Station 86, The Book!

I have a pretty awesome announcement for all of you. It’s not a huge announcement, like a new book coming out or anything like that. But it’s kind of a big deal for me.

I’ve been working on what I thought was going to be a small project but turned out to be way more time consuming than I thought it was going to be.

As of today, you’ll be able to buy the first Station 86 collection, which will include Seeming and You Can’t Trust The AI in one convenient book.

The reason I’m doing this is so that I can physically publish these two books together. I didn’t want to put out a physical novella, it just didn’t seem worth my time or printing money. But together the stories are long enough to warrant a real book.

This is the first time I’ve ever published a real physical book. Broken Patterns, if you recall, was done by Solstice Publishing. So the physical printing is going to be a new experience for me. As of this posting, I haven’t gotten my hands on a copy. I might cry when it arrives.

For those of you curious, I’m using Createspace. I’ve had nothing but good experiences with Amazon so far, so I figured I’d stick with it.

The process, if you’re wondering, was pretty straightforward. I was able to upload and design my own cover, front, and back. I was able to go through the whole book before it went into print, and it looks pretty good.

If you’d like to order a copy of my first print book, you can do so by clicking here.

I hope you get a chance to get your hands on a copy of Station 86, Volume one. I’ll be hosting several signings and readings in my local area. I’d love it if you could make it to one.

Thank you, as always, for supporting my stories. I hope that you enjoy them as much as I enjoy writing them.

Cross Training Your Writing

If you’ve been following along with me on Instagram and Facebook this month, you know I’ve devoted some time to writing poetry. I don’t write a lot of poetry, and it’s not good by any means. But I write it. I also write short stories in just about any genre. I write almost everything, even though I only really market my speculative fiction work.

This has got to seem crazy. I mean, when you think about everything we do every day, fitting in writing that you’re not going to market and might not even be good at can seem like a pointless waste of time.

But it’s really not. There are a lot of reasons that I would advise cross training your writing.

Different perspective

I talk about this a lot, and I’m not the only one. Getting a new perspective on things, especially if we’re talking about anything creative endeavors. What can suspense writing teach a fantasy writer? How to write some damn scary monsters for your hero to face. What can fantasy teach a romance writer? To write in such a way that evokes the suspension of disbelief.

Stretching muscles you might not stretch normally

Your brain is a muscle, we’ve all heard this. Just like we would cross train our bodies, we want to cross train our brains. It will just make all of your brain smarter. It’s like how learning an instrument will help you understand Math, or how when you learn a second language it’s easier to learn a third. Our brains need to stretch.

It’s something new

If all you ever do is write one genre, you’re going to get bored. It’s just the same as everything else. I don’t care how much you love Steampunk, eventually, you’re not going to love it any more if it’s all you write. It’s like eating your favorite food. If you have it too much, you won’t like it as well. Though, I can’t imagine being in a position where I could get my hands on to much sushi. Maybe when I’m rich and famous.

It’s fun

Writing is a job, a passion, a dream life. It’s also freaking fun. Or at least it should be. I mean, if you’re not having fun writing, what are you wasting your time for? Go do something else that doesn’t take up all of your soul.

You might want to write in it for real

There was a time when I wrote horror, nothing but horror. I love it, not going to lie. But after a long hiatus, when my life was falling apart and I needed something to save my sanity, I decided to try fantasy. I was reading a lot of fantasy at the time, you see. My life was in some serious need of magic.

Last year I wanted to write something episodic for this site. I didn’t want to write more fantasy, and I couldn’t think of a horror story. I was watching a lot of Star Trek and Firefly. A lot of superhero stuff, too. That’s where Station 86 came from. I never intended to write fantasy or science fiction. But there we have it.

I still love horror, don’t get me wrong. I’d like to write a horror novel. But right now I’m entirely engrossed in two genre’s I just wanted to write for fun.

Like No Time Has Passed

I’ve got this friend that I don’t talk to much. It’s not because we don’t get along, quite the opposite. It’s just that we’re both mad busy.

