Getting angry

masks showing emotions, anger.

Photo credit: @lattefarsan on Visual hunt / CC BY-SA

Characters have feelings, just like anyone else.  Sometimes those feelings get hurt, and characters get angry, and the interesting part for me is always how they come back from that particular ledge.  Often the person or situation they’re angry at is the bad guy or the Great Crisis of the book, and the way our heroes get past their anger is to defeat the bad guy, solve the Crisis, and go home victorious to have cake and fancy drinks and maybe flirt with that cutie over at the corner of the bar.  Or something.

But other times— and this is where I get really hung up— our heroes get angry at their friends, family, or love interest, and we all know that they’re going to have to work that out to get through the Great Crisis or else the whole story is a mess of people falling apart and nothing getting fixed.  So, often someone will talk to our hero and explain, either logically or not, that they’re wrong for being mad, and the hero sighs ponderously and agrees, either silently or out loud, and then they go and apologize to whoever they were mad at. And the story moves cheerfully along to its grand finale.

Fuck.  That.  People are allowed to be angry.  People are allowed to be hurt when they are wronged, or even think they’ve been wronged, and it’s not their job to apologize for having feelings.  This post was inspired by a book I was reading the other day, and yes I’ll admit it was a romance because I love me a happy ending, and no I’m not going to author-shame by naming it.

Our young hero agrees, after a long conversation discussing it, to date their love interest.  When the love interest is seen out with another, our hero gets upset and makes a small scene in public before being hauled off by his friend.  Now, in the story the whole thing hinged on a misunderstanding of exclusivity, and I can easily see how it could be resolved quickly, but instead of a reconciliation scene where two adults admit faulty assumptions, what I got was a “well we never talked about that, we just said we’re dating, now come on we’re going to do what I want now,” statement and within about 3 short sentences the couple was all over each other.  No further discussion was necessary, apparently, and all was forgiven even though the actual problem was barely even addressed let alone solved.  And they lived, I assume, happily ever after, but I wouldn’t know because I had to put the damn thing down and walk away.  I had no respect left for either of the characters involved.  And the love interest showed that they were uninterested in our hero’s emotional health to the point of being actually harmful.

Our young hero had every right to be upset since he was under the impression that they had talked about that, thank you very much, and discounting that fact is dismissive in the extreme.  It’s also maybe hurtful in bigger ways since in all honesty humans learn from fiction, and that scene taught that anger and hurt in a relationship should be buried and ignored.

That’s only one example of perfectly justifiable anger being ignored or pushed aside that I’ve come across, but it’s a pretty clear one.  I don’t mind anger in a story, because like I said, characters are just like everyone else, and they’re allowed to get mad when the situation calls for it.  It’s how they come back from being angry that can be hit or miss for me.  I would hope that there would be some sort of acknowledgment that a character’s feelings are acceptable, if only because they’re part of that character.

Now acting on that rage…. Well.  That’s another blog post altogether.


Shut In


So going to the doctors on Monday made me realize something.  I mean, I’d sort of noticed it in a peripheral sort of way, and made jokes, but I’d never really thought about it much.  I goof around about having to go to such great lengths as “clothes” to take my son to school in the morning. I teased my husband that I’m moving to Japan and planning to become a hikikomori.  I have been known to spend all weekend in my pajamas just because I can.

Basically, I dislike having to leave my house.  I actually kinda resent it.  I mean there are people out there!  Like, people that expect me to do things like have manners and know basic social conventions!  I am not good with real live people, what can I say?

Maybe that’s how I got so hooked on stories?  The people in stories don’t expect me to understand how to react.  I can get into their heads and see what makes them tick and it makes actual sense.  Mostly.  (More on that later, maybe…) I can never seem to think fast enough to deal with people in front of me in real life, but a fictional one on a screen or a stage or a page?  I can get my brain around that person.

I still have to go out to take my son to school though.  And there’s still at least one last show for me to work on before we move, and a few friends here care enough to force me to get out and be social.  And even in Tokyo there will be friends to see and new friends to meet and adventures to be had, so I won’t just stay in my apartment all alone, I promise.

