Author Interview, Mark McQuillen

Continuing in our author interview series, today we’re hosting Mark McQuillen. Please enjoy.

Tell us about your book.

Well, actually there are 12 of them that chronicle Malices journey from Archvillianess to Queen of the Valkyrie. It’s a story of love, redemption, justice and more importantly to the character herself revenge.

When did you realize that you were a writer?

Since I was about 8, I wrote little stories for my friends, etc. I didn’t start seriously writing until 2015 when I wrote the first Valkyrie Novella.

Do you have any books coming out this year?

Hopefully three, the two rewrites of the first two Valkyrie Novellas and Valkyrie 4.

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

Stalker Links

⏩Facebook Page
⏩Facebook Author Group
⏩Amazon Author Page

What are you working on right now?

A prequel story part of Malice’s origin story called “Into the Shadowlands”

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

Well I’m a self-published writer it was kind of daunting pushing that submit button on Amazon the first time

What author would you say inspires you the most?

George RR Martin, he spent years decades in obscurity before writing GOT. He’s living proof that if you work at writing long enough someone will notice you.

Who is your current favorite author?

Neil Gaiman

What was your first favorite book as a child?

The Hobbit, I was 6.

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

Never give up just write something every day and eventually you’ll reach your goal.

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

Just getting through the first novella was quite the accomplishment at least for me.

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

Winning Best Fantasy and Best Epic Fantasy Awards back to back at the Virtual Fantasy Faire in 2017-2018.

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

I really haven’t ever read any writing books. I’m self-taught. But as far as books in the genre that you are interested in writing in I would suggest you read every one that you can get your hands on.


Interview with Author Lizzy Stevens

Hey, guys. Today we have an interview with Lizzy Stevens, author of a really fantastic amount of books. She also happens to be the CEO of Solstice Publishing. Enjoy.

Tell us about your book.

 My latest book is “Ravencrest book two Preparing for Battle” Book one is “Ravencrest book one Lucinda’s story” in book two Lucinda has learned how to be the head of the Ravencrest family. This was all kind of thrown on her. She didn’t even know she was a witch. After finding out she is a witch she learns that she has to take the family into the battle of a lifetime and lives will be lost. The more she learns about this battle she finds out that a previous battle with this clan is what killed her father all those years ago. She had to deal with a lot in book two.

When did you realize that you were a writer?

I think I have always wanted to be a writer. I can remember being young and always reading. My older sister would make fun of me and call me a nerd LOL I always had my head in a book. As I got older, I wanted to tell the stories running around in my head. So, I took all the English classes in high school. I took the creative writing classes. I was that kid LOL I always wanted to write.

Do you have any books coming out this year?

I have released two so far this year.

Locked In A Castle”


Ravencrest book Two Preparing For Battle”

I’m sure there will be many more from me. 

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

I love Twitter. You can find me there almost every day.  @lizzystevens123


What are you working on right now?

My mind never stops LOL I just did a couple contest so that took me away from my next book but they were fun to do. Now I am onto my next one. Not sure which one I’m going to start though. I have a couple different ones that I’m thinking over. We’ll see which one wins LOL

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

Oh it was for sure nerve wrecking. I mean I had never done anything like that before. I had no idea what I was doing LOL Then you submit and you get told it’s not really what they are looking for. But you keep trying and keep working on it. Then you find the publishers that do want your writing. I signed with one company then I kept writing. I signed with two others. Then I decided to become a publisher. So now I write my own and help others fulfill their dream.

What author would you say inspires you the most? 

There are way too many. Going way back. I loved Winnie the Pooh as a child. So for sure A.A. Milne, also Dr. Seuss. Then as I grew I loved the Sweet Valley High books by Francine Pascal. Then we move into the older days. I loved Stephen King books. My grandmother and I would take turns checking them out at the library. She would read one and give it to me and I would read one and give it to her. So that whole experience probably helped my writing along. I also love Nicholas Sparks, Janette Oke, Cassandra Clair, All these authors are amazing. I could go on and on. I told you there were too many for me to name LOL  

Who is your current favorite author?

I have too many to list a favorite. The above question pretty much says a lot.

What was your first favorite book as a child?

Winnie the Pooh

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

Just do the best that you can.

