Fill in the blank

fill in the blank.jpg

This was the first week of school in my town. I have two high schoolers, a sophomore and a senior. All of the sand in my motherhood hourglass has nearly been spent. The nest always empties, and mine will do just that sooner rather than later.  I’m trying to think of this as a second start in life and that the “now what?” that I’m facing is a grand opportunity.

The problem is that we don’t think of 40’s and 50’s as being a fresh start. It’s a “you’re almost done” age. You’re a cake who’s been baked, mostly devoured, and you’re starting to get stale. (I feel like my icing sliding down and drooping. You?)  I’ve started collecting stories of women who make something new of themselves after 50, 60, 70 years old. Judith Krantz, for one. According to her obituary (yikes! I’m taking inspiration from obituaries. Is that an old person thing?), she didn’t publish her first book until she was 50. “I was the world’s latest bloomer!” she said. 

Still, youth has more than a few advantages. For one, the career world awaits them expectantly. Not so much for old moms. And youth comes packaged with a certainty of how the world works. Yes, it might be an ill-informed certainty. But that naiveté is a booster chair lifting us higher to our dreams. Also in youth, bodies work closer to optimal. Climb that mountain? Yes! Ford that stream? Bring it! There are no wrinkles to stare at endlessly in the mirror, there is no lifting the skin on your chest and wondering if your boobs were ever really that high. (They were never that high. Trust me. It’s simply not possible that they’ve fallen that far. They were always round about there. Give or take.)

It makes me want to write a romance about a middle-aged single mom…a paranormal romance, of course. (Do you think there’s a market for that?) Her house is empty of her kids because they’re all off to college and she walks to her mailbox to find a tuition bill. (Do tuition bills come in the mail? Maybe getting the bill in an email on her phone would be better…which she’s checking while she’s walking to her snail mailbox and finds the Sundance catalog in there, her favorite, full of stuff she can’t afford.) And then a moving van pulls up and it’s full of hot and hunky men, with slight shades of silver in their hair. They help move their friend, Most Smoldering Vampire of All, into the house across the street. And it turns out that the single mom, who’s still got it if you like soft hips, cratered thighs, and a well-honed will to endure, has latent magic powers. And Most Smoldering Vampire, who long ago identified her abilities, has just been waiting for her kids to move out and go to college so he can have wild, consensual sex with her, pleasure her madly, and activate her powers. 

I firmly believe it’s never too late for a sexy ever after. And along that line, if you’re a diehard romance reader, I think you have to believe that it’s never too late for a “now what?” moment that leads to an ending as happy as the day your newborn was put in your arms.** 

So today’s exercise is a fill in the blank question: 

Now what? she thought. And she became a ______________. She was amazing at it! And to this day, she lives happily ever after in a nest perfectly feathered for herself. 


**Was that day happy or just utterly exhausting and 110% bewildering? Maybe all three? One more than the others? But that’s a question for another day.

Ilona Andrews!

Ilona Andrews. Here I come..jpg

Tonight I’m going to a bookstore to see Ilona Andrews. They (husband/wife team) are my favorite author(s). For years I’ve scoured the names of the authors at writing conferences or book festivals that I’ve attended searching for their name. No luck.

Until now.

I stumbled upon their upcoming appearance when I had to take my very sick, very sad dog to a special vet for an MRI. (When something good happens because of something bad, it’s like Life giving you a hug.) 

I’ve never gone to a bookstore with the sole purpose of seeing an author. As type this, I’m wondering how that can possibly be? And then I think, as I type some more, well, you’re an introvert and you don’t go many places in general with the sole purpose of seeing anyone. And then I have the answer to that question.

I’m nervous.

Here are the nervous things:

  • What do I say?
  • Specifically, what do I say so that the moment is perfect forever and ever amen?
  • Will there be a line?
  • Will I be able to find a parking spot?
  • Will I be late? (Getting out of Atlanta on a Friday night? Oh. No. Getting out of Atlanta on the Friday night of Labor Day weekend? Disaster Potential.) (I hate being late.)
  • Will my hair look acceptable in the picture that I think they’ll agree to take with me? (Their website said they’ll take pictures with people.)
  • Why oh why did I not lose those 10 (ahem…15) pounds before today?
  • Will I have the energy to go if I don’t take a nap?
  • If I try to take a nap, will I be able to sleep?
  • Why don’t I just have a cup of coffee instead?

Fortunately, I have all day to ponder these questions and more. And when this day is over, nothing will ever be the same.

Ok, that’s unlikely to be true.

