What I would rather have than money

I’m a pretty big fan of Garfield. Probably no surprise, there. It’s about a fat orange cat who eats constantly and has no ambition to do anything. And I love anything that’s so different from me. This is the same reason why I love Bender from Futurama or Lucy from Disenchanted. I am not them. They are as far from my personality as it is possible to be.

Of course, they also have moments I do wish I could imitate. I sort of wish I could tell someone where to go like Bender. I would love to be a bad influence like Lucy, just once in a while. And I swear I go on vacation just to act like Garfield. Carb load, sleep all day and watch tv with my blanket and stuffed bear.

Now, I told you all that so we could have a talk about one of the simplest and best pieces of advice about money I have ever learned. Because it didn’t come from Dave Ramsey or Gabbi Dunn. It’s from this one old Garfield comic strip. If you’d like to read it for yourself, it’s the strip from November 23, 1988. (I’m not sure if I can repost it without permission.)

Jon comes in with a hat he’s just bought, and it is an ugly ass hat. And Garfield says, “It’s amazing what some people would rather have than money.”

I have spent a long time thinking about that one sentence. It speaks volumes to the relationship we have with money. (It’s a weird relationship, to be sure. Ask someone about their sex life and their finances, and I bet they talk to you about their sex life.)

To start with, I need to explain that when I was growing up, money meant one thing to me. This was how much we had to spend. My mom would pay the bills, buy groceries, and whatever was left was fun money. There was no talk of savings. My mom did not sit me down and talk about healthy financial decisions. There was sure no talk of maybe setting up an emergency fund and investing. My mother was a waitress, and a good one. So, it felt like we always had money on hand. As a child, I never once worried that we wouldn’t have enough money. I also never went to a store that I didn’t get something new.

I don’t say any of this to bash my mother. More to explain why, when I moved out, I had no idea what I was doing with money. And let’s be fair, most people behave with money exactly how my mom behaved. And I never felt like we were poor. My mom did exhibit some great money habits that I have tried to copy.

Always pay your bills first, and always make sure you have your basic needs met. Our power never got shut off, and we never missed a meal.

But what I didn’t learn, and am still trying to get a grip on, is the value of having money, not just earning money. Saving money, not spending money.

Saving money means that I can afford an emergency. Saving an emergency fund means that any number of bad situations can turn out better. Being able to get an Uber, or order pizza when the stove breaks, or replace something when it breaks. Being prepared for an unexpected bill or a prescription that I didn’t know was going up. Even a doctor’s appointment that I have a co-pay for. If my computer breaks, I can afford to go get a new one from my emergency fund.

That’s what saving money is. Saving money, having it when you need it, that’s security. And I like that every growing feeling of security. I’ve also found out that I just like money. I like earning money, I like having money, I like talking about money.

And there are absolutely things that I would rather not have. I would way rather have the money than clothes, for instance. I’d rather have the money than an expensive car, or really any car at all. I’d rather have the money than jewelry, or expensive perfume, or a bigger tv, or a newer computer. I’d rather have money than most things people spend money on.

Having money also means things I haven’t reached yet, but I’m working towards. Having money means investing in my retirement. It means having a ‘fuck off’ fund. So named because it’s in case you need to tell your boss or your landlord to fuck off. If you don’t know what that is, it’s enough money to pay your expenses if you need to leave your current situation. If you need to quit your job or move. Or if you lose your job. This is money that you can spend and know that you’ll be okay for three to six months, ideally. That’s what it means to have money, not just make money. It’s a goal I’m working towards this year. Slowly, I don’t make all that much money.

So that’s what it means to me to have money. It means security. But then, there are things that I spend money on that have nothing to do with either my bills or my basic needs. There are things that I would much rather have than money.

Tools for my art, like my specific pens that I like. Or a decent camera to take decent pictures. Or yarn to crochet with. Or books to read. Even makeup can fall into this category. I love creating, it makes life worth living for me. Those things have value for me.

My pets are another thing that costs me money. All. The. Time. I buy them brand name food, Christmas gifts, Halloween costumes and treats just because. I am willing to spend more on my rent to have them. I paid money to adopt them and paid money to get Oliver, my dog, fixed. To have my fuzzy companions, I always consider that money well spent.

Peace of mind is also something I am happy to say I would rather have than money. Literally twice I have paid to get a new bank card rather than lose my mind looking for the one I’d lost. Same thing for the charger for my fit bit. I decided that the price of the new item was worth more to me than money. And I’ve rarely felt that was the wrong decision. There are also a whole bunch of nights when I’ll order out or pick up dinner instead of cooking. Not most nights. Most nights it’s actually quite soothing to come home and create a hot, tasty meal. There’s holiness in cooking a meal for yourself and people you love. There’s magic as well. Cooking a meal from scratch is like a spell and a prayer intertwined.

I still just can’t do it some nights. I have a finite amount of energy, just like everyone else. And if I’ve started my morning with at least an hour of writing, gone to work at my full-time day job and hit the gym after work, then I feel like I’ve done enough for the day. Let’s grab something simple and enjoy the evening. Let’s have enough energy to pick up my home and feel the blessing in that. Let’s take some of the pressure off.

Experiences are the final thing I would absolutely rather have than money. Just recently we went to Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh and saw some truly gorgeous plants. Then we went to the Strip District and bought tea, cheese and spices. Beautiful things that will give us moments of pleasure. An exotic meal or a good cup of tea in the afternoon. I also love going to the zoo, going camping, traveling as far as we can. We’ve been to DC, the beaches of Delaware. I treasure these experiences.

Even little experiences are worth more to me than money, though. There’s this little candy store that just opened on Main Street, and I can’t wait to check it out. I love the experience of going to the coffee shop and just taking in the atmosphere. That’s something I’d rather have than money.

Another thing I’d rather have than money is a life dedicated to my art. That means saying no to opportunities to make more money because it takes away from my writing time. Saying no to that sort of thing also means I’m in a better place, mentally and emotionally. I like my job but I’m an introvert. Spending time with other people, even the exceptional team I work with tires me. Work is like a marathon. I can run a while, but eventually, I’m going to have to stop and rest.

And my health, more than anything, is something I’d rather have than money.

Now it’s your turn. What would you rather have than money? What would you rather have money than? Let us know in the comments below.

Station 86 is shocked when a Khloe assassin begins killing members of the all powerful 51fxP9XGG+L._SY346_council. Officer Sennett Montgomery and Councilman Godfrey Anders swear to find the assassin after Godfrey’s wife is falsely accused. But the killer, and the council itself, are not what they seem. Neither, as it turns out, is Sennett’s daughter.

Download it now for free

Station Central, Episode Three

Are you behind? Catch up now. Episode One, Episode Two


Godfrey followed Akiko to a glass building not far from the loading docks. He glanced between her and Gene, wondering how far he’d get if he decided to run. He didn’t think it would be far enough. And he wouldn’t have put it past this woman to know just where Sennett and the others were, and detain them if he tried.

“Have you ever been to Station Central before, Councilman?” Akiko asked.

“No,” Godfrey said, as they walked past the front desk. The building’s main purpose seemed to be a tourist information center. The walls flashed with event information and activities. There was, according to the advertisements, levels for shopping, dining, museums. There was even a beach themed level, and an amusement park on the top floor.

