Orison Release Week

The Favored Orb. Cover by Tracy McCusker

Friends and readers, we are two days away from Orison‘s release date. Like many of Daniel Swensen’s eager fans, I’ve been waiting for his debut novel to be finished. Burn was released, and I wanted more. I beta-read for Orison, and still I wanted more. I designed a cover, a map, and a logo. It wasn’t enough. I’m giddy to be here with you now, counting down to February 28th. Until I can see Dan’s shiny first book in my Kindle Cloud Reader. Until I can share with my friends a good cheer for this solid first foray into the fantasy-heist genre.

Today, I’d like to introduce you to one of the shaping characters of the novel (and the character that had the most dramatic overhaul from the beta draft to the here and now). She is Camana Queen of Calushain, Ruler of the Jewel of the Red Cities…or as her subjects know her… the Queen of Storms. Camana’s citadel of Stormhelt oversees a prosperous trading city; but the Ladris Empire is keen to get its claws into the free city. To protect her people, Camana must play intrigues with the Lotus Throne.

Of all of Orison‘s characters, Camana is the most cloaked in mystery. Everything we know about Camana is filtered through her duality of a public figure: there is “what she needs us to see” and “what she is”. It is whispered through the court of Calushain that Camana is a powerful being called an etheric, granted magical abilities by the dragons themselves. What we see is that Camana is a mythic figure to her own people. But Camana doesn’t hold power with overt displays of force; her power flows from her ability to sustain her myth with subtle political maneuvering.

Read more…

DFQWBS – Flash Fiction for Anna

Title – The Old Ways

Author – Tracy McCusker

eBook – Yes


The bride stood upon a cairn, on a broad groaning hill. There was no preacher, no festive cheer–just the wind and her blowing hair. She held a bridesmeet in her hands. A stone she’d worked with chisels until, at last, it became her token for her promised one.

Her grand-dame had covered her face at the oldness of the bride’s ways. “God love you, god protect you, don’t look into his eyes.”

Dressed in green, the bride stood alone waiting for her prize.

Read more…

Wanted: Outlaw Poets

What: Prose poems of 150 – 250 words (details below, read some poem walks here and here)

When: October 8th – October 21st

Theme: Horror/Suspense or Uncanny Nature

How to join: Send a tweet to @bullishink or @dustyjournal with the hashtag #poemwalk2012 and the link to your poem OR use the linky below

Prizes: 1st Place = $25 gift certificate / 2nd Place = $15 / Sign Up Incentive = If we get 10 or more participants, the Dusty Journal will gift a journal to her favorite entry!


A poem walk is a simple thing. All you need is yourself, a location that you’ve been before, and a bit of time. Perambulate through your favorite neighborhood, or give your entryway a stroll. The place can be huge (a park, a stadium, a yawning lake) or tiny (a garden path, a stop sign, a hallway). Move through it, casually, like you own the place. Use all of your senses. What do you see? Does the place have a smell? Many smells? Can you hear anything? Take a few breaths. What do you hear that you couldn’t before? Is there anything to touch or taste? Run your hand over an object you don’t normally touch. What does it feel like? Is it important?
Read more…

Hello, Goodbye! Week Twelve of ROW 80

Drumroll, please! The final tally:

82 / 80 poems


14355 / 15000 words

I started ROW80 with a higher word count (20,000), but I revised this goal to 15,000 after Week 3 when it became apparent that I wouldn’t be blogging for the duration of the challenge.

This round, I learned several things. One of which: blogging & using Twitter don’t help to me achieve writing goals. I would write off a few hours spent on Twitter in the evening as “research” or “responses,” and not get any poems written. Giving up Twitter isn’t an option. Professional contacts are important to a writer (and a designer). Friends gather on Twitter, and it’s nice to blow off some steam on a particularly hard afternoon. What I will do: no longer include social media / response goals in my writing challenges. It’s too easy to neglect the important stuff in favor of “research”. I won’t include blogging in my word count totals either, unless the blogs are creative, publishable pieces (essays, short fiction, poems, etc). Work blogs, and status updates, portfolio updating… the stuff around the writing rather than the writing itself.
Read more…

Reclusive and Reductive: Week One’s Goals

So! I started this week with a bit of a gentle slide into my ROW goals. To prepare for the weeks of serious writing ahead of me, I’ve been even more reclusive than normal (to those who don’t know, I am a crazy hermit! Hello!). Shunning instant messaging and family gatherings alike, I managed to recharge from a hectic scramble of projects in May & June. My goals for this round of ROW80 are similar as to what they’ve been in the past: write poems, write blog posts, do creative things in between. It’s a reductive set of goals, given my expansive desire to design and draw and write another manuscript in Round 1. But “laser focus” is my watch-phrase this round.

I usually write off the first week of ROW as my “gear-up” week, wherein I put into place routines and incentives to smooth my writing path (though it looks like I am staring at Twitter) and/or desperately attempt to make up those vitally lost days later in the challenge by heroically writing dozens of second-rate haiku. This week, however, I actually managed to make something!
Read more…