No Wasted Ink Writers Links


Happy New Year!  Welcome back to the start of another year of writers links from No Wasted Ink.  I have an amazing list of articles for you this morning that speak on the issues that we as authors face in the modern world.  Plus…a little Outlander one.  I’m a huge fan of this historical television series and the history of the lyrics of its theme song. I hope you’ll find it interesting too!

Modern Myth and Meaning: The Yule Log Lady

Why I’m Obsessed with the Outlander Theme Song(s)

Advanced Life Support for Writers

The Resolution That Solves All Problems

The 10-Step Checklist to Writing an Above-Average Novel

Five Things to Know about Being Published

Does Your Cover Need a New Year’s Makeover?

Going Beyond Google: How Fiction Challenges Us to Ask Tough Questions

Seven Things Writers Get Wrong About Language

3 Ways to Add a Personal Touch to Your Writing

Scifaiku: LasChamp Event

laschamp event (blog)

LasChamp Event
people of ancient dawn
survive thousand year shift
polarity change

A Scifaiku by Wendy Van Camp
Illustrated by Wendy Van Camp

Scifaiku poem inspired by the current trend of the weakening of the magnetic north. Science postulates that the Earth’s poles might flip again, as it has done 41 thousand years ago. This geomagnetic switch of the past is known as the “LasChamp Event”. Our ancestors survived the change, but one wonders at what cost will it come to us?


Author Interview: Mary E Lowd

Author Mary E. Lowd is a science-fiction and furry writer in Oregon. She’s had five novels and more than one hundred short stories published, and her fiction has won an Ursa Major Award and two Cóyotl Awards. Please welcome her to No Wasted Ink.

Author Mary LowdMary E. Lowd grew up in Oregon, surrounded by gray skies, green trees, and imaginary animals of every kind. She went to an engineering college in Southern California (too sunny) and then spent six years living in Seattle (too gray) before returning to Oregon (just right!). She lives in a house hidden behind a rose garden with her husband, daughter, son, a bevy of cats and dogs, and the occasional fish. She spends her time in coffee shops, drinking chai and writing about all the imaginary animals.

When and why did you begin writing?

My mother wrote down stories I told her before I could even read. I remember her sitting at the computer and typing, while I played with tiny toys and told her stories about them. As I got older, I learned to write the stories down myself, and I remember filling sheet after sheet of paper — the kind with the giant lines on them in elementary school — with a loopily scrawled story about polar bears escaping from a zoo. By middle school, I was typing my stories, and the blank space of a Word document was my favorite place to be because I could fill it with talking animals, wonderful worlds, and anything else I wanted.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I wrote a poem about a bird soaring through the sky — only four lines long and nothing remarkable — in fourth or fifth grade. Somehow, that was the moment I decided, and bizarrely, I never changed my mind. I never even doubted that writing fiction was what I wanted to do with my life until nearly two decades later after I’d already self-published my first novel, “Otters In Space,” and was struggling to find readers for it. The doubt was short-lived — a couple of hours, but it was an intense and terrifying experience. I’d known who I was and what I wanted to do since I was ten. No matter what else has happened in my life, I’ve always had that commitment to anchor me.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

My latest novel, “The Snake’s Song,” is a fantasy adventure story about a squirrel searching deep underground for the lost celestial treasures. She faces danger — including ghost moles, sorcerer crabs, and a mysterious leontaur — and finds new friends (and maybe herself!) along the way.

What inspired you to write this book?

A local writer I knew, Matthew Lowes, created a card game called Dungeon Solitaire. The game is a cross between a D&D campaign and solitaire, and it’s best played with a custom deck of tarot cards with art by Josephe Vandel. I had already been using tarot cards as writing prompts for my flash fiction stories. So when I learned about this game and learned that a local group of writers were writing related novels, it seemed like a perfect fit. The only rules for the tie-in novels were that they had to be inspired by the game and feature descent into a labyrinth. The result has been a wide variety of novels, in settings ranging from a post-apocalyptic future to the modern-day Congo to the afterlife itself.

Do you have a specific writing style?

It’s hard to see my own writing style because it’s the filter through which I look at the world. I like to think that I bring a mix of light, absurdist humor to straightforward, practical prose that’s not afraid to reflect reality, even when it gets a little dark. I rarely write poetry for poetry’s sake, because I’m more interested in conveying ideas and insight, telling the story, than building castles out of words. That said, some ideas are inherently lyrical and deserve to have their beauty conveyed.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

“The Snake’s Song” is about a squirrel getting drawn away from her day-to-day life in the trees and into a dangerous adventure underground by the song of a snake. Literally. So, the title felt right, and it sounded beautiful. That said, I’ve accidentally called it “The Squirrel’s Song” many, many times.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

The main character Witch-Hazel faces hardships, events beyond her control, and terrifying trials — but she keeps going; she doesn’t give up hope; she keeps questing. I hope she can be a friend to people who need a tenacious squirrel adventurer in their lives to help them keep going.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know or events in your own life?

