Amazing Oreo Bonbons Recipe

Can’t wait to eat all of these myself! All of them…Don’t judge me.

Are YOU looking for a simple yet mind-blowing Christmas/New Year’s/Anytime Really dessert to shame your relatives with this year? Then look no further than THIS fool-proof epic deliciousness that anyone can make – Oreo Bonbons!

Usually when I make them, people look at me and say “You made these?!?” I nod, and their eyes roll back in their heads as they’re gripped in taste ecstasy.

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Do You Need A Professional Editor?

Say you’ve finished writing a book—congrats! You’ve made a few editing passes through it, roped a few of your friends and relatives into reading it, gotten their feedback, and tweaked it into what you think is an acceptable form to show to the world at large. Maybe you’ve even queried a handful of literary agents and received either “Thanks but no thanks” rejections or (more likely) radio silence.

Continue reading Do You Need A Professional Editor?
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Where Have All The Blogs Gone?

Someone asked me recently why I haven’t blogged in a while, to which I replied, “You read my blog???”

…Which is why I don’t blog more.

A few years ago, while I was investigating other author’s websites to emulate, I was surprised to see very few regularly blogged, and most only did so in conjunction with a new release or event promo. I remember thinking this was lame.

But now I know why. You see, there are only so many hours in the day. When you work a full-time job, are contractually obligated to stay ingood shape, need to spend time with the kids/spouse so they don’t leave you cats-in-the-cradle-style, plus friends, plus eating/sleeping/hygiene, etc. …you get the picture…then you need to be ruthless about how you spend that tiny sliver of writing time. So every day I ask myself—what’s value-added? What’s a positive return-on-investment of my time, and what’s not?

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Good Books To Read If You Wanna Be A (Better) Writer

[This article first appeared in Night Owl Reviews]


Writers are always giving out advice on how to write, assuming for some reason that people care. I mean, you don’t see doctors prattling on to whoever will listen about the best ways to reset a bone or writing blog posts about identifying infectious diseases.

Maybe writing is unique in the sense it seems like something everyone should be capable of doing. With some sad exceptions, everybody is literate, everybody’s got “What if…?” story ideas, and everybody can
tell a good story from a bad one. And yet only a tiny handful of people can sit down and complete a coherent story; even fewer a GOOD coherent story. So there’s a certain mystique around writing, as if people capable of doing it have some kind of magical power that transcends schooling and is divinely revealed ala God’s proclamation of the ten commandments. Continue reading Good Books To Read If You Wanna Be A (Better) Writer

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The Most Misunderstood “Rules” of Writing, Part 2 – Grammatical Correctness

[This article first appeared in Night Owl Reviews]

Got some bad news about pet peeve #3…see newly-added definition #4 at Dictionary.com. And this is why “grammar” rules aren’t really rules.

I used to wonder what was more important—wordsmithing or storytelling. This was when I was on my O. Henry Prize kick, reading dozens of beautifully written short stories that received high praise despite lacking plots or any deep meaning (to me, anyway). As a result, for a while I believed wordsmithing was more important and focused a lot on improving my prose. Then I realized short stories were a career dead end and began focusing on novels, where I came to the opposite conclusion, and the one I believe today: ideally you want to be good at both wordsmithing and storytelling, but storytelling should always take precedence. Beautifully constructed sentences and imagery are great and all, but if they don’t coalesce into anything meaningful it becomes tiresome after a while, like the O. Henry stories did for me; it’s the literary equivalent of navel-gazing.

In the end, words are tools you use to tell your story. Continue reading The Most Misunderstood “Rules” of Writing, Part 2 – Grammatical Correctness

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The Most Misunderstood “Rules” of Writing, Part 1 – Show, Don’t Tell

[This article first appeared in Night Owl Reviews]

See? Even Hemingway said stupid crap sometimes!

I’m generally of a mind that rules are lame. You don’t know how much trouble I’ve ended up in because of this attitude, being a military member and all. Example:

Me: Why can’t I put my hands in the pockets of my uniform? It’s winter and it’s cold.

Severe-Looking Instructor: Because it’s unprofessional.

Me: Frostbite is also unprofessional.

Severe-Looking Instructor: Drop and give me twenty. Continue reading The Most Misunderstood “Rules” of Writing, Part 1 – Show, Don’t Tell

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Getting Ready to Publish, Trying Not To Claw Face Off (Allergies)

Greetings my legion of fans! (…I know you’re out there playing hard to get, you coy little minxes…)

I know I said I would post more, and then didn’t because I forgot there are only 24 hours in a day and a lot of that time is unfortunately taken up by lame stuff like sleep and hygiene and working at a paying job and spending time with the family, etc.

