Random Thursday: Random Inspiration

Random Thursday (ˈrandəm ˈTHərzdā): the day on which Sarah plunks down all the odd bits and pieces she’s been sent by friends or has otherwise stumbled upon this week in an effort to avoid writing a real post, the assembly of which usually ends up taking twice as much time as sitting down and creating actual content.

I have an interview on Wednesday.




writing Venn

I’m halfway there!



Jane told me about this video, crying
because she thought the poor Kiwi was making a slingshot or something
and it hadn’t worked.

I explained what he was trying to do
and we watched it again, together.

“Oh,” she said. “Oh!”

She’s convinced that he was smart enough to have thought of a big pillow at the bottom.

I’m convinced that even if he didn’t, the little guy thought it was totally worth it.


Which came First?

If you think about this too long, it gets way Meta.

Angry Burds

Designed by the brilliant dandingroz.


Can we do this?

Let’s do a Kickstarter.

Writers RetreatLet’s do ALL the Kickstarters.


Das Leben ist zu kurz

um eine Chance zu verschwenden.

So, these three students didn’t.


An Odd Duck: The Meet My Character Blog Tour

Teresa CypherTeresa Cypher  is an administrator and moderator of the Weekend Writing Warriors and also a fellow participant. She’s brilliantly talented and a genuinely nice person (look at that lovely smile!) and I was flattered when she asked me to join a “Meet My Character” blog tour.

This kind of tour highlights a main character from a WIP, a soon to be published work, or a recently published work.  Each nominated author has a week to answer seven questions about this character and the world he or she inhabits, and then invites other authors to continue the fun.

Teresa’s post offers intriguing information about Marissa Krade—who may or may not be entirely sane—and can be found here.  Marissa and her unique problems are fascinating, and I hope to be able to read her whole story soon.

I decided to answer the seven questions with information about the main character of my current project, a paranormal mystery.  I’ve only just met the MC, so these questions helped me suss him out a little:


1. What is the name of your character? Is he/she fictional or a historic person?

HIs name is Tom Mahon.  He’s fictional; any concrete resemblance to any Real Person™, contemporary or historical, would surprise the heck out of me.


2. When and where is the story set?

This one is set in the present day in a Midwestern city I haven’t named, yet, but is a lot like St. Louis, though perhaps in a more northern state.  Haven’t quite decided.

It’s also set in a world where the existence of werecreatures has been kept hidden from the general human public.


3. What should we know about him/her?

Tom was adopted as a baby and grew up in a loving, mixed-species family, with two other adopted children.  Unlike his brother and sister, he doesn’t know anything about his biological family.

He’s ex-Army, honorably discharged with the remainder of his platoon after they were captured in the Middle East.  He was uninjured, aside from a mild case of PTSD and returned home to be near his folks.  He opened a private detective agency with an Army buddy of his.

He’s tough, smart, and extremely loyal, once you earn his trust.

He’s also a wereduck.

Tom Mahon Duck


4. What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life?

Tom’s brother Bryan, an unaffiliated wanderer of a werewolf, seriously ticks off  the leader of a west coast pack, who wants to exploit Bryan’s pedigree (so to speak) to take over the territory of the not-St. Louis pack.  Bryan goes on the run and Tom and his family become targets and potential hostages.

Meanwhile, a few members of the local Were-Council (a sort of regional U.N.) think that the non-wolves could benefit from a change in pack leaders.  They try to use Tom’s influence over his brother to convince Bryan to do a double cross on the west coast pack and keep the Alpha seat for himself.

The current Big Dog isn’t happy about any of this, and wants Tom to help him fix it.

There might also be an ex-girlfriend swanning about (ahem) with her own agenda and a feral young lady who will do anything to keep Bryan alive.


5. What is the personal goal of the character?

To save his brother, protect his friends and family, and maybe have an agency left, once the smoke clears—because it looks like he’s going to be ticking off every power player in the city.


6. Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?

The working title is Odd Duck, though one friend wants me to put “cassoulet” in there somewhere, and another suggested some truly terrible puns that really laid an egg.

I recently started sharing eight sentences from it each Sunday through Weekend Writing Warriors and the Sunday Snippet Facebook group.

You can start here, if you’re interested.


