Hidden Release Day

Happy holidays! It’s cold outside, even here in sunny San Francisco. No fog this time of year, lol. It’s the perfect time to curl up with a warm blanket, a hot drink, and a good book. Speaking of which, I have exciting news!

Today is the release day for my new novella, Hidden, a YA urban fantasy prequel to my Crossroads series. Hidden tells the story of Lennon’s Auntie Cat as a teenager. It is available on Amazon for $0.99.

Cat Lau’s world turns upside down when her father and brothers return home without her mother. Life on the Crossroads is always perilous and sudden death a constant threat. Her mother died in battle, but no one will tell her how or why. Her father consoles himself in the bottle. One brother prepares for an arranged marriage while the other plays vengeful games. As her family falls apart, an enemy within uses secret passion and a powerful weapon to manipulate them. Cat is determined to learn the truth, but will she discover that some things are better left hidden?

Hidden is part of a multi-author project titled Hidden.

From sci-fi to romance, fantasy to cozy mystery, and many more, the Hidden Project has something for everyone. Each author has taken the same title and put their own spin on the story, leading to a wide range of stories in a variety of genres.

Follow the weekly release of all 70+ books!

Got any last minute holiday shopping? Books make lovely gifts. Fake and Folly are both available in paperback format. Suitable for teens and adults!

Fake_WP   folly_WP

New Book Covers

I’m excited to announce that my Crossroads series now has new book covers. They were created by the immensely talented Julie Nicholls. I love how beautiful, mystical, and intriguing these new covers are. Fake and Folly are available now on Amazon. Hidden will be released in mid-December.

Fake_WP  folly_WP  HIDDEN_WP


Folly Launch Day

Exciting news! Folly (Crossroads Book 2) launches today. It is available in ebook and paperback on Amazon. It is the follow-up to Fake (Crossroads Book 1), also available on Amazon. To celebrate, both ebooks are available for $0.99 each for a limited time.

Fake  Folly

What is the Crossroads Series? Imagine our contemporary world with an underground society of urban warriors. Maginalized people who have formed clans and fight each other for supremacy.

Two families are at the heart of the story. The Lau family are the hereditary rulers of the fierce warriors known as Two Dragon Clan. The Sparrows are Strowlers, a traveling people, but outcast from their clan because of their unconventional ways. When Lennon Lau and Penny Sparrow meet, they set into motion what could be the destruction of their clans and the Crossroads. Behind the scenes, an ancient dragon watches and waits, determined to save his species from extinction.

Keep up with the world of the Crossroads by subscribing to my monthly newsletter, Wandering Times. News, contests, deals and steals! SUBSCRIBE NOW and receive a free coloring book, Dragons: A Crossroads Coloring Book.


NaNoWriMo Book Launch

Welcome to November 1. For those of us who participate in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), this is a big day. Thousands of novels will be launched. Some have been planned meticulously in the days/weeks/months previous to November. Others are being conceived starting today.

Many writers will not finish their novels. Most of those who do finish will find themselves with a very messy first draft. Finishing or perfection are not at the heart of NaNoWriMo. This month and this movement are all about writing. People who otherwise can’t find the time to write will do so this month.

To all of you who participate, I salute you. Each sentence you write brings you one sentence closer to your dream. If possible, don’t write alone. Find a write-in in your area by joining a region on NaNoWriMo website. Participate in a NaNoWriMo word sprint. Go to or start a local Shut Up and Write Meetup. Find your tribe and write like you never have before, with joy and passion and no internal editor.

Today, I’m launching my debut novel, Fake. It was first written during NaNoWriMo and that first draft was a hot mess. After many drafts and a professional edit, I’m very proud of the final results.

You can do it, too. I know you can. I have faith in you. Now, write that book!

Making Your Own Magic

This past summer, I listened to the audiobook version of Felicia Day’s memoir, You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost). Listened, rather than read, because I saw her in person on a panel at Denver ComicCon and thought she was a delightful and engaging speaker.

Almost anyone who considers themselves a geek is familiar with Felicia Day. Along with recurring roles on Supernatural and Eureka, and co-starring in Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog, and being a consummate gamer, she created and starred in that seminal Internet video series, the Guild. In her memoir, she tells the story of how she pulled together this show using spit and chicken wire, inspiration and perspiration, and a whole lot of caffeine. Her budget was whatever she could beg, borrow or steal. In other words, she made her own magic and the result was a phenomenon.

Felicia Day’s memoir spoke to me. It said you can make your own magic happen, too. Coincidentally (or was it?), while I was listening, I received a conditional resubmit letter from a publisher. It basically stated that they were interested in my novel, Fake, but wanted me to submit a rewrite with some substantial edits, including changing the point of view. This isn’t the first time this has happened. A few years ago, I submitted another book to a publisher and got a similar request. I did the rewrite and didn’t much like the results. It altered the story and characters too much. I resubmitted and was rejected. All that work for nothing. Or was it?