“You should try Punchello’s for dinner one night, it’s my favorite,” she said. “My treat, I insist. Just tell them you’re there as my guest.”

They wove through the crowd of people milling around, looking at displays and taking pictures, until they reached a quieter hallway. There, Godfrey saw doors with the names of what he assumed must have been other council members. Akiko led him right to the end of the hall, to a door with her own name. She entered, letting the two men in.

Inside, Godfrey saw a white, high polished chrome desk. The floor was a simple tile, and the walls displayed posters of classic movies and plays.

“Please take a seat,” Akiko said, gesturing to two padded chairs on one side of her desk. She settled herself on a backless chair on the other side.

Godfrey sat, Gene settling in next to him. “So,” Akiko tilted her head. “Station 86 sure has been through a lot, hasn’t it? First, eleven of the twelve council members are assassinated. Then, you had that problem with the AI dogs. Then there was that botched election issue. I understand your friend was off planet at the time, and she was nearly killed by a lose virus on Station 16?” Akiko shook her head. “Poor man, no wonder you wanted a vacation. I’m so sorry to spoil your first day here with this.”

“That’s not my concern, Councilwoman,” he said, leaning forward to rest his elbows on his knees. “My concern is that I’m not a councilman anymore. I’m a private citizen. As I’ve already told you, Station 86 decided to change how we’re governed. We held a free election, and we chose two Marshals to lead us, one from each political party.”

“Yes, but the problem with that is that elections aren’t legal on the stations,” Akiko said. “You’re the remaining Councilman, so you’re fully within your right to claim these two people as fellow council members. But a marshal is not an official title.”

“If you’d had an auditor at the time, they certainly would have told you that,” Gene said. “But I understand that you lost your last auditor. He was on the ship with Councilwoman Thorn?”

“Yes,” Godfrey said, “but I don’t understand how you people think you’ve got any kind of right to tell Station 86 what we’re going to do with our people. We decided that we wanted to be governed differently. Why should that be any of your business?”

Akiko folded her hands on her desk. “Because with Earth silent, my council and I are now the political center for all of the stations. Therefore, it’s my job to assign a new auditor to Station 86. Gene here will go back with you when you go home.”

“It sounds like we’ve got a lot of work to do together, with eight council seats empty,” Gene said.

“Nine,” Godfrey said. “I am not a council member.”

“Mmm, sorry,” Gene said, “but a council member can’t resign with empty seats. You’ve got to stay until all twelve are full. It’s down in the constitution you agreed to when you became a station citizen.”

“And in the oath you agreed to when you became a council member,” Akiko said, nodding. “I’m afraid you’re stuck until the council’s full again.

“But, please don’t let that darken your vacation. Relax, have fun with your friends. We can worry about all this when it’s time for you to go home.”

“Alright,” Godfrey muttered. “Since I’m stuck as a councilman, I might as well act like one. What are you planning for the Hollow Suits?”

Akiko and Gene tensed. “I think that would be a matter best discussed later, when you haven’t just arrived” Akiko said. “In fact, I wonder if I could ask you a favor regarding that. We haven’t publicly spoken about the Hollow Suits yet. Would you mind not mentioning it?”

“Why haven’t you told the people who live here?” Godfrey asked.

“Because we’re trying not to start a panic,” Akiko chuckled. “We’re handling it, even as we speak. There’s no reason to worry the people on the station. Especially since they, like yourself, are on vacation.”

“But if these Hollows get on the station-,” Godfrey said, but was interrupted by a knock on the office door.

“I’m so sorry,” Akiko said, rising gracefully. She went to the door, and admitted a young man in a bright blue suit.

“Jeremy, what can I do for you?” she asked.

“Sorry, Councilwoman, but I thought you should see what Commander Tanner just sent to everyone on the station,” the young man said.

Godfrey remembered his wrist pad buzzing as Akiko had led him away. He looked down now, and played it. Gene did the same.

All citizens and visitors of Station Central, please be advised that known terrorist Jason Whitehall has escaped from police protection and is thought to be somewhere on the station. If you spot him, please contact authorities imminently. Whitehall is thought to be armed with illegal weaponry, and is suspected in the murder of May Conner.

Gene was looking at his own wrist pad, his other hand over his mouth.

“Um, wow,” Godfrey said. “What’s this all about? I thought your council didn’t want to cause a panic.”

“Tanner is not a council member,” Akiko snapped.

She turned, flashing her smile again. “I’ve kept you from your friends long enough. Forgive my interruption.”

She opened the door wider, and gave Godfrey a gentle inclination of her head. “Have a good day, Councilman.”

Godfrey realized that he wasn’t going to get anything further from the situation. His long trip was also catching up with him. He stood, and said, “Thank you, Councilwoman. I suppose I’ll be seeing you soon, Gene.”

“Yeah, of course,” Gene said, but he wasn’t looking up. He was looking at his wrist pad still, his brows furrowed.

Want to start at the beginning? Download Seeming, Book one of Station 86. By the way, it’s free.

Copyright © 2019 Nicole C. Luttrell

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.


Networking with other writers (outside of a con)

At some point, I think we writers need to just stop saying that writing is a solitary profession. It’s just not true anymore if it really ever was. Yes, you write your book alone. Yes, you succeed or fail all on your own.

But we’re not alone. Feel free to play You Will Be Found from the Dear Evan Hansen soundtrack. That’s where I’m going with this.

Writers are generous with each other. We want to reach back and help the people farther back on the path than us. I know I feel that way. Why do you think I still write about writing here? I’m always learning new things, and I want to share those things with all of you.

Networking with other writers is important. I know it can be hard, especially for introverts like me. It’s even harder when you can’t attend cons regularly. Or, you know, at all.

Fortunately, the internet is here to help us. I’ve found networking with other authors online to be fun, easy and really freaking helpful. Here are eight effective ways to network with other authors.


Yes, I know that Twitter can be toxic. But it can also be pretty awesome if you know how to use it right. (Step one of using Twitter right is turning off DMs. Just saying.) That aside, I love Twitter.

Every Thursday and Friday some other Solstice writers and I do a thing called #twitterstories. We all write little Twitter stories based on the same picture.

I also follow a lot of the literary agents and editors I want to submit to. Funny thing, agents and editors are often pretty darn entertaining to follow. They also give good advice for submitting not only to them but to other agents as well.

It’s also fun to follow other writers in your genre, just to see what they’re up to. Maybe someone just found a really cool new site to make ads on. Maybe someone wants to do a collaboration. Maybe someone just needs a hand promoting and you’ve got that hand to offer.

Bookstagram and other Instagram hashtags

I love talking to people on Instagram. The hashtags don’t work quite the same way as other platforms. Or maybe they do and I’m just not using hashtags right on other social media platforms. Who knows.

Anyway, when you look for the #bookstagram on Instagram, it’s like opening a doorway to a whole group of people who really freaking love books! They love reading books, talking about books. They love taking really beautiful pictures of books. They love everything about books, and I love just dwelling among them. And these pictures, you guys. Some of these photographers are freaking talented!


