A true friend never gets in your way unless you happen to be going down. 
-Arnold H. Glasow


In this age of the digital frontier, making meaningful human connections hasn’t just become a challenge, its a fading art.  Those of us who are used to communicating via text message, email, by Facebook or Tumblr have many acquaintances,  Those nebulous connections to people we will never see or hear and only know through their words and choice of avatar.

It takes something very special to make a true connection to a person through the internet. More than just shared likes or dislikes, it takes honesty and openness.  Something we are taught never to be on the internet.  Though the anonymity the internet provides allows those of us who are too shy to speak up in real life, a stage on which to express ourselves. Sometimes when we do so we are shot down, other times we make a friend for life.

It has been my great privilege to meet and get to know three very select people, only one of whom I have met in person.  One passed away last year and the other I hope to meet some day.

I am close to each of them in different ways.  My friend who passed was a wonderful conversationalist and we would have lengthy discussions on everything from science fiction to particle physics.  I miss him greatly.

My other two friends, while younger than myself share a lot of my likes and sensibilities.  They are two of the very few people with whom I have shared deeply intimate details about myself.  I’ve grown to love both of them dearly and consider them among my very closest friends.

Aya is immensely talented and never ceases to amaze me.  She is as beautiful as she is intelligent.  Misaki is brilliant and adorable and is able to do things I could never imagine, much less accomplish.  

Aya has a very promising career either as an author or a model/actress.  She’s overcome a lot in her life and has been there to help me through some of the very toughest moments of mine.  I honestly don’t know what I ever did without her.

“Queen of Cocoon” Work done by J’s Design Class Students (ADB) Photography by
Saryn Christina Photography

Misaki is studying to be a child psychologist, which just blows me away  I couldn’t possibly have more respect for her but she’s constantly proving ever more worthy of it.  She has encouraged me to keep writing when I was ready to give up and when I was too depressed to even think about writing.  She and I have shared many things with each other.

These are the people who inspire me and keep me writing.  This post is dedicated to them.

Guest Post: Going Pro with Your Writing

This week I am super excited to have Pauline Jones as a guest poster.


Going Pro with your Writing

by Pauline Baird Jones


Writing is easy:  All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead

~Gene Fowler


This is an exciting time to be a writer. It is hard to miss the Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon, or not feel why not me? Digital publishing has forever changed the landscape for writers, opening up a direct conduit from author to reader. Now fan fiction authors have been talking direct to their readers for years, so they have an important edge—as evidenced by Fifty Shades—when taking their writing from fun hobby to professional business.

But there are some important differences that can trip the unwary and turn going pro into an exercise in miserable.


I love being a writer.  What I can’t stand is the paperwork

~Peter De Vries


Because there are so many options, it has become even more important for the savvy writer to understand the various options, the upside and downside of each, and what’s best for your work. That means you need a basic understanding of intellectual property rights before you sign anything. If you don’t know what IP is, then that’s a good place to start doing your research.


Here are a couple of good places to start:


The Business Rusch (Kristine Kathryn Rusch)

Dean Wesley Smith (her husband)

The Passive Voice (an intellectual property lawyer)

Joe Konrath (writer and voice for indie authors)


Most of these blogs will open you up to more resources and information. Information is power. Don’t fear knowledge. One of the biggest problems writers have is mixing fiction with their reality. They hear or believe what they want to hear, what feels comfortable, or what will let them continue in happy ignorance.

Happy ignorance will not last if you get published. Truth will slap you around. It can cost you time and sometimes control of your intellectual property.

Be in charge of your own business.

Yes, you are, or will become, a small business if you decide to begin selling your work. How much responsibility you take on will depend, in some part, on which form of publishing you choose to pursue. But even if you choose to use a publisher, you will sign legal contracts that will affect your rights to control your work.

And no matter who publishes your work, ultimately you will be responsible for your author brand. Your author brand is your name, or the name that will be on the cover of your published work.

Your published work is your product. Each book is a package that you hope to sell to readers. When you are writing for friends and/or family, story telling is king. And friends and family tend to love you, so they love what you write. They read it without a critical eye. They can overlook typos and badly constructed sentences and meandering plots.

When you are asking readers to pay money for your writing, storytelling is still king—but craft is the queen. If you don’t believe me, just peruse some reader reviews on Amazon, paying particular attention to the 1-2 star reviews.