When this day is over, I’ll go back to my introvert cave with a really awesome book signed by a really awesome person-people. (Do they both sign it? Does one sign the first name and the other the last name?) And someday, I’ll come back out again for something else really awesome!

Aimless Little Minutes and the No Phun Phone

I turned in my third book on October 6th. I still haven’t heard whether the publishing company wants it or not.  

Let me be clear. I am not complaining about this. In fact, I’m lucky to be in this situation. I’m grateful for it. Here’s why:

First, I have a publishing company, and they published two of my books. I waited (and worked) for a long time to be able to say that.

Second, my publisher was interested in reading my third (and proposal for the fourth) book. 

Third, I FINISHED THE DAMN BOOK, and I learned a lot about writing and myself in the process. (The latter, in my opinion, is the point of why we’re alive…to figure out who you are and to learn how to be.) 

In the process of waiting for four months to hear if the company wants it, I’ve checked my email so many times that my phone should have a divot where my Gmail app lives…or rather lived. 

This week, I deleted it. 

A few weeks ago, I also deleted Facebook and all game apps from my phone. But that was to minimize distractions and force myself to work. 

My phone is absolutely no fun. 

That’s right. 

I have a no phun phone. 

I find myself standing around in the kitchen holding it, thumbs at the ready and they have nowhere to go…no app buttons to hit. No emails to click open. Nothing to like. No one to follow.

Nothing to do in those little minutes of waiting while life packages up the next micro-segment of action for delivery.

What does one do while waiting for the skillet to heat up enough to scramble one’s eggs? Or for the water to heat up at the faucet? Or for the Nespresso machine to brew a cup of coffee? I think maybe this is when people might have wiped down their kitchen counters. Or organized their silverware drawers. Cleaned their coffee pots?

(And what has my phone done to me that I even have to ask these questions?!?)

It’s not enough time to fold a basket of underwear. So laundry is out.

It is enough time to write a haiku. Maybe I should try that…because I don’t need to accomplish something on my to do list in those little minutes. I just want to experience them in something other than a state of bewildered boredom. The problem is that I am in the habit of being entertained during those little minutes. Without my apps, I’m like an addict who’s been cut off from her dealer.  

I’m relearning how to be in the little minutes of nothing. I can’t believe I’ve forgotten in the first place. Ten years ago, who knew that a super phone was a possibility? Now my thumbs are bereft without it. Aren’t thumbs part of what shot us to the top of the food chain? Bad news, folks, they’ve conspired with a 6x2 inch screen to take over our existence.  

So I’ve started my own little resistance movement.

If you want to join, email me, tweet, post send me a letter. Please. I’ll read it in the kitchen. I really need something to do while I wait for my Nespresso.  

What exactly is important here?

Saturday I could have gone to a march.

Sunday I could have gone to a race that I paid big bucks to run. 

I did neither, both for moderately good reasons, but both activities would have pushed me out of my comfort zone. Sunday morning, as I sat around the house sitting with what I had not done, I felt like I’d caged my potential, like I’d let fear roll over me with a gigantic frowny face emoji that had popped all over me and drenched me in the yellow goo of regret. 

The experience reminded me—apparently I needed a reminder—that I’m happiest with who I am when I step out of my squishy, well-padded, perfectly-molded-to-me box…and when I do so on a regular basis. 

That box has high walls. It takes a lot of guts to scale it and a lot of energy. 

I spent Sunday battling disappointment in myself but not really for good reasons. 

Saturday I went to a writers’ meeting and heard a great speaker and got to catch up with some of my writing friends. Sunday I finished a first draft.

Did you hear that? I finished a first draft! 

That’s a HUGE check on my to-do list. It’s something that should inspire pride, not disappointment. 

Also, I did laundry and cleaned a few (very few) parts of the house, all of which needed to be completed, for the sake of my sanity and so my children could go to school in clean clothes. 

My kids can go to school in clean clothes!

Also, huge!

Huge. Huge?

Oh dear.

I can’t use that word anymore. I think we’re going to have to drain the dictionary of that word.

How about…super? Great? Monumental?

I need to forgive myself for the weekend-that-wasn’t, move on, and plan better. 

Next time, I’m going to knit up my Pussy Hat and go…even if I can’t think up a catchy phrase to put on a sign.

Next time, I’m not going to sign up for that race. This is the second race in a row that I’ve decided against (the first one I didn’t register for.) Maybe I need to accept that racing isn’t important to me anymore, that, for now, running with my daughter on the afternoons that she’s interested in doing so are the running highs that racing used to give me. 

I’m okay with that. Because running with her is WAY better than racing.

