roh morgon

~ launch day #1

Today is the day. Launch Day.

The day a new Watcher: Book I of The Chosen is revealed.

So far, the reviews for the Advance Reading Copies (ARCs) are pouring in, more than half of them with five stars.

Unless you’re an author, you have no idea how stressful it is to release your work to the world and hope like heck that everyone doesn’t hate it.

I write weird stuff. It’s dark, violent, bloody, and heartbreaking in places.

But it makes you feel. At least, it makes me feel when I write it (yes, there are parts that make me cry), and, according to direct testimony from fans and reviewers, it makes readers feel as well.

And isn’t that the point of a story? To make you feel something? Whether you’ve never experienced those feelings yourself, or you have all too frequently, a good story should elicit emotion.

My own emotions are all over the map right now. Today is the culmination of an adventure I started nearly nine (nine!) years ago. It began with writing down a one-page lament from a strange vampire woman who was in my head when I woke up one morning in December 2008.

The various stages I’ve been through since that fateful morning have been like riding a rollercoaster as I navigated through the initial drafts, critiques, edits, rewrites, and publishing – all to do it again with the second edition. One moment I’m elated; the next I’m doubtful, and fearful that what I’ve written is absolute crap. And some folks might think just that.

But it seems the majority of readers like the story – and many of them love it. Sunny touches something within them. Maybe it’s sympathy. Or maybe she connects with that little part so many have within themselves that feels isolated and alone, that wants nothing more than understanding and caring from another.

Whatever it is, her followers want more of her story. And so I keep writing it as she gives it to me. The second installment, Runner: Book II of The Chosen, is due for release in a few weeks on October 25.

As with the first book, the second will likely leave you wanting even more.

And yes, “more” is in the works. Seeker: Book III of The Chosen, is slowly getting underway, and I’m going to do everything I can to bring it to the readers as soon as is humanly possible.

Or, with the help of a lonely, but brave, vampire woman, inhumanly possible.



roh morgon @ Saturday, 7 October 2017 1:17 pm
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~ a little history

I’ve been a reader since I can remember. I started with animal stories, and along the way fell in love with a magnificent Arabian stallion called The Black in Walter Farley’s The Black Stallion. I read the whole series, and anything else about horses that I could get my hands on.

My next phase was the Readers’ Digest Condensed Books for Children. Though they were shortened versions, without the RD books I probably never would have been exposed to such classics as Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, Moby Dick, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and countless others.

When I was in junior high school, my dad signed me up for the Science Fiction Book Club. Every 30 days they would send their book-of-the-month. I read Planet of the Apes, 2001: A Space Odyssey and Dune long before they were made into movies, along with many other science fiction classics.

I briefly dabbled in westerns when I spent a summer with my grandparents, and I fell head over heels for the steel-eyed, silent stranger who was fast with a gun and saved the day.

And then I discovered fantasy. Lord of the Rings opened up doors to lands even more wonderful that those in the wild west or on the faraway planets of science fiction, and I quickly immersed myself into realms ruled by magic and swords.

In the 1990s, the movie Interview with a Vampire introduced me to a new genre. After I read all of Anne Rice’s books, I consumed every vampire story I could get my hands on. Wonderful stories by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, Elaine Bergstrom, Nancy Collins, Nancy Baker and many others showed me how a simple mythology can have so many different—and fascinating—interpretations.

Fast forward to 2008. Vampires had taken over pop culture, thanks to the Twilight books and movies. Stephanie Meyer brought a new twist to the genre, one I thought was actually quite clever in spite of the grumblings by critics about “sparkly vampires.”

And then, one morning in December, I woke up with this sad, lonely vampire woman in my head. I couldn’t stop thinking about her, and when I got to work, I quickly wrote a one-page lament in her voice. She talked about her isolation, her fear of killing someone, and her anguish at watching her daughter live out her life from afar.

I wasn’t sure what to do at that point. I’d always thought about writing books, but never felt I had the time. Writing was something I’d decided would have to wait until I was retired.

But this creature, this vampire woman, would not leave me alone. And I found myself wondering about her life, and how she spent her time, and what had happened to make her this way.

And so, in early January 2009, I gave in and started writing down the bits of her existence that she revealed to me. Sunny showed me her life as though it were a movie, and all I did was translate the film into words on a computer screen.

Nicolas entered the picture a week or so later. Together they were relentless, and as their story unfolded in my head, movie-fashion, I could do nothing but write.

They would start in on me late at night, at 10:00, or maybe 11:00 – just when I was ready to go to bed. The movie played, and I had no choice but to type.

Sleep was a reward they allowed me only after the clock showed 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning, and I would gratefully shut down my computer and stagger to bed. My alarm would go off the next morning at 6:00 a.m., and I would crawl to work. After a long day, I returned home, only to repeat the cycle again, and again.

Weekends became typing marathons, with 5:00 a.m. bedtimes and 8:00 a.m. wakeups. And the movie played, and my fingers could only comply with the pressure to get the story out.

And I learned what it’s like to live with vampires.

Five months later, the first draft of the novel was completed. I then spent the next eighteen months learning how to write (something I’m still working on), and in October 2011, Watcher: Book I of The Chosen was born.

Since then, I’ve written several short stories in the Watcher world, along with a number of stories in a new YA series.

But the vampires refuse to let me go just yet. Runner: Book II of The Chosen is scheduled for release in Fall 2017—and there are more stories about their world on the way.

roh morgon @ Thursday, 13 July 2017 10:32 pm
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~ 2017 update

2016 was a busy year that included a number of positive events in my life.

Most importantly, a serious health condition that has dogged me for much of my adult life has been resolved. I’m getting healthier by the day and that spark (which had been fading the last few years) has returned. I’m grateful to be alive.

My new lease on life motivated me to take a trip this past summer to a magical place featured in many of my favorite stories – ROMANIA. Even better, the trip was hosted by Dacre Stoker, the great-grandnephew of Dracula author Bram Stoker.

As my husband and I visited Romanian villages and hiked the Carpathian Mountains, I realized our trip was not only to another place, but another time. I absorbed as many sights, sounds, and smells as I could, and hopefully I’ll be able to reproduce some of those experiences in my next novel.

Another significant life event was a change in my day job, which now brings me more satisfaction and will allow me more time – and energy – for writing. In addition, for the first time I can truly see retirement on the not-too-distant horizon.

My dream of writing full-time is now a little closer.

As for my writing itself . . .

*  “Saving Magic”, a young adult fantasy from my Forbidden Doorways series, will be released this spring. “Magic” was originally written for the Fresno Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers Woadsbury anthology. Unfortunately, the anthology never saw publication.

*  “The Games Monsters Play”, a novelette of The Chosen, was published September 2016 and is now available on Amazon in both print and ebook formats.

“Games” is an expanded version of the story that first appeared in 2013’s “High Stakes: A Vampire Anthology”, edited by Gabrielle Faust and published by Evil Jester Press. The story follows a minor character from Watcher and introduces a major character from Runner.

*  “Runner: Book II of The Chosen”, after more revisions than I can count, is finally with my editor. I will not promise a publishing date (because that seems to be a promise I’ve been unable to keep so far), but I’m going to do everything I can to get it published this year.

*  “Seeker: Book III of The Chosen” is in development. All I can say about it is that my trip to Romania last summer has provided me wonderful backdrop material for Sunny’s continuing journey.

That’s it for now. It’s great to be back in the game.

roh morgon @ Saturday, 18 February 2017 3:03 pm
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~2016 update

New year. New determination.

I am writing.

I am editing.

Runner will be published by the end of the year.

The last three years have been a wild roller coaster ride. Every time I’ve thought I had control of my life again, or at least some semblance of it, some new challenge rose, frequently flanked by a couple old ones.

But everything feels different now.

My medical and family issues have slowly resolved, finally allowing my creative self to unfurl her wings and climb out from the protective cocoon in which she’s been hiding.

And it feels so glorious to stretch those wings.

My edit of Runner has morphed into a complete re-write of the first section, something that I hadn’t anticipated.

But it’s a good thing. In fact, it’s a great thing, and as it turned out, was absolutely necessary.

Runner‘s opening scene – about 20,000 words – hit the page in 2009, right after I completed the first draft of Watcher. It slowly evolved, 20,000-40,000 words at a time, until the initial draft was complete in late 2013.

Once the final chapter was done, it was time to turn my attention to an early chapter which I had purposely skipped. Medical research was needed to complete it, but that turned out to be much more difficult than I realized. I finally met an ER nurse who gave me a crash course in ER procedures (thank you, Janeane) and made me painfully aware that the scenes leading up to that chapter were completely unrealistic and needed major revision. Further discussions with my sister-in-law, a surgical nurse instructor, helped me fine-tune the scenes and keep them as medically accurate as possible.

And so the re-write began.

But like I said before, that was absolutely necessary. And not just because some of the details were wrong.

