Thursday, August 14, 2014

Ten Tolkien Tips...and a Ten Cent Alliteration

I feel like I could just leave this here and be done with it. Why do you need to listen to me, when you have J.R.R. Tolkien right here giving you advice.

Suddenly I feel rather superfluous.

But! It keeps me humble, helps me learn (you never stop that, surely), and gives me an excuse to use the word "superfluous," which is, really, the answer in the question. Talk about a self-defining word.

Like floccinaucinihilipilification.

The estimation of something as valueless.

For a $10 word like that, it's rather an ironic definition.

But to Tolkien. The man was a prolific writer and the founder (in my humble opinion) of Modern Fantasy as we know it. Of course, he built a lot on traditional tales, old cultures, languages, etc. But using those tools he built a world and a series of worlds that have forever changed the way we look at high fantasy.

On a purely personal note, it was reading The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien that first gave me that *ding*, that epiphany:

I want to be a writer.

My life has never been the same ever since, and after putting down Fellowship of the Ring I was forever hooked. I read the trilogy (literally) to pieces, acquired every Tolkien book I could put my hands on, including a biography about Tolkien. I never read biographies. But I read that one, and by gum I enjoyed it. I need to re-read it, thinking of. Including the stack of Tolkien books and Tolkien-related books that are currently piled next to my bed.

I also very happily collect editions of The Lord of the Rings. I'm missing just one of the '60s edition and two of the original edition I read for the first time. I'd love to get my hands on the cloth-bound editions that have Tolkien's original concept art, as well as the new leather-bound editions.

And yet...and yet...Tolkien continues to amaze. His published works are a study in literature and history and writing in and of themselves, but here today I stumbled across this compilation of Tolkien's tips for writers, and they could not be more accurate from what I have observed and learned on my own writing journey.

He starts, of course, with the most important ones first. Pride. The first three tips all have to do with overcoming personal pride, stubbornness, and sensitivity. You need all of these to be a good writer, but you need to know when to set them aside to take edits, critiques, and criticism. Sometimes they'll be hard to hear. But you must hear them out and then you can go through them later with a keen eye and decide if you want them or not.

That's a key point -- I always tell my editor to give whatever comments she has, because in the end, the final decision is up to me. I can always say, "No, I don't agree with that change." But I can't agree with an edit she doesn't make, nor can I disagree with it. It could be she has a brilliant suggestion to make, but if she held back out of fear of offending me, then that would be a shame and a crime to the creative piece.

And if someone gives me advice that I don't want to use, then that is my own decision. But to immediately react without first analyzing the suggestions is unwise. Write them down, copy them down, whatever you need, and then go through them again, perhaps with another editor or beta-reader. Talk them through. If they are worth something, then you can integrate them-- either altered or verbatim. Edits can always in turn be edited, and mayhaps they will spur another thought of yours. Or, if they are not a direction you want to take, you can happily be confident in your own decisions and put the suggestions aside.

I have only written on the first three (out of ten!) of Tolkien's suggestions and tips, but read them all and put a leaf in your book on them. Each one has something you can think on and learn from.

If you're having trouble in your writing, try something new out.

If you're feeling downcast about your writing and insecure, draw some encouragement from these tips.

If you need some prompts to get you over that writing hump, go and look at your neighbors.

That sounds odd. On second thought, maybe just go to a cafe or something. Get a latte. Surreptitiously take notes. Drink your tea. Enjoy putting funny hats and bizarre languages on the people you see around you.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Picking Up an Old Classic

It's sort of a book review, and sort of not a book review at the same time...

Because I'm writing about a book I'm rereading, but haven't read in about 8-9 years (wow, really?). I'm in the middle right now, so does that count as a review of a book I've already read, though I don't really remember what happens?

The novel in question is a slender, library-edition The Sword in the Stone by T.H. White. This is the same author who wrote The Once and Future King, a much lengthier, denser novel that defeated me at a much younger age. I wonder where my copy got to...perhaps I should pick up another and give it a second go.

T.H. White also must not be confused with E.B. White, who wrote The Elements of Style, which is also an excellent book. The two bear, as far as I can tell, no relation.

The Sword in the Stone is a small, comical, beautiful book written with glorious descriptions and a healthy dose of irony and the kind of humor that glimmers out of the corner of a grandfather's eye. Merlyn is more of a powerful-buffoon of a character (In fact I wouldn't be surprised if Peter Jackson either was consciously or subconsciously influenced by the character for his recent version of Radagast in The Hobbit) who carries mice in his hat and has bird excrement in his beard (hence the vision of Radagast). But, like Gandalf the Grey, he can be fearsome and terrible when he needs to be.

The Wart (our young Arthur who will one day be King when he draws the sword from the stone) is a clever, unassuming boy who sees things with such open purity that the whole book feels fresh and clean, like rainfall and moonlight. That is of course terribly poetic of me, but I don't care. The book is not written in a "poetic" style, but it has moments, glimmers where something truly beautiful peeks out. And there are many poetic or beautiful scenes that hide behind plainer, more comedic speech, but they are there if you take the time to see them.

It's the kind of book that tells a classic story that everyone knows-- or, at least everyone should-- but in a way that you would never expect. You may well know the 1963 cartoon version of The Sword in the Stone. I won't speak to the movie's accuracy, having not seen it in well over 15 years, but the sense of what I remember is near to the mark. Solemn in some moments, curious always, and sometimes slightly ridiculous.

It's a joyous book (reminds me of reading J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan for the first time) and I would recommend anyone interested in Arthurian literature-- or not-- to give it a go.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014


What do you do when you feel like you could keep running forever?

Why, keep on running, until you can't anymore!

