Happy anniversary, Paper Beats World!

I might start getting weepy during this post, not gonna lie.

Three years ago today, I posted a blog post called, “I am a writer.”

About a month before that, I’d started cautiously writing a book about a boy who weaves, named Devon. I’d thought that he might have a bratty older sister.

I truly believe that the fact that I started writing this blog is the reason I kept going with Broken Patterns.

Because you all kept me accountable.

Now, three years later, we’ve grown. I’ve got a total of four books out, with another coming out this year.

By the way, if you go to the Wanna Buy a Book link above, you can find two free books from me. As a thank you, to all of you, for supporting me.

As another thank you, I’m going to be giving away free e-copies of either Seeming or You Can’t Trust The AI to four people.

Here’s how to enter.

Post on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram using the hashtag #PaperBeatsWorld. Or, comment on this blog post.

Thank you all again, for another great year. Here’s to many more to come.

Starting Chains, Chapter Two

If you missed last week, I shared the first chapter of Starting Chains. Now, here is Chapter Two.



Sultiana tilted her head back to feel the sun on her bare face. It was the first time she’d felt it without her veil since she’d come of age. She exulted in knowing that she would never wear one again.

She looked down from the sky, and smiled at the scene before her. She stood in the tile covered courtyard in front of the palace of Calistar, her home. Great clay basins overflowing with desert flowers spotted the area. The tiles and fountain were covered in a thick carpet of cherry blossoms, sent as a gift from Queen Shori of Coveline.

Her Father, King Omar, stood in front of the fountain. He was a huge man with a bald head and a neatly trimmed beard. Like all royalty in Calistar, he wore white silk that fluttered in the wind. He was smiling with such pride that it made Sultiana’s heart swell. But her eyes were drawn to Devon.

The man who would be her husband was dressed in noble white silk, with his dagger tucked into his belt. He was conspicuous, being the only white man in attendance, likely in the whole country. The desert wind ruffled his thick curly hair. He was everything she had ever wanted him to be.

Sultiana started down the aisle, the gold coins on the hem of her white silk gown making music as she went. She did her best to keep her eyes on friendly faces. Neva, Omar’s new wife, was standing among Sultiana’s little sisters. She was no more than a few years older than Sultiana. She wore a white veil over her face, with a coiled braid on the top of her head like a crown. Her belly was swollen with child, and she set a hand on it as she beamed at Sultiana.

Aini and Cala, the two younger girls, were trying to stand without bouncing in excitement. Aini, as always, had a crooked veil, and her braid was coming undone. Cala looked just like their mother for who she was named, with an upturned nose and lighter skin than her sisters. Chrissie, the second oldest, was trying to look stern and disinterested behind her veil. As she was too young for such a look, it came off as pouty.

The crowd was full of men and women of Calistar. Some were excited, and tossed flower petals as she walked. Many, too many for her comfort, stood with arms crossed. Many men wouldn’t even look at her, choosing instead to look at the ground or at the people standing in a cluster at the fountain.

She tilted her head high, and smiled for Devon anyway. When she reached him, he held his hands out to her. “You look amazing,” he whispered.

“Truly, you do,” Omar said. He set his hands over theirs, and said, “Brothers and sisters, it brings me the greatest of joy and honor to join together my daughter, Princess Heir Sultiana and Prince Devon of Septa. Theirs was a union decided upon years ago, an arrangement that was to forge a bond of family between Calistar and Septa. This their marriage will do, and so much more.”

He smiled over the crowd, though few smiled back. “They enter their marriage as friends. They have trained and fought together. They share a sacred bond, as the first woman to wield steel magic, and the first man with thread magic. With this foundation of mutual respect and appreciation, and with the gods of both lands smiling upon them, surely they will be ready for whatever the future holds for our great country.”

There was some hissing from the crowd.

“And,” Omar said, talking louder, “Sultiana, as our first ruling queen, will surely bring the smile of the goddesses upon our lands.”

Chrissie made a noise that could have been a snort, but Aini elbowed her in the side.

“Now, before the eyes of our people and the gods themselves, I declare you to be husband and wife.”

Sultiana and Devon leaned towards each other for their first kiss, at least the first one anyone else knew of. Their old training master, Shilom, cheered. He was a shorter man, battle worn, in blue scholars robes. Kadar, Omar’s chief adviser, cheered as well. Kadar’s hair was set in hundreds of small braids, each with a red bead at the end that clacked together as he cheered. Neva, the little girls, and a handful of others joined them. Many others remained silent.

Stella, Princess of Coveline and Devon’s student, hurried to his side as people came to congratulate them. She was a young dragon, blue in color with silver ridges across her long back. As most people in Calistar were not accustomed to seeing dragons on a regular basis, she was given a wide berth.