Although, as a writer, I might have to block off a few days every week to live up to the expectations of me, my coffee, and my rickety typewriter. I aim to please, after all.




Not much to say today since I’m getting ready for some outpatient surgery.  I’m finally having an actual licensed medical professional look at my Head Bumps (under my hair) which have bugged me for a while now.  I am, um… not so good at taking care of myself.

We’re all pretty sure it’s just overgrown scar tissue, but better safe than sorry.  See, I was not the most careful of kids?  And, um, I may have sustained a few head wounds, which honestly probably explains a lot.  And over the past *mumblecough* years the resulting scars have decided to get uppity.  So today I am having them removed, and probably biopsied because that’s what doctors do with stuff the remove from people.

In less terrifying news, A Spirit’s Kindred is now live!  If you’ve been waiting till now to pick it up, the Launch Sale price is still in effect, so go snag yourself a fancy copy and let me know what you think!  I always hit ‘publish’ and then immediately see nothing but flaws in my work, personally, so it can’t be any worse than I’ve already told myself.

Anyway, think kind things for me, please, and if I get an awesome wrap-around head bandage I’ll make sure I post an embarrassing photo on the Facebook page.

Mary huh?

StockSnap_3BWN7KIF4TOne thing that I have trouble with as a writer— and let’s be honest, as a human being— is wanting to be someone else.  I think I’ve mentioned before how I suffer from anxiety and so on?  I try not to talk about it here too much partly because that’s not what this space is about and partly because it’s a little too personal.  For as open as I am about myself, there is still a part of me that’s kept for my nearest and dearest, what can I say?


It’s one of the things that first drew me to stories, in general.  The ability to read a book and, at least in my own mind, become someone else for a little while.  And of course, I have always loved stories with strong female characters in them because then, while I read that book or watched that movie or whatever, I could pretend that I was strong and brave and clever, just like Hermione or Alnosha or even the girls in Sailor Moon.  They weren’t necessarily perfect, but they possessed characteristics I didn’t see in myself growing up, and that sort of attitude stays with me.

female boxer raising her arms in victory

Photo credit: jumfer on Visual Hunt / CC BY

According to Wikipedia:  Mary Sue is an idealized and seemingly perfect fictional character. Often, this character is recognized as an author insert or wish fulfillment.[1] They can usually perform better at tasks than should be possible given the amount of training or experience.

It’s usually used as a derogatory term, and you definitely don’t want to have one in your story! You probably see where I’m heading.

I don’t actively seek out Mary Sue characters when I read (or watch a show) just so that I can identify with them and pretend that I have a perfect, idealized life, but when I do come across a character whose eyes I can see through I don’t automatically reject them.  I also look for a broader explanation.  Just because a character doesn’t have a skill at the beginning of the story, that doesn’t mean they don’t have a related skill they can adapt or a basic understanding of how the skill works without having any practice at it.  There are any number of things that can be going on in the life of a character, including legitimate giftedness.

Now I have written a couple of female characters, Sarah being the first to take center stage.  Every one of my characters does indeed have a little bit of myself in them, I can’t lie to you.  Sarah got probably a little more of my own self-doubt and social awkwardness than should have slipped by the edits, but I’ll have to live with that.  I’m fairly sure that’s not what Wikipedia means by ‘author self-insertion’ and it’s absolutely not any sort of ‘wish fulfillment.’ If anything, it put on display a part of myself I’d much rather hide from the world.  If any character in the Los Gatos universe is a Mary Sue, it’s Sarah’s dead grandmother, Lady Basically-not-appearing-in-this-book.  I do wish I was that outgoing and friendly and comfortable in my own skin.  Not to mention I kind of did envision my perfect backyard when I wrote about her garden.

But then I hear that basically, every female character is a Mary Sue unless they’re terrible characters. Hermione is one. Rey from Star Wars is one.  So my question, I guess, is why is every female character that discovers a gift or a skill or a talent some sort of terrible, throw-away, trope character?  It makes no sense to me, but I’m going to take any such accusations as a compliment.  I feel like Sarah and Doc and May are all in excellent company.  Right up there with Rey and Hermione.