Right after I finished writing Roaring Boys, I was as high on the mountain as you can possibly imagine. I had just written two books -- Shifted was the precursor to this entire adventure, the first full-length book I had written in a long time and the first book I had self-published in my writing career -- in the space of a year and a half, after spending a long, dry four years without much creative productivity at all. It was the best feeling ever, that creative genius burning away, and I didn't want it to end.

So, I started on the next one. I wasn't even done with the final edits of Roaring Boys, I hadn't even uploaded it for publication, and yet I had already begun the idea, major research, outlining, and character development of my new book.

Now, less than a week after Roaring Boys came out on all platforms, I have four chapters of my new book written.

Another one by Christmas? Challenge accepted!

I don't know how long this momentum will last. Surely I cannot keep the stories flowing, the energy levels up, and the diligence steady -- all the things it takes to write a single novel, much less two in 18 months, or three in two years. I must hit a wall at some point. I will inevitably need a break, a vacation from words.

But I can tell you right now, that time is not yet upon me, and I'm going to keep writing until I simply cannot any longer.

Will that be five months down the road? Five years? Fifty?

Either way, I can tell you this for certain, that no matter how long this bizarre energy remains with me, any hiatus from it that I take will certainly not last. I live to write, I love to write, and I will keep writing until I'm so stooped over my keyboard that I can barely see the screen.

You should never stop writing just because your brain tells you that you think you should. Take a break after each book, it says, don't burn yourself out.

Ridiculous! If you have another book in you, get going! If you have more ideas, more stories, keep them flowing out until every inch of you says you need to rest. Don't rein yourself in because you think that's what you're supposed to do. Because the longer you keep writing in one, continuous, unbroken stretch, the faster and better you will improve. Each book I have written so far has been better and better than the last, and my beta readers, looking at the next one I am working on, are already saying that it's better than all the others. I want to keep honing my skill, keep growing my writing style. And this is the road to success by sheer, ridiculous momentum!

There are hundreds of books in me, ladies and gentlemen, and I want to see them all come to the light of day.

Keep your eyes peeled for news and updates of my next book, which will surely be upon us very soon.

Friday, July 18, 2014

It's Finally Here

You Guys

Roaring Boys is officially for sale, as of today.

I'm just about to bounce out of my seat with excitement!!

The print version will be available next week, once I approve the physical proof -- which, after looking at the digital proof, I'm pretty sure will be about as difficult as clicking "YES YES YES".

If that wasn't enough, Shifted just got an amazing review on!!
"Like Tolkien or Lewis, [Mitchell] has a well-defined world in which to set stories...her mastery of the period makes it effortless to accept that the people of the time still believe in the Old Ways...the story flows well, and I found myself going to bed quite sensibly, and then having to get back up to finish a chapter."
I'm just about beside myself right now. Standing beside myself. Rolling around on the ground beside myself.

And I can't wait to go home and take my shoes off!!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Brain is a Powerful Thing

Also, the human head weights 8 pounds...

Give or take. I do suppose it depends on the person in question. Diameter of skull and bone thickness, and all that. I do know that you have a "smarter brain" if it's more wrinkly. Does that add to overall mass, and thus weight?


It is interesting, though, to consider the different ways people absorb information. Scholarly organizations have to think about this because they try to understand how their customers -- students -- are receiving the product -- education -- that they are paying for. One could argue that certain educational organizations don't do this enough, but that's a different rant for a different day. But you see various means of delivering said information, based on auditory (sound), visual (sight), and kinesthetic (touch).

Publishing is no different. With the technological age advancing around us, one of the ways publishing in general has had to evolve regards eTechnology -- eBooks, eReaders, ePublishing, eAdvertizing. eTc.

The first way publishing had to handle this strange new form of publishing was to rewrite, literally, the way it handled the basics of publication. There is a whole new form of reading that can be done now on a device that fits in your hand, and from that spirals all sorts of new niches -- design, advertising, layout, sales, rights, overseas rights, production, art, etc. Every aspect of publishing that exists was touched by this new form of delivering the written word.

And something that now has to be considered, as we come down from the first blast into the atmosphere that was the peak of ePublishing, is fine tuning. Now we have the time, the experience, and the energy to consider the little details beyond the bulk of eReading.

One of those details has to do entirely with personal brain activity -- and yet again we find the argument of Ebooks against the physical book. Personal preference does come into it -- I myself don't like eReading because it hurts my eyes, and I love the feel of a book, the smell of a book, and the pure physicality of a book that an eBook just can't match.

However, there is more to this preference that goes straight to the brain. Julian Baggini writes about this, asking "Which do our brains prefer? Research is forcing us to rethink how we respond to the written word."

No doubt eReaders have made the portability of reading far simpler. I used to pack 6-7 books with me when I went on vacation, taking up space in my suitcase and adding a good 10 pounds to whatever I was carrying. I still tend to carry a book in my purse at all times. Yet this has been solved and resolved for many by the presence of an eReader, which allows one to carry around a nearly unlimited amount of books (depending on your storage size) all contained within a small, lightweight platform.

Baggini then begs the question, is the difference between physical book and eBook anything more than the decision between "cost and convenience?"

She goes on to answer her own question, stating that the answer, "suggested by numerous studies into the neuroscience and psychology of reading in different formats is an emphatic yes."

EBooks and eReaders have risen in the ranks in the past several years. This sudden burst of interest worried many publishers and book-traditionalists with the "death of the book," the "death of reading," and the "death of publishing." However, several studies (short-term studies, to be sure, since the innovation is still so new as well) have proven this not to be the case. If anything, eBooks have promoted reading, especially in the younger generations who respond more easily to technological advancements in the first place. In my own study on this subject I came to the conclusion that eBooks will have negative and positive affects on reading overall -- and, in the end, will balance out to normalcy. Baggini agrees with this, stating that "Overall, there doesn't seem to be any convincing evidence that reading on screen or paper is better per se."

