Super Awesome Self Promo Thread of Doom

self promo

Hello, bloggers! Welcome to the Super Awesome Self Promo Thread of Doom.  I will post this thread on Sundays.  Then, for the next week, any and all are welcome to drop links in the comments section.

  •  Link to any post or page on your blog.
  • I will share your (work safe) content here on and in my social media feeds.
  • Preference is given to new content, but I will also share info posts/pages for long running blog features.

The only rules:

  • No Amazon links or links to “buy my book!” pages.  I want to know what’s happening on your blog.  If I go there, I can find your commercial projects myself.
  • Drop as many links as you like, but for every link you share you must also visit and comment on a link someone else drops!
  • Reblog and/or share this post at least once during the week.

Writer’s Blog Hop: Lifelong Learner!


Hi everyone!

I got my timing messed up, forgot to schedule this.  It should have gone live a couple of Saturdays ago.  In any case, I’m (belatedly) participating in a Writer’s Blog Hop hosted by Ruth L. Snyder again this week. This week’s theme is “lifelong learner” and the question of the day is “what have you learned in 2014 that made you a better writer?”

Well, I’ll start off by saying that I view each project as a learning experience and actively experiment with them in order to try something different or learn something new.

RBF_Fox_Hunting Title 1

With Fox. Hunting, I learned a new way to approach pacing in an action-oriented story. I also blogged about that in this post

RBF_Giving_Best Title 1

With Giving Best, I tried a new narrative approach. It failed miserably, and I had to deconstruct the story and put it back together a different way.  What I learned from that experience was how to tell what was going wrong and why it wasn’t working in terms of perspective and narrative development.  Not every story is suited to the same style or technique, and sometimes it takes a little experimenting to figure out what’s going to work and what isn’t.

RBF_Branches Title 1

With Branches,  I experimented with a genre I seldom write in, and my goal was to create something weird, suspenseful, and with an ending that was ambiguous and unsettling. I succeeded at “weird” and I think I was okay in the suspense department, but my ambiguous ending really didn’t pan out. So, I think what I learned was to let the story be what it needed to be rather than try to shoehorn it into what I wanted it to be.


Boone Doesn’t Live Here Anymore is my favorite story of 2014. It’s the one that came out of nowhere and demanded to be written. I basically tossed my usual outline system out the window and pantsed this one because I had no idea what it wanted or where it was going, but it wouldn’t leave me alone.  It has a few warts, particularly one line that keeps bothering me months after the fact, but overall it was a success, and what I learned from it was that the outlines are great when I need them, but I don’t need to force myself to write one if the story just wants to come out. (Caveat: this works best for short stories, in my experience.)

There were some general lessons about cutting my losses when planned projects don’t work out and coming up with a plan B before I hit the disaster zone, but I think those are really things I knew and just didn’t want to recognize. There’s probably enough there for another post, so I think I’ll save it either way.

IWSG: Free Resources For Worldbuilders

Click image to sign up

I’ve been away from the blog for a while, and I don’t have much to say, but I have been tweaking my map-making process and I thought folks might benefit from these.

They’re just some renders of basic shapes colorized to suggest landmasses.

I’ve got seven set up as spherical world maps. Five of them have a blue background suggesting water and two have transparent background so you can do what you want with them. The others are just some landmasses on transparent backgrounds. They are good to cut pieces from for map-making.

I’ve also got some large-sized textures that may be useful as ground cover.


You’re free to use any of these resources as reference material/guides for your original worlds. Please link back if you want to share, do not redistribute on another site, for profit or otherwise.  If you publish any finished map using these resources, please add a credit line to

Comments if you use them are appreciated.

I’m also going to post an older, blank version of the map for my story-world’s main setting to give you an example of how you can adapt these renders. Overlaying the ground sections over the map lines is good for providing base terrain that you can edit if you want a more detailed map.  B/W Line maps are good for quick writing refs without clutter and distraction.