Next up…

A Spirit's Kindred.jpg

Well, first things first, I suppose.  A Spirit’s Kindred is now available for pre-order!  Launch day is March 11th, and the promotional price will last for another week past that, so if you want the fancy pants Launch Price, now’s your chance.  I hope you enjoy Kai’s story!

It was a tough one for me to write.  I had to go back several times and redo large parts to avoid Kai falling into the whiny jerk role.  I think he’s got some fairly legitimate concerns about his own abilities, but as any writer (or artist, or actor or…) can tell you it’s really easy to take a legitimate concern and turn it into crippling self-doubt.  When there are external forces pushing you down that road as well… Well, you’ll have to tell me if I did an acceptable job or not.

Other than that, we spent this weekend here in Maryland trying not to get blown away by “windmageddon.”  It was the first time I’d heard about school being closed for wind, but then it was the first time I saw a street sign blown flat over without a hurricane behind it, so maybe the school system was on to something.

Hunkering down gave me plenty of time to think about the plot for the next Los Gatos book, and I think I might be on to something interesting.  We’ll see how it all works out this week.  It seems like I’ll be spending my time outlining and plotting.  I live to make life complicated, it seems.  Well, some lives, anyway… Sebastian and Doc don’t know what they’re in for.


Fresh News!

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It has been gloriously springlike here in Maryland.  Rainy, yes, but we’ve needed it badly.  The drought here isn’t as bad as it was in California before I moved, but it’s bad enough to warrant concern.  Besides, I love the rain.

Even though the weather outside is gorgeous and seductive, I’ve been inside pounding away at the keyboard.  I finally got to write the wonderful words The End at the bottom of Brian’s latest adventure.  After all the trouble this one’s given me I can’t tell you how relieved I am to see those six little letters.  Of course, the thing needs some major overhaul work on it, but I’ve sent it to my Alpha Reader for a once over before I return to it for the first round of edits.  Overall I’m pretty pleased though, and I think that the bones are good.  Look for news on a release date and so on.  I’m thinking soon, though.  Once I broke past the wall, it went fairly quickly.

A Spirit’s Kindred is coming out sooner though!  Slated for March 11th, I will put it up for preorder hopefully over the weekend, for a special reduced price for launch.  The cover is shaping up and looks amazing, you guys!  You’ll get to see it on Monday I have no doubt.  I’m being a little extra picky with this one, though, which is why it’s taking so long.  I’m pretty sure my cover artist is about ready to plot my death via thousands of paper cuts.

I’ve also got a special promotion slated to run at the same time.  Sarah’s Inheritance will be free from March 9th through the 13th if you haven’t picked it up yet.  Hard to beat free as a price point!  Anyhow, that’s all the news from here for now.  I’m hard at work on a few projects:  Brian’s adventure (man, I need a title for that!) and a new Los Gatos novel is slowly forming in my mind,  and maybe a fun short story or two for my newsletter readers are starting to come together a bit. Basically, the next few months should be a lot of fun, don’t you think?



I don’t have a real blog post today, I’m afraid.  I spent this weekend mostly pounding out the end of Brian’s next story, which still needs a title (I’m bad at titles, what can I say?)  I can at this point say pretty confidently that it’s almost ready to start the slide through editing and so on, and I have it tentatively slated for release in April.

So while I was consumed with writing about half-demons and mafia bosses, I managed to forget about blog posts and, you know, basically everything else.  Well, Jellybeans.  I did take a couple of jellybean breaks.

At any rate, I should have a cover reveal soon for A Spirit’s Kindred and the information on that should be up soon.  Basically, it was a very working weekend that kept me from getting any work done.  I hope you’ll forgive me!  I’ll do better for Thursday.

