Tag Archives: writing



First day of Blogtober leads to absolute mental vapor lock. I either have to much to talk about or not enough. I’m still not sure which!

I think sometimes about what I want this blog to be. Of course I’d love it if it went viral, generated a ton of hits and a bunch of followers, but I’m just not interesting enough for that. And this isn’t a traditional journal. I’m not sure what a journal entry should be but it doesn’t feel like what I do somehow.

In a lot of ways, it feels more like a correspondence, me writing one sided letters to the universe. I always wanted to live that kind of literary life, sharing letters back and forth, documenting the lives of two people separately and together. I email a thousand times a day with Nikki and Deb. This is how we stay connected and in each other’s lives. But they’re more like snatches of conversation without the gravitas of the written word.

This blog is more like all those letters I imagined sharing with some unknown someone. If you’re reading this, you are who I want to share with. You don’t have to write back. It’s enough for me to tell the story, share the thoughts, put it out there.

So we’re off with Blogtober. Don’t know what I’ll talk about, because that would require more planning than I’m capable of at the moment. But I hope it’s entertaining anyway!

Writers Weekend 2017

Writers Weekend 2017

We’re back in the woods for another Writers Weekend (check out the tag for our previous WW adventures. Including turkeys).  We missed last year due to other commitments on everyone’s part, and all three of us really felt the loss of it.  So this year we all knew we had to do this, come hell or high water.  We did get a slightly later start than we like because Deb had a commitment Thursday night (darn that real life, anyway), so Friday morning we got all our kids out to school and then hit the road to the Poconos.  See below for how much stuff 3 writers need for 4 days away.  And that doesn’t include groceries.

Not as much as when we go camping, but it’s only for 3!

Day 1 is usually a wash.  We need to decompress from our day to day lives and get settled into the house.  Yesterday was no exception.  We got up here around 11, unloaded the car, made the beds, started warming up the house, and then went out for lunch and grocery shopping.  Lunch was at this run down looking diner that I’ve been past a million times going camping (our campground is about an hour past Deb’s mountain house).  The food was surprisingly good, although I think their meatloaf was actually their gyro meat.  And we bought a pie.  Because diner pie.  Then we went grocery shopping.  The nice thing about three grown women in a house together is we all take turns cooking, and we are mostly reasonable when we go shopping.  Yes, we always end up with too much snack food, but hey, at least it’s 75% healthy snack food! 7 bags and 4 dozen bottles of water later, we were off to Lowe’s and Walmart (shudder) to get new lamps for the house.  Deb always walks a fine line on these trips between being on vacation and being a rental owner.  We try to keep her on the more relaxing side of that line, but sometimes needs must.  This was at least easier than the year the gas fire wouldn’t turn on.  That wasn’t fun!

We got back home around 3:30, got unloaded and Nikki got the traditional WW Tikka Masala in the crockpot, then we all lounged around until dinner.  I got some software installed on my computer and played too much Minecraft while Deb did hockey research and Nikki actually did writing work (making the rest of us look bad.) But again, first day is a wash, so no stress.  I did spend some time that evening going through one of my seed catalogs, so that’s something off my list.

All my favorite places have fireplaces

I do have a goal list for the week

  1. Scripts for the podcast I’m planning – I need to write introduction and closing scripts, as well as actually coming up with a name.  I want to record the demo by the end of the month, so I need to get cracking
  2. Oestara ritual – I’m leading the Oestara ritual for Gaia’s Rainbow this month and need to actually get it written
  3. Sherlock shawl test knit – this is due back to the designer by the end of the month.  I’m on clue 3 of 9…
  4. Finish my mom’s shawl.  Before she hunts me down with knives.
  5. Write and bank a few blog posts – Theoretically March is a blog every day month.  Yeah, no.  Maybe April
  6. Garden plan – Spring’s coming almost faster than I’d like.  I need to get seeds started, so I need to get, you know, seeds.

