2020 VOID

I had big hopes coming into 2020… I think all of us did to some extent. A new year, a fresh start, new goals to push towards. Then a monkey got thrown into our wrench and everything went to hell! I’m an ‘essential’ worker, but not any of the good ones, like nurse or doctor, I’m in RETAIL. So my ambient stress levels, which are normally high due to me being an introvert in what is essentially an extroverted job, went through the roof!

My goals of finishing Tabeth book 2, working out the ending to my sci-fi story, and writing something every day (even if its just one sentence) went POOF! And here we are at the end of this godawful year and I’ve got next to nothing written AT ALL. I’m very disappointed with myself…

I know I’m not the only one, quite a few writers and other artistic people have confessed that they haven’t been dealing with all the bs constructively either. While the stories of artists using their quarantine time to good effects are out there, there are quite a lot of stories about depression/anxiety shutdowns as well. The term “self-care” has grown to mean so much more this year. Stepping away from social media, doing little things to make yourself feel better, and posting/doing things that uplift yourself and others have been necessary this year, instead of feeling indulgent or ‘sappy’.

So here I am going into another new year. And I’m going to try Rumi, I really am! Try to forgive myself for this year’s failings. Try to reset my goals without the shame of not finishing them last time. Try to let those dead leaves DROP.

With any luck this years shit pile will decay into some FABULOUS fertilizer!

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Swanning Legends (is swanning a word?)

Ancestors of Man side notes:

OK so this isn’t about Homo Erectus, but instead about a much later hominin; Homo denisovia. But this article shows just how long a fact-made-legend can stick around. In my ancient-historical fiction novel (still in the works of course) Ancestors of Man, my Homo erectus characters have legends of when they lived in trees, and how the trees provided everything for them. I’ve been worried that this would seem too far fetched because we are talking about a LOOOOONG time between when Australopithecines (think the Lucy skeleton) walked around with curved fingers made for tree climbing, and H. erectus started having trouble with the climate in Africa. This article points to a group of Denisovans or proto Denisovans who lived in Qesem Cave Israel, who seemed to be worshiping a Swan, or the swan had some important symbolism in their religion.

So whats a swan have to do with my legends? Well, luckily we have the DNA of two groups of Denisovans and have traced our inner breeding with them. The Siberian Denisovan DNA is seen in Siberia, the Tibetan Plateau, Mongolia, northern China and East Asia, who have a very interesting set of origin stories. “Swan shamanism but also the concept of swan ancestry (tribes and clans claiming descent from a swan maiden, a genetrix in the form of a swan) developed among so many indigenous tribes and clans in former strongholds of Siberian Denisovans, most obviously Siberia, Mongolia, Tibet, and North Asia as a whole.” So here is a set of legends about when these Denisovans who worshiped a swan inner breed with the H. sapiens in these regions about 420,000 years ago!!!!


So maybe my tribe holding onto these origin-stories-made-religion isn’t far fetched, especially when you take into account all the odd bones we keep finding that might be throwbacks, or maybe just hangers-on, well into H. erectus and even H. sapien times. We occasionally see odd throwbacks in our own species. Like vestigial tails, supernumerary nipples (I had to look that one up), and oddly enough color blindness! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atavism So my Priestess of the Trees who has more curved fingers than the others in her tribe and keeps the Legends of the Trees alive and well isn’t so crazy.

Here is the whole article: https://www.ancient-origins.net/news-evolution-human-origins/qesem-cave-0012718

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DNA Magic!

They are learning from DNA! This reconstruction, based purely on DNA has an 85% accuracy! They know this because they tried it on a chimpanzee and a Neanderthal, which was then compared to their known anatomy. Pretty good when you have only a few bones and a couple of teeth to figure out what these ancient humans looked like! It’s just too bad they haven’t been able to recover DNA on H. Erectus yet. All they need is one lucky bone.

Facial Reconstruction Shows What the Enigmatic Denisovans Might Have Looked Like


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Sleeping Stories #1

Dreaming… My own Private Movies!

