Monday, February 28, 2011

Broadly Speaking: Romantic Speculative Fiction

Welcome to the second Broadly Speaking edition of the Broad Pod. Broadly Speaking brings you interviews and insights from women writers of science fiction, fantasy, and horror - and all the realms in between.  This month we're chatting about romantic speculative fiction with our host Rae Lori and our panelist of wonderful authors and SFR fans: Heather Massey of The Galaxy Express, K.S. "Kaz" Augustin, Cate Rowan.

Find out more about our guests on the web:


Heather Massey




Kaz Augustin

Cate Rowan

(Listeners may have to adjust your volume speakers up)

Download now or listen on posterous
SFR_Feb_Broadly_Speaking.mp3 (77925 KB)

Friday, February 25, 2011

Fiction and Faerie Friday

What is a Kelpie?

"The classic water horse in Celtic, and especially Scottish, tradition.  The Kelpie haunted rivers rather than lochs or the sea.  When a storm was due, the Kelpie could sometimes be heard howling and wailing. […] [H]is most usual shape was that of a young horse and in common with others of his kind his favourite trick was to lure travelers onto his back and then rush with them into a deep pool, where he struck the water with his tail, causing a sound like thunder, and then vanished in a flash of light.  He was also suspected of sometimes tearing people to pieces and devouring them."

"The best-known of the Scottish WATER-HORSES.  […] haunted rivers rather than lochs or the sea.  He could assume human form […]  His most usual shape was that of a young horse.  He played the ordinary BOGY OR BOGEY-BEAST trick of alluring travellers onto his back and rushing with them into a deep pool [ibid…].  He was suspected of sometimes tearing people to pieces and devouring them."
- Katharine Briggs, An Encyclopedia of Fairies.

"Scotland also has its water-spirit, called Kelpie, who in some respects corresponds with the Neck of the northern nations.  'Every lake,' says Graham [footnotes omitted], 'has its Kelpie, or Water-horse, often seen by the shepherd, as he sat in a summer's evening upon the brow of a rock, dashing along the surface of the deep, or browsing on the pasture-ground upon its verge.  Often did this malignant genius of the waters allure women and children to his subaquaeus haunts, there to be immediately devoured.  Often did he also swell the torrent or lake beyond its usual limits, to overwhelm the hapless traveller in the flood."

"… and the mischievous water-Kelpie also appears in his equine form, and seeks to decoy unwary persons to mount him, that he may plunge with his rider into the neighbouring loch or river."

Most people, when I tell them about my Work in Progress (WIP) ask what a kelpie is.  Here are some good answers I've drawn from.  There is also an entry in Wikipedia with info that I've used to help develop my Big Bad.  Elizabeth Bear also had a great kelpie character in her Whiskey and Water novel.

There was a cute movie called The Water Horse, which I know exists but I'm ignoring because my kelpie is not kid friendly. 

He's pretty damned terrifying.

And really, he should be.

First of all, horses are Big Freaking Animals.  I adore them, but I've been physically hurt by them more than by any other animal - including humans.  And most of that was just them screwing around and not meaning to hurt me.

I've been in front of a rear twice in my life - an intentional show of force.

I all but needed to change my pants.  It's scary!

Now, regular horses are prey-animals, prefer (usually) flight to fight, and eat grains.

Make one of those half-ton-and-up beasts a predator with a taste for little children?  And sentient?

F#*king horrific.

If you haven't seen the video of my horse, Calico, playing with her paddock mates, check this out… then imagine if they weren't playing. 

Oh, and they were dripping wet with weeds in their hair and fiery red eyes and wolf-like teeth?

And an aside regarding my last post on the magic of writing?  There's a prehistoric hoofed predator that's like a cross between a horse and a wolf. Oh, and the skull was found in a dried up riverbed.  So there!  Kelpie have prehistoric proof!

I'm so pleased with my Kelpie antagonist, who refuses to tell me his name so far because he's just like that, and I'm coming upon the Final Battle.  So, all I want to do is get there and write it.

So, this is all you get for my blog post.  Go look up Kelpies - and try not to have nightmares!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Magic Engaged

Especially among fantasy and science fiction writers, there's this phenomenon where we're tuned into… something… that's at least a little magic.

