January, the month of two faces, one looking to the future, one looking back to the past. To the ancient Romans, this month is of beginnings and endings, a duality of promise and what has gone before. For me, it’s a continuation of my writing life, a double strand of the past and the future.

My projects for the first quarter:

Project #1: I’ve returned to writing the fantasy novel that’s been knocking about in my head for a long time, A Lamentation of Swans, poor thing has spent several years in the dark of a bin under my desk while I dithered between fear of pulling it out and starting over and guilt for not having written it yet. I’m 9,900 words in and both of us are smiling.

Project #2: Errors of Choice, my 2017 NaNo novel, is finally feeling the heat of the editing lamp. It was Project #1 for the first quarter, but I moved it down a slot. I’ve edited 41 pages so far, or roughly 10,000 words of the 50,000.

Project #3: Can’t say anything about that right now, but it’s exciting news!

Meanwhile, this month, I watched three good horror films, Hereditary (occult horror, the ending appalled me, but I thought it top-notch horror the way horror used to be), The Kovak Box, (psychic terror horror) and Annihilation (science fiction horror; liked it very much).

Happy writing!

weeds and daisies

The Palace Guard.Gerome

The Palace Guard, Gerome

Down to a couple boxes of manuscripts now. Time to think about my writing schedule. First up is The Bone Box, still in planning stage. Have lots of story notes and a corkboard scene layout in Scrivener. Ideas are still coming, weeds and daisies. The Bone Box is this year’s Nano book. I want to be ready when November gets here.

I’ve cleared the deck, all moved in, all unpacked 99% with just those last couple boxes of manuscripts to organize. All my novel files are now in the Cloud, but I’ve got 2 boxes of paper to clear. Paper, paper, paper–makes me crazy.

And then —

  • Want to finish my Danube Waltz cruise posts
  • Want to find a market for Terrible Thing, again (Dust is out seeking a home, finally)
  • Want to re-plot A Useful Blind (finished, but it’s a hot mess)
  • Want to think about The Redemption of Cainan
  • Also, my Regency, The Serene Widow
  • And there’s: A Fall of Diamonds
  • And: A Lamentation of Swans
  • And a new short story

In my head this list is longer.


Meditation on A Lamentation of Swans

Carnival of Harlequin.JoanMiro

Carnival of Harlequin, Joan Miro

I’ve got a monster in a box. It’s been in that box for several years and every so often I open the box and poke my head in, and then I pull it back all chewed and slobbered on, and close the box.

The head-chewing monster is my fantasy novel, A Lamentation of Swans. Every year I swear I’m going to get it written, but I don’t. I’ve worked on this book for a long time. It’s no longer the book I began originally, not quite the same, and I don’t really have a book yet. What I’ve got is a great premise poorly executed. The basic idea is good, but where to go with it? Where I’ve gone so far has led me nowhere. The book lies in a devastated country of words, its characters caught in a diaspora of failure.

I’ve decided to start over. Keep my main idea and develop it better. I’ll need more than one point of view. Two, I think, maybe three, though I’d rather keep it to the two characters who have the most going on–the inquisitor Rijjan Mira and the Chaelmaeca assassin, Ferrant. I’ve got a great premise, a fascinating society and compelling characters–how could I screw it up so badly?

Right now it’s confusing. Despite all that I’ve done, I still don’t know who the antagonists are nor what the big conflict is, nor the theme. I’ve got ideas, but nothing solid. Yet I’ve somehow managed to write 300+ pages. Good grief, Charlie Brown.

So I’m turning the box upside down and shaking the monster out into the light of day. No more head-chewing.



N08542-52-lr-1A week into the new year and I’m home in bed with a stomach bug. But the nasty pains have subsided momentarily enough for me to think. Must greet this new writing year with my goals. But first a shout out to Becky Lang. Her first novel is at Amazon: The Changelings. Congratulations, Becky!


  • Write Book In A Year (RWA challenge) – will write 2 actually:  Runaway Heart, a contemporary romance, and Tempting Fate, a fantasy romance
  • Rewrite A Useful Blind
  • Participate in Nanowrimo – November Novel 2015
  • Research and write next vampire essay
  • Finish short story, Dust
  • Write one blog post a month
  • Danube River Cruise – June 2015


  • Establish Penpanther Publishing 


  • I resolve to make weekly writing goals. 
  • I resolve to write every day except Friday:  Saturday and Sunday – writing days and Monday – Thursday – write for 30 minutes each evening after work


  • Renew RWA membership
  • Writing Saturday meeting – First Saturday of the month
  • Little Fictionaires meetings
  • Attend 2015 Literary Orange Writers Conference

Projected Quarterly Goals for 2015

January, February, March 2015 – 1st Quarter

  • Finish writing Runaway Heart as soon as possible
  • Continue with Tempting Fate

April, May, June 2015 – 2nd Quarter5

  • Write Tempting Fate
  • Attend Literary Orange 2015
  • Danube River Cruise
  • Plan vampire essay

July, August, September 2015 – 3rd Quarter 

  • Rewrite A Useful Blind
  • Finish writing short story, Dust

October, November, December 2015 – 4th Quarter 

  • Plan November Novel – October
  • Write November Novel – Nano 2015 – November
  • 2016 agenda – December


It was a raggedy year writing-wise; didn’t get much done at all, most of my plans remained on paper, but there were a few successes. I was especially happy with writing The Dark Angel’s Dilemma, the kick-off essay of a series of vampire essays I pan to do. It was good to finish another draft of A Useful Blind (formerly Sleight of Hand).


