Now is the best time to be a writer

Join us at James River Writers!


My Writing Process blog tour

Joshua Paul Cane introduced me to the My Writing Process series, a blog tour of authors’ caffeine-addled musings on their neurotic lives. It’s gonna be fun! Each author answers four questions:

1) What am I working on?

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

3) Why do I write what I do?

4) How does my writing process work?

Check out Josh’s answers at his website. He’s the author of Shadows, a kickass vampire story that sucks only in the right ways. His description of Shadows is a bit more eloquent.

Shadows returns to the roots of the vampire genre and branches out in its own direction. Vampires are silhouettes of humanity, dark twins that exaggerate our virtues and vices; they are ever present, but seldom seen. Bloodless, they instead possess a black humor that collects in their stilled hearts. Vampires choose their existence, seeing it as a gift, rather than a curse. What is the price of immortality? What do you do with forever? What makes us human?

Cool, right?

My answers will be up next Monday. I suppose I should still be working on them, but I tried and am now crippled by procrastination. Ah, the life of a writer. I love every terrified, neurotic, addled, soul-crushing moment. It makes every day a good day.

11th annual James River Writers Conference

Thank you to everyone who made the James River Writers Conference inspirational, educational, and fun.

Here’s the Saturday morning opening from Brad Parks.

Happy book birthday to TALES OF A 10TH GRADE VAMPIRE HUNTER

Tales of a 10th Grade Vampire Hunter

For Gidion Keep, hunting vampires is easy.

It’s high school that might kill him.

Richmond author Bill Blume’s debut novel, Tales of a 10th Grade Vampire Hunterwas technically released yesterday (August 20th), but the book launch is tonight, so I’m celebrating today. I’m selfish; I want to share my birthday with a book I love. You see, birth dates are important for Gidion Keep: they carry more weight when you’re born on Friday the 13th into a family of vampire hunters.

CanalWalk01aAlmost two years ago, Bill, a talented writer with a delightfully twisted view of the river city, asked me to be a beta reader. The manuscript should have come with a warning. Caution: will make readers miss appointments and procrastinate on pressing tasks. Fast forward to 2013 (there’s a 13 again!). I can’t wait to get lost again in Bill’s world of Shockoe back streets and county crematories.

Gidion Keep is down in Shockoe tonight, back to the dark Canal Walk and thundering overpasses where he stalks his prey. Get to Fountain Bookstore early, because there’ll be birthday doughnuts… and after reading this book, you don’t want to be in the Bottom too late.

Family bonding around the bonfire

Family bonding around the bonfire
Family bonding around the bonfire


Saturday night my family gathered at my sister’s farm. It was almost midnight, but that didn’t stop us from lighting the bonfire. We ate marshmallows, uniformly charred on the outside until perfection, laughed, roasted apples in the coals just for the heck of it, threw said roasted apples at each other, and had this conversation:

Me: “Daddy, is there somewhere on the farm you wouldn’t mind broken glass?”

Dad (with a gleam in his eye): “Why?”

Me: “I want to make Molotov cocktails.”

Mom: “No!”

Dad: “Yes! As long as I get to help.”

I love my family. Who else encourages literary career exploration through improvised incendiary weapons?

See This: Cover Reveal for SEE ME by Wendy Higgins

I heart Wendy Higgins. In what was probably the dorkiest fangirl move of my life, I took brownie mix to her Sweet Peril book launch. (It’s not as insane as it sounds, I promise. It’s in the book.) Today dorky fangirl is back! I’m tickled to help reveal the cover of Wendy’s newest YA, See Me, coming October 1st, 2013.

See Me by Wendy Higgins

While most seventeen-year-old American girls would refuse to let their parents marry them off to a stranger, Robyn Mason dreams of the mysterious McKale in Ireland, wondering how he’ll look and imagining his cute Irish accent. Prearranged bindings are common for magical families like her own, however when she travels to the whimsical Emerald Isle she discovers there’s more to her betrothal and McKale’s clan than she could have imagined.

What starts as an obligatory pairing between Robyn and McKale morphs over time into something they both need. But one giant obstacle stands the way of their budding romance: a seductive and deadly Fae princess accustomed to getting what she wants—and what she wants is McKale as her plaything. Love, desire, and jealousies collide as Robyn’s family and McKale’s clan must work together to outsmart the powerful Faeries and preserve the only hope left for their people.

See Me will be available in ebook from Amazon, B&N, and Kobo for $3.99, and paperback will be for sale through Amazon and Createspace for $10.99.  It will not be available for preorder.

Wendy Higgins is the author of Sweet Evil and Sweet Peril from HarperTeen. She lives in the Washington D.C. area with her husband, daughter, son, and puppy Rue.

Check out Wendy’s blog for the story behind the story and the challenge to create a sexy leprechaun.

Happy reading!

Research Video II: NYC drainpipe

Here I am walking up a 4′ diameter drainpipe under New York. This pipe carries stormwater from the area surrounding Highbridge Park down to the Harlem River. Today I’m writing a scene set in this pipe. I love my life. I really enjoyed the exploration, and I hope my beta readers will enjoy my depiction.

The video starts when Steve and I are over 75% up the pipe. Here is a photo of Steve on his way down the pipe.

Companion descending 4' diameter drain pipe

See the tiny light speck in the photo below? It’s not your monitor. That’s Steve’s headlamp at the bottom of the pipe.

Speck in the middle of the photo is the same headlamp one minute later

Thank you to my wonderful husband for filming. You can see more photos and a video from our trip here.

Check out “Inside An Illegal Party In An Abandoned Subway Station Deep Under NYC”

Tod Seelie / Gothamist.
Tod Seelie / Gothamist.

Check out “Inside An Illegal Party In An Abandoned Subway Station Deep Under NYC” by Tod Seelie. Gothamist. June 24, 2013.

I wish I’d been there.

Writing Soundtrack: Drains

Some writers create inspirational playlists featuring the best of modern music. Me? I’m listening to drain sounds as I write the next scene in my WIP.

I recorded this clip while researching in New York. You can see photos from the trip here: https://kristituckaustin.com/potters-field.

The World’s 20 Most Amazing Tunnels

East Side Access project (Metropolitan Transportation Authority of the State of New York)

Check out “The World’s 20 Most Amazing Tunnels” by Terrell Johnson.

This list has scope–from leaves to concrete, natural wonders to engineering marvels, biblical to contemporary–and lots of pretty pictures. Spoiler: #4 is the New York East Side Access Project!

Thank you to Sarah Fite, writer extraordinaire, for sharing the article. Know a great article about the underground? Please send it my way.

You can see more on the New York East Side Access Project at the article I shared earlier this month.