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Photo credit: Bennilover via Visual hunt / CC BY-ND

I admit that I was a little shy of posting this one, but I’ve been thinking about it a lot for the past week or so.  You see, nobody writes in a vacuum. Perhaps, more to my point, nobody publishes in a vacuum, and that’s pretty crucial.  As an indie author these days, having a group of people I can as questions of or celebrate with, people who can guide and inspire me.  And I have that, to a degree (thanks, brain, for being all shy and introverted!) in a couple of online writers’ groups.  But before I had that, before I even pulled the trigger on A Demon’s Duty, I had The Guys.

I met these guys back in college when I was convinced that I wasn’t good enough at… well, anything really.  I wasn’t creative enough or interesting enough or what have you.  I was a good technician, but I wasn’t a designer.  I was an avid reader, but writing my own stuff?  Nope, nobody was interested.  I’d had that point driven home very neatly in a creative writing class, thanks.  Not going to try THAT again.

But I still loved creating things and wanted to be a part of that.  That’s half the reason I went into theatre: I could still tell stories, I could work on the shows and be a part of the process, even as a very small cog.  And at the anime conventions I went to, I ended up on the back of the tables in artist’s alley, helping my friends to sell their books and their prints.

I’ve lost touch with a lot of those guys in the years since, but not all of them, and they continue to inspire the hell out of me.  I know I’ve mentioned Xero’s work here and over on my Facebook page. He’s incredibly creative, multi-talented, and goddamned relentless.  He and his wife are a Force to be Reckoned With, and I hope I can grow up to be that badass brave someday.  Mookie and I have stayed in touch over the years, and his opinions on heroes have definitely affected my own.  He’s also pretty relentless, and wouldn’t let me talk myself down even when I was being all ‘oh, no.  Nobody would ever want to read my stuff.’  My friend Garth (who now collaborates with Mookie!) is less prominently a writer, but every one of his drawings tells a story and makes me think.  I’m both impressed and jealous of people who can think visually, let alone create something coherent out of line and color like that.  I told him the other day that I have a goal to someday commission a book cover from him. Professional goals, folks.

There are more people who have given me the support and the courage to take that first step, and then to continue to encourage me to keep it up, keep writing and releasing my stories: my husband, my parents, several of you who have emailed me…  It’s all vital to the process, and even though I feel arrogant and snobby to call my books art, it’s true enough.  And art doesn’t happen in a vacuum.


Ghost light

an empty theatre and a stage band with band equipment

Signature Theatre, waiting between performances of Light Years

There is something special about an empty theatre.  It’s a space that is designed specifically to hold a crowd of people in order to tell a story, but when it’s empty, it seems to me that it’s a space holding its breath.  A place that is waiting and silence.  Of quiet,  but not necessarily a place of peace.  For me, an empty theatre is often more sacred than a church or a temple.

I’m sitting here, typing this, between shows— I am filling in for a friend this weekend as he fulfills a family obligation, and I’m proud to be able to be a part of this show.  It’s a story of a father and a son, and their journey through life, and it’s a little bit character sketch and a little rock and roll.  The script is compelling in a strange way, and the music is beautiful and, well, also a little bit rock and roll.

During the performance the theatre is full of life, even during the few silent moments of the show where everyone in the room seems to be holding their breath (myself included,) and any sound at all seems almost offensive, the space is still a living thing and you can feel that energy even with your eyes shut.

But not right now.  Right now the silence is heavy, but it’s a patient heaviness.  It’s strangely full of the echoes of all the stories told in this room in the past.  Not just the shows performed, but the injuries sustained— of which there have been several I’ve witnessed myself— and of the celebrations held.  (There is just about nothing that can top one cast member proposing to another during curtain call.)  I find both versions of a theatre to be inspiring, but it is this one, the silent, empty one that somehow brings me peace every time.

In theatre everywhere there is a thing called a ghost light.  It’s a simple thing, a night light really— often just a plain light bulb on a stick— to put the stage to sleep at the end of the day.  If you ask around, most theatre people will tell you it’s a safety device.  A light on stage when all the other lights are turned off so that anyone coming in isn’t at risk of tripping over something or falling into a hole.  Some folks will grin and tell you it’s there to keep the ghosts company because every theatre has at least one ghost.

