All posts by tlclark

A love of writing, pugs, and art that know no bounds. I have written the first novel in a series called 'Finder's Keeper's'! This blog will hit on the ups and downs of writing and all the other moments of surprise.

Query Quest & Writing Tips

I entered a Query Contest yesterday. For the first time, I finally have a query that I am proud of. My friend Tracy (TS) Stengel Foore, aka: the query conqueror, and all around brilliant editor, managed to pull a query out of me that nearly made me weep. (and no tears of disillusioned pain and vexed hatred) This query actually made me eager to participate in the world of query hell. I will still get rejections (because that is the way of the literary world) but at least now, I won’t assume that the rejecting agent in question decided not to take me on because they cringed at the idea of reading anything else that came from me. (yep, my queries have been that bad. This isn’t a self-deprecating moment, I swear. I’m sure that TS would be more than happy to back me up here. :P)


I readied my new and improved query, and waited with baited breath for the starting gate to open. 4pm on the dot, I was there. Off to the contest queens, my query flew. We had been warned that the limit of 200 queries would go fast, that last year closed down within a few hours. I didn’t want to miss out, not when my work had improved. TS had put in a lot of her time to get me ready. Failing to even be in the competition would have been a let down to myself, and disrespectful of the time she gave up to help me out. I didn’t want to sit around and forget to even try to enter. And that was when I believed I would have the cushion of a few hours to make the cut off.

HA. No such luck this year. Six minutes after the contest began, the 200 limit was reached. Yep, six minutes. I have never been happier that I ignored my need to procrastinate. My email flew into the cyber world at 4:01. Taking part in Michelle and Amy’s ‘Sun VS Snow’ query quest has been a great way to have fun, meet other writers, and get some much needed query practice. Hauck Trueblood


The fun and games will continue through the will on twitter. Each day, there is a question to be answered and posted on twitter with the hashtag #sunvssnow. Today’s writer challenge: Share your Editing Tips. Usually I am one to put off editing for as long as possible. I want to sit down and write the next story, create the next world. Being forced to put that off so that I can fix my mistakes, reread old works, and fix, fix, fix…. yep, not my favorite pass time. But after participating in a questionnaire for unpublished writer that was being compiled for Yasmine Phoenix’ blog, I found a few points in the editing craze that I could enjoy.

One of the questions asked us what book we had out and ready to use at a moments notice. I admit, this was the hardest question for me. I actually got more out of my fellow writer’s answers. I especially appreciated learning about ‘The Emotion Thesaurus. I immediately purchased my own copy. While buying my copy, I also found two other great finds of the thesaurus world. The Negative Trait Thesaurus, and The Positive Trait Thesaurus… LOVE LOVE LOVE these books.

Back to the here and now. For today’s Sun VS Snow question: here are a few of the tips being shared on twitter…

Fave edit tip #2: Look for filter words like saw, heard, thought, decided, felt & reword those phrases to show instead.

-Laura Rueckert

Read it out loud. The whole thing. Anywhere you trip up reading, check to see if you could write it better.

-Meghan Thompson

Yes, reading aloud helps with dialogue in particular. Hey, no one can say all that in one breath, that sounds stilted…

-Diane McIntire Rose

Edit Tip: When you finish draft one, don’t touch it for a reread and delay the edit as long as possible. Distance = Perspective

-James Stryker

Edit tip: talk to other writers. Have them read excerpts. Listen to feedback =). Be open minded!!

-Kelly Heinen

Save every draft. This frees you up to make drastic cuts, knowing you can always resurrect the darlings you murder


Edit Tip #3: “Was” is not your friend. Search and destroy. Remove whenever possible. Make writing more active, less tell-y.

-Laura Heffernan

I thought I knew something about editing until I read Self Editing for Fiction Writers by Browne. Y’all really should too

-Eric Rasmussen


if you want to peek at writer’s comments, here is the list of questions for the follow days… answers can be seen on twitter when you follow #sunvssnow

Tuesday, January 27 Give us your best editing tip! Share some wisdom!

Wednesday, January 28 Your MC is pushed in the pool or hit with a snowball, what do they do? Do they forgive and forget or fight back?
Thursday, January 29 Your MC is trapped on desert island/snowed in a cabin. What one item do they have to have?
Friday, January 30 Your bad guy/girl is suddenly wearing a pink tutu. What happens next?
Saturday, January 31 A dream is a wish your heart makes. Where is your dream vacation writing spot. Where would you like to sit and pour out words?
Sunday, February 1st It’s all about friends. Look for fresh critique partners or give praise to the ones you have! This is your day to send out thank yous and find new readers.
Monday, February 2nd Hold onto your hats. We announce the picks today! Post a twitter picture of you wearing a hat or tell us what sort of hat you’d wear.
Remember it’s about making connections and having fun –

Sam and Nic novel

sand and ash

The skin had turned grayish white in death. Though, Sam supposed that could be a result of the ash-like substance covering most of the flesh. Detective Samantha Cass had never seen anything so odd. People were made of flesh and blood. They were composed of wet materials that just didn’t produce ash when burning, and she was definitely seeing burn marks.

Squatting closely to the victim’s head, voice monotone, Sam muttered, “How did you get here, kid?”

“It’s obvious that she was dumped here.” Detective Jessica Falin cocked her head to the side, mouth turned down, but her eyes were wide and filled with glee. “Do you think the Captain will finally sack your ass, when you add this case to the growing pile of unsolved mysteries on your desk?”

Face tightening and her eyes narrowing, Sam did her best to ignore Detective Falin. She focused on the young woman, no more than a girl, lying at her feet. Burn marks around all orifices, especially the face, the child had obviously been through hell.

The eyes and the surrounding skin had faired the worst. Sam could see bits of bone around the orbital sockets. Ash filled the eye holes, as the victim stared sightlessly into the star studded sky. Dying in the middle of a forested area of Ohio, she could have screamed for hours without anyone hearing.

“We’ll need a finger print analysis. I want to know who this was, as soon as possible.” Sam rubbed the back of her neck, doing her best to keep her tone as calm and respectful as possible. Not an easy task.

Jessica’s posture snapped stiff and straight. She took a step away from Sam’s crouched position, her arms wrapping securely around her chest, as she hissed, “Since when do I take orders from you?”