The writing was, well, not that great. I wrote those initial chapters five to seven years ago, and in the intervening years, something cool happened.

My writing improved. A lot.

And the first section of Runner is so much better now. There’s a maturity to the writing that even I can see, and I’m grateful I had the opportunity to write this story the right way BEFORE it’s published.

So for those of you who’ve been wondering if you’d ever see Watcher‘s sequel, believe me when I tell you this:

It will be well worth the wait.

And so I slowly step back into the writing world.

I was recently accepted as a featured author at the Great Valley Bookfest in Manteca on October 8th. And next week, I’ll be helping the San Francisco chapter of the Horror Writers Association with their booth at the Bay Area Book Festival.

And in July?

I’m traveling to Romania for an 11-day tour of the country as research for Seeker, my third book in the Chosen series. I’ll post more on that later.

Several weeks ago, I attended StokerCon, the Horror Writers Association convention and awards. I hugged writer friends I haven’t seen in three years, and made some great new ones. The workshops re-energized me, but it was being back in the presence of so much wonderful creativity that really strengthened my determination to finish my current projects and start new ones. That, and the belief in me and my writing that my close friends and family have, is giving me the drive and the energy to pursue my passion and my dream of someday being able to do this full-time.

Because I have so many wonderful stories to tell.









roh morgon @ Sunday, 29 May 2016 5:42 pm
Comments (2)

~editing tools

Just came across this on a blog:


This online editing software will check your manuscript for overused and repeated words, overused phrases, cliches, pacing, and a few other common writing mistakes.

I ran several pages through the free wizard and was pleasantly surprised at the results.

Autocrit’s checklist of overused words showed I was guilty of a few and highlighted them in my text. The highlights made it easy for me to spot the offenders and allowed me to choose whether to change the sentence or not. It also enabled me to spot passive or weak sentences by highlighting words such as ‘was’ and ‘it’.

The sentence variation tab provided a histogram of sentence lengths, as well as word count. This is a nice tool.

Cliches and redundancies were also revealed. My text contained one cliche and no redundancies.

A number of other diagnostic tools and reports are offered in the packages available for purchase, including the ability to customize the overused words list.

I like the idea and ease of checking for these common errors myself before sending a manuscript to a human editor. Autocrit may also turn out to be a good teaching tool, and I suspect my writing will improve with its use.

Autocrit is membership-based. In addition to the free wizard (which has limits in both tool options and word count), the membership packages range in price from $47 to $117 per year, depending mainly upon word count.

There are other editing software packages out there, including Serenity, Style Writer, EditMinion, and Cliche Cleaner. I’ve read where some writers will run their work through several editing applications to focus on specific issues.

I liked Autocrit‘s simplicity and am planning to purchase a membership. I recommend you check it out.

roh morgon @ Wednesday, 23 May 2012 11:10 pm
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category: editing,writing
tags: ,


Somebody asked me the other day how long I’d been blogging. I couldn’t answer them off the top of my head. So when I got home and onto my computer that night, I checked to see the date of my first post.

It was December 6, 2009, two years and a month ago.

I can’t believe I missed my own blogiversary!

Well, yes I can. I miss birthdays and anniversaries all the time – just ask my hubby. Oh well.

So, in belated honor of my blogiversary, and in honor of Watcher, the book that started it all, below is a re-posting of my very first post telling how I got started in this whole writing thing.

It’s certainly been a long strange trip…


the beginning of it all

I suppose if I’m going to tell the story of telling a story, I should start at the beginning.

One year ago, in December 2008, I heard an interview with the author of a popular book series. When asked who she wrote her story for, she said she wrote it for herself.

That statement flipped a switch somewhere inside me. And so I decided to write a story for me, about beings I’d long been fascinated with – vampires.

At least I thought I was writing it for myself.

The first words to hit the page stunned me. They spoke of the pain of an undead creature as she watched a family she could no longer be part of. They went on to describe how she struggled with her violent nature, held in check only by memories of her daughter, and how she lived with the loneliness of her dangerous secret.

And so Sunny was born. She didn’t have a name then, because all I wrote that December was a one-page preface. The holidays were in full swing, my family was gathering for a long-overdue reunion, and there was no time to write. I reluctantly put her story on hold until after the first of the year. Fortunately she was content with that and allowed me to enjoy my family time.

But when January came around, Sunny came back into my life, and she brought others with her. Together they began insisting I tell their story, invading my thoughts all hours of the day as well as the night. I slept very little back then, averaging only 2-4 hours a night while still trying to hold down a full-time job.

Weekends were even worse. I’d start writing Friday night when I got home after work, recording their story until they released me to crawl into bed just before sunrise. I was usually back up by 8 or 9 Saturday morning to start again. I’d write all day, taking few breaks, and on into the night until sometime near dawn. Sunday would be a repeat of Saturday, writing almost non-stop. Fortunately, because I had to get up and go to work the next morning, they allowed me to go to bed a little earlier on Sunday nights – most of the time.

This went on for five months. At the end of May, over Memorial Weekend, I finished the end of the first draft. I still had a couple of early chapters to flesh out, but as far as I was concerned, I was done.

Sunny and Nicolas had other ideas. A week later they pushed me to continue with their story in the second book of the series. I wrote about 25,000 words before they let me stop. But they didn’t stop. Shifting their attention back to Watcher, the pressure I’ve felt to edit and prepare it for publication has been relentless.

And so it continues. I’m hoping to have all the fine-tuning for Watcher complete by the end of the year. I’ve submitted to two agents that I met at writer’s conferences, and will begin submitting to more in January if I haven’t heard anything by then.

Friends are helping me with artwork and website management. I’m slowly building my online presence, including learning how to blog. This all takes so much time, yet I can do nothing else but press forward as Sunny and Nicolas insist.

Because their need to have their story known…is every bit as strong as the need they are known for.

So if anyone wants to know what it’s like to be seduced and have your life taken over by vampires, I can tell them. Because mine has, and just like in the legends, the dark gift has its good points, and its bad.

 December 6, 2009


As I look back on this post, I shake my head in amazement. That year is a blur – it was like I was possessed. Hmm…who knows – maybe I was <grin> (I like to think so – it’s a better explanation than thinking I was losing my mind!)

As for meeting my goal of submitting to agents and trying to get a publishing deal in 2010, all I can say is … everything happens for a reason. I’m happy with the path I’m on, one that allows me to control my own career, subject only to the whims of the readers  – and not the middlemen of a too-rapidly changing publishing world.

I’m off to a great start this year, with a novel and two short stories published, and more in the works. I feel optimistic about the coming year, and am excited to be moving forward on some new projects.

All doomsaying aside, I think 2012 is going to be great!

roh morgon @ Tuesday, 3 January 2012 11:51 pm
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The new year is almost upon us.


The year some say the world ends.

Others say 2012 will be the year of the writer.

I prefer to believe the latter.

Most writers write because they have stories in them yearning to get out – stories to be expressed, and shared, and maybe even loved. 

Inspiration is an important fuel for the fires of writing.


Sometimes the inspiration comes in the form of a dream or in a sudden flash sparked by an  image or a song. Other times it arrives in the words of another writer.

Several writers have written words lately that inspire me to write and keep writing. These are not words from a story. They are words of experience and encouragement, words explaining that my fears related to writing and publishing are normal, and that all writers have to move past their fears if they want to make a living on what they write.

Dean Wesley Smith has 30 years in the industry as a writer, editor, and publisher, and  is someone whose words I follow. I may not always do exactly what he says when he says it, but once the words have sunk in, I find his advice fits the path I’m on perfectly.

Last Friday he wrote a blog post titled New World of Publishing: Failure is an Option. Quitting is Not.

A quote from Dean’s post:

“To become a professional fiction writer, you must become a major risk-taker without fear of failure or a care in the world what anyone else thinks of you or your writing.”

Dean regularly writes words that I find inspirational. And the right ones always seem to come along just when I need them.

Another inspirational writer I follow is Kristine Kathryn Rusch. Kris is a no-nonsense successful writer whose 30+ years in the industry include editing and publishing. She’s also Dean’s wife.

Kris wrote a post not too long ago that really struck home. It came at a time when I was feeling a bit discouraged. The post was called Freelancer’s Survival Guide: Giving Up On Yourself.

In the second half of the post, Kris lists six steps to keep from giving up on yourself. Below are the six-step titles. Please go read the entire post – my summary does not do it justice.

1. Believe in yourself.

2. Stop the negative self-talk.

3. Perform a daily gut check.

4. Watch out for that evil phrase, “I can live with that.”

5. Watch out for “good enough.”

6. Be tenacious.

Kris’s closing words:

“Cling to your dream. Work for your goal. If you step off the path, climb back on the moment you realize you’ve veered in the wrong direction.

You will make mistakes. You will take the wrong path. The key is to come back to yourself, and come back to the right road for you.

