How I Used Writing Contests to Skip over the Slush Pile (via )

I'm blogging at PassionateReads.com today on how to use contests to motivate your writing and get in front of editors.

How I Used Writing Contests to Skip over the Slush Pile Like many writers, whenever I saw a falling star, all my wishes were for getting that first publishing contract. It is such a long road from those first words on a page to published novel. You hear the stories of how other writers submit to dozens of publishers before they get that first break. With average response times of six months to a year, and everyone saying no simultaneous submissions, you could be as old as as one of those falling stars … Read More



Gift to the World from Playing for Change

Playing for Change is an organization that brings the world together through the music of talented street musicians. They travel the world compiling each artist's contribution to an individual song and the results are moving. The world's most gifted street musicians join John Lennon to bring you Imagine as their holiday gift to the world.

This post is a contribution to G-Mans Friday Flash 55. I'm bending the rules a bit here. It's 55 words, not a flash story but a Flash video. Happy Holiday's 55 gang. Drop by and G-Man's site and see what others posted.




Nightfall puts another day to bed.
I meditate by the fire,
Letting judgments float up,
and away, in curls of smoke.

Beside me the orange tabby purrs.
The earth slowly turns toward tomorrow,
Drawing a blanket of stars around us.
We watch from the safety of our illusions.


This post was written as a contribution to Three Word Wednesday. Check out what others wrote or try one of your own.


Guide to Building Backups in the Cloud

Ghetto Backup


Friday I suffered catastrophic data loss on my favorite laptop. That means that all my files were corrupted and I had to reinstall all my software. Normally, this would be a tragedy, but I have moved away from keeping my files on a computer hard drive, or at least only on a computer hard drive. One reason is the change in the ways we can access the Internet. I might use any of half a dozen internet capable devices, each running a different operating system, on a given workday. Because the Internet was designed to allow different computing platforms to share information, it makes sense to put the information where all your devices can access them. While my computer screen remained frozen on the same blinking row of dots I was able to flip open the cell phone and get out a blog post.

So with my recent close call in mind, I thought I'd share my guide to free online resources that saved my skin when the laptop ate a years worth of work.

Operationg Systems


Free to use, you create an account at the website (just the basic facts registration is nice). You get an easy to navigate desktop with the basic tools of an office suite, plus a web browser and a few accessories. Why do you need a web browser in a site that you access from a web browser? If you're using a device that doesn't support multitasking it comes in handy​.


If you're using the Web-based version of Jolicloud, you have to use the Chrome browser. It's the only downside I see. Not that there's anything wrong with Google's browser, but not all devices will run Chrome.   You can access applications like Google Docs, My Writing Nook, Dropbox and Box.net. There are more applications than I have time to list, but check it out.

Office Suites


Zoho ​is an online version of all the typical applications you find in an offic suite. I've used the notebook app that saves web clippings the most. I was using this to write today's post when my wireless connection dropped. I'm happy to report my entire document was there when I logged back in, not a word lost.

Google Docs

I use this for collaboration. I've never been terribly fond of this as a word processing tool​.

My Writing Nook

This is a stripped down wordprocessor. It writes text only, gives word count, dictionary and Thesaurus look up, and document organizing by color tabs. Thats it. That's enough. It's perfect for writing a rough draft from anywhere. I don't own a device that doesn't run some version of My Writing Nook. I grab my writing time in small bytes. A hundred words here, two hundred there. This app lets me add to my word count wherever I am.

File Storage

Dropbox - This is the heart of my backup system. All my important docs go here.  I started using it to have way for me to  access my files when I switched between using Linux and Windows on my computer. I could access Windows files from Linux but not the other way around. Dropbox automatically syncs between all my devices as soon as I add a file.


This is a file storage site and provides the same features  as Dropbox, but more file space in the free version. I use both.

I won't say  I didn't lose any data due to the computer crash, but I didn't lose anything irreplaceable. Between viruses and hardware failures data loss is a fact of life. Using cloud computing services reduces the magnitude of the loss and gives you a virtual work environment you can log into from other devices  when your  computer is down.


Friday 55: Sidetracked


I was going to write Sunday, but there was a motivation to ponder.
Monday the werewolf dropped in (see Wednesday's post).
Tuesday the wizard school (see Wednesday).
Thursday I accidentally deleted half my house.
Today, disk failure.
I'm not giving up. I will write today, by cellphone.
There's a phone in my hand. Look closer. See?


This post was written as a contribution to G-Mans. Flash Fiction Friday 55. Stop in and see what others wrote.


Message from the Metaverse to Three Word Wednesday


This is not fiction. I'm reasonably sure it's not fiction, but the lines between what we call real and unreal get blurrier each day.

It started like every morning. I was preparing to chain myself to my desk and get some real writing done. I had purchased a new writing desk to inspire me and was dragging the box into my office when a message popped up on my laptop.

"How are you today?"

I didn't recognize the name attached to the IM and sorry to say can't recall it now. If your brain had to twist itself around the kind of experiences I was in for, you'd forget a name or two as well. Anyway. I responded to the message with the usual pleasantry, something like "fine" or "lovely" and waited for the fellow to expand on why he was getting in touch. He didn't. After a long pause I asked where I knew him from.

"We've never met, but I have a problem only you can help me with."

Another long pause. Clearly he was working up to asking something big. I gave another nudge. "Okay..."

"I was repositioning my building and your tiger gut stuck under the foundation. Could you please come and remove it?"

I don't know how you accidentally get a tiger stuck in your foundation, but knowing Ean I was fairly sure it was his fault, poor thing. "I'll be right there, can you tp(teleport) me?"

