Category Archives: Just Stuff

Just my babbling, website related stuff — or whatever doesn’t fit in the other categories ;)

Books About Writing

Jo was putting in an Amazon order the other day and asked if I needed anything. Which, I mean… I think we all know the answer to that right? But I thought about the huge pile of books sitting up on my ‘To Be Read’ shelf and the multitude of electronic titles I have waiting to be read and I decided to be responsible and say no. Then I had a flash of inspiration. “You know what I could use?” I said. “I could really use to replace my copy of On Writing.”

This is my copy of On Writing:

On Writing

It doesn’t look too bad, does it? Well, not until you look at it like this:

On Writing Pages

It’s water-stained and pretty beaten up.

For the record, I bought it second hand and it was like that when I bought it. It really was. But I wanted the book pretty badly so I paid actual, real money for it despite the condition it was in. And I’ve read it cover to cover at least three times since then, so, ya know, apparently the damage didn’t bother me all THAT much.

But now, thanks to Jo, I have this:

New On Writing

Which, as you’ll notice from my sexy paint chip bookmark, I’ve already started reading again.

And that got me thinking about ‘how to write’ books and how many I own. The answer to that question, in case you’re curious, is three:

IMG_0650

And I recommend every one.

On Writing by Stephen King is an amazing combination of autobiography and master class on writing. Like I said, I’ve read it at least three times cover to cover and I’m on my way through it again. I find this book super inspiring. It never fails to get me fired up about writing again on days when I’m just not feeling it.

Steering the Craft by Ursula K. LeGuin is fantastic. I’m not done reading it — I’m working my way through it with my ‘Mutinous Crew’ and life has been getting in our ways a lot lately, but what I have read has been great, and the writing exercises are interesting (which is more than can be said for most writing exercises, amirite?). This book has also added several titles to my TBR list and the ones I’ve read have been whole lessons in themselves.

Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass is phenomenal. I don’t know if you can see in this picture but I’ve got tons and tons of Post-it notes marking sections of this book. I feel like I’ve internalized a lot of the lessons but then every time I go back to skim through something or another I learn (or re-learn) new things.

For myself it’s important that I spend more time writing rather than learning about writing (because reading about writing is just another form of procrastination for me, and I am already the freaking queen of procrastination) so the ‘Books about Writing’ section in my library must remain small, but these three titles come with the highest of recommendations from me and I can’t imagine that I’ll ever part with them.

What about you? What does your ‘Books about Writing’ section look like?

ETA: Oh! I also have a copy of Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting by Robert McKee on my e-reader, but I haven’t read it yet.

New Twitter Chat! #DarkLitChat — Join us on June, 21st at 8pm EST!

Because writing is a team sport (and I like them, when D.H. Poirier and Elesha Teskey asked for people to help spread the word about their new Twitter chat I raised my hand. Here is the result 🙂

dark-lit-promo

What is #DarkLitChat?

#DarkLitChat is a monthly Twitter chat for writers, authors, or readers who appreciate dark fiction. Writers and authors at all stages are welcome, and encouraged to join in. Whether you’re plotting, procrastinating, or published, you’re welcome to join us!

When is #DarkLitChat?

Tuesday, June 21st at 8pm EST, on Twitter. (You can find us for subsequent chats every 3rd Tuesday of the month, at 8pm EST)

Why #DarkLitChat?

Writing dark fiction can be hard — and it can be lonely. Many times it’s difficult to find other writers who appreciate a good blood bath in a world filled with happily ever after. Network with other writers of Dark Fiction while we discuss the ups and downs of writing dark fiction.

Who’s hosting #DarkLitChat?

D.H. Poirier, (@PoirierPages) Young Adult Author of dark historical fantasy, and horror. And Elesha Teskey, (@e_teskey) Urban Fantasy Author, and Publicist for Pen And Kink Publishing.

What is Dark Lit?

Any genre or market covering darker topics. Thrillers, horror, suspense, urban fantasy, mysteries, etc. Dark Lit would include murder, crime, abuse, drugs — things of that nature. Dark Lit is subjective, if you think you write Dark Lit, chances are — you do.

