Spring cleaning writer challenge and Joke de-recommendations

I was tagged by Jennette in the Spring Cleaning Writer’s Challenge. I thought it sounded like fun, so here we go! Mostly, it’s an excuse to talk about what we’ve been working on.


1. Dust bunnies and plot bunnies: Reorganize your writing goals or make new ones.

My writing is kind of in limbo at the moment. I submitted a book to a publisher, and until I hear back yay or nay, I don’t know whether to dive into book 2 or wait to do revisions on book 1.

I did have two stories published in anthologies recently! I contributed a sci-fi story to an anthology themed around battles on Mars, and I contributed a story to a humorous fantasy anthology exploring how telepathy would be uncomfortable and full of too much information.

I also took a good, hard look at the four fanfics I recently finished. Aside from the characters, the worldbuilding and minor characters are mine, as well as the major conflicts and character arcs. So I’m in the process of changing the names and heavily revising them to turn them into fantasy. The premise is: Atlantis was a continent that sank centuries ago, leaving a chain of islands inhabited by people who salvage technology from the ruins. The heroes all have minor magic powers, and get mixed up with an Atlantean flying construct that they accidentally wind up being the crew of. Then they have to fight bad guys with it. It’s awesome.

2. Which stage am I at?

According to Deborah O’Caroll’s metaphor:
a. Remodeling layouts (planning the story)
b. Painting the walls in colorful hues (writing)
c. Polishing the windows and scrubbing the floors and putting flowers in vases (editing)
d. Blueprints (not to the cleaning or remodeling yet… just drawing up plans for the very beginning inklings of a story)
e. Some combination of those things (cleaning out a closet)

Definitely the “polishing and scrubbing” part (editing). Editing all the things. The nice thing with these fanfics is that they’re completely finished, so I can go back to the beginning and put in all kinds of nice foreshadowing.

3. Treasure from the back of the closet: Snippet Love.

From my not-properly-named urban fantasy book, currently waiting in the slush pile at a publisher’s:

Indal’s ears were forward, like a friendly dog that had been out for a run. But as I stepped toward him, the ears flattened and his lips curled back from his fangs. Those teeth were like white knives. A growl rolled out of him that froze me in my tracks. He crouched, the muscles tensing as he prepared to spring.

I tossed the Hot Pocket.

The werewolf flinched backward. The Hot Pocket rolled across the leaves. He did a nervous sideways step and sniffed in its direction. It must have smelled good, because he stepped closer and sniffed it again. Then he ate it in two snapping bites, like he was starving. He returned his attention to me, licking his chops, ears forward again, probably hoping I had more.

Well, that was as far as my plan had gone. I was scanning the nearby trees for a branch I could grab, when the wolf made a funny sound. He moaned and licked his nose several times. He shook his head, pawed at his jaws, then slowly sank onto his side.

Xironi hadn’t moved from her place behind the tree. “What was in that Hot Pocket?”

I thought of the giant pill. “A sampler of all his new meds.”

She heaved a sigh of relief and exasperation. “One of those bottles was a tranquilizer.”

The wolf body began to shudder and shrink back into human form. Indal’s eyes were closed—I think he was already unconscious. His face was human before the rest of him was. I stood between him and Xironi, just in case he woke up and wanted fresh meat. But the drugs had knocked him out.

I exhaled, the tension in my muscles relaxing. “That worked well.”

Xironi walked up to stand beside me in her tiny nightgown. “You turned a Hot Pocket into a medication grenade.”

“I did have to bake it first,” I agreed.

3.5. Bonus: Do some actual spring cleaning of your writer self. (And share a picture!)

I’m sitting here sick and wondering how I’m going to clean house today, so no photos, please. :-p

I’m going to tag Bethany Jennings, H.L. Burke, and Janeen Ippolito!


1. Link back to the person who tagged you
2. Share the picture
3. Answer the questions (naturally…) or even pick and choose which ones you answer
3.5. Tag 3 other writers and inform them that you tagged them (via comment/message/email or hey, even carrier-pigeon or smoke signal; I’m not picky)


1. Dust-bunnies and Plot-bunnies: Reorganize Your Writing Goals (Or Make New Ones)

2. Which Stage Are You At? Expound!

a. Remodeling layouts (planning the story)
b. Painting the walls in colorful hues (writing)
c. Polishing the windows and scrubbing the floors and putting flowers in vases (editing)
d. Blueprints (not to the cleaning or remodeling yet… just drawing up plans for the very beginning inklings of a story)
e. Some combination of those things (cleaning out a closet)

3. Treasure From the Back of the Closet (Share one to three snippets you love!)

3.5. Bonus: Do Some Actual Spring Cleaning of Your Writer Self! (And share a picture!)

And now, for the second meme. RJ Conte did an April Fools joke on her blog where she de-recommended her own books. Like, humorously listing off why you don’t want to read them. I thought it was hilarious, so here’s my own books with the same treatment.