I’m still working my way toward using the KDP forum, but I understand it’s a place I need to be. There are so many people out there with answers to the questions I’m sure you have. Because we all have questions about writing. (I’m trying to figure out if it’s skeevy to use Amazon reviews in promotions. Does anyone know? I mean, I’ve seen other authors do this, but I don’t know if they asked permission. How do I do this thing?!)

Blogs, podcasts, and newsletters

You know, like the one you’re reading right now. Reading other author’s blogs, listening to their podcasts and reading their newsletters are great ways to connect with them. Having your own author blog, podcast or newsletter is a great way to get connected with. While I do listen to a good amount of podcasts, I honestly don’t read as many bloggers as I should. So, if you know of any blogs about writing or reading that I’m missing out on, feel free to leave a link in the comments. Even if they’re your own.

Facebook groups

I belong to a bunch of different writing and promotion groups on Facebook, but to be honest I really only pay attention to two. I’ve found that when it comes to Facebook groups, more is less. The thing about groups is that you’re going to get out of them what you put in. I belong to my publisher’s Facebook group and the Science Fantasy group that I moderate. I am active in both of these groups, talking about marketing stuff and looking for people who want to work together. Some people like to belong to groups that work on stories together. Some people like book swaps. Whatever you want to get out of the groups, there’s probably one for you.

Talking to people

I’m pretty sure I did a whole blog post about this once. But quite frankly, it bears repeating. It bears repeating because it’s something that as a socially anxious person I hate, hate, talking to people face to face. I hate feeling like I’m inconveniencing them or bragging. I have this overwhelming fear that I’m going to tell someone “I’m a writer,” and they’re going to smile and nod. They’re going to smile and nod and think that I’m a poser. One of those people who throws up unedited garbage on Amazon because literally, anyone can do that.

Turns out, no one has ever thought that. I’ve made an effort to tell people I’m a writer. And I’ve met some awesome people this way. I’ve met people who can help me, people who I can help. People who want to tell me stories. People who want to hear my stories.

I talked to the manager of my local book store, and she got me in touch with other writers. I talked to the people at my day job, and it turns out that some of them are writers too. I talk to everyone I can about it, and I feel like a writer.

So, what do you think? How do you network outside of a con? Let us know in the comments below.

Station 86 is shocked when a Khloe assassin begins killing members of the all powerful Station 86 Volume Onecouncil. Officer Sennett Montgomery and Councilman Godfrey Anders swear to find the assassin after Godfrey’s wife is falsely accused. But the killer, and the council itself, are not what they seem. Neither, as it turns out, is Sennett’s daughter.

Get Seeming now, right here, for free.

Beginning and ending rituals

I want to talk about beginnings and endings today. No, I don’t mean like big things, like weddings, divorces or death. It’s Monday after all, and too early besides.

I’m talking about events like starting or finishing a big project. I’m talking about setting an intentional goal or planning a life change like finding a new job, starting school or moving somewhere new.

For me, the most common beginning I see is the start of a new draft. This may seem like a small thing, given how many books I write. But it’s not. A new draft means months of work dedicated to one project with one goal. And I get emotional over these sorts of things. Beginnings and endings trigger emotional needs that I don’t really like to ignore.

Maybe this is not a season in your life that will include a major change. Most seasons don’t. And maybe you’re not a writer, always going through different drafts in different made-up worlds. But I bet there is a beginning or ending in your life all the same. Maybe it’s a big project at work. Maybe you want to clear out your garage, start your garden or finally Kona Marie your house. Maybe you’re making a big change to your eating habits or starting a new exercise routine. Any of these things can require a ceremony of beginning. And when you finish, they require a ceremony of ending as well.

Today, I’d like to share with you the parts of my staring and ending ceremonies. These have evolved over time through trial and error, and I expect that they will continue to evolve.

Your starting and ending ceremonies might look very different than mine. But there are certain aspects that I do advise for everyone. For each, it’s a three-step process.

Starting ceremonies

Preparing yourself for the project

This is probably the most practical part of this process. Whatever my new project is, I need to make a plan. I need to know what my end goal is, what steps I’m going to have to take, and how much time this is going to take. I map out time in my planner and make a plan of action in my bullet journal.

Cleansing your space

I mean this is two different ways. First, I mean that I’m going to get the whole house picked up and do any little chores that have been bugging me. For reasons I will never understand, I do not give a damn about the condition of my ceiling fans until I’m trying to start a new project. But I also cleanse the space in a more spiritual sense.

I light a candle. If it’s warm enough I open the windows to clear out all negative energy. I will full on do a Chakra cleansing meditation. This is especially important if your new project is at all creative. And let’s be fair, most things require at least some creative energy.

Have a tradition

Finally, once my plan is set and my space is in order mentally and physically, it’s time to begin. I have a special tradition that I do right before I start on a new project.

I make a cup of tea, but it’s not just any cup. I get this tea that is brewed from a flower. The flower blooms in hot water. So I pour in the hot water, and I watch the flower bloom. It’s a ceremony, a meditation.

As I drink the tea, I pray for help. Help in whatever it is I’m about to get started on. I pray for strength, for insight. I pray for inspiration, most of all.

If you’re not a faithful person, that’s fine. If you don’t like tea, that’s fine too. Your tradition might be to go to a specific coffee shop and order a specific drink. You might read a specific book, or do a facial, or clean off your desk. What you do is not important, it’s just the tradition of the thing. It’s just getting yourself into the mindset of beginning.

Ending ceremonies


When we reach a goal, even a little one, we should celebrate it. We should have some sort of reward to look forward to.

I know that many of the things we work on have their own reward built in. For instance, I’m working on the second draft of a new novel right now. When it’s done, I will have the reward of knowing I’ve finished the second draft of my fifth novel. And that’s freaking awesome! But I’m also going to go out to a coffee shop and sip a fancy expensive coffee and have a pastry.

That’s just this goal, though. I’m also going to go to the Zoo in May to celebrate the end of Camp Nanowrimo. Sometimes I have a celebratory soda, or I bake something. It can be anything, so long as it’s something that makes me happy.

Let go

The next thing I do is put this project, whatever it is, away. I try to get as much distance as possible. If it’s a writing project, I will put the draft away in a box with no intention of looking at it for a while. Then, I take three days off from writing before I start another project.

Finally, I say a prayer of thanks. I started this project by asking for help. No part of me thinks I didn’t get that help. So now is when I say thank you.

Move forward

Finally, I never sit on my laurels. If I’ve reached one goal and properly rewarded myself, then it’s time for me to make another goal. And so the process starts all over again.

So what do you think? What rituals or customs do you observe at the start or finish of a project? Let us know in the comments below.

Station 86 is shocked when a Khloe assassin begins killing members of the all powerful council. Officer Sennett Montgomery and Councilman Godfrey Anders swear to find the assassin after Godfrey’s wife is falsely accused. But the killer, and the council itself, are not what they seem. Neither, as it turns out, is Sennett’s daughter.

Download for free now.

Station Central, Episode Two

Missed Episode one? Get caught up now.


Sennett had rarely traveled off station with April. In fact, she’d very rarely traveled off station at all in her life. And after her experience traveling to Station Central, she doubted that she ever would again. April was miserable. She didn’t want to sleep, didn’t want to read or watch anything on her tiny wrist pad, the virtual screen almost everyone wore. She complained that her seeming cuffs, which made her look like a full Earthian child, irritated her. She was deprived of her normal routine. She fussed with Bailey. She pestered Sennett and Mason to go to the bathroom, go down to see the dining room and little on board shop. She wanted to do anything but sit still in her seat, which is really all Sennett wanted from her.