Fighting not to roll her eyes at the fit throwing viper, Sam ran her hands through her hair and resisted the urge to give the strands a firm yank or two. Jessica had always been combative, but lately, her hatred seemed to be focused solely on Sam.

Climbing carefully to her feet, lips pinched Sam wanted to get this over with as soon as possible. “Look. If you have a problem taking orders from me, I suggest you make an appointment with the Captain. I’m lead on this case, so get in line or get the hell out of my way.”

Feeling her blood pressure climbing, Sam turned her back on Jessica and the body, and walked away. Sam needed to rein in her temper and finish investigating the scene. Something that would be hard to do if she killed Jessica in the middle of all the evidence.

Leaving the body for later, Sam forced herself to walk the area looking for tracks. The more she looked, the greater her frustration grew. Whipping around to face Jessica, Sam made her way back to the body and inquired, voice stiff, “How did the parameter get trampled?”

Waving dismissively, Jessica sneered, “I suggest you ask whomever was first on the scene. That wasn’t me and it definitely wasn’t you.”

Sam practically stood on tiptoe in an attempt to get up in the Amazon’s face, but it was an accomplishment that she was doomed to execute. The bitch towered over her by at least a foot. Sam needed a stepping stool if she wanted to go nose to nose with Jessica. Not that she allowed that to stop her from trying. “Pack in the attitude and get the fuck out of my face. So what if I know you secret. Not my problem, not my fault. As long as you’re not hitting on me, I don’t care who you slide between the sheets with.”

“You don’t know shi-“ Jessica’s smirk seemed brittle and frozen in place, as her eyes began darting around the area at their co-workers.

“Save it. Everyone was running around spilling their guts. Not to mention that you had your hand on my ass,” Sam managed to lower her words into a hiss. She wanted to scream at the woman, but pushing her out of the closet would hardly endear Jessica’s good will. Not that her attempt at discretion appeared to be appreciated by the other woman.

“I don’t know what you think happened, but-” Jessica was still attempting to deny the fact that she had hit on Sam. Her words had a mocking lilt, as her hands slashed through the air.

Sam’s teeth clenched, and then she interrupted, “Enough. You want to pretend that it didn’t happen … fine. You aren’t the only one pretending that I wasn’t needed to enforce my No with a harsh physical gesture, with more than one of my fellow cops. You want to pretend, then we pretend. But that means that you need to pull your head out of your ass. Or at the very least, revert back to the uptight know-it-all you were before you spilled your guts and became this impossible fish wife, with a stick up your bum.” Refusing to allow Jessica to continue their hissing match, Sam turned back the body and started yelling out orders. “I want the first on scene’s account. And where the hell is the M.E. I want out of Hocking Hills before the hour is up.”

More than two hours from home, in an area that was supposed to be beautiful, especially in October, Sam wanted to scream. The leaves flowed in every color from brightest green to the palest of yellows, from shades of deepest red to the earthiest of browns. On any other day this would be paradise, but not today. Today, the glories of nature were ruined by death and decay. Today, the land was soaked in the demise of youthful hopes and dreams.

This child, her death, marred the beauty. Sam shook her head, attempting to dispel identifying smell. Instead of a world full of crisp refreshing breezes, she smelled charred flesh and loss of bodily functions. Instead of being reminded of the coming months of snow and sparkling landscapes, Sam knew that death came to all seasons with equal disdain. The final humiliation that every soul goes through, as the light leaves their eyes and the body evacuates everything in the bowels, reaches everyone.

Sam had a sour taste in the back of her throat. She wanted to attribute the taste and her chest pains to the aroma in the air, but she dreaded that Jessica’s words would come true. Would this be another unsolved mysteries for the stack growing on her desk. Even worse, this felt like one of those crime scenes with a well practiced edge. Sam could feel it in her bones. This sicko had killed before. Before long, he would kill again.


(still being edited and looking for an agent)

Sam and Nick, sneak peak, Not for distribution outside Author’s Permission © Tracey Clark

A Quick Guide to Ruby Writing Sprints

A Quick Guide to Ruby Writing Sprints. I am getting excited. The end of one writing goal can lead to procrastination, or even the fear to start something new. You think that maybe you should wait and see how your work has been received. You worry that maybe you are wasting you time. If you never put your work out there then you don’t need to even think about rejection. Yep, a load of crap. At least that is what I tell myself, because the bottom line is that my writing has become my creative world, my outlet. I will still fear the sting of a harsh critique and procrastination will forever follow me around, my faithful companion, but when I know that once I start, I get more joy out of building my characters a home, a universe to live, love and play in than anything I have set my mind to in the past 34 yrs of life. This should be similar to NaNoWriMo but each person will develop their own goal, limits, and finish lines. Hopefully the Writing Sprints will be as entertaining and invigorating as NaNo. A little push to help us get started and stay focused.

happy wordage, tracey

Announcing the 2015 Ruby Winter Writing Festival!!!

Announcing the 2015 Ruby Winter Writing Festival!!!. this sounds like a load of fun, especially with NaNoWriMo so fresh in our minds… we are still buzzing with the fast pace of nano, but this looks like a relaxed environment to continue our writing, while coming down off that writing high… count me in

Fantasy Cowboys

Sooo… I find myself in the post-NaNoWriMo stage. Am I working to finish that novel? Am I congratulating myself on finishing book number two? Am I gritting my teeth as I head into the tortious world of edits? Hmmmm…. That would be a big NO… NO, NO, NO.

Hey. Not my fault. I was sidetracked by bull whips, chaps, and rodeo lovin’. Hehehe.

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I find myself with this overwhelming need to play ‘cowboys and indians’. Which is why I started my latest novel about a Rodeo Cowboy and rancher beauty. For now I plan on bouncing back and forth between my Rodeo lovin’ and my current Fantasy Romance. The Fantasy is nearly complete but the Rodeo has a stronger voice right now. The female MC is the oldest daughter in a large ranching family. I decided that she would decide that she needed to follow her sister around the rodeo circuit, while little sis competes.

She is determined to go crazy for once in her life, after getting diagnosed with MS. Yes I was having a poor me moment when I made this decision, but after a day or two of seeing this character come to life, it just felt right. Add in a tough as nails, man-whore, and some wild interacts and misunderstandings, and I am loving this story more and more. But then, who doesn’t love a little cowboy lovin’ from time to time.

