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Monthly Archives: May 2012

High Quality, High Resolution Images – Dirt Free

This may not be news for hardcore self-publishers out there, but the rest of you might be interested in this.

Since I’m designing my own covers, I’ve been looking for free photos online. There are plenty of free stock image places online, but where the resolution was good enough, the image often wasn’t, and where I liked the image, either I couldn’t get a high enough resolution, or the image was shaped incorrectly (mostly landscape where I need portrait).

But when I was designing this cover:

I hit upon the brilliant (if I don’t say so myself) idea of going to the Center for Disease Control and looking for images there. The above photo of the smirking doctor putting on the glove was perfect. He even looks like a model. And it is totally and utterly free, in the public domain, and available at a high resolution.

So now, I’m designing the cover of the third book, and I’m having another problem:

The image is too freakin’ perfect. This beautiful photo of an idyllic farm is all wrong for my dystopian setting. So I need to find a picture of an ugly farm–to contrast with the title–but the photographers for the US government has too much of an eye for beauty.

But trust me: it’s a good problem to have. If pinch comes to shove, I can uglify a photo. It just seems like such a crime.

Anyway, the actual treasure trove is here:

US Government Images and Photos

Not every photo is in the public domain, but most are. Be sure to check.

Happy hunting!

Review – Mind Games by Carolyn Crane

Mind Games
by Carolyn Crane
Disillusionists, volume 1

Random House – MM Paperback



Justine Jones has a secret. A hardcore hypochondriac, she’s convinced a blood vessel is about to burst in her brain. Then, out of the blue, a startlingly handsome man named Packard peers into Justine’s soul and invites her to join his private crime-fighting team. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime deal. With a little of Packard’s hands-on training, Justine can weaponize her neurosis, turning it outward on Midcity’s worst criminals, and finally get the freedom from fear she’s always craved. End of problem.

Or is it? In Midcity, a dashing police chief is fighting a unique breed of outlaw with more than human powers. And while Justine’s first missions, including one against a nymphomaniac husband-killer, are thrilling successes, there is more to Packard than meets the eye. Soon, while battling her attraction to two very different men, Justine is plunging deeper into a world of wizardry, eroticism, and cosmic secrets. With Packard’s help, Justine has freed herself from her madness—only to discover a reality more frightening than anyone’s worst fears.

I wanted to read this when it came out, but I was drowning in a sea of review copies, and books that weren’t sent to me, sadly, often were neglected. But I never forgot it, and when I got my Kindle last month, this was the very first book I purchased.

It did not disappoint. I loved it. It was one of those novels that you just want to keep reading on and on, yet you know it has to end sometime. I honestly did not know what would happen next.

It begins with Justine and her boyfriend, Cubby, going out to dinner at a restaurant called Mongolian Delites. Justine sees a man who swindled her father out of some money, and she feels compelled to confront him. When she does so, the guy doesn’t know who she is, and the handsome restauranteur intervenes, apparently taking the man’s side while looking at Justine like she is a walking miracle. When Justine sneaks up to the bar to pay the bill for her boyfriend, the con man approaches her and laughs about his con on her father. She is about to indignantly confront him again when the restauranteur again intervenes, schmoozes the con man, but this time, the restauranteur tells Justine that he knows what the con man is about.

The next day, the restauranteur reveals that he heads up a crime-fighting team, and that the con man is their current target for “disillusionment”.

Justine is the last person anyone would expect to become a crime fighter, or even a minor miracle. She is obsessed by vein star syndrome, a kind of (fictional) brain aneurism that killed her mother, and she is convinced that she is a walking time bomb. Her boyfriend is starting to despise her, and she despises herself for her weaknesses. Packard offers her a unique way to cope, but unfortunately, it has a price.

In the meantime, she’s got this major fangirl crush on the dashing chief of police.

It’s fun. It’s gripping. And I could not put it down. I’ll be getting the next two book in the series for some cruise reading next month.