I think I’m off to a good start.  Last night I got the recording software installed on my laptop so I can use it as my onsite podcasting studio. I also got my volunteer application in to the Unitarian Universalist General Assembly in New Orleans in June.  If I can get that, it pays my attendance fee ($350.  Oof.) and I just have to figure out travel and accommodations. (Also oof.)  And I got through one of my seed catalogs, the one I’ll primarily be ordering from this year.  (Johnny’s Selected Seeds, for anyone who’s curious.)

Slept kind of rocky last night, either really hard or wide awake.  But I woke up with the basic ideas for the ritual, so this morning I worked on developing that.  The theme is eggs and seeds.  For our working, we’re going to make seed eggs (basically seed bombs shaped like eggs).  So I researched seed bomb how-to’s, ordered the matrix for it and the seeds, and got the rough outline written.  I still have to write the cast and calls and a quick charging meditation, but that’s pretty easy once the how to’s and why for’s are figured out.  I think there will then be a nap.  Then I want to finish Clue 3 on the shawl, and then I can go through another seed catalog.  And poke at my garden plot maps to make sure I have room for everything, or that I’ve filled everything.  I’m never sure which I’m going to end up at!


Writing Begets Writing

Writing Begets Writing

Long ago, when I wrote regularly, if people would ask me how I wrote so much, I would tell them you have to write to write.  I wasn’t being smart, honest.  Writing begets writing.  Writing is a muscle, in its own way.  The more you do it, the more the ideas flow, the more words structure themselves in your head, and the easier it is to keep writing.  It doesn’t matter WHAT you write, you just have to write something, every day, no matter what.  A few pages on your story, a blog post, a letter, hell, even a shopping list.  Just write SOMETHING.

And then I stopped writing ANYTHING.

Granted, I had good reason.  Between my separation and having to take care of three kids on my own, all my health issues, job insecurity, house reclamation, and just basic survival, I didn’t have time.  (That’s the other thing you need, time.  Which can be harder to come by and a lot easier to use as a fallback excuse.)  I wasn’t in situations anymore of enforced idleness that I could fill with writing.  Writing required scratching out time that I just couldn’t find.  I wrote it off (pun maybe intended?) and didn’t write regularly.  So when our annual Writers Weekend came around, I would try to cram in a ton of writing all at once.  This is like trying to run a half marathon when your previous athletic experience was all back in high school and you didn’t bother to train.  You can do it, but it’s going to be really, REALLY ugly.  And it was.  I finished a book after 5 years when my average for that length had been 6 months.  I have another half finished novel that gives me agita just thinking about.  Writers Weekend 2016, date yet to be determined, is coming up again.  Will it be another bloodbath?

Possibly not.

You see, two things have changed.  The first is this blog.  I haven’t been as regular on it as I would like, but I have been posting, and in doing so, I’ve been pretty wordy (sorry about that.)  Just taking the time to do them, though, has started warming up the brain.  Kind of like starting a walking routine.  Words on paper.  Or in this case, on the screen.  (Yes, I’m bad.  These posts go straight from my brain to the keyboard to you.  No editing, no revision.  You can probably tell.)  The 30 day challenges are really good for that, as it pushes me a little more than just casually posting would.  I have to come up with a lot of topics and put the time in front of the keyboard.

The other change is the OTHER blog.  The WriteFFS blog is going pretty well.  Well, I say well.  I have 12 followers. I suspect half of them are porn blogs. ::shrug::  BUT.  Because of it, I’m looking at writing blogs, both on Tumblr and on the broader internet, every day.  I’m THINKING about writing more..  Which may seem a bit masturbatory, but thinking about writing makes you want to write.  Going back to the fitness metaphor, I read an interesting piece of advice from the actor Terry Crews who said that if you want to work out, just start by going to the gym every day.  It doesn’t matter what you do, even if you just sit there and read a magazine.  Just getting there every day is half the battle, and eventually, you’ll want to try something.  That thing will lead to the next thing, and eventually you’ll be working out.  Just show up.  That’s what the WFFS blog is doing for me.  It’s me showing up, every day, 3-4 posts a day.  Yes, my queue is doing the actual posting, but I’m having to keep that queue filled, and I want to fill it with more than just reblogs (shares for you FB people).  So I’m out on the internet, finding other writing blogs to link to, to follow, to get ideas from.  Which is making me think about writing.  Which is making me want to write.

