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 ūüôā

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Happy creating in 2013!

Recycling Christmas


I’m kind of a stress-monkey at the holidays. I don’t really have a good excuse because I don’t have THAT much to do, but it’s enough to make me a little crazy.

<< This photo represents me at Christmas: I haven’t written enough words and mostly I’ve just beaten my head against the keyboard.

xmas dog

It doesn’t ¬†help that my office looks like this. >>

And I can’t even blame the dog. She was happily chewing her bone. It was me, ripping through the wrapping paper and ribbons like a rabid squirrel.


One way I amuse myself during the Christmas wrapping season is reusing last year’s wrapping paper and ribbons.


Yes, I am that person.

But it’s not my fault. I live in Portland, Oregon, where we reduce-reuse-recycle EVERYthing. (You should see what happens to the chicken bones in my house.)

But I don’t wrap presents in the funnies section. Oh no. It’s much trickier than that. My family is really good about buying decent wrapping paper (not that Dollar Store tissue that rips at the corners before you can even fold it). So wrapping presents is like a game of Tetris, fitting each box to each usable scrap of paper and then finding a ribbon that matches. (I admit, one present in the photo is wrapped in a Powell’s Books paper bag, but that’s only because I love Powell’s and the recipient is a book lover too.) I think I did pretty good. There are a couple places that look a little worn (just a little!) but in the excitement of ripping through the wrapper, I think no one will notice.


Monster Girl is embarrassed by my thrifty ways >> But I explained that’s how we pay for her tasty bones. As for my family that receives the re-wrapped gifts… Well, it would help if they lowered the lights a bit.

Merry Christmas Eve Eve!

How to Retreat! Retreat!

Crossposted from Silk & Shadows

Currently working on: Expanding a story
Mood: Widening

Last weekend, I went to the Oregon Coast with some writer friends for a beach retreat. (I accidentally typed “treat” and it WAS a treat.) Writing retreats are enormous fun, of course, but I also want the time to be productive.¬†So here are some of my suggestions for a productive writing retreat:

Jessa-beachGo to the beach at a yucky time of year.

At the Oregon Coast, you can be guaranteed gusting rain November through July (and prohibitive prices August through September). So usually the horizontal “moisturizing and exfoliating” is enough to keep us inside at our computers.

Here’s a picture of me, measuring how many words I have yet to add. See, this is why you go to the beach in bad weather. Sunshine DEMANDS a walk on the beach.


Bring the right friends.

It’s best to surround yourself with writers who share similar productivity goals. Friends who constantly tempt you to walk on the beach as the sun sets are counterproductive.

Sadly, it turns out¬†I¬†am that friend. So don’t bring me. Except you have to bring me because I always bring the mint brownies.


Find an inspiring spot.

Not only is the right physical spot important — like this lovely little beach house surrounded by chirping frogs — but the right spot in your mindset and your work in progress.

I try to prepare for a writing retreat by making sure I have the right sort of project and that I clear my “real life” of distractions that might creep into the weekend. Actually, this last weekend, I did a bad job of choosing the project. I’m working on revising, and I found that I did not do as well as when I bring a hot draft to a retreat. I’ll know that for next time.

beach-foam-and-skyNever mind the inspiration, just focus!

Part of my problem with choosing a revision project instead of a hot draft, is that when I’m revising, I tend to stare off into space while I think. When I’m at home, in my little office, there’s not much to look at and I quickly go back to work. But at the beach… I just stared at the waves for hours! I needed to bring my focus closer.

A good writing retreat has a clear focus, whether it’s writing, brainstorming or just refilling the well. Be sure you know what purpose your retreat will serve.

beach-sunsetTrack progress on the retreat days.

Like tracking the sun across the sky… It’s easier for me to stay accountable if I track my progress in three chunks during a retreat day: morning session, afternoon session, evening session. If I only review my progress once at the end of the day, I might find I didn’t do enough, but now it’s too late. If I track in chunks, then a slacker morning session (sun on the beach!) can be rectified in the afternoon, or a slow afternoon (afternoon nap on the sunny beach!) can be made up in the evening (no sun).


As much as I want a writing retreat to be productive, well, it¬†is¬†a retreat. I try to capture some of that glory — and some of that sun — and take it back with me to rainy Portland.

Do you have a favorite getaway that never fails to rejuvenate you? Do you bring back souvenirs? I love to find good rocks.

Borders Oz contest

I have a $10 gift certificate to Borders Oz.¬† Since I won’t be going to Australia any time soon (sadly), the first person in Australia to post a link in comments here¬†—¬†here, as in on this post —¬†to a¬†photo of Liam or Archer in a real-live¬†Australian Borders bookstore gets the voucher.¬†

Please compose the shot to verify location — for example, include a kangaroo or¬†saltwater crocodile¬†or super-hot Australian guy holding the book.¬† If there’s a way to capture his accent too…¬†

And no Photoshopping!  Only real-live super-hot Australian guys will be accepted.

If you need an idea on how to spend the gift certificate, click on the logo for a couple suggestions…