“Mommy, my wrists hurt again,” she whined, rubbing at the purple cuff with bunnies. “Why do I have to wear this?”

Sennett sighed. It had seemed like a simple decision, making April wear her seeming bracelet that hid her actual image while they were off Station 86. While it was no longer a secret that she was half Khloe, half Earthian, she didn’t feel like April needed that kind of attention while they were on vacation. It was hard, though, seeing her true face hidden. She looked so much like Lo without her seeming.

“Please don’t mess with it,” Sennett sighed. She rummaged around in her bag. “I have some lotion here, just hold on.”

“Attention, Passengers,” a pleasant voice floated over the sound system. “We will be arriving at Station Central in ten minutes. Please take this time to scan your area and be sure that all your personal belongings are accounted for. Your luggage will be sent separately to the hotel you registered with at the start of your flight. Thank you for flying with Station Direct, have a wonderful day.”

“Come on, let’s get your stuff together,” Sennett said. She looked into the travel bag she’d stuffed Bailey into, checking on him. He wagged his tail pleasantly.

Liam stood up, stretching out. “Been awhile since I flew commercial. I didn’t miss it.”

“No kidding,” Godfrey muttered.

They all headed down the aisle, and towards the exit of the ship. Sennett kept hold of April’s hand, as the crowd moved slowly onto the loading bay.

“No one go wandering off once we get out of here,” Liam said. “I ain’t been to Station Central in a while, but the last time I was here it was crowded as hell.”

“We get crowds on Station 86 too, you know,” Mason replied.

Liam shook his head. “Not like this, you don’t.”

Sennett was inclined to scoff at him, as they joined the line for the door. But as they headed out into the main level, she saw what he meant.

People were packed into the level, shoulder to shoulder. They were shouting to be heard by people standing right next to them. Children were whining and crying. Thousands of screens, from wrist pads to large ones mounted on food and shopping stalls were flashing and crackling their audio.

“It’s too loud,” April said, putting her hands over her ears.

“Come here,” Sennett replied, picking April up and putting her on her hip. She looked around, marveling at how bright it was. The ceiling was blue, with strange white things floating across it. Every stall had, in addition to their mounted screens, a bright flashing marquee to display their wares above the heads of the crowd.

“What are those things?” Mason asked, looking straight up at the ceiling.

“They’re clouds,” Godfrey chuckled, looking up as well. “That looks like the sky on Earth. I’ll be damned.”

“Let’s not gawk, boys,” Sennett said. “Come on, I want to check in to the hotel and get something to eat.”

“Me too. I’ve never needed a cup of Klav more in my life,” Liam muttered.

The crowd was so thick that they were having trouble moving through it. Sennett tried to lead the way, and found that she had to almost shove some of the people to get them to move.

“It’s weird,” Mason said, “I’m used to seeing a little more diversity in a crowd, aren’t you guys?”

Sennett looked around. He was right, she saw very few Khloe, Ma’Sheed or Toth people around them.

“Not every station can be the station of First Contact,” Godfrey said.

“No,” Sennett said, “guess not.”

Then she noticed someone in a black uniform. The patch on the woman’s arm was familiar, but she couldn’t remember why. It didn’t look like the Station Central symbol, a single star ringed by ninety-nine others.

“What symbol is that?” Sennett asked.

“Which one?” Godfrey replied.

“That one,” she said, looking back towards the soldier. But she was already lost in the crowd.

“Where did she go?” Sennett whispered.

“What’s wrong?” Godfrey asked.

“I think I’m seeing things,” she replied. “I thought I saw someone wearing the same uniform as the soldiers who came to clean house on Station 16.”

“What? Where?” he asked.

“No, don’t freak out,” she said. “I’m just, I guess I’m not as over that as I thought I was.”

Godfrey turned to her, giving her a searching look. Finally, he put his arm around her shoulder. “That’s what we’re here for, for you to finally get a chance to relax.”

“Yeah,” she said, glancing around them still.

April looked around them as well. “Someone’s calling for Mr. Godfrey,” she said.

“Can’t be,” Godfrey said. “I don’t know anyone here.”

But Sennett could hear someone calling, “Councilman Anders!” She turned, looking behind them.

“We should really keep moving,” Liam said, putting a hand on her arm.

“Wait,” Sennett said.

A man dressed in a well-cut suit was waiving at them. He was a large man, a bit paunchy, with pale skin and almond eyes. He wore a silver pin on his lapel, with a single star over an interconnected S and C.

“I think that man might know you, even if you don’t know him,” she said.

“That’s usually not good,” Godfrey muttered.

The man saw them stop, and hurried up to them. “Councilman Anders,” he said, adjusting his tie. “Good to finally meet you. I’m Gene Tao. One moment, please, my mother’s just catching up.”

“Sorry, but why do I want to talk to your mother?” Godfrey asked.

Gene looked confused. “Well, because she’s Akiko Tao, Chief councilwoman of Station Central. She’s sent you several messages.”

“Ah, now I remember,” Godfrey muttered.

“Godfrey, what’s going on?” Sennett asked.

Before he could answer, they were joined by Akiko Tao. She looked very much like her son, slightly heavy with thick, dark hair and pale skin. She was shorter, though, the top of her head reaching Sennett’s nose. Her makeup was immaculate, and she wore a gentle smile.

“Councilman,” she said, her voice deep and smooth. “It’s so good to finally meet you. If you’d told me you were going to visit Station Central, I would have sent a ship for you.”

“Councilwoman Tao,” Godfrey said, reaching to shake her hand. “I’m afraid you might be working under old information. I’m not a councilman anymore. Station 86 doesn’t have a council at all. That’s why I referred you to Marshal Joy Wheatly when you contacted me.”

Akiko’s smile never wavered. “Yes, I did receive that message. I expressed concern at the time, I believe.”

“You did, yes. However, I’m not in any position to speak to your concerns. If you have questions about Station 86, please feel free to contact one of our Marshals.”

“Perhaps,” she said, glancing around them, “this is a discussion that should be had in private, away from Station Central visitors. Would you join me in my office, please?”

“No, thank you,” Godfrey snapped.

“Please,” she laughed, taking his arm. “It seems clear to me that we have some things to discuss.”

“I think you need to let go of him now,” Liam said, stepping forward.

“I’m okay,” Godfrey said, pulling his arm away from her. “Fine, I’ll come talk to you.”

“Godfrey,” Sennett said.

“I’m fine,” he said, “It’s just a talk. I’ll meet you at the hotel.”

“Glad to meet you all,” Akiko said, before turning to leave. Gene and Godfrey followed, vanishing quickly into the crowd.

“What the hell is all that about?” Mason asked.

“I don’t know,” Sennett said.

“This ain’t good,” Liam said, looking down at his wrist com. “Sen, did you just get something?”

She looked down at her own pad. He was right, she’d received a security notification. She opened it.