I’m not writing yet.  But I am organizing.  The story that I mentioned was nibbling at me?  Not writing it.  But I am starting to lay out characters and a rough, VERY rough outline.  It’s a major genre change for me, so I may resort to writing tools.  Need to start looking for more Scrivener and Evernote tutorials.  Right now I just have 35 rows in an Excel spreadsheet neatly numbered, one for each chapter, the first 6 of which just say “Mad Annie is looking for you.”  I’ll fill in more as the plot develops.  It’s taking its time, so I’m taking mine.  I found this amazing quote while working on the blog, though:


It really helped me focus what I was trying to do with this story.  (For the record, it’s a post-apocalypse buddy/heist story.  Leverage meets The Stand?)  I was focusing too much on the politics and the worldbuilding and complicated machinations.  I need to focus on what’s important.  The people. Relationships, values, the human spirit.  But without the blog, I probably wouldn’t have found that, and this would still be more of a wish than a story.

This was a really long winded way of saying Write.  Every day.  It doesn’t matter what, it doesn’t matter for whom.  Post it, don’t post it.  Fiction, non-fiction, to do list, wish list, anything.  Anything you have to stop and think about.  Anything that requires the smallest amount of mindfulness.  All the tips about setting aside dedicated writing time, creating an environment, establishing writing triggers, they’re all good, but they don’t always survive first contact with reality.  Just write anything.  Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t do it every day, but strive for it.  You’ll get better at it.  It will get easier.  Even only 300 words a day gets you a novel a year.

Coming Up For Air

Coming Up For Air

Random cat picture. I don’t talk about him in the post, but isn’t he handsome?

Rising to the surface briefly to report that I am not dead.  Yay!  By way of summary:
  1. I started actually training on the new job last week.  Hurrah!  I think once I master it, it will be good, but right now it’s terribly frustrating.  I’m slow and stumbling and I hate not being good at things.  But everyone on the new team is really nice (and young!  ZOMG, so young…), and there’s lots of room for me to develop once I get the basics down, so I just have to be gentle with myself for the next few months.
  2. The washing machine is fixed.  To the tune of $210 dollars.  Ouch.  But worth it.  The technician was worried about my water supply (it leaks a few drops an hour) and my hoses.  I can replace the hoses myself easily enough.  The water supply…well, that will keep for now.  But I realized that this washing machine is the one we bought when we moved into the house 18 years ago.  It’s done very well by us!
  3. Speaking of fixing things, I finished my bike repair class last night.  What a great class!  I can now change tires, replace brake and derailleur cables, and even disassemble and rebuild wheel hubs!  If you have a bike in the Delaware Valley, I highly recommend taking this class and/or checking out Bike Church at the Neighborhood Bike Works.  What a great resource!
  4. I broke my toe.  Yes, on the same foot.  I think it’s cursed.  Not much to do about this one, though, except wait it out.  Which means no running.  Considering the state of the roads, that isn’t as much of a hardship as it was this summer.
  5. I’ve been watching way too much Great British Bake Off.  This is a bad thing.  I’ve put on an additional 3 pounds.  There may be eclairs in the near future.  There will definitely be a blog post.
  6. The payment deadline for Hero’s trip is getting closer.  GAH!!!  In a fit of panic, I started a fundraising campaign on RallyUp to help raise money for those last payments.  If you’re one of the few people who I haven’t force-fed this campaign, please go and check it out, and donate if you can or just share it on social media if you can’t.  We’re about a third of the way to our goal with 6 weeks until the final payments.  In the meantime, she’s selling frozen pizzas and will be working the next few months on making and selling hoagies at school.  She’s had to give up art club for the foreseeable future to do it, but I think/hope this drives home that you need to sacrifice sometimes to get the things you want.  Growing up is hard, yo.
  7. We’re getting ready for a houseguest from Germany next week.  Morgan’s boyfriend is coming over so the two of them can go to a convention in NYC next weekend.  Not only will it be the first time we’ve met him, it will be the first time he and Morgan will meet in person.  I’m both nervous and excited for Morgan, and want to do what I can to help make a good impression on his behalf.  So this week we are cleaning the house within an inch of its life.  And trying not to think about what young men in love are thinking about.  Having your kids grow up is hard, yo.
  8. I have the beginnings of a new book poking at me.  Shh, we don’t want to scare it.
I think that’s it for now.  Updates as they arise!