Now, I know you're thinking this has to be fiction, but I don't think so. Really. Stick with me and you'll see. You can't make stuff like this up.

A teleport offer popped up on the screen and my viewer poofed me to the guy's location which turned out to be right next door to my Passionate Reads Cafe. The owner of the structure turned quickly away when I materialized. I'd slipped into the skin and clothing of the character I was going to write about just before I unpacked the desk, so I had on a black suit skirt and jacket and Allie's long silky black hair instead of my usual cascade of red curls. The blouse was a crisp business white, but what had him turning away was the disheveled rumpled effect, the skirt askew, a tear in the side, a missing button on the blouse revealing a lacy black bra underneath. I looked like a woman called away from an intimate and rather hot encounter. It was too late to change, so I soldiered on, pretending there was nothing unusual about my attire.

Ean was indeed wedged under the foundation of a large industrial looking structure, his back half hanging out and his tale twitching in agitation. I attached a dematerializing beam with a click of my mouse and Ean was transferred to safety. I then sat through a brief pitch to sell me a telephone system. See, this has to be real. What fiction would include a sales pitch here? Not mine!

I eventually returned to my office and unpacking the desk. The instruction sheet began with a thank you for my purchase and suggested I visit a certain location to pick up free manacles to go with the desk. Now usually when I say I'm going to chain myself to my desk, I'm speaking metaphorically. The play on that metaphor intrigued me. I had to check it out before I got down to the business of writing. Recalling my attire, I stripped down to bra and panties, snatched the first packing box labeled shorts (I just moved here and my life is still in boxes)and picked a nice crop top to go with. When I turned around, I saw a neighbor pacing back and forth on his deck, directly across from my window. Now, I'd been here a month and the houses around me were always empty so I hadn't bothered with putting up curtains yet. I shrugged it off, told myself he probably didn't see me change and beamed to the location of the promised manacles. As it turned out, the costume change wasn't needed. I materialized in a beach locker room that insisted I must disrobe before proceeding onto the nude only, female-only beach.

Okay, I have nothing against other people going nude, but me? I peaked under the door -- it sat high like the doors on bathroom stalls. The promised manacles were in a display box under a tree a few feet way. All I had to do was slip out of my clothes, run over, grab them, and run back. So I did. Ok, I couldn't resist going swimming in between those steps.


Once again back at my place, I really was going to sit down and write. Movement out the window caught my eye, the neighbor was still on his deck, pacing, stopping occasionally to glance at my place. I thought I should probably introduce myself to the first neighbor to show up in a month. I invited him over. After small talk he showed me how he could shapeshift into a werewolf. Now that was just too cool. He was a magnificent wolf and when he invited me to meet his pack...well, who could resist? He took me to a club in a werewolf city, hopped up on a platform with a pole and started to dance.

"Right click," he said. I clicked my mouse and he morphed into a built guy wearing only a g-string.

He laughed. "I meant right-click the pole."

"Sorry about your clothes," I said. I really wasn't that sorry about the demise of his outfit -- the new view was ...inspiring-- but I figured it was the polite thing to say.

I clicked on the dance pole and after a brief view of tilting ceiling, then tilting floor, I was up on a stage pole dancing with a werewolf. Who knew there was such a thing as couples pole dancing? A lady wearing a skimpy black latex outfit, drifted by and slapped me on the butt. The werewolf kissed my toes when I propped my foot on his shoulder. Superman swooped in and took a seat at the foot of the stage. I promised myself I'd get back to that new writing desk in the morning. Good thing I picked up those chains.


The next morning I dropped by the Passionate Reads Internet Cafe for coffee to revive me while I worked on a new blog post, but a quick check of email revealed there was the matter of that programming class I'd signed up for. I'll blog just as soon as that's over, I decided. The class was taught by a demon with 3 horns and was attended by, among other beings, a small dragon and a talking dog. I learned to make a box, make it fly, and make it spin in circles. I'm still trying to master making it stop spinning. The demon said programmers are wizards, code is the spell you cast, and this is your first lesson in making magic. I wish she'd been around to teach my C++ class in college. I might have given it more effort.

Nope, didn't make it back to the writing desk that day either. So you see why the blog has been a little lean lately. I'm all moved in over at the new place and determined not to let werewolves and demons lure me from my desk-- not too often anyway.

I know you're thinking this is one of those dog-ate-my-homework tales. But it's true. I've set up housekeeping in the Metaverse and if you need to see to believe you're all welcome to pop in and see me anytime. If you need any help getting there, just IM or tweet. On Yahoo messenger I'm nara_malone and it's http://twitter.com/nara_malone on twitter.


This post was written as a contribution to Three Word Wednesday, by an avatar typing at a computer made of pixels, in a cafe made of pixels, and posted to a blog via Internet in the real world. Nara Malone believes she's the author of this post -- fairly certain.


Where Art Thou Muse?

Snow Leopard by Midnight Butterfly aka Nara Malone

Where out thou muse?

It's no wonder I have to ask. I buried you under busyness.

Perhaps you're behind the broken furnace there is no time to have repaired, or lurking between the boxes of promo items stacked by the door.

Maybe you're hiding in the suitcase, or burrowed into the nest of outfits stacked to pack.

You could be sulking underneath the road map draped over the couch, or watching me from beneath the heap of manuscript pages that wait to be edited.

You taunted me in my dreams last night, taking your favorite shape, a snow leopard's body that blended perfectly with patches of light and shadow. I watched your form blink in and out of sight as you wove a path between trees in a snow covered forest -- black lines across a white canvas. You as elusive as the characters I try to paint in words -- black lines on a white screen.