Less important is the question of how eBooks are affecting overall reading and when compared with the question of how it is redefining "what it means to read."

Apparently eBooks have different effects on people when it comes to deep reading, which is when you lose yourself to a text entirely -- I have a tendency to do this to such a degree that when I finally pull myself from a book, I feel as if I have been asleep all that time. I do not hear or perceive my outward surroundings and have been known to be left behind by a group without even noticing their absence. -- and active learning, which is when you are engaging with what you are reading by taking notes or looking up words and cross-referencing other texts. For me, this is the difference between reading fiction and non-fiction.

Arguments arise that the distractions of eReaders (with their hyperlinks and their ability to hop on the internet or, in some cases, answer the phone) will take away from deep reading. But in other cases is facilitates active learning by putting the wealth of the knowledge on the internet right next to the text at hand. Some forms of eBook are better for deep reading via eReader because they prevent skipping around to other section of the book easily, whereas with a print book you can merely flip a few pages to see what happens next.

Another study told of how "electronic devices promoted more deep reading and less active learning" because students, in particular, were more focused on the device than they might on a book, and yet eReaders make rereading more difficult than sticking a finger in at a section you want to go back to and simply flipping back through the pages.

In any case, all of these studies merely collide to prove that individual preference, readability, and learning style have a lot to say about our selection between eBook and print book. Baggini yet again states that "whatever the case, our habits have probably been created largely as combination of childhood experience and how the medium we read is nudging us." This would explain why the younger generation, which has never known a time without the internet or cell phones or high-speed cross-platform technology, adapts better the the technological form of reading, while those of us who were raised either pre-internet or at the very cusp of the innovations of the internet still prefer having a page or two to dog-ear or the physical heft of a book in our hands.

I still prefer my physical books, and I will continue to do so for the rest of my life. I'll have that suitcase full of hardcovers and that paperback stuffed in my purse. What can I say? I'm a traditional print gal.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

EBooks and Paper again...Good Thing We Have Both!

Welcome back, everyone!

Weekly posts at Maudlin's Shoes will begin again!

Roaring Boys is officially "done" -- which essentially means there are a few last minute tweaks going on from the editor -- and then after that it will be uploaded for sale. You can get details here or on my Facebook page. Stay tuned and don't miss it! We'll have it on, Kindle, and Nook.

**Roaring Boys will be available for purchase soon! Until then, check out this promo.**

And if you haven't already, check out my novel Shifted, available on all of these platforms. Shifted was the first book that got me back on the writing horse, officially, and was the first book I self-published.

**Shifted is available on, Kindle, Barnes & Noble online, and Nook!**

You know the amazing thing about writing? It's kind of like eating Doritos. You can never have just one. After I wrote Shifted, I took about a three month hiatus to work on publication materials and getting it ready. And then I was off again with Roaring Boys.

Now, merely a week after finishing the writing of Roaring Boys -- note, I haven't even finished the publication process yet!! -- I'm already churning up a new idea. I have the title, the tale, the main outline, the research, and most of the chapters organized. Maybe about 5 chapters are still blank, waiting to be detailed. Heck, I'm ready to start writing again!

**Can you guess what story I'm going to do next?**

I would never have thought this possible a few years ago. A few years ago I was burnt out. I was barely writing at all and I wasn't reading for fun much. I was nose-to-the-grindstone, working hard to finish my degree and try to land on my feet. And all I ever got told was how I'd have even less free time as a working adult. So bye bye dreams.

You know what? Everything anyone ever told me about losing my dreams when I was in college was dead wrong.

I got told I should give up on my dream of the publishing-editing world. I was told I would never have any free time to pursue my hobbies and turn them into something more. I was told I should practice my "do you want fries with that" line.

**this should not be the first thing I find when writer and fries are typed together. Just saying.**

And now here I am, sitting on my dream job right out of college, editing, working in the publishing industry, in my dream town, and I've just finished two books. I'm starting on the next one right now.

Yes, I am way busier than I have ever been. I've worked harder than I ever thought possible to get where I am. But I also get to go and do things way more than I ever did in the last ten years. I am writing more and more consistently than I ever have since I first started writing. Am I exhausted sometimes? Yes. But it's a powerful, wonderful, amazing exhausted. Not the exhausted that comes from going directly home after work and sitting in front of the television. The exhausted that comes from filling every moment of every day with something that is exciting and motivational and fulfilling. No matter what that is -- whether going to concerts, going to the gym, attending church, reading, writing, painting, visiting the beach, doing trivia night with my family, watching movies -- I try and never, ever say "not tonight, I'm too tired" because I have plenty of nights I can just vegitate. And I don't want to miss out on a single thing.

Including writing. I have a thousand books in me, waiting to get out. I don't want to waste time dithering!! I want to write them all, and when I'm 99 years old, I'll still be writing, you can believe it!

**Never let anyone tell you you're not a real writer if you're not J.K. Rowling. 
Some writers make millions. Some writers just write. And they're both valid positions.**

Give up on my dreams? Not a chance! I'm now in the time of my life when my dreams are closer to my reach than ever before. And I'm going to take them.

My parents always encouraged me to pursue writing, even though they cautioned me that it would be more difficult than a job in something more "practical". I always tried to take their advice and blend practicality with my own desires. Instead of majoring in Creative Writing, I majored in English (start the English major jokes now). I started working on my job-hunt when I was a sophomore in college and I worked every year and summer after that. And now I am where I want to be in my life at the ripe old age of 23.

Does this happen to everyone? No. I've been incredibly blessed, and I am grateful that I have the ability to see that. But neither is it impossible. I'm proof of that.

So who wants fries with that?

Monday, May 19, 2014

Hiatus and a New Book

Hello my dear barefoot Readers!