I can’t tell you if you’re giving up on yourself. Only you can know that.

Dean has one other question, and it’s a big one: when you’re on your deathbed, what will you regret?

Will you regret not striving hard enough for your dream? Will you regret lost years while you were succeeding in a profession other than the one you love? Will you regret being “good enough?”

Only you can answer those questions.

And you should. Daily. To keep yourself on track.

To keep yourself from giving up.”


Now that’s inspirational.

roh morgon @ Tuesday, 27 December 2011 12:08 pm
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category: writing

~adventures in pubbing

First of all, I’d like to thank Deirde at A Storybook World for this cool blog award:


Wow – can’t believe how this summer is flying by – I mean, really fast, though maybe not this fast:

This is the US military’s new unmanned Falcon HTV-2 (Hyperonic Technology Vehicle 2), touted to be the fastest plane ever at a top speed of  Mach 20, or 13,000 miles per hour.


That’s London to Sydney in less than an hour, according to this article in the UK’s Guardian.

That’s amazing. But what’s even more amazing is that the military lost the plane 36 minutes into its test flight.

That’s right.

Lost. The. Plane.

Millions of dollars in time, research, and materials, not to mention countless man-hours, literally vanished into thin air.

The Falcon HTV doesn’t have a great track record. There were only two built: Falcon HTV-1 and Falcon HTV-2.

Last year, the Falcon HTV-1 was 9 minutes into its test flight when, according the Guardian article, the computers detected a problem and sent it into the ocean for safety reasons.

One vanished into thin air, the other at the bottom of the deep blue sea.

How cliche.

So much for the human attempt to break its own record.

To see how nature does it, watch this video of a REAL falcon diving, in which her top speed is recorded at 242 mph.

Will the Real Falcon Please Stand Up?!

Now that’s more like it.

So, back to how fast the summer is flying by and what I’m working on.

I’ve got two projects right now – writing a novella set in the Watcher world, and publishing Watcher itself.

One of the things I’ve learned about self-publishing is that it means wearing many hats.  A lot more than I realized. In addition to writer, editor, publisher, distributor, and publicist, I’m learning to be a book designer.

If you’re new to the industry like I am, there are all sorts of things to consider when you want to get your book out for public consumption. Not only do your story and your words have to BE good, they have to LOOK good. Here’s an example of some of the challenges I’ve recently faced:

~ learning all of the details that go into designing a book…all the little details I’ve always taken for granted, such as what you want in the header and/or footer, where to place the page number, what to include on the copyright page, what font to use, acknowledgments, dedication, author bio…

~ deciding on a cool font to use for my title and chapter headings. OMG – there are thousands and thousands to choose from. But it’s critical – an attractive title font goes right along with the cover, and helps make the inside part of the book look professional.  

~ realizing that all the best designed books use the title font for the first letter of each chapter. I only had to replace 65 of them by hand.  

~ pushing the chapter headings down the page so the first page of the chapter starts about 1/3 to 1/2 way down, and of course, at the same level as all the other chapters. Styles makes this easy if you’ve used them correctly. I discovered I hadn’t. Doesn’t sound too bad, but I have a prologue, an epilogue, and 63 chapters…  

~ adding extra pages at the end of certain chapters so that all of the new chapters start on the odd (right-hand) page – and the heading placement is the same as all the others. This is where I discovered that section breaks can be a real pain in the ass.  

~ fighting with styles and section breaks so that the header doesn’t print on the new chapter pages (the ones with the chapter heading), but maintains the sequential numbering and the proper even- and odd-page header set-up on all the rest.  

~ discovering when I thought I was all done with the inside formatting that the first paragraph of a new chapter or a new section is NOT indented. Yeah, never realized that one. Not only do I have the  prologue, and epilogue, and 63 chapters, I have several section breaks PER CHAPTER. But not all is lost. I think I can fix this with <cringe> modifying the styles so that I don’t have to remove the indents by hand…without blowing up my whole document. I hope.  

Once the inside is finished (nearly there – I can almost taste it), then it’s time for the cover.

Which I am NOT doing the artwork for.

No way. No how. Don’t got that creative bent. Even my stick figures are lame.

But…I know peeps. And I got a peep working on my covers (notice I said covers with an ‘s’ – Watcher is only the first of a trilogy).

In the meantime, I’m putting together a plain cover for a test run. I’m planning to print up a half-dozen proofs as review copies for some special readers I’ve been holding in reserve.

But what that means is that I still have to put together a temporary cover layout, which includes front, back, and spine.

When that’s done, I’ll convert it to PDF, hopefully maintaining all of my painfully-arranged formatting, and hand it off to my indie publisher, Dark Dreams Publishing (more on that later). 

So…that’s what I’ve been up to during this rapidly-passing summer. I just wish it would slow down to falcon speed and not try to be a Falcon HTV.

But it may a bit late for that – too soon I know I’ll look back and say, “Where did my summer go?”

Hopefully I’ll have more to show for my efforts than the memory of a vanished blip on a radar.

roh morgon @ Wednesday, 24 August 2011 5:31 pm
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~in the zone


That’s where I’ve been.

Deep in the story.

So deep that this morning when I was driving to work, thinking of upcoming scenes and additions to those already written, I realized I was driving to the WRONG FRICKIN’ CITY.

On the wrong highway. In nearly the opposite direction.


That’s what it’s like to be in the zone.

Lost. Buried deep.

So wrapped up with the characters and their catastrophic lives that I have trouble extricating myself.

I can feel them in the background while I’m at work, or meeting social obligations, or with family.

Calling me. Begging me to get their story down and share with the world their angst and tragedies, their joys and loves.

The story I’m working on now is about Taz and how he became the unfeeling, distant bastard that he is. His music is mostly Coldplay (their more somber tunes), and his song is Amsterdam.


My apologies to those of you waiting for workshop reports, or for me to read and give you feedback on your latest fiction.

I’ll get to you – I promise.

But right now I need to go.

Taz is calling me.

roh morgon @ Monday, 1 August 2011 9:50 am
Comments (4)
category: watcher,writing

~back from my workshop road trip marathon

Yeah, when I look back on the last month and a half, that’s what it was.

4 out-of-town workshops in 6 weeks.

1 work-related, 3 writerly.

Covered six states: Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Oregon, and Washington, as well as the Central Coast of California (I live in the middle of the state, several hours away).

Drove 3,500 miles in that time and logged over 65 hours behind the wheel. Loved every minute of it.

As for the writerly workshops themselves? Absolutely awesome.

The first one, June 6-11 in St. George, Utah, was the Professional Writers Workshop with sci-fi/fantasy writer David Farland. This workshop emphasized craft and storytelling and was phenomenal.

The second two were in Lincoln City, Oregon and given by Dean Wesley Smith (who’s also written a ton of sci-fi/fantasy). July 9-12 covered Pitches and Blurbs, and July 14-17 was on Self-Publishing. We had a 1-day break between them, so I drove to Portland and picked up my hubby from the airport, then we did a little bit of touristy stuff.

Was it worth it? The money? The time? The wear-and-tear on my car and on my ass?

Hell, yeah.

Those three workshops have given my budding writing career a shot of adrenaline that will propel me light-years ahead of where I was two months ago.

I’ll tell you all about them in my next several posts.

Stay tuned…

roh morgon @ Tuesday, 19 July 2011 2:58 pm
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~weekly e-Watch

e-Watch is on break while I’m attending David Farland’s Professional Writers Workshop.

We’ll return next week and catch everyone up on the latest in the publishing world.


roh morgon @ Friday, 10 June 2011 10:50 pm
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~writing and finding balance

Imagine walking barefoot on an I-beam at the top of a skyscraper undergoing construction. You’re walking out to the end, your attention fixed to that point where steel stops and sky starts.

You place one foot at a time on the cold metal, not daring to look away. Your entire focus is on that steel lifeline beneath your feet.  Electric fear raises the hairs on your skin and you hope neither dust nor dew turns the next step into a slip. 

The world floats in your peripheral vision, but you don’t dare look. The infinite sky expands above you — its weight presses down and around your fragile body.  The earth waits below, the city’s concrete and asphalt promising instant death. But sky and earth are not the source of your fear. 

It’s not falling that fuels the fear, either, though that seems the most obvious. 

It’s your balance, or lack thereof. Your balance is what determines whether you careen off the edge or reach your goal. You hope you’ve trained and schooled enough to maintain an even keel, instilled enough discipline in yourself to keep walking and not lose sight of the end.

But maintaining that focus is difficult – and exhausting. One moment you’re sweating and your foot trembles as it seeks a stable grip. The next is filled with elation at your success, giving you a boost of confidence that you are going to make it.

Something flies by and your eyes are drawn to it against your will. Your body wobbles and you take a sharp breath and stop.