This new direction in my writing has me itching to attend a real rodeo with bull and bronc riding. I want to see it first hand, not just on youtube. The ability to stay on the back of a pissed off animal for any amount of time is amazing to me. Plus, I just love horses. Sooo, horses plus cowboys … I am so there. Let’s all go. We can make group migration of it, but first I need to know when and where would be best for a rodeo newbie like myself.

While I am figuring that out, I will continue to develop this new world, and wrap up my second novel.

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My second novel is centered around shapeshifters, vampires, and fiery redhead doing her best to police crimes that keep pulling her into a world she should know nothing about. The female MC, Samantha ‘Sam’ Cass, is paired with Nic, a vampire that she is insanely attracted to. I wrote a handful of shorts stories with Sam and Nic, and entered the pair in a few contests. Writing those shorts was enough fun that I decided to give Sam and Nic a longer story during NaNoWriMo. And yes, I finished 50,000 words of their story during the month of November. I feel like I am over half of the way done with Sam and Nic’s first full length novel.

It was shocking but fun to see the book take a direction that was completely unplanned, when the Indian myth Coyote decided to stick his nose into the mix. But then that is the best part of creating a new world … The story truly has a life of it’s own. And I am just along for the ride. Hopefully, by the end of December, Sam and Nic  will be done telling their story, while my cowboys will be more fully developed.

Happy Writing, everyone!!!! Tracey Clark

Granny VS the fan rush

Harry Potter tried to kill my GRANDMOTHER!!!!

Okay. That’s a lie but also very close to the truth. There were no curses or spells thrown. No men with bad facial surgery running around. What she faced was worse. So much worse.

And I suppose that my mother and I should bare part of the blame, but really, when it’s all said and down, it was JK Rowling. Yep, that’s right. I am calling her out right now. it was JK and her crowd gathering book that nearly killed my Gran.


We knew going in that the trip was insanity, but I was new to the world of MS and still quite childlike. Mom and Granny were always willing to do anything, go that extra mile, if they believed that it would bring a smile to my face. That included a midnight run to the local Walmart for the latest Harry Potter. It was either the sixth or the last book. After so long, all I can remember are the people willing to go out of their way so that I was happy, and that we were together.

Granny was always willing to hop in the car and go. It didn’t matter if it was midnight, if the trip would lead to the other side of the country, or if we face an untold number of hours before we reached our destination. She was there. So it only made sense to pack her and mom in the car for a quick trip to Walmart. I had even preordered, so the wait would be short. Really, it should have been an in and out mission. HA.

Granny has been in my thoughts this week, as crowds for both good or ill have taken the stage. The Ferguson Riots and the Black Friday Sales, neither could hold my concentration as I remembered Granny’s adventure. We had left her near the front of the store so that she could lean on her buggy, watching the people hoover over the crates of books being guarded until the clock stuck twelve. She was content as mom and I moved to join those lining up at the back of the store, those sane enough to purchase their copy ahead of time.

I remember standing in the middle of my fellow Potter lovers, holding my copy and waiting for the man at the register to get the okay on his walkie talkie. Some people were skipping to the last chapter, looking for long awaited answers, as I bounced from foot to foot, dying to do the same. Instead I stood there with my treasure held close to my chest, vibrating like an addict, wanting to go ahead and crack the spine. A few of the ruder shoppers started discussing what they had found by skipping to the end.

That’s when I moved closer to the man with the walkie talkie, ignoring all chatter. As much as I was dying to know what the book held, I knew that I wanted the journey to last. I wanted to enjoy each page as I climbed into a world of magic. I was close enough to the man in charge for the chatty cathys to shy away, I was close enough to hear the new coming through his walkie.


Screams and chaos. And my poor grandmother was right in the middle of it all. When we were able to pull her from the crowds, Granny was grinning from ear to ear. “Everyone started screaming, and then they ran right for me,” she declared.

Apparently, the crowd was being held at bay, but one little old lady that was nearly blind ??? She was allowed to stand as close as she wanted. Unfortunately, she stationed herself right beside the treasure that everyone wanted to get their hands on. She told us that there was some girl in line that kept screaming for no reason. And just incase you’re worried that my poor, nearly blind grandmother was traumatized, I assure you that she was not. She even went to the midnight showing when the book came out in theaters.

It is one of many memories that I am thankful for. Memories that have the power to make us smile years, decades after they are experienced, should be held close to our hearts. What memory makes you smile?

Happy Wordage, Tracey

how to see the world?

Be it the online world or the world of reality and human interaction, I always find it amazing to realize that no two sets of eyes will see a situation in the same way. From eyewitness accounts of a crime, to in-class discussions of poetry and life. The eyes see but it is the individual brain that interprets.

Before I was forced to leave collage due to an onset of MS, I had the opportunity to take part in one of the higher poetry classes. We created our rhyming (or not so rhythmic) verses, before sitting before one another in judgment. I would read my piece, then listen as my fellow classmates discussed meaning and intent. They took in my words and decided the why’s and how’s hidden within. This fascinated me. Which most likely wasn’t the point of the exercises, but I decided to create a piece worthy of what I was seeing.

“The Written Word”

 Not for distribution outside Author’s Permission © Tracey Clark

throw me down

mark me up

violate me

and tear me apart

read into what I say

take away what you will

but leave my pieces

for the mending maker to wield

For the first time in class, everyone seemed to agree. I allowed my family and friends to read what I had created, and they also said the same things. Oh, there were small differences of opinion, but for the most part, they were all in agreement. Suddenly, I was the only one able to look at my words without seeing the plight of a rape victim.

In a small way, they were correct. It was about a violation, but not one of human flesh. I had put into words what I thought my poetry would say to my classmates. If the written words could stand up for themselves, surely they would complain about the evils of man.

I knew that my poetry, and now my novels, would look at the wielders of the evil red pen with distaste, and fear. I knew that each and every word shook in terror, while hearing that they were unnecessary or too harsh. But I also knew that I was responsible for the whole of the work. It was, and is, my job to make sure that the worlds I create come out of each edit whole. Be it poetry, novel, or art of any ilk, I am responsible for the life I create, my babies. 😛

But how am I supposed to present my words, when the eyes before me will only be able to see/understand small portions of my creation, never able to take in the whole of it. Eyes and brains function differently, depending on age, life lessons, preconceived notions, etc … Not to mention the medium that my work/words are viewed through. Twitter is an excellent example of this point. This frustrating point.