Write Now

Write Now

CYIf1HbWEAEZKwSWe received word recently that our go-to publisher, Amber Quill Press, would be closing their doors come March.  Publishing is a fierce industry to begin with, and digital publishing is no longer the land of opportunity it once was.  Pressed by rising fees and competition from Amazon, the mainstream publishers and self-publishing, the owners of AQP have decided to withdraw with dignity.  I can’t thank them enough for taking a chance with us and giving us a lovely home the past eight years.

But that leaves Nikki and I with a dilemma.  We have a six book novel series with them as well has almost a dozen novellas between us.  Rights for all of these will be reverting back to us come the end of March.  So our question is, what do we do with them?

In some ways, this change may be a good one for us professionally.  We’ve both become rather complacent in the last few years.  AQP would take pretty much anything we’d write, so we didn’t really pitch to other houses, putting all our eggs in one basket, as it were.  And neither of us have ever been very good at promotion, but with a publishing house behind you, you can kind of pretend that they’re taking care of the promotion (even when they really aren’t. No blame to them, it’s not their jobs.)  So we both had to sit back and think about what we were (and weren’t) doing, what we wanted to do, and what we were willing to do.

Which we avoided for a couple of weeks.

But last Monday, while we were having dinner before my bike repair class, I brought it up and we ended up having an impromptu business meeting.  Both of us agreed that our biggest weakness, whatever we decide to do with the stories, is promotion.  But after so long, neither of us had a clue how to do it anymore.  The techniques we used when we started have changed.  Mailing lists and chat rooms are a thing of the past (and honestly didn’t work so great when we did them.)  So we made a list of four people we knew were active in the business and seemed to be doing well, and divvied them up between us to get advice.  We also asked Deb, who does promotion for another medium (if you haven’t already, check out her podcast Verity!, an amazing Doctor Who podcast with a diversity of women panelists!)  Every single one of them came back with the same response: Master social media.

Easier said than done.

I’ve been on Twitter for ages, but from the “See what I had for lunch/look at my silly cat/kid/neighborhood” perspective.  Lots of retweeting, but not a lot of depth.  I have a Facebook page out of necessity, but I hate it and only check it once or twice a week.  My platform these days has been, surprisingly, Tumblr.  There’s an amazing diversity of voices there, and I’ve learned a lot on subjects I didn’t expect to from reading and talking to the people there.  Deb’s advice was to pick one platform and own it.  So I’ve decided to take on Tumblr.

Once upon a time, I saw a book titled How You Do Anything Is How You Do Everything.  I never read it, but just the title of it really resonated with me.  I think it’s very true.  And it’s kind of playing out in this process.  Nikki is amazing at the do-over.  When we write, she is the rewriter.  I’m always amazed at the magic she can do on a piece of text the second or third or even fourth time around, at a point where I would be (and have been) thoroughly sick of the words.  She carries that on into this process by remaking herself, going for a total rebranding.  She’s created a new blogosphere identity, N. M. Bunting, and gone to Instagram with pictures from around Philly and her travels.  It’s great, and you should definitely check it out.