Truth be told, trying to legitimately self-publish my first book (Battlefield High) is pretty freaking hard. Sure, I technically self-published Spice of Love back in 2015, but I knew nothing back then…

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…so I just dropped it on Amazon with little to no marketing, and three people and my mom bought it.

BUT I’m doing it right this time, with a self-pub plan and checklist and everything! I’m totes legit now. Maybe I’ll flop, maybe I’ll be the next Wool, who knows!

When reading up on how to self-pub the right way, however, it can be super-overwhelming. You need to do about a million things yourself, such as making/buying a cover, all the editing, all the formatting (“Why do extra blank pages appear out of nowhere when I convert my epub file into a MOBI file in Calibre? WHY GODDAMMIT??”), reviewer requests, marketing, etc…OH YEAH and all the other stuff to spit-shine my adjacent products like my newsletter and website. For instance, I eventually need to update my newsletter format, change my FREE BOOKS page, update Spice of Love and try to market that again to maybe people who care this time, pay attention to analytics and start tracking shit like clicks and impressions and buys and………AND………AND…..

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But you know what? It’s still almost certain to be better than the traditional publishing route.

Now I’m not gonna go into a “WHY ME??” pity party rant about how much trad-pub sucks balls for everyone except a tiny sliver of successful authors at the top or whatever, because nobody wants to hear that. I did learn a lot going the trad-pub route, so in that respect it was worth it just to experience both options first-hand and be able to weigh the pros and cons of each.

I will say this, tho – I was shocked at how little value went back to the authors via the trad-pub route (again, excepting the sliver of big authors at the top). In fact, most of the publishing world is geared toward making money off authors rather than with authors. Since most new authors will get little to no marketing help from their publisher, they’ll often suggest hiring a PR firm or paying for your own ads. Personally, I ended up spending a lot more money trying to market my previous trad-pub books than I will probably ever earn back off sales, and I don’t think my experience is unique.

Which is unfortunate. So thank goodness for the rise of self-publishing! It’s a lot more work, but you have a lot more control and can own your potential failure rather than bitching about how trad-pub is so unfair………like some other losers I know……WHO ARE NOT ME…………………

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ANYWAY, also making things about a thousand times harder are the worst allergies I’ve had in my entire life. I seriously want to claw my face off right now, or cut off my nose with a butter knife just to allow air back into my nasal passages. Sorry if you now have disturbing images in your head. One of the dangers of being a writer!

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3 Reasons Why You Should Never Skip The Inciting Incident

[This article first appeared in Night Owl Reviews]

“Nope, this is not rising to the quality I have come to expect from this author. Why did they skip the inciting incident? Why?”

Maybe I’ve been cursed by the book gods and need to sacrifice another virgin at the secret blood altar they keep in my local library’s basement (all the best libraries have one), but I’ve had crap luck with books lately. I’ve DNF’d the last four out of five books I’ve read, primarily for story mechanics issues. They’ve either dragged or didn’t establish a solid foundation before jumping into the action, or just weren’t very compelling stories. I’m a slow-as-shit reader, so slogging through a book I’m not that into can take weeks to reach the payoff of a “meh” experience. If a book doesn’t hook me within the first ~30%, I peace out and move on. Continue reading 3 Reasons Why You Should Never Skip The Inciting Incident

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Jessica Jones, Season 2 – Part 2: Bye, Felicia (Jessica)


RANT TIME.

So, that happened. By “that” I mean Jessica Jones season 2, and by “happened” I mean mercifully ended so I can go on with my life.

Spoilers ahoy!!

Shortly after I wrote my bitch session about the first part of the season, I poked around the internet to see if other folks had concerns, too. They did! But the general consensus was the show took off after episode seven, when it’s revealed the Big Bad is Jessica’s mom and they bond over having super-strength and missing each other and whatnot. If only that’s what happened. In reality, it just kept getting worse until I cheered when the season was blessedly over. Hubby is happy too, cuz now he doesn’t have to hear me constantly complaining through every episode. Continue reading Jessica Jones, Season 2 – Part 2: Bye, Felicia (Jessica)

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Jessica Jones, Season 2 – Part 1: What Happened To This Show?

I’ll admit it – I’m not a huge fan of superhero movies. They tend to prioritize spectacle and fanboy service over a compelling story…with some notable exceptions, including Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies and a few of the X-Mens (Logan especially…where was Hugh Jackman’s Oscar nomination, dammit?? He was robbed!). Just the thought of hubby dragging me to Avengers: Infinity War gives me cold sweats of dread.

