It’s the weekend! Time to relax and spend time with friends and family, and this weekend is shaping up to be a fun one.

I am blessed with an incredible group of friends and family who are awesome in more ways than I can count, but are also obsessively, outrageously, and unapologetically passionate about food. With the summer almost upon us, that means it’s BBQ season! Which means the oven mitts come off to find out who’s the best cook of us all!

So far we’ve had Spam challenges, dairy challenges, potluck challenges, and bring-the-best-sausage-you-can-find challenges. Every time, the stakes are high, the festivities devolve into heated debates about the legitimate use of lobster as an “ingredient,” and everyone wins….cuz we all get to eat.

Check out scenes from our 1st Annual Fry Fest. It was a gas!

I love BBQs in the backyard. It’s a tradition that’s carried over from when we used to have the restaurant, and it’s become an important way for us to connect with our loved ones (and end up with awesome leftovers…mwah ha!).

Our family comes, our friends come, sometimes the family of friends come — they’re all family — the cats skulk around waiting for things to slip from the BBQ tongs, and the kids run around and play underneath the big pecan tree. BBQs make me so happy. ๐Ÿ™‚

This weekend we have a new challenge: The Iron Chef – Yo Mama! Whoo hoo! Entries must be from handwritten 50+ year old recipes in celebration of Ninja Jim and Katyusha’s birthdays! Kat will be 2, and Ninja Jim will be…well, old. ๐Ÿ˜‰ (Just kidding, Jim!)

Anyway, make sure to come back tomorrow night to see pictures of the best of the best of Iron Chef – the Yo Mama Challenge!

So what do you guys have cooking this weekend? Anything yummy?



In light of my recent interest in all things extraterrestrial, Fat Cat got me this awesome book, and it is out of this world!

It covers UFO sightings and incidents from around the world. Definitely cool to see how other cultures view UFO phenomena. It never occurred to me what UFO lore is like in, say, Australia or South America. Plus, it’s got killer pictures.

Check this out! It kind of reminds me of a scene from The Calico Junction Incident, my current series in progress. How would you like a bunch of these guys hanging around your house? Brrr!

World Atlas of UFOS: Sightings, Abductions and Close Encounters

From “World Atlas of UFOS: Sightings, Abductions and Close Encounters” by John Spencer ~ Reed Books Limited ~ All Rights Reserved

I love all the old photographs in the book. I find it incredible that UFOs have been around since the Dawn of Man.

And check out the retro scifi book cover in the top right-hand corner in the image below entitled: Flying Saucers Have Landed.

From "World Atlas of UFOS: Sightings, Abductions and Close Encounters" by John Spencer ~ Reed Books Limited ~ All Rights Reserved

From “World Atlas of UFOS: Sightings, Abductions and Close Encounters” by John Spencer ~ Reed Books Limited ~ All Rights Reserved

Can you imagine if that really happened? I wonder how the media would spin it. What would that look on the front page of The Huffington Post or The Los Angeles Times? How quickly would the riots start? (It’s so much fun to think about. Humans are curious lot.)

From "World Atlas of UFOS: Sightings, Abductions and Close Encounters" by John Spencer ~ Reed Books Limited ~ All Rights Reserved

From “World Atlas of UFOS: Sightings, Abductions and Close Encounters” by John Spencer ~ Reed Books Limited ~ All Rights Reserved

I’ve always held a strong fascination for UFO lore, but in researching The Calico Junction Incident, I realize that I actually know very little. Most of what I know come fromย The X-Files, which actually is not a bad place to start and a damn fine series.

But I’ve been trying to remedy my lack of knowledge by watching alien and UFO documentaries on Netflix (and there are lots to choose from) and, of course, the interwebz, which is rife with some of the most amazing, crazy, and outrageous stories…all of which I find immensely entertaining.