But you can’t stop when you’re walking an I-beam, because to stop is to risk becoming frozen by fear – the fear of starting again and taking the next step. And so you stand there, the world spinning at your feet, and try to summon the courage to begin again. You will your leg to move, to relax the deathgrip your foot has on the steel and seek a new resting spot ahead. And it does, and the other foot follows, and you are once again on your way.

The end is in sight and you drive on toward it. You become aware of voices below, some shouting encouragement, others screaming that you’ll fall. But you can’t give them your attention, because you must keep it on the steel beneath your feet.

The end of the beam becomes everything. You hope that when you reach it, wings will sprout from your back and you can launch into a welcoming sky – a sky that will open up a whole new world and way of living.

The life of a writer seeking to become published is like walking that I-beam. Work and family vie for attention, and it must be given. The trick is to find the balance between the demands of others and the demands of self.


How do you find it?

roh morgon @ Friday, 14 January 2011 10:43 am
Comments (6)
category: writing
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~this week’s musical treat – 20 december 2010

Not too long ago, I posted about the trouble I was having starting a new WIP, and how hearing a song called Circadian Rhythm by Sun Volt triggered the opening scene I’d been searching for (see finding the spark ).

Circadian Rhythm is a plaintive, soul-searching kind of song that really describes Sullivan (the main character) and where he’s at in this part of his life. It’s his theme song, and has provided the background tone for much of the early part of the story.

But lately another song has come to my attention for Sullivan. I don’t know if I recently heard it on the radio or what, but it’s been playing non-stop in my head for weeks. I finally relented, downloaded it, and made it part of Sullivan’s playlist. Though the song is from the ’70s, its emotion is timeless.

It’s called I’m Eighteen by Alice Cooper. Let’s just say it’s a good one for the occasions when Sullivan’s feeling pissed off at the world.

For your listening pleasure…

What songs remind you of your characters?

Do you have songs for when they’re down, angry, in love?

Does music help you flesh out their emotions?

roh morgon @ Monday, 20 December 2010 12:52 am
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~with a little help from my friends…

Fresno SciFi & Fantasy WritersWow…

We did it.


Who are ‘we’, you ask?

‘We’ are the:

Fresno SciFi & Fantasy Writers

(cool logo, huh?!)

FSFW is a face-to-face critique group that was founded in April 2008 by Christopher Wood (aka töff). I joined last year, and it was one of the best things I could have done for my career as a writer. The grammar lessons and feedback I’ve received from the group have been priceless. In addition, several members are webgurus, and without them (especially töff and Chris Fontes), I wouldn’t have such an awesome-looking blog and website.

So what did we do that’s so cool?

We made a commitment, wrote and polished some great stories, and self-published our very own anthology. It’s called:

Doesn’t it look great?! The talent in our group is amazing. One of the anthology contributors, Melanie Smith (who is also one of the editors), painted the cover. The cover design, along with the typesetting of the book itself, was done by the other editor, töff.  His 20 years in the printing industry has really come in handy, especially since there are so many different book formats in publishing.

And one of the formats it’s now available in (worldwide!) is Amazon’s Kindle. Check it out on Amazon here!

(wow – to actually see something we’ve worked on for so long listed in Amazon is beyond cool!)

You can also buy the ebook from the FSFW website. The hardcover and trade paperback editions should be available from the site in the next couple weeks – just in time for Christmas.

Here’s a listing of the stories:

The Station by E.A.J. Smith – Isolated aboard a space station during a massive solar flare, a man fights to stay alive and to destroy the thing that keeps him trapped.

Making of a Monster by Melanie Smith – Who can say which choice it is that sets an unassuming boy onto the path that leads to evil?

The Forbidden Chamber by Sarah A. Peterson – Young Sandy and her baby brother take two different approaches to dealing with the ghost of someone else’s past.

Endangered Species by Jim D. Geiser – Vampires now live openly with humans. Can one vampire girl now end the hatred between vampires and their hunters?

The Alley by Earl Scialabba – A boy in a post-apocalyptic Los Angeles is torn between his struggling family and the protective camaraderie of his friends.

Into the Grey: The Revelation of Caius Solomon by C. Michael Fontes – A half-angel battles his past, faith, leader, and personal demons when tasked to assassinate an innocent human in 1800s Europe.

Q Flux by Christopher Wood – A mathematician holds his finger on the button that will connect mankind to an alien civilization of unknown power and intent.

The Swordsman by P.D. Wright – A young monk chooses to fight to protect his village, his family, and the girl he loves from foreign invaders.

The Bakkra Encounter by R. Garrett Wilson – Three college students find themselves guests—and prisoners—in an alien world that becomes more hostile the longer they stay.

Fur Before Feathers by Roh Morgon – The choices between right and wrong take on a few extra twists in this coming-of-age tale about a young shapeshifter.

So anyhow, I just wanted to share my excitement and thank the nine other contributors, along with our editors and designers, for all the time and effort spend on making this project happen. And last, but not least, I’d like to thank Ryan Wilson, whose idea for the anthology got us started on this new adventure in publishing.

Thanks, FSFWers, for being such a great group! You’re awesome!

And thank you, töff, for your tireless efforts to make this book a reality.

And yeah, that’s a lot of thanks. But, hey – I’m grateful!

roh morgon @ Saturday, 20 November 2010 2:27 pm
Comments (4)

~Logline Blogfest!

Yesterday I attempted to participate in one of Miss Snark’s First Victim’s logline contests, but failed to get my entry in on time  :( – (entries were closed within 2 minutes!)

But today she posted about an ongoing logline blogfest being hosted by Steena at Chocolate Reality. It seems I may be a little too late for it as well (it actually started on Nov 1) but thought I’d throw my hat into the ring anyways.

And with that, here’s my logline #1 for my dark fantasy novel, Watcher:

No longer human and forced to live in isolation to protect her secret, Sunny Martin’s lonely existence changes when she meets Nicolas, the enigmatic leader of a hidden society–but as they’re swept into a whirlwind of passion, betrayal, and murder, Sunny faces an agonizing choice: give up her soul for the one she loves, or spend eternity alone.


Based on some of the feedback I’ve received on the above logline, here’s a completely different one. I’m thinking I might end up with a combination of the two.

Logline #2

Predator, killer, monster – these are all labels that Sunny Martin applies to herself since the night she was savaged and drained of her blood. Struggling to survive on the edge of a human world she no longer belongs to, she discovers a second world, a world of dangerous beings akin to her, yet not. Her journey to bridge the two is one that brings unexpected love and heartbreak, and true transformation.


Combination: Logline #3:

Predator, killer, monster – these are all labels that Sunny Martin applies to herself since the night she was ripped through her car window and drained of her blood. Struggling to survive on the edge of a human world she no longer belongs to, her lonely existence changes when she meets Nicolas, the enigmatic leader of a hidden society–but as they’re swept into a whirlwind of passion, betrayal, and murder, Sunny faces an agonizing choice: give up her soul for the one she loves, or spend eternity alone.


Logline #4 – I think this might be the one:

Predator, killer, monster – these are all labels Sunny Martin applies to herself since the night she was ripped through her car window and drained of her blood. Struggling to survive on the edge of a human world she no longer belongs to, her lonely existence changes when she meets Nicolas, the enigmatic leader of a hidden society–but soon their passion, tainted by betrayal and murder, drives Sunny toward an agonizing choice: give up her soul for the one she loves, or spend eternity alone.


And it’s too late for the contest, but here’s Logline #5:

Predator, killer, monster–these are all labels Sunny Martin applies to herself since the night she was ripped through her car window and drained of her blood. Her lonely existence changes when she meets Nicolas, the enigmatic leader of a hidden society–but soon their passion, tainted by betrayal and murder, drives Sunny toward an agonizing choice: give up her soul for the one she loves, or remain alone…forever.


A suggestion from someone near and dear to me is to rearrange a couple of the opening words. I think this works better…thanks, Tristain!

The latest incarnation, Logline #6:

Monster, predator, killer–these are all labels Sunny Martin applies to herself since the night she was ripped through her car window and drained of her blood. Her lonely existence changes when she meets Nicolas, the enigmatic leader of a hidden society–but soon their passion, tainted by betrayal and murder, drives Sunny toward an agonizing choice: give up her soul for the one she loves, or remain alone…forever.


Let me know what you think!

Be sure to go here to read the other logline entries in this ‘fest.

And thanks, Steena, for hosting such an awesome blogfest!

roh morgon @ Wednesday, 3 November 2010 2:44 pm
Comments (32)

~Monster Mash Blogfest!


It’s so not cool to be late to one’s own party. I tried to explain to the vampires, shifters, and werewolves with whom I’ve been partying the last two days that I needed to get home to the Monster Mash, and they finally relented and let me go.

Good thing the Mash is running all week. A number of partiers have posted their stories already, so be sure to see the guest list to see who they might’ve brought along with them.

Here are my special guests. They’re from a YA novel that I’m working on. Hope you enjoy hanging out with them!


