost didn't.)

A fine array of victims. My little niece is the survivor, though I haven’t quite worked out how she gets away and continues shooting film once we’re all dead.

Outside of filming and creating impromptu ice sculptures

the entertainment included shooting clay pigeons and various dishware from previous marriages (not mine). This was beneficial to the movie as it meant that, by the time the zombies arrive, we would obviously be out of ammo. I’m better off not shooting a gun anyway as the video below shows. Though, to be fair, I did hit my target. If you're bored enough to watch the whole thing, you can see my sister vaporizing a plate that I didn't even have time to acknowledge was there when I went back to filming.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-zXMowcrz_A]

Nope. Not a gun person. Give me a sword. When everyone else runs out of ammo, I’ll take the stage.

We also visited the remarkable Garden of the Gods

where my sister and niece became lost briefly and our array of imaginative brains had them lying dead at the bottom of some beautiful cliff. Fortunately, that wasn't the case. They were eaten by zombies! (Okay, not really.)

From there, we moved on to Holiday World in Santa Claus, Indiana,—I know, I thought he lived at the North Pole too—a theme park with plenty of insane wooden roller coasters like The Voyage designed to give you whiplash, a vile headache, and drastically compress your spine. Truly, a great deal of fun. The Pilgrims Plunge, the world’s tallest water ride, provides an exciting transition into the water park side, Splashin’ Safari, which boasts a wide array of delightful water rides from the mellow Bahari River to the Mammoth, the world’s longest water coaster where we shared our boat with a woman who clearly expected to die there.

Unfortunately, by this point in the trip, my mom and I were already both very sick and getting sicker, hence the lack of photos. Some nasty virus that people from Indiana are apparently immune to as no one in my sister’s family got sick. It was still a good adventure.

A few other new things in June:

My iaito, fresh from Japan and barely used, still, because I’ve been sick almost since I got it.

To answer your question, yes, it is.

Happy adventuring!

Spiders, the Versatile Blogger Award and Stupid Birds

Before I get into the Versatile Blogger Award, I want to clarify another rule for spiders overlooked in Talking with Spiders: The House Rules. This one applies to all of you, regardless of type. If you drop in on me while I am driving, you get what's coming to you. This is not as funny as you seem to think it is. Now to a different set of rules, because these awards always come with rules.

1. Thank the person who nominated me.

Thanks, Mike!

2. Include a link to his/her blog.

You can learn about Mike and read all his wonderful blog posts at Realms of Perilous Wonder.

3. Nominate fifteen blogs I enjoy and follow.

Fifteen! Really? *sigh* I suspect many of you will have already received this nomination, but here goes...

  1. Simon Poore
  2. The Baffled King Composing
  3. Cora Ramos Blog
  4. Sonia G Medeiros
  5. Wordbitches
  6. Tami Clayton
  7. Margaret Miller's Blog
  8. Gabriel Rumbaut's Blog
  9. Sharkbait Writes
  10. Neither Here nor There
  11. Dr. Shay Fabbro
  12. Elizabeth Fais
  13. Two Gallants
  14. Liv Rancourt
  15. Patricia Caviglia

And 4. Tell you seven things about myself.

I know, how exciting is that? I can sense your electric anticipation now.

1. Started writing my first book in the 6th grade after reading Birth of the Firebringer by Meredith Ann Pierce. It rambled and bounced all over the place. You couldn't dig out a cohesive plot if you read until your eyes bled, but it was delightfully creative. I still have it in one of my five briefcases full of hand written books and book ideas that sit in the corner of the loft.

2. I hate zucchini. My mom tried to make me eat it when I was little. I threw up on the table. I think that was the last time she tried to make me eat something I didn't like.

3. Last Halloween we had our second Steampunk themed Halloween party. The decorations are still up. This is not procrastination. This is a cunning plan to make it much easier to set up for the third one.

4. I've fought with a sword in heavy armor. Being hit in the head with a sword while wearing a metal helmet is not painful, but does seem to slow one down for a few seconds. The battle ended when I stepped back on the hem of my dress and fell flat on my back. I couldn't get up because the helmet was too heavy (and I was laughing too hard). Lessons learned:

    1. Just because the man on the other end of that sword claims to love you, it doesn't mean he won't try to beat the crap out of you.
    2. Don't wear a dress to a duel.

5. One place in life that I feel at peace is hanging on a rope in a cave above some long drop. Swallowed by darkness and listening to the drip of water or the occasional shift of rock as someone below or above waits. There is a sense of complete detachment from the rest of the world that is both humbling and revitalizing. I have found lesser degrees of this same peace sitting in my kayak on the ocean, riding my horse when we are working in harmony, and practicing iaido.

6. I am a music whore. I know, that doesn't sound very nice, but it's true. I love music. I can't get enough and I love discovering new music regardless of genre or language. I even have soundtracks in my dreams. It's like a thrilling big-screen movie every night in my head, only typically weirder.

7. I stole my mom’s socks. When I was unpacking from my visit, I found a pair of white socks in my suitcase. Since I forgot to pack socks, it was immediately apparent that these were not mine. Sorry, Mom. Unlike the good tweezers I stole when I first moved out of the house, I do actually intend to give the socks back when next I see you.

Lastly, a quick note to the bird that just ran into the picture window. That was the second stupidest thing you could do around here. The stupidest would be landing in the cat garden. I hope the impact didn't make you dumber because I hate finding bird parts in my house. Sleep it off and try a different trajectory next time.

Have any fun facts about yourself to share? I would love to hear them in the comments.

Happy living!

One New Thing: April 2012

Here we are again. It’s time to share my new experience for April. I got through most of the month without a real plan for this. Fortunately, I live in an amazing place full of adventures waiting to be had and my mom was in town, ready to be dragged around the countryside. A short ferry ride, can take you to any number of fantastic new places. This one took us to Orcas Island, one of the beautiful San Juan Islands that we hadn’t yet visited. From above, Orcas Island looks a bit like a clump of floating detritus that got wrapped around a tree (or two).

Since the ferry landing is on the bottom of the large left lobe, it is clearly necessary to drive around to the end of the large right lobe in order to maximize ones experience. 

Upon arriving on the island, we drove around to the city of Eastsound in the narrow middle section where the spotting of a bookstore inspired us to stop and have a look around. (Because that’s why you go to beautiful islands, isn’t it? To visit the little bookstores). In addition to the bookstore, there were a number of fun little art galleries and a nice place to pick up lunch by the water.

We continued around through Moran State Park toward Obstruction Pass and hunted down a beach, which is what you do when you’re surrounded on all sides by salt water. A nice rocky beach is great for strolling, poking at creepy looking dead crabs, and viewing gatherings of starfish.

Wet sand and pebbles are not the best, it turns out, for practicing iaido, but how could I resist. Since I'm used to doing this on hard floor with a bokken, trying to look smooth and flowing on the beach with a poorly balanced, waterlogged branch was a challenge, but I’ll swallow my pride and let you chuckle at my efforts. (For more on what iaido is, visit my One New Thing: March 2012 post.)


From there, we turned back and revisited Moran State Park, taking a side trip up to the top of Mt. Constitution where we discovered this lovely somewhat medieval looking Mt. Constitution Tower and some amazing views.

Happy adventuring!