I know how to lure you. I move a teetering stack of shoe boxes off the desk chair, clear a space in my mind, and sit down to put words on the page without you. Like all your feline cousins, you hate to be ignored. You'll come creeping out of your hiding place and curl up purring in the back of my mind, the notes of your contentment lulling my mind and carrying me into storyland with your writer's lullaby. We'll dream an adventure here together and leave the pre-conference task list for last minute.

This post was written in response to this week's Carry on Tuesday prompt. Check out the details of this week's prompt and see what others wrote here.



Drawing -- Face by Nara Malone

She lived in a faceless world,
unable to discern the beautiful from the ugly, family from strangers, her own face in a photo.
A scientific breakthrough rebooted her visual processor, revealing faces in intricate and unique planes, angles, shadows.
Still she wondered, how is it that every face isn't thought beautiful, a living artwork.

This post is part of G-Man's Fridy Flash 55. Stop by to see what others wrote.

Cook Naked: Spaghetti Aussie Style (via )

Three ways to win steamy reads at my Cook Naked Column this week. Bond and Rhian Cahill are steaming up the kitchen with the down under version of an old favorite.

Cook Naked: Spaghetti Aussie Style spaghetti and boobs by rick on Flickr - Photo Sharing! Bond: Today we talk pâtes, pasta as you say, or more precisely -- spaghetti. I know what you think. You say: How can spaghetti be sexy? Everything to do with food is sexy. Who here hasn't seen Lady and the Tramp? What woman doesn't know every man is a tramp within, waiting for the right woman to steal his heart and bring an end to his wild rogue ways? Now we think of spaghetti as an Italian d … Read More



A little to the left, please! (via )

I've been working feverishly the last couple of weeks to get the PassionateReads.com blog launched. We've got some great articles and contests over there this week. Today author Heather Howard asks what floats you boat in a love scene. Commenters are entered to win a copy of her erotic novel, Stairway to Heaven.

A little to the left, please! When I first embarked upon the wild waters of the internet back in '92 as a wee girl still in elementary school, one of the first things I wanted to know about was sex. SEX! my almost-adolescent brain shouted at me. (I am assured this is entirely normal.) Sex sex sex SEX SEX SEXSEXSEX-- Though it is hard to discern the particular nuance my brain was getting at through mere text, rest assured my brain merely wanted to know... just what the hell is … Read More



Like Free Books? Like Passionate Reads?

Join us for Author interviews, contests, excerpts at the EC Reader Chat: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ellorascavechat/

We're having a party! WE'LL POST MORE DETAILS SOON! Update: Click here to join us at the Ellora's Cave Chat … Read More



How One Erotic Romance Writer got Started

There's a great post at Passionate Reads today about how KJ Reed got her start.

How Did I Get Here?.


Cook Naked: Drunken Buñuelos (via )

Kele Moon and Master Bond are making something hot and sticky at Passionate Reads.

Cook Naked: Drunken Buñuelos Bond: Bite into the forbidden. This slogan and today’s recipe come from our guest, author Kele Moon. Kele cooks up hot, forbidden love in her new novel, Beyond Eden, released yesterday from Ellora’s Cave. I asked Kele to join me in whipping up something that might deserve a spot on the forbidden food list. Luckily, you and I are not the deterred by prohibitions or inhibitions, n’est-ce pas? So, Kele, tell us about your new erotic romance and the … Read More



Knowing From the Inside Out


You don't know about me
but through the windows in the words I write.
I'm like a puzzle taking shape one piece at a time.

I don't know about you
but from these snapshots,
pictures etched into my mind with words,
frames around your values.

We don't know each other
but from the inside out
impressions formed one word at a time.

This post is written in response to this week's Carry on Tuesday prompt. Find out more about Carry On Tuesday and see what other participants wrote.


Friday Flash 55: Dumped

megan running down bergis road - DSC00065

Photo licensed through Creative Commons by Sean Dreilinger on Flickr photo sharing.

At his age the sight of me in shorts shouldn't get him so excited.
He licks my knees.
"No way."
He licks my toes.
"It's too early."
His eyes adore me.
I get my running shoes.
I'm dumped at the front gate for the first big-eyed doe to flick her tail at him.

This post is part of G-Mans Friday Flash 55. Drop by to see what other participants wrote.


Cook Naked: La Bete Noire (via )

Kelly Jamieson and my character, Le Marquis de Bond from The Dungeon Gourmet are whipping up something sinful in the Cook Naked Column this week.

Cook Naked: La Bete Noire Bond: Who doesn’t love that racing heart, wobbly knee feeling you get tiptoeing into a dark basement, at the mouth of a mysterious cave, or just inside the dungeon door? The dark calls to us and frightens us at the same time. Thanks to a recipe Kelly Jamieson sent to me, we take a journey to the dark side this week, stir the dark beast. Today we're baking la bête noir -- a fitting suggestion from a lady who explores the shadows of the soul with s … Read More



Cook Naked: Fingerlings to Give Picnics a French Twist (via )

I joined a group blog with some talented authors from Ellora's Cave. I have the honor of writing the weekly Cook Naked column via the persona of Le Marquis de Bond, the sexy French Chef from the Dungeon Gourmet.

Stop by and say hi to Bond.

Cook Naked: Fingerlings to Give Picnics a French Twist Ah, fingers drizzled in fragrant oil. What's not love? Close your eyes, picture this. Breathe the scents. Does it make your tongue twitch? Your mouth water? Ah, wait. My sweet one, Sarai, she is like the backseat driver, reading over my shoulder when I blog. Une minute. Pardon, fingers, this is the wrong word. :) Sorry. I give the wrong impression. We'll have more than tongues twitching out there. Fingerings. This is what I mean. Today I teach yo … Read More




Sunrise with Tree

1. Limits defined over coffee

Maybe it wasn't love at first sight so much as it was an awareness,
a sense of possibilities lurking.