“Master Devon,” she said, “are you alright?”

“Well, of course,” Devon said, laughing. “I’m wonderful in fact, why?”

“Your hand is twitching,” she said. Her friend Hiro joined them. A full blooded Vondrai dragon, he was longer than Stella with thinner legs. “Can I help you to your rooms?” he asked.

“I’m fine for now, thank you,” Devon said.

“Let’s go into the dining hall,” Omar said.

“Yes,” Sultiana said. She took Devon’s hand, and noticed that his fingers did seem to be twitching. As they led the way into the palace, she said, “Do you need to go to your loom?”

“I think the vision can wait,” he said, “I’m not ready to break up the party.”

A man dressed in the trades tribe yellow came to Devon’s side, and clapped him on the shoulder. He was a young man with a prominent nose. “May I be the first to congratulate you?” he asked, “Surely you have married the loveliest woman in the world. And I should know, because I’ve seen most of it.”

“Thank you,” Devon said, offering his hand to shake. “What’s your name?”

“I am Ferris, the leader of the traders tribe,” he said. “I hope that you will find our tribe more open minded then some others. We are ready to move into the future.”

“Yes, we are,” said a woman who walked next to Ferris. She also wore yellow and like Sultiana, she was unveiled. “Princess, I’m Fidal, and I can’t thank you enough for my new freedom. When my brother and I are abroad, I don’t wear my veil. It’s amazing how itchy it feels when you’re not accustomed to it.”

“So I’ve learned,” Sultiana said, grinning.

“Well,” said an older woman in scholars blue. Sultiana recognized her as Gia, her History and Language instructor from childhood. “If you young girls are going to go about unveiled, I suppose I’ll be alright.” She removed her veil, and bowed to Sultiana. “And I would like to extend a thank you, from the women of my tribe.”

“For what?” Sultiana asked.

“For making history,” Gia said. She turned, and gestured towards the crowd. Women in blue and yellow were removing their veils and letting them flutter away in the wind. Many of them giggled, some looked unsure, some even cheered. Sultiana noticed that the farming women in green, the shepherd women in orange, and what few smith women in red who were present, kept their veils steadily on. She didn’t care a bit. Let them stay behind their veils if they wanted, she would never be bound to one again.

Devon’s hands were shaking. He looked up at the cloud of veils wafting in the breeze, and said, “I’m sorry, but I think I might need to go to our rooms after all, ‘Tiana. Can you help me?”

“Yes,” she said, tearing her eyes away from the sight. She took him by the arm, leaving Omar and Stella to explain.

Sultiana pulled him through the halls of the palace, past the marble pillars that supported the walls covered in carvings and tapestries that showed the history of her people. Their boots clicked over tiles of every color.

Finally, she pulled him into their series of rooms. The sitting room was decorated with a plush red carpet, an ornate table, and a loom with a cushion before it. It was there that she led Devon to. His hands sought the thread and started to fly.

Chrissie and Neva joined them. Neva was holding a plate of food, grape leaves stuffed with lamb and rice. She sat it next to Sultiana.

“People are muttering,” Chrissie said.

“Let them,” Sultiana replied. “The man’s a seer, I don’t know what they expect.”

An image was taking shape on Devon’s loom.

“Having a Septan husband who weaves was hard enough without you letting all of those women take their veils off. Then he’s got to have a little episode,” she muttered.

“Chrissie,” Neva snapped, “you should show more respect for Goddess Malonie. She sent these visions to the prince.”

“I wish She’d send them somewhere else,” Chrissie said.

Devon slumped on his cushion. Sultiana looked at the image. It was a coin, in the process of spinning. On both sides were woman’s faces. One smiled and one wept.

“What is this?” Sultiana asked.

Devon leaned against her, and gratefully took the grape leaf she offered him. “Our nieces,” he said, “I don’t know what it means, but I know it’s them.”

“But they’re not even born yet,” Chrissie said.

Just then, a woven cuff on Devon’s wrist started to glow blue. He smiled, and said, “I can hear you, Lenore. Have they got ten fingers and toes apiece?” After a few minutes, he added. “That’s beautiful. I can’t wait to see them. I’ll talk to you, soon.”

He grinned at Sultiana, and the glow faded from his cuff. “The girls are named Eleanor and Loralie.”

“Big day, all things considered,” Sultiana said.

If you love this, please grab your copy of Starting Chains on September 8th! And, get your copy of Broken Patterns, Book One, right now.

Breaking apart Memoirs of a Geisha

Spoiler Alert: If you’ve never read Memoirs of a Geisha, I’m about to ruin the ending for you! Please read the book before proceeding, or accept that you will have the ending ruined.

Hi, my name is Nicole, and I’m an outspoken feminist. I’ve mentioned this pretty often, it’s kind of a thing with me.

