Friday, September 11, 2015


I've found several new (as in "new to me") webcomics recently, so I decided this month to blog about the webcomics I follow and see if readers might recommend a few more.

First up is Girl Genius, a "gaslamp" (their term) comic set in a world where creative "sparks" are very inventive. Updated Monday, Wednesday and Friday. There's also a Facebook group. It's been nominated and won several Hugo awards. Several of the collected issues are available in paper.

Freefall is set on a colony planet with humans, robots, a wolf engineer and a humanoid squid. Updated Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Schlock Mercenary is about a group of space mercenaries. It's been nominated for a Hugo several times. Past issues are also available in paper form. Updated daily.

Phoebe and Her Unicorn I found on Gocomics under its previous title Heavenly Nostrils. A delightful story of a young girl who becomes friends with a unicorn. It's now available in newspapers and past issues were collected into two books, Phoebe and Her Unicorn and Unicorn on a Roll. Updated daily.

Unshelved is the activities of a group of library workers. Updated Monday through Friday and collected issues are available in paper.

Blind Springs is about spirits and the politics of those attempting to control magic. Updated Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

Breaking Cat News about three cats reporting on their world, has been picked up by Gocomics, which is going through the back issues. The artist has a Facebook page.

PS 238 is an elementary school for metahumans hidden beneath a regular school. Amazon has both the collected and the individual issues available in paper, so trying to find the collected issues can be interesting (I've found the term 'paperback' worked). This one I recommend starting from the very beginning, as the setup for the school is very interesting.

How to Be a Werewolf is yes, about werewolves. It just started this year.

The following comics have stopped, though the back issues are still online.

Digger by Ursula Vernon is for an older audience than her Dragonbreath series. The completed version won the Hugo award and is the tale of a wandering wombat and the beings she encounters. The collected issues are available in paper.

Gronk is the story of a small monster adopted by a woman and her dog. The fourth book should be out soon.

There are other comics I follow at Gocomics, but those are ones I followed in the newspaper before I started reading the online version of my newspaper. The universes of these webcomics are such much more interesting.

What are some webcomics you enjoy?

Wednesday, September 9, 2015


Are you a fast writer? Do you turn out one story after another, maybe several in one year? I know writers that do. Wish I could, but I'm slow. I mean really slooow. Take for instance the story I'm shopping around at the moment.

The story started out entitled SURVIVORS' CLUB. It's about four teens that help each other survive school and their families.

I started it in December of 2009. Yes, that was quite a while ago. Worked on it and worked on it.

My critique group read some of the chapters. Thank you, Cheryl, Beth, and Gail for your welcome comments and advice. Thank you, Kai, from another group for hanging in there with me and reading the whole thing, more than once.

So, month after month my characters led me along, sometimes telling me what to do, other times giving me silence and letting me figure out where they were going myself.

I typed. I revised. And finally decided I needed an expert eye to look the story over. I sent it to an editor for a critique. She went over the manuscript thoroughly. Boy, did she. Which is what I wanted her to do. Be honest. Be truthful. She evaluated each character, told me their strong points and also their weak points. She pointed out problems with the plot. The story I thought was perfect and ready to be submitted needed some adjustments.

In 2014, I started over. The characters were the same. I couldn't get rid of them because I really liked them. Each character's ARC was improved. Each one actually made a discovery about him/herself this time.

And, the title even changed. The old one just didn't seem right anymore. So SURVIVORS' CLUB became UNDER A PURPLE MOON.

I sent the story to a couple of publishers. One wasn't interested; the other one never replied.

I would not give up, because I really liked the story now. So I queried another publisher. They asked to see sample chapters. YAY! Of course, I knew that didn't mean a lot. But then, they wanted to see the whole thing. I took a breath. One step closer, but still facing reality.

They liked the whole story, but had a couple of suggestions. Ones that made good sense. I went back through the story, made a few changes, and sent the new version to them. Now, in September, 2015, six years after I started the story, I wait to see if it will be published. If they like it, wonderful. If not, I like it and will keep trying. Will let you know either way.

How about you? Are you a slow writer or a fast writer?

Happy Reading!