It’s not so much people believing in UFOs that’s entertaining — it’s the crazy fringe culture that has sprung up around that belief. It’s like marijuana culture with the sort of cartoony crackpot hippy fringe vibe — yet, given the number of abduction reports around the world and their striking similarities and the vast number of UFO sightings, it’s difficult to dismiss their validity. Of course, if the government knows anything definitive about the existence of UFOs, they’re not going to talk about it. Last thing any government wants is a populace afflicted with the heebie-jeebies and demanding answers that they probably don’t have.

There are even YouTube channels dedicated to posting recent sightings caught on video, and while there’s quite a few that look straight-up legit, there are some that, while not so legit, are certainly spine-tingling to watch. What if….?

Crazy, huh?

So in the name of research — and because we want to get take pictures of ginormous radio telescopes — my buddy Ninja Jim and I are heading out to the desert next week to take a tour of the Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex in Ft. Irwin, California, my old stomping grounds.

I asked Fat Cat if he wanted to come, but he’s allergic to road trips…and the desert. (He belongs in more tropic climes.)

What do you expect to find out there? he wanted to know.

I looked him in the eye and said: The truth.


So tell me, Good Reader, do you believe in UFOs? Leave a comment down below. And if you’ve actually seen unexplainable lights in the sky, I definitely want to hear from you. And if you’ve experienced an alien abduction, then I really, really want to hear from you!



This is Kat…my cat. She is just the right amount of naughty.

Dear Handsome Readers,

How the heck are you guys? I hope wonderful.

I’m doing pretty good myself. Life is good, am I right?

So the time has come for me to return to Earth. I have been on many adventures since last we talked story. I have traveled from the Great North to the Tasty South; lost 10 pounds and found it again — twice! (in the Tasty South, natch); earned a dozen new wisdom hairs; and have been adopted by a cat named Kat.

Mostly, though, I’ve been hermitting — hiding out in my smelly old writer’s cave writing and illustrating stories. And today — yes, that’s right, you gorgeous reader you! — today is the day I get to tell you what I’ve been working on!

Shenanigans mostly…but also lots of science fiction, conspiracy theories, and podcasts — oh, my!


So for those of you who don’t know, this past year and a half, I have been writing the show notes for theย awesome Rocking Self-Publishing Podcast hosted by the equally awesome and golden-voiced Simon Whistler.

What makes Simon and the Rocking Self-Publishing Podcast…well, so rocking is that he conducts in-depth long-form interviews with some of the most creative and successful indie authors working in the space today. Simon really takes the time to delve into their background, drill down into their strategies and techniques, and explore their journey from zero to hero. You’d be hard-pressed to find an indie author, aspiring or otherwise, who hasn’t found inspiration from one of Simon’s interviews.

He’s also been gracious enough to invite me as a guest on the show, a newbie writer! Three times now actually. Isn’t that wild? It’s not what you think though. It’s not because I’m a hero-status author, but the other thing. I’m practically brand-new! A little baby indie author. How cute!

Simon thought it might be something fun, different, and hopefully instructive (Here’s what not to do, little baby indies!) to follow along on my own indie author journey to full-time writer. Hopefully, he’s right and his listeners find our chats to be all those things…because doing these interviews has been all those things for me and more.


It’s kind of crazy how it all happened. He had joked with a guest on the show about needing a podcast assistant, so I emailed him offering to assist, and we’ve been working together since.

It’s been a world-class education for me. I have listened to and written the show notes for almost 70 episodes now, and it’s been eye-opening and incredibly inspiring. Truly, I have worked at and studied harder at this show-notes gig than I ever did in college. I want this writing dream bad.

It’s been more than just a working relationship though. I count Simon as a good friend. Thanks to his kind encouragement, smart advice, and scheduled-in-orange kicks in the pants (yipe!), I am now ready to launch my first series.