Me?  I’m a Sagittarius.  The way I do anything is by going deeper, learning more, digging in.  I love writing, I love the craft of writing, and I love helping other people write.  So that’s the direction I’m taking.  I’ve started a Tumblr blog WriteFFS (Write For Fuck’s Sake), and am sharing reblogs and blog posts about writing, from inspirational words and pictures to concrete writing tools to writing prompts.  I’ll probably clean up my old Grey Gerou blog, rather than going through a rebrand, but that won’t be very active.  And once we decide what to do with the stories, both of us will use these new venues to promote the books.

But right now, for me at least, it’s the information sharing that’s the most exciting part.  I like being a teacher, even in this most shallow of ways.  So even if nothing else comes from it, I’ll have this now.  A sense of giving back to the writing community I love.

Turkey Pi(e)

Turkey Pi(e)


Our first full day in the mountains and all is as it should be.  We had to run out this morning for a couple of missing grocery items and pie for this mostauspicious of Pi days. We went to see if the farmer’s market was open (not until April) and we stopped by the local junk, er, flea market. While most of the stuff there was junk, er, antiques, all of us found something to bring home. It was pissing down rain,  and every time one of us would complain about the weather,  the other two would respond,  “Thank God!”  Because that meant we didn’t want to stay out in the world. Back we trekked to our hermitage, and we will most likely remain here for the rest of the weekend.

I finished a chapter over good Italian pork and provolone sandwiches and then laid down for a nap, only partly because I was tired. I tend to pre-write while I’m resting, kind of like running a movie of what comes next behind my eyelids so that I then just have to write it down. Plus I was cold. Although this bed doesn’t have my electric mattress pad.  I didn’t really warm up, but then I didn’t want to get out of bed because that would be even colder, so I ended up staying there for two hours. I’ll have to do some writing sprints tonight to make up for it. But I’m over a hump and I know what’s going to happen next, so I’m counting that as progress.

Then as we were getting dinner ready (Nikki is making tikka masala), we saw a bunch of wild turkeys out on the road.



This is the second night they’ve been out there.  I missed them last night, but this seems to be their regular route.  There were about a dozen of them all up and down the road heading into the woods across from us.  It was funny watching them try to walk over the snow, as is dense and wet and would hold them for a moment before they’d break it and sink. They’re big birds, though, and I couldn’t help thinking about cranberries and stuffing.

May do some knitting tonight. Although if the writing muses speak, my butt will be in that chair.

Writers Weekend

Writers Weekend

Where the magic happens

Well, I made it! Survived to that most glorious of holidays, Writers Weekend!

For those of you new to my life, Writers Weekend is a four day weekend Nikki, Deb and I take every year and go either to the shore or the mountains, just the three of us. No kids, no responsibilities, just peaceful coexistence and creativity. Ostensibly, as the name implies, it’s time to write, but the knitting bug bit on our second WW, and since then crafts of all sort have also been included. The nice thing about the women alone in a nice house in the woods is everyone cleans up after themselves and everyone pulls their weight. We each take turns cooking,  we all pitch in on the groceries,  and whoever cooks, the other two clean up. It’s just a much needed few days of calm in an otherwise insane existence. The house is lovely, of the beaten path up in the Poconos,  with a gas fire to curl up in front of and a lovely deck and fire pit if it’s nice enough to venture out.  Although honestly we usually pray for miserable weather so we’re justified staying indoors and creating. This will be our eighth year doing this, and every year it becomes more vital to my sanity.

I’ve been clinging to the promise of WW for the past few weeks as stress at work and at home has gotten worse.  I’ve been making packing lists,  planning my projects, deciding on meals all to get through. So of course when I left the office tonight, I left my packing list and my good headphones there by mistake.  Sigh. So I know I’m going to forget things. But I have the draft of my Gilded Age werewolves story to work on and may have had a breakthrough on the post apocalypse fairy (?) story,  I have two knitting WIP to choose from,  and I packed the Turkish spindle and some lovely black alpaca batt to spin if none of those appeal. I have my toiletries, comfy pajamas, a cuddly blanket and my computer to do design work on. As long as I remember my phone,  tablet and chargers tomorrow, I’ll manage without whatever I forgot.

