Thursday, November 26, 2015

A Thanksgiving Update

I suppose I'm overdue for an update (maybe, possibly!). Thanksgiving seemed like a good time to turn some of the thoughts in my head into words as I summarize the past year in my usual list sorta way. The year's not over with, of course, but despite a bit of a slow start and some frustrations in the earlier half, the second half of 2015 has been, well... pretty damn good. Thanks to everyone who's close to me that's made this possible. Most of you know who you are already, but here's a rundown of who and what I'm thankful for this year:

I'm thankful for Debbie and Nana who support me in my writerly endeavors and always have my back even when my freelance jobs don't pay the best or turn out as expected. We ran into a few rough months this year money-wise, but we made it through just like we always do. I'm thankful for the patience you have with me, the strength you both show, and the support you offer in regards to me finding my happiness in all aspects of life. I know I'm not always easy to live with, haha.

I'm thankful for Amber, who's shown me sides of myself I hadn't even realized existed. You've given me the extra boost I've needed, babe, to keep moving forward at times and keep my fiction goals centered in front of my vision. You help ground me. You help remind me that I'm worth fighting for, that my future's worth fighting for, and that my voice deserves to be heard. You give me hope-- in us, and in myself. Thank you so much for making your way into my life.

I'm thankful for all my close friends and family members who continue to be supportive of me and my endeavors. Those who read my short stories and offer feedback, those who are just there to lend an ear when I get kinda mopey at 1 a.m. for no particular good reason (hey, tanking annoyances are srs business at 1 a.m... lol). Special shoutouts to Micah and Cav.

I'm also thankful to my more distant friends and family members who I may not speak to that often, but who I know are still there, always supportive, always keeping an eye on me. Yes, Angel, you'll always be protective of me and love me even with our distance. That fact's a comfort to me. 

I'm grateful to Ryan, Keith, and the rest of the guys at LogicForce Consulting who've given me a pretty great opportunity this year to become the company's person-who-writes-all-the-things even though I don't have a legal degree or tech degree. I'm also thankful for John, my Den of Geek editor, who gives me the opportunity to write about gaming stuff on the weekends and dive into MMOs that I still love even though I don't quite have the time for them I used to.

I'm grateful for my past which has fueled me into the person I am today as well as my future which I hope holds bright things. I'm grateful for hope. I'm grateful for having loved ones to depend on in times of need. I'm grateful for my memories, my health, and for having the opportunity to make each day as meaningful as I can. I'm grateful for continued brave moments and for watching others around me succeed in their dreams.

In short, if you're reading this, there's probably a good chance I'm grateful for you. Thank you. <3 

Oh, and yes, some of you might recognize the header image. That's indeed Ely lake. ;) I stole the pic from Aunt Sandy on Facebook one day.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone, and may the rest of 2015 and 2016 dawn bright for us all. 

Monday, August 4, 2014

Looking Toward the Sky

It's been a while since I've updated again, but I'm happy to say these past few months have led to a few truly awesome opportunities in my career. We decided to relaunch Junkies Nation last month and I was brought in as the Editor-in-Chief. It's been a while since I've been asked to spread my leadership wings of sorts, but I find I enjoy it immensely. My team of writers is fantastic and I've had the chance to reach out to various game developers which is a new learning experience for me-- but one I'm extremely grateful for.

I'm also able to write my big, long editorials again! I've missed that so. Here's the first I've published. All about WildStar, World of Warcraft, and the need for risk taking in MMORPG development. I have a couple more in the planning stages as well as another editorial that's due to be published in a couple of days (more on that soon!).

I find these long-winded projects tend to be the most satisfying for me. They allow me to dig deep and really sink my teeth into subjects that are near and dear to my heart. I'm still a gamer, obviously, but being able to blend together gaming, thinking about gaming in critical/objective ways, and sharing my thoughts with the community is super satisfying in a way I didn't really imagine was possible.

Here's to life, and all the strange, wonderful turns it takes.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Moving Forward

I know-- this blog has been overdue of an update for a while now. My career's taken a few sharp turns in recent months, and truth be told, I wasn't sure where these bumpy roads would take me. I'm still not sure, but most days I find comfort in the fact that I'm moving forward bit by bit and take it from there. I think that's all we can do at times.

