It’s NaNoWriMo





I’ve started NaNo again. I’m working on (depending on how it goes) one or two zombie novellas. I wrote for about an hour between midnight and 1AM on 1 November, just getting things rolling a bit. I put down a bit under 600 words.

I’ll try to drop my word counts here, probably not every day because that’s boring, but every few days.

If you are a writer who has never taken a shot at NaNo, there’s still time.  If you can shoot out 1,6667 words every day in November, you’ll finish a 50,000 word rough draft. Will it be ready for a publisher? Oh, heck no. It won’t even be ready for an editor. But it’ll be something — and it will be ready, after you take a couple of days to put some distance between you and your work, for a rewrite. For making that rough draft into a second draft. Which you’ll probably need to re-rewrite into a third draft. Who said writing was easy, anyway?

Baby, if it were easy, everyone would do it. Writing might not be easy, but it’s awfully rewarding.


photo credit: menken at

A review of “Charmed Vengeance” by Suzanne Lazear


A couple of weeks ago, I reviewed the first book in this series, “Innocent Darkness.” I liked that book so much I immediately bought the second, “Charmed Vengeance.”

This book is not as filled with action as the first, but I certainly do not object to that. The action sequences are good. The character development is on display here, with growth and revelations aplenty.

The High Queen of The Otherworld has set Steven a challenge. He spends much of the book working to accomplish this quest. His brother James is along to help him.

Noli is on something of a quest of her own, working with her brother the air pirate we only heard about in the first book.

My own favourite character, Kevighn, is also on a journey of sorts. His fascination with Noli continues.

If you’ve read any of my reviews anywhere, you’ll know I don’t discuss plot in any depth at all. I will continue that policy here.

This is a worthy second novel in this series. It’s lots of fun. As I said earlier, character development is a priority in this one. We learn more about the characters as they grow and mature.

The first half of the book, unfortunately is riddled with small errors. Missing words, mostly. For example, from page three: “It was difficult not to sigh, even though she was used such comments by now.” The second half is much cleaner.  Because I’m a copy-editor, these little errors strike me more than they might most people.

Did I enjoy the book? Oh my, yes. I’ve already ordered the third book.

The themes and the writing as well as the characters are well-worth your time – even if, like me, you read very little Young Adult material.

Review of “Innocent Darkness” by Suzanne Lazear


I read little Fantasy. I don’t read much Steampunk. I read so little Young Adult (hereafter YA) that you could just as easily say I read none.  So why am I reading and reviewing a YA Steampunk Fantasy novel? Funny you should ask, because that’s the most important bit of this blog post. I “met” the author, Suzanne Lazear, when she conducted a Twitter chat a couple of weeks ago. I had never heard of her or her books before that night. She was so forthcoming, entertaining, and interesting in the chat that I’d ordered the first book in “The Aether Chronicles” before the chat was finished. Ladies and gentlemen of the pen, this is how you gain fans. You engage them and show them that you know your stuff.

Okay, on to the review. As always, plot points will be mostly ignored. I’m never fond of reviews that give away the plot.

Magnolia “Noli” Braddock and her best friend Steven “V” Darrow live in an alternative world version of  Los Angeles in 1901. After an incident with a flying car she didn’t have permission – or the licence—to fly, Noli is sent away to a hellish boarding school. There she meets Charlotte and – be still, my bad-boy loving heart – Kevighn. a Huntsman sent by the High Queen of the Otherworld to bring back a mortal girl to sacrifice to the magic. Without that sacrifice,  the Otherworld will cease to exist.  And so will human creativity. High stakes indeed.

I have to say my favourite character is Kevighn. He could have been a straight-up villain, but in Ms. Lazear’s hands, he’s not.  He has depth and emotion and some sort of twisty backstory with V’s family that I hope will be explored in the rest of the series. I’ve already ordered the second book, “Charmed Vengeance.”

“Innocent Darkness”  is an exciting, sometimes funny, sometimes shiver-inducing novel. The characters have layers, faults, and strengths. The plot is entertaining. The writing itself (something I tend to notice more than some readers – and less than others, if I’m honest) is quite good. I enjoyed this book immensely.

Just Write the Doggoned Draft!

old typewriter by menken at

photo credit: menken at

Everything I am about to say can be boiled down to the title of this post. Just write the doggoned draft! But I can’t post that all by itself, right? I need to expound a little bit.

Lately I’ve seen a lot of handwringing online and in various places about “Am I writing this the right way?” Questions like these:

  • How long should my chapters be?
  • Can I write a prologue if I want one, even if literary agents say they don’t like them?
  • What should I name my characters? Is such-and-such a good name for a hero/heroine?
  • What point of view should I write this in? What if my editor likes first person and I hate it?
  • Do I have to write the first draft in order or can I write chapters or scenes out of order as I think of them?
  • How about tense? Should I write in present or past tense?
  • Do I have to wait till the very end to edit or can I edit after every page?

My philosophy when it comes to first drafts is to write however you need to write to finish the darned thing. You can revise even the worst spaghetti-like scramble of prose, but you cannot revise something you never wrote. 

If you write a whole novel and decide you don’t like the characters’ names? Change them. Easy. If you write a prologue and then decide you don’t need it, kill it. Add the bits you need to the body of the novel. If you want to keep it, keep it. (My own preference is not to write prologues. Just start where you need to start and call it chapter one. But that’s just me.) If you start writing in first person and find you don’t think it suits the story, change it – in the draft, and when you finish, go back and revise to bring the earlier part of the story into line with the latter part.  Same with tense. You can ALWAYS fix things.