So fare thee well, rat race. I’m off to the woods to be a creative bohemian spirit for a few days. There will be much tweetage (watch the hashtag #writersweekend2015 for tales from all of us) and maybe I’ll even manage to get something posted here!

My Books Are Cheap!

My Books Are Cheap!

Day Two of my blogathon is shameless self promotion.  Nikki and I received word yesterday that for the next week, all our India Harper titles are half off!  So, if you love cowboys, gamblers and crossdressers, check out check out One Eyed Jacks or Bloody Queens.  Or get them both in print in Kings of the West!

KingsWest OneEyedJacks BloodyQueens

Concerned about personal security?  Try Blood on the Mountain or Under a Rock (that one has a cowboy, too!)

BloodOnMountain UnderRock

More interested in police officers and detectives?  Then go wild and try the Creatures of Sin series!

SinsArrogance SinsOmission SinsAffection SinsInfluence SinsProfession SinsTemptation

(Click on the covers for the links)

As you can probably tell by the covers, these are all Male/Male (and sometimes M/M/M!) erotic romance/erotica titles, sometimes with D/s themes.  We love these characters so much, especially the boys in Creatures of Sin.  Just setting up this post has made me want to re-read them all!

I do think that’s a sign of being, maybe not a good writer, but a content one.  Being willing, even eager, to re-read what you wrote 5-6 years before.  Yes, my writing has grown and improved, but I’m still damn proud of these books.  If you give them a try, I hope you like them, too!

The Tyranny of Writing.

The Tyranny of Writing.

Today is the last day of my self imposed blogging challenge.  And I think I did pretty well.  Only two picture posts, and only one of those that was nothing but the picture.  And only one missed day.  But that day hurt.  Because today I don’t wanna blog.  *whine*

But that’s the thing.  Writing is a habit.  If you don’t do it, and honestly if you don’t do it every day, you get out of the habit, and it gets harder to do every day you DON’T do it.  And that’s especially true with blogging.  One day becomes two or three, and then you start thinking, “But so much has happened that I didn’t talk about, but it’s old so I don’t want to talk about it now,” and in the end you go silent.

So my advice to any writer is: write.  It doesn’t matter what you do, just write SOMETHING every day.  Do a 100 word story.  Write a letter or email to someone.  Do a blog post.  Plan a menu.  ANYTHING.  Write words every day.

June is over, and so is my blogging challenge.  But I’m going to keep blogging.  I’ll cut myself a little more slack.  Probably won’t blog while we’re camping, may not blog on the weekends.  But I will keep posting.  I need to rebuild atrophied writing muscles, and this seems to be the best way to do it.

(Oh, and I promise to write less about writing.)

Writer’s Life: The Next Step

Writer’s Life: The Next Step

The edits are done.

I finished all my revisions Wednesday and sent it off to Nikki for a last review.  She sent it back to me last night, and I finaled everything this morning.  In my weakened state, I just accepted everything she told me.  Hallelujah, it’s done!


The book is done, but now come all the annoying little details that go along with submitting the manuscript to my publisher.  Proper formatting.  Headers with all the relevant details. The synopsis and blurb.  It’s been so long since I’ve done any of this that I don’t even remember the difference between a synopsis and a blurb.  I just remember they both suck to write.  Don’t believe me?  Take your favorite book.  Anything.  Now, describe the whole thing with enough color and detail to capture my interest.  In under 200 words.

Go ahead and share them in the comments.  Share the pain!

Fortunately this is going to a publisher I already have a relationship with, so I don’t have to do all the other supporting documentation like author bios.  And I don’t have to have everything perfect because of that relationship.  I think I get lazy because of it sometimes, though.  Thankfully I’m in with two good, solid publishers, but it doesn’t encourage me to up my game.  Oh well, ease back into the pool, right?

So I’m about to send this off.  And then I can focus on writing the next one.

Because there’s always a next one.