Of course, I like horror movies – the psychological kind, not the torture porn stuff – but can’t get hubby to watch those with me, so what good is he, really? I’m still trying to figure it out.

Anyway, even though I’m not a fan of superhero movies because of the lame stories and tedious fight scenes that go on forever (seriously: Hulk vs Thor, two un-killable beings punching each other for eighty billion minutes…WOW, how excitzzzzzz), I love the concept of people existing amongst us with special abilities. It opens up so many “What if?” scenarios – be good or evil? Live large or stay grounded? Keep your powers secret or tell the world? But for me anyway, the key to an interesting superhero story if focusing on how people with special powers interact with everybody else in the normal world, and how their alienation affects their humanity.

And this is why I LOVED the first season of Jessica Jones! Krysten Ritter was awesome as Jessica, a PI with serious inner demons and special abilities she didn’t want (super-strength) who’s just trying to get through the day in modern New York City. In fact, the title character of my Valentine Shepherd series is basically Jessica Jones if her superpower was seeing the future during sex (it’s a weird series I’ll admit, but worth reading if you like that kind of thing! Check it out, in fact). The show had a cast of awesome characters, including an ice-cold lesbian lawyer played by Carrie-Anne Moss, aka Trinity from The Matrix, a cute sorta-sidekick heroine addict, Jessica’s hot boy-toy Luke Cage (Mike Colter, who went on to his own show), a bunch of weirdo regulars in Jessica’s apartment building, and an epic villain played by David Tennant. It also had Trish, Jessica’s best friend, but she’s annoying as shit. Sorry, but Rachel Taylor, who plays Trish, just cannot convincingly deliver a line of dialogue.

So most of this awesome cast – and Trish – is back for season 2, which just dropped a few days ago. I’m halfway through the season, and…it hurts to say this, but it’s not very good. I knew it probably wouldn’t be as good as season 1, but this season seems particularly bad, almost like the writers couldn’t decide where they wanted to take the show, so they Mad Libbed it all together to form a barely coherent narrative.

First I noticed there were some blatant continuity errors. For instance, Jeri – the lawyer – hires someone to get in touch with Jessica for her (they had a falling out at the end of season 1) for reasons she won’t say, then finds out she has a serious illness. She later contacts Jessica herself because she wants Jessica to dig up dirt on her law firm partner so they won’t force her out due to a medical termination clause…So why did Jeri want to get in touch with Jessica to begin with if she hired the other guy to contact Jessica BEFORE she found out she was sick? It’s never explained, so I’m assuming it was a continuity error. Then there’s a scene where Jessica mentions it’s hot as hell cuz it’s the peak of summer, but then we see external shots that clearly show it’s springtime (people in light jackets, trees beginning to bloom, etc.). Then we meet a nurse who’s supposedly been on the run from something nasty she saw (sadly not in the woodshed) while on duty in a secret hospital ten years ago, but the actress is obviously in her mid or late 20s, so……..

(I looked it up – the actress is 33, so I guess it’s technically possible if she JUST got out of nursing school when the stuff in the hospital happened, but she’s also supposedly been been living on the streets for 10 years so there’s no way she looks that good even if you buy her age)

THEN Jessica gets a ridiculous tip that a shady doctor she’s looking for just might be hanging out in an aquarium next to an octopus because that’s where he used to go sometimes TEN YEARS AGO, and lo and behold he just happens to be there on the day Jessica cases the joint, and then the aquarium glass breaks but everyone runs out of the aquarium dry, including Jessica, but her phone is somehow soaking wet which conveniently prevents her from taking pics of the fleeing perps and WTF IS HAPPENING HERE?

This is just sloppy storytelling. I can suspend my disbelief for one or two editing errors or obvious contrivances but COME ON. Season 1 didn’t pull this shit. Also, this season’s villain isn’t nearly as compelling as David Tennant’s smooth-talking nightmare Kilgrave…in fact, at this point in the show (I’m up to episode six) it’s not even clear WHO the actual villain is, only that bad stuff is happening for some reason. And stupid Trish is still around, and we’re expected to care about her stupid problems.

On the plus side, Krystin Ritter and everybody else who’s not Trish continue to kill it, and Jessica’s slow-burning romance with her new superintendent is sweet and understated, a nice change from the insta-lust sex-fest (which eventually developed into sorta-feelings) she had with Luke Cage.

So. I’m still looking forward to watching the rest of season 2, hoping it’ll have a second-wind comeback! I’ll report on my final feelings when I’m done watching the season. Fingers crossed Trish decides to get help for her various addictions someplace far, far away!

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Words with Weight