As you may have noticed, there has been a hiatus from my regular weekly posts. This falling-off is of course for good reason: I am currently in the throes of writing my next book, as well as working 7 days/65 hours a week. It's all good fun, but it does cut down on my ability to make more than the occasional babble in other directions.
You can expect a resurgence of shoe-less posts coming mid- to late-summer, as my workload evens out and my book comes to a close. Until then, you can pick up a copy (physical print or e-Reader) of my first book, Shifted, in these locations!

I look forward to writing to you again soon and will be providing regular updates as I can about the onset of the next novel! Until then, click on the image below to enjoy a preview of my next novel!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Ms. DeWees Has Done It Again

Recently, gothic-romance author Amanda DeWees came out with a new novel. After her success in converting me to the possibilities of the gothic-romance with her previous piece, Sea of Secrets, I had to get a copy and see what new tales could be told in the genre that before only summoned overly-dramatized heroes and busty heroines to my mind.

It was just about all I could do to keep the pages closed until I tucked in with my reading lamp. The book wandered with me, stored in my purse, for about a day before I could really give it my full attention. It was not the most focused 24 hours for me.


With This Curse begins, as one might imagine, with a curse. A cursed house to be exact, one that threatens to destroy the thing you treasure most. How and when it will strike can never be said, but it lingers there like a malignant humor and turns events that would normally be thought of as nothing more than petty fate into something sinister.

Young Clara Crofton appears at Gravesend Hall with her mother, who is to become the housekeeper of the daunting manor. She is headstrong and tends towards impudence when she forgets to remain silent, but it is not until years later that the curse strikes and banishes her from the house, removing her from her love and her home in one fell swoop.

And then her love dies...the curse, even from a distance, wasn't through with her yet.

Years later, Clara is a seamstress with a very distinct, very real problem: her employer, the exotic actress for whom she has been working for several years, is moving to America to marry richly, leaving the toil of the London stage behind her. Which also means leaving Clara behind, unemployed and with little resources to depend upon. There seems to be little choice for the spirited young woman until...

...the twin brother of her deceased love, Atticus Blackwood, appears on her doorstep with a singularly absurd proposal: marry him in name alone, to ease the passing of his ailing father, and he will make sure she never wants for anything for the rest of her days. But this means returning to Gravesend Hall, the cursed house that stole everything from her all those years ago...


Ms. DeWees has woven yet another tale that draws you in, pulling you further and further until you can no longer put the book down no matter the hour. I was seething with frustration during the last chapters that I simply could not read any faster, so anxious was I to discover the resolution to the tale. And yet I did not want it to be over just yet. The rich descriptions and brilliant characterization made every page an intrigue, and the slow blossom of detail formed a perfect build to the climax of the story that literally had me pacing across the room as I read. The plot is well-formed and richly thought out, so much so that it only seems you could make a stab at the ending until a twist surprises you and shows you at the same time that it could never be anything else. Clara has a sharp wit and a humble wisdom that makes her charming in her triumphs and her foibles, and Atticus is such the gentleman-- in both perfection and flaw-- that he makes you wish he'd jump off the page into the room next to you and ask you to play cards with a gleam to his eye. With This Curse brings a true gem to the gothic-romance genre that should not be missed, and I look with great excitement for Ms. DeWees's next volume.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

In Need of News

When you write a blog or keep up with current events, you're constantly in need of some platform that provides you with those current events. But if you have a specific bent-- say, writing or publishing-- it gets harder to find a news platform that really caters to your needs.

In the past I've used Twitter to fine new stories or funny tales about the industry, but when the account got hacked (twice) I decided the hassle was a bit too much for my tastes, and deleted the account.

Publishers Weekly is also a good source of information, but tends to the dry and more corporate world of publishing.

A new platform I've been introduced to is Galley Cat, "The First Word on the Book Publishing Industry." I've only received one weekly email from them as of yet, but it's already been chock-full of amusing anecdotes and news including an April Fool's Day prank between Lemony Snickett and Malcolm Gladwell and the report on the rise of audio book sales to $1.6 billion.

Not too shabby.

There's also an argument about the Oxford Comma in video form. The results may be inconclusive, as I stand staunchly for the Oxford Comma due to its resourcefulness, ability to specify, and just plain rightness.

So there.

Galley Cat has tabs for all sorts of news including Publishing, Deals, Bookselling, Writer Resources, Reviews, and even Jobs.

Ok, I'm impressed.

I think I'm going to go mash some tabs and buttons, see what I can find. I'll resurface, er...eventually.

Maudlin Out.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

A Journey Through Self-Publishing

I've just finished (really this time) Self-Publishing my first official book. Let much rejoicing commence!

Available on

Available for Kindle

Available for Nook

Along the way, I've learned a lot about self-publishing. I've read commentaries, articles, How-Tos. I've even had a rather successful self-published author as a mentor, who has given me tips and guidance that you can't find in any Manual.

There are some tips you see all the time in the How-To world of self-publishing, tips that I either scoffed at or shrugged at. Tips that usually involved spending rather large quantities of money on your materials.

But what about those who don't have much excess cash on hand for their project? Or any at all?

It's hard to justify, at times, putting a lot of money into a project when there is no guarantee of getting money out of it. This is what makes the publishing world so hard to break in to, because you have to convince a publishing house that your book will not be a sink hole. And of all the books in the world, all the hopeful authors who send millions of queries in every year, yours being the one they choose is a rare occurrence. Which is also why self-publishing has taken such a rise.

But you see a lot of the time tips like -- Have a professional design your cover. Have a professional layout your book for press and print. Don't do it yourself.

There are merits to these tips-- merits that I have discovered. But you can also merge the two.

If you have an artistic eye and a mind for the publishing industry, go ahead and design the cover yourself—but unless you have the programming capabilities to make it a high-res print-quality file, get a professional to do it for you. Pseudo programs will not work. And if you want your paying customers and friends to pay for a blurred, shoddy quality book, you will not be pleased with the ultimate results.