She was like one of those stubborn dandelions you seeing growing between the cracks of a sidewalk. He was like one of those pines that root and grow on a windswept cliff.

"I don't need that warm fuzzy stuff," she said, " no kissy-kissy hand holding."

"We'll see," he said.

2. The Whipping Tree

He took her to a mist draped meadow, adorned her wrists with steel bracelets, wooed her with with kisses delivered on braided leather tongues, stripped her to the bone, used her until she was boneless.

What he hadn't counted on was her submission stripping him to the bone, her trust bringing him to his knees, a single tear dissolving his resolve.

Maybe something real lurked here, something worth keeping.

3. Amid Discarded Clothes and Meadow Grass

It found them in the warm fuzzy after, forced its way into hearts like a green shoot seeking sun on the other side of concrete slabs. It bloomed between cuddles and praise. She let him hold her hand and kiss it.

"You need this, need me," he said. "Admit it."

"Maybe," she said.

"You'll see," he teased. "Next time I'll work harder to convince you,"

"Yes," she said, "do that."

This post was written in response to this week's Carry On Tuesday prompt: It was love at first sight.

To learn more about this week's prompt and see what other participants wrote click here.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


Size Matters #EroticAuthorsTweet

nara_malone: UPS guy can't find me. :(

brandi_evans:  Oh sorry...I redirected him to my house. Did I forget to mention that? ;-)

nara_malone: Called him, guiding him in #nicetry

tibbyarmstrong:  *snicker* #juvenilehumor

nara_malone: Wow. It's really big!!!

brandi_evans: Man, my mind just went straight to gutter. ;-)

nara_malone: size does matter...

brandi_evans: LMAO!! True that!!


I had to shorten the tweets to get them to fit, but I think I got all the pertinent details in. :) Thanks to authors Brandi Evans and Tibby Armstrong for their contributions. Follow them on twitter for more sizzling conversations. This post was written as a contribution to G-mans Friday Flash 55. See what other Participants wrote here.



Lines |shared via CC license by laprimadonna on Flickr - Photo Sharing!

1. Okra

When I think of how life used to be, the okra summer comes to mind. There was a big crop the year I turned three and a bumper crop of new rules to learn, as there is with every year of growing.

Even though I know nothing that shade of green can taste remotely pleasant, I was not allowed to say so.  Even though I didn't eat hairy food or green food or slimy food, and even though okra fit all three of those categories, I had to eat it or no one could have ice cream after dinner. Despite the fact that your stomach refused to keep it where I put it, I got in trouble when it came back up. The big brothers got in bigger trouble for laughing. Despite that fact that it wasn't personal, the new Mommy took it personally when used okra landed in her lap.

There's a vertical line between innocence and guilt. We didn't mean to make a joke of her, but the okra incident crossed some internal line I was too young to fathom. She was gone before the garden finished with okra. Eating lots of okra didn't bring her back.

2. Postcards

When I think of how things used to be, the postcard summer comes to mind. Images of almond-eyed women in pointy straw hats on one side, notes carefully printed on the back. Messages mailed home from the war,  crafted by the big brothers for a little sister just learning to read.

Everyone's big brothers went to the war, just like everyone's Daddy went to work, just like big girls had to go to school.  I never doubted they'd be back, held to an innocent faith that bad things couldn't happen to the "good guys".

The line between asleep and awake used to be as simple as eyes open or shut. The postcard summer taught me there's a limbo between asleep and awake, a place where you can get stuck in a nightmare that hangs on even when you're awake. Some big brothers don't come back from war, and some look like they did, but they're still stuck in the nightmare.

3. Bras

When I think of how things used to be, the new bra summer comes to mind.

Rain-soaked kisses, a flock of butterflies in my stomach, and a boy's voice in my ear, "Hurry, quick before the others find us."

Running through the woods, holding hands, tasting the forbidden. The way his eyes lingered where nipples tented my wet t-shirt, the warmth of his mouth over mine.

A too-small white bra showed up in my dresser drawer that summer, without discussion, warning, or instruction. Squeezing into my first bra, I realized nature had pushed me across a line I didn't know was out there.

New rules come with new breasts, new lines that can't be crossed. Lines that fathers don't discuss with daughters. Emotional land mines exploded with every misstep.

4. Hunger

When I think of how life used to be, the insatiable summer comes to mind.

Love-starved newlyweds. Love before we ate. Love during. Love after. We couldn't get close enough, touch enough, be naked enough for each other. Learning each other was a three course meal -- foreplay the appetizer, sex the main course. Dessert was a savoring, time to talk away the hours between one meal and the next, share dark secrets and bold dreams. We didn't know an infinitely insatiable appetite might prove to be an impossible dream.

I've heard people say there's a thin line between love and hate. Across the years of a marriage that line grows parallels in 265 shades of gray, nuances spouses use to leverage power, measure out love. You never know how many thin lines and shades of meaning will populate the distance between the two extremes one day to the next, one moment to the next.

5. Lines

One day, when I think of how this summer used to be,  broken lines will come to mind. String between stakes in a barren garden. Lines of drought cracked earth. Chipped paint lines on broken pavement. The line connecting me to my father broken by death.

You have a start line and a finish line. Incremental time lines between them mark off your life in sections -- separating one story from the next. There's not always a remedy for missteps, muddled choices, mangled episodes. There are always two sides to every line, a crossing from imperfect finish to promising start.