She’s in school, pregnant with her second child, and working. She also lives in Pittsburgh, while I’m stuck in Butler. I have two kids, a full-time job, a side hustle and this whole writing thing I do. We’re busy, is what I’m saying.

She and I have been friends forever. Since high school, if you can believe it. I know, it’s shocking to me that anyone’s been able to put up with me this long. We both love technology, have really eclectic taste in music, shop at second-hand stores and love cats. We love hockey, independent coffee shops, and comic books. We argue about politics and cry about our mothers.

To be honest, we go months without talking sometimes. Like I said, we’re busy. I understand, as time goes on, people fade away from each other. We move, we change, we grow. Or, we don’t grow. I have other friends from high school that I don’t hang out with anymore because I grew up and they didn’t. Or maybe they’re doing it right and I’ve got a stick up my ass. I don’t really think so, given the fact that I really think I’m going to be a full-time writer someday. But I won’t rule it out.

But that’s not the case with this friend of mine. Like I said, we’ll go months without talking. Then one of us will message each other out of nowhere. I’ll send her something I found on Reddit. She’ll message out of nowhere to bitch about something or other. And we’ll just pick right back up like we talked every day.

Like no time has passed.

Protecting Yourself Online

Writers depend on our computers a lot. You just can’t be a writer these days without a computer and internet access. You don’t the latest or greatest, but you do need a computer with proper internet connection.

Which means you also need your freaking computer to not die. Honestly, if you want to strike fear in the hearts of a writer, kill their computer while they’re working on a project.

And, since most writers are low on cash, you need to maintain your computer so that you don’t need to replace it.

Here are some lessons that I’ve learned over the years when it comes to computer care. I’m also including some basic online safety information for writers in general, to help you avoid scams.

Note: I am a regular person. I don’t have any sort of degree in computers. These are just things that I have learned from experience, and I’m not in any way saying that doing these things will always protect you from computer viruses all the time. Sometimes hackers get in. Please take these suggestions with that in mind.

Clear your cache and cookies.

If you’re unsure how to do this for your browser of choice, you can google step by step instructions. You want to do this once a month, or really any time your browser’s being slow. Be warned, though, you’re going to lose all of your saved password information on any site where you’ve selected ‘Keep Me Signed In’. Do it anyway, just make sure you have your passwords first.

Have multiple browsers on your computer.

While we’re discussing your browser, I’d suggest having at least two on your computer. Sometimes websites aren’t on speaking terms with some browsers for whatever reason. Sometimes you find out that Firefox freezes up every time you try to copy a link to a WordPress post so you have to use Edge.

Have two browsers, is what I’m saying.

Back it up twice.

Here’s something else you should have two of. Backups for your important documents. Like, for instance, your manuscripts. I use Dropbox, but I also save all of my manuscripts on a flash drive. Why do we do this? Because nothing is 100% and flash drives are next to nothing to buy. Dropbox is free for limited space and sometimes flash drives break. So do yourself a favor and save your stuff twice.

If you have a launch day or any other event where you need to have an internet connection, be prepared with an Ethernet connection. Don’t depend on wireless unless you have to.

Wireless is wonderful, but it can be spotty. All sorts of things can mess with it like the location of your router, other people around you on the same wireless channel or weird signals coming off of your microwave. (No, I’m not joking.)

So if you have a day when you know it’s going to be catastrophic if you lose the internet, directly connect to your modem.

Run a virus scan at least once a month. No, the auto scan your anti-virus performed is not good enough.

Yes, if you have an anti-virus it does do an auto scan. No, it’s not the same as running a scan yourself. I’d advise doing it once a month, the same as clearing out your cache. This is something that I do on the first day of every month, right along with backing up my manuscripts on DropBox and on a flash drive.

An anti-virus and a firewall are not the same things.

I hear this all the time, so let me break it down for you.

An anti-virus’s job is to keep viruses from getting onto your computer from bad sites or other bugs. A firewall is intended to keep other people (hackers) from accessing your network and devices. If you’re wondering, yes you need both.