I designed the cover of Shifted myself. The first printing came out beautifully, but at the same time it was really blurry, because the programs I have do not give me the option of saving high-res. For most print materials, you need to have an image quality of at least 300 dpi or your text-- title, author name, description-- will be blurry. And if you can't save high-res, it won't be high-res, even if you use high-res stock images. Which you can't determine are high-res or not, without the proper measuring tools.

For the reprint, I then got a good friend who is a professional, studying artist, to redo the design. She had the requisite tools needed to make my cover over 300 dpi in quality, and the second printing came out spectacularly. So on that front, I did a combination of professional and self. I will be getting her to help me from now on, and I will also be setting aside some money to pay her. It won't be much, but I respect her work, and as a professional, she should not be expected to work for free.

The other major element that will affect the quality of your book, beyond the writing, is layout. You have to know how to typecode your book, and if you don't know how to do that-- or what that is-- you need to have a professional help you. Luckily, I am in that industry, and so I was able to do that on my own at the very basest of levels. Now I may pay another good friend to do fancy layout details with other, more advanced programming down the road. I hope to get to that level soon. But if you know how to use style sheets and coding in as little as Microsoft Word, you can format a viable document for printing.

After that, the main question is: where? Where do you upload your book? I personally used Create Space, through, and then Kindle (the Amazon eBook) and Nook (which is Barnes & Noble, and the other major player in the eReader industry). You will need both Kindle and Nook in your repertoire if you want to publish an eBook, and the way people read these days almost demands that you put out an eBook version of your work. All of them were incredibly easy to use and upload-- it took me about a week to get both eBooks uploaded, just by downloading the Microsoft Word document of my book. It used to be you had to do a special layout and format called an 'ePub' for eBook editions, but the programming has advanced so far that it seems you no longer have to do this. You still can, if you want to use the fancy layout as I mentioned before, but it is not necessary.

Another tip I learned is that the more reviews your book gets on, the more visibility it has, on a purely marketing level. So when you distribute your book, either for free or for sales, ask for those reviews, bump those reviews. You will have so much more visibility just through mathematical formulas in search terms than you will if you just have a book floating out there bereft.

There is so much more out there, now that I've got the book published just on the marketing side, that I haven't even touched yet. My journey will continue. And as I plough through my next book, which is in the works, I will learn even more that can be applied to novels to come, making each and every new publication stronger and better.

Besides, when it comes to books, there is nothing at all like holding your book in your hands for the first time.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Writer Companionship

You never realize just how important it is to be a writer who engages frequently with other writers until you're isolated for a while...In the collegiate world I was surrounded by many scholars and writers, but not a whole lot of writers, if you understand the difference. I did not know of a single other person in my circle or world who was writing a novel or who was working on their sequel or their short story anthology. I was, in a sense, without someone to talk to or collaborate with.

When I started my new job, I was delighted to find that one of my coworkers was also a prolific writer. It is she who has encouraged me and guided me into the self-publishing world, though she far more prolifically than I, and her mere presence helped me to churn out the rest of the book I was working on at the time. I am but the grasshopper, and she yet the sensei. Every morning we could chat and gush about our favorite books, authors, writing tropes, or growl about grammar mistakes and cop outs and the publishing industry's foibles as it tries to discover how to cope with technological advancements.

Then she moved for another job that would give her more time to write, which is wonderful for her! But I, alas, was deprived of her daily presence and good conversation, and realized then just how much that conversation was a catalyst and motivator for my own work.

Don't realize how good it is until it's gone, indeed.

Luckily, she's still around the corner, and we and another coworker who is now also moving on to other projects (and is also a writer) have set up Writerly-Teas.

If you're a writer and have friends who are writers, I highly recommend this. Every writer should have a Writerly-Tea.

A Writerly-Tea is a time-- be it a lunch hour, a sunrise coffee, or, in our case, a post-work teatime-- when you get together with your fellow writers and "talk shop" (or talk plot, as the case may be).

Writers need lots of material. We need inspiration constantly, every moment of the day, by reading, by watching movies, by looking at art and listening to music, by exercising, by being out in nature. Whatever your inspiration is, you need it in great quantities and in great repetition. But what often gets overlooked and is just as important-- if not even more important, at times-- is writerly companionship.

Writers keep each other accountable. Writers set each others' schedules. Writers bounce ideas off of you and help you with your plot struggles and character development. Writers have movie nights when they're thinking about a Shakespearean interpretation and writers have write-ins on the weekends so that they actually sit and work rather than play solitaire or mess around on Facebook. They are the voices in your head personified.

We were having tea last night-- we do this once weekly, at least, at a set time that never changes, so there are no scheduling hassles barring illness or travel-- and got to talking plot after we had updated each other and shared what we were currently working on. Both of us are looking ahead to our future projects, as well as concentrating on what we're doing now, and just by churning through some rough ideas and explaining what we kind of sort of thought we might maybe possible be interested in doing, we both solidified great ideas that had been floating around but not really come down to earth yet. I have the vague idea of my two next books now in my head, whereas before I just knew I wanted to do more books of a certain spin. And I'm energized about writing like I haven't been in years and years before I started this friendship.

I'm already excited about our next Writerly-Tea. I'm excited about the write-in that we've got planned for the weekend, and the upcoming movie nights we've got in the talking-about. I'm excited that I'm excited about writing, and about the work of writing. It's not only a time to hang out with a good friend. It's time to hang out with a colleague and brother in arms.

Slide me that chai latte and give me my pencil!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

A Note on Social Media

So this is the second time something has gone wrong with my Twitter account...

The first time it was because someone hacked it, posting tweets I couldn't read because they were in some kind of Arabic or other sort of calligraphic language. I quickly deleted all the posts, removed whatever pages I could that they had posted, and changed my password.