This post was written in response to the Carry on Tuesday prompt. This week our prompt is the opening line of the song Blessed written by Travon Potts and Brock Walsh: When I think how life used to be. I also included the three words from the Three Word Wednesday prompt: joke, leverage, remedy. Follow the links to see what other participants wrote.
Blogged with the Flock Browser


The Halfway Mark

The backside of halfway is scarey as hell.
Germinating and first growth have an energy all their own --
the life force rises, seeking light.
The budding flower stage is beauty unfolding,
the reward for all the hard work, delivering the fruits of labor.
But the next stage--the fading petals, shriveling--
I freeze at the thought.
Is there beauty in shrinking, going to seed?
Why cant we just hover perpetually at that full bloom stage?
Why do I have to know how my story ends?

This is written in response to today's Sunday Scribblings prompt. You can see what other participants had to say about "halfway" here.


Might There Be Intelligences in Other “Dimensions”?

By emilydickinsoridesabmxFlickr - Photo Sharing!

Here's an interesting article. It's a bit hard to wrap your brain around, but I guess that's a given in an article discussing the reality of reality.

I’m not saying people should ascribe a profound reality to their every passing delusion, hallucination, etc.Just that the distinction between reality and invention is not that clear—so we need to be careful about dismissing something just because it diverges from the sociopsychological construct we think of as “empirical reality.”
Might There Be Intelligences in Other “Dimensions”?
Blogged with the Flock Browser


Three Vooks for iPad Reviewed

1. Promises, by Jude Deveraux

Video + Book = Vook. But does it equal an advance in storytelling. I'll be straight with you -- no one wants to see interactive forms of fiction succeed more than I do. So if there's something good to say about technology applied to storytelling, I'm going to find it. Did I find anything good at the Vook store?

Let's start with my first Vook. I purchased Promises several months ago to read on my iPod Touch. It's an interesting idea, but the application was buggy and the platform too small to do it justice.  This week I updated the app and loaded it on my new iPad.  Much, much better! The video gave me a look at setting and time period that went far beyond what I imagined. That said, the whole experience is choppy. The navigation is clunky and confusing and getting between chapters and video took so long that it made me lose that story immersion. Below is a picture of what a page with text and video looks like. This instructions indicate you should click t0, "See what Jamie found. " But the story tells you what Jamie found, so you don't need to see the video. There are sections with video that do further story and character without repeating what has been said, but most of it is a repetition. It reminds me of fiction that shows you the same scene from the POV of different characters. I never was a big fan of  that technique.

2. Call of the Wild, by Jack London

I revisited the Vook store last week to find something eye-popping to use when I do educational e-book demonstrations. I loved this book as a kid and thought it was a title most people would be familiar with. When I cracked open this Vook, surely the contrast between the old paper version and the video version would be jaw dropping. Well...

It wasn't, but it was better done. I love the video, the way the sepia toned images impart a sense of an earlier time, the way they use different narrators and the contrast of those unique voices, the gorgeous frozen landscapes, and the dog's-eye view of running a sled trail. Here again the narrator is telling the same story as the text, snippits, but the clips are compelling and I did look forward to the clip at the start of each chapter. There are links throughout the story that lead to Wikipedia articles with more information on a subject or to  dictionary definitions of some terms. Navigation between chapters is better, but it moves in the opposite direction from navigation between pages which was confusing.

I had intended to download just the one extra story, but somehow I wound up with a copy of this next Vook, a free sample, on my iPad. A happy accident, because even though I might not have chosen this willingly, it was the jaw-dropper I was looking for.

3. Buddha Guide, by Deepak Chopra

If you get this book for no other reason than to enjoy the artwork, it is worth the money spent. The main text contains history, basic information on the Buddhist faith,  and links to more information. What really shines in this Vook is the video story, narrated by Chopra, a stunning blend of art and music that illustrate the story of Buddha.

Buddha is available in iPhone, iPad, and an online version. I downloaded the free demo but I enjoyed it enough that I'll get the full version when I can get a fast Internet connection. Vook files are big, but the price tag on this one isn't and you can grab a demo and see for yourself at Vook.com.

Bottom line: Vooks are in their infancy, a new storytelling form that I hope will be around for awhile. I see each new effort improving on what was done before and I look forward to watching Vooks grow up.


The Mesmerist

Crabapple Blossom by LadyDragonflyHerWorld on Flickr photo sharing

The Mesmerist

His magic is his mind
Like a beautiful garden
A fragrant intoxicant
A sensual arrangement
Of colorful fantasy
Of textured thoughts
A place to immerse yourself
To forget there is anything beyond him

When I am with him
I believe I can be
Before him life was empty
Barren as the crabapple out back
A parade of blossomless springs
Fruitless summers

And I know
I know
Gardens like him have thorns
Yet I go to him gloveless
Opening my hand
Palm up
Offering myself
Eager as an addict for a needle

~Allison Black
The Mesmerist's Tale
Copyright Nara Malone 2010

This week's Carry On Tuesday prompt is is a quote from the Lebanese poet Kahlil Gibran

Life without love is like a tree without blossoms or fruit.
My response is through the eyes of a character in my current WIP, The Mesmerist's Tale.
Click here to see what other participants wrote.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Testing blogpress for iPad

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Adding a link is supposed to be hard....

My Blogger Blogpress Test

Rain Making

Lady in the Lake

I'm combining two prompts this week (didn't finish this in time to post it yesterday and I needed something more to make this work, like the 3 words from Three Word Wednesday!) so I made it a little longer than usual. We're closing in on drought conditions here, and I thought I might try to tease a little rain from the clouds.

Three Word Wednesday words are: bait, jump, victim

This Week's Carry On Tuesday Prompt is from the first line of the 2008 novel
The Invention of Everything Else by Samantha Hunt

Lightning first, then the thunder. And in between the two........