Turned: A werewolf love story. A couple of rich people get bitten by werewolves and become homeless. And they don’t even kiss! What kind of shifter romance is this?

The Bramblewood Werebear. A girl travels across the country to marry a rich dude who forgot to mention that he turns into a bear. And he’s feuding with werewolves. Again, no kissing! What a lame shifter romance this is!

werefox-artistic1fullsizeOutfoxing the Wolf. A werewolf prince uses a poor girl in an alchemy experiment and turns her into a werefox. They fall in love. Do they kiss? I don’t remember! What a terrible author I am, if I can’t remember things like that!

Malevolent. A guy who might be undead and has no emotions falls in love with a sick girl who is determined to prove that he’s a vampire. This book has a necromancer in it, and necromancers are evil, so DO NOT READ.

Malcontent. The guy and the girl now accidentally share a soul, whoops, how’d that happen? There’s a lot of gooshy romantic stuff that happens. And zombie dogs. And cats. Making animals into zombies is cruelty to animals! Not recommended! It’s probably that necromancer’s fault, anyway. Warning: kissing.

Malicious. The hero gets turned into a monster and the girl has to save him. There’s a small zombie apocalypse. This book is scary and dark and zombies are scary. Also there’s pretty hot kissing. Do not read under any circumstances.

Fire and Ice Cream. People only want to read cozy mysteries if they’re about witches! Who wants to read about a detective who can turn into a small dragon that breathes ice? Nobody, that’s who!

A stitch of honor. A short story about a space captain who knits scarves for his dying crew. This story is practically guaranteed to make you cry, so DON’T READ IT.

A kitsune and a dragon escape from a zoo. Nobody knows what a kitsune is, anyway.

And that’s it! A list of my books and stories and why you should avoid them!

A strange history: search history, that is

I was tagged by H.L. Burke in a sort-of blog hop. Basically, you have to post some of the weird things you’ve searched for and explain what in the world was going through your head at the time. I thought, well, I search for weird stuff. Let’s see what Google has learned about me.

The Rules:
  • Access your browser history
  • Pick at least 5 of your strangest searches you’ve had to look up as a writer
  • List them below with an explanation as to why you had to look them up
  • Tag 2-5 other bloggers

I do most of my searches on my ipod, and it doesn’t give up search history easily. I had to go to my search tab and start typing in letters to see what it spit out. So here they are, more or less alphabetically.

Accuweather hurricane: I was following Hurricane Irma pretty closely last week.

Bugs Bunny vs. opera singer episode: I wanted the title so I could show the kids. Incidentally, the title is The Longhaired Hare.

Bidoof: To show the kids how dorky-looking it is.


Daz3d victorian dress: To see if they had any in their shop so I could put actual clothing on my 3d models. Yes, they exist. No, they don’t fit any models I actually have. *shakes fist*

Heist movie formula: I needed the formula for heists because all heists follow them and I was writing one.

Jami Gold romance. I was looking up Jami Gold’s fabulous Romance Beat Sheet to send to a friend.

Key West after Irma. Yeah, I was having a morbid day.

Tallest termite mound Kenya. The kids wanted to see it. It’s tall.


I guess most of that didn’t really pertain to writing. I mean, some of it did. I just search for things I’m curious about.

I was going to tag other bloggers, but everybody I know who blogs has already done this one. So … do it if you want to?

A peek into daily life around here

I haven’t done this meme in aaaaages–Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real, from Like Mother, Like Daughter.



Because it’s January, and we all need a little more color in our lives. This is some bougainvillea in front of our apartment–it’s just about the only thing blooming right now.



Most of the kids (except the baby) playing in the sandbox with the other kids. It’s a cool, windy day, and the cold will run them inside eventually. In the meantime, I’m just glad the boys are outside!



Nothing funnier than a happy fat baby! She was desperately trying to see the camera’s screen, so it was tricky getting a picture.


The kids’ room after a morning of intense play. Yep, this is how their room looks on a daily basis. If I don’t intervene, this mess will spread to the living room, the hall, the bathroom, the kitchen … it’s like this unstoppable blob of mess. Fortunately, I have a bunch of small people with unlimited energy who can be, ahem, encouraged to clean up after themselves.