Now my account is locked because of suspicious behavior.
I think I will simply delete the whole thing in a moment. I use Twitter for ideas, links, news, posts for my Facebook page, etc. I don't use it for anything else. And at this point, it is becoming more hassle than worth.

Social media is difficult. As a writer, you can't get away from it-- it has become the means by which you promote, review, show, research, and learn. That I don't mind. Facebook comes in great handy for me, as well as Google and other news websites and forums. But once the commodity is outweighed by the number of incoherent screeching noises I am making at the screen...

I think not.

So I will have to think of other ways to get news on which to write.

On the other hand...

"Robot Adept" by Piers Anthony is a sequel to a book I read many years ago called "Double Exposure" about the parallel worlds of Proton (science fiction) and Phaze (fantasy). I was delighted to discover the continuation of the tale, as well as a following book called "Unicorn Point". I highly recommend all of these books for any Anthony fans, and also to those who have not converted yet.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A Review of the Sequel

Ok doods, there may be some potential spoilers in here, so put on your Spoiler Alert glasses to pick up the signs...

During our Snowpocalypse I was snowed in for several days, so I spent much of that time vegging out, reading, playing Minecraft, etc. The book I was reading was Divergent by Veronica Roth. I was pleasantly surprised by the story, despite a rough beginning of cliche similarities to The Hunger Games and middle-schooler-ish behavior on the part of the main characters. I devoured the majority of the book in a single night, unable to put it down.

So you can imagine how I very enthusiastically started the sequel, Insurgent. This book too took me little time to finish, but I have to say I was not as enthusiastic about the tale as a whole.

This book picks up on the crux of attacks, conspiracies, secrets, and massacres. Tragedies have occurred, hard decisions have been made. And the characters revert to their beginning-30-pages-of-the-first-book idiocy.

Tris, the main protagonist, has suffered much in the battles that ended "Divergent". She has associating physical and emotional trauma because of it. Her boyfriend, Tobias, the main male protagonist, is also struggling with the sudden proximity of his father, whom he has run away from in the past.

When things get tough, the characters get tougher, right?

Wrong. Tris spends almost the entire book lying to and 'betraying' Tobias because 'she has to'. Erm. Sorry, hun, I don't care what kind of post- or pre-apocalyptic world you're living in, but you never ever ever have to lie to the one you love. Ever. Communication is key, after all, so what are you doing?

In the end Tobias discovers her in her 'act of betrayal' (which is also highly overblown and ridiculous) and naturally feels childishly 'betrayed' (yet again, how did this girl's attempt to find information ahead of its destruction lead to the conclusion that she betrayed you?) and says he 'doesn't know her' blah blah blah. Five paragraphs later he's had a change of heart and it's all sappy and mushy and then BAM cliffhanger.

If it sounds like I'm being pretty hard on the book, it's because I am. I really enjoyed the first book, but now I have little to no motivation to go and buy the third book and read it. This is a repeat of the "Eragon" books by Christopher Paolini all over again. He was an idol of mine for the space of about a year when his first book, at age 15, came out. Then the sequel followed and my admiration evaporated. It was such an overly-dramatic rendition of angst, plus dragons. Ack.

To sum it up, I give "Insurgent" 2 stars out of 5...a steep drop from the 4 stars out of 5 that I would have given "Divergent". 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

If I were a Rich Girl

I'd be dangerous.

Did you know that the Franklin Library makes collectible leather-bound editions of just about everything? Classics, mostly, but also fantasy and science fiction, histories, philosophies, biographies...everything you could wish for in a gorgeous personal library with rolley ladders and a huge fireplace in the middle.

Yes. A central fireplace. With comfy chairs all the way around it. And a cabinet full of tea and snacks. And a super plush rug so thick you can't see your toes in it.

It's not like I've thought about this or anything.

I made the dangerous mistake of browsing the Franklin Library's website the other day when it was pointed out to me that a handful of classic, leather-bound books I inherited from my Mema were Franklin Library books (and thus worth something. I guess I've got my nest egg settled). As a result I have two book collections (they sell them individually and by the collection, just so you know) worth together about $10,000 and equalling somewhere in the neighborhood of 130 books. A science fiction collection and a Tolkien collection by Easton Press (I have a couple of fairy tale books from this beautiful printer).

See why I'd be dangerous? I'd buy out the Franklin Library in a heartbeat.

I have a small leather-bound collection from various sources, some worth not very much, some worth quite a bit (to my eyes). But always, always...I must have more! It's a problem.

This is an Easton Press book I was given for Valentine's Day this year, a collection of Irish Fairy Tales. I had been drooling over it in an antique book store and plotting to return and get it myself, but my lad beat me to it. I shall have to plot sufficient revenge...
Especially considering he followed that up with the companion to this book, a collection of English fairy tales, both illustrated by Arthur Rackham, one of my favorite artists.

I suppose, if I have to have a vice, collecting beautiful or good-smelling books isn't a bad one. Like being addicted to QT lattes.

Which I may or may not be. I plead the Fifth.

I'm too busy oogling over my leather bound novels and sipping my latte...

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Divergent's a little...Hungry?

Welcome back after the Snow-vasion! You might have noticed that we had no post last week. This has nothing to do with a lack of free time to create said post and everything to do with the utter lethargy that comes from having an entire city shut down around you, coated in snow and ice. Especially when it's the one or two snow days every three years you get to take advantage of.

But now, it's book review time. No, I'm not going to be reviewing that favorite, Snowpocalypse 2014: Scenes from Inside Your Car. Neither am I going to be discussing the tried and true Gotta Get the Bread and Milk.