Whenever I see comments like, “This could have been so much better with the help of a good editor,” you know the author didn’t respect their story or their reader enough to do the hard work of learning the craft. Authors who know they are running a business will hire the best people for their business, so that they protect their brand.

The first law of protecting your brand is to make sure your story is the best it can be before money changes hands.


When something can be read without effort, great effort has gone into its writing

~Enrique Jardiel Poncela


Let me repeat that: when you are asking readers to exchange money for your story, you need to deliver the best story possible.

Once a reader pays for your product, they have a right to comment on their experience with it. Reviews are hard. Rejection is really hard. But understand that readers who aren’t related to us, or who aren’t our friends, aren’t going to love us unless we do our job.

One of the hardest lessons for me to learn, as a beginning-going-professional writer, was how important it was to be patient, to take the time to get the story right. For many readers, you only get one shot at making a good impression. You fail with them, they are gone.


Doing it right the first time is part of protecting your brand.

~Almost Every Successful Author


Our job is to deliver a well-written, satisfying story. There is too much competition to drive off readers who wanted to like your book. Because there will be readers who don’t engage with your story no matter what you do. “This just didn’t work for me” is very different from “needs a better editor,” or “an editor.”

When you collect reviews like that you ready to face the second rule of protecting your brand: don’t go bat crap crazy on people who don’t like what you write. Even if they are wrong, don’t engage. Take the long view, drive the high road, bite your tongue, step away from the computer—whatever it takes. There are people out there who like to see authors melt down, lose control, whatever. It’s reality Internet for them. Don’t let them play you.

Who you are, what you did, what you wrote, what you didn’t do, will follow you around like a whining dog/child/reader. If you can’t handle bad reviews, don’t read them. For some authors, bad reviews don’t just hit their ego. They stomp on their Muse. Which brings me back to: protect your brand. Yes, your Muse is part of your brand. Writing more books is the most important part of your business.

Let me repeat that: writing books is the most important part of your business. It is the reason you have a business. If readers love your books, the first thing they will do after “the end,” is to go looking for more.

I promise you there will be times when it is harder to write for money than it was to write for nothing. If that seems counterintuitive, welcome to the publishing business.


So, to recap: 


  1. Quantity of words does not equal quality. Writing is rewriting and rewriting some more.
  2. If you want to be a professional writer, find where professional writers hang out and talk to them, learn from them, pick their brains, read their blogs, learn.
  3. Protect your brand. Put your best writing foot forward in your books and your best self forward when you promote. Learn from others how to do this. (See a pattern emerging here?)
  4. Be nice. (I don’t have to explain this, do I?)
  5. Learn the business of writing. Craft, contracts, rights management, promotion and publicity–all of it. If you don’t manage it, it will manage you. If you’re not savvy, you risk losing time, money and control of your intellectual property.
  6. Grow a thick skin. You’ll need it when the first rejections and/or reviews start coming in. Realize that not everyone likes chocolate and not everyone will like what you write. When you go pro, that means putting on the big girl/boy pants.
  7. Keep writing. If you write a book that readers like, they will look for the next one and the next one and the one after that.
  8. Don’t take your readers for granted.  Don’t disappoint them or yourself by being less than your best.
  9. Love the process, love the writing, love the story telling.


Many books require no thought from those who read them, and for a very simple reason; they made no demand on those who wrote them.

~Charles Caleb Colton


Every business, from widgets to frozen waffles, is in it for the money, but they start with a passion to provide a service or product that people are willing to pay for. People who make widgets love making them. I know, seems crazy, but to people who don’t write, we’re the crazies and widgets are normal.

If you are only in it for the money, it will show in your writing and readers will know. Books aren’t widgets. They are a deeply personal experience to readers. You know when a book isn’t quite right, don’t you? And your job is to convince a reader to pick your story over the millions and millions of books out there.

We all know the stories of the overnight success, the authors who cut corners and struck gold their first time out of the gate. It happens. Lightning strikes sometimes. And if you don’t get out there, it sure won’t strike.

But the authors who endure, who build a readership that comes back for more, are the authors who respect themselves and those readers. They are in it for the long haul. They are in it because they love telling stories. They are the ones who bring their passion for great storytelling to the process and not just a longing to strike it rich. These writers create fans, not cash cows.