I'm not even talking about that "zone" we get in during writing, or how we can manipulate words to make pretty or powerful sentences.  Or even Terry Brooks' great little book Sometimes the Magic Works.

The magic I'm talking about is the stuff that makes us sit up in our chairs and look over our shoulder to catch a glimpse of that spectral being that must have been whispering in our ear when we put down something for the hell of it, when we make a guess about how something ought to work, when an idea in our heads just got real, y'all!

I've had more than a few of these instances with the current MacArthur kelpie novel I'm writing, but they're not the first for me.

Chris and I both plot similarly (at least, we do when we write together).  We go with our guts for as long as we can until we want to or need to include some details, then we research.  More often than not, especially thanks to things like Google Maps, we have found that the scene we pictured, the props we need for our characters, exist in real life. 

And we have a Keanu moment of "Whoa!"

Neither Chris nor I have ever been to the UK, but a lot of our stories happen there.  We set some scenes in Cardiff, Wales and found out that the timing we need for travel, the areas for buildings, all are right where we need them - and not necessarily based on the set pieces for Doctor Who or Torchwood, either.  Long before that, when we were writing scenes for our Shadow Guard game and stories, we found equally perfect locations in California (where neither of us had visited) and Maine (where I've been, but not where we set the story.)

For the MacArthur kelpie story, the closest I've been to Scotland are the Glasgow Lands in Northampton, MA (where we went to go see the most excellent Scottish-Canadian band Enter the Haggis).  One of my friends has Scottish lineage and his mother has a double citizenship, but I haven't done much brain picking. 

A few months ago, my writing group called attention to the fact it was time that my castle needed a firmer foundation than the mists of my mind, so I went to my friends' studio (where some truly magical research has happened on a few occasions), and spent 12+ hours of researching Scottish castles and geography.

Lo and behold, not only were a lot of the ideas in my head that I worried were a little crazy actually true, but I found actual floor-plans that I could modify with not a whole lot of work.  On top of that, and what really blew my mind, is that the location I needed to set my castle actually existed and, on top of that, housed remains of another castle as part of a nature reserve (did I mention that some major plot elements required that the story's castle abut a nature reserve?)

Scary enough, but then I started working on characters' birthdays.  Throwing aside the whole supposedly new crap about the astrological calendar, I've found that using the existing zodiac calendar has never led me wrong with character traits and that when I pull birthdays from my head for characters, they are usually spot on to their zodiac signs.  Now, the family story for the MacArthurs is complex enough without me adding in all my paranormal and faerie stuff, so figuring out when the heck every one of the kids and parents had to be born (and when they met, started dating/had sex/married) was another 12-hour day at my friends' studio.  But, like a perfect puzzle, the dates fit in and the characters were born in the zodiac signs that best fit their personalities.

Then, as if I needed some icing on my cupcakes that I now had and was eating, too (metaphorically), I decided to look up the history of the actual clan MacArthur (Clan Arthur) in hopes I wouldn't be offending actual people who were proud of their heritage by throwing in missing family lines and faerie contracts.  Well, come to find out, while one of the oldest clans in Scotland (and one that suffered a lot historically, particularly with relations in Britain… which I knew, in my head, the fictional family line had also done), there was a long time where they could not find the clan chief and the family tree was a little hard to follow. 

So, Michael's storyline could very well work in real life, too.

I'm not the only one that this happens to, either!  In a Clarion blog earlier this month, the author made a fantastic plant entry in the style of Darwin, and while the author, Eric Schaller, did a ton of research, he still notes a "happy coincidence" about Alfred Wallace having also gone to Madagascar as Darwin did, as well as the serendipity of pirates having also gone to Madagascar (both points in his fictional plant entry.)

Speaking more rationally, most writers are avid readers and researchers.  Of course, it's possible we could come across various bits of information earlier that our minds file away for later use and, beyond our conscious perception, become seeds and fertilizer laid down even before a story takes root.  I've been to more than a few Celtic faires, Glasgow Games, and similar events on US soil.  About 10 years ago, I was looking through old maps of Britain, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales for an entirely different novel.  I love British media.  I did some minor league stalking of David Tennant (Scottish) while he held the crown of Doctor Number 10.  Yes, I might have come across this information before, or at least had enough background knowledge to create plausible circumstances.