Stupid werewolves. They drive me crazy with their idiotic howling at the moon. It sounds like a big pack in the woods tonight – think I’ll stay inside ‘til San gets here.

But I wish he’d hurry. The full moon jacks my nerves and I need to get out for awhile,  even though I promised my ‘parents’ I’d stay in tonight.

Yeah, fat chance. I’m just as big a liar in this life as I was in my other.

They’re not really my parents. They’re just who I was assigned to because the Elders said I was too immature to be on my own. Whatever. They can go suck a tree.

A soft tapping at the glass brings a smile to my face. I comb back the blond wisps that’ve worked loose from my ponytail and turn to open the window. Laughter escapes me at the sight of a ridiculous little bat doing flips in the air. I wrinkle my nose and stick out my teeth in imitation of his batface and raise the window a few inches. He swoops in, shifts to human form mid-air, and lands gracefully on his feet. He then bows with a sweeping gesture of his arm.

“Good evening, Madam,” San announces in a mock Bela Lugosi.

“Good evening, Count.” I play the shy lady, drop my gaze, and curtsy.

“Come here, my dahrling,” he continues in the silly accent. “I have a special gift for you.”

He opens his arms and tips his head. I walk into his embrace, then sink my fangs into his exposed throat.

“Ouch, Jade. Do you have to be so rough?” he says through gritted teeth, his voice his own again.

I take a couple more swallows and shove Sanders away. Pretend hugging’s one thing, but he was enjoying it a little too much, which is why I bit him so hard.

“Sorry. Those loony werewolves are giving me a case of the aggros.”

“Yeah, well, don’t take it out on me. And just for the record, they’re on my last nerve too.” He scowls and rubs his neck, then turns to the window and opens it wider. “You ready?”

I ignore his sulky tone, climb onto the sill, and jump the two stories to the ground. I look up in time to see Sanders launch from the window and shift into a falcon mid-air. As he nears the ground, he shifts again into his human body and lands on his feet.

The best shapeshifter at school, he really is quite smooth and graceful. My dead heart twinges as I watch him and guilt creeps in for being such a bitch.

Irritated at myself, I take off across the wide lawn for the woods. I glance back at the cheetah charging after me and smile. It’s one of the only forms in which he can keep up. I pour on the speed, laughing as we race across the grass and down the path to the trees.


We peer through the bushes at the circle of wolfmen gathered in the clearing. One of them is pacing back and forth in the center of the group, thumping his chest as he grunts and growls in their beastly language. I can only imagine what he’s going on about. It’s no doubt the same crap they spout when they’re in human form, about how they don’t have any rights and no one in the community respects them.

I dunno about the rights part, but seriously, who can respect a bunch of slobbering beastmen who go all psycho during the full moon?

Sanders touches my shoulder, grins, and shifts into a swallow. He takes off and lands on a tree branch above the snarling group.

I smile as he swoops down and grazes the top of the head belonging to a tall, thin wolfman. The beast growls and swats the air for the swift bird who is no longer there. Sanders lands in a tree and pauses a moment before picking a new target. After the third time, none of them are paying attention to the one in the center. The growls in his audience at the annoying little bird are beginning to drown out the grunts and snarls of the speaker.

Sanders launches again and this time his target is the nose of the werewolf on center stage. The beastman howls at the insult and the whole pack erupts in chorus with him. Their stupid meeting disintegrates into chaos as they whirl around seeking out the tiny flyer.

Stifling my laughter, I grin at Sanders as he lands beside me and give him a thumbs up.

Now it’s my turn.

I slip into the clearing and remain still while they scan the trees above them for the swallow. A new howl rips the air as one of them spots me. The whole pack whips around in a snarling frenzy, but the leader shoves his way to the front and, turning, growls at them in apparent warning to hold up.

As he faces me, I move in, fast, and tweak his nose.

He snaps at the air and I laugh at him from the edge of the clearing. He roars and leaps for me, but I’m gone. Giggling, I run through the woods with the now bloodthirsty pack on my heels. I stay just far enough ahead of them that they can see me, and even allow the leader to get within a few feet. But as he reaches for me, I lunge forward and we burst through the edge of the trees onto Main Street. I move into blur speed and dart behind the stable that’s across the road.

Sanders glides down in owl shape and shifts to human, then gives me a high-five. Snickering, we turn to watch the confused werewolves as they realize I’m gone and they’re in the middle of the street.

An approaching steamcar slams on its brakes and, tires screeching, slides toward the milling beastmen. It comes to a halt, narrowly missing one of them. The pack turns with a snarl and attacks the car.

“Uh-oh,” Sanders whispers.

“Aw, crap.” I watch in shock as parts begin flying off the car.

The driver gets out and the pack turns to him as he steps away.

“Stop!” he roars at the approaching werewolves. They don’t.

As the first one reaches him, he shifts – into a huge red dragon.

Flames erupt from his gaping jaws and shoot out over their heads. They yelp and scatter, then run back into the woods. But one stops at the edge of the trees, the leader. His eyes glow, reflecting the streetlamp, and he raises his snout as he scents the air, no doubt searching for me. With a glance at the dragon, he turns and follows the pack.

The dragon heaves a big sigh and shifts back to human form. We watch, breathless, as he walks around his car looking at the damage. Shaking his head, he starts picking up pieces and putting them in the back seat.

I have a feeling we’re gonna get in big trouble.


© Copyright 2010 Roh Morgon. All rights reserved.

roh morgon @ Saturday, 23 October 2010 11:52 pm
Comments (14)

~finding the spark & this week’s musical treat

Due to interest from teachers and schools in Fur Before Feathers, I’ve decided to turn my writing efforts away from the world of Watcher for the time being and start on a new story in my YA Forbidden Doorways series.

I’ve been wanting to write Sullivan’s story for awhile now. Sullivan is Sander’s older brother and has a well-deserved reputation for being a troublemaker. His story, called In Search of Self, takes place after Sullivan’s left home and is trying to find his place in the world.

My ‘backbrain’ has been mulling over the opening, the events, and the other characters in his story for the last couple months, but several writing opportunities have gone by without that flash of inspiration that always sends me running to the keyboard.

Most of the time when I start a new project, I awaken in the morning with a character dancing in my head, nagging me with their very presence to write their story. But not Sullivan. Ever the rebel, he’s been strangely silent as he waited for me to find his story instead of shoving it in my face like all the others have.

And then the other day, I heard his song. His anger, his loneliness, his sense of isolation crashed over me like a tidal wave, and the flood of his story began.

The song is called Circadian Rhythm and is by the band Son Volt. And it was the spark that ignited Sullivan’s emotions.

The spark.

That elusive flash that opens the doors to other worlds and allows characters to step into our heads and tell their stories.

The spark is something that must be nourished with setting and dialog and a gentle breath so it will grow into a steady-burning flame, warming and lighting the way for the writer.

All good stories start with a spark. Good scenes do, too.

Music usually provides me the spark to write powerful scenes filled with emotion. Long warm showers irrigate the plot and bring new characters to life. Both are integral to my writing.

So tell me – how do you find your spark?

What sends you into another time, another place, another person?

What propels you to write?

roh morgon @ Monday, 18 October 2010 1:22 pm
Comments (4)

~Animal Writes Blogfest

I can’t believe I almost missed this blogfest! I’m such an animal person, and was so jazzed when I signed up for the ‘fest last month.

The Animal Writes Blogfest (what a clever name!) is hosted by Danyana at Writing from the Wrogan. Please be sure to visit her site so you can check out the other amazing entries.

Here’s mine. It’s a little something I just pounded out called Side by Side:

Side By Side

Rocky slams his shoulder into mine and I grunt and nearly go down. As I stagger from the impact, he turns and kicks out with both feet, just missing my head. As he prances away, shaking his mane, I tear after him. I bite into the crest of his neck and he slams his rump into my side and spins away. He turns back toward me and rears, striking out as I meet him in the air. Our chests slam together, then as his hooves meet the ground again, I drop to my knees and bite at his foreleg. He half-kneels, tucking it beneath him. We bite at each other’s legs while trying to guard our own, then Rocky stands and does a full-body shake, creating a flurry of dust and hair – his way of announcing game over.

I snort to clear the dirt from my nostrils and shake my body as well, making my own cloud. I snort again and Rocky echoes it, and together we walk down to the pond to get a drink. Tails swish at the flies that have moved in on our sweaty bodies and we drink side by side in long, deep swallows.

Rocky finishes first, and water draining from his muzzle, turns and heads over to the group of fillies grazing at the base of the hill. I gulp a few more mouthfuls, then trot after him. Several of them raise their heads as we approach, nickering. A rumbling answer booms from my chest and I arch my neck and tail and prance toward them. I listen as Rocky’s gait changes beside me, and lengthen my stride to get to the fillies first. Rocky whinnies a low greeting as they turn to watch us.