Don’t call phone numbers that appear on popups, or click on them.

If a pop-up appears on your screen, don’t click on it. If it asks you to call a number, don’t do it. Popups are never your friends; they are almost always scammers attempting to get information from you. Just don’t do it.

Always check Predators and Editors.

I think this one goes without saying, but just in case no one’s told you, I will. If you’re submitting writing, before you send anything to anyone, check out their name through Predators and Editors. I can’t tell you how many bad situations this site has saved me from. Just check it, trust me.

And the Better Business Bureau.

This one is for just about everything. If you get a weird email that doesn’t seem kosher, run the company through the BBB. If you’re considering doing business with someone, check the BBB. If someone claims that you owe them money, check the BBB. There are scams out there that claim to be from old landlords or utilities. Just make sure you double check before you send someone money.

Any agent or publishing company that asks you for money up front is not legitimate.

Again, I feel like somewhere along the lines we’re all told this. But I might be the first person to tell you this. No legitimate agent or publisher will ask a writer for any money up front. Flat out, if they ask you for money, they’re not legit. Agents and publishers make money from your writing, end of story. They make money from your work, not from you.

If your computer doesn’t automatically update, update it often.

This is something else I used to do on the first day of the month, but I have Windows 10 now and it updates for me. Whenever it wants to, even if I’m in the middle of something. This is frustrating as hell, but at least I don’t have to update Adobe Flash Player every other week. I swear you’ve got to update that the way you buy milk.

Computers need to be taken care of, just like anything else. So if you don’t want to quite suddenly lose a year’s worth of work in a heartbeat, or have your computer crash hours before a deadline, you’ve got to take care of it.

By the way, I want to let you guys know that as of April 27th, you’ll be able to get both Station 86 books in one volume. It’s going to be available in e-book form, of course, but it’s also available in paperback. (Yay!) Both options will be available on Amazon, or if you see me at a live event.

My New Business

I want to take a minute today to let you guys in on a new project I’ve been doing for about a month now. I’ve been pretty vocal about it in my business circles, and you might have noticed the new button above.

I started a new business, freelance writing for independent creative types online. I write product descriptions, website copy and things like that.

I’m not telling you this because I’m trying to drum up sales, or cross promote between my two platforms. I’m telling you this because, when I mentioned to a friend of mine that I was doing this, she said, “I didn’t know that was a thing you could do.”

So I’m telling you, in case you didn’t know, that’s a thing you can do.

While my creative writing will always come first, I consider this a step towards being able to write full time. And, to be honest, I really like doing this work. It’s not creating a whole fantasy world with dragons and magic. But it is, after all, writing.

Just to let you know what I’m up to. And, you know, in case you didn’t know it was a thing.

Managing Social Media for Multiple Books

I’ve seen a lot of people on my Facebook and other writing groups recently ask the same question. How do I handle social media promotion when I have multiple books to sell?

Since I publish two different series, I’m a decent person to ask about this. It’s a pain, I don’t mind telling you. I only do so much social media-ing to start with. So to balance two books is sometimes a downright pain in the ass. Then we throw in any other events I’m planning or attending (like my poetry month challenge or the B2B Con earlier this month). And I don’t want to spam people, of course.

I have a list of simple rules that I follow when it comes to social media. They’ve worked well for me so far.

If a book is coming out, promote the other ones in the series.

You Can’t Trust The AI came out earlier this month. Two weeks before that, I started promoting only Seeming. I made a big point about getting the book before it’s sequel comes out. This made a lot of sense because a lot of people were showing interest in book two who didn’t grab book one yet. Also, while you can pick up book two before you read book one, that’s not going to be true later in the series. So I want to get my readers in the habit of reading them in order now.

Besides that, it’s not a terrible thing to read two books instead of one.

For real, don’t spam people.

I’ve brought this up before. In fact, every time I talk about social media I mention this. If you work to create a platform, you don’t want to kill it by spamming people. You’re not even going to get a platform built if you’re spamming people.