  •  Began the year with A Fall of Diamonds, a fantasy historical. Story planning and development. Recorded total of 14 hours work time, although I did much more, forgot to keep track. Wrote 4,936 words. Total ms. @ 26,297.
  • Finished discovery draft of Sleight of Hand, a mystery short story, 14,190


  • Edited and revised Sleight of Hand, Word count: 14,725.
  • Organization work on A Lamentation of Swans
  • Romancing the Night. Manuscript total: 2,499 words
  • Worked on Chained, story notes. Revised Manuscript total: 20,712. (2008 NANO)
  • Attended Publishing and Marketing Your Book, Sonia Marsh, El Toro Library


  • 2-day self-designed writing workshop on Chained. 8,431 words.
  • Began drafting “Soul-less Perhaps” for pendrifter. Vampire essay.
  • Expanded Romancing the Night. 2,392 words.
  • Sleight of Hand 2nd round edits/revision
  • Wrote review of Indelible Beats
  • Signed up for Camp Nano, for 4/1. Project: Romancing the Night
  • Attended Little Fict meeting


  • Attended Literary Orange Conference, 4/5/14
  • Dropped Camp Nano but continued writing Romancing the Night
  • Sleight of Hand edits, 14,717 words
  • Placed Romancing the Night on hold


  • Sleight of Hand retitled A Useful Blind, 14,600 words. Finished.
  • Indio Retreat. Worked on A Useful Blind edits
  • Dust, 2836 words
  • Submitted Parting Gift short to Everyday Fiction
  • Chained, 19,418 words
  • Lake of the Rose story notes
  • Worked on The Foreigner
  • RWA meeting, 5/10
  • Huntington Library meeting w/Michelle, Quarterly Progress Report 


  • Finished A Useful Blind edits
  • Story notes: Chained
  • Writing Retreat: Los Angeles Public Library. Worked on Chained


  • Published blog, vampire essay, The Dark Angel’s Dilemma
  • A Useful Blind edits
  • Completed insurance study and took California Insurance Licensing exam. Passed.
  • RWA meeting
  • Completed editing Ch. 11, 12, 13 of Becky Lang’s The Changelings


  • Worked on Lake of the Rose


  • Retitled Lake of the Rose to The Friendship Killers. 17,729 ms. Total.
  • Rewriting A Useful Blind


  • NaNo: A Useful Blind, 50454 words.
  • Continued writing short horror story: Dust


  • Writing Dust. 7312 words 
  • Blog posts: 34
  • Monthly accountability meetings w/Michelle
  • Little Fictionaires meetings
  • RWA meetings


english_romanesque_ornament_2 copy

I’ve not looked at Sleight of Hand in several weeks. I seem to have lost my way with it. The completed draft rests on the top shelf of my desk, gathering dust. I have not forgotten about it yet I’m not inclined to pick it up and continue revising it. Today was absolutely gorgeous, a golden day, hot and sunny, the kind of day that attracts people to California. I managed to get a little sunshine, but mostly spent the day inside working on the vampire essay and I gave an hour to the start of a new beat sheet for the Gaius and Annasara story. I’ve decided to pull it out of A Lamentation of Swans and write it as a separate story, but I don’t want to get caught up in it yet so an hour is all the time I gave it, and I probably won’t look at it again this week.

I’ve got pages of notes for the vampire essay, but my thoughts on it remain unorganized right now. I finally came up with a working title for the vampire romance, Romancing the Night, finished the beat sheet and even created a cover for it, although I think I’ll get a professional cover artist for when it’s finally done and ready to be published.

Camp Nano starts April 1. I may sign up for it for Romancing the Night.

face to face


December is the face to face month, the month when I look myself in the eye and ask “What have you done for me lately?” meaning how did the writing go this year? I’m in the middle of preparing my assessment for the end of year accountability. My writing progress is much like the weather–cloudy with a little sunshine one day; overcast with occasional rainfall on another day; hot and sunny on some days. Each year I aim for hot and sunny.

La Muse is drifting about with her hands in her pockets, pretending like she doesn’t care if she gets credit for the successes, casting sneaky looks my way. Honestly. What does she expect me to do?

There are a few sparkles: finishing Shadow Walk (again), and then shelving it, and completing Broken for NANO. And returning to work on A Lamentation of Swans, I’ve made considerable progress on Sleight of Hand, which is now at 10,360 words. I probably shouldn’t tot up the failures, but can’t help doing that. Besides, the unfinished fictions are not really failures (not really dead), just in the first stages of growth–seed and bud, no leaves or flowers just yet, and their day in the sun will come.

