Wednesday, July 1, 2020

At the midpoint of a very difficult year

I pulled my books. They’ll probably still be around on KDP (man, you cannot kill that thing) for a couple months, and I’ve gotten a lot of questions as to why, so here we go:

Item of the first, my MC was a white passing mixed-race person (Japanese and Irish). I pulled my book because I don’t want it taking up space that a mixed-race person could be using to tell a more subtle story. No my books weren’t about race, but again, they were taking up space. You might argue that in the vast plethora of Amazon, no book is taking the space of another book, but I don’t feel that way. If even a single person who has the racial identity of my book came across it and thought they shouldn’t write a story about dragons because there was already a book like that, that’s one too many.

“But Rena, your book was about dragons and good versus evil.”

True, but that’s sort of the point. If my books are about good versus evil and doing the right thing, then I must also do the right thing. The right thing is to not take up space where someone with lived experience might be trying to get traction.

“So then you’re just going to give up on these books?”

No. But also yes. I have so many stories to tell. I have so many worlds. If I spend my time rehashing these books over and over, I can’t tell those other stories. I can only write so many books in a year (1 and I can revise 1), and if I’m constantly going back to these, then what’s the point? I will never get to move forward. At some point, I might have the resources to redo these books (unlikely) in a way that makes me feel comfortable with what I’ve created, but honestly, they are probably not going back out into the world.

“But Rena, your books aren’t racist.”

At this point, I, like every other American living in a nation built on the free labor of slaves, cannot assess my own bias. I am not one of the “good” white people because there is no such thing. I live in a world steeped in institutional racism. It is not for me to judge if my books are harmful. I can do the work to be a better person, but the fact that our entire nation is built on the backs of oppressed people means I should get out of the way and make room at the table I have enjoyed.

I think, in this moment, in this year, we all have an opportunity to really look at ourselves and what we’ve put out there. If we work with this moment instead of struggle against it, we can make real change in our world. This is the thing I can change to make the world more accommodating for people of color, so I’m doing it.

Black Lives Matter
Trans Women are Women
Pride started with Marsha P Johnson 

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

New Year, New Insecurity?

I mean, obviously no. I have the same insecurities just more nuanced and flavored with experience. This month I'm struggling with the thought of ever finishing. I write more slowly than ever before. In 2019, I edited a book, and rewrote another book. I told myself I'd be done with editing the second book as well, but... Needless to say, I gave the book the time it needed, and it still needs time. It's such a time sink, I almost abandoned it for the greener pastures of a shiny new idea (which is now over a year old at this point). But I didn't, I stayed the course, and the book is starting to be some of the best work I've ever produced, and I'm very impatient about it all.

So tell me, do you struggle with how long writing takes? I see my friends getting agents and landing deals, and I'm just over here polishing a novel I've been working on forever.

Check out the Ninja Captain, Alex, and say thanks to this month's cohosts: T. Powell Coltrin, Victoria Marie Lees, Stephen Tremp, Renee Scattergood, and J.H. Moncrieff!

Wednesday, December 4, 2019


I haven't talked too much about this, but the sequel to Acne, Asthma, And Other Signs You Might Be Half Dragon is available for PREORDER!

And when does it launch? Next WEEK!

I know, that's close

You can head here to buy it, and then you can read GROUNDED, NO PHONE, AND OTHER SIGNS YOUR MOTHER IS A FIRE-BREATHING MONSTER!


Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Insecure Writer's Support Group

The question for this month's group is what's the weirdest thing you've ever googled for writing research?

Lots of murder and what not. How long does it take for blood to congeal. How quickly does a body decompose. Things like that. I'm pretty sure at this point that the FBI just cross references people with crazy google histories with their author websites and then writes them off as a lost cause (also, the FBI isn't getting involved unless your crime is crossing state lines, just sayin).

Actually, I did do a bunch of research on the FBI for one of my books because I decided that I thought the FBI would get involved in a case of a missing person who was potentially abducted by aliens.

Or the Bathrooms at the San Diego Convention center where a scene from a novel was going to take place.

And I did some extensive research on the Ghost Fleet for a scene in my current novel which, to be honest was actually pretty cool.

I guess I haven't really done anything that crazy (at least, not that crazy compared to crime writers!).

Hop on the Link and visit the Ninja Captain. Say hi to the cohosts:  Sadira Stone, Patricia Josephine, Lisa Buie-Collard, Erika Beebe, and C. Lee McKenzie! 