Once again, the most accepted ratio is eighty percent content and twenty percent advertising. So for every promotional post you write, you should post five other things. Here’s a short list of things you can post. It’s by no means exclusive, and I highly encourage you to think outside of this list, but here are some ideas to get you started.

  • Updates about your life that are interesting and relatable.
  • Information about books, tv shows, movies and anything else that relates to your genre. I share as much as I can about other indie writers who write speculative fiction. If you like my writing, I assume you’re also interested in Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman. (See what I did there?)
  • What are you reading? I would love to know what Tamora Pierce and Stephen King are reading right now. I think you all care what I’m reading, as you can probably tell. I’d love to know what you’re reading right now. Why? For the same reason I watch every single ‘Sephora Haul, Ulta Haul, best and worst product haul’ video on Youtube. I am nosy as hell, and I want to know what you’re doing.
  • Anything random that might interest your readers. A lot of this depends on you knowing your ideal reader. I write for adults, mostly parents. Parents, I think, focus so much on creating magic for their kids. We work hard to make holidays and other special occasions happen, even making dinner happen nicely. We tend to squeeze the magic out of our own lives to create it for the kids. That’s why I write speculative fiction for adults. So, when I’m filling up my Buffer feed, I include fun things for parents. Like Tasty videos. There’s no reason to include those, they have nothing to do with speculative fiction. But they do appeal to parents.

If you have free books, use them to split up your paid books.

If you write a book, or a collection of short stories, to promote your name and get new readers then you should promote them just like you do your paid books. Well, maybe not just like. I mean, I scheduled several book signings and online events for my last book release. But I do post about my free books as much as my paid books. After all, nothing gets people’s attention like ‘free’.

Talk about the most recent book you’ve got.

Now that You Can’t Trust The AI is out, I don’t post about Seeming. I post about AI instead. Now, I might go back to posting about Seeming or at least tie it into promotions I do for AI. I’ve been promoting Seeming for awhile now. There’s no sense in continuing to do it when I have something new to share.

Just make a list and talk about them in order.

This is kind of a no-brainer, but it’s what I do if I don’t have anything major going on. I just make a list of books, write out some solid social media promotions, and post them in order. Really, this is one of those things that can be made as automatic as possible. Because really, the whole point of social media is to talk about your writing and let your readers know what you’re doing. So don’t stress over it so much.

Bonus post: Creators on Youtube need our help.

I’m not on Youtube, I’m not a very visual person. I’m a writer, my work is there.

But the entertainment industry is evolving all the time. Indie writers are inventing new ways every day to bring our stories to people. We host podcasts, publish blogs, participate in indie cons and countless other things.

I myself had been thinking of putting out videos on Youtube. You know, have some nice artwork overlaying someone reading one of my stories. I’d also been looking into making trailers for my books, and putting them out on Youtube.

Turns out I have terrible timing.

A lot of people who aren’t active creators on Youtube don’t know how their advertising system works. I didn’t know until this worked until recently. Advertisers pay to have their ads up. Then they go up on videos sort of randomly. I personally think that it’s based on ad information, because I get a shit ton of makeup ads.

Then some stuff happened. Some ads were put on some questionable content. Some advertisers and brands were getting some clap back over it from people who don’t understand how the ads work on Youtube.

This resulted in these brands pulling their ads.

Here’s how Youtube is dealing with this. They are de-monitizing Youtube videos that are not ‘ad friendly’.

For the most part, I watch makeup tutorials and they’re safe. But I do know that Rob Dyke and Matt Santoro are likely going to be hit. There’s a good chance that your favorite creators might be taking a serious hit as well. I want to remind you that a lot of people make their living on Youtube through this ad money. Rob Dyke, for instance, has a team of people creating content for his various channels.

I’m telling you this for two reasons. One is that if you, like me, were looking to Youtube as a way to expand your audience, you want to keep this in mind. Questionable content, like politics, gay rights and horror might not be able to be monetized.