The pretty red one, Suzie, steps out to meet me, her neck coyly arched. We stop, necks bent nearly in half, and touch noses. She squeals and stamps a front foot, then we sniff each other’s noses again.

I want her. I need to have her. She needs to be mine.

She squeals again, then turns and races off. But before I can take after her, I realize why she left in such a hurry.

Pounding hooves and a roar of rage announce the arrival of Storm, the herd leader. I spin and hear the snap of teeth, and it’s not the snap of play. I leap into a run as his massive chest rams into my butt and I stumble and nearly go down.

He turns and I watch as he races after Rocky, weaving and snapping at him, his ears pinned and his head snaked low. Rocky’s fast, but not fast enough, and as Storm closes in, Rocky ducks to the left. Storm swings wide, then comes at Rocky again in a dead run. Rocky whinnies, his eyes wide, and veers toward me. I turn and join him, and together we race, side by side, with Storm right on our heels.

We cut and weave through the herd, and above the thunder of our hoofbeats I hear Mother call out. I spot her with the other mares, my new sister next to her, and head in that direction. But Storm charges in front of me and I find myself running alongside Rocky again.

We reach the edge of the herd, and I can see Storm out of the corner of my eye, and he’s not giving up. Rocky turns and tries to circle back to the others, but Storm cuts him off. He drives us further and further away, then drops back and returns to the herd.

I wind down into a trot, then stop and try to catch my breath. Rocky’s sides are heaving as well. We stand there for several minutes, side by side, until the panting slows. My whole body is drenched in sweat, and I can feel it running down my neck and legs. The sweat dripping from Rocky’s belly is more like mud, and his flanks and chest are caked in dirty froth.

As our breathing slows, we watch Storm gather the herd and drive them up the hill.

They’re leaving us! A whinny tears from my throat and I break into a trot, and I can hear Rocky following. But Storm turns and races down the hill, screaming, and it’s obvious he’s not going to let us rejoin the herd.

I slow to a walk, then stop. He turns and gallops up the hill, forcing the band into a run. I hear Mother whinny for me, and then they are over the hill and gone.

A bird circles above the hilltop and I realize we’re alone, with no others to protect us. I whinny, and whinny again, but hear nothing in response. Rocky whinnies, too, then after a moment of silence, he snorts and nudges me on the shoulder. He turns and starts walking in the opposite direction. I watch him go, then gaze back at the empty hilltop.

I whinny one more time, then snort and shake my mane, and trot after Rocky. I ease into a walk as I catch up to him, and side by side, we leave our home.

Copyright © 2010 by Roh Morgon. All rights reserved.

roh morgon @ Wednesday, 13 October 2010 11:08 pm
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~the bell rings…it’s the Back-to-School Daze Blogfest!

All right, class! It’s time to turn in your homework! You have until Saturday September 18 to get it in!

And if you’re looking to start handing out grades, go here to read everyone’s assignments.

Here’s mine. It’s the opening scene from Fur Before Feathers, a middle-grade short story from my YA Forbidden Doorways series currently under development. Fur is also appearing in the anthology I Dreamed a Crooked Dream by the Fresno Sci-Fi & Fantasy Writers in Winter 2010.



“Class? Class! Quiet now. Give him a chance,” says tiny Miss Meeples, clapping her hands. The dozen other kids in Freshman Talent 101 giggle and snicker behind cupped palms.

“Sanders, you just have to concentrate. Try again.” Miss Meeples squints at me through her wrinkles and oversized glasses as she sits down behind her desk in the front of the classroom. The golden retriever strains at the leash tied to a leg of the teacher’s desk, his expression idiotic as he pants and waves his flag of a tail.

I close my eyes and try to think about the dog, but the image of the black panther at the zoo keeps invading my head. His fur was thick, plush, a light black with darker black spots that only showed when the sun hit it just right. His paws were big–bigger than my hands–and his toes were rounded. I think about his face and the way his whiskers poked out of the skin around his black nose. He had small round ears and a long black tail that swung back and forth as he paced. His walk was more of a glide, smooth and silent. One foot, two foot, three foot…

My skin begins to tingle and itch. My insides feel like they’re crawling–now everything is squirming, wiggling. I fall to my hands and knees, and pain shoots through my body as bones and joints begin to creak. The skin on my face pulls as my nose and jaw vibrate. Ow–my whole face hurts. It’s starting to swell. My gums are throbbing and even my teeth ache.

The world blurs as an electric charge shoots through me, starting at my nose and running through each part of my body. I hear, no–feel–a pop. Like a little bomb went off inside me and its shock wave slams through every cell.

I gasp, again and again, the air rushing in and out of my open mouth. When I close it, a million smells burn my nose, all kinds of smells, and then a chaos of sound explodes in my ears.

The other kids in the class are all round me, shouting and talking and breathing and making so much noise. The dog is a raging maniac, barking and growling as he lunges in my direction, hitting the end of the leash over and over. I turn my head to look at my buddy, Jenky, and as I do, I see the black fur of a panther standing behind me.

Shocked, I spin around and it goes with me, tail lashing. I can feel the muscles in my butt twitching in rhythm with each snap of the tail.

As I look behind me again, I sit down, stunned. And when I lift up my hand, what I see is a big, black paw.

Aw, no way!

I lift the other hand and it’s a paw, too. Rocking back, I look between them and down at black furry feet that match my hands.

Oh, cool! I did it!

“Uh, that’s, uh, very good, Sanders! But the assignment was the dog, remember?!” Miss Meeples tries to shout over the barking as she points at the hysterical golden retriever who is inching the desk in my direction with each frenzied leap.

Screw that. I don’t even like dogs. This is way more awesome.

I stand and turn to Jenky. He’s sitting at his desk with his jaw practically in his lap. He looks so funny it cracks me up.

But we both jump when a snarl comes out of my throat instead of laughter. Jenky’s eyes get even bigger as he scrambles out of his desk. He falls over his chair and I laugh–or snarl–again. He crawls away on all fours and the rest of the kids bail out of their seats. The girls scream, and even some of the guys as they rush to stand by Miss Meeples.

All the screaming and barking hurts my ears and I try to yell at them to shut up. The snarls that come out now are louder, rougher, more like roars.

The dog yelps and jams himself under the desk, everyone in the class shrieks, and they all run for the door. Except Miss Meeples, who reminds me of a pinball, bouncing from kid to kid as she tries to stop them from leaving.

“Boys and girls, stop! Stop!” Her shrill voice stabs through my head.

Aaah–I can’t take this anymore. I need to get out of here.

I look up at one of the open windows and, without another thought, leap through it.

The feel of the grass beneath my paws as I land surprises me. I’m more surprised when I fall on my face. Controlling four legs is trickier than it looks.

“That was graceful.”

The voice startles me, and as I jump up, I feel myself begin to vibrate. I concentrate on the panther–and the vibration fades away. I look around me and spot Sullivan leaning against the big elm tree that’s next to the classroom.

He smiles, then in a blur, shifts into a tiger. The tiger strolls over to me and with no warning bats me upside the head with one of his giant paws. He nearly knocks me over and I hiss at him. Standing there staring at me with his grey shifter’s eyes, he looks at the ground and whacks me again.

Oh, you’re gonna pay for that.

With a growl, I spring at him. He meets me with an open mouth and we go down in a flurry of teeth and claws. I can feel my skin ripping as he bites and scratches, but I don’t care because I’m too busy tearing and clawing him. Our fight ends when he pins me beneath his bigger and heavier body.

It’s no different than usual. I quit struggling and lie there, panting, my tail beating the ground in aggravation.

Sullivan whuffs and gets off of me. He shifts back to himself as I climb to my feet.

“Nice first shift, little brother.” Sullivan grins.

My chest swells with pride and a low purr slips from my throat.

“But I wouldn’t be expecting an ‘A’ for that shift, if I were you. Principal’s office is more likely what you’re gonna get. Not only is a panther a long way from a golden retriever, it’s also an illegal shape for minors – you know that.”

I feel my body sag as his words sink in.

Crap. My parents are gonna kill me.


© 2010 by Roh Morgon. All rights reserved.

roh morgon @ Wednesday, 15 September 2010 12:06 am
Comments (15)

~tomorrow’s blogfest and upcoming writers’ conference!

OMG – it’s almost here!

I have been so slammed lately with real-world stuff that almost everything relating to writing (including this blog) has been rudely shoved into a gloomy corner.

And that’s how I feel when I can’t make the time to write or blog – GLOOMY! And pissy, cranky, crabby – you name it. I love to write and really enjoy blogging. Not being able to do either takes some of the purpose out of my days…

BUT – tomorrow is the BACK-TO-SCHOOL BLOGFEST!!!

I’m so excited – and I’m thrilled at the number of participants who’ve signed up! I can’t wait to read everyone’s entries. It’s a good thing I stretched the ‘fest over four days, because I want to read each and every story.