You’d think a book about a woman who’s whole life revolved around becoming a mistress to a powerful man would offend my sensibilities. In fact, you’d think that this sort of book would piss me right the hell off.

So why do I like Memoirs of a Geisha so damn much?

I thought of this while camping with my family. I didn’t want to bring my tablet, so I brought two books. Tommyknockers, which I’ve never read before, and Memoirs of a Geisha, which I’ve read often.

Of course, I ended up reading Geisha.

How does a book that should upset me catch me not just once, but over and over? What is it about this book that so enchants me? Well, I decided to break it down, so that I can learn from it.

The main character’s troubles are not her fault, but she fights.

Chiyo starts out as a poor man’s daughter. Her mother is sick, and her father is old. And so her father, who has already buried one family, sells his daughters into slavery.

The main character has no power, no leverage. But she’s determined to save herself from the life she’s been forced into.

Granted, the first time she tries she ends up breaking her arm, but she keeps trying. And when she meets The Chairman, she focuses herself on her one and only desire. And she does not give up. She uses any tool she has to get what she wants.

The details are wonderful.

I love Japan. The Shinto faith is fascinating. I love their art. I love their food! I even love the tea ceremony and all of its traditions.

The country, the world, the culture is described in this book in exquisite. While I’m reading it, I can feel the thick white makeup on my face. I can see the elaborate kimono, taste the rice balls. If you want to learn to write details, read this book.

It’s a view of World War II that I haven’t seen before

Remember how I read all sorts of fiction about the Holocaust? Well, while that living nightmare was happening in Germany, and we were imprisoning Japanese Americans stateside, Japan was living through the war as well. People who’d never heard of Pearl Harbor lost their homes, their families, their lives. To see the war from that point of view was new for me. It’s fascinating.

The story telling sucks you in and does not let you go.

Most of the book is told from the point of view of Sayuri, the main character. And it’s told as though she’s sitting in front of you, telling you the story herself. The whole story has a very conversational tone, making it intimate and distant at the same time.

Altogether, even though I hate the ending, this is a masterfully told story that is totally honest.


What do you think? Have you read Memoirs of a Geisha? Do you have a book that you’d like me to pick apart? Let me know in the comments below.

Starting Chains is available now!

Hey, guys. Hapy Saturday.

I just wanted to pop in here for a minute to tell you that Starting Chains is now offically available for pre-order!

After years of war between Montelair and Septa, the two thrones are united by family. Victor’s nephew, Morgan, is sharing the throne with the last heir of the royal line, Jacob. He and Lenore decide to travel to Montelair with their newborn daughters to help broker peace.

But peace among their own people is harder to achieve. The city is tormented by a terrorist who calls himself The Tinker. He and his group of anarchists plant bombs through the city and call for the death of the new kings from every street corner.

Meanwhile in Calistar, Sultiana and Devon are marching to war with Kussier. The ancient hatred between the two countries is sprung anew when Sultiana is declared heir to the Calistar throne.

Waiting at the border, though, is a much darker enemy. A force from legend threatens to consume both countries, and possibly the world.

Here’s a link to the pre-order page.

Here, also, is a link to the first chapter.

And a link to buy book one, Broken Patterns. In case you haven’t read it yet.

As always, thank you all for your support. Have a great weekend.


A writer’s supplies

It’s late August. That means a lot of things. For me, my Summer Vacation is over. We just got back two days ago, and I won’t have such a long time away from the day job again until next year. My monsters are going back to school on the 30th. That means an end to sleeping in for a good long while. (I can’t sleep if they’re awake, I just can’t. And I work on the weekends.)

While all that kind of sucks, I’m also excited for an exquisitely stupid reason.

Back to school supplies are on sale right now.

My excitement for stationery is well known and highly mocked. I really wanted to write a blog post that was basically a wish shopping list of stationary supplies.

But I’m not going to do that. It would be fun for me, and it might even be fun for some of you.

You know who wouldn’t enjoy it? Me, when I was broke. (I’m still kind of broke, but not as bad as I once was. No one who has a yard and occasionally buys Moleskine notebooks is really broke.)

You might be how I was then, scraping together dimes I picked up off the street to buy a cheap notebook. (I said I was broke.) If you’re like that, then a list of elaborate and lovely things will rake on you, and I don’t blame you.

If you’re like I am now, let’s face it. We don’t need all that crap to write.

Yes, I use and love my Le Pens, but I don’t need them to write. If it came down to it, and my family couldn’t comfortably afford this luxury, I’d go back to Bic pens in a second. They’re a buck a bag.

So I thought, instead, I’d talk about what you need to be a writer, bare bones.

  • A notebook
  • A pen
  • A library card
  • A flash drive.