There was a picture of a young man in a suit and tie, it looked like an employee photo. Underneath, the message read. All citizens and visitors of Station Central, please be advised that known terrorist Jason Whitehall has escaped from police protection and is thought to be somewhere on the station. If you spot him, please contact authorities imminently. Whitehall is thought to be armed with illegal weaponry, and is suspected in the murder of May Conner.

“We try to go on vacation. Godfrey’s grabbed by the local politicians and a terrorist is on the lose,” Mason muttered.

“Yeah,” Sennett said. “That sounds about normal.”

Copyright © 2019 by Nicole C. Luttrell

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.

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Get Seeming, book one of Station 86 for free, and start the story from the beginning.

Food, a personal essay

I want to talk a little bit today about food. I’ve been trying to eat better, and so I’ve been putting a lot of thought into the way I look at food.

And, here’s the thing, I love food. I have never been a part of, nor do I understand the whole food is fuel crowd. When I write my daily gratitude list, I have to remind myself that I can’t always just list something wonderful I ate that day. I mean, some days sure but not every day. My whole day can be made better just by knowing that I have a roast in the crock pot or that I get to go out to dinner.

It doesn’t have to be good, fancy food to make me happy either. It can be an egg salad sandwich. It doesn’t have to be fattening food. I get excited when sugar snap peas come back in season. I really like tofu.

Food is symbolic and tied to social cues. I’m an American, so there are certain activities that just require certain foods. A hot dog and a baseball game. Potato salad and a summer picnic. A cold beer on a hot night. Ice cream and wine after a breakup.

Food is a comfort, maybe too much for some of us. When I’m cold or stressed I want a bowl of homemade chili. I love something rich and savory, like stuffed grape leaves. Olives are a go to when I’m stressed, especially garlic stuffed olives.

Food takes us back to our pasts, places, and people. A warm tomato reminds me of my great grandma. She had a little garden in her backyard, and she’d grow tomatoes. Then she’d slice them and put them on bread with mayonnaise and pepper. She also used to make stuffed cabbage and stuffed peppers. The smell of tomato sauce brings me right back to her kitchen.

My other great grandma would buy boxes of cordial cherries every year for Christmas. Every time I have a box I’m twelve again, sitting in her living room on Christmas day with all of my extended family that I didn’t see any other time.

When I first moved out on my own, I made the same recipes my mother had always made, because I didn’t know anything else to cook. Spaghetti was big in our house. Hunt’s sauce with browned ground beef, garlic, and onion powder. She’d also make roasts in the crock pot that made the whole house smell like the best home to be going to. And while she didn’t make a ton from scratch, she always made mashed potatoes from real potatoes.

Even as children, we recognize this as love. There’s a reason you like your parent’s cooking more than anyone else. A meal made at home is love set on the table and eaten with a spoon.

When I was thirteen, I decided I wanted to upgrade our Thanksgiving meal. I wanted to show some of that love I’d been getting back to my family. The stakes were high, we’re all women and secretly competitive with each other. So I started making sweet potatoes from scratch. I skinned sweet potatoes, cut them up in little squares which are a bitch to do, and boiled them. Then I baked them with honey, cinnamon, and marshmallows on top. This has been a Thanksgiving staple ever since.

My experiment with cranberries didn’t go so well. First of all, they’re freaking hard to make. No one told me they were going to pop! So I had them merrily boiling on the stove when I start hearing this popping sound over and over. I go running in, and there the little red suckers are jumping out of the damn pot!

And after that, no one ate them. Everyone wanted the canned cranberry sauce because that’s what we’d always had. Win some, lose some.

For most of my childhood, my grandma would make a chocolate cake with peanut butter icing for birthdays. I don’t know how she made this icing. I think it’s just peanut butter and a ton of powdered sugar. But now that she lives so far away, I haven’t had this cake in years. Some things, I suppose, are left in the past. I do miss it, though.

Another thing my family makes is potato candy. I have no idea if it’s tied to our heritage or not. We’re Hungarian, and we sure never made Haluski. I have no idea how to make it, but I seek it out at every single festival I can find in town. But anyway, potato candy. Easy enough, you just take mashed potatoes and add powdered sugar until it forms a dough like consistency. If you’re going to make this, be advised, mashed potatoes literally melt when mixed with powdered sugar.

Simple recipes are the best. Butter cookies that only take three ingredients are a great way to bring a little bit of hygge into an otherwise cold and depressing day. A cup of hot coffee and some avocado toast makes me feel better about the morning.

Finally, as much as food ties me to my family and my past, it’s also evolved with me. All the way to the point where I’ve actually written a recipe that I couldn’t find anywhere else. I’ve started getting really experimental with food, recently. I made scotch eggs without burning down the house. I’ve even started growing some of my own herbs.

Food is a meditation, a prayer, a need, a hug. Food is a success and a reward. Food is fun, and the best form of self-care I can think of. Pure, good food is what every single one of us deserves.

Food is love shared on a plate. To that end, I’d love to share this recipe with all of you.

Curry Chicken Quinoa.


  • One chicken breast
  • One tablespoon canola or other vegetable oil.
  • One tablespoon chili oil
  • One cup Quinoa
  • Two cups chicken broth
  • One tablespoon curry
  • One teaspoon salt

Chop chicken breast into cubes.

Heat canola and chili oil in a high sided skillet. Add chicken and fry until cooked.

Carefully rinse the quinoa.

Add the chicken broth to the chicken. Then add the rinsed quinoa.

Add curry and salt

Boil for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring about every five minutes. The meal is ready when the liquid is all gone and the quinoa is fluffy and soft.

I’d love to talk about food with you. What’s the best memory you have of food from your childhood?

There’s a murderer on the station of First Contact. Detective Sennett and Godfrey, a chef ff9a8a_d364e70623f041a199d588b5124fcc3c-mv2from Earth, have to hunt down the killer when Godfrey’s wife is falsly accused.

Get it now for free.

An interview with Henry Anderson, author of Cape Misfortune

Hey, guys. Today I have an interview with author Henry Anderson. Please enjoy.

Tell us about your book.

The life of a sheriff’s deputy on a foggy Northwest Pacific coast is turned upside-down while investigating disappearances that may be supernatural in origin. It’s a fantasy adventure.

When did you realize that you were a writer?

I’ve always felt like a writer even during periods of my life when I wasn’t writing anything! I still have a story I wrote at the age of six my mother patiently typed for me. I wrote plays at university. Later I worked as a news reporter, so it’s always been part of my life. Having said all that, I didn’t feel like a writer-writer until my first book was published a couple of years ago.

Do you have any books coming out this year?

Cape Misfortune was released last week. I’m also writing a series of steampunk-inspired short stories which I hope to release as an anthology.


If readers are looking to connect with you, what’s the best way to do it?

My website henryandersonbooks.com has short stories, blogs and the latest news. I am also on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


What are you working on right now?

My next book. It’s in the very early stages so I’m researching, staring into the middle distance, and occasionally writing things in my notebook.


Tell us about submitting your book. What was that like for you?     

Sometimes submitting is like being on a desert island and throwing a message-in-Author Final 500 by 500a-bottle into the waves. You wait forlornly for a reply, with steadily diminishing hope. Other times, incredibly, a freak storm causes a bottle to float back! I’ve been lucky to find a publisher for my last two books.