Me?  I think those are both perfectly fine explanations.  But I think mostly a ghost light is there to make sure that the stories of the place can keep echoing.  After all, stories are the breath of a theatre, and when they’re gone, the space truly does go silent.  I think, in that way, a theatre and I are very similar.  We both need stories.


End of the night for Light Years, and the ghost light shines just before lights out.

Book Report: Hands of Lyr


So I promised a Book Report on Monday and here it is.  The Hands of Lyr is one of my all-time favorite fantasy novels, and Andre Norton is a phenomenal writer, so there you are.  My honest opinion.

What?  Wait, you want more detail than that?  *Sigh* fine.

So I first read this book, oh, years ago.  Before I even moved to California, so you know it’s been a while.  Well before ebooks were a thing, back when I thought the idea of me being any sort of writer was a ridiculous pipe dream rightfully and entirely crushed by creative writing classes in college.  I didn’t know until very recently (like, maybe a few months ago?) that it’s part of a series called The Five Senses.  I haven’t read any of the others (yet!) but if they’re anywhere as good as this one I’m definitely in.  Okay.  Deep breath, here we go.


I… don’t really understand this cover.  It is still 100% better than the paperback I have on my bookshelf though.

The story follows two people, both young and essentially alone in the world, and both with good reason to be both angry at the world in general and distrustful of each other specifically.  Alnosha— Nosh to her friends— was being driven to her death for reasons we never learn by faceless soldiers intent on dragging their prisoners through this inexplicable death-march.  They are being dragged through the Ryft, a barren, deadly place where even the dust is poisonous, and she is rescued by an old woman.  Over the years she learns that she has a gift, given to her by the goddess Lyr, whose valley the Ryft once was.  After many years of learning and surviving, she and her friend are driven to flee the Ryft and the old woman takes Nosh straight to the mountains and a band of outlaws.


Amongst these outlaws is a young man named Kryn who was barely grown when he watched his noble father give his whole family and all they owned and controlled to the Temple and the oily, power-hungry High Priest.  Kryn escaped the fate of the slave collar by sheer chance, having happened to be touring a holding on the edge of their territory on the day his father made the decision.  He steals his family’s heirloom sword back and makes a run for it into the mountains, where he meets and joins the outlaws, a group made up of others like him whose families were led mindlessly to Temple slavery.  He distrusts anyone with even a hint of magic since that is how the Temple has been destroying noble families one by one and leading the King into destruction and madness.


See, this cover actually makes absolutely no sense whatsoever and is only related to the book in so far as there are 2 characters on the cover.

Naturally, Kryn is commanded to guard Alnosha on her mission as she journeys through the world to find the ten crystal fingers, restore the hands of the statue of Lyr in the Ryft, and break the grip of the evil wizard behind the High Priest and the blight on Lyr’s valley.  Needless to say, they have many adventures, and learn to not only respect each other but become fairly fond of one another.  The dangers they face are not constant, nor are they always end-of-the-world stakes.  There are magic attacks from far off, bandits attacking a caravan, a scheming merchant bent on ruling a far-off city-state, and a sudden ice storm to be somehow survived as they search for the fingers and learn how to defeat the wizard.


Nosh is a pragmatic, determined young woman who does her best to be polite and respectful but spent much of her life being an honest to god(dess) hermit.  Kryn is hostile, but understandably so and does learn that magic is only as evil as the person who wields it.  The gradual journey between them from prickly hostility to grudging respect to friendship is so natural and understandable as they alternate rescuing each other that by the time you end the book it feels like such an obvious outcome that anything else seems laughable.

So, I don’t think you’ll be shocked to hear that I rate this book 5 out of 5 rutabagas.  I love this book.  Norton is a pretty major influence on my imagination and, I hope, my style.  I hope I have some small influence on your reading lists, and if I do, I hope you put The Hands of Lyr on your to-read pile.


Photo credit: akseabird via Visual hunt / CC BY-NC