Back in 2001, I had an online Dream Journal on the blog site Xanga. The idea was that I would write down any and all dream material I could remember right when I woke up. Even before coffee!! At the same time I was trying my hand at lucid dreaming techniques I was learning from the Lucidity Institute which included dream journaling and reality checks during the day. I wasn’t very successful at increasing my lucid dreaming, but I sure got some crazy dreams wrote down!

I have always had very vivid and strange dreams, often including scary things like aliens, demons, vampires, and unseen things chasing me. I used to wake up screaming from the worst of them, until my first accidental lucid moment. Basically, I held myself in a semi-wakened state, the dream froze like a movie on pause, and I said to myself; “I’m afraid enough to wake up if I want to.” But then I decided, no, it was only a dream and it couldn’t hurt me, besides, I wanted to see how it would end. And the dream started back up again! From then on I wasn’t nearly as afraid and considered them my own private movies.

So here I am in 2019 backing up my Xanga page before the site disappears and I realize that some of these are just gems! It’s amazing how even hours after having a dream it dissipates into smoke, so reading them, after all this time, I’m really shaking my head! And so… Sleeping Stories is born! I’m not only going to give you some gems from my old Dream Journal, but I’m going to try to start Journaling again.

The things that come out of MyMind!

Okay, here we go, the first dream on my old DJ, and guess what? It’s about vampires! lol

4-4-01 cant remember how it starts… something happened, I was in a classroom, a student, with other students and a teacher/professor type… Vampires… something happens to bring to my attention that I may be a vamp, early stages….. it’s dark, damp, I think someone died or we have a body or something, I think we are studying vamps…. later I leave and meet my boyfriend: Mexican? big, muscles, told him in a whisper I may be vamp.. he says nothing, no kids that way, taboo, not horrified, but he’s not thrilled either…. later the vamps are causing chaos, the streets aren’t safe, lots of vamps! there are special indoor areas for the rich, mall-like, safe from the vamps. they don’t know I’m turning into one, scarred they will find out, vamps are like vermin you see… I’m in the popular crowd, don’t want to be kicked out…. vamps are starting to become epidemic, don’t want them to know … boyfriend not around, with other popular friends, they don’t know… more here…. but I can’t remember…. feeling of really seeing through those eyes. excited at being a vamp, but feeling it was wrong what the vamps were doing and not wanting anyone to know – not wanting to lose my place in the popular crowd….. this dream really stuck with me until I wrote it down…. important somehow…. the good ones always stick with me…
*note* you will have to forgive the spelling and choppiness, it’s just how I write down my dreams, it’s not often you remember a dream crystal clear, it comes in images, feelings, and clumps of clear thought. that and there’s no spellcheck on this thing hehe.

I signed it MM lol One of my old pages was Midnight Metal
vampires at the mall… get it? lol

I think the thing I like most about this is that if I ever wanted to start another (ANOTHER!) project, this is a full-on story idea! I could totally see this as a YA horror/romance.

What do you think? Do you remember your dreams, or do they slip away before you can catch them? Have you ever lucid dreamed?

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#PitDark results

I had only one solid response to my #PitDark pitches, but the process was NOT a loss. Writing those pitches made me think about a bunch of things, got my connections to a lot of new authors who write horror and dark things, and introduced me to a world I had pretty much avoided.

Just to re-cap: #PitDark is a spinoff of the larger #PItMad twitter pitching event that focus’ on dark lit. The trick is to pitch your finished work in the 140 characters allowed on Twitter to agents and publishers who will be searching for that hash tag. If you get liked (a heart on twitter now) then they want you to submit your work to them. This makes it a solicited work instead of an unsolicited, which many publishers won’t even look at.

I had over a dozen pitches to choose from, and in a last mad rush wrote a few more! I was nervous all out of proportion and fussed about everything. My first pitch of the day got a “like”, and I was ever so happy, then the rest of the day (at work) I was fretting and nervous and trying to check it on my phone. I got no more likes, which bummed me out. So, in true me form, I ignored writing this till now. I didn’t even know if I WANTED a traditional publisher, but I had saved what I thought were my best pitches for the peak times, and got nothing. Early bird gets the worm?

cover mockup1

So… what good came out of all this fretting and pitch writing? The obvious one is that now I have a bunch of pitches I can use when someone asks that horrifying question: “Oh, you wrote a book. What’s it about?” They don’t want a synopsis; they want a pitch!
The pitch writing itself is a process of distilling your book down to its most basic elements, then making them as interesting as possible. Not an easy task! But well worth the effort. It made me this about what the book is really about, under the action, under the plot twists, under the character interactions, under what happens in the book, is what the STORY is really about.