– – –

Last summer I wrote The Cat Lady, a stand-alone short story — or so I thought — about a woman living alone in the desert and taking care of — well, she calls them kitties, but they are definitely not kitties. I just wanted to write a fun story that takes place in the desert. I love the desert and I love glowing eyes in the windows at night, so that’s what it was.

Well, Simon read it, liked it very much, and asked when the next one would be out.

What’s that now?ย  I hemmed and hawed.

What happens to Chris, the guy who gets his leg ripped off?

Me: Huh. I don’t know. I guess I should go find out.

– – –

What I discovered is that The Cat Lady was not, in fact, a stand-alone story at all…but Episode 2 in a six-part episodic alien invasion suspense series called The Calico Junction Incident.

Who knew?

So great! I’m thinking. I’ve got the story all figured out — and it’s a doozy! I’ve got three episodes finished, and I’m jamming pretty fast through the rest of it. At this point, I’m thinking I should start getting together a plan to put these stories out.

Then Simon reminded me it had been six months since we last chatted on the podcast and would it be a good time to catch up?

Well, yes, of course, that would be just lovely, I told him.

But the truth was, I dreaded getting on the show and having to admit I had been bobbing along for the last six months with barely a plan and with only a bunch of half-finished rough drafts and excuses to show for it.

So when Simon asked during our interview what I was up to these days, I told him — and his very smart, very creative, and very large audience of listeners — that I would be launching my series free to my blog readers…starting next week!

Yay! Yeek! Same diff, right?

[You can listen to the madness here, if you enjoy such things. Although, if you’ve read this far, that’s probably a silly question.]

– – –

So every week for the next six weeks, starting this coming Monday, I will be releasing a new episode of The Calico Junction Incident, my six-part episodic alien invasion suspense series that covers the fall-out when a UFO is shot down over the Mojave Desert by special ops soldiers and crash-lands in some lady’s backyard.

Each episode will run 8k-15k words, feature pen-and-ink illustrations by meย  :D, and be available as a free download to readers on my mailing list. Any feedback, corrections, suggestions, criticisms, baked goods, or high-fives by Readers will be gratefully acknowledged in the final published ebook that will go live at the end of each week on all the major e-tailers…and of course, contributing Readers will get a copy of that too!

Yup. That’s the plan. (Thanks, Simon! ๐Ÿ™‚ )

KillTeam3DSo to kick things off a little early, I’m making Kill Team: Episode Zero of The Calico Junction Incident available for download today! Yay!

That’s right. I’m starting at zero and moving to hero, baby!

So please be sure to come back next week to check out the pen-and-ink illustrations I’m doing for the book, and to let me know what you think about the story or the project, or even swing by just to say hi. I like getting hi’s. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Thanks for reading, guys. I hope you all enjoy the series.

To get your free copy ofย Kill Team, just enter your email down below, and I’ll send you a link where you can download it in .mobi/Kindle, ePUB, or PDF format. ๐Ÿ˜€

NaNoWriMo – Day 22 – Inside Out Collaboration!


I am swamped with work this weekend, so no word count updates for NaNoWriMo. I should be caught up with work by Monday night, and then it’s on. I’ve got coffee, sandwiches, and ready-mades going into the last week of November, as I am familiar with this place called Panic City.

Anyhoo, I asked my little girl if she would help me meet my art goal today, so she very kindly drew me a picture of the Inside Out gang, only kittified, as is her bent, and I did the inking and coloring. Teamwork! Yah!

How are you doing this fine weekend out there in wifi space? Hope your word counts are high, as well as your mindset. ๐Ÿ™‚ Shout me out some word counts!

NaNoWriMo – Day 20 – Took My Dragon to the Woods


So far, this month has been packed with day job and other life concerns, typical for the month of November, but I finally found myself with a day dedicated to just working on NaNoWriMo, and so I fled to the woods.