Maybe this weekend was me figuring out what’s important and what’s not. Maybe I’m riding the wave of figuring that out along with the rest of the county. Maybe the entire United States is figuring out what to hold tight to, what to fight for, and what to let go of.

Family time = important

March and action = important

Writing = important

The rest can slough away like drippy yellow goo and in the process, lighten me up and let me climb out of that box and brave the important stuff a little easier. 

And that’s super!


Re-read of the Week: Magic Dreams

Kate Daniels. 

You know who she is, right? The star character of the urban fantasy series by Ilona Andrews? (If you do not know this, off you go to Amazon. Start with Magic Bites.) I am delightfully making my way through the series for the umpteenth time.

I love Kate Daniels. 

I love her so much.

I want to be her. 

Am I allowed to say that? Wait. What did you say? You want to be Kate Daniels, too? It just so happens that the county park in my area offers really cheap sword fighting classes. No joke! Like $35 for six weeks! And the class is an hour and half or something really loooong like that. 

Can you say, “bargain?”


If we were besties and you lived nearby, would you be up for it?

You don’t even have to bring your own sword. They have them there.

I picked up the flyer for the class when I went to vote for president…back in October. Remember that? Autumn 2016. Back when the world was teetering toward an unfathomable future? Before we fell into the swirling black hole of unpredictability? It feels so long ago. 

I can’t bring myself to throw away the flyer because it could very well be my first step toward getting my own Slayer even if I don’t take the class this time around. (Slayer is the name of Kate’s sword. Again, if you’re not in the know, hie thee to Amazon forthwith!)

In the series, Kate has a couple of friends and one ward who eventually get their own books or novellas, too. Since I’m making my way through the series WAY too quickly, I decided to divert and pick up one of Kate’s friends. 

Magic Dreams is a novella starring Dali, a magic white tiger, who wears thick glasses, isn’t much of a fighter, and races cars for fun, even though it’s against the orders of her alpha, Jim, the man Dali loves from afar. 

Dali doesn’t have a sword. She has a pen and paper that she uses to write spells and curses on. 

I’m much more like Dali than I am Kate, even though I don’t turn into a magic white tiger or race cars against my alpha’s wishes. 

I have do a pen and paper though, and most of the time I’m not afraid to use them.

In the story, the pair goes on a mission to find the cause of Jim’s strange sickness, a case that takes Dali’s special magic to cure. 

The book is delicious. But short. As novellas are supposed to be.

If you’re exhausted before bedtime but choose to read anyway, I estimate it will take you two to three nights to finish it. If you’re up for putting in a couple of hours of reading, you’ll have it done in one night. 

And the next night you can pick up the next novella in Jim and Dali’s saga, Magic Steals.

(To ensure that you’re fully informed, Magic Dreams originally appeared in the anthology, Hexed. Magic Steals originally appeared in the anthology Night Shift. Both novellas are now available separately.)

Have you read Dali’s stories? Plan to? Do you like the spin-off novels and novellas in Kate’s world? Let me know what you think!

Glitter, Sparkle, Shine

Every now and then something so super cool enters the average human's life that it inspires her to get out of bed in the morning. And yes! Such a thing has happened to me. I am so thrilled about my new 2017 Ink+Volt planner that I rush through my morning routine so I can get to my desk and open it. 

Fourteen days into the calendar year and I am organized and productive. 

You'll probably want one for yourself. Click. Quick. Because by the time you get yours, we'll be 3+ weeks into the new year. But that's okay. Start recording all the marvelous things you've accomplished so far this year, and then write them in their appropriate spots in the planner when it arrives. If you're one of those people who add things to your to-do list just so you can check them off, I know you understand what I'm talking about. One can't have the first month of the year stay blank! What kind of start is that? 

I spend a lovely fifteen minutes everyday going over my goals...weekly, monthly, and yearly. Ink+Volt has a place for all of those, and that is the key to what propels me forward, consistently seeing my ultimate destination. (Okay, consistently for two weeks.) 

The Ink+Volt planner also has a special section for your year's theme--a word or short phrase that encapsulates what you want to achieve for the year. This requires some thought. Although there is a place to brainstorm about the theme, I didn't want to risk messing up my new planner with the wrong thoughts, so I brainstormed elsewhere. 

(I'm not usually so anal. It's just that I have a thing for notebooks, and this one is so smooth and soft and important. I didn't want to mess it up right from the get go.)

As I was brainstorming, at first all I came up with were words like:





2017 sure was looking to be a fun year.


I needed to pretty it up a little bit, add some sparkle, make it shine, glitter it with goodness and joy.

And presto!