What author would you say inspires you the most?

Laura Hillenbrand suffers from a disease called myalgic encephalomyelitis, as I do, but manages to write great books.

What was your first favourite book as a child?

The Weirdstone of Brisingamen by Alan Garner. It is an incredible fantasy that mixes real life, folklore and landscape. Douglas Adams’ “The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy” was full of never-ending comedy and inventiveness.

What advice would you give yourself if you could go back to when you first started writing?

Try and write every day. Be prepared to cut things that don’t work.


What would you consider the best thing you’ve ever done for your writing career?

Being a news reporter taught me to be concise. Also, not to use long words when short ones will do.


What would you consider the most fulfilling moment you’ve experienced as a writer?

My first book being published. Also, talking to people who have read my book. That always feels slightly unreal, but good.


What books would you suggest to anyone who wants to write?

I found “Poetry in the Making: A Handbook for Writing and Teaching” by the British poet Ted Hughes useful on poetry and writing generally.




Station Central, Episode One


Once upon a time, a company called Galitech launched a space station. They wanted to see if space habitation would be sustainable for everyday people. They also wanted to make money. So they created Station Central, the vacation destination in the stars.

It was far more successful than Galitech thought it would be. Millions of application were sent in to set up businesses. Everyone wanted to work there. Even the janitorial staff had more applicants than they could ever use. People wanted to live there. People who could afford it wanted to go there. A year before Station Central officially opened, there was already a five-year waiting list at every single hotel.

With its growing popularity came a desire to move out into space and away from the crowded plant.

Galitech was happy to oblige, but there were a few problems with their plan. The first hurdle was that the stations wouldn’t fall under any country’s jurisdiction. As such, there were no official laws. After much research and long boardroom conversations, a decision was made to give each station a council of twelve people who would govern. They created a set of laws that every station immigrant had to swear to. And they established a private army to help council members enforce the law if necessary.

The nations of Earth were less than comfortable with this arrangement. Somehow the thought of huge space stations full of people whose laws were being enforced by a private military concerned them.

To placate the nations, Galitech worked with them to establish the IHP, Interstellar Human Protection, to help keep order among the stations. Galitech created its army anyway but insisted that they were nothing more than private security.

The stations shared a unified money system, the same universal coin that had been used on Earth since 2087. They shared the laws agreed upon before they were launched. Each station had a council, a Galitech auditor and a team of IHP agents. Most stations created a police force. For the most part, it worked out.

There were some issues. Station 97 seemed to think child labor was alright until the IHP stepped in. And no one talked about Station 10, which was shut down without explanation. But for the most part, the stations were doing fine.

Then, the Hollow Suits attacked Earth. Hulking, walking battle armor suits, with nothing discernible behind opaque visors. They appeared on Earth without any demands and without warning. They didn’t seem to want anything, except to kill every human they could find. They were immune to electrical attacks, fire, and water. They couldn’t be starved, because no one could tell what they ate. No weapon on Earth could penetrate their armor. They couldn’t be spoken to, reasoned with, bribed, or distracted from their task. They were also aggressive against cats and dogs. No one could figure out why except perhaps to hurt us by killing our beloved pets.

Earth had no idea how to protect themselves from this attack There had been peace on Earth for a generation, most soldiers had never fired a weapon outside of training. The combined military forces of nations fell in months. The IHP hurried back to Earth, except for one team lead by Evelyn Greenwood.

The Galitech army was still waiting on Station 2. Waiting for an order to move out. There was just one person able to give that command, the Galitech CEO. She was dead on the floor of her board room, her eyes shoved into the back of her head. If the Earthians on the stations weren’t already the only ones left, they would be soon.

With the IHP gone, and Earth gone quiet, the stations looked to Station Central for leadership. There were the Hollow Suits to worry about, but there were also radical terrorists, murderers, and a thousand other things that could get out of hand on a space station.

The problem was, that was never what Station Central was intended to be. The leaders were vacation coordinators, not politicians.

But they still had to lead. No matter how distasteful the found what they felt had to be done to keep the stations safe.

Episode One


When we last left our heroes, they were once again recovering from disaster. Godfrey Anders had just stopped corrupt politician, Saul Mai, from stealing the election from Joy Wheatly. Part of Saul’s plot had involved allowing April, the daughter of Godfrey’s best friend Sennett, to be kidnapped by a genetic doctor named Cynthia Oswald. Both Saul and Dr. Oswald were shipped to Station 41, the prison station.

Unfortunately, in the midst of the most recent nightmare, Godfrey’s wife Ki decided that she needed to go to her home planet of Khloe to visit her family. In a message she left for him, she told him that she believed he was in love with Sennett, not her. Unable to stay in the home they built together anymore and worried about further attacks, Godfrey’s been crashing on Sennett’s couch ever since.

Sennett, meanwhile, has narrowly avoided death again. She saved Station 16, a disease research station, from a nanite that turned people into violent, rage monsters commonly called berserkers. She also managed to uncover the truth about the Hollow Suits and carried this information back Station 86. In the process, she was infected by the nanites. While she was given the cure, no one is sure how long it will last, or what the long term effects might be.

Godfrey was the first awake most mornings, due to his childhood on farm time. He woke, his blanket tangled around him. Soon, he knew, there would be four adults and one child vying for bathroom time. Wanting to take himself out of that equation he got up, taking a sweater and jeans with him.

In the bathroom, he shaved, then ran a comb through his mess of dark curls. His face, he thought, was looking haggard. The bags under his eyes were becoming more and more apparent. Sighing, he dabbed on a little concealer.

Just as he was starting to brush his teeth he heard a tiny knock on the door. “Hello?” April said. “I have to use the bathroom.”

“Hugug,” Godfrey called through a mouthful of toothpaste. He opened the door, admitting April and her AI dog, Bailey.

April was a striking child, with a mess of wild brown hair and bright pink skin that was her Khloe father’s legacy. Bailey had the body of a terrier, but with silky smooth metal skin. He wagged his tail when he saw Godfrey.

Godfrey headed for the kitchen, considering what he might make for breakfast. April had never had poached eggs before he’d moved in, and she seemed exceptionally pleased with them.

He went to the simulator, sighing. Before Earth had gone dark, he’d gotten regular shipments of fresh, real food, for his lunch booth. Now, he was regulated to simulating raw food and cooking it. But at least he could still do that, he reasoned.

Sennett’s adopted little brother, Mason stumbled into the kitchen just as Godfrey put a plate of eggs and sausage on the table. “You packed for Station Central?” he asked. “Sennett wants to leave right after April gets off school.”

“I know,” Mason replied. He was looking at the table screen while he picked up a sausage link and bit it in half. “I did it last night. I need to get over to the greenhouse and meet Jackie before we leave. And I’ll have to stop by my lab at school. One of the liver plants is stable enough to move, I think.”

Mason was twenty and looked every bit the college student he was. He was heavy, with dyed blond hair and enough tech to concern Godfrey most of the times. But even he had to admit, the young man was bright.

“You’re sure Jackie can be trusted in my greenhouse?” Godfrey asked, putting another plate on the table. “And with those organ growing plants?”

“Sure, she’s my assistant,” Mason shrugged. “You met her yourself, did your whole vetting thing before you agreed to let her around your precious plants. She’ll be fine.”