The Lake

Liquid Light glides over her skin.
She shivers, undulates with pleasure.
She welcomes this lovers touch,
makes it part of herself,
opening, drinking him in
drawing him down into her moist depths,
flowing around him,
lifting and tugging him deeper
on a tide of pleasure.

Attracted by her breathy sighs and gurgles,
Wind joins in,
turning the duet into a threesome,
adding a new rhythm to their mating.
Soft rippling kisses stir desire.
Sighs rise to moans,
swaying to rocking,
thrusting to pounding,
throbbing to craving.

Wind with his clever fingers
roaming everywhere at once,
slipping in here and pinching there,
probing delicate depths.
Light’s tongues just as devilish,
licked, nipped, nibbled.
And in between the two...
Lake moaned,
slippery and hot,
baiting them with playful slaps.

Lake struggled to escape their sweet torture,
bucking and wriggling in her earthen bed,
pluming upward in clouds of steam.
She blocked Light, turned the sky a prosaic purple,
held Wind captive under humid, cumulus banks.
She gathered herself in voluptuous waves,
tossing frothy white caps,
rumbling warnings as the pair stalked her.
They weren’t deterred by her pretense.
She knew they wouldn’t be.

Wind ripped through the bonds,
and whipped her writhing body,
until her watery sobs rose,
a harmonic backup to his howls.
Not to be out done, Light drove deep,
impaling her on jagged bolts.
Bound tight between two magnetic forces,
captive between opposing poles,
Lake was helpless to do more
than ride sizzling currents.
Like greedy bandits they ravaged and plundered.
Lake played her victim role,
injecting sobs and shrieks between moans and sighs,
Until she forgot the game, wrapped herself tight around them,
shuddered, jumped, and dissolved with a shiver.

Rain sheeted down,
backlit by blue bolts streaking across the sky,
tossed and bounced on Wind’s rocketing thrusts.
Below, the earth trembled under pounding waves.
The trio swirled and twisted,
wringing every drop from their rapture.

Spent, the they collapsed in her silt bed.
Lake curled there  as day dawned,
content, a smooth rippleless mirror,
basking in Light’s pleased golden glow.
Wind shifted gently over them,
a soft blanket,
holding them close,
wrapping them in the earthy scent
raised by the night’s storm.

~~Nara Malone

Visit Carry On Tuesday

and Three Word Wednesday to see what other participants have written.


Blogging Tips for Beginners:Spinning Your Web

Web 2.0 on Flickr - Photo Sharing!

There would be no WWW without links. Links make the web, one page to another, one idea to another, one person to another. There should be no blog post without links.

Not only do links take your readers to more information about a topic, they provide breadcrumb trails for readers at those other sites to find you. In the blogger world they call this trail a trackback. I know, we all groan and roll our eyes over terms, but this one actually means what it says -- it provides a track for readers to follow back to your blog from the one you quoted.

In Flock linking and quoting are geek-free processes. To link a word, highlight it and click the button with a picture of chain links. Then type the address of the page you want to link to. I always open a second tab in my browser and go to the place I'm linking so I can copy and paste the exact address, no mistakes. Make sure you delete the http:// that is pre-inserted in the form if you do this.

If you want to quote text on another site, highlight, right click and choose "blog this". That's one of the coolest features of Flock. Often when I'm surfing, I'll see something I might want to include in a post later, so I use the blog this feature and Flock opens the composer, gives the post the proper credit and link back. All you have to do is click save.  You can do the same with pictures.

Be sure to follow copyright rules of fair use and never include pictures that aren't specifically tagged as free to use. Open Stock Photography is a good source of open source images. My favorite picture source is Creative Commons Search, use the Flickr tag.

While we're on the subject of links, don't forget comments. Comments accomplish a couple of things:

They let bloggers know they've been heard. It can get pretty lonely out there and feedback keeps your favorite bloggers going. It also makes a link back to your site, so people who are interested in the topic  can follow your comment trail back to your blog. Search engines love and reward links because readers love and follow links. So throw out those breadcrumbs and people will be able to find you.

You  should thank your commenters with a quick little note of response or my favorite  --  a comment at their blog. You'll be surprised at the wonderful friendships that can grow out of those breadcrumbs you scatter. And as I learned just a few short months ago, new opportunities and fascinating work can find you through your comments.

Go rack up some comment karma and let me know in the comments how it works out for you.

Blogged with the Flock Browser


Friday 55: Ashes #flashfiction

Heart Aflame

Heart Aflame by BozDoz on Flickr photo sharing

“Focus,” he said, tugging the rope.

But how? Her mind ran in circles, this way and that, yapping like a little dog.

He layered pleasure and pain, smothering thoughts with an escalating craving for Him, consuming her in flames, until nothing remained but a soft floating feeling – ashes of who she had been, landing.

This post is in response to G-Man's Friday Flash 55. Participants tell a story in 55 words. See what other participants wrote here.


Gadget Geekery Gone Too Far: WiFi Scale?

Withings Wi-Fi scale at home on Flickr - Photo Sharing!

I can't believe I'm saying this, but there probably are some technologies that just weren't meant to be mashed together. The WiFi scale has the honor of being the first new gadget to give me pause.

I love new gadgets as much as anyone else. A run down of the gadgets on my desk this morning: Nook, iPod Touch, a camera/mp3/cellphone, a key ring with 8 thumb drives, a Polaroid Digital Adventure Camera (waterproof and crash proof) and a Garmin Forerunner. Oh -- almost forgot -- two laptops. Two? Yes, one open to Linux and the other open to Windows.