My writing career blossoms. 

Ta da! My theme in four words.

The day after I'd decided on my theme--I hadn't told anyone yet--Mr. Rae and I were texting about what I might be doing that day. I responded. Something like, "I have to get this synopsis done and sent off to my editor ASAP for a book proposal." (I'd been working hard on it for a couple of in shut away behind a tiny door, deep in the bowels of our house, and no one had seen me in forever.) See for yourself how the rest of the text conversation went.

Also, see for yourself that he's the sweetest guy ever!


Did you see that?

He said blossom! And I hadn't even told him! (And he would never snoop, in case your sneaky little mind was wondering.) It was a sign from the universe. I'm on the right path.

And books ARE coming. For those you waiting for a Mayflower Mages book, the third book is with the publishing gods who live in New York, waiting to hear its destined fate...

...may they be benevolent and kind in all their wisdom. Amen.

In the meantime, I'm working through draft after draft of the fourth book. 

One way or another, I will have release dates soon for both books.

After all, it is written in my planner that they. Will. Be. Published.

It is written; therefore, it is so.

Because I read about it everyday.

See for yourself. (It's square bullet points #1 and #4.)

(Colorful pens and doodles. The keys to success.)

(Colorful pens and doodles. The keys to success.)

I have a lot to accomplish in 2017, but that's what blossoming is all about...brimming forth with creative potential that flowers into actuality.

Life is busy. Writing is happening. Books are coming.

And now I have to go put a checkmark in my planner next to "Write blog post."

Mr. Rae steals my heart again

I was editing in the back seat of my minivan last night at soccer practice. It's what I do Monday through Thursday. Last night I finished a that turned the story into something delicious.



I almost cried when I reached The End.

I still have another draft to go--SIX DAYS TO DEADLINE!--but I texted my husband that I'd finished this one.

He said we should celebrate.

I said with cake and champagne.

Alas, that's not on our diet.

Look what was waiting for me when I came home. 

Dear Microsoft Word for Mac,

You most likely know that you are very important piece of software to Mac users everywhere. Without you, we would struggle to conduct business communications with PC users. I appreciate your help in that endeavor. 

I would like to ask you for a little bit more help. Just a smidge. Less than a pinch really.

I'm a novelist. And I write big books and I cannot lie. No other brother can deny--

Oh. Sorry.  It's just such a catchy song, you know. (My children would be mortified.) Back to my issue...

Why do you stop showing the word count of the document once there are more than 100,000 words? Do you think that once there are that many words a writer no longer needs to see the count? Is it too hard to count any higher in a timely fashion? Is it because there isn't enough room in the little word count bar at the bottom of the page?

I would like to encourage you to show that you can easily count higher than 100,000. I know you can! You're Microsoft. You mighty beast, you! 

Please help a little old writer like me. Help me know when I've finally cut my draft down to under 100,000. Don't keep it a surprise as I slowly shrink the book. I like to see my progress without having to click. 

If this is absolutely not an option for you, I understand.

Some things are hard.

In which case, I have another suggestion. How about creating a shortcut so that I can bring up the word count box without lifting my fingers from the keyboard? 

Also, while you're making shortcuts, could you please make one for the strikethrough feature? Italics, bold, and underline all have their own shortcuts. Why not one for strikethrough, too? If you need some help in that, I suggest you call Scrivener. They have a lovely shortcut for it. 

I'm certain you believe in equality for all font styles, just like I'm certain you believe in equality for all sizes of word count--tiny, small, medium, and Venti. I look forward to a long, shortcut-filled relationship with you.

Thank you,

Anise Rae

At the page

I'm scrambling to put the finishing touches on book three. Finishing touches ought not to include re-writing fifty pages of the ending or rethinking the bad guys and their accomplices...and is there a conspiracy in this story? Yes? But I don't have time to write that!

Evidently I need to redefine my definition of "finishing touches" because I'm pretty sure this happens to me every time I get to final stages of editing a book...before it goes to my editor, that it. 

Today's writing has gone like this: think, think, think. Come on. You can figure this out. Brainstorm. Mindmap. Replot on index cards. Repost index cards on wall. This is never going to work. Starry vibes, I've got a ton of work ahead of me. This is never going to work. Okay, I'll start on the easy part. That's done. Now the hard part. How am I ever going to get this done? Pen and notebook paper. Handwriting a scene. I should switch to typing. Okay, so this isn't terrible writing. Oh, I like these characters. There is hope. But man. So much work ahead. 

I've got one hour and fifteen minutes of good writing time left. For today that is.