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

I don’t know if it was the best for my career, but the best thing for me was writing a book with my kids. It was really fun. “Don’t Make A Wish” me and Steve, my husband, we wrote that with the boys. We all sat in the living room. I had a notebook in hand and we hammered out the story. Then I went to the computer and wrote it. That was so much fun for me.

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

I enjoy making people happy. If a reader likes my book after reading it then that is great.


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

I would say if somebody wants to write then my advice would be to do it. I wouldn’t suggest a book. I would suggest just do it. Throw out all thoughts that you can’t and sit down and start writing.


Of course, in addition to being an author, you’re also the CEO of the publishing company Solstice Publishing. What can you tell us about working in Publishing?

I love the publishing industry. It’s not an easy job. But books are my passion. I love to help authors make their dreams come true.


What’s your favorite part of being in the publishing business?

Interacting with everyone.


If someone wants to submit to Solstice Publishing, what should they do?

Stop by our website and read the guidelines all the way through before submitting.


Can you tell us if you’re looking for anything in particular right now? What sort of book would you be most excited to see?

We want to see original stories. Don’t submit your book by saying it is like and name something else that might be well known.  That story has already been told. We want to know what you wrote. What is your story about.

Triage life

Are you listening to Ditch Diggers yet? If you’re not, you totally should be. It is the number one reason I’m laughing in public without explanation.

Earlier this week I talked to you about this episode, and how it helped me get over feeling like I’m different from other authors who are still paying their dues.

Another thing discussed during that episode was a theory that I’d never really thought of before. It’s not so much about writing, but more about life in general.

All credit for this thought-provoking theory goes to Matt Wallace. He said that we need to prioritize things before they become triage situations.

If that’s not clear, let me break it down for you. Take care of something before it becomes an emergency.

You know how sometimes you read something, and your brain just sort of explodes with reactions? I had so many with this one! What am I ignoring that might be a triage situation? Should I be planning more for things that might happen? Am I doing enough?

Are any of us ever doing enough?

I mean, that’s the real question. Are we ever really doing enough? Can we ever do enough?

The short answer is no. The long answer is also no.

There are too many things that could happen. You could get sick, or a loved one. You could get hit by a bus. You could get laid off.

Good things can happen too. You can get a great opportunity, but it comes with a short deadline.

That isn’t to say we can’t do anything. We can take care of ourselves before we end up in the hospital. We can work diligently before deadlines loom.

Yeah, sometimes we’re still going to end up in triage. But we can lower the chances.

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. Then, Sennett, Godfrey and the rest of Station 86 are trying to put their society back in order after the Core attack. Then a mysterious ship from a dying station arrives, bringing artificially intelligent robotic, murderous dogs. Godfrey, Mason and April must get to the hospital safely, while Sennett is trying to protect Marshal’s Joy and Howard. But the AI dogs are nothing compared to the terrors they left behind on their own station.

Get your copy now.

I must be different

I’ve probably said this before but getting published is not the end of the road. It’s not the shiny, beautiful land of flowing money and praise that I, at least, always thought it would be. I’m going to be really honest with you all today.

I was published in 2016. My books are not best sellers. I am not making money from them. I still have a full-time day job.

Blast of cold water for some of you, who might not be published yet. Totally realistic position for some of you who are published.

That’s the way of things. Getting published is not the pot of gold, it’s one of many steps on the path. It’s a milestone, sure. But it’s not the end.

And yet, I forever think that this can’t possibly apply to me. Sure, other people are writing and publishing in obscurity, but there’s something wrong with me. Not them, just me. I’m a terrible writer, that’s it. I’m just shitty, and that’s why I’m failing.

I mean, sure, Elizabeth Gilbert was still working until she published Eat Pray Love, which was her third novel. I know, JK Rowling submitted Harry Potter to everyone and their mother before getting published. I know that Stephen King wrote Carrie while working full time as a writer and collected his share of rejections.

But that’s not me. I must be different. I must be the only one failing like this.

Then, as usual, the universe collides to remind me of what I should already know. This time, the universe decided to be kind. The lesson I needed came in the form of two podcasts, which just happened to be on my list to listen to back to back.

The first was this episode of Ditch Diggers

The second was this episode of Anne Kroaker, writing coach.