I’ve been in this business a long time. I delighted over my first sale and I still get a thrill when I release a new novel. But the deep satisfaction, and the will to keep going, does not come from the money. I am amazed and delighted when a reader takes the time to write to me, or to write a review about how much they liked something I wrote. When I realize they get what I was trying to do with the story, knowing they took the journey into my imaginary world and had a great time—well, there’s nothing quite like that glow. It feeds my Muse and keeps me going through recalcitrant characters, tricky plots and even the not-so-nice reviews.

Is it hard? Absolutely.

Is it worth it? In my humble opinion, without a doubt.

But then, I don’t want to make widgets. I want to write books.



Pauline Baird Jones had a tough time with reality from the get-go. After “schooling” from four, yes FOUR brothers, she knew that some people needed love and others needed killing. Pauline figured she could do both. Romantic suspense was the logical starting point, but there were more worlds to explore, more rules to break and minds to bend. She grabbed her pocket watch and time travel device and dove through the wormhole into the world of science fiction and even some Steampunk.

Now she wanders among the genres, trying a little of this and a lot of that, rampaging through her characters’ lives like Godzilla because she does love her peril (when it’s not happening to her). Never fear, she gives her characters happy endings. Well, the good characters. The bad ones get justice. 

She is currently at work on her fourteenth novel and has twelve audio books in production. Her publisher will release three collections of her short stories in the upcoming months: Project Enterprise: The short stories, The Romances and The Mysteries. For more information about Pauline, her books and to check out her blog, visit:


Writing. For real.

I love to read.  Almost as much as I like to write.  I read everything that comes within eyesight. This is not always a good thing, but meh, can’t help it.

As someone who loves to read, I read a lot of fan fiction.  Don’t judge me.  I’m impatient.

Over the last couple of months I’ve been putting together a writer’s conference just for fan fiction writers.  I knew fanficcers where considered fringe writers at best and social pariahs at worst.  I was not prepared for the amount of vitrol directed at these amatuer writers.  They are not just social outcasts of the writing world, they are viewed as the demon hellspawn of the internet by many a pro-writer and avid reader alike.

And along came Fifty Shades of Grey, the oh-so-famous porn version of Twilight-er no wait, that version is an ‘original’ work.  Now fan fiction is in the public eye like never before and the debate continues.  Is it legal?  No.  Is it fun?  Often.  Is it terribly written?  Mostly.  Should authors sue and demand their works be banned from  Their call.  George R. R. Martin of Game of Thrones fame wrote in his Not A Blog on Livejournal about his views on the phenomenon.  You can read his post here:

The issue has been debated to death and will rise as a zombie issue to be debated over and over.  I’m not here to debate the legality or the ethics of fan fiction.  Others have and much more eloquently than I ever could.

For the record, I never planned on writing fan fiction.  I don’t like messing with someone else’s characters.  My characters are as dear and real to me as my flesh and blood children.  So I completely understand other author’s stance on fan fiction.  Have I written fan fiction?  Yes.  I am currently writing an Avengers peice all from Loki‘s pov.  Why?  For one Loki is fascintating to me.  (In case you hadn’t read any of my other posts, I adore the manipulative bastard.)  He’s very hard for me to write.  He’s a huge challenge, which I relish.  He’s an incredibly complex character with an rich back story and that’s just Marvel’s version.

But, I digress.

I’m of the opinion that young writers need somewhere to start.  They need mentors, someone who will offer them sound advice and helpful critiques.  They get this, and more, by writing and posting their fan fiction to the various sites available for it.  Of course this means there is a ton and I mean a ton, of horrible writing out there to sift through.  Yet, often these amateurs feel they are not  ‘creative’ enough to spawn their own universe and characters, so they decide to use someone elses.  Or they find a certain character in  fandom that they identify so closely with that they just have to write about them.  Or there are the ones who insist they can do better than the original creator.  And then you have the people who only care about writing por-er smut about their favorite pairing.

Writing is writing is writing.  Whatever you want to call it.  Fan fiction.  Dirivitive works.  Copyright infringement.

The point is, these young writers want to write and do so with a verbosity and passion that I’m sure a lot of us more experienced writers wish we could muster at times.  They love their characters just as fiercely as we love ours.  Yet, I know deep down the majority of them want to be original they just don’t know how.  I cite the plethora of original characters (OCs) in any fandom as proof of that.