The other thing I’m excited about is that I’m attending the Central Coast Writers Conference this weekend, and guess who the keynote speaker is!

Nathan Bransford! Uber-agent for Curtis Brown, Ltd!

Nathan has the coolest blog full of great advice for writers – I encourage you to check it out if you’re not a regular reader.

He’s also presenting one workshop session called: Getting Published: Let’s Play Query Letter Mad Lib – and I was lucky enough to get a seat in this! The timing couldn’t be more perfect for me. I am beyond excited…

Hope to run into some other West Coast writers from the blogosphere while at the conference. I’ll give a full report when I get back.

Off to do my homework for school tomorrow…

roh morgon @ Tuesday, 14 September 2010 5:23 am
Comments (3)

~Word Paint Blogfest!

I had decided not to commit to this blogfest, especially in light of the fact that I missed the Weather Blogfest and barely made it to the Rainy Day Blogfest (you can check out my entry here if you missed it).

But then this scene came flooding into my head, and I had to write it.

When ya gotta write, ya gotta write.

So here’s my entry for Dawn Ember’s Word Paint Blogfest – be sure to visit her site to read the other entries.

This is an alternate scene from my WIP, Watcher, the story of Sunny Martin and her struggles to survive in a personal hell from which she cannot escape.

Hope it’s been a little while since you had breakfast (or lunch).


A red river tumbles over me, creating eddies around the angles of my body. I lift my head from the crimson flow, gasping, choking, as I struggle to escape its sticky clutches. My arms claw the air in vain, and when I open my eyes, all I can see is a wall of blood bearing down on me. As it crushes me, shoving me deeper and deeper into the thick torrent, I scream.

I’m still screaming as I climb from the coma-like sleep that the sun forces upon me every morning. The horror coursing through me is nothing compared to the hunger burning through my veins. It rips through my belly into my throat, its fiery need sending waves of agony into my very soul.

Nicolas appears next to the bed, concern etching his brow.

“Oh, Nicolas! What’s happening to me?!” I cry as I fling myself into his arms.

“Sshh, my sweet. It is just a blooddream.” He strokes my hair, as though calming a frightened horse. My body responds, as it always does to him, and begins to relax.

He eases me back, his eyes searching mine, and asks, “Haven’t you had them before?”

“No,” I whisper. “Never.”

His silence tells me this is unusual, and I can visualize the checklist in his head as he adds another item to the list of my oddities.

The hunger flashes through me, reminding me that it will never let me go. I press myself tight against his chest, and as he wraps his arms around me, I know he’ll never let me go, either.

It’s a heavy price for his love, and sometimes I wonder how long I can pay it.


© 2010 Roh Morgon. All rights reserved.

roh morgon @ Friday, 27 August 2010 9:34 am
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~Rainy Day Blogfest and this week’s musical treat – 25 august 2010

(special note – today is a nine-day for those who care about such things!)

It’s kinda hard to think about rain right now. It’s over 100° F  outside and temps are expected to reach 103° by this evening. Not a cloud in the sky…

But today is the Rainy Day Blogfest, hosted by Christine at The Writer’s Hole, so to help remember what it’s like to be cool and damp, I’m featuring a short excerpt from my WIP Watcher. We join Sunny just after she’s had ‘dinner’ and is feeling content for a change.

To help set the mood, here’s a quiet little piano tune by Justin St. Charles and Nine Inch Nails:

It starts to sprinkle as I run along the shoreline of Lake Cachuma. I don’t care. Being wet doesn’t bother me and neither does the cold. In fact, sometimes I find the cold invigorating. Warmth, on the other hand, is quite pleasurable, especially on the inside after a hot meal. Warm days are great too, if I can protect my skin from the direct sun, which isn’t easy. People look at you funny when you’re wearing a long-sleeved turtleneck and gloves and it’s 90 degrees outside.

Jogging back to the BMW, I catch the scent of wild pig and veer off to follow it. Pigs are tough to kill because they’re so low to the ground and their barrel-shaped bodies are difficult to grip. Their necks are short and stout – breaking them is not very feasible. And they have tusks, right near my target area. I did kill one once, though, a young adult, and I thoroughly enjoyed his buttery-sweet blood.

Scent trails are easier to follow when the weather’s damp. I detect several now and slow as the scents become stronger. Weaving through the bushes, I freeze – foraging along a marshy area are three adult females and six babies. I watch for a moment, then melt into the brush.

That is one thing I will not do. I will not kill mothers or babies – of any species.

Retracing my steps, I pick up my trail again and continue on to the car. Between the deer and my twenty-mile run, I’m finally relaxed, and I smile from the sheer joy of being in the woods.

The sprinkling has turned to rain, and I stop and lift my face to the sky. I rejoice as the drops hit and trail down my cheeks, and open my mouth to see if I can feel them on the inside as well. Rain dances across the leaves and rocks in a liquid ballet, and I listen as each drop makes its own music, creating a soft woodland symphony.

Laughing, I shake my head, flinging water off my hair to add to the concert, and take off running again.

© 2010 Roh Morgon. All rights reserved.


roh morgon @ Wednesday, 25 August 2010 4:14 pm
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Yeah! You read that right!

But you might be asking, “Uh, third place in what?”

Miss Snark’s First Victim August Secret Agent Contest, that’s what!

The ‘secret agent’ was revealed earlier this morning: Cameron McClure, of the Donald Maass Literary Agency!

I’m stunned – she is at the top of my intended submission list! I had actually planned to start querying by the end of the month.

Entrants for the contest were to submit the first 250 words of a completed novel. Submission windows were limited in both time and number of entries. A total of forty-four entries were submitted.

There were a number of great ones. I’m hoping the other winners will announce soon who they were – I’d love to visit their sites to see more of their writing!

In the meantime, I’m off to do my happy dance!

roh morgon @ Monday, 23 August 2010 12:17 pm
Comments (10)


Tessa’s got another fun blog event going on! It’s a bloghop to help readers and writers introduce themselves. This is what Tessa says about it:

The Life Fantastic

Do you write fantasy stories/novels (any subgenre welcome)? Do you read/review fantasy books?  Maybe you create fantasy art?  Join the list (at the bottom of this post) and meet other like-minded creatures of the web!

Here’s my bit:

Paranormal. Dark Fantasy. Swords and Sorcerers. Dragons and Mythical Lands. With a sprinkling of Aliens and Other Worlds.

That’s what I love to read, and what I love to write.

I just finished reading NYT bestseller Shiver and its sequel, Linger, by Maggie Stiefvater. OMG – Stephanie Meyer, move over. New werewolves have come to town, and they’re…disturbing. Heartbreaking. Wonderful in that wolfish sort of way.  How good is all this? Linger was just released in the US. It hit NUMBER 1 on the NYT bestseller list its first week!

Check out Maggie’s website. She has two cool book trailer videos that she created and wrote the music for. They make me all shivery, just like the books. I’ll be doing a more extensive review of the Wolves of Mercy Falls series in the near future, but for now, I only have 3 words: Go. Read. Them.

OK – this blog is supposed to be about visitors getting acquainted with me. Hmm…I hate to reinvent the wheel, so if you want to know a bit about me, hit these two links:


11 things about me (skip past the award stuff to get to the list)

And if you want to know what I write, here’s a taste:

The Monster’s Growl (this is a piece about a minor character from my main WIP, Watcher. He was also recently featured in Tessa’s Blogfest of Death).

I have several excerpts from Watcher posted, as well as one from my MG short story, Fur Before Feathers. You can check them out in the links at the left under “this site.”

That’s it for now. See ya around in the blogosphere.



Also – I just discovered I’m signed up for Lisa’s blog hop as well. I’m not quite sure how that happened, but I do recall Mr. Linky and I having a knock-down drag-out fight when I signed up on Tessa’s…so without further ado, here’s Lisa’s bloghop info:

roh morgon @ Tuesday, 27 July 2010 2:24 pm
Comments (13)

~characters that shine and Character Contest #1

REMINDER – Character Contest #1 ends TOMORROW (Saturday July 17) at midnight! Don’t miss out on a chance to win cool book stuff!


Characters. They literally make or break a story. You can have plot up the bazoo, but if you don’t have characters that entrap the readers, that suck them in and make their hearts race, you have nothing but black marks on a page.

I just finished critiquing nine stories ranging in length from 3,000 to 14,000 words (more than half of them were 10k+). These stories will be published by the Fresno Sci-Fi and Fantasy Writers in our first annual anthology this fall.

So I’ve been paying extra attention to character development lately, not only in our anthology stories, but others as well.

Some stories contain dynamic characters that screech up to the reader, slam open the door, and say, “Jump in!” Then they careen down the road at madcap speed, the reader hanging on for dear life, giggling or sobbing at every turn.

In others, sedate characters stroll by, politely asking the reader if they’d like to go for a walk as they pass. The journey can be pleasant and relaxing, or a boring sedative to fall asleep with.