I also want to tell you this because I am a writer. I am a creator, specifically an independent creator. I know that a lot of people who read this blog are also writers. We are creators. And these are creators who are losing a ton of their ad revenue. This is a problem, and they need our help.

Now, I’m not saying damn Youtube. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t still look to Youtube as a medium to promote your work.

All I’m doing is giving you some information and encouraging you to find new ways to support your favorite creator.

  • Many of them have Paetron pages.
  • Many take donations via PayPal
  • Share their work on Social media, to show businesses how popular these videos are and what they stand to lose.
  • Like and leave comments for your favorite creators.

Hopefully advertisers will see that this is a mistake. Let’s all do our part to support our fellow creators.

Creating Comes First

We all know at this point that there’s a lot more to being a writer than just, you know, writing. Promotion takes time, you guys, a freaking lot of time. Cons and signings, events, ads, social media, cross-promotion with other authors. Given half a chance, these activities could take up my whole entire day.

If I let that happen, then I sure as hell hope the books that are out sell because I’d never write another one. And that would be a shame because I have a lot of ideas, you guys. I’m hoping to publish three more books this year alone. I mean, I want to be a writer to write. If I wanted to be a saleswoman, I’d have stayed in retail.

But I have to do all of this, don’t I? I mean, if I want my books to sell, I’ve got to get them out there. How is anyone going to read them if they don’t know they exist?

Yeah, I do have to advertise. I talk about my books at the end of my posts. I post on four social media accounts. I attend cons and plan signings. I do all of this social butterfly, come look at me, don’t you want to read this book I have here things they say indie writers are supposed to do. I have guest posts on other people’s sites and I host their guest posts.

So, how do I do it?

I actually don’t. I take all the freaking shortcuts I can find. I spend about half an hour a day on social media, and I do that while I’m watching tv with my kids. I spend one day a week working on business and promotional stuff. Anything that can’t be done in five minutes is done on that one day a week. And if I can’t get it done during the five hours my kids are in school, then it’s going to wait until next week. Do you know why?

Because if it doesn’t get done, I don’t care.

My word of the year, if you’ll remember from January, is Create. I’m spending this year focusing on Creating. So whatever it is, books, short stories or comic book scripts, I always want to be creating something new. So that comes first. Well, actually it comes third after my family and my own emotional well being. But it surely comes before social media obligations.

Six days out of the week, I do nothing more than fill up my Buffer account before devoting all other writing time to content creation or editing. I simply put it first, because that’s where it’s supposed to be.

Are you at B2B Con? I am!

Come see me! And check me out on Facebook as I’ll be updating through the day, and every day of the Con.

I’ll also be hosting two (not so hostile) takeovers during the con.

On Saturday, I’ll be taking over the science fiction page at 6:00. In addition to some serius science fiction talk, I’ll be giving away a free e-copy of You Can’t Trust The AI.

On Sunday, I’ll be on the Scifan Facebook page at 5:00. I’ll be leaving links to both of these events on my own page. Here’s a link to that.

I’ll also be having a question and answer session on my PBW Facebook page. You can jump on there all weekend and ask me about anything. Writing, Paper Beats World, Station 86, Woven, anything.

Finally, here’s a link to my Author’s Showcase for Station 86!

Click here to get to the B2B Con site.


Picking Apart Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog


Have you seen Dr. Horrible’s Singalong Blog? It’s this awesome film from Joss Whedon. Nathan Fillion was in it, as was Neil Patrick Harris and Felicia Day. I love this movie like nothing else.



I learn about writing from everywhere, or at least I try to. So when something comes along that captures my imagination as much as this, I have to ruin it for myself. You know, by picking it apart to see how it was made. I actually intend to do this more often on here, as it’s actually a great practice.



Now, directors have all kinds of tools we don’t have. Sad to say, Neil Patrick Harris and Liev Schriber are not here to act my stories out. I also don’t have Danny Elfman to write a score for me. But there are still things to learn from the writing and character building.