10.14_Maps, a set on Flickr. (Fulll resolution on Flickr 5000×5000 px, should be large enough to suit any project’s needs.)

Via Flickr:



I can provide a zip file, but these maps are huge and it would use a lot of bandwidth and storage space, so I’m requesting a donation for anybody who wants the zip.  Otherwise you can download the individual images on my Flickr account.  Please provide me with an email address when you donate, and I will email you the zip file within 48 hours.


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Wednesday WIP progress report/ROW80 check in

At the end of the first ROW80 round, I came up with a new plan to organize my goals around a running to-do list. That’s worked out really well for the nonfiction, but my fiction projects work a little differently. I focus on writing shorter works rather than novels, and most of my stuff develops in clusters of 3-10 pieces each about 6,000 words long.  Ideas have a habit of combining with each other over time, so I’ve been having trouble using the to do lists as a way to monitor my fiction.


These Wednesday check-ins are an experiment in keeping tabs on what I’ve been doing with my fiction, so I don’t lose track of important ideas and events.

For anyone new here, my character development process is pretty organic, and I interact with my stories much more as a transcriptionist for the characters lives them as a conscious creator. If you find that weird, you might not enjoy reading my Wednesday check ins.


Image Courtesy of Cooldesign/

Image Courtesy of Cooldesign/

There’s a post about my various story worlds here if you’re interested in following.


Bloodkin stories

Like I’ve said previously, Bloodkin is one of my oldest story worlds and there are several alternate versions that have developed. I didn’t do that intentionally. If I tried to construct multiple timelines on purpose, it probably wouldn’t work. It just sort of happened as I corrected mistakes and realized that I had some stuff I would have to change or take out because it didn’t work in the new continuity. There was too much potential for me to be willing to just let the stuff go altogether, so I kept it as an “alternate world” since the story’s world building establishes that there are multiple timelines. Then I ended up with a friend’s dreams contributing to other alternate Bloodkinverses. I’m working with a few of those versions in tandem, and as of this week, I’m going to just write it as a multiverse. I’m still toying with some ways to differentiate between timelines, but here’s the deal:

I focus on writing shorter stories rather than novels. Each story tends to run between 3000 6000 words, and there are usually “sets” that work together. Some of the sets are thematic groups, like the Fox sisters that I’ve published here. Others are basically one set of events and could be strung together as a novel, but they show how the events play out across lots of characters lives. It’s better for me to focus on writing distinct short stories otherwise I end up with “novels” that have 27 fascinating subplots and a weak over-arching plot I don’t care about anyway.

So, I think that each story within Bloodkin’s system of alternate realities would have some kind of subtitle attached to it that would indicate which AU verse I was working in.

I realize that some readers aren’t going to want to deal with multiple timelines and storylines etc, but I don’t really care at this point. As a reader, I’m always fascinated by alternate timelines, and I constantly look for stories that give different timelines equal weight instead of making one timeline the “real” history and the other ones less important or “less real” and therefore expendable. I think it’s better to write a kind of story I enjoy than to try to shoe-horn the thing into someone else’s idea of a good story. I can always narrow my focus later if one storyline were to take off as more popular.

Tommy —This past week, the main thing I’ve been working on is about 30 years of Tommy’s history that didn’t work anymore. I finally got something workable on Sunday night, and he’s going to be living/working with some of the characters from Below (the undersea realm) on creating an orphanage for Conclave refugees and the children of hunters who died in the field. I think it’s a good idea, although it took me a while to figure out the logistics of getting land dwelling characters to the new place that Tommy is putting together. The exciting part for me is that it gives me a chance to tie the Fayne storylines with the Ben-Azaziel storylines in a plot-oriented way instead of just an incidental relationship between minor characters. (Nathaniel and Jill) I like Nathaniel and Jill, but their relationship to one another is something that doesn’t have any bearing on the existing storylines, so it doesn’t really give my audience a concrete, memorable tie between the two families. Nathaniel/JIll used to have more of a plot role, but a lot of that got co-opted by Amara/Nick in the last two versions. Abby is still there, but her origin is in flux, and her relationship relevance and motivation was always mainly with Darius and Nathaniel. She wasn’t exactly comfortable with the Faynes OR her birth family, so stuff to do with her wasn’t a “plot link” so much as a point of tension between everybody involved or a factor that made everybody mad. That’s another thing I’m looking to fix. (I realize that’s probably not going to make any sense, and at some point I will try to explain it. For right now this post is more for my benefit than anyone else’s.