That's just what's on the desk and what is likely to be used over the next hour. There are enough gadgets around here to support a couple of years worth of weekly columns. Hmm.

Anyway, I was watching the geek spot on a morning news show yesterday and was floored to discover this new gadget. My first reaction was intense envy, but not the kind of envy the producers of the WiFi scale might have hoped for. My first thought (honestly): There is hope for all us writer's trying to sell/market our books!

If the inventor of this device is giving workshops on how to sell ideas, I want to sign up. I mean think about it, that must have been one heck of a 3-line pitch to get this backed, produced, and marketed on a big network TV show. How do you sell someone on the idea of beaming your weight to the world?

Maybe it's just me. Maybe there are droves of people who would love to step on their scale every morning and have their weight and percentage of body fat posted on their blog and Twitter. Could be I'm too reticent.

Now, I don't have one of these and I'm not keen on buying one so I can't say if there is more to this idea. I can see possibilities as a promotional tool. If this is your idea of just the thing to pep up your blog traffic (please drop me a link to your blog in comments and include twitter ID), you can get one of your very own at the link below.

Amazon.com: Withings Wifi Body Scale: Health & Personal Care

Check back next Thursday and I'll let you share my first look at my iPad. If it's not here yet, I'll review the Nook and get to the iPad the following week.


I Had a Perfect Dream

While the fire crackled and the wind tossed ice pellets against the window,

I wrapped up in a bright blue shawl decorated with dolphins

and dreamed a perfect dream.

Snow flakes turned into a magic carpet.

I rode a glittering Milky Way

to a land of palm trees and beaches draped in gold and black sand.

Sigh. I'm going to have to make this dream come true.

This post was written in response to the Carry On Tuesday Weekly prompt, "I had a perfect Dream. See details on Carry On Tuesday's prompt  here. Or see what this week's particiants wrote here.


Blogging for Beginners: What Slice of the Pie Do You Want?

So you've decided to start blogging and -- as I suggested last week -- you downloaded and installed a copy of Flock. Now what?

Well before we start playing with the new toy we have a decision to make. It's the most important decision you make as a blogger.  What slice of the pie do you want?

If you look at any popular blog site you know which slice of the audience pie they are after, which theme their blog posts revolve around. Pick any of your favorite blogs and see if I'm not right. Let me pick one for you -- Over at the Otherworld Diner they deliver their goal as bloggers on page one:
Our staff is a collection of paranormal romance authors with one thing in common (besides a love for pie) -- we dish up our paranormal with a sprinkle, a splash, or a heaping helpin' of humor and wit. Come in and have a seat. The coffee's hot and the blue plate special is out of this world!

The Otherworld Diner

A recent theme on pie was an excellent example of blogging around a theme. Each contributor posted their own take on the subject of pie and some aspect of writing:

What if the hero is a shape shifter? What if he shape shifts into a black bird? What if the story takes place in the Middle Ages? What if your heroine is a baker? What if she bakes him in a pie? Dang it, she cooked the hero. Not good. OK, so the birds are supposed to survive the “baking” process but the hero will still not be a happy camper when he breaks free of that crust. Moral of this story . . . be careful who you bake in a pie, you could end up eating love of your life. *G*

View Original Article

Same theme different take:

The subject of pies scared me a little right from the beginning. Then, when my coworkers posted yummy recipes, I seriously considered panic. Not that I don’t cook, mind you. I do. The thing is, I write by the seat of my pants, and I tend to cook the same way. I sort of figured posting a recipe for apple cobbler that started, "take a bunch of apples, core, chop, cook with some sugar and cinnamon until soft…" well, you get it. Not too helpful.Then I realized there was another "pie" I’d worked with just a couple of weeks ago: The Pie of Life.

View Original Article

So take time and think about what is important to you, what you are good at, what ideas you are so passionate about that you can blog about them week after week, through all the craziness that is your life. Then think of a creative way to share that passion. Not all blogging themes need to be as out of this world as Otherworld's. There can be a mingling of interets. Gemma@Greyscale weaves her love of Australia, poetry, and photography into every post. Writers  Alice Audrey and Kelly Jamieson post blogs according to a schedule of themes readers can expect to see discussed on specific days.

I know you're all psyched up about the Flock browser I discussed last week. You're sitting there with your finger poised above the mouse button,  anxious to launch into your blogging. This is the moment you've been waiting for.  You've picked a theme and planned your post. It's time to  click the little blue quill pen in the browser toolbar (over to the left under between the clipboard symbol and the arrow pointing up) and start writing your first post.You configure the editor with your blog host's settings by clicking the tools (wrench and screwdriver) menu.

Write your post in the editor portion of the blogging screen. When you have everything just the way you want it, you can either save the draft, or hit the publish button (right side bottom of window) and your new article will post. Leave us a link in the comments and we'll all drop by to see what you've done.

All the quotes and sources I included in today's post were made using Flock's one-click "blog this" feature. No geek skills required. More on quoting and linking(as essential to blogging as veins to a circulatory system) next week.
Blogged with the Flock Browser


What do you love about Your life?

All available sizes | Love my Dog | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

"What do you love about your life?" Betty was still fuming over Rowan’s question. Who could toss out an answer to a question like that?

The diner waitress: “The quirky people I meet here”

Betty’s doctor: “Watering my garden in the evening.”

The mail-carrier: “The 53 Ford I’m restoring.”

So, what do you love?


This post is part of G-man's Friday Flash 55. See what other participants wrote here.

If you're wondering if this is really fiction, yes --  a bit of backstory and some research(last line) for the Spirit Walker's Adventure Game I'm working on with Orchid Games.  I'm curious to hear what your answers are.