And they’re both talking about the same thing. What matters most, if you want to succeed in anything, is persistence. It’s not your work. No matter what you do someone who is way worse than you is succeeding. It’s not who you know, though that can help. It’s not anything else but how many times are you willing to try.

I forget sometimes, and maybe you do too, that there are tiers to succeeding. For writing, those tiers are such.

Write a book.

Edit a book and get it to a completed draft.

Find an editor/publisher.

Get the book published.

Sell the book.

Do that enough times to quit my job and travel the country full time in an RV.

I sometimes forget that I’m on step four, and that’s the longest step! It’s also a step that most people never get to. As I said, there’s a tier system working here. Most people who want to write a book never do. Most people who do write a book never finish it. Most people who do finish their book don’t get it published. Most people who do get published don’t make enough money to support themselves.

I don’t know how to get to that last tier. But I know I won’t get there if I stop. Besides, I’m going to keep right on writing anyway.

Might as well keep going.

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. Then, Sennett, Godfrey and the rest of Station 86 are trying to put their society back in order after the Core attack. Then a mysterious ship from a dying station arrives, bringing artificially intelligent robotic, murderous dogs. Godfrey, Mason and April must get to the hospital safely, while Sennett is trying to protect Marshal’s Joy and Howard. But the AI dogs are nothing compared to the terrors they left behind on their own station.

Get your copy now.

Leaving the church of my childhood, Part Two

If you’re just joining us, this is day two of my explanation of why I left The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Standard disclaimer: I have nothing against the Mormon church. I don’t rail against them, nor do I have anything against anyone who is Mormon. This is just why I decided to leave.

I want to thank Plamondon, the author behind Ah, Mince. Your bravery in writing your GUM (growing up Mormon) series is what encouraged me to write this.

And now, for part two.

Women and men have very specific roles in the Mormon church. A man is the head of the household. He is the provider, the voice of the church within the house. He is meant to be the guidance that his children and wife need. A woman is the comfort of the home. Her role is to raise the children, care for the home, and be the spiritual center of the house. My impression of a Mormon mom was always kind of like a Stepford wife. Their homes were always in good order, they cooked homemade dinners every night. There were no playing cards in their homes because Mormon’s don’t believe in them. Mormon moms braided their daughter’s hair every morning, woke them with a song. They volunteered to work with the Young Women’s group, and they baked cookies all the time. Cookies from scratch, not from a packet.

My mom tried so damn hard to be that. Our house was always picture perfect. She cooked almost every night, even if it was microwaved Salisbury steaks. She worked herself half to death to conform to the kind of mother she thought I deserved, as a Mormon kid. But she was trying to keep up with stay at home moms. At most, part-time working moms. That was an unrealistic standard to reach for.

Here’s a really high standard my mom taught me as a child that most of my friend’s moms didn’t have. My mom has always been accepting of homosexuality and anyone on the LGBT spectrum. Love is love, that’s what my mom taught me. She didn’t care who I brought home, so long as that person treated me right.

Fun fact, Mormons don’t believe in gay marriage. I’ve always had a problem with that. But who was I, after all, to question the church?

Finally, there was one thing I lived with my whole time as a Mormon that impacted me more than anything else. Warning, this is totally selfish. I don’t care.

I was consistently pitied for being the daughter of a single mom. You remember I was talking about being too nervous to ask for blessings from my friend’s dads? I didn’t really need to ask, they were offered. Other moms were always making sure that I had a ride to church events, and that I was included in every single thing. Every year a young woman of the church is expected to have a Personal Progress Project. I was constantly offered help with mine. One mom even asked if her husband could take me to the father-daughter event since her own daughter would be out of town.

I’d said not a single word to this man my entire damn life.

I’m sure these women didn’t mean to make me feel pitied. They were trying to help me because they felt that I was missing something. In doing so, they reminded me constantly of what I was missing.

Despite all of this, I still considered myself a good Mormon. At least, I wanted to be. I desperately wanted to be. I was sure, as I assume most children are, that I was the one who was wrong. The Church was right. Then I did something that really drove a wedge in my relationship with the church.

I had a baby.

The church is totally pro-baby. But they’re not pro getting pregnant outside of wedlock at seventeen. I mean, who is really? That’s not a goal for most people, at least it wasn’t for me. I had to go and speak with our Bishop, and a panel of older men in the church. And I have to say, if you’re going to leave the teaching of young girls to the women, maybe you should let them discipline them, too.