With that, you can write the rough draft of your story. You can type it up, even if it’s a little at a time, on a computer at the library. You can write up submission letters, or even self-publish from the library.

Using WordPress, Grammarly and Amazon, you can host a website or blog, edit your work and sell it. It’s just that easy. You can use Buffer and social media to promote your book for free.

I wanted to tell you that for two reasons. One, because I never want anyone to think that this is something you must be wealthy to do. Money helps, don’t get me wrong. I’m able to afford to print my books, and that’s why they’re in local book stores.

But that’s not a requirement. E-books sell fine, and people do order my print books all on their own. Yes, I do pay for my domain name, but that’s again, a want not a need.

The second reason I wanted to tell you all of that is this: we are unstoppable, us writers. There is literally nothing standing in your way right now if you want to be a writer.

So go write. Even with a notebook you rolled dimes for, and a pen you stole off a waitress if you have to.

Starting Chains, Chapter One

Today, just for my PBW followers, I’m presenting the prolouge and first chapter of Starting Chains. I hope you enjoy it.


You think you know anger, you silly thing. You think you understand fury, betrayal. It’s hilarious when you little nothings think you have an understanding of those emotions.

Your hero failed you, didn’t he? The Great Calvin, who everyone thought would be the champion for the common man. They all fail, after a while. Heroes are just people, after all, and people fail. Certainly, your hero failed me. The greatest fault of the males of your species is always your obsession with the females.

But it is not as though he was important. Not so important that he cannot be replaced by a hundred others. After all, you’re hearing me now.

Your new hero will arrive soon, and he will fail you, too. The difference is, this time you will know my rage. Soon, you will learn the true meaning of anger.

And while you take care of the shining one, the precious little vessel, I can deal with other matters. My Blood waits in the rip of the land. It only needs a drop of blood to awaken, and I’m sure it will get it. There is always blood when two neighbors fight over history.



Victor paced the floor of the game room, a low growl barely contained in his throat. Everything about the room, from the soft backed chairs, the heavy curtains and the thick wooden tables irritated him right then. Including every single other man in it.

Lord Lewis, Victor’s uncle by marriage, and his son Howard played pool. They were knocking the balls together louder than he thought was really necessary. Every now and then Lewis would look up at Victor and chuckle. He was a broad man, with gray hair and a paunch he hadn’t had in his youth. Howard looked much like him, but with darker hair and no paunch to speak of yet.

“First time jitters,” Lewis said finally, “I was just the same when my twins were born.”

Oliver sat on the couch by the fire with Lord James. “Sit down, Victor,” he said, “The king will be back in a moment to tell us how it’s going.”

Oliver was, in Victor’s opinion, too good looking for a man. His hair got far too much attention, his perfect face was in need of roughening. The only thing that redeemed him was the kindness in his eyes.

Lord James, flipping through the pages of a book, chuckled. He was the only other man besides Victor in the room with light hair, a sign of their shared Montelarian heritage. But where Victor was tall and broad, James was a thin man. “It’s hard for you to be away from her right now, isn’t it?” James asked.

“It is not right,” Victor snapped, “I should be with her, she needs me.”

“That’s just where you shouldn’t be,” Lewis said, pointing his pool cue at him. “You have no more place in a birthing chamber than Lenore would have on a battle field.”

Victor thought of his wife and how she’d looked on the battle field, digging her dagger into the back of the neck of the man who’d killed her brother. He thought she’d done just fine.

“That is the way things are done in Montelair,” Victor said, “My da was with my ma when she had us.”

Howard set a hand on his shoulder. “You know you shouldn’t talk like that,” he said, “The people of Septa are having a hard enough time accepting a Montelarian so close to the throne. If we can’t let you wear your furred boots in public, we can’t let you follow Montelarian birth customs.”

Victor glanced down at his high polished boots. As far as he could tell, their only benefit was to match his black silk pants and Septan blue jacket. “Don’t remind me, they pinch,” he muttered.

“Victor,” Oliver said, “we all know how hard it’s been, getting used to Septa customs. But Montelair has been our enemy for so long. You can see why it’s been necessary, can’t you?”

“You would think killing my brother would be enough to prove my loyalty to the Mestonie family,” Victor said, “maybe even give me enough leeway to actually take care of my wife the way I think she should be taken care of!”

There was a scream from the other wing of the palace. Victor recognized Lenore’s voice. He started towards the door, but it opened before he could reach it.

King Samuel, his father in law, stood there. He was one of the few men in the palace big enough to look Victor in the eye. His hair was thick, with a steady streak of gray coming from both of his temples.

“Where are you going?” he asked with a smile.

“Lenore is screaming,” Victor said.

“She’s in pain,” Samuel replied, “Women suffer to bring our children into the world, and we should never forget that.”

“Did they let you in to see her?” Victor asked.

