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.

Author website:

Amazon Author Page:

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Goals, Thanks, and Flying Penguins

Yes, those are flying penguins. Flapping, rather. In midair, World of Warcraft style. What do they have to do with the new year? Nothing, really. But hey, I thought they were cute.

I used to write a huge journal entry every new year's eve. It was kind of a tradition for me, in which I moped a whole bunch about the past year, and had better hopes for the future year. It was never a resolution type of post, since I'm not a huge fan of resolutions per say, but goals? Sure, I like goals. In retrospect, it was also a tradition to not look back on those journal entries full of goals because I usually never completed them.

2012 has been a little different, I'm happy to announce. I did write up a goal post for the year, but it wasn't quite in the same tradition as my new year's eve posts. Less mopey for one, which was definitely a step in the right direction! I'm also happy to announce that I actually completed all of the goals, and even rose above them. I wanted to finish Captive by the Fog and start submitting it to publishers. I succeeded, and saw it published in the same year. :D

I've been a little quiet on the blog front after Captive by the Fog's release (See? I really am bad about this blogging thing). Part of the silence is due to starting work on a new, big project-- a four part series of novels that will feature a cool host of LGBT characters and a fantasy universe complete with teleportation between multiple worlds. The project's a little ambitious and I have began writing on it, but found myself backtracking a bit in order to do some careful character planning. But fear not, I will journey onward! 

I also wanted to take the time during this new year's celebration to thank some very awesome people who made a difference during the release of Captive by the Fog:
  • Clarissa Johal, thank you for the promotion help and for the random email commentary we've been exchanging as you read through Captive by the Fog. I love getting to see your reactions. :D
  • Lyman from Gamut, our Guild Wars 2 guild, thank you so much for your awesome comments! Rereading this comment-- "I loved it! It was creepy and fascinating and terrifying and hot in all the right places."-- still makes me grin like an idiot. 
  • Thank you to Sandy on Facebook, who approached me out of the blue and asked to be my friend after reading my lil' novel and enjoying it. That seriously made my day. <3
  • Special thanks to my sister, Debbie, and her best friend Kim, for devouring Captive by the Fog and sharing plenty of reactions, encouragement, and great feedback!
  • Mitch Sanford, thank you for being so awesome and enthusiastic about the joys of being a newbie writer, and for leaving wonderful reviews everywhere!
  • Corrii, thank you for being, well, you. ;) For carting me around to see flying penguins, putting up with my half-drunken 4 am babbling, and everything in between.
  • And last but not least, thank you to all the people who bought Captive by the Fog or intend on picking it up at some point! You're my unsung heroes.
Now, back to those flying penguins. 2013 is looking to be a decent year so far, and I hope I'm able to pull off what I've got planned. I don't have my goals for the year written up yet, but within the next month I'll probably be able to figure some things out and do just that.

Penguins aren't supposed to fly, and it sometimes seems just as hard to make a living off this writerly stuff. I've still got a ways to go, but with some luck and a little persistence-- I'll try my best to spread these wings and take flight. I'll never match the cuteness of a flying penguin, but hey, that's fine by me!