So, what is Tabeth: Opening Eternity really about? A girl, in a horrifying situation, that she can’t escape from, trying to keep her humanity (soul even?) intact. And what was the pitch that caught my one single eye?


It sets the scene with “gritty city” tells you it has violence “fresh blood” introduces the character, Tabeth, and tells you she’s maybe not human “claws her way” shows you she has a darkness problem “out of the dark” and gets you thinking about “what humanity really is”, and why this violent monster might know better than you.

I still don’t think it was my best pitch, but it caught this publisher’s eye, and that is the main point of pitches. Some of the other ones that were noticed and liked by non-publishers/agents are in the images below.


“But none of those say what you boiled your story down to!” you might be saying, and you’re right, they don’t come right out and say that. If someone came up and ask you to read their story about a vampire who is trying to keep her humanity while still kill, would you grab it? Or yawn and say, “That’s nice, not today”. Now this of a publisher/agent who gets hundreds, even thousands of those “READ MY BOOK” requests… I will end this post with some of my fav. links that I used writing these, they explain better than I can some of the techniques I used to come up with these. The point is:

Even though I only got one like, and will most likely self-publish, I learned a lot from doing this!


During this process, and while the event was going on, I found several new authors to follow and befriend. And they are all lovers of the dark! Networking is invaluable for any writer who is trying to do more than throwing something online for the fun of it. Not only do they offer inspiration and advice, but they help you market, even if they don’t like your book. Reading how they do it, and applying that to your own efforts can really make a difference. (Or at least I hope it will when I get to that stage!)


Several years ago, I considered traditional publishing vs. self-publishing and decided I would rather go the self-pub. route. So, this effort introduced me to the inner world of traditional publishing with indie/new authors. It is very much like the inner world of self-pubs, only with the added wait times and stress over query letters and rejections. A lot of us overlap, and I already have friends in both worlds (with a few published in both!) but this was different than talking about the plot with them, this was diving in headfirst and swimming about in the muddy waters with them. It was a real eye-opener, and even though the idea of them helping me polish up my book, even more, is tempting, I think I will stick with my self-pub plan.

So PitDark wasn’t a loss, but it wasn’t a grand slam either. No rock star today… sigh… maybe tomorrow!

photo credit: Denis Hébert
Dufresne et place Dufresne 2 via photopin (license)

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PitDark Event!

Tomorrow is the #Pitdark pitch event over at twitter! I’m nervous and excited and STILL don’t know which of the over 20 pitches I’m going to use!!! lol So if you want to follow along check out my twitter page Maria Rich @MyMindmr, if you already follow, then fair warning, I have one pitch/ hour planned!


What is this thing you speak of? Well, the idea is to pitch your story in the 140 characters that twitter allows (plus hashtags). The event gets as many publishers and agents as it can to check out these hashtags during this time. If they are interested they “like” it, and you are no longer submitting an “unsolicited” manuscript, as they asked for it. This puts you on the top of their slush pile. Which doesn’t guarantee anything, but makes it a lot easier for them to notice you. The one I’m doing is specifically for dark lit.

NOTE: if you check them out, please do NOT like the pitches! Feel free to comment on the ones you like, though.

What is this thing you are pitching? Well, the main project I’ve been working on is Tabeth: Opening Eternity. Book one is pretty much done (I’m constantly tweaking it though), and it’s about a vampire, definitely, horror, with some * Warning: violence and gore * splashed in for good measure. So I thought I would give this pitching a try. Maybe some major publisher will love it and say, “WOW! I love it! Send me the whole thing!” and I will get a major deal and be an overnight success, Best Seller, NYT, FAMOUS!!! (rock star, remember? hehe)

I figure even if I get nothing out of this publishing wise, it has made me think up all these pitches, which are basically taglines/blurbs, and I had to really boil the story down to get them, so I pretty much know what should be in my synopsis now. Which I still haven’t typed out… and still don’t want too… sigh.