This Week and Monthly Update

Ok, so I’m going to try to bring back my “this week” feature.

On Monday, I will post a review of an urban fantasy that I mentioned here recently. Later on in the week, I want to post on my worst job ever This is in honor of my current job, which turned into my best job ever about a year ago.

And that’s all I’m going to commit to today. 🙂

My Monthly Update

I don’t know if you guys ever noticed, but I post a monthly update on my front page in order to keep this site current. It is strictly about writing stuff. At the same time, I try to go through every page on the site, updating or removing everything that is dated. You would be surprised at the things you find that refer to a date in the future, but which took place a year ago. How embarrassing. If you have a website, you might want to go check all your pages. Let me know what you find.

So anyway, this month’s monthly update is live, with yet another tease. I hope to be able to reveal it soon; I don’t like keeping quiet!

This and that. And one other thing.

Yikes, time flies. (Checking calendar.) Whew. It’s only Tuesday. Or Wednesday, by the time you see this, because it’s pointless to post this late at night.

Just some random thoughts today.


I’m in the mood to read something very specific. I want to read a knight fantasy. Secondary world or historical. Male or female, but preferably an adult. And hmm, I’ll take an order of swords with that. Hold the sorcery–except maybe in the hands of the villain. But definitely an extra-large order of swords.

Know of something like that? Or do I have to write it? 🙂


Carolyn Crane. She wrote this fab urban fantasy called Mind Games. Read it. I am adding her to the short list of urban fantasy authors whom I read (along with Kelly Meding and Jennifer Estep). Here’s what I tweeted about it:

(insert gratuitous plug for my twitter feed here.) I meant it too. About her book, I mean. It was also extremely sexy, so you have been prepped.


Um, no. Can’t say anything about that yet.


Observations on getting older: you know you’re getting old when you look through your change for interesting coins, spot a particularly old specimen, check the date–and realize that you have two years on it. Ugh. I hope I held up better than that coin. (No, not the coin pictured. A coin I promptly spent.)


My music writing has languished in a story writing rush. Not only have I written three Petroleum Sunset stories, but I’ve written a short story based on a Cherokee legend that is trying to turn into a novella. If I can double the length, I might be able to interest my publisher in it.

How do I double the length? By adding more characters and complications. It’s what I did with The Sevenfold Spell, which started as a 7500 word short story. By adding Prince Andrew (sigh–my dreamiest male character ever), Harla, more on Princess Aurora and the fairies, and by cutting a few men (yeah, you guys never got to read about the Constable or the Abuser, who were redundant and/or unnecessary), I ended up with a 22,000 word novella. The story I’m working on now is about 7000 word so far, and I haven’t finished the ending. Hmm.

So what about my songs? I have no freaking idea about the music industry. And at this point, I’m not looking into it. Oh, well–my daughter enjoys them.


I bought a Kindle! Yeah, I really needed a Kindle when I already have an iPod touch (my original eReading device), a Nook and an iPad. But when I bought my Dad a Kindle for his birthday, I was so jealous of it. My Nook is first generation, and when you compare it to this Kindle, you can tell it’s a more mature device. (That’s a tech term–for example, the iPhone is a mature smartphone compared to the Android. It’s been around longer, and therefore has a lot of sweet features that they have added over time.)

I brought the Touch version, which I kind of regret because the finger tracking mechanism works by movement and not by pressure, so just laying the Kindle face down on something uneven, like a blanket, will totally do random things. You don’t even have to touch the surface; your finger/blanket/anything just needs to be within the shallow rectangle frame. I guess that feature needs to mature. 😉

But the Kindle with just the buttons was rather cumbersome, so the only other one I might have wanted would be the one with the full keyboard, and no. I’ll stick with the Touch, thank you. I’ve almost spent the 25 dollar gift cert I bought for myself.


Time to work on my story. Toodles!