There was a discussion about having me excommunicated. Now, I want to make it clear that this doesn’t mean the same thing as with other churches. Being excommunicated, as it was explained to me, meant that I would then be able to be re-baptized.

Again, they were trying to be kind.

But that really was the beginning of the end. That was when I realized something profound.

Maybe, if I don’t agree with some of the basic foundations of the church, it might not be the church for me. Maybe it’s not wrong, and I’m not wrong, but we’re wrong for each other.

It didn’t come down to some dramatic event. I didn’t damn them and storm out of the building. I just stopped going. I didn’t feel like I really owe anyone an explanation, so I didn’t give one.

There are lots of good things about being Mormon. If you’ve ever been around one, or a whole group, you know they’re scary nice people. That’s on purpose. You’re taught as a Mormon that your behavior should always be kind. You are a servant of the lord in everything you do. Mormons are taught to be hard workers, thrifty and diligent. They don’t drink alcohol or caffeine. They don’t smoke. And family always comes first.

That’s all fine, and I can’t find fault with it. But if you don’t fit into a specific mold, you’re going to suffer. I tried for a long time to fit into that mold. But it was just never going to work. And I’m done trying.

Which isn’t to say it was easy. Being a part of a church like that is like being part of a massive community. There’s a language that goes along with it, a way of speaking. I still feel that loss, even though I don’t see myself ever going back. But it’s hard not to feel a bit lost. Unfortunately, there’s not a chapter of my current faith anywhere near here. There are lots of great online communities, though, and I take a lot of comfort in that.

I do also want to say that while I did lose faith in the church, my faith in God never wavered. If anything, that’s gotten stronger through my life. So many people I talk to, their faith and their church are so intertwined that when they lose one, they lose the other. That wasn’t how it was for me.

Thank you for tolerating this rather long, sad story. I hope that, if you’ve ever gone through something like this, that you know you’re not alone. Faith is a very personal experience, and what was the right path for me may not be the right one for you.

I just hope you find your own path.

Why I left the church of my childhood, Part One

It took me a long time to write this post. Honestly, even while I’m writing it now, I’m trying to think of reasons not to. It’s really easy to think of reasons not to do something you’re scared of.

It struck me as self-indulgent, talking about why I left the church of my childhood. Perhaps even a little mean spirited. And, worst of all, I wonder if anyone is really going to care about this. I wonder if it’s just wasting time, mine and yours. This is a blog, sure, but it isn’t a personal blog. I’m not on here blogging about the dream I had last night or the wonderful time I had at the Science Center last week. (We did go to the Science Center. It was a great time.)

Did I want to talk about leaving the church? Of course, I did. If something hurts me, makes me happy, makes me feel any emotion at all, my first instinct is to get that feeling into words and share it. That’s not always an instinct I need to listen to.

I’d almost decided to just not do it. Then, while I was scrolling through Instagram, I found a comic by a wonderful artist who writes a comic called Ah, Mince. Here’s a link to her site, please check her out. She wrote a whole series about growing up in the Mormon church, and what drove her to leave. It’s called GUM. (Growing up Mormon.)

This is not her normal bag. She normally writes funny material. That’s why I started following her. But this series, it really hit me between the eyes.

Because, even though she was talking about her own experience, and it was wildly different from mine, it didn’t feel that different. It felt like she understood what I had gone through.

And that meant a lot to me. Leaving a religion you grew up in is an isolating experience. So, finding someone else who knows what that feels like, is like finding a light in a dark tunnel. And I decided that if I could be that for someone else, even one person, that was worth a post.

Now, I’m not writing any of this to encourage any Morman to leave the church. I’m not encouraging anyone to leave their church. I would say except Scientologists, but that’s not really a religion. I only want to share with you what made me leave, and how it’s changed how I see the world.

I was a third generation Mormon. Or, as I was taught, I was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. My grandmother joined the church when she was a young mother. She was raised Catholic. Her brother and his whole family are still Catholic. So if anyone knows what I went through after leaving the church, it’s her.

Not sure why I’ve never talked to her about that. Maybe it’s because I’ve never talked to her about leaving the church.