You see, I’ve been in a sort of holding pattern with my story as I’ve been working out the answers to Big Questions that Really Should Be Answered Before One Embarks on a Novel. It’s been going well, I must say. I’ve discovered what happens in Episode 5 and who’s behind the whole mess; a character I killed off at the end of Episode 1 turned out not to be so dead, so that was a relief; and an idea for a sequel series has been lurking around the house. I’ve been keeping it away from the computer with my Nerf gun, but it is tenacious and I fear the second I turn my back, I’ll be outlining 10 books down the queue.

Plot bunnies! *clenches fist*

The rest of the story still lies cloaked in the Darkness of Unknowing. I’m sure that’ll all work itself out, right?

I know what you’re thinking: First of all, hello! It’s Day 20. How are you going to finish up NaNoWriMo if you’re prancing around in the woods? (Actually, I don’t prance. I just have a very specific gait….) You’ve got 10 days left, honey, and you don’t even know where you’re going!

But there’s sound reasoning behind my escape into the hills. Sometimes in order to figure out where you’re going, you gotta make an effort to get away from the noise of everyday life and go sit in the woods and paint pictures. Get your bearings, son!

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NaNoWriMo – Day 9 – When Your Brain Gets in Your Way

I am off to the Magic Kingdom this fair day, so I thought I’d dig up something useful from the archives. This mega-post was first published back in 2011, but I think its message will be helpful to those intrepid folks writing novels this month. Keep writing!


“Autopilot” by Jon McConnell…my little brother!

Now we come to the third and most difficult part of an idea’s journey to becoming a first draft story, and that is the brain. That’s right. The very thing responsible for making us capable of placing words next to each other to form epic sagas that last generations is also the very thing that prevents more masterpieces being written than we’ll ever know…or would want to know.

Continue reading

NaNoWriMo – Day 8 – Starry Night


Today I followed along with YouTuber Untamed Little Wolf in her video Watercolor Starry Night Sky Demonstration. This one was fun. I think I’m getting a better understanding of wet-on-wet technique…mostly through my mistakes. It just makes me want to do more! It’s so mesmerizing watching all the talented watercolor artists on YouTube. I just lost an hour watching paintbrushes push pigments across paper set to music. I’m starting to accumulate a list of tutorials I want to try.

Up to 12,316 words for NaNoWriMo. I’m still working through the section that I’m rewriting from First Person POV to Third Person POV…and to be honest, I’m having a little bit of a struggle with this one. It may turn out that it needs to stay in the First Person. I’ve been back and forth on this one quite a bit. Sometimes stories are like that.

But I promised I’d show you how I handle changing POVs in manuscripts. Basically, I do a split screen in Scrivener, with the guide text on one side and the working file on the other. And while my preference is to have these side-by-side, you can toggle the split-screen option to split horizontally, if that works better for you.

Screen Shot 2015-11-08 at 11.52.51 PM

We’ll see what happens with the POV. In the meantime, it’s onward and upward, right?

NaNoWriMo – Day 7 – There Be Monsters


Had a couple of busy work days there that threw me off my game a little bit, but the work was good. Now I’m back at the NaNoWriMo-ing and arting. Got in 1,544 words today, putting me up to 11,128 words. Still way behind, but progress is progress.

I also attempted a watercolor tutorial by the incredibly talented thefrugalcrafter Lindsay Weirich. I say “attempted,” because my painting came out nowhere near hers…but it was fun nonetheless. I’ll keep practicing. I learn something new with every try.

The Kiddo opted to do a page out of Laura Numeroff’s If You Take a Mouse to School. This is the mouse sitting in his little mouse house built of wooden blocks. He looks right at home. ๐Ÿ™‚


I promised the other day to post a screenshot of how I’m handling the POV change from first to third in my manuscript in Scrivener…however, it is getting late over here and little children (and old folks!) need to be put to bed. So I will post that tomorrow.

In the meantime, I hope your plots are thickening andย  your word counts are adding up! If you want some cheering on, add me as your buddy on NaNoWriMo. I am squishyang, and I will pump you up.