“No, of course not,” Samuel said with a chuckle, “But Lorna spoke to me in the outer chamber, and told me that all is going as well as can be expected.”

“Lenore’s got two midwives, Lorna and her auntie Heather,” Lewis said, naming his wife. “She is well supported.”

“Ramona and Tabitha are with her, too,” James said. James was common born, too. He knew the presence of Lenore’s own nurse and maid would be more of a comfort to Victor than a noble aunt neither of them were fond of.

Samuel sat down at a table that supported a chess set. “Come and have a game. It will make the time go faster,” he said.

Victor thought this unlikely, but to please Samuel he took a seat. But for the gray in his hair, Samuel looked just like he had the night they met. Victor had been so afraid that night, desperately trying to stop his mad brother from murdering Lenore and her family. He hadn’t expected to survive, let alone be given a job. Nearly three years had passed, and now he was the husband of the princess who would someday be queen.

“I remember when Lenore was born,” Samuel said, setting up the chess pieces. “It was the first time I ever heard Lorna raise her voice.”

“Not much like Lenore then,” Howard said.

The men laughed, but over their laughter Victor could hear Lenore’s voice. It didn’t sound like just a scream this time.

“Is she calling for me?” he asked.

Samuel’s cheeks turned red. “No, you’re hearing things,” he said. But the scream came again, and this time it was clearer. “Victor!”

He was out of his seat and to the door before anyone else in the room had time to react. As he ran through the halls of the palace, no one dared stop him. The other noblemen didn’t even bother to follow.

Lenore’s new body guard, Anthony, was standing in front of the door to the entry chamber. A tall, lanky man with a long tail of hair, he looked as bored as he ever did. He saw Victor coming, and moved aside.

“Thanks,” Victor said.

“Queen Mother is only going to throw you out anyway,” Anthony replied.

Howard’s twin sister Harper sat in the chamber with Lady Hannah. They were Lenore’s ladies of court and closest noble friends. Harper was a tall woman, thinner than her brother. Hannah was shorter, with a broad, soft build.

Lenore’s hound, Shepard, was lying in front of the door to the birthing chamber, looking forlorn. She, like Victor, was unaccustomed to being away from Lenore this long.

Both women jumped when he burst into the room. “What are you doing?” Harper cried, “I nearly put my needle through my finger.”

“Was Lenore calling for me?” he asked.

“She was,” Hannah said with a nod. Unlike the rest of court, she had not yet removed the black mourning cloths for Prince Octavian. “But I don’t think the queen will let you go in.”

“Don’t you tell me what I want!” Lenore screamed, “Victor promised me he would be here, and I want him here now, not later when I’m all fancied up!”

“Are you entirely sure you want to go in there?” Harper asked.

“Of course,” Victor said, “she won’t yell at me like that.” He opened the door to the birth chamber while Harper snorted.

The room was large and circular. In the center of the room was a bed on which Lenore sat, her nightgown pulled up around her waist. Her long, curly hair was pulled back in a messy braid, and her face was covered in sweat. A midwife knelt in front of her, hands between her legs. Queen Lorna stood between two waiting bassinets, looking tired.

“What in The Creator’s name took you so long?” Lenore cried.

“I am sorry,” he said, coming to her side.

“Oh, no,” Lorna said. “You’re not staying, not with her in this state.”

“Mother, shut up!” Lenore cried. “He put the babies in there, he’s seen it. And if anyone makes him leave I’m going to make them as miserable as me!”

Ramona and Tabitha glanced at each other. “No, that’s alright,” Tabitha said.

“He’s not bothering me,” Ramona said, “Make yourself useful, boy.” She handed him a clean cloth and pointed towards a bucket of iced water.

Victor took off his jacket, and dipped the cloth in the water. He sat down behind Lenore on the bed so that she could lean against him and set the cloth to her cheek. “Your uncle said to me that I had no more place in this room than you would have on a battlefield,” he said.

“Then you should do fine,” Lenore said, tensing with pain.

“He must not remember the last time Montelair attacked,” Victor said. He washed her face. “We’re changing all the rules, aren’t we, my girl?”

Lorna sniffed, but brought a fresh towel to the bed. “I suppose the next thing will be that you want me to teach you how to run the bloody palace,” she muttered.

“I’d be honored, if you have the time,” he said. When Lorna gave him a sharp look he shrugged, and said, “My old job is taken. I cannot be idle while my wife works.”

Lenore screamed, and pressed against him. He put his arm around her. “Deep breaths,” the midwife said, “In, hold, out.”

Lenore breathed for a few minutes. When the pain subsided, she said, “I wish Devon could have stayed to meet the girls. And Octavian, they’ll never even get to meet him.”