Hey, a writer's got to get her inspiration from somewhere

Here's a little tidbit about the inspiration behind one character in Syphon's Song. 

Claude Hines is named in honor of Duncan Hines. 

Because I like cake. A lot.

And there's nothing that looks better to me than the picture of cake on the Devil's Food cake mix box. 

Ok, except Alexander Skarsgard in Tarzan. He looks better. 

Yum. Just yum.


The importance of creating lots and lots and lots

It's been a long time, but I'm finally on a roll with writing. Life has settled down, become steady, and even when it's not, my new philosophy, as of the past six months, is "teach yourself to work in uncertainty."

Teach yourself to work in uncertainty. ~Bernard Malamud

I've assigned myself another motto as well: 

Work hard and publish, publish, publish. ~Anise Rae

Among a few of my writer friends, I'm known for being wordy when it comes to first and second drafts. Really in novels that are too long to submit. That makes it a challenge to publish, publish, publish because it takes a long time to get all those words down. It takes more time to trim the excess.

But lately I've been experimenting.

Experiment! ~Anise Rae

Just that word stirs up excitement in the glitter and goodness of my creative soul. (Creativity needs to be stirred frequently. Like a cauldron brimming with iridescent swirls and rainbows, creativity bubbles best when there's a big spoon moving through it.) 

At its heart, creating something new is an experiment. Always. But it takes skill and willpower to keep that fresh, determined feeling alive through the long process of creating the first draft of a novel. 

I realized this after I decided to write a short novella. I wasn't sure I could do it. Wordy girls don't mix well with abbreviated tales. 

But I figured I had little lose. It shouldn't take me that long write, I told myself, not when compared to a novel-length work. I planned to work on it for one hour a day. As I started the process, I even re-wrote the beginning a few times to make sure I had the story starting the way I wanted it to. That was an easy step to justify. If each scene took me an hour to draft, then I was only losing a couple of hours of work in that mini-experiment. 

Also, I didn't plot. I didn't plan. This is soul-shaking stuff for a person who likes rules and structure.

After working on it for at least one hour a day on it, mostly sprinting with the lovely and talented Kiersten Fay, I put it away. For the rest of my work day, I edited a novel that has taken me over a year to develop.

It took me thirteen days to create the first draft of the novella.

I should have celebrated with cake and confetti.

Alas, I'm on a diet and the house is already messy enough.

Now I'm working on my second novella. This one is in a slightly different sub-genre than usual for me which adds to the experiment. I'm sprinting for one hour a day, while still editing the novel during the rest of the day. 

It's freeing. And fun.

And that's the way creating should be.

Will this last? Who knows? But that's okay. Experimenting with different creative paths is a way of life for every creator, including novelists. You'd think that once a writer gets some books under her belt then she should have her process down, but I've had to give up that idea. Every book is an adventure...even for the writer. 

Embrace the adventure. ~Anise Rae 

Temptation Striking

I wrote 3,000 words yesterday. For a weekend, that’s not bad at all. In fact, compared to the last year of writing, 3,000 words is so beyond excellent there ought to be continuous fireworks blossoming above my house and a field full of yellow, happy dandelions bobbing with joy and delight in my front yard. 

But when yesterday evening rolled around, my brain was wrung out. Happens. No biggie. By morning, it's ready to go again. The problem is staying focused on my goal during those evening hours. When my brain is tired, it wants to leave my writing realm and go someplace else…preferably via a book. It wants to travel into someone else’s sci fi or fantasy world where the promise of romance lurks, as well as some really hot sex. Alas, reading a deliciously, yummy romance while I’m writing my own book pulls me out of my story world, which is where I really need to stay without distraction for weeks and weeks in order to get my book finished. This requires some serious discipline. 

Discipline always requires a plan. 

I once read an FB post from author Denise Grover Swank. She was getting ready to write a new book and needed to have her entertainment lined up for when she was done with writing for the day, which meant watching TV shows and not reading books. 

Even though I’m not a big screen fan, I’m all for the TV Plan for Writing Focus

My plan consists of The Good Wife. It’s on Amazon Prime and has so many seasons that I should be done with my book before I get to the end. (I love Alicia! Although I really get nervous for her when she’s about to make a bad decision. I don’t enjoy that.) I watch the show through the Amazon app on my antique Wii. However, in the last two days, our Internet has changed. (Hubby’s domain, and I’m not even going to try to remember the details.) My poor, old Wii can no longer connect to the Internet. 

I can’t watch The Good Wife! My TV Plan for Writing Focus is kaput! 

Naturally I had a weak moment. 

I tried to resist. 