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Nose to the Grindstone

I don't have an IWSG for you today because I am hard at work. Blogging hasn't been on my radar of late, and I'm trying to figure out if it's a thing I should keep hacking away at or move to fewer posts. We shall see. 

Even though I'm not up for it today, this is blog hop. Sign up here, visit Ninja Captain Alex, and thank our cohosts:  Ronel Janse van Vuuren, Mary Aalgaard, Madeline Mora-Summonte, and Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor!

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Bigger than I thought

I'm working on a big revision right now. It's for a big book. It's not like anything I've ever written. It's so much not like anything I've ever written that I keep putting it off. It scares me. 
What if I completely fail this really beautiful idea?
What if I'm just not as good as I've always thought I was and the real reason I normally write fluff is because I'm scared to learn that I'm not good enough to write anything else? If I don't try, I won't know, right?

These are the the thoughts plaguing me as I tackle this monster, and by monster I mean a three part story that MUST be a three part story, and each part is about 90K, so I can't just smoosh them all together into one really long book. 
And it's full of pain and jealousy and duty and family and revenge and forgiveness, and I never write like this, so I must be screwing this all up. 

I feel like a fool for hoping. I feel like an idiot for trying. And I'm completely convinced that I'm just falling flat on my face, and everyone can see it except me.

Someone very helpfully suggested I send it to a beta. 

I did. I sent it to beta readers in 2017. My betas loved it. They thought it was great, but in 2017, I could see where it needed something more. More depth, more character, more something. It's taken me 2 years to figure out what that something is, and I love it even more, but as I'm standing here trying to implement that SOMETHING, I'm terrified that I can't do it. I'm terrified that I'm just flinging words around in the hopes that something sticks to the wall. 

So that's me, scared that I'm destroying an idea I love and thinking I'll never write another story like this one. Which just means I'm a writer with the kinds of worries a writer has. 

This is an Insecure Writer's Support Group Post. You can visit the Ninja Captain here, and don't forget to say hi to this month's cohosts: Gwen Gardner, Doreen McGettigan, Tyrean Martinson, Chemist Ken, and Cathrina Constantine.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Not Dead Yet

I should have known better. I started a new job and that's when I tend to drop off the radar. Which brings me nicely to my current insecurity. 

Turns out, I don't have particularly productive summers. I mean sure, I queried a lot. I painted a lot. I made a cover for a book that's going to come out soon (more on that another day). And that's when it hit me: I'm so wrapped up in productivity being word count or pages edited, that I completely forget the whole rest of the business part of writing. There is JUST So Much. And while I'm trying to stay positive and keep moving on my WIP, I have to give myself a break because I've done a ton of other work this summer. 

If this were a learn from my fail, that would be: word count isn't the only measure of productivity (nor is productivity the only measure of a life!).

Anyhow, hop on the Blog hop, say hi to the Ninja Captain, and give a shout out to the cohosts: Renee Scattergood, Sadira Stone, Jacqui Murray, Tamara Narayan, and LG Keltner!

Wednesday, June 5, 2019


I'm taking a little bit of a writing vacation. I haven't taken an official one in a long time, but I've carved out some time from my writing schedule (i.e. I will not be hitting the self imposed writing deadlines I set for myself that were, quite frankly, impossible anyways). With luck, I'll be ready to come back to writing for July. I still have ambitious plans for the rest of the year, so it's time to rest up, find some good compression gloves and refocus!

Happy Insecure Writer's Group Day for everyone!

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Impostors at every level

The funny thing about the impostor syndrome in writing is that we often forget that it breeds itself and proliferates.

At my day job recently, I was nominated to help our Union (Join the union, pay the dues, unless you aren’t into things like sick leave, 40 hour work weeks, health insurance, vacation). So I have to go to the employer who will surely be bringing a lawyer to the table.

A lawyer.

Why am I intimidated by a lawyer?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot. For some reason, lawyers have always had a place in my mind as the pinnacle of modern professionals. They dress nice (I have nice clothes, too). They have a fancy degree (I’ve got one of those, too). And they have confidence (uhmmm…).

To be frank, I have considerably more education than required to be a lawyer (I have more education than is required to be a surgeon), so it’s not their intelligence. So why do I feel like a complete fraud going to talk to them?