So check out my twitter feed on the 20th, or just wait for my next post where I’m going to talk about which pitches did the best. And which ones got crickets.

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Why editing is so important. My response to the latest Immerse or Die report.

I love reading the Immerse or Die reports by Dave Higgins. They are very good for teaching a writer what not to do, and it the case of the books that make it, what you should do. Here is the latest Immerse or Die report, and my response to it.

Immerse or Die


I am a poet first, novelist second, and I learned to use capitals, spaces, lines, and stanzas to emphasize meaning in my poetry. While writing my novel, I tried hard not to do that, yet when I got back my novel from the editor, I had a BUNCH of capitals marked out. (see what I did there?) Such devices are acceptable in poetry, and casual writing, but not in published fiction. Without an editor, even though I went through the whole thing looking for these caps, I would have had a bunch in there. This is just one example of what an editor catches.

Substantive editing, as opposed to just copy edits, catches missing plot points, inconsistencies, tenses (a big one for me) and what seemed to have happened in this book: lack of emotional connection, passive voice, and telling instead of showing. My editor was huge in helping me keep my three main points of view in line and killing off the random POVs that crept in without me even noticing them. She pointed out places where I needed more character development and where I should add something to get the plot from point A to point B. She told me “Hey, this part right here is really good…. but… it just doesn’t work here. Maybe we can find a part later where you can use this great bit.”

Unless your significant other, friend, mother, long lost school friend is a professional editor or at least an English teacher who is also able to be brutally honest with your baby, then you need to hire an editor for your book. Beta readers help, but the 4 beta readers I had before editing didn’t catch a fraction of what my editor did! If you want your work to be the best it can if you want to improve your writing by leaps and bounds, then hiring an editor who does substantive editing is worth all the pain suffering and money it entails.

My editor Trish Jackson

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Chapter Magic!


I sent my novel (Tabeth: Opening Eternity B1) back to my wonderful editor +Trish Jackson for its second round of edits this week. While I wait for her to fix my fixes I thought it would be a good time to go over the chapter titles. For those of you who write novels, how do you choose your chapter titles? And how important do you think they are? For those of you who read novels, do you pay attention to the chapter titles? And if so how important (fun?) do you think they are?


I am reminded of how I loved the chapters in Dragon Lance, not only were they great titles: Winged sleep. Smoke in the east. Dark memories. But the line drawings made them more than just “here’s another chapter”. They made them almost an art form in and of themselves. Harry Potter did the drawings too, but I don’t remember the titles at all.


My favorite chapter title so far in Book 1 is “Two Crazies and an Ax” which is a line of dialogue. Most of the rest are one-word descriptions like “Awake, Choice, Oak, and Rage”. My goal this weekend is to get some eye-catching, interesting chapter titles. Or at least better than “Sun”. What are your favorite chapter titles and in what books?

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National Poetry Month #2


In honor of NPM I found this poem in my files that I feel is both a good poem, and a good story. Short as it is, I could see this one at the beginning of a book/short story.  It doesn’t fit in with Tabeth though, sadly. Maybe I should write one for Tabeth? Hmmmmm.

A Moment

Darkness glimpsed behind eyes of fear
innocence betrays to the inner, soulless peer

Beauty’s cast in despair’s cold grip
chills of pleasure tear through – to slip

From her limpid countenance
into my inflamed body’s trance

Then to her lips I give my heat
gladly to yield to her every beat

Till gradually paced her away
leaving ME to fade and prey

Fear behind my eyes of hate
Legacy of endless hunger to sate.


Maria Rich

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National Poetry Month


In honor of National Poetry Month I am going to post some of my poems. Nothing new really, just some I think are pretty good from my archives. Let me know what you think!


damply drips the sun

winding its way down

through drops of shifted light

trying vainly to reach earth

most of its heat spent

plops to the ground, with

sodden despair


hazing my eyes

like death’s laid claim

but hasn’t quite put out the lights

dark shadows turn

from monsters into cars

as they emerge

every breath

a small drowning

wading through the fog


12-30-04 Maria Rich

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