I came across a post on twitter that took my mind back to those earlier poetry classes. A beautiful representation of some of my own words. A visual point of view of my inner voices.

Posted by

The Female Book @thefemaleboook

“If u could change one thing about ur body, what would u change?” Answered by 6 adults & then by 6 kids.

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I started thinking of all the ways that we lose the magic in our lives. At some point it seems to become automatic. We lose the ability to answer questions with the fantasy and dreaming of a child. I mean, the adult answer of wanting to become taller is no more realistic than the childlike wonder of growing wings. Most adults need that extra second or two in order to see the world hidden behind the forced reality of adulthood. I read this post and felt compelled to ask the twitter-verse at large what they believed had happened to take these wonders from our eyes, how we could get that wonder back?

But the 140 characters of a twitter response allows for much confusion. I had forgotten the lessons learned from my poetry class. I looked at this post and remembered a different poem.

“I wonder of the world”

Not for distribution outside Author’s Permission © Tracey Clark

I wonder of the world

That happens all the day

The innocent abyss

That comes when children play

I wonder how they stay

In their place and time

When they climb a mountain

Or swim the ocean wide

I wonder if they know

There’s no one really there

I wonder if they see

Their friends are made of air

I wonder if they know

Their mountain is a hill

Or that the ocean blue

A rocky shore that’s still

I wonder what they see

When in their jungle hut

Or how they learn to tame

Their wild jungle mutts

I wonder of this world

That happens all the day

And I wonder how I lost

My innocent days of play

An author that I greatly respect, and admire, saw my comment and thought that I was worried about body images, which was reflected in her response. I was mortified, and still not thinking of my poetry life lesson. So I tried to clear the misunderstanding up. Which did what???? Made things worse of course. I replied that I was actually talking about losing childlike wonder. Soooooo … the matter was cleared up, right????? Nope. That would be insane logic.

She responded that she couldn’t help with that type of question, because she still saw the magic of the world around her, because she was a writer. All of which made me look like an unimaginative layman with body issues. lol

Moral of the story…. be careful when you dissect another’s words, and remember that if you put it in black and white, someone else will be sure to find their own meaning hidden inside.

happy wordage everyone, Tracey

Why I write horror, and how I write at all

this is an excellent POV for why a writer, in this case a horror writer, writes… I especially like the opening quote by Stephen King… the stories are their, and for some, not allowing the voices an outlet will result in sleepless nights and scattered thoughts, as the voices gain in strength… hope everyone else enjoys this piece… tracey

back to back shorts

The last month or so has been dedicated to the creation of short stories, something that I am new at. I have found that the shorter the story is the harder it is to complete. 3500 words equals one to two chapters in my world. Loquacious-ness should be one of the deadliest diseases, in the writing community. My first attempt was a piece for my local RWA chapter, no more that 5000 words. HA

I was forced to start from scratch four times. In the end, I had my contribution but I also had three others (ranging form 11,000 – 6,000 words). On top of those unneeded babies, I could see a whole new world, just waiting to be explored, within my RWA short. I envisioned at least seven full length novels, and any number of back-stories. I was drowning in ideas.

Each time I finished one of my short story attempts, I counted up the astronomical wordage, and held my baby close. I told myself that I needed to keep each and every word, that I could sacrifice nothing. Again and again, I tried. And again and again, I created something that I loved.

This time around, I managed to shake off some of that … lets call it overwhelming love instead of insanity. But the truth was plain to see. I wanted to be apart of this world, but felt that I had started so late in life that I needed to do everything at once. That included short stories, and contests, and novels, and … there are a million opportunities, when you allow your mind to have a voice of its own. Poetry, ghost writing, ads and copywriting … And as is my predilection, I dove in head first. Forget the swallow end, I aimed for the shark infested ocean. Why learn from others when you can make it up as you go along. This is a fault of mine, but knowing that it exists doesn’t seem to affect my actions.

On a positive note … I learned from my first foray. This time around I collected my un-sacrifice-able words, and placed them in there own land of out-takes. There they will live out the remainder of their days in blissful ignorance that they will never see the light of the published world. (unless I find the perfect place for them to shine) I also learned how to move the story along at a faster pace, how to turn my back on flourish. (Blogs do not count, so I will ramble all I want :P) I learned how to hold back my need to explain with details that only I needed to know. *Remember everyone, don’t give it all away. That is the road to loneliness and heartache

In the past month, I have managed to create and edit three short stories. All but one has been sent out into the contest-void, cut off from home but hopefully shining. If/when they return, I hope that they have managed to make someone’s day a little better, if nothing else.

happy wordage, Tracey

dragons everywhere ;P


Dragon Con was … Well, I have never been one to start out slowly, to walk before I run, or sit through the instructions when I feel like I can already accomplish the task. With Dragon Con I almost met my match. 😉  It was an overwhelming crowd of fun, excitement, liquor and costumes. I loved all the sights and classes. But there were a few points where I knew that my MS was a problem. The highlight being my case of narcolepsy in front of my all time favorite author.


But as I said last time… I made sure to go to another panel that also had Laurell K Hamilton on it. And as a bonus, I saw Jim Butcher, as well. I love to write, and I love to read. So I also signed up for a number of writing seminars. The walking was brutal, and the hotel I stayed at was not at all handicapped friendly. For the most part, the Con-goers were a lively and welcoming group. Though my mother was F-bombed, and called Wheelchair Bitch, that was only two people out of more than 65,000. And this trip was all about fun, having and sharing laughter every moment that you could.


 My spending habits were definitely on board with the vacation fun theme. I must have purchased at least a dozen books while mom worked on her tan, only to continue the idea once we were at Dragon Con. I managed to find a few Christmas present for my sci-fi/comic loving kin, not to mention the gifts I acquired for myself.

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But the beauty of this vacation was everywhere. Not only in the items that we managed to procure. We visited family, with a view of the inlet that was to die for, immerse ourselves in a culture that showed a freedom and kindness that is rare in everyday life, and walk through exits of arts and weaponry that is hard to find in the back woods of Kentucky.