I tried reading writing blogs. I tried knitting. I tried looking for other shows through OnDemand. But without Alicia, it just wasn’t the same. 

I weakened. I downloaded a sample of a fantasy novel that had no element of romance. (These pose little threat to my focus because what’s a story without romance? Boring, that’s what.) My wrung-out brain wasn’t buying it though. 

I teetered farther toward the edge of the wagon. I googled new paranormal romance novels. Just to see. You understand? Right? After all, it’s my field of expertise. I need to stay on top of things. I ended up on One thing led to another, and I ended up downloading a sample (a sample, mind you) of Rebecca Zanetti’s Mercury Striking. It was delicious. And then the sample ended. Ended! I would have to buy. 

But no!

Must resist!


Resist I did.

Instead I went back and reread the sample and studied her writing style. I turned my weak moment into an improving experience. 

I have no idea what happens in this book, but I’m certain it’s delicious. 

Now it’s a carrot dangling on the end of a very, very long stick. Very dangerous. One tiny, little jump off the wagon and it’s mine. All mine!

Moral of the story: If you want to remain disciplined, always have a plan B. Also, a plan C. 

I still have neither. 

Wishing you strength and the wisdom to have a backup plan,


P.S. Please, someone go buy Mercury Striking and read it in my stead.  Then leave a comment below and tell me how awesome it is. (But don’t tell me what happens because I am SO going to read it…as soon as my book is written. Riiiiigght.)

 P.P.S. If you do read it and you live in the US and you’re the first person to comment as doing so on my blog, I’ll send you a prize. ;) If you don’t live in the US, please do still comment. I’ll send you bundles of gratitude and hugs and kisses and good thoughts and wishes for a winning lottery ticket. I’ll blow all that in your direction. Which sounds like it’s nowhere near as good as a real prize, but when you win the lottery, I’m certain you’ll feel differently.  

Erin Fanning's Blood Stitches: A new take on a well-loved genre

As a romance novel junkie, I love stumbling upon books that twist and swirl the genre past the usual borders. Erin Fanning's Blood Stitches, does just this, blending horror, mythology, and adventure for fans of new adult romance. I was so excited to read this one. 

About the Book:

It’s called El Toque de la Luna—The Touch of the Moon. At least that’s how nineteen-year-old Gabby’s older sister, Esperanza, refers to the magical powers she inherited from their Mayan ancestors. Esperanza says women with El Toque weave magic into their knitting, creating tapestries capable of saving—or devastating—the world. Gabby thinks Esperanza is more like touched in the head—until a man dressed like a candy corn arrives at their Seattle home on Halloween. But “Mr. C” is far from sweet…

Soon, Gabby and her almost-more-than-friend, Frank, find themselves spirited away to a demon ball, complete with shape shifters—and on a mission to destroy Esperanza’s tapestries before they cause an apocalyptic disaster… And before it’s too late to confess their true feelings for each other.

 Amazon      Barnes and Noble     Kobo     Google     iTunes

My thoughts:

Erin Fanning's Blood Stitches brings a unique twist to the well-loved paranormal genre. Elements of Mayan mythology add freshness to the story, and Fanning's writing stands out, crisp and clean.

The book is surprising from the start. Creatures come out on Halloween and disrupt the heroine’s life, starting with a man dressed as a piece of candy corn. College student Gabby is suddenly thrust into a world of deeply hidden family secrets that she must uncover in order to save herself and her sister.

Containing a touch of horror, Blood Stitches is like stepping into a funhouse world where everyone Gabby meets is distorted and strange. Fortunately, she has help in the form of Frank, a combo sidekick/love interest who is with her every step of the way. The romance develops throughout the novel and hopefully will be continued in the next installment, which can't come soon enough.

I recommend this fresh story for fans of new adult paranormal romance, especially those with an interest in mythology.

About the Author:


Erin Fanning spends her summers on a northern Michigan lake, where her imagination explores the water and dense forest for undiscovered creatures. In the winter, she migrates to central Idaho, exchanging mountain bikes and kayaks for skis and snowshoes. She’s the author of a mountain biking guidebook, as well as numerous articles, essays, and short stories.

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Seeking Temptation

A couple of weeks ago Kid 1 brought home a trophy for her cookies. I have to say, I was puffed up with pride. I have a big box of blue ribbons--now crisp and creased with a great deal of age--from cooking in years of 4-H. Kid 1 would likely squint her eyes ever so slightly in gentle dismay if I mentioned how she's a chip off the old block. 