April and Bailey bounced in next. She was now dressed in a purple shirt and blue leggings. She settled into her chair, where Godfrey had just set a plate.

“Thank you, Mr. Godfrey,” she said, digging into her eggs.

“No problem, Little Bit,” he smiled. “Your mom up?”

“I’m here, but don’t make anything for me. I’m gonna just have klav,” Sennett said, walking briskly into the room. A tall woman with ebony skin, she had her thousands of braids pulled away from her face by a metal band. It was strange to see her dressed as she was, in a pair of jeans and a band t-shirt. She normally dressed in a suit, as a detective. Her brown eyes, flecked with gold, flashed across the faces at the table, before running a hand over her daughter’s head.

“I’ve got to head to the barracks and finish up some paperwork before we leave on vacation. And check in on Patty.”

“How is she doing as interim commissioner?” Godfrey asked.

“Hating every single second,” Sennett muttered. “But it’s just until Commissioner Schultz comes back from leave.”

The last person who came into the room was Liam. He was a pale man, thin but muscular. His goatee, which had been unruly in the past had been trimmed neatly now that he was living with Sennett. He wore a tight sweater over a pair of jeans that had a fade mark near the pocket in the shape of his missing holster.

“Here,” Godfrey said, holding out a plate for him.

“Thanks, Man,” Liam said. He carried it over to the simulator, making himself a cup of steaming black coffee. “You want one?”

“Sure,” Godfrey said, sitting down at the table with his own food.

Sennett, a cup of hot klav in her hand, sat down next to him. She started tapping on the table, pulling up morning news feeds. “I haven’t seen anything about the Hollow Suits yet. Guess that might be a good thing for us. Travel will probably be restricted after the news breaks.”

“Might not be able to get home, if that happens,” Godfrey said. He started scanning the feeds over her shoulder. “I talked to Marshal Joy the other day. She and Marshal Howard are working on some things to boost protection. She didn’t want to go into it though.”

“Of course not. The fewer people who know the details, the better,” Sennett said. She tapped on the table, taking over part of it to read her mail. “I guess the other stations can handle the Hollows how they want, there’s nothing we can do about it. But I think we stand a better chance if we’re talking to each other.”

She was beautiful in the morning, even while she was scanning over her email. Ki’s accusation before she’d left wouldn’t leave Godfrey’s mind in moments like this. She’d accused him of loving Sennett more than he loved her. Most of the time he didn’t think it could be true. But there were moments.

Suddenly, her face hardened. She shut her email with a swipe and took a sip of her drink.

“What’s wrong?” Liam asked, glancing over at her.

“Nothing,” Sennett said. “I just got an email from someone who shouldn’t be emailing me. April, go get your shoes and jacket, please.”

“Okay!” April said, scrambling away from the table.

“You excited for your last day of school, Little Bit?” Godfrey asked.

“Yes!” April said, and ran from the room.

Sennett turned back to the table. “I just got an email from Candace Campbell,” she said quietly, glancing at each of them in turn.

Godfrey sat back in his chair, whistling. “What did she say?” he asked.

“Someone needs to fill me in. Who’s Candace?” Liam asked.

“She’s the bitch who murdered my husband. Shot him in the back in the middle of the street.”

Sennett sat back in her chair. “She’s saying she needs to talk to me about something that she doesn’t want to say over mail.”

Mason propped his elbows on the table. “So, what if it’s about your birth parents?”

Sennett gave him a sharp look. “Why the hell would she want to talk to me about my birth parents, Mason?”

“Well,” he said carefully. “You said that Core person on Station 16 told you your parents were still alive and that they were looking for you. Candace was a member of the Core.”

She shuddered. It felt like the Core had been stalking her, ever since they’d shot her adopted mother’s ship out of the sky. They’d been the ones who’d set the berserker virus free on Station 16, which had infected Sennett.

“We don’t know that,” Sennett said.

“Actually, we do,” Mason said. “It’s in her file from the prison.”

“How do you know that?” Liam asked. “Prison records are supposed to be sealed except for to officials.”

When the others at the table looked at him, he shrugged. “I’m a criminal. It’s my business to know my rights.”

“I’m just saying, what if it’s about your birth parents?” Mason asked.

“Then I still don’t care to talk to her. Mom was the only parent I needed, Mason, especially if my birth parents are Core members.”

She got up, grabbing her mug of klav. “I’m taking April to school now. Everyone, please make sure you’re totally packed by the time I get home so we don’t have to wait.”

“I’ll keep after them,” Godfrey said, grinning.

“Thanks,” she said, turning towards the door. “Oh, and Liam. Patty’s going to meet us at the loading dock tonight.”

“What the hell for?” Liam sputtered.

Sennett turned back towards him. “What do you think? She signed off on you traveling. She needs to make sure you aren’t carrying anything illegal.”

Copyright © 2019 by Nicole C. Luttrell

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law

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Station 86 is shocked when a Khloe assassin begins killing members of the all powerful ff9a8a_d364e70623f041a199d588b5124fcc3c-mv2council. Officer Sennett Montgomery and Councilman Godfrey Anders swear to find the assassin after Godfrey’s wife is falsely accused. But the killer, and the council itself, are not what they seem. Neither, as it turns out, is Sennett’s daughter.

See how the story began, free to download now.


Poets who wrote prose

Oh, I totally forgot it was National Poetry Month!

How did I forget that? Oh yeah, I’m doing Camp Nanowrimo and my life is taken over by editing right now.

But it’s still Poetry Month, and I still want to talk about it. Poetry is a beautiful form of art, that I find completely unattainable. I’ve tried, Lord knows I have tried. I understand the forms, I study language. But in my heart, I am a prose writer. And I will always be a prose writer.

That doesn’t stop me from deeply appreciating poetry. And here’s the thing, poetry writers often cross over to prose. So today, I’d like to share with you some of my favorite poets who turned to prose.

Natalie Goldberg

Goldberg is my favorite writing coach, a constant inspiration to live my most authentic life, and someone 51q395-fdxLI would dearly love to sit down and have coffee with someday. Only she probably wouldn’t drink coffee. She’d probably drink hot chocolate and have a delicious croissant along with it.

Goldberg has written honestly more books than I can list here. Many of them are poetry. Three of them are about writing, and I own all of them. But she’s written at least one novel, called Banana Rose.

Now, I haven’t read this yet. But it sounds fascinating. It’s about a Jewish woman who’s in love with a painter but can’t stop thinking about a girl back home. It’s about her faith, her love, her art, and her life.

It’s on my list, and if you loved Writing Down The Bones it should be on yours too.

Langston Hughes

Hughes wrote some of the deepest, most magically realistic poems I’ve ever read. And his novel Not not-without-laughter-7Without Laughter. It’s about African American life in Kansas in the 1910s. Much like Goldberg’s novel, it’s not autobiographical on purpose.

On purpose.

As you can imagine from the subject matter, it’s not a laugh riot. But’s a deeply personal book, and an honest one.