As to editing after every page, in my opinion, you can do some. I edit as I go, cleaning up bits of grammar or finding a better word here and there. I do it every day when I start work, going back over yesterday’s work and tidying. I don’t do major revisions or go haring off down rabbit holes. That way lies the road to Never-Finishing-The-Doggoned-Draft-Land.  Other people work well by doing a first draft that is filled with bad grammar, clunky phrases, and notes of “Something Needs To Go Here When I Think Of It.” 

As a friend of mine, a very good writer, is wont to say, “There is no one true way to write.” I agree with her absolutely on this. What works for you might not work for me, and vice-versa. The trick is to write until you figure out what does work for you.


Then revise it as needed.

Then write another book.




Mary Ann here: I’m turning over my blog to the amazing Leigh M. Lane today so she can tell you a little bit about her new novella, “Jane the Hippie Vampire: Love Beads.” I will be reviewing this book in a few days, too. Spoiler alert: I am enjoying it a lot. :) Without any more yattering from me, here’s Leigh:

Jane the Hippie Vampire: Love Beads

Jane the Hippie Vampire: Love Beads


Why a Hippie Vampire?

It came to me one day, name and all, while I was brainstorming for a completely unrelated book, and immediately I shifted gears to explore the idea. What captured me was the juxtaposition of theme and composition. When people think “vampire,” usually the first images to come to mind are black-clothed, gothic icons; compare that to the imagery that comes with “hippie”: colorful, carefree, let-the-sun-shine-in, free-lovin’ burnouts. Stereotypes (as accurate or inaccurate as some may be) aside, Jane’s character came together surprisingly quickly, and I fell in love with her tortured yet quirky nature as soon as she hit the page.

Jane is the iconic flower child. She’s spirited, generous, and lives in the moment. Unfortunately for her, “the moment” has become one long trek spent seeking out a glimmer of light in a world of darkness. Still, she sees the good in people and does her best to be good to those around her—unless, of course, she’s got munchies of vampiric proportions.

Jane is a slight shift from my typical writing. I guess you could say her personality ended up shining through on multiple levels. She’s got a dry sense of humor, but she’s also tormented by her dark past. She believes in karma, and that point of justice drives her stories. She wants to do right by humanity, but trouble seems to follow her wherever she goes. She doesn’t let that get her down though; for Jane, life is an adventure, and I can’t wait to share more of her journey with you.


About Love Beads:

She’s broke and homeless. She’s a vegan. She’s undead.

Jane has had one hell of a time ever since she bumped into the wrong guy during the Summer of Love, but she’s taken it all in stride. Wandering from town to town, she seeks out the needy and the broken in hopes of breaking the curse that’s left her bloodthirsty and forever seventeen.

In Love Beads, Jane crosses paths with a middle-aged man who’s encountered her kind before—but he seems happy just to have the company. Of course, appearances can be deceiving, and his secret might just prove to be the end of her.

Love Beads is the first novella in the Jane the Hippie Vampire series.


THE LATE AFTERNOON SUN negated any relief the light breeze might have offered, and the mottled shadow cast by the massive oak tree stretching overhead wasn’t much more helpful. Jane slumped on a park bench, dozing on and off, a wide-brimmed hat and boxy sunglasses obscuring her face. Her backpack sat beside her, one arm threaded through the shoulder straps to deter potential thieves, and she crossed her legs at the ankles. She wore a ragged pair of blue jeans and a Doobie Brothers tee shirt so old the applique had cracked and faded beyond recognition. Her bare feet were calloused and in desperate need of a good scrub.

She’d find a decent place to crash soon. There was at least one Good Samaritan in every town, and they were usually easy enough to spot. Patience was the key. That—and a practical sense of when the local heat had decided she’d overstayed her welcome. Hanging around anywhere long enough to be recognized was a bad thing. Recognition led to suspicion, which led to a slippery slope that began with harassment and ended with the gas chamber. She’d seen it happen before, and it was a pretty hellish fate for those on the difficult side of killing. There was no respectable place left in this world for vampires, not at least that she’d found, and it was not at all hospitable to a burned-out flower child who couldn’t seem to pull her head out of the sixties.

A handful of adolescents infiltrated the park, putting an end to the peaceful quiet she’d been fortunate enough to have enjoyed for the last couple of hours. The disruption had been inevitable, and she took it in stride despite her exhaustion. She sat upright, watched the kids play flag football for a few minutes, and then donned her backpack and made her way to the sidewalk. It was a sunny day, not at all comfortable, and the heat instilled an aching desire to curl up on the side of the street and slip quietly into a coma. Such extended exposure would undoubtedly do just that—before it reduced her hide to burnt leather—so she moved as quickly as her sluggish legs would take her to the shady overhangs of the buildings across the street.

The town she’d found herself in was small and quaint, with boutiques and small shops packed within a tiny radius. The smell of fried food permeated from a nearby greasy spoon. She considered going in, but she only had a few bucks and some change on her. Moreover, a diner was far from ideal for mingling with the locals. Mingling was the objective; luxuries like food—“people food”—were secondary.

Not like food wasn’t a necessity in its own right, just like water and doobage. A girl could only go so long without her doobage. Life was mundane enough as it was. A little variety, beyond blood type, was all that stood between her and insanity.

About the author:

Leigh M. Lane has been writing for over twenty years. She has ten published novels and twelve published short stories divided among different genre-specific pseudonyms. She is married to editor Thomas B. Lane, Jr. and currently resides in the hot and dusty outskirts of Sin City. Her traditional Gothic horror novel, Finding Poe, was a finalist in the 2013 EPIC Awards in horror.

Her other novels include World-Mart—a tribute to Orwell, Serling, and Vonnegut—and the dark allegorical tale, Myths of Gods.

For more information about Leigh M. Lane and her writing, visit her website at

Love Beads is available on Kindle for .99:


Leigh M. Lane

Leigh M. Lane

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