“Octavian will watch over our girls like a guardian angel,” Ramona said, “And I’m sure Devon and Sultiana will visit soon.”

“We haven’t thought of any names yet,” Victor said, trying to change the subject.

“You pick,” Lenore said.

“You can’t give them Montelarian names,” Lorna said.

“Hush, Lady Mother, you are upsetting my wife,” Victor replied.

Hours passed. Lenore’s pain grew worse. Victor started to get worried. He brushed stray bits of hair from her face. “Tabby, will you come and fix her braid?” he asked, thinking that getting her hair out of her face would be some relief.

Tabitha nodded. She brushed Lenore’s hair and set it in a neat plait while she napped between bouts of pain. “One of the many benefits of being sapphic,” she whispered, “Girls don’t get other girls pregnant.”

“Does it normally take this long?” Victor asked, “The midwife would know if there was something wrong, wouldn’t she?”

Tabitha gave him a smile. “Yes, she would know. She’s the best midwife in the country.”

The midwife in question moved Lenore’s knees apart, and said, “Don’t you fuss about me. The princess has only been in labor for six hours. Many women take days to bring their children into the world. They will come when they’re ready, and be cared for like every other baby born in this palace.”

“My heir,” Lenore said with a smile, “the first girl ever to be born heir to the throne.” Then, she drifted back into a light doze.

Lorna shook her head. “You should talk her out of that, you know. It’s one thing for Lenore to rule, Octavian chose her. But your daughter doesn’t have to.”

Victor raised an eyebrow at her.

“I’m only thinking of the baby,” Lorna said, “Lenore’s life is going to be hard. Don’t you want something better for your daughter?’

“My Lady Mother, how about you suggest to Lenore that her daughter not inherit?” Victor asked.

Lorna sighed. “I only want what’s best for you all,” she said.

Lenore was stirring, moaning in pain again. The midwife looked between her legs, and said, “She’s crowning.”

“Are you ready?” Ramona asked.

“I’d better be,” Lenore said.

“Push!” said the midwife.

Lenore pushed. Victor held her close and whispered, “You are so strong, so brave.” Lenore screamed, and soon her screams were joined by those of her daughter.

The midwife pulled the baby girl out, and held her up. “Look at that blond hair,” she said.

Victor looked at his daughter, aching to hold her. But there was another baby coming, so Ramona took the first born to clean her.

Lenore was screaming again, and another ten minutes of pain followed. Finally, the second daughter, tiny with dark hair, came into the world.

“Our girls,” Lenore said.

The midwives hurried to get Lenore cleaned up and in a second waiting bed.

Ramona and Lorna brought the babies to the bed. They placed the girls into Lenore’s arms, and she set them to her breasts for their first meals.

“I’m so tired I don’t know if I can hold them,” she whispered.

“I’ll help,” Victor said, placing his arms under hers, supporting them all.

“What do you want to name them?” she asked.

Victor smiled. “The one with the golden hair, we’ll call Eleanor, for you my love. And the dark haired one can be Loralie.”

“To match,” Lenore said, “That’s good. Eleanor will need her sister. She’ll need all the help she can get.”

Lenore fell asleep, and Victor held his little family close. There were so many dangers waiting outside of those doors, he thought. The people in Septa who didn’t want a ruling queen, much less one with a Montelarian husband. A bitter Montelair, full of men furious at how the war had ended, hung over their heads as well.

“Other das just have to worry about scraped knees and boys,” he whispered. He looked up at Tabitha, who sat nearby. “These girls have inherited all of our enemies.”

Tabitha gave him a sleepy grin. “Good thing they’ve inherited all of your friends, too,” she said.

Lorna wiped tears from her face. For the first time ever, Victor felt close to the cold woman. “You should take Eleanor out to see her people,” she said.

“Just her?” Victor asked, “Won’t the people want to see both of them?”

“She is the heir. She will always be the people’s first priority,” Lorna said.

“She’s sure to curse us for that one day,” Victor said. Never the less, he took his daughter with care, and carried her to the balcony attached to the birthing chamber to see her people.

If you enjoyed this, please don’t forget to pick up your copy of Starting Chains on September 8th. And, of course, you can get Broken Patterns, Book One, right here.

Deciding to cut back

Once upon a time, I wrote a series called Woven. I wrote the first book, Broken Patterns, and started trying to sell it.

Then, I wrote the second book, Starting Chains, which sat at my desk for a while because I hadn’t sold Broken Patterns yet.

I was really irritated while I was waiting for a publisher to buy Broken Patterns. I am not good at waiting and wanted some (sort of) instant gratification. I had also found that several other writers did serialize stories on their blogs.

So I decided to write one.

What came out of that was Station 86.

It was supposed to be a quick thing. I intended to write each episode by itself, like a short story.

As you might be aware, that’s not how that worked.