I don’t really know the details of why Grandma left the Catholic church. Even if I did, that’s not my story to tell. It should suffice to say that she had good reasons for joining the Mormon church. And, they did wonderful things for her.

The church gave her a home and a family when she needed one. They helped her quit some bad habits she would rather I didn’t talk about here. I have never said, and will never say, that the church didn’t do great things for my grandma. I’m happy about that. She’s still a devout member of the church, and happy about that, too.

She raised all six of her kids in the church. They all consider themselves Mormon still, I think. It has a pretty high success rate.

As a kid, my mom didn’t take me to church. I’m pretty sure she had good reasons not to. She was working, or she’d worked the night before and was now justifiably exhausted. Maybe she just didn’t want to. Whatever the reason, I always attended church with my grandma.

When I was little, it wasn’t all that bad. I have vivid memories of coloring with wind up crayons that I wasn’t allowed to use any other time. Grandma taught me to fold a handkerchief so that it became two babies in a hammock. After Sacrament meeting, I would go to Primary and she would go to Relief Society. Then, we’d go home and she’d make us lunch. Those Sundays at her house are some of the strongest memories I have of my childhood. We didn’t watch tv on Sundays, so I would either play with my toys or read Calvin and Hobbs until my mom came to pick me up.

Even as I got older, and I was no longer allowed to color during Sacrament, it still wasn’t that bad. It was boring, but the classes after were fun. I had friends, and they were all in my class. Then one day, without a lot of warning, I was moved to a different class from my friends. You see, all of my friends were boys, and I was now in the girl’s class. That was my first sigh, looking back, that I might have a little bit of a problem.

As a teenager, I really wanted to be a good Mormon. I’ve seen Saturday’s Warriors literally over 100 times. There are three different Mormon magazines, I got them all. I read them, too. I subscribed to Ensign right up until the day I left the church. I was the secretary of my young women’s group. I went to the Young Women’s Summer camp and all of the youth group events. I was baptized in the church and received a Patriarchal Blessing. I’ve been inside the Temple in DC many times. I still consider it one of the most beautiful buildings I’ve ever seen in real life. (If you’re wondering, Mormons have churches called Wards that everyone is welcome to. They also have Temples, that you have to be a member and have a temple recommend to go to.)

The problem was, I just kept running into things I didn’t agree with about the Church. Like, some pretty major disagreements.

If you’re a man, and a Mormon, you are considered a member of the Priesthood. Members of the Priesthood are able to do things within the Church that other’s can’t. One that came up time and time again was a Priesthood holder’s ability to give a blessing.

Now, let me explain something about blessings in the Mormon faith. They were part of a regular Mormon’s kid’s life. A blessing is a prayer said on your behalf by a member of the Priesthood. If you were sick, or had a big test coming up, or just feeling kind of shitty, you asked your dad for a blessing. Your dad, or your big brother, or your uncle. Because women can’t hold the Priesthood. You can see how that put me at a disadvantage as a child of a single mom. All my uncles lived out of state. If I needed a blessing, I had to ask one of my friend’s dads. That was awkward.

This is getting a little long. I’m going to cut off here and pick it up on Friday. See you then.

Anger, a personal essay

Let’s talk about anger today. Not because any of us are particularly angry. I’m frequently angry, about any number of things both personal and universal. But I’m no more angry today than I ever am.

But it’s best to talk about anger when you’re not angry. Most people don’t think clearly when we’re angry. We do stupid shit when we’re angry. We yell at people we love. We drive too fast, drink too much, lose our temper. We make monsters of ourselves.

That’s the assumption, at least. We assume that anger boils over and scalds. We assume it ruins lives and that it is poisonous.

I don’t think that’s right. I think anger is an emotion, a state that we cannot judge because we don’t have any control over it. The pain of anger comes only if we react to it poorly.

Anger is good.

At least, honest anger is good. It shows us points of pain. Think of what makes you angry. Do you feel anger when you hear of people persecuted against? What about childhood hunger or abandoned animals? That’s good if you feel anger at that. How could you call yourself human if you didn’t?

Honest anger is a flag you plant to show you what you are not comfortable with. And this is all personal. I am angry about any manner of situations that might seem petty or small, but they cause me anger and so I must pay attention. Even if someone else might consider it a minor inconvenience, or even perfectly alright, my emotion is different. My emotion is valid. And so is yours.