Established characters connected to Tommy

Josiah — Josiah is one of the oldest beings in the universe. He didn’t have much direct plot relevance until now. I knew who he was because I created him to be one of the progenitors of the daywalker race. I knew a lot about his history because I ended up going back to the creation era and actually writing enough background notes that it could have been the basis of a Biblical fantasy novel or something. I never wanted to write it because the level of research I would’ve had to do was overwhelming.

The relevance at the moment is that he’s part angel and he grew up to be one of the engineers who designed these enormous undersea cities that contributed to the legend of Atlantis and he’s going to be building the island Tommy wants.
Lori — Lori is Ziah’s half-sister. Her name is Lorelei, and I don’t remember her genesis as a character. She just appeared at some point as part of the Ben-Azaziel story arcs and I liked her there because she’s more down-to-earth and modern than most of those characters. She’s a Marine biologist now, but I think she’s done other things in the past, and she’s around 500. I think she was the one who introduced Tommy to Josiah in the first place, and she probably met him through his interest in surfing, but I haven’t actually established that.

New characters connected to Tommy

Daniyah — Daniyah is my first attempt to write one of the new races I made up back in 2011, just before the series really fell apart. She’s a popular dancer who made a name for herself in the PN world but I don’t know if she was widely known in human culture. I wanted to write an entertainer who was genuinely socially conscious and also good at the business end of her career, and I’ve established that she retired from dancing because she was looking for a job that would let her help people and use her business skills. I really like her, though I don’t know much about her yet. She has a romantic history with Ziah that I didn’t know about until I noticed that it was rekindling.

Ini —Ini is another “first attempt” I’ve known that there were merpeople in Bloodkinverse forever, but I have no reason to write any of them except as like “incidental mentions.” When I realized that Tommy wanted to live on an island, I also realized it was a good opportunity for me to include a mer-person. So, I created him as the island’s medical person, and he seems to have an established relationship with Lori, but they’re not exclusive (or something. ?)

Relationship dynamics

Literally the first person I thought of for Tommy when I knew I needed someone for him to be with was Lori. I kept dismissing the idea because of the age difference. Tommy kept saying that he wanted someone his own age. I have a tendency to think of Tommy as a perpetual teenager/twentysomething, and I don’t know when I do that because I know very well that he’s in his 50s. It might have something to do with the fact his development keeps getting screwed around with. In the interest of keeping this post a summary, I’ll just say that by the time I figured out that when Tommy said he wanted someone his own age, he actually MEANT he wanted someone who was at the same point in life that he was (IE, serious about starting a family and with career goals that were compatible with his.) I had everybody playing musical relationships and it finally settled down into something that’s more typical of Synn where there’s a “core” relationship of three people and some fluid secondaries. (I’ll do another post about that if anyone’s interested. Just note that when I say “core relationship” I’m not referring to the stereotypical romantic triangle.)


Mike’s got a new plan to buy and sell gray market merchandise out of a cellar under his barn that nobody knows about. He’s having some weird anxieties about the woods and still having trouble feeling anyone magically; I think those things are connected, but it’s not clear to me why he’s having all the woods-anxiety. He’s having some trouble figuring out how to balance his time so that he can manage both his relationships and spending time with Kylie, but I actually think the anxiety is the source of most of that trouble and that if he was thinking clearly, it wouldn’t bother him as much.

