I’m Giving Birthday Presents Like a Hobbit ?

I’m having a crHappy Birthday, so I’m fixing it by giving books away.

Your to-do list today:

  1. Get a free story as a birthday present for you
  2. Vote for Kin & Kind, please and thank you

Happy Birthday…?

So here’s the very short version: Today is my birthday, and I was supposed to be traveling through Italy this week, visiting archaeological sites and gathering research vibes.

Instead, I am spending my birthday as day 9 in isolation in a single room with a positive COVID test.

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Ask Me Anything! (To Write And Have Written)

Ermigersh! It’s an Ask Me Anything! Everything from marketing to ebook pricing to what I think people do wrong. (Don’t worry, we have a time limit!)

Patreon: http://patreon.com/lauravab
The Poet’s Eye on Vella: https://amzn.to/3i6F9ZV

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It’s been a rough couple of scenes….

I’m at our annual creative retreat, working on rewrites for Kin & Kind, the final installment of the Shard & Shield trilogy.

We are six writers and artists, including K.T. Ivanrest, Timekeeper Art, “And Sewing Is Half the Battle!”, and Burnt Cookie Books. We are eating obscene amounts of leftover Halloween candy and working on various creative projects. We have a big page on the wall to record achievements, demon tomatoes, in-context and out-of-context quotes, helpful reminders, etc.

a long sheet of paper with multi-colored quotes and drawings
Lots of random stuff.

Right now I’m adding new material, and it’s… a bit rough on my story world. My colleagues have added an at-retreat tally to the wall board.

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My New & Improved Walking Desk!

image of Titan Fitness Under Desk Walking Treadmill on wood laminate floor
Yes, the pawprints mean the dogs tried it first.

It’s been a while since I started my walking desk experiment and I have finally worked it out. I have a sit/stand desk from Ikea and an elevated monitor, which has really helped my back and neck pain since I no longer look down. (Sorry, laptop in bed and on the couch. I love you, but you’re not good for me.) I had still been using my original treadmill, however, which technically did the job and was undoubtedly cheap. It had a timeout “feature” though and would stop the belt suddenly, which could be quite disorienting if I were in the zone.

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I Am Being Hunted

Yesterday I stepped out through my front door with the dogs, and I walked face-first into a huge spiderweb spread across the frame of the door itself.

I clawed the web from my face and hair, and I turned back to see the spider crawling up to the refuge of the doorjamb. It was a large spider, at least an inch long, so certainly old enough to know that the door, used multiple times a day, isn’t a great spot to put a web. But hey, everyone makes a mistake, I guess.

I went back inside shortly and spent most of the day working at home. I got a lot done, very productive, yay me! 

In the evening, I finally decided to leave the house, and I walked out to my car in the detached garage. And between my car and the garage wall, right where I walk every day, was another new, huge web.

large spiderweb stretching between red car and wall

Guys, I really don’t know any other way to take this, than that the spiders whom I have always protected here have suddenly turned on me. Who has been spreading rumors among them? Who has fed them lies in place of flies?

Look here, arachnids: I got no beef with you (other than the tick family, with which I have a feud of extreme prejudice). I actually really appreciate your efficiency in dealing with many more annoying insects. Please stop with the human-sized webs built overnight in my more regular and predictable traffic pattern. If you really need someone for the Centennial Sacrifice, just let me know, and I’ll see if I can get that would-be burglar who pretended to be a gas meter reader back.

Ideas: Truth Is Way Scarier Than Fiction

Authors are frequently asked about where ideas come from, or sharing ideas, or how to get ideas. This is a bit funny, because ideas are frankly the easiest part of storytelling, and they can be found everywhere.

But honestly, no matter how weird and twisted I can get as a speculative fiction writer, I can’t match up to real life. Continue reading

When Ghost Stories Get… Boring

ghostly hands translucent over keyboardA week ago, I posted this short personal tale to my Facebook page:

As I got into my car to drive home last night at 2 am, my proximity sensor warned me something was close behind my car. I checked my mirrors, checked the rear camera, but nothing. I started to back out, and the proximity warning screamed. I checked again. Nothing. Backed up veeery slowly, the warning shrieking the entire time.

I drove home. I pulled up to my gate, set well back from the road, under large trees between empty fields, in the total dark of a feeble moon. Proximity warning goes off. I check the mirrors and camera. Proximity sensor indicates something big and very close behind.

I have to get out and open the gate.

First Day in Ecuador

panaramic view of Quito showing mountains and smog

Quito is a fascinating city, but it’s plagued with air pollution and could really benefit from some electric cars. The gondola lift run is visible to the right.

We made it! We flew in last night and arrived at our Quito hotel, the elegant JW Marriott (yay points!), to find we’d been upgraded to a seriously sweet room. Like, I’ve seen dorm rooms smaller than just this bathroom. So we bathed in luxury prior to setting off into the rural highlands tomorrow.

Jon and me, with the Ruku Pichincha peak behind us

Jon and me, with the Ruku Pichincha peak behind us

Today, however, we decided to do an acclimation hike. Up Pichincha.

Quito itself sits at of elevation of about 9,400 feet (2,850 m), and since we’re coming from a home elevation of about 500 feet (<200 m), we should have taken a couple of days to acclimate. Even if coming from a higher elevation, everything you read says you shouldn’t go up Pichincha on your first day.

We went up Pichincha on our first day. Continue reading

When Solar Goes Bad: A Case Study


Apparently someone reposted an old 2015 story and gave it new legs, and my news feed has been full of reports regarding a rural town voting a moratorium on solar energy because the panels would, among other terrible effects, suck up all the sun and stop photosynthesis.

I think you guys are being unfair and are just following the critical mainstream media on this, without paying attention to the evidence which is right in front of you.

In September, I unwisely had solar panels installed on my house, believing the environmental propaganda that they would provide me clean energy without nasty side effects. And sure, by my calculations we’ve produced over 3.4 megawatt-hours of power so far even in a rainy October, the equivalent of more than 4 NYC-LA flights and saving over 60 trees’ worth of CO2.

But. You know there’s a but.

My trees were full and green when those panels were installed. And look at them now. Brown leaves or even bare branches — it’s true. I installed the solar panels, and the trees stopped photosynthesizing. YOU CAN’T ARGUE THE EVIDENCE.

Roof with solar panels beside leafless branches and trees with dead leaves.
You can’t argue the evidence, people.

(Update: Wanna see how this solar thing worked out for us? Read on here.) 

What is up with #Inktober?

Drawing a sword from the book, not stabbing the book. In case it was unclear.

Drawing a sword from the book, not stabbing the book. In case it was unclear.

If you follow my social media, you might have noticed that I’ve been posting ink drawings for #Inktober, and that they’re generally awful. You might have asked yourself why I would do that. Do I know how bad they are, or do I see my work through a blissfully ignorant filter? Is it some sort of prank?

So here’s what’s up with Inktober.

First, in case you aren’t familiar with it, #Inktober is a month for doing one drawing — in ink — and sharing it per day. You can find the brief background and this year’s optional prompt list from the creator Jake Parker. It’s something like National Novel Writing Month, but for visual artists.

Now, let’s recognize that I’m bad at drawing. No, I’m really bad at drawing. The local catchphrase for referring to truly hideous visual design is, “It looks like Laura drew it.” (Don’t feel bad. I’m often the one saying it. It’s not wrong to acknowledge my skills are in other sets.) So why on earth would I do Inktober, which unlike NaNoWriMo specifically requires publicly sharing one’s work?

I’m doing Inktober for several reasons: Continue reading