That is not to say that anger is permission to do harm. No emotion gives permission for that. But it does give you permission to set boundaries.

No, I do not want to go there.

No, I will not do that for you.

No, I will not be that.

This is what anger tells us when we should say no.

But we must take care because while anger is honest, other emotions aren’t. Fear, like the coward it is, will wear anger’s face. So will exhaustion. These are emotions that we associate with weakness, and so we shun them if we can. We say it’s anger, because anger, for all we claim to hate it, is powerful.

This is crucial to recognize in ourselves. When you have time today, make a list of the things that spark anger in yourself. Think as big or as small as you want. People who don’t use their turn signal all the way to racists bearing tiki torches. Get it all down. Do you see a pattern?

Now that you understand what sparks anger in you, consider what sparks anger in your main character. Are they many of the same things or are they wildly different? Free write for ten minutes about how you both react to that anger. If you want, post your response 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 Seeming on Smashwords for free.

An Open Letter To The Teacher Who Changed My Life

Reblogging in honor of Teacher Appreciation day. Thank you teachers, each and every one of you.

Paper Beats World

Last month I wrote an open letter to a teacher I wasn’t thrilled with. Unless you’ve been very lucky I’m sure you have at least one of those teachers in your past.

Unless you’ve been very unlucky, you also have a teacher like the one I’m going to tell you about today. He was an English teacher of mine. For privacy reasons, I won’t be sharing his name.

I don’t know where he is now, or if he’s even still alive. But this is the letter I would send to him if I could.

Dear Mr.

You taught English to Eight graders. That’s a damn thankless job, let’s just throw that out there right now. By the eighth grade, most kids have lost the joys of hearing a story. They’ve reached that sad, depressing age when they think themselves too old for such thing. Pity on them.

You taught English…

View original post 932 more words

What I learned from baking competition shows

You might already know this, but I freaking love cooking competition shows. Right now I’m marathoning the Spring Baking Competition and I am loving every second of it! I also watched every single episode of the Christmas competition. Of course, the Halloween competition is my all time favorite.

I know, this seems like a silly time-wasting show. And for the most part, it is. That’s kind of why I watch it, to be honest. You don’t have to be productive all the time to justify your existence. I’m trying to instill that in myself.

Which isn’t to say that there aren’t lessons to be learned from these baking shows. There are lessons to learn from everything in life if you’re willing to learn them. So, here are nine things I’ve learned from baking competition shows.

Manage your time

The number one reason why someone on these baking shows fails, and fail miserably, is that they don’t manage their time well. The cakes aren’t ready, the whipped element needs more whipping, the ice cream didn’t freeze enough.

Honestly, the competitor’s surprise at the time constraints always confuses me. What, you have an hour to make a three-tier cake? Don’t you usually have forty minutes to get dressed, walk two dogs, pick up the house, water the plants, get meat out to defrost, walk two dogs again, feed the dogs and the cat, read your emails and maybe eat something? That can’t just be me.

Proper time management is essential for every single one of you reading this. Now, I’m not going to go over all of the different ways to manage your time. There are more posts about time management than anyone really has the time to read (ironically). Find what works for you and roll with it.

Be all you

You are you, that is truer than true. We should all thank Dr. Seuss for these affirming words of love and acceptance. And we should live these words.

The competitors who do best on the baking shows who do best bring a part of their lives onto the plate. Their kid’s favorite cookies, their grandmother’s recipe, the cakes they baked with their dad. They bring their own personal twists to tradition and expectations as well. They are themselves, and they bring their whole selves to this experience.

This is how I intend to live my every day. I consider this living my best life. I will rejoice in my favorite colors, crochet all day, watch my favorite shows, ogle planners, and talk about stories. Always, every day, I will talk about stories.

Don’t hide what you love, what you feel or who you are because you’re worried people won’t like or understand you. If people don’t like you, they’re not your people.

Follow the rules

If a challenge calls for almonds, you really need to include almonds. You can have the best dessert on the planet, spun sugar to the roof, perfect blend of sweet and tart, and it’s not going to matter at all if you didn’t include the damned almonds.

Now look, I’m a big believer in using common sense when it comes to following rules. There are times to ignore them, and times to stick to them. But anytime you ignore a rule, you do so at your own peril.