My sister in law got me "Divergent" by Veronica Roth for Christmas. We had been discussing it earlier, especially in light of the movie that is coming out. I had heard of the books also from my cousin, but upon seeing the trailer for the movie, wasn't impressed. It looked like every other angxty teen romance with the mousy little girl and the tattooed bad boy. But I was encouraged that, while a little odd, it was a good book.

We'll not speculate much about the movie. But I have my negative suspicions.

I started "Divergent" with an open mind, but the first thirty or so pages were about what I had expected. A book following the wildly successful "Hunger Games" trilogy and trying so very hard to be a teen romance version of the same story. A dystopian society that divided in order to have peace, resulting in various 'factions' (instead of districts) where everyone belongs and has a certain characteristic: bravery, peace, love, service, knowledge, truth. And then there's this one loner girl who doesn't quite fit in who is forced to make a decision that radically changes her life, by swapping factions...sound familiar? She's also a 'Divergent', which means she fits into more than one faction and is considered dangerous. Why? By whom? Who knows. But apparently they'll kill her if they find out. Oop.

So the beginning was awkward and a bit cliche, especially the Dauntless faction, who are the brave, the courageous. Because apparently to belong to the brave faction you have to get tattooed and pierced and wear black and be an adrenaline junkie. Hmm.

Needless to say I wasn't really feeling the burn to finish the book. But the Snowpocalypse did do one thing for me-- it gave me a chance to read. So I spent one night burning the midnight oil reading "Divergent"...and then the early morning oil...and then I read about 3/4 of the book in the space of one night. Finished it clean off.

It got really good. The book, despite its small weaknesses, pulled me in and I couldn't put it down for an instant. I really wanted to know what happened, and so I finished the entire novel off in almost one go.

The characters grow stronger. Where they maybe start off one-dimensional and middle-schooler-ish, they flow into their allotted spaces and expand. The tension and difficulty of Dauntless initiation, of joining a new faction, is intense. Many do not even survive. And the relationship between the 'mousy girl' and the 'tattooed bad boy' is not at all what one would think. It has actual...*gasp*...depth! The characters have brains and know how to use them. Instead of being a little girl with a small-dog complex, Tris, the main character, actually listens to advice on how to protect herself, even if it means acting weak and small. Four, the love interest, isn't always brooding and dark. He opens up and acts, you know, human, and he does this more often than not. His brooding behavior is actually a symptom of shyness and introversion.

Luckily, my sister in law got me the second one for Christmas as well. I'm only missing the third. It's not going to take me long to need it.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Saturday Morning Post

Do you remember Saturday morning cartoons? I do! Sugary cereal, mussed hair, wrapping yourself in a super fluffy blanket, and vegging it out in front of the telly. I used to eat Cinnamon Toast Crunch and watch Animal Planet. Best ever.

Of course, I'd always go outside in the spring and summer first, very early (I used to be a child who woke up at 6:30 am on the dot every morning, no matter what...of course, I also couldn't stay awake past 10 pm. Made New Year's Eve my least favorite holiday). I wanted to see what had come up in the garden overnight, and take a quiet moment to wander around barefoot in the grass and take in my share of sunlight and green for the day. I thrive on green-- when I don't get enough of it, like visiting New Mexico or something (no offense New Mexico!) I get literally depressed and weary.

And yes, I'd be barefoot. My mother used to despair of keeping me in shoes. She still scolds me when I try to go outside barefoot in the winter. Ah well. Some things don't change. I did tell you the story of when I feel asleep reading outdoors tucked in a wheelbarrow, yes? I swear I'm part gnome. Or hobbit.

But I do like shoes. I don't own fifty million pairs of them, mostly because, when I buy a pair of shoes, I expect them to last a long time. I'm also pretty thrifty. I won't spend a lot of money (like, more than $10) on shoes unless I think they're really and truly worth it. My hand-made leather boots that I wear when I'm working at Renaissance Festivals (do you know what a Renaissance Festival is? If you've never been, you have to visit one! All my Atlantians here are within 40 minutes of the Georgia Faire, fondly known as GARF, which opens in mid-April) were nearly $200 (which is a steal for hand-made leather boots!). They've got a 20 year guarantee on them, if you take care of them. And they're invaluable to me as working shoes. These things are stylish and epic and comfortable for staying on your feet for 10 hours at a time. They're also heavy duty-- once you've got them on your feet, they're not coming off until you take them off!

Another brand of leather moccasin that I dream of in the Ren-Faire circuit would cost me $1,200 to get my custom designed dream pair. I'll wait till I win the lottery for those.

But I recently discovered a type of leather boot-moccasin that wouldn't cost me both legs to purchase a pair (which would rather defeat the purpose, wouldn't it?). This maker, Gipsy Dharma, creates hand-crafted leather shoes with hand-dyed leather, should you care for leopard print or 'galaxy' designed boots. And they are beautiful! I fell in love just by seeing an add for them on Facebook and have been pouring through the catalog ever since. Tons of laces and leather, ankle, knee-high, over-the-knee (which is my favorite, personally). Colors from staid tan and black to hot pink and mauve! And they're all priced between $200 and $400. For hand-made leather boots, as I said-- that's really not unreasonable. My twin sister has worked selling hand-crafted leather shoes at the Georgia Renaissance Festival for many years, so I've seen styles and quality come and go. Besides, some designer boots come with a fourth of this material and cost twice as much. Enough said.

I must have a pair of these shoes. I mean, look at these things!! (The Black Over-the-Knee is my personal favorite...I bet they'd look epic with a set of teal or maroon laces!!) But what's really cool about these boots is that you don't have to do those laces every time you put them on. They have a cleverly hidden zipper. Functional and epic! 

You should check out her website or her Facebook Page. She's always got something new going on, whether it be giveaways or new designs or reviews. Me, I'm sold already. I don't need any more advertising or persuasion. You've got  me!