The cookie recipe came from one of my favorite cookbooks, The King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion. Flipping through the book with Kid 1, I realized it's been quite awhile since I've pulled out a cookbook to simply browse and seek temptation. For a very long time, life's been too busy to give much attention to anything cooking-related besides thinking up the quickest meals possible, but skimming through cookbooks used to be a favorite pastime. It's a refreshing hobby to rediscover.

In fact, I used to ponder choosing one cookbook from my collection and working my way through it to make every recipe in it. In the dust of life, I'd forgotten that had been a potential goal. Like most of my favorite cookbooks, I'd already started on that endeavor in the Baker's Companion, adding my comments as I made each recipe and dating it as if it were my chemistry lab notebook. I have a number of favorites in here and a number of pages dog-eared to make in the future…bagels, crepes, breads. And now that I've pulled it out, I'm loath to put it away. I'm afraid I'll forget this rediscovered pleasure all too quickly. Alas, my house is up for sale and I never know when it's going to be shown. It's an absolute violation of the "Make Your House Look Like It Stays Effortlessly Clean" Rule to leave anything laying out. So back on the shelf goes the Companion until temptation raises its luscious form yet again. I'm betting it will be in the guise of crepes.



Diary of a Romance Writer and her WIP. Entry #29: Eureka!

Hello, Plot! It's so nice to finally meet you. It only took me three months to convince you to show me your lovely face. Three months of coaxing and cajoling. Three months of mind maps, index cards, multiple notebooks, sticky notes, "outlines," (really just multiple pages of paragraph after paragraph of scene descriptions) and let us not forget the repositionable glue or the trifold, and about 60,000+ words of writing mostly blind on where the vibing hells this story was going!

(Yes. Vibing hells. Welcome to my world. It's called the Republic of Mage Territories.) 

I have a twenty-six page description of the plot, and I am completely giddy.  If these twenty-six pages weren't so incredibly messy, I'd be tempted to call it the first draft and go fill in all the 324 missing pages with description and dialog in the second draft. But that means I'd have to junk over 60,000 words, some of which are pretty good. Instead, I'll have to go in and fix them, a sometimes tedious and often confusing task that requires all brain cells on deck.

But that's okay.

Because I now know the majority of how every clue gets revealed, the secrets, the climax, the ending…all of it. In my excitement, I've spent today jumping around from scene to scene and writing little bits here and there. Scrivener is a jumpy writer's BFF. 

(For those of you who don't know, Scrivener is a writing program that lets you, among other things, create separate documents for each scene and/or chapter. I'd already created a novel's worth of scenes and chapters for this story, although a number of them are still blank.) 

Of course, jumping around from scene to scene isn't sustainable. Nor is it the best way to write a novel that flows. So eventually I will have to buckle down and start writing new scenes from start to finish. But for now, I'm jumping for joy! 


Diary of a Romance Writer and her WIP. Entry #28: Complications

I've learned something about myself.

I do not like to write simple stories.

I already knew this actually, but I was in denial and for good reason. Writing complicated plots requires days and weeks and months of focused, somewhat painful thinking, though it is pleasurable too. My brain is ALIVE when I'm plotting.

I like complications. I like conspiracies. I like it when every character has his/her own agenda and they all twist and tangle together to make a mass of problems. 

Alas, getting all those problems to untangle by the time The End arrives is a challenge. (In addition to liking complications, I also like the word alas. It was in one of my favorite storybooks as a kid and it sounded so beautifully fancy.) But without a headful of tangles, my novels-to-be don't intrigue me. Needless to say, I've not been entirely intrigued by my WIP lately. So I've pulled my plotting tools back out of the corner and I've started to play with all my friends….I mean, characters…again.

Plotting board. It's a trifold! They're not just for science projects. 

Plotting board. It's a trifold! They're not just for science projects. 

Repositionable glue. My new toy. By the way, that blue note lists a couple themes I currently see in the story. I thought I'd leave that there in case you needed a positive message in your day. (Go, you!)

Repositionable glue. My new toy. By the way, that blue note lists a couple themes I currently see in the story. I thought I'd leave that there in case you needed a positive message in your day. (Go, you!)

The pictures above are of my plotting board, complete with all my toys. My newest favorite plotting toy? Scotch Repositionable Glue Stick. It turns any piece of paper into a sticky note. Need to move a scene? No problem! Peel it off and stick it somewhere else. Also, a trifold makes a fabulous plotting board. Close the flaps and it shrinks by 30% for optimal storage, and when it's closed up, it all stays secret…an important safety feature if you have naughty words or deeds on that board that need concealing from young eyes.  (By the way, I have no idea on the accuracy of that percentage. I'm a writer not a calculator.)  