Part of it is that I have always viewed myself as the underdog. I have never come into a situation and thought for sure I would win a fight. I didn’t feel adult enough to buy my first home (or my second, to be honest). I feel like most people got off the train when they were younger and started believing in themselves as adults long ago, and I somehow missed the stop—honestly I was probably playing D&D at the time. In fact, I’m sort of terrified that someone will show up with a clip board and say “Rena, you enjoy things too much to be on this Very Serious Panel That Discusses Very Serious Things. Go home, impostor.”

So here I am, a little shocked to find that everyone at every level experiences some impostor syndrome. And for me, my impostor syndrome is tied to me feeling like an outsider. I have never fit in, and I’m not going to start now just because the other side of the table has lawyers.

Don't forget to visit the Link and say thanks to the cohosts: Lee Lowery, Juneta Key, Yvonne Ventresca, and T. Powell Coltrin! 

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Not the Only One: IWSG

I grew up in a very small town. I grew up in the kind of small town where everyone was just certain of my path and my destiny.

“Oh, that Rena. She’s going to be an amazing veterinarian when she grows up.”
“Rena you’ll be such a great teacher.”
“You know, Rena, you can make real money raising sheep. If you do your herd right, you’ll be able to go to college in the winter and work lambing on spring break.”
“You need to study hard if you’re going to save the environment.”

Yup, my whole life was planned, signed and delivered by the time I was 11. About then someone asked me what I wanted to do, and I said I wanted to be an astronaut. Reader, I broke hearts with that simple proclamation.

But it’s an old small town and they knew the true path to getting their way, patience, solidarity, and a steadfast denial of all words actually issuing from my lips. I played a pretty convincing part, raising sheep, showing horses, training llamas, you name it, I did it. But I also memorized all the features on the near side of the moon. I studied the stars, I took extra physics classes when I could. I sang in the choir. I was in the band, and drama, and soccer and swim team. I wanted to play football, but that path was closed to me. Small towns can only allow so much.

In school, I read every book in the library with a horse on the binding. When I’d read all of those, someone recommended that I try the ones with the rockets: and I did. And it was amazing! The only problem was, none of those books were about kids like me. Not one. I grew up lonely and never seeing a girl from a small town who got to have a story other than grow up and fall in love. The story was always girl grows up and realizes horses are childish and falls in love with a boy.

First, I desperately didn’t want to think horses were childish (one of my first real jobs was as a horse back riding instructor). I loved horses (and had to sell mine to go to college), and well, let’s just say the guys weren’t exactly throwing themselves to date the girl who ran faster, got better grades, and could literally throw hay bales, so a love story wasn’t exactly going to cut it for me. I was lonely, and my life looked nothing like the books that should have been hand made for me.

So one day, I wrote a different kind of story where a girl rode her horse into outer space to go save the Starship Enterprise. Firstly because everyone should ride a horse to go save the world, and secondly because I’d never seen a girl like me, do anything the world seemed to think important. Surely saving the Enterprise would count as important.

That story was very important to me, and no, no one will ever read it. But it had everything that I loved and it spoke to me. 

Hooked, I wrote another story just for me. This one didn’t use nearly so much Intellectual Property not belonging to me. As with many of my works, I cajoled, bribed, and begged until someone else read it. And that time, that time I heard the timid voice whisper back, “I thought I was the only one.”

I thought I was the only one.

I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve heard that whispered back to me by people who were embarrassed by some deep truth so close to their hearts they’d never shared it with anyone until I showed them the scars on mine. People I didn't think I had anything in common with, people who didn't look like me, grew up under totally different circumstances saw something of themselves in my words.

And that’s why I write. I write because even in the world of over sharing social media, I still hear it. People read my stories and confess that they had always felt alone. They’d always thought they were the only one who felt it—the shame, the secret joy, the guilt, the pain, and the pure exhaustion that is life, or just how lonely it is to feel something you shouldn't feel because society tells you that you're supposed to have exactly one emotion (I'm looking at you motherhood).

In short, I write so people will know they are not the only one.

It's Insecure Writer's Support Group, so hop on over to the Link, wave at The Ninja Captain, and say howdy to this month's cohosts:  J.H. Moncrieff, Natalie Aguirre, Patsy Collins, and Chemist Ken!

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Avoidance IWSG

I’ve talked before about how the best way to protect yourself from failure is to never try. You are absolutely guaranteed to never experience any rejection if you never put yourself out there for others to see (and all too often, criticize).