7. When can we expect the book to be published?

I don’t have a specific date, but I hope it might be six to nine months after I meet my publisher’s deadline for final edits, which may be three to six months after my agent sells it, which could be two or three months after I get an agent, which I pray will be four months or so after I start querying it, which will be a couple of months after it’s finished, which won’t happen until I can spackle that plot hole in chapter twelve. It’s always chapter twelve, isn’t it?

Seriously, though, I haven’t a clue. But I do know Tom’s story is a blast to write.

Even chapter twelve.


Last year at the Midwest Writers’ Workshop,  I unexpectedly met up with Terry Peterson, a wonderfully talented writer and family friend.

Terry is one of those supportive, positive people who know you can do anything you want to and has a knack for getting you to agree with her.  I’m so pleased she agreed to help keep this tour going!

Here’s her bio:

I am a grandmother who writes as often as I can, whenever I can, as much as I can–on the back on envelopes or my hand if there isn’t paper, in dreams occasionally. By definition, I’m a word addict. My short stories appear regularly at The Piker Press. I often provide the illustrations. My blog at terrypetersen.wordpress.com focuses on positive thinking. I prefer to delve into the muck of real life and come up with a gem. I have finished two novels, not yet published, and I am working on a middle-grade chapter book.

Terry’s post will go up next Monday (the 4th of August), and I hope you’ll stop by her place to read it!

Weekend Writing Warriors: Odd Duck (Getting the Message)

We WriWa bannerHave a WIP, an EIP, an MS, or a published work you want to share on your blog, eight sentences at a time?

Want to sample other people’s WIPs, EIPs, MSs, or published works, eight sentences at a time?

Be a Weekend Writing Warrior!

Rules are here!

List of participants is here!


Private detective Tom Mahon has just pulled a gun on the questionably scented—and questioningly  scenting—bruiser who walked into his agency, claiming to have a message for the brother of Bryan Mahon.

The bruiser in question (sorry, couldn’t help it) has just referred to our hero as “prey”.

I didn’t skip anything.  Tom is speaking first:


“Say your piece.”

His leg muscles bunched underneath him and he grinned with bigger teeth than should’ve fit into his mouth. “It ain’t that kind of message.”

He leapt. I fired twice.

He dropped, and I was over the desk and rolling him onto his stomach before he could recover. Silver rounds were too expensive for everyday self-defense, but anything shot out of a forty-five usually bought me enough time for fight or flight.

My first instinct told me to fly—but I’d been ignoring that one for a long time.


I managed to get one or two long sentences in this one, ’cause I gotta be me.  Apparently.

By the way, those of you who know guns, please forgive me any transgressions and know that it will all be fixed once I run it past my Gun Guy,  who keeps me from embarrassing myself with caliber bloopers, nomenclature snafus, and gross violations of the laws of physics. After four or five years, it’s become clear to both of us that I shouldn’t arm my characters with anything more complicated than Louisville Sluggers.

But I think it tickles him that I keep trying.



The brilliantly talented  Teresa Cypher asked me to participate in a “Meet My Character” blog tour.  Her post, which offers intriguing information about Marissa Krade—who may or may not be entirely sane—can be found here.

Mine will be up tomorrow, if you’d like to know a little more about Tom.  There may also be a photo.

Random Thursday: Random Acts of Octopus (and a hamster)

Random Thursday (ˈrandəm ˈTHərzdā): the day on which Sarah plunks down all the odd bits and pieces she’s been sent by friends or has otherwise stumbled upon this week in an effort to avoid writing a real post, the assembly of which usually ends up taking twice as much time as sitting down and creating actual content.

Still waiting for that click.

But meanwhile . . .


Searching for an Honest Octopoda

Ladies and Gentlemen,
I give you the Walktopus.

Walktopus by Scott MusgroveEureka!

Scott Musgrove’s artwork is truly amazing.

Go look at his online portfolio.

Right now.

You’re welcome!


“Mom! Mom! Mom! Do the Voice!”

“What voice?”

“The hamster voice.”