I'm still writing for Rift Junkies and Junkies Nation when I get a chance to do so, but as some of you may have noticed, those chances haven't been that frequently lately. I've been having to spend a great deal of my time looking for copywriting/freelance work wherever I can find it. The good news is that I may have some good news regarding a new client (and a cool site) in a couple of weeks. For now, I'm trying to keep on keepin' on. I did finally add my portfolio link to this site, though!

In the realm of fiction writing, I've actually had a bit of a breakthrough in a side project I recently started. The piece I'm working on will probably end up a novel, but for now it's kind of taking the shape of an erotica-based series of stories. Yeah. Me, erotica, right? My protagonist's kind of like a female version of Indiana Jones but with a bumbling, goofy side. It's an adventure story, but also one embedded in romance and erotic elements. We'll see how it turns out. ;) For now, I'm content with the fact that working on that project soothes me like nothing else quite can.

I'm also in the groundwork phases of a new collaborative fiction project with a friend. It's shaping up pretty nicely. I'll toss out one hint: Outer space!

Oh, one last thing. If anyone's going to be playing The Elder Scrolls Online, lemme know. I'll be playing and writing a few guides along the way.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Giving Thanks... and an Update!

Turns out I'm still pretty awful about this whole "update the blog" thing. Whoops. In hindsight, I also realize that I mentioned writing goals back in January and never actually returned to those goals. Whoops again. 2013 isn't over yet, however, so I'm not going to make this a goal update just yet. You never know what awesome things December will bring! At least, that's my hope.

Instead, I will take a moment to offer out some thanks, because, well, Thanksgiving and all.

First and foremost, I'm thankful for my friends and family members who encourage me, put up with me, and put up with my "3 AM = writing time" oddities. I know I don't quite make it easy. Ever.

I'm thankful to the two dudes behind Junkies Nation/Rift Junkies who gave me a chance what, 3 years ago, now? Time passes so quickly. I was promoted to Senior Editor this year, and we also launched a main portal site that encompasses MMORPGs, console games, and all things lovingly geeky. I get to write lots of editorials and opinion-related columns that dig a little deeper now, and I love it so.

Speaking of which, I'm ever-so-thankful to my friends and family members who have shared and read my articles and short stories. I've had a few brave moments this past year and am discovering that I do have courage in me, after all. I did my first in-person developer interview earlier in the year. It was pretty awesome to come home and have a handful of groupies eagerly awaiting my article. I also got to help an indie game developer create a crafting system for a new browser game we'll be able to play one day.

This year's been pretty monumental in the fact that I've earned roughly three-quarters of my yearly income from writing alone. No, it hasn't always been easy. There were months where I had to write about silly things like rice cookers and party tableware and other odd marketing content to pay the bills, but for the most part I can say I wrote about things I loved and was passionate about (yay for video games!). I haven't wrote nearly as much fiction as I would have liked to this past year, but at the end of the day I can say I earn most of my living doing something I love, and that's something I'm immensely proud of. And no, I have not abandoned my latest fantasy novel project. I will make time for fiction.

I'm also thankful for quite a few poetical-sounding things like the sky above, the ground below, a beautiful dusk, and the chance to begin each day anew. I'm thankful to my parents who raised me to be me, even if that me is sometimes timid and not-too-graceful. My mom and dad live on in me and I'm grateful for that.

I'm thankful for brave moments. I've finally been brave enough this past year to begin making progress toward ending this period of eternally-single-for-seven-plus-years that's a part of me I don't like to admit often. I guess I felt I needed to stabilize my own footwork before getting someone else intertwined and causing the two of us to go toppling over. That's not to say I've made a ton of progress-- yep, I'm still single-- but I'm enjoying getting to know new women, having a few brave moments, and learning more about myself in return.

And last but not least, I'm thankful for hope. Life wouldn't be possible without it.

Happy holidays, everyone! May your days and nights be filled with joy, hope, and a few brave moments.