How can I help?

Help us get the word out on your blog, and on twitter.

#DarkLitChat Future Chats

We’re looking for published authors open to doing Q&As for future chats. If you’re interested, tweet at @PoirierPages on Twitter, or DM.

Need a reminder for #DarkLitChat? You can sign up for an email reminder for the chat here.

Encounter Cards

DungeonDealerI’ve been spending a lot of time editing these days, and the writing I’m getting done is largely of the non-fiction variety, so when Justin Sirois approached me and asked if I would consider writing some encounters for his Dungeon Dealer Kickstarter I was intrigued. Then, once I’d checked out the project, I was excited to say yes 🙂

In grade one, one of my favourite parts of the school library was the spinning shelf in the back corner which held all the Choose Your Own Adventure books. They were meant for older kids, but I devoured them just the same. Around about grade three (I think) the school brought in some Choose Your Own Adventure books aimed at a younger audience and I consumed those too.

In grade seven the boy I had a crush on played Dungeons and Dragons and, though I had no idea what Dungeons and Dragons was, I wanted to play it too (both to impress him and also because it sounded cool). The problem was I had no one to play with, no idea how to play it or even where to find the books to learn (this was before Google and I lived in a small town with no bookstore). Eventually, in the book section of a thrift store a couple towns over I found a handful of Choose Your Own Adventure-type books in which the protagonist (me!) had to roll dice and keep track of hit points. I played those and enjoyed them… some more than others LOL

Two years later the boy I was dating, who was not the same one I’d had a crush on back in grade seven, DMed my very first D&D game–well, D&D-ish game. We had a borrowed monster manual, some character sheets and a whack of d6s. It was pretty improvisational–and I was hooked. Well and truly addicted.

Dungeon Dealer as a solo activity feels a little bit like those D&D Choose Your Own Adventure-type books, but it has the potential for so much more within a group. I think it will be an awesome addition to our games, or a super fun way to throw together a quick dungeon to run through just for kicks when the party wants to do some hack and slash and forget about detailed plots.

I’m stoked about it, and I’m even more stoked to be writing a handful of the encounter cards. It’s gonna be a good time and, for better or for worse, give people a peek at what my D&D groups have to (get to?) deal with on a regular basis 😉

Deck

Omega Rising

OMEGA RISING

My dear friend, Anna Kyle, has a brand new book out today. Omega Rising is the first book in her Wolf King series but because sometimes publishing is weird, it’s actually the second one to be released LOL It’s a long story, but in this case the unusual order of publication worked. Anyway, my point is that not only can you read the first book in the series which is out today, if you love it as much as I did, you won’t have to wait to read book two, Skye Falling 🙂

One step at a time though. If you like paranormal romance check out Omega Rising!

Cass Nolan has been forced to avoid the burn of human touch for her whole life, drawing comfort instead from her dreams of a silver wolf—her protector, her friend. When her stalking nightmares return, her imaginary dead sister’s ghost tells her to run, Cass knows she should listen, but the sinfully hot stranger she just hired to work on her ranch has her mind buzzing with possibilities. Not only does her skin accept Nathan’s touch, it demands it. Cass must make a decision—run again and hope she saves the people who have become her family, or stand and fight. Question is, will it be with Nathan or against him?

Nathan Rivers’ life is consumed by his quest to find the Omega wolf responsible for killing his brother, but when the trail leads him to Cass and her merry band of shapeshifters, his wolf wants only to claim her for himself. When evidence begins piling up that Cass is the Omega he’s been seeking, things become complicated—especially since someone else wants her dead. Saving her life might mean sacrificing his own, but it may be worth it to save the woman he can’t keep from reaching for.

Get it online:

Direct from the publisher

Amazon

iTunes/Apple ibooks

Kobo

Omnilit / All Romance ebooks

And don’t forget to add it to your shelves on Goodreads!

Aurora Story Bundle

If you’re looking for a great bundle of books to read have I got a link for you! Story Bundle has a bundle going on right now that contains 8 books which have won the Aurora Award. The Aurora Award, for those who don’t know, is an award for excellence in Canadian speculative fiction.