And sometimes the characters are confined by the writer to a park bench, only watching the events unfold around them and not even noticing when the reader asks to join them. Emotionless, unable to interact with their environment, their apathy quickly drives the reader away.

So how do you turn those wallflowers at the prom into the dancing stars that everyone admires and wants to be with? What can you do to turn them from a drab grey to vivid splashes of red, blue, and yellow?

Let ’em speak. Give them a voice. Allow them to cringe in pain, to frown in annoyance, to grin and shout their joy. Every word, every gesture, should be used to lure the reader in and ensnare them in the web of the story. And if it’s done right – if the writer has given their characters the freedom to express themselves – the reader will be thrilled to be caught up in the silken threads of another world, far beyond the reach of their own reality.

I’d like to hear from other writers how you bring your characters to life and what advice you might have to offer for those that are learning the craft.

roh morgon @ Friday, 16 July 2010 3:52 pm
Comments (0)

~awards and stuff about me

I recently received the Journey Support award (my very first blog award!) from Tara at Feel of Something New. Being somewhat new to the blogosphere, I wasn’t sure what the award was for, so I googled it.

The Journey Support Award is given to bloggers in recognition for their support in this crazy world of writing and trying to get published – which is really cool (thanks, Tara!). So with that in mind, I’d like to pass it along to a few folks who’ve helped me:

Chris at C. Michael Fontes, Ryan at R. Garrett Wilson, Paula at P D Wright, Roni at *Fiction Groupie*, and Janet at Janet Sumner Johnson. Thank you all for your support and encouragement.

It just so happens that Janet also gave me an award today. It’s called the Honest Scrap Award, and has a few strings attached (they’re fun ones, though!).

First of all, I just want you to say “Honest Scrap” three times out loud, real fast. Yeah, I think that’s pretty funny.

So one of the requirements of this award is that you list ten *true* things about yourself  (you know, honest crap).

The second is that you pass it along to either five or ten other bloggers (google seemed a bit confused on this).

Well, being the renegade rule-breaker that I am, I’ve listed not ten, but eleven true things about me. Typical writer – can’t cut anything.

The other rule I’m going to bend (not break) is that I’m going to wait a little while before I bestow this award on my fellow bloggers (some of who I just gave the Journey Support award to).

So, in the meantime, here is my list of Honest Scrap:


1)  Once drove an Amtrak train for over 100 miles – with passengers on it. No, really. Operated the accelerator, the brake, the horn – the whole shebang. The poor engineer probably lost his job (someone snapped a picture).


2)  Lived for two years on the base of Pike’s Peak. Only made it to the top once – on the back of a Harley.


3)  Love cars. Absolutely adore cars. One of my favorite things to do? Drive my little black Genesis coupe, Nine Inch Nails blaring from the stereo, windows down, no holds barred. Love curvy roads and pedal-to-the-metal. Once raced a…well, never mind. My dad reads my blog :)


4)  Another favorite thing to do? Hauling butt on my jet ski across the lake, wind ripping through my hair as the water sprays up to kiss my skin. And doing doughnuts on the ski, round and round, faster and faster, ’til I’m hysterically dizzy and nearly flung off the darn thing.


5)  Collector of knives and swords  – and can use them. Really. I prefer to fight with rapier and dagger.  You know, like in The Three Musketeers or The Mask of Zorro.


6)  Been known to fly across the country for fan-related activities. And wear costumes that my husband and I made to said gatherings (yeah, I’m a true geek).


7)  Owned by three mustang horses that I gentled and trained (with a little help).


8)  Two crazy working dogs live with me – one bred to work cattle, the other to work sheep. Own neither cattle nor sheep, but have lots of tennis balls and frisbees.


9)  The area surrounding my home in the Sierra Nevada foothills is so quiet at night your ears ring. Except when the owls call or the coyotes howl.  I hate the concrete and madness of cities.


10)  One of only a few hundred people who attended the final two shows of Nine Inch Nails last September. And yeah, I was in the pit.


Bonus factoid – My two kids are probably older than most of you reading this post.


Oh, and one last thing. Don’t forget to enter my Character Contest #1 – the deadline is Saturday, July 17.

roh morgon @ Thursday, 8 July 2010 11:43 pm
Comments (4)

~Character Contest #1 (again)

Blogging contests.

I recently held one, and it didn’t do so well.

Truthfully? It was an epic FAIL. And that blame lies entirely with me.

Being new at this whole blogging thing, I’m still learning the ropes (like many of you).  In my recent post on successful blogging, I examined a few elements that I’ve observed in popular blogs, limiting my analysis to those by writers (we know why agent blogs are popular). This helped me to discover areas to focus on in order to improve my blogging.

Back to the contest. I contacted Roni over at *Fiction Groupie* (her blog is one I consider successful, with over 500 followers gained in less than a year), and asked her a few questions about holding contests and how to promote them. She gave me great advice and encouraged me to try again.  Janet Sumner Johnson also offered suggestions on how to spread news of the contest.

So, after consulting with the previous entrants (whose entries still count), I’ve decided to extend the Character Contest #1 deadline by two weeks.

Below is a re-post of the contest guidelines. So without further ado, read on:


Don’t you love it when a special character in a story refuses to leave your thoughts, even after the story is done?

I recently met one named Weyland in a short story titled “Unicorn Tapestry” by Suzy McKee Charnas.

We get to know Weyland through his therapist, Floria as she begins treatment on who she assumes is a delusional patient. A staid, aging college-professor, he maintains his distance from Floria with a cold formality. But as this spare and intense man reveals the chilling details of his life, Floria begins to question her initial diagnosis. She becomes more and more unsettled by her mysterious patient as he nimbly lays waste to her attempts to unravel his delusions. Their dance with words eventually leads to a dance with death in a spine-tingling conclusion. The end is not quite what we anticipate and leaves the reader (at least this one) thinking about it long after it’s over.

Weyland and his ‘outsider’ existence haunted me enough that I read the story twice. I visited the website of author Suzy McKee Charnas, then wrote to her to tell her of Weyland’s impact on me, and how I have a similar character (Nicolas from Watcher) who haunts me as well. She was kind enough to answer and discuss Weyland, and encouraged me with my writing.

Characters are what keep us reading. There are millions of readers out there who fell in love with Edward and Bella and went on to devour the rest of Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight Saga. There are millions of others who couldn’t wait to for the next J.K. Rowling to learn what was going to happen to Harry Potter and his friends.

Well-developed characters are what I love, and what I strive for in my writing. Character development is an ongoing topic among writers and lately has been a subject of discussion on several blogs by friends in the Fresno SciFi and Fantasy Writers (FSFW) group.

Something else my friends have been doing in the blogosphere is holding contests in which the winner receives a copy of a recommended book.

I’ve been thinking about this.

And here’s what I’ve decided to do:

I’m going to hold a series of contests based on characters. Each contest will be slightly different, but they’ll all revolve around characters. I’ll be holding them periodically, so stay tuned to this blog.

Here’s the guidelines for Roh’s Character Contest #1:

Most readers have a list of favorite characters from stories they love. I know who mine are — I want to hear about yours.

So first of all, become a follower of my blog – after all, the more people participating, the more fun it is for everyone. And if you post a link on your blog to the contest, you’ll earn an extra entry!

Then comment about one or more of your favorite characters and what books they are from. Each person commenting will receive one entry. The winner will be determined by a random drawing. That’s it – that’s all you have to do.

But, there’s a SECOND chance to win as well! It’s also an opportunity to stretch your literary muscles.

Describe your favorite character in your own words and what impact this character has had on your writing, or even on your life. You must include the title of the story, book, or series, along with the author’s name.

Word limit: 198 words or less (1+9+8=18, 1+8=9. I’m a nine freak, remember?).

Check out my three paragraphs above on Weyland for an example (and yes, they total exactly 198 words).

Your entry will be judged on both word craft and strength of argument. In other words, CONVINCE us. Tell us what it is about this character and its effect on you in a way that will compel me (and others) to go buy the book and read it.

Bonus points: If your word count total is a ‘nine’ (the digits add up to nine or a multiple of nine), you will receive a second entry into the random drawing.


For the random drawing, the prize will be a gift certificate from Fictionwise for an e-book of the Nebula award-winning Unicorn Tapestry by Suzy McKee Charnas.

For the character description, the prize is a brand-new softcover copy of Suzy McKee Charnas’ book, The Vampire Tapestries AND a $10 gift card for Borders or Barnes & Noble (winner’s choice). The prizes for this portion of the contest are restricted to residents of the continental U.S. only.


The last day to enter is Saturday July 17, 2010 (a nine-day, of course). The random winner will be drawn the following day and notified via email. The character descriptions will be judged during the remainder of the week. The winner will be selected and notified via email by Monday July 26, 2010.

roh morgon @ Friday, 2 July 2010 7:53 am
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