Thursday, September 3, 2015


I’ve always been fascinated with a good ghost story. Growing up I heard lots of stories from my grandfather that had supernatural elements. I decided to combine these two elements when I used North Sacramento, California as the setting for my YA paranormal Crossed Out. Plus, one of the areas, the Sacramento tunnels, only recently has been opened to the public.
So here’s a few haunting sites I thought I’d share:
  1. Photo courtesy of Autumn Baccellia Ibahim
    Photo courtesy of Autumn Baccellia Ibahim
    Sacramento City Cemetery: My Grandpa Baccellia’s father was an Italian immigrant who owned a saloon in Old Town Sacramento. His father died of consumption in the early part of the 1900s. His body originally was buried in the Sacramento Historical City Cemetery along with some founding fathers of the town.
I do know that some of the dead were ‘relocated’ to another site in the ’50s to make room for more urban
Photo courtesy of Autumn Baccellia Ibahim
Photo courtesy of Autumn Baccellia Ibahim
development. Some of the relatives of the dead, couldn’t be found so they ended up putting them in a few places with only one tombstone to acknowledge that they existed. I can’t help but think if my body had been moved and no one remembered me, I wouldn’t be too happy. There’ve been sightings of ghosts and other ‘unexplained things’ there. I can’t help but wonder why! But it has great potential for a horror novel!
  1. Old Town Underground tunnels:
Spooky underground ghost town, buried underneath Sacramento.
Spooky underground ghost town, buried underneath Sacramento.
There’s a lot of history in these underground tunnels in Old Town. Old Sacramento was rebuilt over the original town. There are tunnels and a hidden town underneath, buried because of the rising waters of the Sacramento River. Grandpa Baccellia told me that before the Oroville Dam was built, the Sacramento River would flood the city. There were lots of cases of malaria in the early part of the 1900s.
Rumors have been circulating of what might have actually happened in these tunnels. Some say they were used for bootlegging during the Prohibition to even smuggling in opium.
The tunnels are now opened to the public! I still need to go with my sisters and check it out.
Photo courtesy Pamela Celeste Reese Photo courtesy of
Photo courtesy Pamela Celeste Reese
Photo courtesy of
3. American River
My Grandpa Baccellia used to tell us about these women all dressed in black who would walk up and down the river in the early 1900s. He said they were always so sad and mournful. Some say it’s not women but a man who haunts that site.
Here’s a little more info on that urban legend: The ghost of a man who drowned in the American River is said to haunt the banks. There’s something about water and ghosts. Urban legends are filled with them. This picture of the American River with the infamous thick Sacramento fog is certainly eerie.

  1. Photo courtesy of
    Photo courtesy of
    Leland Stanford Museum
In 1883, Leland Stanford and his wife lost their only son  to Typhoid fever. He was fifteen years old. Rumor has it that the spirit of their son appeared to the father to comfort him after his death. Also the spirit asked his father to put money into building a university for young men.
5. May Woolsey
In the Sacramento Historical City Cemetery is the grave of May Woolsey. In 1879 just before her thirteen birthday, she died of a possible viral infection fro the measles. She was the only child of Mary and Luther Woolsey. Her parents were so devastated by her death that they used a Spiritualist to try to contact her.
Fast forward 100 years later. When the family house was being remodeled by the newest owners, they found a closet with a false ceiling. Inside was a very old trunk packed with some of the Woolsey family’s belongings, including some of May Woolsey’s hair. Here’s where it gets interesting. Inside the truck was a letter:
Sacramento Historical Cemetery
Sacramento Historical Cemetery
Dear Momma,
I am so happy as I did write to you and say I was happy. Now Momma dear, do not weep for me. I am not dead, no, only gone before to wait your coming when you will be out of all sorrow and care and will be happy with me. Oh, what pleasure there is in the spirit life no one can tell. Only think of everlasting life and pleasure where we know no sorrow; all is sunshine, there is no cloud to darken our path as on earth; we have our choice of mission . . .
No one knows why and how that letter ended up in that trunk.
Do any of you know of places with hauntings? Do share!

Originally posted at

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Always Ali

In honor of my new book, available next week. Here's a trailer I put together for the fourth book in my Ali Caldwell series: Always Ali! Enjoy.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Assassination Classroom

Assassination Classroom is a manga written and illustrated by Yuusei Matsui (OMG! He's on Goodreads!)

The manga is currently being translated and released in the US and the first season of the anime is out on Hulu and other outlets.

It is an amazing series with the weirdest premise ever! And it challenges us as humans as well as plays with words and roles.

Premise: A powerful being has destroyed a large chunk of the moon. Having proven his power, he tells the governments of the world that he will destroy the earth. However, he is willing to wait a year before doing so, thus giving them a chance to try to figure out how to destroy him, if they give in to certain demands....

He wishes to teach a class of students... Not only that, he encourages them to try to kill him. Though he's promised not to hurt any of them for doing so.

The big yellow guy is Koro Sensei - his name was given to him by his students as he did not have one of his own and the name is a play on words - Koro coming from the work Korosu (To kill) - Sensei means Teacher.