Friday, May 3, 2013

I'm Penumbra's Rising Talent! Free Short Story - Currents

I have another treat for you all! As most of you know, I've been writing short stories for the past couple of years or so. I've always enjoyed writing short pieces, but since my rediscovery of the Writers of the Future contest and my hop back into the writing world fo' realz™, I decided I needed to seriously sit down and write a new speculative fiction short story every three months in order to submit to the contest every quarter. After all, what did I have to lose? 

Short stories are tough, man. My first couple of stories weren't the best. I was a bit rusty. Plus, you know, I've always been kinda wordy when it comes to writing (hence Captive by the Fog), so writing stuff that was, um, not wordy was hard

But I stuck with it, and I'm super glad to say that I've made progress! I've received two Honorable Mentions from the Writers of the Future contest now, which is pretty awesome. The contest is friggen' huge. Aside from submitting the stories to the contest, I've also been slowly getting in the swing of submitting my stories to other professional markets. I haven't had a professional sale yet, but I have had a near-miss, if you will. With benefits!

One of my favorite short stories, "Currents", was picked up by Penumbra as May's Rising Talent story. This is the same story I had quite a bit of help on from fellow WotFers, so I'm happy to have found a home for it. It also was thoroughly enjoyable to write and features one of my favorite things ever to write about-- descriptions of nature. Yep-- it's in the Oceans issue of Penumbra! Water's pretty awesome to describe. 

Okay, enough babbling. Go check the story out for yourself! "Currents" isn't in the May issue of Penumbra, but it is a free read on Penumbra's website. That means you're free to share it with all of your friends if you enjoy the piece.

Go take a look and tell me your thoughts! I start off the story with a brief, uh, babble-fest essay of sorts, as a warning. Just in case you haven't read enough yet. Or something like that.

Friday, March 8, 2013

A Musical Treat for Captive by the Fog Fans

So, as you may or may not be aware, I was originally planning to create a book trailer for the release of Captive by the Fog. The trailer never quite happened due to various reasons (I may still come up with one someday!), but one thing that did result from this idea is something I'm here to eagerly share with you guys.

My awesome friend for many years, Jeremy Jones, also happens to be a music composer. He mostly creates original tracks for indie and fan-made video games, but when I swung my crazy book trailer idea by him and gave him a couple sample chapters of the novel, he decided he was up for the challenge of attempting to compose an original musical track for Captive by the Fog.

What I have for you today is that track. It's an instrumental track that excellently blends together both the tension and constrictive refines found in the early part of the novel with that flicker of candlelight and hope (and romance!) that make up the latter parts of the story. I know, that's a goofy description, but if you've read Captive by the Fog, you're probably well aware that my descriptions can often be goofy. ;)

You can go here to listen to a preview and download it for yourself.

You can listen to the track by using the handy play button or download it. The download price is listed as "Name your price", which means that if you're willing to contribute a little something for the track, you're free to do so. If money's tight (no hard feelings-- I'm there myself), then the track can be downloaded for free.

If you enjoy the track, make sure to take a look at Jeremy's full-length album that's currently available for pre-order. It's entitled Origins, and you can find out more about it here.

Take a listen! Tell me your thoughts. :D I'm extraordinarily pleased with the track. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. Oh, and if you still need to pick up a copy of Captive by the Fog, you can do so at Musa Publishing, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble.

Friday, January 4, 2013


Today I want to welcome a very special guest, Clarissa Johal, who will be chatting a bit about her not-so-secret love for Skyrim. Us writers who are also gamers gotta stick together, right? Slaying dragons FTW! I might be guilty of alt-tabbing in World of Warcraft while posting this, even. Ssh.


by Clarissa Johal

Thank you for hosting me in your blog, Laura!

I’ve decided to disclose a little secret here because I knew you’d understand…I’m addicted to Skyrim.

Yep. The game was given to my younger daughter as a Christmas present last year. Up until then, I had never picked up an Xbox controller, or played anything remotely resembling a video game. Even when games like PacMan were popular in the ‘80s, I never had the inclination to play them because I was too busy partying (yeah, yeah, we won’t go there).

But when my daughter begged me to try her game, I did so willingly because I’m a mom and we do things like that. The moment I picked up the controllers, I knew my trepidation wasn’t unfounded.