Thanksgiving and a meme

Well, Thanksgiving is over, and my fridge is full of delicious leftovers. I’m pondering a turkey pot pie in the near future. Our day was spent with my hubby’s family, and it was very pleasant.

Blood elf priest, level 11. Oh yeah, check out my tattered duds.
Blood elf priest, level 11. Oh yeah, check out my tattered duds.

It’s been a quiet weekend of rest and relaxation. My son and daughter spent the night at their grandparent’s, so Ryan and I got to have our first date night in about two years. It was lovely. Just having the two younger ones along felt like nothing. I’ll be glad to have the other two back, though. The house feels empty without them.

World of Warcraft has tempted us back into its octopus-like embrace. We bought our son a copy, and he and my daughter rolled worgen druids. So they’ve been running about the countryside as dogs that change into cats and bears. It’s hilarious. My hubby and I rolled blood elves on another server with his friends, and we’re running around the newbie zones, making everything more fabulous with our very presence.

I’ve also been tagged by multiple people for a Facebook meme. But Facebook doesn’t show you any posts from longer than a week ago (despite everything being saved forever in Facebook’s Gravemind), so I figured I’d do the meme here on my blog, where I can find it again.

The Eight Terrible Titles game rules are as follows: ”Scroll through your manuscript. Let your cursor fall where it may and bam–you’ve got yourself one terrible title. Repeat this seven more times. Let the good times roll. Tag eight others.

This is from my work in progress Regency shifter romance, which I’m writing as a sequel to Turned.

1. Bone-Cracking Embrace
2. Turned To Her
3. Her Trunk Stood
4. Forbidden to Set Foot Outside
5. Until Her Arrival
6. Outside An Inn
7. Hire a Tailor
8. Direction The Werewolf Had Gone

These have been fun, because just by looking at the selections, you get a feel for what everyone is working on. Mine is very Beauty and the Beast, heh heh.

And now, since you read this far, here is a pun for you.


Writing life meme

I was tagged by Rachel Meenan, so here I go! Memes are so much fun. Maybe because they’re spelled “Me! Me!”

I’m going to throw some artwork in here, too, just to break up the monotony.

Name: Kessie
Age: 32
Gender: Female

A Selfie


Food: I’ve gotten to where I’m strongly omnivorous. I’ll eat anything. But if I had my druthers, I’d eat a different kind of stir fry every night of the week. Orange chicken, chicken and beef teriyaki, kung pao, peanut chicken, beef and broccoli … so many possibilities!

Book: This is hard, because I have so many. Usually it’s whatever I’m currently reading, so, I guess Harry Potter? But I have a slew of favorites from Diana Wynne Jones, Mary Stewart, and lots of others. Presently I’m very enthused about Rebecca P. Minor’s high fantasy series, which is funny, because I normally don’t like high fantasy. I think it’s because she focuses on a small cast of interesting characters.

Song: It goes by season. We’re getting into fall at the moment, and I start craving oldies rock. Especially the Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, when the winds of November are blowing. 🙂

Movie: I could watch the Lego Movie over and over and over. But we also enjoyed Epic, which surprised me at how good it was. Oh, and also the Guardians of Ga’Hoole. That movie was astonishingly deep. I keep thinking I’d like to watch it a couple more times. I’m still trying to decide what, exactly, the Flex is.

Band: Switchfoot! Nightwish! The Echoing Green!

Solo artist: Kevin Max. Aside from Michael W. Smith, I’ve listened to Kevin the longest.


Schooling: Some college, but as we’re homeschooling, I find my education is ongoing. This week we learned about the life cycle of iguanas. The kids all now demand pet lizards.

Colored by me, lineart by Becky Minor

Reason behind your blog’s name: My Sonic the Hedgehog fansite was the Domain of NetRaptor, which is generic enough to have any amount of subjects tied to it. I still own the netraptor.org domain, so why not use it? Eventually I’ll have to get a domain of my name or something, but netraptor.org is friendly with Google, so for now, it stays.

Why you blog: Because it’s fun. I like having a way to keep in touch with family, and show off my artwork.

Writing Blather Blog Hop

I don’t know if that’s really the name of this hop, but it’s an excuse to talk about what we’re writing.

I was tagged by Kat Heckenbach, and you can go read her post!

I find my own interests of consuming, well, interest, but if you’re not a writer, this will be a total snooze-fest. I mean, who wants to listen to somebody talk about their imaginary friends?