Maya Angelou

GUEST_64dc88de-f5de-4c3a-9127-3cbc925b4990I think I’ve gushed about this book before, and I do not care in the slightest. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings is one of my favorite books of all time. It didn’t feel like reading a book. It felt like sitting in front of Maya, listening to her telling me all about her life. And her life was amazing. From living with her grandmother in the south to becoming a single mom, she experienced so much, so many things that I will never experience. At the same time, it was so hard to read this book and not point out to everyone within earshot, “Listen, listen to this. This is me! It’s just exactly what I’ve thought or felt before. How could this woman, who lived in a completely different time, completely different part of the country, with a completely different family, have so many moments that echo with such truth for me?

Maybe there are some things that are universal. And maybe poets are better than the rest of us at pointing those universal truths out.

Even when they’re writing prose.

Don’t forget, Station Central, book four of Station 86 starts on Saturday. (Unless you’re signed up for the PBW Update. Then you already have the first two episodes.) Get book one for free, and enter the world of Station 86.

Station Central


Guest post by Taryn Dryfhout

Note: You all know I love Nanowrimo. I stand by that, I think it’s a powerful tool to get writers writing and seek out other writers in fellowship. But, here’s the thing. Not all writers are going to write like me. So, I’m proud to share with you this guest post today by an amazing writer named Taryn Dryfhout. Check out her site here.

This week marks the beginning of a month of novel writing madness as hundreds of thousands of people all over the globe begin Nanowrimo in an attempt to see themselves, and have others perceive them as writers by writing 50,000 words of what is possibly nothing but mindless dribble, over the next four weeks.

National Novel Writing Month or “NaNoWriMo” is a yearly, internet-based writing project that takes place from the 1st to the 30th November, when people sign up online, committing to themselves a goal of writing 50,000 words over the course of the month. The idea is that these words form a rough draft for a novel, which can then be edited and published when the challenge is up. Nanowrimo mania starts in October when participants sign up through the website, creating profiles and discussing the synopses for their novels.

Nano attempts to foster the craft of writing in an intense way, by having the participating writers work within an online community of people all working towards the same goal – not of quality or completion, but just putting words down on paper. Novels written during the program can be any genre, about any theme and in any language and the word count is validated through the site, where the writers can submit their work for automatic counting. According to the official rules, planning and note-taking is permitted at any time but no words written outside November can contribute towards word count.

Although 50,000 words is considered a low word count for a novel, the aim of the program is to aid participants in getting their creative juices flowing and getting a project underway. However, no publisher will accept a novel this length, making the effort redundant. With this being the case, Nanowrimo is nothing more than National Novel Starting Month, where one can produce half of a slapdash novel which will require months of work in order to shape into anything creditable. To stay on track with the program, one must write almost 1,700 words per day, with the focus being on attaining word count with no regard to quality. This is to encourage people to get writing, with the intention of editing the work later, outside of the project. While the idea of an online community, dispensing a healthy dose of peer pressure and a calendar deadline might be enough to push someone into attaining the set word count, the ‘quantity over quality’ philosophy encourages average work that may or may not be revised and edited at an unforeseen date, in the distant future. By producing a poor first draft of an unfinished novel, participants ‘win’ the challenge, and to make matter worse, the novel needn’t even have a storyline in order to win the program. One of the project’s mottos is “No Plot? No Problem!”, suggesting that participants should write, regardless of whether or not they have a solid story, or even any story at all to work with.

The madness was started in 1999 by a freelance writer who roped in 21 other people into the month-long commitment. The following year an official website was launched in the project’s honour and people from all over the world started signing up, until so many people were participating that some basic guidelines were established and over a decade later, there is more than 400,000 people participating.

From the last week of November until deadline, participants can submit their work through the project’s website for word count verification. Those who complete consider themselves to be ‘winners’, though no prizes are awarded for any efforts made. Anyone who manages to reach the 50,000 word count is considered a winner and receives a printable certificate which they can display at home or on the web. Though no measures are in place to prevent or identify cheating of any kind, it seems unlikely that anyone would bother, given that the only reward for ‘winning’ is a piece of paper and self-satisfaction.

The official Nano forums come alive in early October, with participants discussing their novels while they eagerly await the challenge ahead. The idea of it is great, in theory – a large, online community of writers, all working toward the same goal, swapping advice, ideas and support from the advanced novelist to the blossoming young writer. The vision for Nano is honourable, with the idea being that the art of writing is fostered within a safe community, accessible to anybody who has internet, at no cost, in a forum where one is not expected to be a professional. It also encourages a daily writing habit, which in turn is supposed to be the way in which the writer will produce their book, and consequently their writing career. However, in reality, the forums become a space where unpublished writers can spend more time discussing writing, than actually writing, and much like Christmas, the anticipation of Nano becomes more desirable than the hard work that is supposed to take place in November. Young people who aspire to be Stephen King or Danielle Steel join Nano in an effort to be seen as a writer because of their involvement in this worldwide movement, rather than being appreciated for their will to write, and their dedication to actually doing so. It’s fairly clear from the amount of hashtags like #NanoPrep and #FutureWriter, and ‘feel good’ quotes on Pinterest about Nano that the culture of this project is not producing as many quality writers as it is enthusiastic, naive ones.

As all writers, aspiring writers, publishers and agents know, writing is a small part of the process of producing a novel. While it may take only the month of November to pen the great American novel, it takes months of editing and revision in order to get it worthy of being submitted for publishing. Nano’s emphasis on simply putting pen to paper means that the work arising out of this project might simply account for a whole lot of crap writing rather than producing good, solid work which has the potential to go on and be considered for published. While the project can be useful for those who want to carve out time for themselves to write each day and push themselves to adopt a daily habit of working on their craft, it could also be a completely fruitless waste of a month, particularly one so close to Christmas. The amount of hurried, sloppy work that must come out of Nano every year is enough to make editors and book agents cringe in anticipation of the substandard manuscripts they will shortly receive.

Writers are known for their determined persistence of the craft, and their ability to overcome long term obstacles and creative blocks in order to produce something that is complete, and highly edited to a standard worthy of publishing. Nano fosters a process of writing a large amount of anything, simply in an effort to establish habits of intense writing, but concentrated writing alone, does not a good novel make. Good novels require time and powerful perseverance, two things which Nano cannot offer.

On the upside, around 100 novels have been produced out of Nano which made it through traditional publishing channels (i.e.: publishing houses and not the ever growing trend of self-publishing e-books). This includes Sara Gruen’s bestseller “Water for Elephants” which later became a film starring Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson. Nanowrimo has also been responsible for inspiring countless online classes, discussion groups and workshops to enhance the craft of writing which can only be a positive thing, and one that will hopefully contribute to the overall standard of the work produced out of Nano over time, as participants become stronger writers.

Taryn is an experienced writer, teacher, English major and coffee
junkie who lives in Auckland with her husband and children.A Rory
Gilmore-inspired blue-stocking, Taryn is a serial student and now has
two diploma’s, a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree, and is working
on her next post-grad diploma. Taryn regularly contributes to
magazines, newspapers and websites and has been an author, guest
writer, and editor for e-books and print books. She was recently
nominated for “Best Feature Writer” and “Best Columnist” at the ASPA
Awards and is a member of the NZ Society of Authors, and NZ Christian
Writers. When Taryn is not writing, studying, or with her kids, she
can be found reading books, buying books, or watching Gilmore Girls.


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