Synn Stories

I pushed out the summer games because Thad got smashed in the face with a softball when I wasn’t looking. Nan’di should still show up this week.

7 Weeks of Weird #2: Weird Things About Me You May Not Know


This is for week two of Mental Mama’s challenge. This week we’re supposed to talk about the weirdest thing that others might not know about us and I had a hard time because I’m pretty open in my weirdness. I mean, people know that I talk to myself on a daily basis, and that I spend time looking at real estate listings and viewing pictures of houses I’m never going to buy just because I need to have a mental sure of the places my characters live in even if I never described those places in the stories.

Here are some weird things about me that you may not know. If you’re my friend, or you been reading the blog for a while, you may have heard them, but this is all I could think of.

I buy toilet paper in bulk because I’m paranoid about running out of it, and always buy more when I have two packages left (unless I’m totally broke, which is what the two extra packages are for.)

I can’t stand fan service, behind the scenes documentaries, or anything else that shatters my fragile little fiction bubble when I’m engaged in a show or movie. I HATE seeing show props when they’re not in use.  I can’t stand the idea of visiting a set or people walking on and off set when they’re not in costume.  But, I was a theater geek and did most of my work on productions as a stage manager or support staff.  I generally don’t find fan service funny or cute, I just get annoyed because my illusion of fictional reality has been shattered, and I have to work to reestablish it. One of the worst things that ever happened to me was when I found out that Vivian Vance and William Frawley didn’t like each other in real life, because now every time I watch I Love Lucy, I can see that, and it’s sort of ruins Ethel and Fred. Another time I saw a behind-the-scenes clip or something about Stargate: SG-1, and I saw the characters standing behind the ‘gate prop and stepping through with these giant oversized, exaggerated movements that always looked perfectly natural when the ‘gate is open in the show. Again. WORST THING EVER.

Wednesday Works in Progress Update/ROW 80 Check-In


At the end of the first ROW80 round, I came up with a new plan to organize my goals around a running to-do list. That’s worked out really well for the nonfiction, but my fiction projects work a little differently. I focus on writing shorter works rather than novels, and most of my stuff develops in clusters of 3-10 pieces each about 6,000 words long.  Ideas have a habit of combining with each other over time, so I’ve been having trouble using the to do lists as a way to monitor my fiction.


These Wednesday check-ins are an experiment in keeping tabs on what I’ve been doing with my fiction, so I don’t lose track of important ideas and events.

For anyone new here, my character development process is pretty organic, and I interact with my stories much more as a transcriptionist for the characters lives them as a conscious creator. If you find that weird, you might not enjoy reading my Wednesday check ins.


Image Courtesy of Cooldesign/

Image Courtesy of Cooldesign/

There’s a post about my various story worlds here if you’re interested in following.


Bloodkin stories

Like I said last month, Bloodkin is one of my oldest story worlds and there have been several alternate versions that have developed. I’m working with a few of those versions in tandem, trying to see if anything will “click” and I’m wondering if I could find a way to just write it as a multiverse anyway.

Things I’m Tabling

  • The Alexandra/Beth novella that I’ve written about here and here is still stuck, and I’m probably just going to rework it into something shorter — which will probably then turn into a series of shorter some things, but as it stands, I’m not having any success. I’m going to table it for now and take a look at it again in a few months.

Redefining Disability Draft

  • Gisela — I’ve got a rough draft finished about Gisela and her husband, Solomon, adopting their first child, C’van. It’s a standalone that I pulled out him some old role-play archives. I’d like to do more with Gisela, because her role as a mom is cool and important, but she has (or had) story purpose beyond her existence as a member of the Fayne family. She was a Dawning operative in the old continuity, and she was supposed to have had a big part in the second half of the series.  She was one of my favorites, and I did a lot of work on her.   She deserves more than just one short story that vaguely mentions her job while she’s busy adopting a child.