Check this out:

Our curator, Douglas Smith, has won the Aurora three times and been on the final ballot another sixteen. One of his goals when putting this bundle together, aside from offering the best books possible, was to have a gender balance in the selected authors. Mission accomplished. The bundle includes five female and five male authors. You’ll also get a great mix of SF and fantasy, adult and YA novels, as well as a selection of short fiction. The bundle also reflects the long history of the Auroras, with titles spanning over twenty years of Canadian speculative fiction.

Covers

Click Here to check ’em out

And for the record, I don’t have a book in this bundle, I’m just spreading the word because a friend asked me to and writing is a team sport 🙂

 

Just say no to tab indents

If I could get all the time I’ve spent removing tab indents from the stories I format for publishing I would be a happy, happy woman. I’ve spoken to a few colleagues about this and while a couple of them have methods for formatting that mean they don’t care if you use tabs to indent your paragraphs, for a fair number of them (like me) those tab indents mean extra work (and extra work is bad, mmk?).

But it occurs to me that maybe people don’t know how to indent without using the tab key, so here is a super quick and dirty guide to doing it in Microsoft Word.

Basically, what you want is to get to the ‘Paragraph’ menu. One way to do this is to click the little arrow-y thing right here:

Paragraph1

(you can click on any of the images in this blog post to go to a larger version of it)

Or you can also just right click anywhere on the document. In this case the text is highlighted, which means whatever I select within the paragraph menu will only apply to the highlighted bits, but you can do this without highlighting anything as well in which case it should apply to the entire document.

Paragraph 2

The paragraph menu, once opened, looks like this:

ParagraphMenu

From there it’s really quite intuitive. The indentation settings that you see in this example will mimic what you’d see from a standard tab indent.

Unfortunately, I am not familiar with how to set up auto indentation using other word processing programs, but Google probably is. And if you know of any good guides let me know and I’ll link them here 🙂

Writing is a Team Sport

I say “Writing is a team sport*” a lot, so I decided to dedicate this year to that idea, and to being a part of the team.

Our team includes (but is not limited to) readers, writers, editors, publishers, artists (and more) and the opposing team is negativity, depression, discouragement, loneliness and obscurity.

I’d like to host more guest posts here on my blog, and I’m going to try and signal boost more people, and basically just do what I can to support everyone else on my team. Because writing is tough. It is freaking tough and it is mostly a solitary endeavor. In the end it’s you and the story and the page. And that’s it. Sometimes there is eventually an audience, but what we do is largely done alone. So I want to provide support where I can.

The first thing I did, because I am who I am, is order swag. I won’t lie, what I really wanted was team jackets. You know, letterman jackets with patches and numbers and stuff? Yeah! I suspect this is largely motivated by the fact I didn’t get one in high school *sad face* but whatever… The budget said no. So I went with buttons.

And don’t get me wrong, they are spiffy buttons. They have the above design (by Cary Vandever, by the way) on them and they look like this:

Writing Is A Team Sport

(Crappy iPad photo because I’ve somehow misplaced every single memory card for my camera. What?)

Yesterday I offered subscribers to my newsletter buttons and today I’ve offered them to people who have ‘liked’ my Facebook page. You can have one too, if you’d like. I’ll be giving them away, while supplies last, with priority to my newsletter subscribers and Facebook followers. And if you have a writing or critique group let me know, I’ll send extra. And if you are attending a convention or other writing-related gathering soon let me know, I’ll send a lot extra 🙂

To get a button email me at rhonda.l.parrish@gmail.com with your snail mail address. I promise to only use your address for this and to destroy the email immediately after your package is in the mail.

But this isn’t all about buttons (though buttons, like bow ties, are cool!). I’ll be rolling out a couple more regular features on my blog as I get the details sorted in my mind. In the meantime, do you have a book launch or cover reveal coming up? Would you like a spot on my blog? Get in touch, we’ll work something out. Need a signal boost on social media? My presence isn’t huge but I’ll do what I can–let me know.

I want to help, because writing is a team sport and we’re on the same side.