More than ten days at the beach and I was being to feel like a native. Granted, a very hot and sweaty native, but a native none the less. The views were excellent, but the sand and sea water are not for me. That doesn’t mean that I can’t appreciate nature. In fact, I love the sights and smell that can be found in our world. I just prefer the cooler climate when conversing with the wild. ;P Next time, I want to go to Vermont, or perhaps I can talk mom into San Francisco or Salem, MA again. Now Salem is an interesting place to visit. A place that Con lovers would be able to fit in without judgment. On our trip to Salem, we saw animals welcomed in every store and costumes worn as everyday attire. It was like being a kid again, told to go out and explore to your hearts content. Dragon Con may be too big for me, but it is still on my top ten of favorite views.

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I am not completely out of my mind. I pretty much knew that participating in something as large and fast paced as Dragon Con would wear me out. Soooo, I book an extra night at the hotel so that mom and I could rest while everyone else got sucked into the mindless, sleep deprived exodus, the morning after.

It was about nine at night, I was sitting (and yes, smoking) on one of the benches at the entrance to the hotel. I watched as car after car, unloaded their new batch of hotel guest. I had already watched that morning as cars came up to be filled with passengers, packages, and post Con Luggage. I sat down by this woman that had managed to become stranded, when she missed her early morning bus. She was about five foot tall and funny as can be. (Don’t freak out Family) She was traveling back to Vermont but the next bus wouldn’t arrive until five o’clock the next morning. Soooooo I let her stay with me and mom.

Mom of course came down to make sure I wasn’t about to invite an axe murderer into our suit. In this day and age, it was possibly the least bright of my ideas, but it felt like the right thing to do. After mom had me text a copy of her driver’s license to my cousin incase  of death, we settle in for the night. She told us stories of cons past. It was hilarious. She told us about costumes that she had worn or seen, and all the insanity that she had enjoyed.

My favorite story was about her Hobbit costume and a late night beer run. She had volunteered to rush out to replenish their liquid supplies, figuring that since she was so small she would be able to squeeze through the crowd . I was supposed to be a quick trip and nothing else. Sadly, my new friend had forgotten about the late night Zombie walk. She was now face with a crowded street of Con lovers and an extra batch of Slowly moving, decay covered pedestrians. Being small only got her so far. Finally on the way back to the hotel, she was waiting at the cross walk, when she hears this low demonic voice saying, “Get the Hobbit.”

Glancing over her shoulder, she saw a large mob of Zombie walkers. lol. Needless to say, she ignored the do not walk sign and ran like hell. 😛  Mom was half asleep at this point but she jerked awake, and laughed  right along with me. . It has become out most repeated phrase, but only if you use the proper tone.

Alright word lovers, I think that is enough for now. But one last picture to send you on your way. I can see an eye in this picture and I thought I would share what lead us home from Dragon Con. So beautiful! Tracey


How to Write Tight

Excellent advice for all us writers 😉

Freeing the Angel

“I know nothing in the world that has as much power as a word. Sometimes I write one, and I look at it, until it begins to shine.” Emily Dickinson

I love quotes. They are like little golden nuggets of great writing. They catch something tight inside you and they make it shimmer. Maybe the secret of great writing is to make sure every sentence is worthy of being quoted. When you write tight, every word counts. When you write loose, you assume your readers will stick with you, that they are totally invested in what you are saying. Tight writing is all in the edit, and editing is a writer’s job. Yes, writing is a form of free expression, but your readers have the choice of when to stop. On that note, I’ll shut up and give you my top tight writing tips.


* mistake the first draft for…

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Fun in the sun, or melt in the heat… hmmm


The world is full of insanity, and road blocks descend on the unsuspecting, at every opportunity, but there is also beauty. Every hardship can provide a moment of fun and laughter, once the smoke clears, even though these moments can be hard to see at first. Or maybe, it just me. The mentally insane have a tendency of seeing things a little differently. ;P

Like having your car die, while going 65 mph, down a three lane highway. Fun? Laughter? Oh… did I mention the 92 degree heat? NO? Well, huh. How about the downpour, coming and going, that didn’t allow us to roll down our windows, in desperation of catching one of the rare muggy breezes? What… didn’t mention that either? My mind must be protecting my sanity, by blocking out the horror, only presenting the humor.

The car was rushing towards our reservations at the dinner theater, Medieval Times. I could feel the moment we started to slow, as the steady hum from the engine disappeared. Doing my best not to freak mom out, I simply said that I needed to get over, before I allowed the car to cruse through traffic toward the side of the highway. Needless to say, I failed. Oh, I managed to get the car into the grass beside an off-ramp, (looked safe to me) but mom didn’t agree. But not to worry, because we had managed to stop right in front of a sign that gave the number for road side assistance.

At this point, life wasn’t looking so humorous. And that was before the rain decided to switch from a sprinkle to the bucket syndrome. I was missing an air-conditioned event of horses, pina coladas, and man candy. As we waited for help and mom called to reschedule our dinner theater, things were looking pretty bleak, but an hour later every thing changed. We had new theater tickets and help had arrived in the form of roadside assistance. Otherwise known as a very polite elderly man that was more than willing to wait with us until a tow truck arrived. He was very sorry, but he didn’t have jumper cables, didn’t know anything about cars, and didn’t have the ability to tow our car. Huh… Roadside assistance??? Provided by the state??? Luckily for this poor man, we found the entire thing hilarious. It was more like roadside babysitting. ;P

Eventually, we managed to get a tow from a company that also worked on Mercedes vehicles. It was quite late at this point, we were starving (hello, we missed theater and dinner), and exhausted. Everyone was extremely kind, they offered to call a cab that had better rates for their customers, and as we were leaving, they even offered us tickets for free admission to the local gentleman’s club (they even promised that there would be male dancers as well). See? Very kind. 🙂 Dollar bills anyone???

Sadly, we declined and headed for our hotel. Mom made sure that the man driving the cab had change for a $50.00 and I raided the car garage’s vending machine, before we left. It was a short trip, no more than $16.00. Made all the more enjoyable by the rice crispy treats and chips, from my junk dispensing friend. When we arrived at our hotel, mom said to keep the change and rushed out of the car. Practically swallowing my tongue, I followed quickly, but not quickly enough. As the car ‘quickly’ left, I managed to reach mom and squeak out, “Wasn’t that a 50?” I crossed my fingers that she had managed to find a $20, but no such luck.