Koro Sensei cannot be harmed by conventional weapons (the government has tried!), but he can be heart by a specially formulated plastic. (The green knives on the poster are made of it. As well as the bbs that go in the grenades and the guns) He can also travel at Mach 20, and can move so fast he can make illusions of himself appear before different people if he so desires.

A government official is there to teach the kids how to handle themselves even as Koro Sensei truly teaches them academics. He's quite good at it, too. Even tailor makes the lessons and exams for each individual student. And he encourages them at every turn for them to do what they can to kill him. The governments have enticed anyone willing to try with a 20 Billion Dollar reward. (Only high officials, the Principal of the school, and the students, know what's going on - the governments don't want a panic.)

The kids are in Class E of a very prestigious school. They are considered the losers of the student body and are housed in an old school building at the top of the mountain - no air conditioning, the butt of everyone's jokes, the 10% to be sacrificed so the 90% will excel.

Nothing is ever as it seems. Especially when the monster, Koro Sensei, seems more human than most of those around them. It is from him that the students in Class E start learning they do have worth.

Brilliant and fast, Koro Sensei also has a strange collection of quirks and issues. Chaos in a yellow package. And way too much fun!

I hope you go check it out. Let me know what you think!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Progress on a Possible YA Hugo Award

Sasquan, the 2015 Worldcon in Spokane, has released several committee reports that will be discussed at the business meeting of the WSFS ("World Science Fiction Society") next week. Among these reports is that by the YA Hugo Committee.

Bad news first - no decision on a YA Hugo Award this year. Good news, though, the Committee recommends it be reformed for another year so that it can focus on the issues involved in having a Campbell-like YA/teen literature award.

I've blogged before about the business meeting in 2013 at LoneStarCon 3 in San Antonio and the treatment there of a YA Hugo proposal. Worldcon in 2014 was in London, where there were several standing-room-only YA panels. LonCon 3 reformed a committee to investigate a YA Hugo proposal. Meanwhile the NASFiC (Detcon1) in 2014 created the Detcon1 Award for YA and Middle Grade Speculative Fiction and was able to get nominations for both categories from its supporters and attendees. The winners were listed in Locus.

Looking at the YA Hugo Committee report for this year, I'm feeling a bit more confident. The committee has definitely done its homework. The history of the YA marketing category is covered. The usual questions/arguments about the proposal are brought up and answered. How other organizations define YA for their awards are discussed, though in the section for comparisons between other YA awards by other organizations only the Newbery (which is for children) is brought up. True, the Newbery is better known than the Golden Duck Awards/Hal Clement Award and has been around longer, so that might be why that award was used.

So, yes, I am hopeful that the committee might be able to develop some award for YA/MG. It would be nice if it was a Hugo award, but even the Campbell (Not a Hugo (standard declaimer whenever the Campbell is mentioned)) is voted on by supporting and attending members of a Worldcon. And that is good.

What are your thoughts?

Wednesday, August 12, 2015


I thought this article was interesting and would like to share with you. Enjoy.

Writing and Marketing - Even Tiny Action Steps Can Produce Huge Results

By Karen Cioffi

"Someone is sitting in the shade today becausesomeone planted a tree a long time ago."

This Warren Buffet quote inspires me. It's simple, yet so amazingly powerful.

1. A tiny seed can create something as massive as a tree, even a sequoia tree.

Think of the giant sequoia tree in California, USA. It averages around 26 feet in diameter, weighs around 4,189,000 lbs. and reaches heights of 275 feet. According to Wikepedia, "Record trees have been measured to be 311 feet in height and over 56 feet in diameter. The oldest known giant sequoia based on ring count is 3,500 years old."

The seed of the sequoia tree is 0.16–0.20 inches long, 0.039 inches broad, and 0.039 inches wide.

Hard to imagine, isn't it.

Well, this can easily relate to writing, to content marketing, to business . . . to just about everything in your work and life.

Small positive actionable steps, no matter how tiny, can create massive results. You may think your writing and marketing efforts aren't moving you forward, but think of how long it takes that tiny seed to grow into that tree that gives shade.

2. What you sow today can have benefits for many tomorrows.

Time will pass whether you take action or not. If you have an idea, take action now. Don't wait for tomorrow or until you have more time or until you have more money. Take action now. The benefits may turn out to be bigger than you could possibly imagine.

You may reap the benefits of your writing or content marketing or business efforts far into your future, so take that initial step. Or, maybe it's expansion that you're thinking about, or a new strategy.

Keep in mind though that every living thing needs sun, water, and food to grow. So, when you take that step (plant that seed), be sure to give it the nurturing it needs to become what you believe it can be.

Plant that seed today!


I hope you found this information interesting and helpful. Too advanced, not enough, just right? I’d really love to know, so please leave a comment – good or bad or email me at:
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