I was able to design my character, not a problem, and kind of had fun doing that. But when it came to game play? My Dragonborn was looking at the sky, at her feet, walking into castle walls—basically making a ridiculous fool of herself. Several minutes of that and I was ready to throw my controller across the room. A bit frustrating.

I gave up and watched my 10-year-old play for the next few weeks, but I could tell that I had failed “cool mom” status. Big time.

One day while she was at school, I decided to give Skyrim another go. It took me awhile, but I finally got the controls down and…omg.
When my character found her first awesome sword—I was hooked. Frost trolls in Skyrim? Not a problem—I killed them. As disturbing as that was. A treasure chest full of gold, armor and potions? I stole it all. When Faendal the archer elf offered to be my follower, I snapped him up too.

My girls never completed the game and have moved onto other games since. But, I admit—I’m still hooked. I’ve completed it twice with two different characters, scramble like a little kid to buy the latest DLC, and custom made myself a Skyrim coffee cup that says “Faendal is my Hero.”
My girls won’t be seen with me when I use it.

But I don’t care. I’m the Dragonborn. And Faendal and I will save the world.

My paranormal novel, BETWEEN, was released through Musa Publishing on December 14, 2012. No dragons, but plenty of other paranormal happenings. I hope you’ll check it out.

by Clarissa Johal


How far would you go to redeem yourself?


As a young girl, Lucinda was able to see spirits, a gift that didn't come without its problems. Now, a dedicated young veterinarian, she is committed to the idea that every life can be saved.
After a devastating accident, Lucinda tries to escape her past by moving to a small town. There, she meets a newcomer and feels an immediate connection with him. But there is another mysterious stranger to the small town, one that stirs within her a mixture of unease and desire.
As Lucinda is drawn into a bitter tug-a-war from the forces around her, she is likewise pulled into a dangerous twist of past and present events. Forced to make difficult choices, she finds that the two men are locked in not only a battle for her life...but a battle for their salvation.


A young woman stood beside the bed, anguish on her face. She looked vaguely familiar, though Lucinda couldn’t place her. The forgotten colors of her blousy dress had faded into indistinct shades of grey. The woman grasped Lucinda’s hand and pressed a key into it. Lucinda felt the jagged, metal edges pricking her skin. Somewhere in the distance, a car engine roared to life. The woman’s lips moved but the growling engine drowned out all other sound. The sound became louder.
Growling. Darwin was growling.
Darwin?” Lucinda woke with a start.
The shepherd growled again and hopped off the bed, padding into the living room.
A quiet knock sounded from the front door. Lucinda rolled out of bed to answer it.
Pushing Darwin aside to open the door, she peered sleepily into the moonlit night. A breeze blew across the clearing, stirring the grass. Confused, she shut the door before the breeze could make its way inside.
“Come on back to bed, Darwin. Nobody there.”
As she pulled the blanket up to her chin, the knocking started again.
Lucinda slipped out of bed and walked back into the living room. The sound clearly came from the other side of the door, faint but unmistakable. She slid her hand quietly over the knob. At once, the knocking stopped. Turning the knob slowly, she pulled the door open a crack, heart pounding in her chest.
“Hello?” An icy breeze slipped by her thigh as the scent of ozone assailed her senses. Her heart beat erratically. “Darwin, no!” The dog tried to push past her, growling once more. Rattled, Lucinda closed the door with a bang and locked it.
Lucinda lay in bed and shivered, unable to get warm. A chill slipped under her covers, stealing up her spine. The smell of roses clung to her blanket, the warmth from their scent seemed to be at war with the cold. An hour passed and she finally dropped off to sleep.
For the remainder of the night, the two unseen presences in her room remained at an impasse.


Clarissa Johal has worked as a veterinary assistant, zoo-keeper aide and vegetarian chef. Writing has always been her passion. When she’s not listening to the ghosts in her head, she’s dancing or taking photographs of gargoyles.
Clarissa shares her life with her husband, two daughters and every stray animal that darkens the doorstep. One day, she expects that a wayward troll will wander into her yard, but that hasn’t happened yet.

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