Which brings me to today. I have cleaned my work area, swept the floor, answered every email, done the dishes and cooked every breakfast the people in my house are going to eat for the next week. Yeah. All of that.

I’ve spent the whole week thinking about how much writing I was going to get done, but instead I have done LITERALLY every other chore in the house. I’m avoiding it. I’m worldbuilding. I’m plotting, I tell myself, I need time to think. Okay, that might be true, self, but it looks like, from over here in the no word count land, that you are actually doing the thing where you are avoiding writing.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: I have an idea for a novel, and I LOVE it. As in, I love it so much it might just break my heart. I love the idea so much, I might just never write it because the book it will become, no matter how good, will never feel like the shiny thing in my imagination. If I could have one wish, it would be to be able to make books fell the same way the idea feels in my head. It just doesn’t happen. Well, I should say, It hasn’t happened yet.

Am I the only one, or do you procrastinate putting pen to paper when you have an idea you’re in love with?

Jump on the link, visit the Ninja Captain, and check out this month’s co-hosts: Raimey Gallant,Natalie Aguirre, CV Grehan, and Michelle Wallace!

Hey, did you know my books are up on Amazon? 

Check them out here and here

Monday, January 21, 2019


There’s so much going on right now, I feel like I’m one of the spiny bits in an old school egg beater. Here we go:

The good news: Acne, Asthma, And Other Signs You Might Be Half Dragon is available for sale. Yes, you read that right! I got the rights to my book back, and it’s currently for sale on Amazon. I have not pushed it out to other platforms, and it’s not looking like I’m going to anytime soon. Turns out, I don’t have any time to figure out anything else right now (long story), so for the foreseeable future, my book is on Amazon as an ebook. I have some paperbacks left, but it’s a diminishing supply (don’t buy the fifty dollar copy from that crazy person who thinks my book being rare drives up the price). In a few months, I should be uploading to Create Space for those of you who like books you can touch.

More good news: Prom, Magic, And Other Man-Made Disasters will be up soon. How soon, you ask? Sometime this week, ebooks should become available. I’ll post when things are settled out (it takes Amazon some time to link editions, and I’m trying not to lose my reviews, those are hard to come by!).

The BEST NEWS: The sequel to Acne, Asthma, And Other Signs You Might Be Half Dragon is coming out! That’s right, it’s really really happening. GROUNDED, NO PHONE, AND OTHER SIGNS YOUR MOM IS A FIRE BREATHING MONSTER is in production!

What does this mean? I won’t have a release date for a while yet, but I’m very excited to share the much anticipated sequel to Acne. If you loved Acne, you’re in for a real treat as the gang is back at it, but now things are bigger, more dangerous, and even more family secrets are unearthed. It’s going to be a wild ride, and I can’t wait to unleash it on the world! 

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Sometimes things go Sideways

If you’ve been to my buy pages recently, you’ll probably notice that they don’t work. My three novels have been taken down by my publisher, Curiosity Quills. The publisher is in the process of reorganizing their business, and we are currently in the process of rights reversion.

So what does this mean for me and my books?

Right now this means you can’t buy my books. (Sorry!) It means I am taking a crash course in self publishing because I have an irrational need to finish things. Acne has a sequel. It has two, possible three, and I want to make sure the whole story gets told. This means drafting, editing, formatting, cover art and marketing plan. This is not minor. On the plus side, the first sequel has already been written, but there’s a lot of production even when a book is 100% ready to go, and it isn’t there yet.

But Rena, you say, What about Acne, Asthma, And Other Signs You Might Be Half Dragon? I haven’t bought my copy of that book yet! And I want it!

Yeah, for the books that were already finished, there’s a different problem. There are some paperback copies going out into the world still, but that’s a limited supply. There are no e copies. There were never audio copies.

As of right now, it’s going to be a while before ebooks are available again, and they will be. My plan is to re-release Acne and Prom as soon as I solve the problem of formatting, cover art, and final typo fixes (an issue we had with the previous books).

So I have a lot of work on my plate, and much sooner than I’d planned!

On the plus side, this gives me the opportunity to have more control of the direction these books take. I have loved being a Literary Marauder, but now I get to shred the skies with my own flag—just as soon as I figure out how to rig this spinnaker so it doesn’t flip my ship.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Plans? Maybe just direction? IWSG

It’s a new year.

I don’t really know what happened to last year. It was rough. It was good. Like all years, it was complicated by too many factors to be easily summed up in a single post.