If you’re a speculative fiction writer and the agent you’re submitting to an agent who doesn’t represent genre fiction, guess where your manuscript is going. Now you’ve just wasted your time and theirs.

If you’ve made an appointment to video conference with someone about a job at 11:00, don’t roll in at 11:10 and expect to get the job.

And if you’re told to include almonds in a recipe, include the freaking almonds!

Some people will love you and some just won’t.

Frequently on the baking competition shows, one judge will think a competitor’s creation will be the absolute bomb. But another judge will feel it’s lackluster.

That makes sense. Everyone’s taste is different. And the same goes for you. You are not going to be everyone’s favorite person. You are not going to be everyone’s perfect match, bff, ideal employee.

Don’t take it personal. You will be someone else’s favorite person, just as you are.

All the advantages in the world won’t help you

I’ve seen some people get some cool advantages in these baking competitions. One of them got Doug, from Ace of Cakes, one of the judges, to help her with her cake. How freaking cool is that?

But she squandered him. She had him spend his whole time working on one tiny detail that just didn’t wow. She could have had him do so much more!

Listen, life is this. We all have advantages in our lives. Some of us are physically fit, some of us are really smart. Some of us are born with just God-given talents for some things. Some of us are born with the right bone structure to be considered beautiful for the time.

None of this means a damn if we don’t use these advantages to our benefit. So don’t waste them. Whatever you have, whatever your advantage is, use it.

And by the way, if you don’t know what your advantage is, ask someone else. You for sure have something going for you that other people are jealous about.

Don’t panic

I couldn’t survive this baking show, just to be clear. I have watched these people, on multiple occasions, have a catastrophe happen. Raw cakes shattered sugar work. Cakes that are too hot to put the icing on, pieces of chocolate that don’t fit together.

This is almost always not the end of someone’s appearance. Almost always, the competitor responds with, “Then I thought- Insert fancy idea that no other human being would have thought of-.”

How did they come up with that? Simple, they didn’t panic. They thought of a solution. And usually, it’s a great one.

How much better would your life be if, every time something went horribly wrong, we thought of solutions instead of panicking?

Don’t ever play it safe

The people who get kicked off the baking shows fastest are the people who play it safe. The ones who don’t show creativity. The ones who play it safe, and make what they know. They don’t make it to the final round.

There are all kinds of ways we can play it safe. We can keep the boring job, wear boring clothes, take boring vacations. We can stop learning new things because we might fail. We can just stop growing.

Don’t do that! Try new foods, take a class, read a book you’ve never heard of. Try to make that big ass seven-layer cake if you want to. Go somewhere you’ve never been.

This is how we live. And what’s the point of living if you’re not, you know, living!

Get something on the plate

So many times, I’ve seen contestants put absolute garbage on the plate. I mean, I could do better. And I’m a terrible baker! That’s why I’m watching this, to live vicariously through them and they are ruining my dream.

But they are always better off than this one kid I saw on Great British Bake off one time. He was so frustrated by his work, because it was just not good enough, that he threw the whole mess in the trash and had nothing to present to the judges at all.

Paul Hollywood was not happy with him.

It’s always better to at least try. Even if it’s not your best, even if you’re not thrilled with it.

To put this one another way, let me share with you my favorite quote. I live my life by this quote, and so does my hero, Tina Fey.

The show doesn’t go on because it’s ready. It goes on because it’s 11:30.- Lorne Michaels.

Of course, we all want to do our best all the time. But sometimes we’re going to fall short of that. We’re going to have a project, a blog post, a novel, a painting, a letter to a family member sitting in our workspace for way too long. Or maybe you’re dying to have friends over but you don’t know if your home is ready for them. Maybe you’ve been wanting to go back to school or start writing, but it’s just never the right time.

It’s never the right time. Get something on the plate, get the show on.

So, what do you think? Do you watch baking competition shows? Let us know your favorite 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.

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My thoughts after Camp Nanowrimo, 2019

Camp Nanowrimo is over for the year. And, as it’s the first year I’ve ever participated, I wanted to share my thoughts on it. Surprise, it didn’t go as planned. But then, what does.

What I thought was going to happen

Because, you know, what I think is going to happen is totally always what happens, right? Yeah…

So, I thought I was going to edit my new wip for 36 hours. I thought that would be pretty easy, two hours on my days off, one hour on each workday, take Sundays off. Easy, right?