Station 86 has blossomed into a whole series. I cannot write anything episodically, even if that’s how I post it. I have to write the whole story at once.

There are very few problems with this. I’ve been blessed with not only one series that I love to write, but two.

The only problem is me.

I want to do too many things at once. For a long time, longer than I want to admit, I was working on both series at the same time. I was, most days, writing ten pages of a rough draft, then turning around and typing out three to five pages on a second draft.

This was freaking crazy!

It was getting to the point where I was more concerned with getting the writing done than doing it. I was always down on myself because I always felt like I was behind.

Worse, the writing wasn’t fun anymore.

So, I’ve slowed down. I’m making myself only work on one project at a time.

It might mean that some projects come out later than I was hoping, but not by much. To be honest, now that I’m just working on one project, I can get more done in a day than I used to.

It also means that I’m not rushing anymore. I’m enjoying the process, and I think the writing’s better because of it.

I hope you think so, too.

A writers curriculum

I didn’t go to college for writing. I didn’t go to college at all, in fact. I took Journalism in high school, for four years, and of course, I had English classes every year.

But I’ve never taken a single Creative Writing class. Everything I’ve learned about writing, I’ve learned in one simple way.

I picked up a book, and I read it.

This isn’t a poor way to learn. In fact, it’s served me quite well.

Today, I want to share with you the books I feel have best served my writing education, plus a list that I intend to read in the next year. I’ve talked about some of these before, but I’ve never put them all out in a serious list. Many of them you might have read already. But if you haven’t, and you’re looking to grow as a writer, I’d suggest reading them.

And if you’re a writer, you should always be looking to grow.

Danse Macabre, Stephen King

On Writing, Stephen King

Wild Mind, Natalie Goldberg

Thunder and Lighting, Natalie Goldberg

*Writing Down The Bones, Natalie Goldberg

Some Writers Deserve To Starve, Elaura Niles

Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Mya Angelou

There are other books that I think you should read, but it’s harder to narrow those down. I would advise reading the classics of your genre. I read Bradbury, Tolkien, King, Sanderson, McCaffrey, Pierce. I’ve read Beowulf, of course.

But I also suggest reading bad books in your genre. This isn’t just me, Stephen King suggests the same thing in On Writing.

I won’t name any names here, even though I’d like to, but I have learned a lot about what not to do by reading bad books.

I want to hear what you think, though! What book has taught you the most about writing? Let us know in the comments below!

My mystery writer friend is doing all sorts of cool things!

Hey, guys. my friend, Debbie De Louise, is doing all sorts of cool stuff over the next few weeks! I’ll let her tell you all about it below.

Don’t miss my free offer for my historical paranormal romance, The Seashell and the Stone. Free only on Friday, August 18. myBook.to/Seashell

debbiesauthortalk81817After breakfast, Virginia changed into a sundress, donned her wide-brimmed straw hat, and chose one of her prettiest parasols for the stroll on the Boardwalk with Mr. Granger. When he met her downstairs, he still wore the same clothes but had added a beige cap that Virginia found quite stylish.

Miss Vance, that outfit certainly becomes you. I hope you do not mind that I tend to some business matters during our visit to the beach.”
Virginia decided to play the role of a coy young woman as she batted her eyelashes and replied, “Not at all, Mr. Granger, as long as you spend a little time with me.”

He smiled, obviously happy with her comment. “Shall we, then?” He stopped as he reached the inn’s doors. “Does your father allow you to walk down to the beach alone with gentlemen?

Virginia’s laugh was not part of her act. She genuinely thought the statement funny. “Of course, Mr. Granger. I’m nineteen, an old maid by some standards.”
“If you’re an old maid, I must be an ancient relic at twenty-three.” He held the door open for her to pass.

On Tuesday, August 22nd, my romance, Saving Snow White, and my mystery, Dying for a Vacation, will be released for only 99 cents each.

When Amy comes home from veterinary school for the summer, she is reunited with her best friend, Tom. When she learns he has a girlfriend who is totally unsuited to him, she wonders if she has let her chance go by.

Detective Donald Jackson is preparing for a long-awaited vacation, but first, he must solve the case of a murdered librarian at the Flower Hill Public Library.

Here’s an excerpt from Dying for a Vacation: The FHPL was one of the last holdouts of the New Hampshire library system to retain an un-automated system of checking library holdings.  I didn’t care much for the OPAC’s of the larger libraries, anyway, with their computer databases that always seemed to freeze when I was looking for the next book in Lilian Jackson Braun’s “Cat Who” series.  Braun is my favorite mystery author.  Like her character, Jim Qwilleran, I have a handlebar mustache that’s pretty sensitive, although it doesn’t help me solve crimes.  I love cats, too, but I only have one and it isn’t Siamese.   Tinky is just a stray Emily brought to my house one day about five years ago.  One of her daughters from her second marriage was allergic to it, so she thought I might like it to keep me company.  She knew I liked cats, although we didn’t have any when we were married.  No kids either.  All the time I spent on cases back in Boston probably made a girl her age pretty lonely.