Potential Redefining Disability stuff

  • Joy — Joy and Shannon were planning on going away this summer on a bike tour. I don’t know if that will be relevant to anything, but I had always envisioned that trip as a pivotal point in Joy’s development for direction and confidence in her role as a member of counseling team at the recovery center. I’m wondering if I could formulate a short story around places they stop and write it in a Journal format. I’ve tried journals before in stories, but they always end up rather ramblely and point. I could try that for redefining disability, but I’m not sure if there’s a purpose, since from the narrative standpoint, Joy and Gisela have a lot of the same issues. Gisela is just older, more experienced, and more confident in herself. I guess that might be good for comparative purposes, but I would rather have stories that or the widest range of disability and development as I can get, and then maybe go back and do something like that once I have a solid body of examples to work with.
  • Lenny and Ryan — I realized that I didn’t include Ryan Dunlevy in my list of characters with disabilities, and he is one of the most prominent ones I can think of. I might have left him off because his disability is entirely magical in nature, even though it affects him in ways that are much closer to a terminal medical problem. It occurred to me that I could write Lenny and Ryan as part of Redefining Disability and show them at different stages, when they were kids, then teenagers, then adults, and all I would really have to do is pull things out of the timeline. There’s a ready-made plot concerning whether or not Ryan is going to be allowed to stay with his mom, and that has very little to do with his medical problems, but the medical problems do complicate just about every aspect of his life.
  • Darius and Adam — I left them off too, and the only reason I can think of is that I just basically lumped all of the characters with chronic pain issues together. Darius is another example of a character whose problems are magical/mystical in nature but which manifest directly in physical ways that function more as a disease than a “magic problem.” Adam’s problems are physiological and mainly have to do with digestive problems that are common to dhampirs.  My issue right now is coming up with an actual story instead of “the life and times of Adam Fayne” or something.
  • Candide and Tertia — these two young women are not directly connected to one another, but when I was going through some ideas for an upcoming post about disability related clichés, I realized that both of their back stories are full of the kind of lazy, harmful, and stereotypical stuff that I was criticizing. Both of them went through severe trauma and developed psychological problems as a result.  Candide was showing evidence of mental illness before she experienced the major traumatic events, and she ended up much worse off than she really needed to have been because no one gave her appropriate supports or acknowledged that there was a problem until she was a danger to herself and those around her.  Tertia’s situation is less severe, but is another example of a character whose mental health problems are the main “reason” she became a villain. I’m not comfortable with that anymore, and given how often I bitch about stigma related to disability and specifically about mental illness being villified or romanticizied by seriously ill villains that “are just misunderstood”, or never actually achieve healthy outcomes and are tormented over and over  because the story needs a villain, I realized that I need to fix this situation. The only thing I can say in my own defense is that these are some of the earliest characters I worked on for the series, and both of them did eventually get stable, but once they did that I kind of sent them off to the pasture. I don’t know what I could do with them now, because I don’t have overarching plot functions, but I know where they are and I feel like I should work on them.
  • Tommy — I’ve been working a lot on Tommy’s post-Grace development.  I’ll be making a separate post about this, probably next week because it’s a huge mess right now and I thought I’d just UN-messed it all.  I’m pretty grouchy about this right now, so trying to blog about it would be un-productive.
  • The Colby-Lockwoods — I’ve been poking around with my Wolves, but I haven’t had much time to come up with a plot (you might guess why, given all the time I’ve spent focusing on Tommy.)


Boone Stories

  • I haven’t done anything yet with Boone and Jules since last month. I’ve kind of tabled it until I can get the fourth Redefining Disability story drafted.