There are always pieces of myself and my life in the characters I write, even if they’re only pieces of speculation and imagination, daydreams that I’ve had. However, I think “The Snake’s Song” reflects my own life less than any of my other novels, because I specifically wrote it as an escape, a chance to try something different.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

Ursula K. LeGuin for her depth of insight; Jane Austen for her cleverness; Connie Willis for her clear prose; and Douglas Adams for his humor.

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?

My friend Nina Kiriki Hoffman is a science-fiction, fantasy, and YA author. We met through our critique group, the Wordos, and over the last few years, I’ve spent countless hours at coffee shops with her, writing fiction. She has a way of treating writing like both a serious career and a fun pastime at once — or maybe just a way of life. I admire her greatly and have learned a great deal about how to be a writer just by spending time with her. Also, her fiction is amazing — it combines delightful magic and fantasy with personable, deeply believable characters.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

Every novel in the Labyrinth of Souls series has cover art by Josephe Vandel, taken from one of the tarot cards in the Dungeon Solitaire deck. I chose the sun card for “The Snake’s Song,” because it was the brightest, happiest looking card in the whole deck, and I knew my novel — an adventure featuring a plucky squirrel — would likely be the lightest novel in the whole dark fantasy series. Also, the sunflower imagery in the sun card figures heavily in the story.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Find ways to enjoy what you do. Writing can be really hard, and the rewards can be far removed from the work that leads to them. So, if you can find ways to enjoy the process, find happiness in the work, then it will all be so much better. That sounds vague, so let me offer some concrete examples — my writing group gives chocolate for short story rejections; a friend and I reward each other with tiny toys for writing a thousand words in one sitting; when I did NaNoWriMo last year, I got myself an advent calendar and opened a door for every 2000 words, meaning I had to reach 50,000 — a full novel — to make my way through the whole calendar. All of that might seem silly, but it keeps writing fun and helps build up the habit of writing regularly and writing a lot. When I’m in the habit of writing, then it’s easier to write the stories I really care about.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?


the snake song book coverMary E. Lowd
Eugene, Oregon


The Snake’s Song

Cover Artist: Josephe Vandel 
Publisher: ShadowSpinners Press


Happy New Year from No Wasted Ink



Every January 1st, I find that I’m in a juxtaposition between looking back at the previous year and looking forward to the next. I am grateful for each day and for the support and affection of my husband and the friendship offered by my local writing community. Thank you all for being there for me during this past year.

2018 was a difficult year for me in many ways. I spent most of the first half of the year healing from a major surgery that happened in 2017. It was not until August of 2018 that I felt strong enough to attend events with any sort of normality although, I did manage to squeeze in a few local events where I did not need to travel at the beginning of 2018. The end of the year saw me back out in the world at conferences and conventions. In particular, I am grateful for the new writing techniques I learned at the 20Books Vegas Writing Conference, and the fellowship of my fellow writers at both WorldCon San Jose and LosCon in Los Angeles.

It was a productive writing year since most of my time was spent at home. I worked on my novel Christmas in Kellynch (The sequel to The Curate’s Brother) and find that it is close to completion. I also wrote for publications on Medium, offering new stories, articles, and poems almost every month of the year. Most of my work there can be found in the following magazines: Writing Cooperative, Lit Up, and The Junction. My columns at Luna Station Quarterly resumed on their blog after the magazine took a long hiatus. It is great to be back there.

I am in a happy place with my writing this year. I am looking forward to participating in writing challenges via a few of my online writing communities. I feel established at Medium and intend to continue with my monthly submission process in the hope to publish a few items each month as I had during 2018. Via the new writing techniques I learned at the conference, I’m hoping to push forward with my Austen series and make progress on the three remaining novels of the series this year. I’m not sure if I can publish them all this year, but I’m going to make a good effort to try.

I am planning on attending conventions and conferences next year, but it will likely be a lighter schedule than I’ve done in the past. I want to find more time in my home studio to sketch and paint my poetry Illustrations and keep up with my writing schedule. One of Heinlein’s rules for writers is to finish what you start. It is time that I started getting more of my writing projects done and up onto Amazon for you all.

Happy New Year everyone!

No Wasted Ink Writers Links


As we all countdown to the New Year, I am pleased to offer up my usual Monday list of writing craft articles for you.  Most of them are general writing tips, but each is a well-written article and I hope they will please you.  Enjoy your bubbly should you be celebrating this evening and I’ll see you next year.

When the Girl Rescues the Prince: Norwegian Fairy Tale “East of the Sun, West of the Moon”

When Should A Story End?

How Do You Bring an Inexperienced Hero to a Fight?

Making Readers Feel (and Care)

30 Things I’ve Learned About the Writing Life

Believing in the Muse

The Value of Connecting your Journal Writing with Current Events

How to Describe Neurodivergent Characters

How to raise the stakes in a novel


Author Interviews * Book Reviews * Essays * Writer's Links * Scifaiku

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