Unless you read my books and I make them into YOUR imaginary friends for a while.

Anyway! Meme questions!

1) What are you working on?

At the moment, I’m blistering my fingers to finish a book I’ve tentatively titled The Puzzle Box, but will more likely be called something like The Malevolent Soul or something. It’s about a girl who has been sick for a long time. She meets a beekeeper who farms magic bees that create magic honey that can heal her … except he may or may not be worse than a vampire, struggling to hold on to his humanity, and be working to thwart the zombie apocalypse.

Yeah, it’s a romance. 😀

I’m also rewriting Chronocrime, the second Spacetime Legacy book. At the end of Storm Chase, Indal the time mage werewolf was exiled and expected to die. Except he didn’t, which is a problem for the higher ups. Carda brings him back to sort out a nasty little problem–Carda has found his own corpse, and nobody can solve the timeline problem but Indal.

Which quickly becomes a bigger problem involving magic gangsters across several neighboring worlds who not only want our heroes dead, they’d like to take Indal’s werewolf problem apart and see how it works.

2) What makes my work different from other genre books?

Haha, this is such a loaded question. I can either say, “Well, technically, it has all the same stuff–adventure, romance, monsters, non-humans, angels, demons, vampires, werewolves, magic, and car trouble.”

Or I can say, “My works are written in such screaming passion that they’ll give you an emotional high by the time you’re finished. THEY’RE THE BEST THING EVAR!!!!!11one.”

I’m taking the same stuff everybody else is writing about (see above) and putting my own spin on it. I used to do that in my fanfiction days. When everybody else was writing “Sonic fights Robotnik lawl” I was writing “Sonic touches the source of all evil and loses his mind and has to leave so he doesn’t hurt his friends and winds up on a time travel adventure while battling to retain his sanity.”

3) Why do I write what I do?

I love adventure. One of my formative reading experiences was the Island Stallion by Walter Farley. And it wasn’t just the idea of the wonderful horses hidden in a secret canyon in the middle of an island–it was the catacombs and the ruins and the secrets on the island itself. It all combined into a story that blew my young mind.

Diana Wynne Jones showed me how to do magic in the real world. Like, Archer’s Goon is just a story about a family with real problems–his little sister is basically Ramona the Pest (and her name is Awful). But there’s also a family of mages bullying his father in more and more hilarious ways, (and they all just want his father to write 1000 words), and the more stubborn the dad is, the crazier the bullying gets. Like digging up the road in front of his house so nobody can get in and out.

I have a hard time finding books that scratch exactly the adventure/real magic itch. So I have to write what I want to read.

4) How does your writing process work?

Ah, the most boring question of all. If you must know, I write an outline. Then I write the story. Then I revise the story. Then I give it to beta readers/editors, then it gets published in some way.

Pretty dry, huh? The process itself is just as much work as swinging a hammer. But with IMAGINATION.

I’m supposed to tag three more people, but everybody’s already been tagged. How about Rachel?

Pretty Happy Funny Real–first of 2013!

Every Thursday I want to participate, and I either have no pictures, or no energy to take pictures with. So this week, by golly, I’m participating!


Lots of candidates for Happy!

C. is learning how to brush her teeth!

My cockatiel scratching his head. He’s very comfortable with the noise level around here. Last night the kids were running around screaming and playing, and he was asleep.

Couch forts are more fun on laundry days, when the clothes baskets are empty.

Clothes baskets also make fun places to hide.


It being California, pansies are considered “fall flowers” and get planted around our complex in the winter. How’s that for weird? It does make for some nice color when you start getting spring fever.


The munchkins discovered that underwear makes for cool hats.


The kids’ table, covered in this continuously morphing mess. They use it constantly. It was my husband’s when he was a kid. Heirloom!

The Next Big Thing

This is a writer’s meme I first saw on Mike Duran’s site. Then Kat Heckenbach unofficially tagged me, so here I go!

1) What is the title of your next book/work?

Currently it’s Storm Chase. I’ve been brainstorming titles for it, and I keep coming back to that one. Because the hero’s last name is Chase and he’s dealing with a Storm … yeah.

2) Where did the idea come from for the book/work?

My husband has been writing this same story over and over since high school. It’s changed significantly with every iteration. Finally, a few years ago, I said, “I’m going to write this for you, and then we’ll be DONE and MOVE ON.”

