Speaking of gifts… My year of steampunk inspiration

As I’ve mentioned here before, I like to bead. I adore a creative project I can get done in one night! This past year, I’ve made several steampunk-inspired jewelry sets. I finally got all the photos uploaded to Flickr. I thought if anyone out there is doing steampunk novels, you might be able to use the images of gears and whatnot for your cover art textures or just for your own inspiration.

The full-size images are here.

The pix are uploaded under a creative commons license which means (as I understand it) you can use it for anything you want. Although if you DO use it, I’d love to hear about it. I’ll try to keep a running list of links here if anybody does want to run amok with the pix.

Here’s a small sampling of the images. Some are better than others, obviously. No editing was done here, unlike my writing 🙂

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Happy creating in 2013!

Happy Birthday to Me!







‘Twas a beautiful day in Portland, sunny with a playful breeze. I headed downtown on the train to meet some book friends, because what better way to spend a birthday day than hanging out with book friends?

Delilah MarvelleWe started out at Powell’s City of Books (because what better way to spend a birthday day than hanging out with book friends at Powell’s?) and found most of a shelf devoted to writer friend Delilah Marvelle, including her new release. Since Delilah like most of our writer friends are at the Romance Writers of America national conference — and we are NOT there — we decided to drown our sorrows at Cacao.

Cacao-drinking-chocolateWe ordered a flight of drinking chocolates: dark chocolate, cinnamon chocolate and spicy chocolate. (Because what better way to spend a birthday day than hanging out with book friends drinking melted chocolate bars?)

If you haven’t had a drinking chocolate, be very, very careful. You have to build up your strength for such an endeavor. Novice chocolate consumers might be knocked into permanent loopiness. Luckily, we romance writers/readers are experienced chocolate consumers so we just got giggly and made the Cacao pusherman take our pix. We look a little flushed, don’t we?


Pictured from left:

Lily Santana

Melia Alexander

The Birthday Girl!

newspapersTo walk off our chocolate, we headed over to Cargo, an import shop that is a sensual delight perfect for loopy romance writers. There is incense, wild colors, pretty fans, and gorgeous fabrics. I bought myself a birthday present of old Lebanese newspapers. I’m going to rip them up and make decoupage beads, I think. I like the decorative font and frayed, yellowed paper.

I also got my hair cut, but I’m not sure how I feel about it yet, so I’ll wait to post pix of that part of my birthday adventure.

Tonight, I will eat birthday cake and contemplate the next year. Who do I want to be at my next birthday?

Since I was at Powell’s, I of course had to buy some books (because what better way etc?) and I figured, hey, I’ll do a giveaway from my birthday. I’ll be pulling a name from my mailing list, so sign up in you haven’t yet. I’ll pull at winner after I get back from Authors After Dark and maybe there’ll be some New Orleans goodies too!

Happy Birthday to me!


Pictures to inspire a thousand words

(Crossposted from Silk And Shadows)

Currently working on: Revising FORGED OF SHADOWS (yes, still)
Mood: Determined

I love words.  I do.  My critique partners can attest to the truth of my loving words when they force me to cut my 79-word sentences down to reasonable size.  (Which I think was unfair, since there were plenty of commas in that sentence, so it wasn’t like anybody was going to pass out from lack of oxygen if they tried to read it in one breath.)

Still, I have to acknowledge, before the Word there was the Picture.  I dabble in photography and am a graphic designer in my day job so I admire the power of imagery.  For example:


Yeah, hot, which is inspiration enough sometimes.  But I also love the stark black and white, the balance of light and shadows, and most of all, I love the fact that this is a picture of Johnny Depp and yet for once he’s not smirking or glowering at the camera, forcing us to engage.  I think this is such a strong picture because it leaves so much to the imagination, leaves a quiet space for the viewer to feel the strong sun, the cool water, the rippling abs….


I like to keep images around to inspire me.  Here’s a picture of my writing altar and you can see a lot of my talismans feature images.  I have a slick of my book cover tucked in there, and on the wall behind is the collage for Book 2.


My favorite (tucked away in the back right) is a card — “Feuerreifen” by Gerhard Gluck — my mom sent me when I finally sold my first book:


Without words, the snail’s hope (and fear) is abundantly clear.  I find it very inspiring, to the point I’m thinking of painting myself blue with white stars for my first book signing.

I keep another picture (front left) that my XY cut out of a newspaper for me.  I tend to write dark and angsty, life and death, good and evil, and this picture reminds me not to take what I write too seriously.


The little terrier mutt with the cape is taking himself very seriously, and the chihuahua in the casket is trying very hard to stay in character (although he does look a bit nervous) but overall the image says to me, “Hey, it’s life and death, good and evil; have fun with it.”



On a trip to China years ago, I bought a chop — a stamp carved out of soft stone — and had it inscribed with the symbols “Tell a good tale.” 

Here are pictures of the stamp (wrapped in a bracelet with adventurine beads to promote luck, vitality and self-discipline — shuh, right) and a papyrus sheet stamped with the symbol.

Trying to explain to the carver what I wanted was an adventure in itself, and since my inability to speak Chinese is surpassed only by my inability to read it, I don’t know for sure it actually reads ”Tell a good tale.”  But as with all inspiration, as long as it inspires me, the reality doesn’t much matter.

Ideograms like Chinese characters, cuneiform and hieroglyphs appeal to me because to my eye they are a lovely melding of image and word.  And the fact that the symbol is in a language I can’t comprehend and will never master is perversely amusing since I often feel that way about the tales I tell.

I have one more inspirational image, but I won’t be keeping this one.  I commissioned an artist friend of mine whose work I admire to create an original piece based on the world of the Marked Souls.  I’m going to give it away at the end of October as a thank you to someone who helped make SEDUCED BY SHADOWS a reality, someone whose image I don’t have even though it’s been the inspiration for most of my writing life – a reader.

 You can learn more about the “Into the Shadows” Possession Prize Pack on my website.   

Do words and images inspire you in equal measure, or does your brain light up more for one than the other?  Since you are no doubt a reader yourself, I rather suspect your brain is wonderfully cross-wired.  Which authors do you find best inspire imagery in your mind?