In a pair of these, I will gladly let my wild feet be shod!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Creative Stoppers

What do you do when you want to write but you can't?

And I don't mean writer's block. Hello everyone. You may remember in my last post how I told you I was crunched under deadlines, and how, as a result, I had to give you a shortened post. Well, deadlines remain, and so here it is in the evening of Wednesday and you're getting a sleep-deprived, cold-fingered message from your favorite barefoot blogger (though I am wearing socks right now. It is winter after all, and I can be taught sense. I only tried to wash the car barefoot in winter after dark once).

If you've been following, you'll also know that I recently self-published my book "Shifted":

available here and here for purchase-- how cool is that!? I have a book on and also in the Barnes & Noble online store!!!

Having completed that task, I am also now starting on a new book. I'm really excited about it and want to have it finished before the summer hits in full. I'd even like to have it done by mid-April, as that is when the Georgia Renaissance Festival opens, and I will become 7-day a week, 60 hour work week zombie girl. Which will leave very little time for writing.

Unfortunately, working a lot of overtime is also not very conducive for writing. I don't mind-- it's awesome to see your work projects come together, and the confetti that will be thrown when it is finished will put New Years Eve in Times Square to shame.

Still, I've written the intro, the first few pages of the first chapter, and outlined the book. I wish the first chapter (and the second for that matter) was finished. But I just haven't had the time?

What to do?

At this point, friends, you have to just give in to the fact that one is not a full-time writer and has other obligations to fulfill, like a full-time job, like exercising the holiday off, like sleeping and seeing your friends once in a while. Those things do exist too.

You can also 'make' the time, if you have the chance. Get up super early, or spend less time on Facebook or Tumblr, whatever your vice is. Sometimes there isn't any way to mince the work. You need to sleep and you need to get fresh air out of your brain. Ok then. At that point you just need to remember:

Deadlines are important. But don't flatline over one, especially one you've instilled upon your own schedule. I want to be done with my book by spring, but if that doesn't happen, summer is just as good. I'm not in any real hurry, other than my own impatience to get another piece of work out. I'm making up for lost time during my college years. But I'm going to wait until the craziness of this month is done and then I'll settle back into it.

Breathe, friends. The first month of the year is halfway through, so don't waste it with stress or frenzy!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014


Well, as happens now and again, you, my Dear Readers (you even get capitalized letters-- that's how much I love you), will have to put up with an abbreviated post. Deadlines have hit and I must nose-to-the-wall edit my little eyeballs off to get things done. I am sure you will forgive me.

Look forward to hearing all about it next week during our usual hour. I will most dramatically faint on the floor, surrounded by drafting papers and completed manuscripts (for work, not for me-- just to clarify). I will also update you on writing news: I have finished a book, and I am in the throes of beginning a new one, a stand-alone 'companion' to the last one-- which is now available for purchase. See flagrant advertising below.

Yes. My book is AVAILABLE ON AMAZON.COM!! How cool is that. You can even read a summary, a short excerpt, and a review of it.

You should totally buy it. Read it. Enjoy it. Review it. And let me know what you think.

So I bid you farewell, my dear readers, and wish me best of luck.

Until next week, enjoy this picture of a sassy llama.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Finally Made the Switch

Hey everyone! Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and welcome to Maudlin's Shoes in 2014! I hope you enjoy your first official dabble of shoeless madness of the next 365 days.

So my most recent publishing news is that I finally took the plunge. After finishing my latest book, "Shifted," I have made good use of the counsel of fellow-author and self-published, award-winning Amanda DeWees and uploaded my book onto Create Space.

For those of you who don't know Create Space, it's a self-publishing platform that is so easy to use it's not even funny. You'll be sitting there thinking, wow, this is so easy, I can't believe how much I am not laughing at it.

Or you'll think it's hysterical. One of the two. I guess that doesn't leave you very many reaction options. I will also allow you amazement. You may also be allowed to show your pleasure.

I've been hesitant about self-publishing for a while, just because I still want to go the traditional publishing route. But hey, I just finished a book I'm really proud of, and I want my friends, family, loved ones, and complete strangers to read it. They can't exactly do that if I only print 10 copies from a local printer and book binding company. There's no distribution involved that way.

So I made an account and uploaded my book. Now, there are some hurdles you have to figure out as you go. Like being sure that all of your images are more than 300 dpi, which is standard quality for printing. If you don't have a program of design that will let you do that, you can use a lower resolution but it may make things a little blurry. Not necessarily the end of the world if it's not really bad, but you may also want to invest in either a good program that will let you save high-res, or invest in someone to design for you. My next book will be getting a professionally-designed cover by one of my good friends, who is a very talented artist. Now, I like doing all my own art, but I also like things looking clear. And she has Photoshop. 'Nuff said.

Making an account will take you like two seconds. Then you need a few things-- one, a full PDF of your manuscripts, and two, a back-spine-front PDF of your book cover. That gets a little tricky just because it's so hard to measure accurately, but here's the cool thing-- your files will get checked by Create Space before you can print a proof (which you want to do so you can double check it for quality before you release it on the market), so they make sure that if there's a little wonkyness, you get an alert or they just fix it automatically, or both.

So the whole process will likely take you about a week and a half to two weeks. Then your book will be available on Create Space website. You set a price, you get royalties, you have an official ISBN number-- it's really neat. You can pick the platforms that the book will be available on. For example, mine will be available on in a week or so. It'll also be available through various other platforms, like Barnes & Noble, etc.

Because really-- if you get an answer from an agency or a publisher, you can just take the book off the platform. But people can still get it and see it while it's up. And if you do really well on your own, well-- I guess that means you don't need a publisher, eh?

By the way, you can look at my book here. I'd love to hear what you think about it.

I'll be posting more when it's available on Please, buy a copy, support local (or not so local, as the case may be) authors, and leave a review either here or on