The basic premise has stayed the same. My husband’s character Carda gains magic powers and has to save the world from the Subspace Storm. But we’ve changed what the Storm is and how it starts, who the villains are, the identities of the secondary characters and all their subplots.

3) What genre does your book/work fall under?

Young Adult Urban Fantasy. I’ve spent a lot of time figuring that out.

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

This is a stupidly fun question. Unfortunately, Carda has always looked like my husband. I can’t find any actors who look like him. And I suppose Xironi looks like me.

From Carrolls All Year

Carda’s sister Michelle would look like Alyson Hannigan, if her hair was pulled back in a braid all the time.

Indal is totally Matthew Lewis.

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Well, the current one is, “Carda’s newfound space and time magic helps him battles a college rival, but trying to clean up the mess lands Carda on the wrong side of magical law as a world-eating storm closes in on Earth.”

Which is condensed down from, “Carda’s life was fine until the day he wrecked his car. Or didn’t wreck his car. Now fire and lightning erupt from his hands whenever he gets mad, a cute catgirl is making him clean up his messes, and a jerk from school is tearing holes in reality. Trying to stop him lands Carda on the wrong side of magical law, forcing Carda to go on the run, even as a chained angelus destroys worlds across
the multiverse, closing in on Earth.”

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I’m still bouncing around, trying to figure that out. I might query a couple of small presses I know and see what happens. I’ve seen other people start small press to get their feet wet, then move on to Big Publishers. I think I need all the training I can get, and I’m willing to get it anywhere I can. I don’t want to self-publish until I can confidently edit my own work.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

Three or four months is my usual turnaround for a draft. Less than that if I know exactly where the story’s going and I’m really jazzed about it. Nanowrimo revealed to me that I can churn out a whole draft in one month, but it’s very rough.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Oh, sort of like Hounded, by Kevin Hearne. Takes place in Arizona, has a guy with powers. My heroes don’t deal with gods, though. Just one angry imprisoned dark angel bent on destroying the multiverse.

Also kind of like Rift Jump, by Greg Mitchell, in that it deals with jumping around to other worlds. Not quite as much in this book as in later books, though.

And it’s also kind of like the Subtle Knife, although they don’t jump to other worlds in Storm Chase nearly as often as I’d like. The later books deal with that a lot more.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?

As stated earlier, I was sick of my husband rewriting it and took matters into my own hands. But the universe grew (and grew and grew) in the telling. I’ve written four complete stories and three partials. Some will never see the light of day due to continuity problems, while others are hopefuls for publication. I love this world and these characters, and I hope someday other readers will enjoy them, too.

10) What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

It’s action-packed.

The hero will make you laugh.

People manipulating time and space with magic will intrigue you. Especially once the bad guys get rolling.

A werewolf who is actually two physical bodies spliced together in two separate spatial planes.

Love. Courage. Sacrifice.

The importance of a man’s car.

Death elementals.

You know, SKILLS. /NapoleonDynamite

Tagged people: Rachel Blackmon, M.R. Anglin, Jess Owen, Rebecca Minor, Aaron DeMott. Now you guys talk about your upcoming books!

My love list

Today I’m participating in the YA Highway Road Trip: My WIP Love List! It’s from a nice lady named Stephanie Perkins, who said this:

Whenever I begin a new project, I also begin a list called “What I Love About This Story.” I start by writing down those first ideas that sparked the fires of my mind, and then I add more ideas to it as I discover them during my push through early drafts.

It’s a fantastic idea. It’s also so much fun to visit all these people’s blogs and see if the things they love about their work are things that I love, too. It’d be great if lists like this appeared on the backs of books, because then we’d know if we wanted to read those things.

Here’s my list for my current Spacetime story:

Fast cars
Throwing fireballs around
An Indiana Jones whip made of lightning
Werewolf angst
The chained blackwing angelus
Brother and sister relationship, mostly friendly
The cute catgirl with the overprotective grandfather
Other worlds
The wrong side of the law
Doing the right thing and being punished for it
Secret pact with Dad
Heroes who look at the facts and draw the wrong conclusions

Gosh, it makes me excited just writing it down. I want to go write some more!

It occurred to me that I can write a similar love list about my life in general. So here it is:

The laughter of children
My son’s dawning realization that he can both read and do math
My daughter writing her name for the first time
My husband’s smile
A fresh, cool morning
Gorgeous, puffy tropical clouds
Approaching fall
Dinner simmering in the crockpot
Long pants
Getting to wear my fingerless gloves again
Walks to the park

Some of those are still in the future, but it’s nice to look forward to them. September is next week!