One last thing about my latest writing trials and tribulations...I know from experience that I need to keep the number of characters to a minimum, but forcing myself to adhere to that restriction seems to be blocking the story from flowing into my brain. So I'm letting that go for now, even though when I wrote Enchanter's Echo (coming Feb 17!!) I had to take out a HUGE subplot and all its characters in the third or fourth draft…so huge it could be its own book. Painful! Sad! Still hurts!

Also, I've decided to heck with trying to keep the first draft's word count below a 100,000. I'll deal with that later.


Chemistry on the Page: A Romance University Post

If you happened to stop by Romance University today and saw my article, you might have clicked here to check out the list of my sources. They're posted below and they have some interesting facts and ideas in them. The titles that are in bold are links to articles, so click away.

On the other hand, if you were just perusing my blog, you might want to click over to Romance University to check out the post, "Chemistry on the page: A romance writer's guide to the science that leads our characters to the Big Bang."


The Science of Sex Appeal. A 2009 Discover Channel documentary about the biological factors of human attraction. It's available on Amazon Prime. Don't watch it with your kids around, but that probably goes without saying. 

The Chemistry Between Us: Love, Sex and the Science of Attraction by Larry Young and Brian Alexander.  2012  (A little note on this book…it's a pretty heavy read. Be prepared to spend a lot of time learning about prairie voles and as well as a few moments on leeches. Though if you're looking to check this out from my public library, I still have it out. And it's sooooo overdue.)

20 Scientific Insights About Sex And Attraction by Eric Barker. August 4, 2012 (This guy is one of my favorite bloggers.)  

The brain in love: Helen Fisher on  July 2008. Anthropologist Helen Fisher's area of expertise is the human experience of falling in love. Fascinating stuff. 

Why We Love by Helen Fisher. 2004

Two ideas that will change the way you think about romance by Ken Page. August 18, 2014.

The Science Of Sex Appeal: 6 Proven Ways To Attract The Opposite Sex Using Your Body by Lizette Borreli.  Apr 24, 2014.

9 Facts Worth Knowing About Human Attraction by Christopher Hudspeth. July 8, 2013.

It's Better To Be Average -- And 16 Other Surprising Laws Of Human Sexual Attraction by Marcrina Cooper-White. The Huffington Post. September 5, 2013.

Make people want you: The psychology of attraction.  Vanessa Van Edwards




Diary of a Writer and her WIP. Entry #24

Every time I write a book, the heroine's personality gets tougher as the process goes on. I don't mean that she gets tougher as part of her character arc. No. As I write draft after draft, the heroine gets stronger starting on page one. 

Advice to my future self: brainstorm ways to make my heroine tough before I start writing. 

I don't write wimps.

Diary of a Writer and her WIP. Entry #27

Every time I start writing a new book I think to myself that I should document the process. Recording the ups and downs, the stumbles and the sprints, the "ahas" and the "oh no's"  might give me a boost of confidence the next time I stare at a blank page. I'd have some notes to look back on, a reminder of how I create. I really could have used this reminder when I started my current WIP. I still could use it, actually. I feel like I edited my last book for so long that the know-how of writing a first draft got deleted and written over.

I started this current story over two months ago. That means I've been thinking about writing this W.I.P. diary for at least that long. Thinking. Thinking until I'm over halfway through my word count goal for this book. But never mind that. Today's the day! 

Starting with entry #27.

It's a shot in the dark as to how many entries I should have already made at this point in the process. 27 is my birthdate, so I'll go with that. I'm going to number the next entries to come wherever I think the thoughts and ideas originally came to me in the process. Therefore, this diary's entries will not be posted in numerical order, much like I'm writing this book. So here goes...

Entry #27.

I have at least two spiral notebooks in use for this story, a tree's worth of index cards, an ever-growing Scrivener file, and a Pages document that's a long vomit of scene descriptions. Oh, and a poster board with sticky notes. It's too much, but I'm not sure how I should do this differently. My brain needs all kinds of ways to come up with ideas and record them. 

It's an unwieldy mass right now. In fact, it's so bad that I could probably call this little project "Diary of an Unwieldy W.I.P." But I don't want to put that energy out into the universe. In fact, I should probably call it Diary of a Fast, Nearly Perfect, and Completely Genius First Draft.

Yeah, that's it. That's what I want.

In the meantime, as I was sitting at soccer practice tonight, I pulled out a third notebook and started scribbling notes for scenes that I'd already written but still need massive tweaking. 

Although I really need to move forward, it's not the step back that it might seem. I'm getting closer to figuring out this story.