Of course it has been pointed out that one of the major failings of fanfic, legality aside, is the quality.  We are all learning the hard way that digital publishing has it’s downside-quality control.  This is something that any regular to or other fanfic site could have told you years ago.  The number of barely readable works far outnumbers the truly well written ones.  Trying to find a well written fic in a fandom can be worse than trying to find a normie at ComicCon.  They are there, but they can be hard to spot.

Cathy Young speaks about this in her post at  (  “The good news about the Internet is that, in a world without gatekeepers, anyone can get published. The bad news, of course, is the same. Much fanfic is hosted on sites such as, where authors can get their work online in minutes—which means that professional-quality stories coexist with barely literate fluff, and reader reviews will sometimes congratulate an author on good grammar and spelling. Even sites that prescreen fanfic and encourage authors to use beta readers and a spell checker tend to be quite lax with quality control, and only a few fan fiction archives are genuinely selective.”

This is only more true today five years later and not only about fan fiction.  So with the new public eye on fan fiction what’s a writer to do?  Where can the amatuer turn to for advice and education on the craft when all they’ve ever written is fan fiction?  Some are too intimidated to even admit to their writing addiction.  Others would never take a writing class because they don’t consider themselves ‘real’ writers.

The sites on writing that welcome or even encourage fan fiction writers are few and far between outside of forums. is the preeminent site for writers of the genre offering writing advice and encouragement specifically for fan fiction writers.  That’s why I decided to have a writer’s conference just for fan fiction writers. ( These authors write out of love, as we all do.  Love for the character, love of writing, love of recognition and acclaim for our works.   When it comes right down to it, the amateur and the so-called professional aren’t so different.  We both love to write and should be more interested in helping each other learn the craft.

We are all writers after all.

Enemy Mine

For the first time in my life I completed a video game.  As in roll the credits we are outta here.  Don’t snicker.  It’s true, I’ve never played a game where no matter how many times I died or how complicated things seem to get I couldn’t get enough of it.  Well played High Moon Studio’s, well played.  I hope Deadpool‘s take over won’t affect the quality of the games.  Though I doubt he gives much input.   Oh . . . you didn’t know he took over?  He announced it in person at ComicCon 2012.  No seriously.

Anyway, this isn’t about Deadpool.  Really.  No.  It’s about Transformers.  Specifically this game:


I can count on one hand the times I’ve paid full price for a game.  I paid full price for this game and it was worth every sandwich I slapped together at Subway.  The game play was nearly seamless, the graphics incredible even on my ancient CRT TV.  Technical things aside, what made this game so much fun was the fact that you sometimes played as an Autobot and sometimes as a Decepticon.  I enjoyed both honestly.  But what struck me the most was the dicotomy between Megatron and Optimus.  Oh sure I’d always known it existed but usually it was just:  Autobots=GOOD, Decepticons=BAD.

Yet the lines, while clearly drawn, were sometimes a bit fuzzy and grayer than I’d remembered.  At one point Megatron taunts Optimus saying that he was the reason Cybertron was uninhabitable because he’d drug out the war by not surrendering.  That Optimus was at fault for allowing the war to continue when he could have ended it and the suffering and ultimate decimation of their home world.

Optimus counters that freedom is worth the price.  Freedom from Megatron’s tyranny is worth the sacrifice.  And it’s a huge sacrifice.  Their home planet is incapable of supporting life any longer.  Optimus makes the difficult and not uncontested decision to leave their planet behind.  The war is a stalemate.  Both sides have lost.  There isn’t enough energon to fuel the planet and even the Well of Allsparks has gone dry.  There are no new transformers.  Their world is dead.

Was it worth it?

Their civilization is gone and with it nearly all their advancements in culture, art, science and technology.   Was Optimus right to make that decision for the whole race?  Was he right to fight Megatron until literally every last resource had been depleted?  Should he have tried to find another way to end the war and save their planet?  Should he have conceded defeat to Megatron to save their world from destruction?

Sometimes, waiting for a tyranny to erode from the inside only brings more pain and suffering and you still end up in the same place you would have if you had opposed it.