The Positive

  • Mike’s got  his own house now, worked out some business deals with the people from the magic camp to supply him with protection spells for the woods around it, and he’s got some work lined up that he actually wants to do and is legitimate, so he doesn’t feel like he’s basically hanging around to be Ryan’s extracurricular activity. As of this weekend, he’s also got a dog, which should add to his feeling of security.
  •  Plot-things for Brooke and Kylie are lining up okay, but I haven’t had much of a chance to develop this

The Not so Positive

  • Oh. My. God. If these people had worse communication skills, they’d be vegetables. It’s exhausting.
  • Mike is still looking for con-jobs to run in the city. I wouldn’t call that a negative, but it stresses him out because he doesn’t want to get himself into trouble, but he can’t seem to help it, and he isn’t satisfied lolling around being a handyman in a small town.
  • There’s still no actual plot for the last segment, and throwing magic attic stuff at them doesn’t serve any narrative purpose as far as giving Mike a role because he’s already found everything he can find. He seems to get really stressed out when unexplained magic stuff starts happening, which could be an indication of plot potential, or it could be something I really need to leave alone.

Claireverse Stories

  • I considered using the original dream that this verse came from for Redefining Disability, but now I feel like the story would have to be too long for that in order for disability to be relevant at all. I want to keep his examples down to a manageable length. I’m keeping it on the back burner for now, and if I can’t come up with another idea, this will be where I go.

Incarnationverse Stories

  • I did a really cool short story about Captain Alvarez and her girlfriend. The first draft came out kind of iffy, but I think the second draft is better.
  • Ended up with a second short story that’s kind of an addition to that one. This one is from the perspective of the cab driver who drove Alvarez to her girlfriend’s house. The cab driver is a character I know pretty well. Her name is Solata, and she appears in a couple of other Incarnation stories, but this one is earlier — probably about 15 years before she meets Kay. It gave me some really neat insight into her character, but I’m wondering what ever happens to this guy Ahmet.
  • I was looking through some research material, and I found reference to Naval Officers whose job it is to protect and support chaplains in their service.  this seems like something that would be right up Antain’s alley, especially now in his NEC assignment, but I don’t know if I could ever get Antain to quit being a navigator.

Synn Stories

  • I have a bunch of viable stuff in Synn that would work as a short story material. I’m tabling everything for now and focusing on writing stuff that will work for Redefining Disability. I’m still trying to keep track of plot ideas and events that come up.
  • Thad’s doing better with communication. That seizure was relatively minor. He’s been keeping a notebook for himself now, and I just go over it with him or help facilitate with questions.
  • I had some ideas to use him and his parents or Imani for Redefining Disability, but so far it hasn’t panned out.
  • The summer games were supposed start last month, but I forgot about them because I was too busy with Tommy and Mike, so they’re starting next week, and Nan’di will probably show up.
  • Thad and Micah came up with an idea for a irrigation system for the greenhouse they’re putting in, and I spent quite a while researching Aquaponics and filtration.  Aquaponics is remarkable, and really in keeping with the emphasis that Synn has on integrated nature and technology.
  • Micah’s researching a way to help Sorrel with her medical problems, he was planning on implementing something, but I got distracted again.


Blog for Mental Health 2014

I don’t have an official Redefining Disability post this week, but I wanted to take a minute to let folks know about the Blog for Mental Health Project, and to make this official, I’ll take the pledge myself.

“I pledge my commitment to the Blog for Mental Health 2014 Project. I will blog about mental health topics not only for myself, but for others. By displaying this badge, I show my pride, dedication, and acceptance for mental health. I use this to promote mental health education in the struggle to erase stigma.”

We talk about representation for people with mental health issues here as part of Redefining Disability. Several of my friends are trauma survivors who live with PTSD. I’ve lived with clinical depression since my teens and have a lot of trauma-related issues from past abuse. I also have loved ones who live with eating disorders, depression, anxiety, personality disorders, and chemical addictions.

I write fairly often about topics related to having both physical and mental health challenges, and representation and awareness for both are an important focus here. If this topic interests you, please check out Redefining Disability and the Blog For Mental Health Project.