Risque Research


google-searches-scotlandYou know you’ve done enough research for your novel when your browsing history would make your mother blush, raise the hackles of your spouse, and earn you a knock on the door from the DHS or FBI.

Personally my browsing history makes it look like I’m part of a cult or stashing a body or performing strange sexual rituals.

If you’re an author, you’ve had to research some crazy stuff, I guarantee it. Your search results might include answers to questions such as: What does human flesh taste like? Can you eat condoms? How to kill people with a pencil. These are not my actual searches. I can only imagine a novel that required all three of those questions to be answered . . . could be a good read, not one to take to bed, though.

I write fantasy, which does not mean I get to just make stuff up. Fantasy is an exciting genre, but sometimes you have to research some pretty boring topics like animals that live in mountains, plants that grow in shade, how people kept track of time in the middle ages, and how to start a fire without a match (the latter led me to an interesting video on how to start a fire with doritos).

Now for the more interesting search topics. I’ve researched how to poison arrows, blood rituals, how to ride a horse (I’ve only ridden once), how far Tasmanian devils can smell blood (don’t ask), and how to hunt and skin a deer. I’m a Pescatarian, so the latter is something I will never do, but I guess that knowledge could come in handy . . . never.

From the tedious, to the titillating, I want to hear from you. What is the strangest thing you’ve had to research? Oh, and in case you were wondering . . . the best place to find where to hide a body is on page two of Google.

The Famous Author Who Said Teaching Was “Exhausting And Depressing”


Funny and true. Probably the best post I’ve read this week.

Dysfunctional Literacy

If you're exhausted and depressed, this is one way to handle it. If you’re exhausted and depressed, this is one way to handle it.

I don’t know much about the personal lives of authors whose books I’ve read. I think Stephen King was hit by a car once. I think Charles Bukowski drank a little bit. I believe James Patterson (whose books I don’t read) has a bunch of co-authors, so he might have a lot of spare time, but I don’t know what he does with it. The point is, I just read the books (and samples of the books). I don’t know anything about the authors.

Yesterday I found out the JRR Tolkien (author of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings) taught at several colleges while he wrote. I think I might have known that at some point in my life, but I found out again yesterday. An old colleague of his found an old letter that…

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Countdown to Vacation


A-writer-never-has-a-vacationIn just two hours, my vacation officially begins, or does it? According to this quote, a writer never has a vacation, and to be honest, I can hardly call my time away from the office a relaxing getaway. For starters, I’m having one of those staycations where you don’t leave your house. I won’t be leaving home much, except to meet with a client to discuss an editing project. Other than that, I will hardly leave my room. During my vacation I’ll be editing, blogging, writing, thinking about writing, finishing some very-overdue library books, putting together furniture for my room, and probably watching “Frozen” and “The Hobbit” at least a dozen times.

Sometimes you don’t have to go far to get away. For me, I’m going to be right where I want to be, doing exactly what I’d like to do every day of the year. If that isn’t the definition of a vacation, I don’t know what is.

Celebrating 100 Followers


I have great news. Drum role please! Today I reached 100 followers! I just want to start by thanking all of you who have visited my blog. I really enjoy reading your comments and checking out your blogs. What I like best about blogging is connecting with other writers and readers, and I’ve officially connected with 100 of you!


In honor of reaching 100 followers, I’ve posted a list: 100 books you should read in a lifetime.  Many of you have probably seen this list on Goodreads. I have read about 15 (some of them reluctantly due to a college class). How many have you read? What changes would you like to see to this list?

  1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  2. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  3. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
  4. 1984 by George Orwell
  5. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
  6. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
  7. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  8. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
  9. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  10. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
  11. Fahrenheit 451: A Novel by Ray Bradbury
  12. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  13. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  14. Animal Farm by George Orwell
  15. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  16. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  17. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
  18. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  19. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
  20. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  21. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  22. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  23. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
  24. Night by Elie Wiesel
  25. Hamlet by William Shakespeare
  26. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
  27. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle
  28. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
  29. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
  30. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
  31. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  32. Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
  33. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  34. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  35. The Little Prince by Antoine Saint-Exupery
  36. Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
  37. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
  38. The Giver by Lois Lowry
  39. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
  40. Macbeth by William Shakespeare
  41. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
  42. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
  43. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  44. The Holy Bible: New King James Version by Thomas Nelson
  45. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
  46. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas pere
  47. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
  48. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
  49. East of Eden by John Steinbeck
  50. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
  51. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
  52. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
  53. The Stand by Stephen King
  54. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll
  55. Watership Down by Richard Adams
  56. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  57. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
  58. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
  59. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
  60. Memoirs of a Geisha: A Novel by Arthur Golden
  61. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
  62. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
  63. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
  64. Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire Book 1) by George R.R. Martin
  65. The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern’s Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure by William Goldman
  66. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
  67. Life of Pi by Yann Martel
  68. The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
  69. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
  70. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  71. Dracula by Bram Stoker
  72. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
  73. Catching Fire (The Hunger Games Book 2) by Suzanne Collins
  74. Water for Elephants: A Novel by Sara Gruen
  75. The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe
  76. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
  77. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
  78. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  79. The Poisonwood Bible: A Novel by Barbara Kingslover
  80. The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck
  81. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
  82. The Odyssey by Homer
  83. Celebrating Silence: Excerpts From Five Years of Weekly Knowledge 1995-2000 by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
  84. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
  85. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
  86. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
  87. The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough
  88. The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls
  89. Mockingjay (The Final Book of the Hunger Games) by Suzanne Collins
  90. The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
  91. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
  92. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
  93. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  94. Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
  95. Beloved by Toni Morrison
  96. Helen Keller: The Story of My Life by Helen Keller
  97. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
  98. From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
  99. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  100. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky


Disney Got it Write


TianaPinnochio and Cinderella taught us that dreams come true if you wish on a star. I don’t know about you, but If I had a penny for every star I wished on … I’d overflow a wishing well (and I’ve patronized my fair share of those). When it comes to getting published, wishing won’t write words.

Disney has certainly improved the messages in their movies in the last several decades. In The Princess and the Frog, we are taught that hard word and determination make dreams come true instead of wishing on stars.

I think many of us can relate with Tiana in the beginning of the movie when she staggers into her room after work, lays down on her bed, only for the alarm to go off seconds later. Not only is she one of the first Disney heroines to have a job, but she has more than one to achieve her dream of opening a restaurant; meanwhile she has no time for fun, love, or sleep. Kind of sounds like the life of a writer, don’t you think.

The thing about dreams is you have to make them happen, not twiddle your thoughts waiting for them  to come true. One of my campmates for NaNoWriMo asked me when I make time to write since I work until six in the evening six days a week. That leaves me with roughly four to five hours every night. Subtract and hour to eat, another for chores or spending time with my son, and that leaves me with roughly one or two hours max. During that time I write, making every second count. I’m not a mathematician or anything, but if you can write 90 words per minute, there is the potential to write thousands of words each night. I usually write between 200-1000 words. It’s like Tiana says about her tips, “Every little bit helps.”

So next time you get discouraged, and it feels as though you’ll never see your writing dreams come to fruition, don’t even glance at that north star. Just remind yourself that you’re “almost there.”