The characters



I fell in love with Dr. Horrible/ Billy right away when watching this movie. He’s a real person, which I’ve mentioned before is kind of a big deal for characters. He gets mad and bitches. He’s not a lovable klutz who stumbles into success, but neither is he a superhero for whom everything comes easily. He’s a self-obsessed dork, disillusioned but somehow still hopeful. A pessimistic dreamer, which I think we can all relate to. He wants the girl, the world and the cool job in the Evil Leauge of Evil. He knows he should have those things, and is trying desperately to achieve them. And yet he’s full of doubt. Not in himself, but in the world.



We see all of these aspects of him through the way he speaks to the people around him. He plans things out. He refuses to meet with someone because he feels that they’re beneath him. He talks, openly, about being defeated by Captain Hammer. He does a million subtle things that show us how he’s feeling.



Bad guy, good guy



The protagonist of this movie is a villain who calls himself Dr. Horrible who wants to be a super villain. He wants to join the Evil League of Evil and work with Bad Horse. (The dr horrible 3Thoroughbred of sin.) He has a Ph.D. in horribleness and wants to rule the world.



He also refuses to have a fight at a park because there are kids there. He’s respectful of Penny, the female lead. Even though he’s in love with her, he’s honest with her. When she asks him to sign a petition to help homeless people he does, but he also tells her that he thinks she’s treating a symptom of their society. He wants things to be better for everyone. He’s smart, honest and works hard. He’s interested in his friend’s lives, taking the time to ask them about what’s going on with them, dispute being a little self-centered. He’s felt failure, boy has he ever, and keeps trying anyway. At several moments, he proves that he’s not capable of killing someone in cold blood for his own personal gain. Or for any reason, really.



The antagonist is Captain Hammer, a superhero with hammer like strength. He’s loved by the community and has an adorable little group of fan girls and boy who stalk him and cut off pieces of his hair when he’s not paying attention.



He also has sex with Penny just because he knows Dr. Horrible likes her. He pays lip dr. horrible 2service to her cause of helping homeless people. He makes a point of beating the hell out of Dr. Horrible, just to make him look like a loser. He’s narcissistic and stupid. He makes a show of helping the homeless just for more praise. When he fails, he falls apart. And he proves that he’s got no problem, at all, killing.



While I do love the bad guy protagonist motif, (as seen in Dexter, Santa Clarita Diet and Ray Donovan) this isn’t what’s happening here. As we can see, the super villain personifies qualities that we would associate with a good and noble person. The superhero is the actual horrible person. (See what I did there?)



Everything you ever, and 1+1 Vs. 2



When you watch Dr. Horrible, you hear the same phrase over and over. Everything you ever.



Everything you ever what? Wanted, deserved, dreamed of? It never actually says, which leaves the viewer to finish the sentence themselves.



This is the clearest example I’ve ever seen of a lesson I learned from a Ted Talk by Pixar writer Andrew Stanton. By the way, if you haven’t seen his talk, The Clues to a Great Story, here’s a link. Fantastic talk. But the lesson is this.



Don’t give the audience two, give then 1+1 and let them figure it out for themselves.



And this is something I’ve struggled with so much. I want my stories to be clear, to be obvious. I have a habit of saying “Look! Here is the moral of this story! Here is how she’s feeling, here’s why he did that thing! I know you’ll never be able to put it together yourself, and I’ll be damned if I’ll be misunderstood. So I’m just going to tell you what I want you to get our of this. I’m not going to let you extract something from this that I didn’t intend!”



Which, as I write this, I realize is a horribly selfish way to write. It is not our jobs as writers to tell people how they should feel about our writing. It’s our job to tell a story. A real, honest, story.



Finally, I’d like to tell you my favorite Joss Whedon quote about writing.



“Make it dark, make it grim, make it tough, but then, for the love of God, tell a joke.”



Comedy works well in Dr. Horrible. You’re laughing so much at the absurdity of it all that you don’t see the dark ending coming.



If you have any movies, tv shows or books that you’d like to see picked apart for writing lessons please ask. Send me an email at or comment on this post.



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