But I write fantasy.  Contemporary fantasy in particular.  I look for magic in the mundane.

Of course I'm going to find it.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Monday's News and Organizational Blog

The snow is disappearing!  The snow is disappearing!

Even the "neighbors" are happy.  Or they are just so sick of it that they'll get this close for a picture in case it may provide food.

In any case, more sunlight means I can get more done!  Why?  Well, there's the biological, vitamin D thing.  And the psychological and emotional need for at least a little sun - even for this semi-stealth Goth girl.

Of course, it so happens that there's plenty to do with this increased energy and sunlight.  Here's some of what's been going on:

A teaser: I've seen the sketches for the UnCONventional cover, and they are fabulous!  I can't share yet, but I squeed all day despite the aggravation of being late on some of my reviews.

If you're interested in being part of this excellent anthology, our submission guidelines are up here.  Check 'em out!


I met with my webmistress about a redesign of my website.  :)  Have I actually gotten my news updates to her yet?


*scribbles on to-do list.*


My email inbox is still just under 150 emails that need me to do something at sometime… so, uh, if you're waiting for some sort of response from me, you're welcome to email me again with a  virtual kick in the caboose.


Still working on Big Editing Project, and I've got a bunch of equine writing deadlines this week.  Along with the few team reviews I'm behind on… but those WILL get done when I wake up.


I'm slowly moving forward on Kelpie.  I met up with a few more writing friends from the Common Ground group that was active a few years ago, and they're pushing, too.  I also owe a letter and a copy of the UnCONventional open call to my correspondence writing group.


I'm waiting for checks.  And that just sucks.


I need to go to bed so I can now be better prepared to do all this stuff that I didn't do today… when I wake up on Monday/today.

This is even more "Bits and Ends" than my usual.  Therefore, it needed a different name.  Logically.

Yes, I'm tired.  Happy day!

Friday, February 18, 2011

From Love, with Sushi

About 6 or 7 years ago, Scott and I made reservations at a fancy-schmancy restaurant in Milford (near where we were living at the time), and were sorely disappointed.  "We can do better than this!" we thought.

So we did.

We started making our own specialty dishes for Valentine's Day.  We'd do surf and turf, Chicken Cacciatore (the first meal Scott ever cooked for me in college), rack of lamb, and all sorts of cool stuff - none of which was disappointing because we researched and cooked each dish with care.

Some years ago, Food Network did a bunch of specials on how to make one's own sushi!  We were especially enamored with Alton Brown's lessons - all of which were downloadable to watch and re-watch.  Scott got even more instructional DVDs for us, and I got him an expensive sushi knife for the prior Christmas.

Sushi requires a lot of care and precision balanced with creativity and love of all aspects of food: the appearance, taste, smell, texture, and even sound. 

It was the perfect way to celebrate our own love.  :)

Since then, it's been our Valentine's Day tradition to spend hours making sushi together.  We make our own sticky rice (occasionally with mixed results, but still sushi-useable), we select a few sashimi*-grade cuts a few days before, a bunch of vegetables, and make sure we have enough nori (the black wrapper part that's really algae, not "seaweed" like most people say), and enough Asian condiments (usually not a problem in our house). 

This year we got tuna (ok, we always get tuna because it's Scott's favorite, and I love it - and he makes a DAMNED good spicy tuna mix!) and salmon, which I recently discovered to be one of my favorite sashimi fish.

The rice takes 45 minutes in the rice cooker, which is when we prepare the fish and vegetables.  Scott removed all of the uneven ends of the tuna and salmon so we had perfect rectangles to cut from.

Then he chopped both and made a spicy tuna mix (YUM!!) and a sesame-teriyaki salmon mix (YUM!!). 

Then he mandolined or sliced the vegetables as appropriate.
(I take sous chef position on sushi-making because he's rather protective of his sushi knife… and me when it comes to the mandolin.  I stirred, retrieved stuff, and moved stuff to plates.  I also made tea and miso soup.)