I guess I don’t really do easy when it comes to my writing. I guess I don’t really do easy when it comes to Nanowrimo.

So no, I decided four days in that this goal was too easy. Too attainable. So I moved it up to 50 hours, the official goal for NanoEdmo. I’ve done NanoEdmo before, multiple times. I totally thought I could do it.

What I ended up doing

Yeah, so I realized on the 23rd that I could probably make it, but it was going to require me to pretty much die.

I’d be willing to do that. I bust my ass to write, and I have totally pulled some crazy hours in order to make a goal before.

Then I took a look at my word count. And I realized that I was at 46,510 words for the month. On the 23rd. Which meant I would, at this rate, surpass the amount I write during November NanoWrimo with ease. I could take several days off and still make my goal. And I’d put in 36 hours already. That, if you’ll Campasset-Instagramrecall, was my original goal.

So I decided to change my goal to writing 50,000 words. I might have done more and will probably do more during next Camp Nanowrimo. But that’s still more than I would normally write in a month. So I’m still getting a ton more done.

What I realized about my writing practice

I don’t think we ever become masters when it comes to writing. I think we’re always just students, leveling up as we go.

I really struggled to reach my Nanowrimo goal this year. I struggle every year. That’s why it’s a challenge. And sure, I took a mini vacation in November. Sure, there was a holiday. But I took several days off in April too, and we can throw Easter in there for good measure. I was certainly no less busy this past month. In fact, there have been some new complications that made me even busier. So why did I spend November 30th hammering out words to meet my goal, then reached 50,000 easily on April 25th?

Well, there was one big difference; I was writing a second draft in April. That may seem like a cheat, but you have to remember some key differences between my first draft and my second draft.

The most substantial difference, I think, was that I write my rough drafts longhand and I type second drafts. So I was typing all month. I’m not a slow typist, but I am slow at handwriting.

Now, there are parts of a second draft that are undeniably faster. I already know most of the story, for sure. I have the outline pretty well hammered out, and the characters established.

Except that I largely threw out the first draft, added a whole new element to my main character and a slew of new characters. Oh, and all of this new required a ton of freewriting and research before I even started putting words to page. So how in the hell did I write more than 50,000 words in 36 hours, when a good amount of those hours were spent looking up sigils and the magical properties?

Because typing really is freaking faster!

Now, for literally all of my writing life I have balked at the thought of typing a rough draft. I have always said that I just don’t think the same typing as I do writing longhand. I’ve insisted that I can take a notebook anywhere, and so I have an easier time slipping into my work when I don’t have my computer. I’ve always had a slew of excuses that really just came down to I didn’t want to change.

And yet, again, 36 hours to write nearly 50,000 words. Can I also just say I thought that was going to take a hell of a lot longer? I had no idea that I could do so much work in such a little amount of time.

So it’s time for the takeaway.

What I will take with me from here

  • I will try to type out rough drafts. I’m starting a new novella in May, and I’m going to try to type it.
  • I will realize the insane amount that can be done in a little amount of time. Honestly, I can do so freaking much in just a few minutes. I’m going to be looking at my time differently from now on.
  • Change is good. That is all. Trying things a different way can lead to some amazing results.
  • I have grown as a writer, and I’m going to keep growing. The second draft of Broken Patterns took me six months. The second draft of this novel took two. I’m dedicating more time, my writing is improving, and I’m streamlining my process. It’s showing.

Will I do it again?


Just a reminder that Nano dreams do come true, this was my first ever Nanowrimo project.

Featured Image -- 5690In Devon’s world, magical work is as common as turning a pot or fletching an arrow. What isn’t common is a man with thread magic. When Devon finds that he is a seer, weaving prophetic tapestries, his family tries to keep it a secret.
But the family can’t hide Devon’s visions after he predicts a devastating plague in the dragon lands of Coveline. He travels there to help the dragon queen save her people.
Meanwhile, Devon’s sister Lenore joins the Church of Singular Light. As Lenore learns to serve, and falls in love with her city, she discovers a dark underbelly to the church.
Lenore fights for her city, and Devon rushes to find a cure to the plague, while an unseen enemy raises an army to destroy Septa from within.

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