Last, but not least, please join me and my fellow Solstice authors at Solstice Publishing’s Eclipse Facebook Party for giveaways, prizes, Q & A’s, and a scavenger hunt. This will take place on Friday, August 18 at https://www.facebook.com/events/453215681732436/.

If you are in the Long Island area on that day, please also join me at the Hicksville Library for my author talk at 1:30 p.m.



Do you have a social media addiction?

I don’t like social media.

Let me be clear. I like that it exists because I think it keeps us all connected in a way that I couldn’t have imagined as a kid. I love how it makes me a part of the world’s community, not just my local community. I enjoy meeting new people online and have made some great friends who I’ve never met face to face. I love sharing my work with people worldwide, and I like how easy social media makes sharing.

I’ll go a step further. I love how platforms like Youtube have made celebrities out of everyday people. Matt Santoro, Rob Dyke, Jenna Marbles, I love the work these people are creating. I love how free their lives are.

What I don’t like is scrolling through Facebook and Twitter. It bores me, that’s it. For every picture of a friend’s baby, there are seven passive aggressive tweets. For every announcement that an indie author friend is launching a new book, I’ve got to wade through nine posts from people I went to high school with and have since gotten really concerned about preventing interracial marriage.

So I don’t much like social media. I pretty much stick to my own little corners of the internet, my Facebook writing groups and such. I really have to force myself to do anything else.

I understand that not all of you reading this feel that way. Some of you reading this really like social media.

More power to you.

Some of you reading this, though, may have a problem with social media.

The kind of problem that needs to be addressed.

But it can be hard to tell! How do you know if you have a problem with social media? I hesitate to call it an addiction, but it’s pretty damn similar. If you think you might have a problem, here are some things to consider.

Time doesn’t matter as much as you think.

You can’t measure an addiction by how much time you spend doing it, or how much you do at a time. I drink a lot of nights, but I’m not an alcoholic. I know I’m not, for the reasons we’ll get into below.

So you can’t say, “Oh, I only spend a half an hour on Facebook, it’s not a problem.” You also can’t say, “I spend hours on Facebook, clearly I have a problem!”

All that being said, there’s a good chance you don’t know how much time you’re actually spending on social media.

Lots of time management specialist suggest tracking your time for many different reasons. I’m going to suggest you do the same, but pay special attention to how much time you spend on social media. You should be able to find an app to help you track it.

I suggest you do this for at least a week because one day will probably not give you a fair view of your habits.

Are you neglecting your obligations?

Once you’ve tracked how you spend your time, you can start seeing patterns.

On the day that you didn’t get anything done on your to do list, did you spend a lot of time on Twitter?

When you should have been studying, were you scrolling through Instagram?

When you promised yourself you’d write, did you lose hours to Facebook instead?

Have you ever been late for work, or caught on your smart device at work when you’re supposed to be working?

Don’t forget, an obligation to yourself is still an obligation.

Is it making you do or say things you wouldn’t normally?

Confession time: Once upon a time, before I had PBW, during the roughly eight years I spent not writing, I used to be on Facebook a lot.

And I had a bad habit of getting into fights on Facebook. You see, I have this problem; I can’t shut up when I think someone’s being cruel. I can’t help but start fights. I once got into a serious argument over whether schools should teach cursive writing. Like, viciously insulting another grown ass adult over it. (If you’re wondering, I’m against it. I think that literally everything else we learn in school, including PE, is more important. Cursive’s pretty, teach it as an art form. That’s what it is, anyway.)

It shouldn’t surprise you that I’m a pretty calm, level headed person in real life. I’ve worked my whole adult life in customer service, so I’m pretty good at keeping my temper in check. And I have enough self-respect to argue like an adult, keeping to facts and avoiding vulgar language when I’m trying to make a point. (Not so much if you’ve just cut me off and I feel that my life was in danger. Or, you know, if I drop a coffee filter on the floor.)

The point is, I found that when I was arguing online, I wasn’t the same person I normally am. I wasn’t someone I liked, either.

How do you feel when you’re done?

When I was prone to arguing online, normally on Facebook, it was also wrecking my day offline. I’d get so damn pissed about whatever fight I was having with whatever stranger, and that anger would stay with me.

How do you feel when you’re done on social media. Do you feel good, like you’ve caught up with your friends and family? Do you, like me, feel like you got something good accomplished?

Do you have any good feeling afterward?

If not, maybe you need to ask yourself what the hell you were wasting your time on.

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