Most of our beach vacation was spent on separate endeavors. Mom did her best to obtain the tan of her dreams, while I sought out cooler holes to relax in. Which mostly meant that I haunted Barns and Noble, as well as BAM, Books A Million. I managed to acquire more than a dozen books while mom fought to pull down as many deadly rays as she could, finally realizing that her tanning lotion contained 15 spf. lol. (Okay, she wasn’t laughing)

Our evenings were all about visiting local family, while hitting every restaurant that we knew (correction, that we swore) we were going to miss, once we returned home and started eating healthy. Booo. Just because I will fell better about myself, both physically and mentally, doesn’t mean that I have to like it. *pouting* Man, the food was good. Especially the food at Medieval Times, not to mention fun. It isn’t every day that grown adults are asked to eat with their hands. 😉


Medieval Time was a blast. We had excellent food, drinks, and entertainment. The horses were beautiful and so talented, doing tricks that I could barely believe. (The actors were talented as well ;P) But when it was over… mom was hurting pretty bad, so while we waited for our taxi that would take us back to our hotel, I found her a place to sit, while I went in to get souvenirs. So mom is sitting there, cig raised out of the way, while she is bent over hunting for something in her purse. This soft spoken, Asian woman comes up, politely taps mom’s shoulder, and says something that mom cant understand. Soooo, not paying any real attention to the woman, she says, “I can’t understand you,” barely moving her gaze, as she continues to look through her purse. (I never did ask what she was looking for) Anywho… the woman’s husband (at least I assume that this man was her husband), through much laughter, manages to get out, “Hair on Fire”… Feel free to laugh. Mom said that the couple, as well as the rest of their small group (I started out telling people that there were a dozen histerically laughing Asians. Now the story is up to about twenty), was nearly in pain from their laughter as they passed her.

This wasn’t mom’s only brush with fire tricks. Living in a world of non-smoking is troublesome for traveling tobacco lovers. We are attempting to quick, but in the mean time, there are balconies and bars. But safety first, everyone. If a lighter has been left out in the sun, for the protection of all involved, do not try to light your cigarette. Mom was lucky that the fire went out so quickly, merely causing her hand to become tender, and that the rest of her hair remained untouched. One impromptu hair cut, per vacation, is all that anyone can afford. She now swears that it was like holding a ball of flames, like her own superpower. 😉

It wasn’t all insanity and horror. We are both insane, finding laughter in the most dire of situations, but we also ate excellent food (for the most part), found shopping bargains, and relaxed. I even managed to accomplish some editing. All in all the beach part of our adventure went rather quickly. Soon we were ready to trade in the sand for dragons.


The night before we left for Atlanta, and DragonCon, there was a dragonfly on our balcony (eight floors up) and the little guy followed us into our hotel room. It was almost impossible, but I finally managed to get him back outside. When we arrived at the Con, we stopped to watch as a man was helped into his dragon costume. It looked amazing, but man, I bet he was hot. Even the rooms were hot.

I had a blast watching the interesting costumes, sitting in on panels of my favorite authors, and going to writing seminars. Hello… I managed to see both Laurell K Hamilton and Jim Butcher, twice. They were hilarious and my day was made. I did have a few embarrassing MS moments, like the time I was sitting in the front row of a panel containing Laurell K Hamilton, and the heat and the lack of sleep caused my eyes to become heavy. Yep. I was fighting sleep, in front of my favorite author. I just know that I looked drugged or rude, or both. Who sits in the front row, if they plan on napping? I would have gotten up, but that would have called even more attention to myself. What was I to do? Sit through the embarrassment, then go to another panel with her on it, but for heaven’s sake… take coffee and sit anywhere but the first row.


This post is becoming a bit lengthy, sooooo… I will leave off the rest of our DragonCon adventure for the next post (that way the rest of you will be able to stay awake), saying only that next time, I am either going to a smaller convention or bringing my Taser. There were over 65,000 people – and those were the ones with tickets, not the ones sneaking in – at DragonCon, and while most were fun loving and polite, there were a few jerks. But that rant is for next time.

Happy writing everyone. ;P

Be Kind to Editors and Writers Month

excellent… and I would like to thank my editor/writer friend Tracy Stengel Foore… and anyone else that helps with my story telling insanity, even the ‘Voices’ .. ;P read on and thank your own literary buds, happy wordage

Supernatural Superlatives


Summer is officially over, but the days are still sunny and the nights just right.  While writing and editing in a quiet corner of my home, or out on my deck, I find I keep thinking of how I got to this moment in time…September 2014. I was fortunate to find a love of writing, and took the chance at writing fulltime by retiring from my 40-50 hour/week job.

The various ups and downs that have plagued me does not tell it all, but I find that I have been blessed by people who help me achieve my dreams.  Since my second publisher just closed its doors, I am now officially an Independent Author, also called an Indie Author. Even without a publishing house behind me, I still require help. A couple of these fabulous helpers are called editors. They work nearly as hard as I do, making sure my…

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Endings: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Excellent post

Guild Of Dreams

This is going to be a hard post to write without spoiling people. But I wanted to talk about endings, both from a writer’s point of view and a reader’s point of view. I am past two-thirds point in Promising Power, the final book in the Protectors Series. Plus, this year I’ve finished a lot of series I’ve been reading for years. So, I’ve been thinking about endings a lot.

I’m talking about the ending to book one in a series. Not the “To Be Continued” cliffhangers of book two, but The End at the close of a series (or a standalone novel). The finish line. The closing scene. As a reader, what do I think about various endings I’ve read? And as a writer, how can I make sure my series has a satisfying ending?

The Good

There are some endings that pay off. There is no other…

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Mt. Edit

Edits are the mountain that stands in your path, the one not visible while creating your world. But the voices say to climb on, each step is one step closer to your goal

It is really amazing what the mind comes up with, when faced with the task of editing. I knew that there were holes that I just couldn’t see, places that needed a bit of word spackle, or perhaps the combined effort of a bulldozer and some without. I thought that I was prepared for the reality of revamping and modification, but, as it turns out, I was sadly mistaken. Now I stare at the pages with well meaning comments and evil red marker and think that perhaps it would be easier to start from the beginning, to forget about this world, as I move on to the next with all the knowledge that I have gained from this experience. HA.