*I recognise we could totally pick that phrase apart. If you don’t think I’ve done it a bazillion times already, well, you obviously haven’t met me, but can we not? I get it. It could say ‘Publishing is a Team Sport’, it could say ‘Art is a Team Sport”–I get it. I really, really do, but let’s just not pick at it okay? Because I think, really, you get what I’m saying. We’re all in this together. That is the idea I want to spotlight and highlight this year.

I’ll tell you what, if you can refrain from picking on my phrasing maybe I’ll make another set of buttons that say “Writing: We’re all in this together” or something… but for now — Writing is a Team Sport :-p

Advent Ghosts 2015

For the past few years I have enjoyed participating in I Saw Lightning Fall’s Advent Ghosts. It used to be that ghost stories (or just creepy stories) were a part of the holiday tradition, and Advent Ghosts is just one way to re-embrace that tradition, if only in a small way. The rules are that you’re supposed to write a scary/creepy/unnerving drabble and share it on your blog on the 19th. A drabble, for anyone scratching their head right now, is a story that is exactly 100 words long.

As with every year that I’ve participated my story this year is not a drabble–though I think it’s the shortest one I’ve ever shared for this event so who knows, maybe someday I’ll hit the mark 😉

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Trying to be Brave

by Rhonda Parrish

Though she could no longer hear it, Wren knew the beast was still out there somewhere, somewhere near—skulking, still and silent, among the cedars. She pressed her back harder against the tree trunk, praying it was wide enough to hide her, and tried to be brave.

She slowed her breathing—in, hold, out—and exhaled through her woolen mittens—in, hold, out—to keep feeling in her fingers and diffuse the cloud of breath that would give away her position.

In…

Hold…

Out…

She was trying to be brave—trying so hard to be brave—but Jack’s screams lingered, echoing inside her like the ding, dong, dong of the church bell. It would be ringing soon—the bell—but there was a frozen lake between her and it, and the beast was near.

But help wouldn’t be coming. She’d sneaked away, tip-toeing past her parents door while they still slumbered. Danced from shadow to shadow through the village, across the lake, to meet her love beneath the treetops to steal kisses and play at magic. Help wasn’t coming, because it didn’t know it was necessary.

And now, even the sun was retreating, soundlessly creeping across the sky to hide behind the treeline. She could stay and wait for the end—the sneaky, silent, forever sleep offered by the cold, or the screaming, struggling, steaming death of the beast—or she could run.

Wren took a couple good deep breaths—in, hold, out. The village needed to be warned. Needed to know what waited in the woods, what she and Jack had awakened.

With a whispered prayer Wren leapt from her hiding place and tried to be brave.


 

You can also read my past attempts at Advent Ghosts stories:

Come In (2013)

A Million Pieces (2014)

or check out the rest of this year’s entries at I Saw Lightning Fall.

 

Dear Santa

A GiftEvery year I like to take a moment and write a letter to Santa with a wishlist of gifts. This is not an actual wishlist that I want my friends or readers to buy me things from (with the exception of those I live with LOL), it’s just meant to be fun.

Dear Santa,

I have been REALLY good this year. Truly. And I’ve worked REALLY hard. I’m very confident that I’ve earned a spot on your ‘Nice’ list and so I don’t feel particularly bashful at all about presenting my wishlist to you 🙂 This year for Giftmas I would like:

  • I really need a new big, comfy sweatshirt. My Margaret Atwood one is about 12 years old now, and it looks it. I’ve kinda got my eye on this one from Fauna (white, XL, thx!) because it’ll also support one of my favourite charities. Win/win!
  • I broke my FitBit beyond repair when I was in Washington last year. I thought I’d just live without it, but now apparently FitBit has like, challenges and stuff, and I think that could be really motivating so I could really use a new one.
  • I love watching the birds around here, and especially watching them play in puddles (and in the wheelbarrow when it fills up with water), so I’d really enjoy getting a birdbath. I’m not super picky about the design but I’d definitely prefer it not be one of those cheap plastic types that everyone seemed to have when I was a kid. That thing wouldn’t stand a chance of surviving beyond a year in our yard. Also? New bird feeders would be the bomb. The neighbours down the street have WAY more birds than I do, and I’m a little envious.
  • I’m running low on cool notebooks. These days my favourites fall into two categories: the super cheap sparkly kind from the Dollar Store and the fake leather journal kind from Winnable.
  • Jo will probably get this for me, because he’s awesome about making sure I’m always well-stocked with tea, but just in case Santa I’m almost out of my favourite Chai.
  • I feel like the need for charitable donations are at an all-time high this year, Santa. Usually I pick a charity or two I’d really like you to support on my behalf, but this year I just don’t even know where to start. I’m thinking The Red Cross, Fauna, the Edmonton Food Bank and Plan Canada are all fantastic valid options. And truly, I would be content if this were the only item on my Wishlist I received this year.