It’s been a discombobulated year and I hope I have it more together–writing-wise–in 2014.

Meanwhile, Thanksgiving was wonderful, went to my sister’s. My nieces are a kick–all three of them are witty with a great sense of humor. I spent a lot of time laughing in between happily stuffing myself on my sister’s mouthwatering turkey, eggplant stuffing, potatoes and gravy, cheesy biscuits, and I contributed a favorite–cranberry-tangerine relish, which my sister expects at Thanksgiving and Christmas. And then there was pie–pumpkin and pecan, earthquake cake, and ice cream. I confined myself to pie.

We usually go to the movies after dinner, but this year we stayed in and watched a double feature from my sister’s dvd collection: The Wolverine and The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. Enjoyed both, particularly liked The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. It made me want to buy the books. Friday I joined a friend for sushi lunch and another movie: Philomena. Very good. Recommended. Dame Judy Dench is a marvel.

It was wonderful to take a break from writing, and reconnect with the energy of just plain living.

almost there…


47,493 NANO YA Horror. Thought I’d finish yesterday, but for sure today! Still need a title. I’ve returned to work on A Lamentation of Swans too. This will be my December project. I’ve wrestled with this book for a long time and would like to finish it soon, maybe in the next 6 months. We shall see.

less than 5,000 to go


Mädchen im Profil mit Schwarzer Mantille, Fredrich von Amerling

45,372 NANO YA. I’ve been lax in keeping the word count at pendrifter, but the final week is coming up. It’s been fun and crazy and aggravating as usual. I bought myself a bottle of Fetzer cabernet sauvignon 2010 to celebrate…well had to do a little celebrating beforehand too, but there’s plenty left for the official celebrating!

The manuscript has leprechaun’s pot of good ideas that I hope to develop into a really good story later.

Meanwhile, yesterday, I worked on A Lamentation of Swans (the Mira version). It’s at 5,632 words (Scrivener count). Word gives me a different count–5,559. Don’t understand why I get two different counts.

Writer’s group meeting today. Read from Sleight of Hand and also the first 8 pages of the untitled NANO manuscript–just for fun. Received good comments on both and suggested fixes from the group. The NANO manuscript will go into the file for a while–until it stops steaming–and then I’ll have another go at it. Sleight of Hand–hope to finish it soon.

Happy writing!

shiny bits and word stuffing


13,348 words. NANO YA. The morning has the look of tarnished silver. Yesterday was a long day of writing. I really pushed myself and caught up with the word count target, writing 4, 342 words. Today…more of the same. I’m writing in scenes, no chapter breaks, no imposition of any kind of structure, and I’ve been writing mostly by hand and typing-in the draft.

It’s been a long time since I steadily wrote by hand–ink pen and yellow tablet. Writing by hand eases my mind, the words fall out of my head and loop themselves across the page, line after line. It’s refreshing and energizing; keeps my anxiety at bay. Seeing a stack of lined yellow tablets and all those virgin pages makes my heart flutter. What I’m writing is crazy, nonsensical, exploratory at best, and pretty much what Ernest Hemingway said about first drafts. But buried in the nonsense are gems of discovery, shiny bits, the stuff of the second draft when its time comes.

My mind is never at rest, and even in the midst of writing the YA, I received one of those gifts of inspiration that Henry James called donnee, a creative idea, not for the YA, but for, lo and behold, A Lamentation of Swans. The manuscript in its many permutations has a permanent place on my dining table, reminding me not to forget about it. I had an issue, a worry that’s been poking the back of my mind for a long time and I couldn’t figure out how to solve it. The answer came from an unexpected source: a documentary on sumo wrestlers which mentioned the two principles of sumo culture–tatemae and honni. Tatemae is facade; honni is hidden truth. These two principles illuminated my problem of how to thematically show the secret dichotomy in Raevani culture. Really, I think a light flickered on at the underside of my brain. I made a note and it’ll keep until I’m ready to work on A Lamentation of Swans again.

I’ve got to prepare for today’s writing. Forward!

Oh…two interesting articles on e-book publishing: analytics and followed another link in the article to: amazon.

white hare two-step


Appreciate everybody’s kind words wishing me a good recovery. It’s working. I’m feeling much better. I’m not good at sitting around–well, lying around–with time hanging over me so as soon as I could get one thought to cling to another, I pulled out a couple pieces of short fiction and set to work.

I’m writing two short fantasy pieces: Jealous Wine, a murder mystery in a medieval fantasy setting, 6.129 words so far. Not sure how long it’ll be. I love it though. It’s set in one of my favorite fantasy worlds–old Angharad. My amateur detective serves the prince. He’s attempting to solve the sorcerous murder of a Prince’s Companion.

The other is untitled and is also a murder mystery set in the steampunk West. My main characters are an ex-Buffalo Soldier and a vampire who was once a Jesuit. 3,616 words so far. Not sure how long it’ll be either.

I’m not a mystery writer, but mystery plots make good stories and give me a fighting chance to defeat the doubt demons.

I’ve lost my fire for my novels for the time being, although I have been thinking of A Lamentation of Swans.