So, yeah… the voices didn’t like that idea. My imagination has informed me that I will not be allowed to rest until their personalities and adventures are portrayed properly on the page. Marin doesn’t want to see her home thrown out, replaced by those of Jodina. Thankfully, I believe we have reached a compromise. Marin and I will continue to work towards the ‘agent’ finish line, even though that will require edits, query hell, and daunting synopsis configuration. And as a reward for good behavior – though hers or mine, I am still unclear – she will have the opportunity to one day meet Jodina, maybe.

Marin now has three different stories, all in their rough draft form, as well as a short story or two. Which is great, until…. until you stop to count up the number of edits that will be required to polish everything to perfection. I had this insane idea that in order to participate in #campnanowrimo I needed to create something new. As a result, my fingers are numb, my edit pile is crush worthy, and my Jodina character is throwing a fit. I managed to finish the rough draft for Marin’s second adventure the day before the July camp for writers began. I was so excited that I was now able to start from page one of a completely different story. I mean, it only made sense, right. I needed to be able to count my wordage, I needed to keep track of my progress.

June and July Wrimo’s back to back, 50k words each. My fingers flew, my ideas grew and connected, and page after page continued to build Marin’s world. I was even dreaming of the next chapter, the next disaster, the next … yeah, it was a bit much. And Jodina decided that she was through waiting. She had her own issues that needed to be explained and dealt with. And frankly, Jodina can be as bitchy as Marin is soft hearted. (Though, Marin is definitely starting to develop a stronger attitude.)

In order to focus enough to complete Marin’s third story, I was forced to give Jodina a quick short story. My first. Well, not my first attempt, but definitely my first success. I find the concept of a word limit to be one of the hardest writing suppressions that I have faced thus far. Learning the rope as I go, following the examples of my favorite authors, and growing with each story I write, can be a little frightening. I was convinced that I was never going to learn the art of the short story, and I applaud anyone that can produce a diverse and compelling world with fewer than five thousand words.

It is only fair to admit that my first attempt ended up with enough length to be considered a novelette, with the second attempt following close behind. My third attempt was only a few hundred words over the line, but it felt rushed and confusing. This experiment, in short story creation, would have been okay. At least, it would have if I was willing to lose half of the first story, or rework the plot of one of the others. But I loved each one, I wanted to keep them as they were, even if they were kept for my eyes only. And there in lies the problem. I created these worlds, built them and refined them, only now they need to be changed, but what if I lose a piece of this new home? What then? Grr.

The thought of changing something in Marin’s world felt even worse, but some of the edit are necessary, while others are no more than opinion. After some deep breathing, a few depressed tears, and perhaps a curse word or two, I forced myself to reexamine the suggestion that I was given, and while a few of them were promptly put in the no-way-in-hell pile, the rest of were received with a clearer mind set. So we will refine, and revamp. We will fluff out certain personalities, while restraining repetitive thought. All the while, keeping Jodina close at hand, just in case the edits become a depressing void, preying on Marin’s world. 😛 (everyone needs and outlet)

Anywho, happy writing everyone. Remember that writing can be cathartic. From post-its to poems, from outlines to epics, the world is full of stories and other artistic forms of expression. I prefer writing and oil paints above the rest, but the ability to create is everywhere, and I am a big fan of hobby and art, in general. Tracey

I went to the animal fair …

Who know the words to the children’s song? I may not have humanoid offspring, but I do have extremely human-like pugs. 🙂 And their most human characteristic??? They love that song. I find myself singing the words, my eyes and mind, fighting to remain asleep, but the pugs are screaming (and yes I mean screaming, because barking is for lesser animals, not my furry children) for their bedtime story/song. It has become one of those automatic reactions, but usually only for pug related problems. My trip to the Boyd County Fair forced my reactions into overdrive, no pugs necessary. Driving down with mom, okay … the entire previous week, I found myself singing the little ditty at the drop of a hat.



We arrived as soon as the gates opened, the crowds yet to arrive. Our first order of business ???? an extremely unhealthy dinner, but that is alright. It is considered sacrilegious to participate in a fair or carnival of any kind without the ingestion of at least one artery clogging snack. We started our meal with a Fair corndog, which always taste better than any other corndog. But why stop there??


Next up, we enjoyed a bag of free popcorn from one of the 4-H ladies located in one of two indoor buildings. The building was full of homemade quilts and other crafts, including a table dedicated to baked goods. It would have been rude not to support the ladies sitting at this table, diabetics be damned. We showed or support with the purchase of homemade cookies. It was a hardship to swallow each delicious bite, but we were able to forbear our need to locate healthier snacks. hehe The other building held seating for the nights entertainment, as well as table to promote businesses and political groups. By this time, we had enjoyed the surroundings for a little less than an hour, but mom and I both have issues with extended walking adventures, so, baked treats in hand, we moved along, looking for a place to rest.

Locating a bench overlooking the area containing the animals, we watched the far away view of young horse riders. I was already done in, believing that we had already seen all that there was to see. I mean, it wasn’t like mom or I were likely to jump on one of the rides. But sitting there I began to feel excitement growing in my heart. I love animals, in all there shapes, sizes, and breeds, but horse are my absolute favorites.


Feeling better after sitting for bit, I left mom to continue resting as I ventured down into the animal area of the fair. The entire walk, the song ‘I went to the Animal Fair’ playing through my mind. Over and over, I found myself humming:

I went to the animal fair,
The birds and the bees were there,
The old baboon, by the light of the moon,
Was combing her auburn hair.

The monkey he got drunk,
He sat on the elephants trunk,
The elephant sneezed, fell down to his knees,
And that was the end of the Monk … the Monk … the Monk

Fully aware that I was unlikely to encounter Elephants and Monkey, or any typical zoo animals, I continued my song. I blame the pugs. Perhaps if the little furry monsters enjoyed a song about farm animal, I would have been better prepared, but alas, that was not to be.

I found horses, and goats. Pigs, chickens, and rabbits. There were even a few llamas. But the horses were by far my favorite group. Even the baby calf, though cutie and friendly (all the animals were friendly and willing to accepting any attention that came their way) paled in comparison to the horses. I knew that I had a horse addiction but going over my pictures on the way home, proved beyond a shadow of a doubt where my loyalties lie. As you can see, horses win hands down every time. I hope that everyone enjoys the pictures, and don’t forget to check out your own locate fair.





















Happy writing, Tracey

omg… is that a bear???

This post was sparked into existence as I read one of Jo-Ann Carson’s posts. As a girl born and raised in the midst of the Kentucky Bluegrass, surrounded by the bible belt, my memories verge closer to the weird, the rallying, and the good ole camping nightmare.