…and while that’s true, there is one last item I’m going to ask for:

  • Four years ago I said, “I could also really use some baseboards and riser thingers for my bathroom and kitchen. If we don’t finish them up soon they are just going to blend into the background and we’ll never get them done.” Well… that’s still a thing. >_<

Thank you Santa 🙂

Sincerely,

Rhonda

 

And now I’d like to share one of my very favourite songs of the season. Tim Minchin, everyone:

…I’m not crying, YOU’RE crying!

Also, though I’m not a Christian I sure do love a lot of Christmas carols. Here is another one of my favourite holiday songs 🙂

Scarecrow Names

ScareCROWA couple weeks ago I attended Pure Spec, which isn’t especially noteworthy because I go to Pure Spec every year. What is noteworthy, however, is that this was the first year I got a table in the vendor room, which made this a whole different rodeo. It was interesting to see the con from the perspective of a vendor rather than a panelist or attendee. Interesting and overall positive.

Our* table looked awesome. You’ll have to take my word for this because I managed to forget my camera both days. But it did.

I met some people.

I sold more than enough books to pay for the table.

I got to chat with some friends.

It was great.

My favourite reactions to our table were:

“Wow. That’s a lot of anthologies.” – this from people who didn’t know me

“Wow. I didn’t know you had this many books!” – this from people who did know me

“Can I take a picture of your scarecrow?” – this from people with awesome taste in scarecrows

About the scarecrow. As you can see from my picture of him, he’s a cute little dude. Both a crow and a scarecrow, I feel like he might be a little bit conflicted about his identity, but I love him just the same. I brought him along to Pure Spec and asked people to suggest names for him. Here are some of the suggestions:

  • Jeck
  • Old Joe Croaker
  • Ostif (Outstanding in his field)
  • Bob the Destroyer of Worlds
  • Edgar Allen
  • Dave
  • Tobias, Traitor to all Crowkind
  • Dreadbeak
  • Albert (Albie)
  • Biety
  • Beaker
  • Peckerhead
  • Corey

Which one is your favourite? Or, if none of them, what would you name him?

Speaking of scarecrows, just a quick reminder that the sale for Scarecrow, the anthology, ends on the 8th 🙂

SCARECROW-banner-sale

November 8th if you buy SCARECROW at the World Weaver Press website and use code SCARE at checkout you will get 50% off the cover price–for both Ebooks and Paperbacks!

*Jo came with me and set-up and ran the table with me 🙂

Pure Spec

ScareCROW

Do you see this guy? He’s a crow who is a scarecrow. Dude. It was so perfect I just had to have him, but I couldn’t figure out a way to justify it. We aren’t really the kind of family who uses seasonal decorations in their house, he’s not really outside-friendly and I’m trying to purge as much stuff from our house as possible. Still, despite all that I really wanted to bring him home. Then I hit on an idea–pure gold. I could bring him with me to my vendor table at Pure Spec and he could hang out there as sort of a mascot for Corvidae and Scarecrow. What’s more, I could hold a contest for people to help me name him. So that’s what I’m doing.

I have a vendor table at Pure Spec this year. If you’ll be attending you ought to stop by, not only to check out all the amazing titles I will be selling but also to suggest a name for my friend here. Every person who suggests a name gets $1 off any of my books.

I’ll announce the winning name here next week 🙂