 After that, the rice needs to be cooled and mixed with vinegar, mirin, and other stuff to make it extra sticky.  (I'm not going into a lot of detail on this because we really just play around - and there are now plenty of other great resources on how to properly make sushi on the Internet.)

Once everything is ready to go, we start putting stuff together.  Since I wanted pictures for the blog, Scott put together some step by step photos of making nigiri - the simplest kind of sushi: a cut of fish on a "finger" of sticky rice with some wasabi between.

The other kinds of sushi we make are maki, which is the roll-up inside the nori.  We also do hand-rolls, where you make a cone of sushi.  And, once we are too tired and too full to make more, we do "scattered" sushi, which is "wipe out your miso soup bowls, throw in the rest of the rice, veggies, and chopped up fish; eat with chopsticks while watching television (Castle and Supernatural this year) and drinking wine.  (Normally sake, but dry Prosecco is also a good match for sushi, and we had leftover from breakfast's bellinis.) 

And, of course, any sushi day would be incomplete without cute pix of Nylis begging for fish.

Even with - nay, because of - all the steps, sushi-making is a great date.  You work together and share each other's creations… with a lot of laughter.  Do a little research and try a sushi date, yourself!  Maybe you'll find a new Valentine's Day tradition you both can enjoy.

* For non-foodie readers, "sashimi" is Japanese for the raw fish that can be eaten by itself or as part of sushi.  Sushi is the item of food mixing raw (and occasionally cooked) fish with raw (and occasionally steamed) vegetables and sticky rice. 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Real life interlude on writing…

Celebrated Valentine's Day with the Husband-of-Awesome with our traditional sushi-making date.

More on Friday.

Oh, and Nylis approved.

The night before, drank some good absinthe, watched more of Supernatural Season 2 (yeah, I know I'm WAY behind - no spoilers!) and had dreams of saving the world from video game bad-guys while babysitting one of my oldest friend's kids.  (Not surprising, if you know these girls!)

And today was a belated celebration of my Mother's birthday where I donated more money to the Mohegan tribe in Uncasville, CT.  No more than was budgeted, however, so bills will be paid.

Tomorrow I'm doing a video interview with Nancy Chang manager about gluten free dining for Worcester Magazine.

At 10AM.

So, I have no time or desire to write a lot now.  Enjoy your abbreviated blog post!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

February Romance Episode of the Broad Pod

February Romance by Broad Universe  
Download now or listen on posterous
February Broad Pod.mp3 (21148 KB)

Welcome to the 2011 February episode of the Broad Pod!  Join hostess Trisha Wooldridge from A Novel Friend Writing and Editing for this month's romantic collection of short readings from women writing across the realm of speculative fiction.


The Broad Pod is sponsored by Broad Universe, an international, non-profit organization dedicated to promoting, honoring, and celebrating women writers of science fiction, fantasy, and horror.  Find out more about our organization, including new fiction released by women, more podcasts, and information about writing and publishing for women, at our website,


As February is the month of love, this collection of snippets are all touched by romance.  Pauline Baird Jones gives us steampunk attraction across time; Rae Lori shares love, lasers, and escaped prisoners; Jessica Freely introduces us to a budding relationship amid transgendered class warfare; and Diane Whiteside delivers us a first date between a supernatural-specialized private I and a sorceress.


So, grab a glass of wine, your favorite chocolates, and join the Broad Pod as we explore the boundaries of romance!

Posted via email from The Broad Pod posterous

Sunday, February 13, 2011

February Romance Episode of the Broad Pod

Welcome to the 2011 February episode of the Broad Pod!  Join hostess Trisha Wooldridge from A Novel Friend Writing and Editing for this month's romantic collection of short readings from women writing across the realm of speculative fiction.


The Broad Pod is sponsored by Broad Universe, an international, non-profit organization dedicated to promoting, honoring, and celebrating women writers of science fiction, fantasy, and horror.  Find out more about our organization, including new fiction released by women, more podcasts, and information about writing and publishing for women, at our website,


As February is the month of love, this collection of snippets are all touched by romance.  Pauline Baird Jones gives us steampunk attraction across time; Rae Lori shares love, lasers, and escaped prisoners; Jessica Freely introduces us to a budding relationship amid transgendered class warfare; and Diane Whiteside delivers us a first date between a supernatural-specialized private I and a sorceress.