The weirdest just happens to be one of the best memories I have of being covered in mud and limestone that I have. Anyone from the Kentucky area, will know what I am talking about, when I say that Kentucky is littered with caves. You don’t grow up within these borders, if you are lucky, without learning how to become a spelunker. My journeys were never complete without a little bit mud involved. But Laurel Cave is a special treat. Hours of crawling through limestone filled cave systems, the mud, and yes, even the occasional ice cold pocket of water, can be liberating and exciting.

One does not enter a cave system expecting to come out the other side of the journey clean. It just doesn’t work that way. In fact, the idea of just walking through a cave is ludicrous. At one point, I found myself shimming up a tunnel, straight into the heart of this beautiful, bell shaped area. But the tunnel was so small that my uncle, began calling me back from my great find. Wiggling my way back down, yes the tunnel was that small, was like squeezing that last bit of toothpaste out of the tube. Caving is definitely not for the claustrophobic. But it wasn’t like I didn’t understand why I needed to rejoin my small group of two. I had left my uncle standing in a pocket of water that was at least four feet deep, and freezing cold. 😉

But the weird part of the expedition came as we were leaving the cave. Those of you from the Carter Caves area will undoubtedly know about the homemade ladder, a 20-30 foot tree that was carted in so that cave lovers would have easy access to the upper levels of the Laurel cave system. A tree trunk that had existed for more than twenty years. You would think that grown adults would know better but … We, my uncle and I, were standing off to the side as three (lets call them brave, it sounds so much nicer than moronic) brave souls made the accent to the second level. The men were talking, one victoriously stationed on the second level, one near the middle of the tree, and one posted near the base awaiting his turn. I had to have been no more than twelve, standing there watching the tree shake, listening to the men joke and laugh about the tree longevity.

But when someone commented on the fact that the tree was twenty years old, that it had never cracked, and that it would never snap, it happened. I in my twelve year old wisdom, looked at the man that was nearing the top of his climb and said, “Til now…” I have no idea why I said this, but the words had barely left my mouth when the sound of the tree snapping in half reached our ears. Needless to say, the grownups were freaked out. A man had just dropped was amounted to two and a half stories, landing on the not so soft cavern floor. Oh, and the little witch in their midst made it happen. Okay, maybe not, but the coincidence of my words and the accident spurred my uncle in to action. Making his hasty goodbyes, I was pulled from the cave and thrown into the back of his truck. Freaked or not, he didn’t want that much cave muck speared all over the interior of his car. And yes, I was that filthy, but hey, I was twelve.

The rallying point comes out of the numerous camp fires, held nightly and always accompanied by a musical theme. It is amazing to me, at the tender age of thirty three, but I still associate camp fires with guitars, singing, and smores. The smores are a must, and the misplacement of marshmallows is a criminal offence. But the musical aspect just seems to flow throughout a campground. Large or small, you can always find someone preparing to entertain his fellow camper.

Now, I am a shy person, even now, but when I was younger, my shyness was dang near debilitating. But standing in the dark, the fire sparking off various campfires, there is a felling of freeing isolation. It feels as if the night itself will protect you from the judgment of others. It makes singing out into the night a lot easier when you are standing in front of your friends and family, nervous and sick to your stomach about preforming. Believe it or not, I have preformed many times as the solo act, for both church and school function. Usually right after I toss my cookies in the nearest bathroom.

But surrounded by darkness, the words were able to flow from my mouth. I love to sing, walking around the comfort of my home, hidden from sight but in front of an audience is a different story. There is a joy, a freedom, when the tone and melody flow from your soul. You can feel the beat claiming your heart, even without the accompaniment of an instrument. I can remember one night, surrounded by my family and the coal black darkness of the campground, that I enjoyed myself and got so wrapped up in the music, that is took a few minutes for me to realize that I was pulling in drive-bys, or should I say walk-bys.

When most people are pulled from their sleep, or interrupted form their own quiet holiday, they are understandably upset. But in the heart of a Kentucky campground, the result is different. You may wander over, but the result is welcoming, and usually results in more volunteers for the impromptu concert. It is always fun, but this performer is too old to sleep out side, surrounded by the beauty of nature. I will leave the excitement to the next generation.

The good ole camping nightmare of sleeping out in the midst of nature, bugs, and usually on a hard dirt surface, reminds me of the being awaken from my sleep by the sounds of an angry bear. There I was, tucked into my sleeping bag, my tent all that could protect me from the wilds of the Kentucky campground, and wishing that I had chosen to sleep in the camper with my mother. But nooooo, I wanted to rough it with my cousin. A cousin that was somehow sleeping through the warning growls of a hungry bear.

I can still remember my heart beating out of control, my hands sweating, as I slowly reached for the zipper of the tent flap. I left my cousin to her dreams, hoping that I would peek out and see the dangerous animal retreating into the forest. I had never seen a bear, and frankly, at the moment I was would have been happy to live the rest of my life without encountering one.

As I slowly lifted the edge of my tent flap, lying flat on my stomach, I was confused for a moment by what I saw. There was no bear, but the campfire was burning bright and my mother and uncle were sitting in exhausted heaps by the flames. Slowly crawling from the non-existent safety of my tent, and convinced that the grownups were insane to sit by the fire without a care in the world, I looked around until I found the source of the terrifying sound, and then proceeded to release a relieved bark of laughter.

My aunt was using the back of her extremely large van, doors open, to bed down for the night. She was also snoring loud enough to wake the entire campground. Or at least, everyone but her daughter still deep in slumber, back in my tent. It really was an amazing noise, vibrating into the night.

I’m sure that the camp stories and nature fiascos number in the hundreds, but for now, that’s it for my walk down memory lane. Now it is your turn to take Jo-Ann’s advice, and take a trip through your own memories. Happy writing, Tracey

3 Favorite Summer Memories

This post by Jo-Ann Carson, gives you a fun glimpse into the heart of the Canadian wilderness. I enjoyed reading about her three favorite summer memories, and when I finished I immediately start thing of all my camping stories from my own youth. Therefore, her last line, to share you own thoughts, has caused me to dig a little into my own memory trunk.

For now I will leave you with Jo-Ann’s thoughts, while I gather my own. Happy reading, Tracey