So what was Megatron’s impetus for continuing the war?  Obviously he believed himself and his ideals to be right.  Right enough to fight for hundreds of years to ensure they were implemented.  Megatron wanted to end the caste system that had been in place for millenia on Cybertron.  He wanted freedom to determine his own status as a Cybertronian.  So where did things go so wrong?

His methods.  He was impatient, ruthless, driven and unwilling to negotiate.  While his ideals might have been lofty and well intended.  His means of getting there decried any possibility of his rule being a just one.  He became obsessed with power which lead to his use of the Dark Energon and his exposure to its corruptive influence.   He refused the advice of his lieutenants to leave Dark Energon alone and went ahead with his plan.  This was extreme hubris on his part.

His background as a gladiator did him no favors when it came time to lead.  He was too accustomed to crushing anything that stood in his way.  This just one area where he and Optimus differed.

Before he became a Prime, Optimus had been Orion Pax, a data clerk.  His approach to things was academic, with careful research and weighing of all sides.  Sometimes, during the civil war his close friends and advisers felt he was too cautious, too reserved and unwilling to take necessary risks.  Where Megatron would rush in headlong guns blazing, Optimus was more likely to observe and debate the necessity of action.

They are polar opposites and yet they are both passionate about their ideals.  Both of them have lofty aims that are not in themselves wrong.  At one time they agreed and were even friends, but their difference of opinion in the method to reach those goals lead to their current animosity.

Their story is a tragedy of epic proportions that spanned eons and millions of light years.  There are lessons to be learned from it.  Both from a societal viewpoint and a personal one.

Yup, all that from a  video game.

Fangirls; fanat…

Fangirls; fanatical young women who obsess over a current trend or celebrity.  Often benign but can be volatile and prone to verbal hostilities if their 'fandom' is challenged.  The more obsessed can even become physically violent if confronted.

I have never been one to follow trends, in fact I tend to avoid all things mainstream as a matter of principal.  However, in the passed two weeks I have found myself shoved into a *gasp* fandom.  After watching the Avengers, my first impression of a certain young actor has been proved quite correct.  I am proud to say that I have been following him on Twitter since the time when he only had a little over 2,000 followers and have delighted in his tweets and general good humor.

The other day I logged in to find that his followers had jumped tremendously and are now over 120,000.  While I am thrilled that so many people are finally discovering this amazing talent, I’m also disturbed.  Reading through some of the @ tweets to him I find myself recoiling in horror and disgust at some of the things that people write to him.  (Exploding ovaries et. al.)  I cannot even imagine how he must feel reading such things though I sincerely hope he does not.  I’ve also noticed that quite a few people are mistaking his looks as the reason for this increase in popularity.

While he is unquestionably attractive, its not a normal Brad Pitt or Richard Gere type of attractiveness.  They are both attractive in their own right and have their own fandoms, but I’ve been wondering just what has drawn so many fangirls to this particular actor in droves over the last two weeks.  While the premier and unprecedented success of The Avengers no doubt has a lot to do with it, it is simply the means by which he’s been introduced to the world on a grand scale instead of being hidden away in England.  

I think I finally worked it out.  He’s naturally talented as an actor and having trained as one is even more impressive since a lot of Hollywood actors are talented but untrained and the difference shows. Acting aside, what is it about him that is so compelling?

See the definition below:


And there you have it.  The reason why Tom Hiddleston has won over so many hearts despite being the villain in The Avengers.  He’s brought the suave, humble, gentlemanly manner back to the red carpet and not a moment too soon.  The accent isn’t hurting things either.  I, for one, was a fan before and will continue to be a fan long after The Avenger’s fever has run it’s course.

So, for now, I suffer the fangirls and only occasionally pound my head into my desk at their effluvia.

Top 20 Ways to …

Top 20 Ways to Generate Plot Ideas


1.     The What-if Game
2.     Titles
3.     The List
4.     Issues
5.     See It
6.     Hear It
7.     Character First
8.     Stealing From the Best
9.     Flipping a Genre
10.   Predict a Trend
11.   Noodling the Newspaper
12.   Research
13.   “What I Really Want to Write About is . . .”
14.   Obsession
15.   Opening Lines
16.   Write a Prologue

17.   The Mind Map

18.   Socko Ending

19.   Occupations
20.   Desperation

Thought this list might come in handy when brainstorming.  Will be handing it out at the panels I host  ^^