Why Do I Want an iPad?

Turning a page on the iPad on Flickr - Photo Sharing!

I have resisted until now, but I broke down today and ordered one. Why? I know it's Thursday, but I don't have thirteen reasons. We'll have to cut this Thursday's Thirteen post down to a Thursday 3.

1)  Amazon just released some of the most useful interactive e-books I've seen. The cool thing is that the Amazon books weren't made for Kindles, but to run on the Kindle app for Apple devices like iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. They started by offering 13 Titles. It took a couple of days to get past the fact that my iPod didn't have the right version of software and my connection was too slow for the download, but I eventually managed to download a copy of Bird Songs. It is incredibly cool to have something I can slip in my pocket and look up bird songs when I am out hiking. Still it got me thinking this is the kind of book it might be nice to read on a screen bigger than a deck of cards. There's also a cool guide on Paris( which I expect to need in 2012) and another one on cake baking that Bond is after me to buy.

2) I have teamed up with 3 other authors to do workshops on e-reading and this is the only major e-reader we didn't own between us. When readers actually hold an e-reader in their hands and experience an e-book firsthand, it can completely change their opinion of e-reading. I want to be able to explain all the reader options, then let them make informed decisions about how they will read.

3)  I'm once again waking up to the sound of logging saws instead of birdsong in the morning. The only way to curb the destruction is to reduce the demand for paper.

Read E!


Think This of Me

photo by Hamed Saber on FLickr photo sharing

If I should die
think this of me

That I tried to see
through your eyes
as you see through mine

In this inside out
blind-leading-blind way
We stumble forward

If I should die
think this of me

What I loved changed you.

~Nara Malone 2010

This was written for the Carry on Tuesday Prompt.  See what other participants wrote here.


Blogging Tips for Beginners: A Web Browser for Busy Authors #writetip

Flock Browser - Flock Art

To be an author is to be a blogger. Not all writers are as enthusiastic about that new aspect of our profession as I am. I love geek stuff. I love playing with new ways to express myself, and I really love the possibilities blogging can bring to stories.

So why isn't every writer enthusiastic about blogging? I think the biggest barrier is a technological hurdle. So, that's the blogging issue I'm going to address first. You need more than a web browser to get this job done right. If you are trying to muddle along with Internet Explorer or Firefox, with no enhancements for blogging, you are wasting too much time trying to put your posts together. And that is one of the biggest complaints I hear: Blogging eats too much time.

While you can install add-ons that will improve the blogging experience with IE or Firefox, I'm not even going to waste your time trying to describe how. It's better to use the browser that was designed for blogging and all the social networking you do: Flock. All the tools you need are built in and they are fantastic.

I have been using Flock since the first release around 2005 and I started mainly to see how it functioned as a browser. Flock made a blog reader out of me and then a blogger. Here's a snip of a five-star review for Flock at CNET (snip made automatically by my Flock browser).

Flock is designed to streamline and emphasize how you interface with social networking sites, RSS and media feeds, and blogs. Because it's built on Firefox 3, its behavior will feel familiar and it supports most--but not all--Firefox extensions. And yes, the "awesome bar" is part of the latest version.

Flock Browser - Free software downloads and reviews - CNET Download.com

I know you're saying, but I'm not good at all this technical stuff. You don't have to be.  When you want to quote another blogger, you highlight the text and it's a right click away from appearing in your blog post properly attributed(see the quoted text above -- just a highlight and a click ). When you want to add an image to a blog post, it's a right click away. You can keep Twitter, Facebook, and Myspace open in the Flock sidebar and get your social networking done while you blog. Are you juggling half a dozen blogs and webmail accounts? Support for that is built in too.

Over the next few weeks, I'll be going over the basics of blogging for beginners and I'll explain how to implement these techniques with Flock. If you're already using a blogging tool, you're ahead of the game. If not, go download Flock. It's free.

Join my Flock

Get ready to love your blogging.



Cottage Garden by sean hickin on Flickr - Photo Sharing!

I wrote this in response to an assignment for I class I was taking several years ago. My younger sister saw the page on my desk and said, "What a pretty poem."  I explained that it wasn't a poem and I didn't know anything about writing poetry. She told me the coolest thing about poetry is that there don't have to be any rules. I was hooked. So, I'm still indulging in my ruleless scribbling and still envying those who can apply the formal rules so beautifully.

I envy the beauty of a formal garden.
I imagine appearing neatly clipped, colors coordinated.
What a wonderful thing it would be to think in tidy paths
that take me past each important element.

All my blooms would open at the proper time,
in proper order, and in their proper place.
All would arrange themselves around an exquisite centerpiece
of good sense and logic.

I'm more like a tangled wood,
honeysuckle vines and thorned blackberries marking my borders,
tiny violets hiding in my shadows.

I'm a web of branches and green growth,
reaching for sun and sky by day,
moon and stars by night.
My roots burrow into a rich carpet,
hidden things that feed the growth.

At my center -- a twisting, babbling stream of moods,
ideas, desires, and dreams.
I envy the order of a formal garden, but my soul knows it could never bloom there.

You can see other Sunday Scribblings here, or join us by
adding your own thoughts on: "Me" to the list of contributions.


Losing Mikey

Going down by n0nick on Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Death came out of nowhere, grief arcing across a bright blue autumn sky.
Your mother rocks in her chair, empty-armed, shattered.
Your father tightens doorknobs, oils hinges, mends tools, fixes every broken thing he can find.
It’s like watching a stunt plane in a spiraling dive,
bracing for a crash.
I steal the faucet washers.

~Nara Malone

This post was written for G-Man's Friday Flash 55. See what other participants wrote here.