So, grab a glass of wine, your favorite chocolates, and join the Broad Pod as we explore the boundaries of romance!

Posted via email from The Broad Pod posterous

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

More on that Pesky Business Side of Writing

After meeting with the excellent girls of Traveling Java, my local writers group, I came home and settled down to business.

I had about 20 Funds for Writers newsletters in my inbox. 

Note: I've mentioned the most fabulous C. Hope Clark before, and I'm not affiliated with her site (other than her having published 2 of my articles), but let me say again that I cannot recommend enough.  Go at least sign up for her free newsletter, but know the paid subscription is worth every penny and more!

Anyway, I subscribe to three of her newsletters, FundsforWriters, TOTAL FundsforWriters (the paid subscription), and FFW Small Markets, which covers a lot of the fiction markets (because fiction pays SMALL.)

My business for the night was to catch up all of my submission information.  I was severely hurting on this aspect of my New Year's business plan.  I had one - ONE - submission for this year and I needed to have 6 done to meet goal. 

I was also severely behind on my QueryTracker (another FREE service that I HIGHLY recommend!) information on Starbard submissions. As depressing as it was, I updated all my stuff there, which included two rejections I'd forgotten about because I hadn't recorded them.  The MS still outstanding at three agencies, all of which were sent out over three months ago, which was longer than their websites stated turnaround, so I followed up with all three of those.  I did this first because FFW also lists agencies and publishers, so I wanted to work based on updated information.

While I was updating, I pulled from my 2010 general fiction/poetry submissions spreadsheet three more subs that were still outstanding.  One is likely one of those "you don't hear from us = rejection," but the other two were a contest and a grant that won't post winners until later this year.

As I went through all of my FFW newsletters, I found one specific listing that I could submit to right now!  So, I did. Yay me!  I found a few other non-fiction or potential fiction-inspiring pieces that I liked a lot, so I kept a list of those and emailed it to myself.  On top of that, I found two publishing houses that I saved the information from.  One is Angry Robot, which will be accepting non-agented manuscripts in March.  Another was a Scottish contest called "KELPIES PRIZE FOR SCOTTISH CHILDREN," and I'm thinking… "hmm… my Kelpie novel is just for that age range."  Of course, the deadline was February 28th, so it was immediately followed by, snerk-snerk-HAHAHAHAHA! because I'm still drafting.  However, it's a prize with a history, so next year… something to think about!

Now, the newsletters and website are more valuable than just market and job listings.  There are a number of great articles - written by Hope, herself, or written by guest authors (like me and me.) 

Her article last Friday was the deciding factor in why I wrote on this particular topic today. (I had other plans… but I've got business on the mind and my other plans was on craft and magic.)  She often uses great animal analogies - something that resonates with me (I even emailed her a chicken adventure story because one of her chicken analogies helped in an real-life chicken experience; how's that for meta?!).  Last Friday, she wrote about her sons' puppies.

In a nutshell, one son is out of work, so he's using his time to work and train his puppy; the puppy has become exceptionally well-trained and mature.  The other son is in college and working, both great things, but he hasn't as much time to spend with his puppy - and you can tell by the behavior and effusive energy.  There writers who struggle to try and do everything: have a full time job, or several jobs, or many responsibilities, and yet expect to produce a mature and powerful manuscript in a reasonable amount of time. Then, there are writers who, for some reason or another, do not have to work or nurture as many responsibilities, so they can spend hours and hours on craft, creating a strong, high-quality manuscript in a  (relatively) short time.  "All of us fall into one of these categories, or one of many levels in between. You cannot devote your primary time in one direction and expect your writing to evolve in your absence. On the other hand, you cannot expect to make money for a while when you write fulltime."

Why highlight this?

I got home from my writers group at a little before 9PM.  It's almost 3AM now, as I'm writing my blog.  (And I still need to edit, proof, and post.)  That's almost a full-time work day.  I ate dinner at my desk, and took a half hour break to check on Facebook (I timed it.)  Now, before my writers group meeting, I had already spent an hour on critiquing, an hour on interviews for an article… and also had to finish laundry, dishes, and throw dinner in the crock pot. Oh, and somehow there were two-and-a-half hours devoted to horse duties in there.