Going forward, I have a lot of thoughts. I’m working on migrating the content of this blog into a new format (I’ll probably still cross post for a while), but as I go back through, expect to see some old posts go dark. Think of it as the pack rat going through and cleaning everything up.

In writing, I’m moving into a new phase of my own growth. I’ve been working on improving my craft, and I feel like that’s gone well. It’s an ongoing process, and with writing, you never “arrive.” Writing is like a knife, constantly requiring honing. I took a break for the whole month of December, and it was very useful to know there was no need to do anything for a whole month. Now I’m cracking my knuckles and looking around at what needs to be done to clean up my writing life. I have a list of projects, and I’m toying with a Shiny New Idea. We’ll see.

To start the year I’m writing a low pressure piece just for the fun of it, and to share it with my friends. I kid you not, it’s a piece that I have no actual intentions of showing to the rest of the world, and I’m really looking forward to the ridiculous purple prose of an elf prince falling madly in love with the wrong person. So good.

I’m taking it easy right now due to other factors, so I’m going to write my very extra pointy eared prince and then reassess the direction of my career.

Do you plan out your writing year? Whenever I try to, it takes a detour at Albuquerque. So no real plan this year. Working on craft, writing something just for me, and we’ll see when we get there.

While you’re procrastinating, jump on the Link and visit the Ninja Captain, Alex. Be sure to check out this month’s cohosts: Patricia Lynne, Lisa Buie-Collard, Kim Lajevardi, and Fundy Blue!

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Doing Better

I’ve been thinking about my journey lately, and I can’t really complain. I’ve published three books. I have a sequel in the wings (not until at least 2020, alas). Working full time has definitely slowed my process, but even there, I still have no complaints. I’ve put together a book a year since 2009 plus a handful of extras.

I don’t know how others are doing, but things seem to be going cautiously well for me. I feel like that’s a somewhat controversial statement in our current political climate, my home state going through disaster after disaster, and the actual climate, but things are okay. I know it’s crazy to say, but I have finally sorted out something big.

When I first started writing and querying, I would always wonder if my writing was “good enough.” I’d get a rejection and it would say something like “sorry to say, I’m passing at this time,” and I would say to myself, “was it the project or was it the writing? Can someone tell me if it’s the writing or the project, please?”

The funny thing there, is that people did. They did say “your writing is great, but not this project.” Agents and editors said this a lot, but it wasn’t enough. It never passed through my thick skull. I always assumed that the agents were just being nice. When I read reviews of my work, I only ever found resonance in the negative, letting it outweigh the good reviews, even though there were more good reviews by a factor of ten.

The problem for me has always been my own demons, but I feel like I had to go through those things so I could be in this position where I’m writing what I need to write. I’m telling the stories that burn in me, and if I’m not marketable right now, that’s fine. The only thing I can control is the thing I create. Everything else will come, or it won’t. I have no control over editors or agents. I certainly hope I will connect with them through a book, but I can’t control that.

I’ve spent my time focusing on craft. I’ve sought out critiques anywhere I could get them, and bit by bit, I’m starting to understand how much I have sought agents and editors for validation of my writing. I can definitively say, that’s the wrong approach. If my words are finding fertile ground in your heart, I have another gem that’s finally started to sink through my thick skull: if there is a hole in your heart, no amount of accolades that can fill the hole. No amount of external positive things can actually give you self worth.

I know, this got deep fast, but hear me out. I’d been using publishing as a way to fill something inside me that was empty and broken. Publishing couldn’t fill that hole. At first it felt like it did, but as time went on, it became increasingly clear that I was playing a shell game with my heart, skipping from good review to good review like I could tie the sinking ship of my heart to the words of a stranger and that could somehow right the ship of my life. Inevitably, each sank as the feeling of joy wore off, and worse, my ship got bigger and heavier so the next positive thing I needed to keep my head above water had to be bigger than the last. It’s a bad cycle.

The truth is, if you don’t feel like enough without an agent or publishing contract, you certainly won’t feel like enough with it. I’ve talked about this before in other IWSG threads, but it bears repeating. It’s something I still struggle with, even as I move forward. So that’s the big one today. (I’m super excited about my current manuscript! I really love this story. It’ll be interesting to see how this next part unfolds.)

Jump on the link, hop over to the Ninja Captain, Alex, and say hi to this month's co-hosts: J.H. Moncrieff, Tonja Drecker, Patsy Collins, and Chrys Fey!