“Hey, this new wheel is pretty cool . . .Oh, hey, Gerald, how’s it goin—no, we both need to run in the same direction, right okay, watch my foot, there we go . . Wait, no, slow down a minute, dude, we gotta match speed, or okay, that—no, wait, dude, no, wait—WAIT . . . AAAAUUUUGGGHHH! Stop, no, stop running, Gerald, it’s NOT HELPING! AAAAUUUUGGGHHHStop! FOR THE LOVE OF ALFALFA PELLETS, GERALD, STOOOOOOOOOOP!!! AAAAAAAAUUUUUUUUUGGGGGGGGHHHHHHH! Okay, whew, no, wait, stop—I have to—I’m gonna—not AGAIN!!! Gerald, STOOOOOOOOP,!!  I’m gonna hurl, dude. What is the MATTER WITH YOU?!  AAAUUUGHH! No, NO! No, seriously, I need a minute. Here, I’ll just—nope, not going near the food bowl . . . Oh, god, no . . . “

“You mean that one?”

“Yeah.  Now do Gerald.”



Our new Cephalopod Master
accepts your uncontrollable squees
as his rightful tribute.


Octopus UnChained

Jordan Anderson does amazing chainsaw wood carvings.

His artwork has won several awards.

Octopus Jordan Anderson

Show of tentacles:
who’s surprised?

(click the image to see a brief, righteously awesome Making of video)


Monty Octopus’s Walking Marginatus

I wonder what the top waterspeed velocity of an unladen veined octopus might be?

Waiting for the Click



I’ve been restless lately. Antsy. Impatient.

If I were a dog, I’d be running in my sleep, chasing something just up ahead. If I were a toddler, I’d be fussing over something shiny I can’t quite reach and can’t ask for.  If I was a summer storm, I’d be building.

Part of me—possibly a part I should either pay attention to more often or keep better medicated—seems to believe that a change is coming.

Maybe good, maybe bad.

But different.

The first time I felt like this, I’d been working in a bookstore in my hometown for about a year.  Something clicked, and within two weeks, I’d taken the GRE, applied to the nearest university that offered the degree I wanted in the shortest amount of time, and dragged my husband across state lines and a hundred miles south, so I could get my MLS.

The second time, I was working a perfectly good library job five minutes from our house—decent hours, decent money. I was reading through a professional listserv and clicked through to an ad for an open library position three towns and a river-width away. Within a month, I’d applied for and accepted the job, which offered better hours and great money.

The third time, I was seeing an endocrinologist because of some problems, including a two-year spate of amenorrhea that was interfering with my hopes for a second kid.  One day, in a panic, I made an emergency appointment with him, because I was suddenly showing most of the symptoms on his Call Us If sheet . . . and discovered that I was pregnant with Sunny. “First egg out of the chute,” the doctor told me.  “You beat the house odds.”


This time . . . I don’t know. Yet.

There are several possibilities.

My new boss arrives next month. I have several queries still out for Pigeons and submitted a few poetry articles to a local magazine. My kids start school in less than a month.

Work, writing, family . . . could be any of the three. Or none.

Could be indigestion, for all I know. That gastrointestinal thing that’s going around. A spike in my metabolism. A caffeine overdose. Mental exhaustion.

Or maybe I’ve slipped into an Alice Hoffman novel.

Hard to say.

But I’m not just standing still.  I’m preparing.

Rest assured, I’m not stockpiling firearms or boom clay or petitions or placards on sticks.

It’s worse.

I’m cleaning.

I spent several hours last Thursday spontaneously mucking out fifteen years of accumulated stuff from my cubicle. I’ve spent this week finishing up the little things I’ve been putting off and arranging my current projects in neat, logical order.  There’s an opening in another department and I’ve sent a letter to HR.

I sent out a new batch of queries on Sunday, and also offered warnings to my go-to Gun Expert  and Locksmith Friend that I was amassing long lists of of questions for them on my new project.

I ordered my kids’ schoolbooks—whose idea was it to have 6th graders take Latin at $115 a pop for textbooks?—and plan to go through their closets tonight to see what we need to fix/buy/borrow/steal to comply with the school dress code.

I balanced my checkbook and paid my bills early.  I ran a box of stuff through the shredder.

It’s like reverse nesting: I’m clearing my buffers and freeing myself to follow—or dodge—whatever comes my way

You could argue that all this prep work is going to make something happen and that I’ve been busy fulfilling my own prophecy.  You’d probably be right.

At this point, I don’t care why it happens or even what happens, just that it does.


Because on Friday, I found out after the fact that I’d painted my nails in “Walk Away” rose.

If this is a clue from my subconscious/brain chemistry/the Deity of my choice/the Universe/Ms. Hoffman/Fate, it’s stopped trying to be subtle.

Bring it.