That's well over a whole business day's work.  Even the writers group - as fun as it is - is devoted to writing. 

Staying on focus with the business end MUST get the time it needs.  And constantly re-evaluating our time management is part of that.  Now that I've mostly caught up on 2 months of submission neglect (I've been neglecting since December 8th, exactly, per my Almighty Spreadsheet.),  it will be easier to stay on track now.  There are still some FFW newsletters in my inbox because more than half the newsletter had leads for me and/or an article important to my business.

Based on what Hope said about the categories of how writers spend their time and my experience with so many writers - especially women - is that we fall into that first category of needing to make money and run a business.  That simply must be attended to. 

Don't neglect the business end of writing, even if you do have the luxury of spending hours upon hours writing.  Keep atop your submissions, your stories sold, your book inventory (if you've got one.)  Write, yes, but unless you're simply writing for yourself, don't let that be the end all, be all.

Give business the time it needs for you to be successful.

Monday, February 7, 2011

A Very Late "Bits and Ends"

We're a week into February, and I'm feeling the crazy-busy of the month big time.  So much that I was up so late last night that I didn't have time to blog.  (And then, promptly, overslept… bring on the Vitamin D and Sunshine!)

So, in a semi-chaotic, Manic Monday form, here's some stuff I'm doing that I hope you enjoy!

Saturday, February 11th, 12-3PM

2 River Road, Stafford Springs, CT.

Because Renée and Sean are close friends, their store gets my very special reading rates:

$10 - individual
$15 - couple

Each reading is about 15 minutes long, possibly 20 for a couple.

Please come out.  If you've never seen the Tarot Reader side of me, I believe you'll be pleasantly surprised.  Thanks!


Sunday, February 12th

Romance Broad Pod!!

Five Awesome Broads share snippets of romance fiction from their novels in the Broad Universe sponsored podcast based on our popular Rapid Fire Reading events at science fiction/fantasy conventions.  Now you can enjoy the fun from the comfort of your mp3 player every month.


Sunday, February 27

Broadly Speaking: Writing Romance hosted by Rae Lori

I can't tell you how excited I am about this second Broad Universe podcast!  We're interviewing authors based on the topics of the Broad Pod, and it's a whole lot of fun - and educational, too!  We talk about writing technique, research, craft, marketing… whatever we can in our 30 minutes.  Please, tune into this second episode!


Besides those public things:

I'm meeting with my writer's group tomorrow, which is always fun and wonderfully inspiring for me.

I've got three more article deadlines for the month.

I've got a fabulous new project I'm starting this month that I signed an NDA on.  ;)  (So, I can't tell ya' 'bout it!)

I need to get back to Conbust (in the next few days) with the details about my Tarot and Writing workshop!  (So, go to Conbust!  Register now!)

I need to catch up on my fiction submissions (1 submission all year, alas!)

There's 200 emails just sitting in my inbox, most needing pretty quick action.

I have the first set of Spot-Checks and reviews due for my tutoring team.

Oh, and I actually want to spend some time with my horse, cat, rabbit, and husband… y'know?  Selfish stuff like that.

So, that's why my Manic Monday blog is so flipping late.  And why there's a bunch of you still waiting for responses from me… for which I apologize very much!  I'm continuing to work - promise!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Wintery Wednesday

In lieu of a proper blog post due to disgusting amounts of snow removal, car repairs, and care repairs, sticker, and other errands on craptacular roads.  Here are some wintry pictures.

Here's the Bay State Equine Rescue quarantine barn.  Yes, that's our president, Susan Sheridan, and another volunteer on the roof, shoveling.  Yep, that's our tractor that got them up there.  And all that is snow.  (Photos taken by BSER volunteer, Ashley.)

And here's Calico running around with Mac, I think, in the most recent episode of Snopocalypse 2011.  Don't be fooled that you can see their hooves.  The paddock was recently plowed and then packed down.  Drifts are up to our horses' bellies.

Writing accomplished: Some editing on the scenes I need to send to my Writers Group whilst sitting in the car repair place.  But not enough to send them.  :p

Dear Mr. Groundhog - take pity on us!!

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