During that time, I was living in Colorado, and after receiving the rejection I had a bit of a meltdown and went to stay with a friend in San Francisco. While there, I wandered the streets and came up with the idea for Fake and the world of the Crossroads.

The offer from this latest publisher brought me to my own crossroads. Do I take that chance again? Do I send the manuscript to another publisher? Or, like Felicia Day, do I make my own magic?

I chose magic. I put myself on the path, and steep learning curve, of indie publishing, which I’ll blog about in future posts. I’ve submitted Fake to Amazon’s KDP program. It’s now available for pre-order and will launch on November 1, 2016.

Hitting the button that submitted my final draft was the hardest part. I wondered why and then realized it was the final step in saying farewell to my dream of being traditionally published. Making your own magic means discovering and owning your own power. Wish me well on this journey. May you discover and make your own magic and dreams come true.

Binge Complete

As part of my summer binge, I decided to watch the 189-episode telenovela, Lo Que La Vida Me Robó (What Life Took from Me,) on Netflix. I finally finished watching it. That was one long binge! As a viewer, I enjoyed its riveting and twisting storylines. As a writer, I appreciate the show for its characterizations.

Unlike U.S. soap operas, telenovelas come to a conclusion. Since the end of the main story will be reached, the characters are compelled to change and grow, or so one would hope. I felt this was done particularly well with Lo Que La Vida Me Robó.

Classic love triangle. Who will Montserrat choose?

Classic love triangle. Who will Montserrat choose?

The main story concerns a love triangle between lovely young Montserrat Mendoza and her suitors, Alejandro Almonte and José Luis Álvarez. Montserrat plans to run away with José Luis, a marine stationed at the local naval base. However, her money-grubbing mother, Graciela, forces her into the arms of Alejandro, who just inherited a large fortune.

Sounds fairly typical, but it’s not. At its heart, this is a rags-to-riches-to-rags story. Money is the root of all evil and those with it, or obsessed with becoming rich, find themselves far unhappier than those without it. At one point, one of the characters says he is glad he lost his fortune because it had brought nothing but evil to his life.

As the main protagonist, Montserrat changes over the course of the series, going from a naïve and sheltered girl to a strong, determined woman. She makes mistakes, some of them pretty bad, but she also learns from them rather than repeating them endlessly.

The other main and secondary characters grow and change, some for the better, some for the worse. Avarice and vengeance play a huge part in how the stories progress. Some characters overcome their worst instincts while others cannot or will not.

I was impressed by the depth of the characters and by how their story arcs played out. As an author who is writing a series, I took note of how the characters progressed and how each pitfall and triumph made them change and yet remain the same person.

It can be hard to keep momentum going in a series. Lo Que La Vida Me Robó is an example of how that can be done. Watch it for the excitement and fun of a juicy good drama, but also appreciate the writers for knowing how to tell a story.


I live in Millbrae, California, a small suburb about 10 miles south of San Francisco. It’s got a nice shopping area in easy walking distance from my house. Every now and then, I will walk past some random item that has been abandoned on the sidewalk. After I walk by, I always think, “I should take a picture of that.” Last night, I finally did because this piece was truly random.

Now, when I die, Now don't think I'm a nut, Don't want no fancy funeral, Just one like ol' King Tut.

This unlucky pharaoh was left on the bench outside the Kohl’s that closed about a year ago. He’s had a rough time of it, but whoever abandoned him thoughtfully placed him face up and left a portion of his broken beard beside him.

It’s such a “Wait. What?” moment when you pass by something like this. There’s no store nearby that sells such items, so it had to be carried there, but why? Plot bunnies hop around items like this, wanting to take you down the rabbit holes of possibilities.

Is Broken Pharaoh’s appearance on a suburban mall bench mysterious or mundane? The great thing about random items is, it’s all up to you.

When History Happens

This past weekend I went to a Shut Up and Write marathon at a cafe in downtown San Francisco. Try as I might to do just that, it was hard to concentrate when history was happening right outside the door. Finally, I packed it in and followed the rainbow clad crowd to the Pride celebration happening down the street.

SF City Hall

San Francisco City Hall has Pride!

It’s always a festive crowd, but this year it was even more so. There was so much happiness in the air over this great victory for human rights. People were literally jumping for joy!

SF Cheer

Ready and…

Cheer SF



That’s Cheer SF performing at the festival. People were hopping all over the place, having a great time. I did, too, until my computer started feeling heavy on my back and I headed home.

Later, when I got online, I noticed some interesting problems mentioned in several writing forums. One person asked, what should writers do if their contemporary WIP concerns a gay couple who can’t get married, since now they can? Another wondered if prejudice against LGBTQ people is an issue any more.

Of course, this sparked some interesting debate. For the first topic, it was mostly suggested to set the story a few years ago or deal with what history has handed you. For the second topic, the original poster was reminded that the SCOTUS ruling was 5 to 4 and prejudice sadly remains an issue.

When writing contemporary fiction, history can indeed hand you a whopper. Consider this scenario: you spend years working on your saga of espionage along the Korean border. Then, boom! Kim Jong-un is assassinated, and the north and south are reunified. Sound farfetched? So did the fall of the Berlin Wall, but it happened. Authors of Cold War spy fiction probably had to rethink their entire careers.

History happens and when it does, don’t panic! Instead, see it as an opportunity to make your story even more relevant.

Shutting Up and Writing

shut up and writeLet’s face it: shutting up and writing is a toughie, especially if it’s the job of your heart, but not your livelihood. Finding time is hard and distractions are plentiful, especially if you’re at home. It’s difficult to concentrate when there are dishes in the sink, clothes in the washer, a hungry pet, a restless child, or a significant other who needs a moment of your time that becomes an hour.

Writing in a cafe is one solution, but also has obstacles to creativity, such as grating music, loud conversations, free Internet and answering the call of nature. If you’re lucky enough to trust the people nearby, you should be fine. If not, you either take your laptop into the loo or you head home.

Or you can join a Shut Up and Write meetup. Yes, such a thing exists and it is fantastic.

I joined the San Francisco Shut Up and Write group, and I have found it to be a very constructive and creative experience. Here’s the description from the SF meetup page.

Shut Up & Write! Meetup is a venue for writers to work in the company of other writers on a regular basis. Writing, whether approached as a profession or as an avocation, is an isolating activity. We provide this forum, writing resources and meeting times as a method of developing a community of creative people. We welcome people who are serious about ‘writing down the bones’ and are looking for the companionship of other writers.

Meetup Format
Making the time to write one hour per week is an empowering and ultimately rewarding experience but it needs to serve as the foundation of your daily discipline. If you RSVP that you are coming, then please arrive 10-15 minutes before the start of the Meetup. The facilitator will lead introductions and then the group will write for an hour. There will then be 15-30 minutes of social time to get to know each other and possibly discuss personal writing successes such as getting published or overcoming writing resistance in some small way. No critiquing, exercises, lectures, ego, competition or feeling guilty.

Being part of a group dedicated to getting work done is an empowering experience. Keeping distractions at bay is easier because you’ve set aside this time to write and you’ve physically put yourself someplace where this can happen.

A typical SF group includes writers of fiction, memoir, thesis, reports and presentations. Some groups last only an hour, while many can go three to four hours and even longer, with short breaks.

Want to Shut Up and Write? Go to meetup.com and look for a group in your area. You can find SUAW groups all over the United States, Canada and internationally. Similar groups with different names can also be found on meetup. A good place to start is this list of creative writing meetups.

Not one in your area? You may want to consider starting a group of your own. Best wishes and keep writing!

Using Filler in Dialogue

I was sitting on a bus in San Francisco yesterday morning and two 20-something tech workers behind me were having a loud conversation. It went something like this:

TW1: So I’m, like, no, that’s not how, like, big data works, y’know?

TW2: I know, like, that guy, he, like, he doesn’t know his stuff at all. I think he’s, like, someone’s son or, like, nephew.

I am not exaggerating. They each used ‘like’ or another filler word about every three to five words. When they were gathering their thoughts, they’d repeat it: “like, y’know, when he was like… like… like… three days late with that report and, like, nothing happened.”

At first, it was funny. Then it became annoying. Grating, even, to the point I was glad to get off the bus and escape it. However, the writer side of me processed that this was natural, realistic dialogue. This is how people talk or at least these two people, and many others like them.

When I write dialogue, I think about it and even say it aloud, trying to be as natural as possible. My characters, the younger ones in particular, do use the word ‘like’ as filler. In order to be realistic, should I use filler as excessively as the very real people above? If it’s annoying to hear, then it’s certainly annoying to read.

However, think about what excessive filler words say about a character. Is she nervous? Does he have trouble vocalizing his thoughts? Do trivial words and conversation keep the world from getting too close? These are all good reasons to use excessive filler.

Perhaps the two people on the bus don’t always talk that way. Maybe they were nervous. Maybe they like each other and were trying to play it cool and casual. One or both of them may have realized how they sounded and inwardly cringed, but couldn’t stop. This is the stuff of character development.

Filler words are mindless, but as writers let’s be mindful of how we use them.

For a funny and informative take on ‘like’ and other filler words, check out “The Other L-Word” by Christopher Hitchens.