Monthly Archives: February 2012

This week on etsy: Steampunk

Do you know what “steampunk” is? I didn’t. According to Wikipedia:

Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fictionfantasyalternate history, and speculative fictionthat came into prominence during the 1980s and early 1990s.[1] Steampunk involves a setting where steam power is still widely used—usually Victorian era Britain or “Wild West“-era United States—that incorporates elements of either science fiction or fantasy. Works of steampunk often feature anachronistictechnology, or futuristic innovations as Victorians might have envisionedthem, based on a Victorian perspective on fashionculturearchitectural style, and art. This technology includes such fictional machines as those found in the works of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne, or the contemporary authors Philip PullmanScott Westerfeld and China Mieville.

I love the clockwork and gears that dominate the steampunk style. Etsy has an amazing steampunk community and this week, I’m highlighting some of my favorites.  Check it out! 


What I’m writing: Clouded

(drum roll, announcer voice)

Ladies and gentlemen, children of all ages, welcome to the unveiling of…..Amanda’s first novel!

(applause, screams and cheers)

Well, this isn’t quite my first novel, it’s really my second. But my first needs a lot of work. So I’m going to start this column with scenes from this book.  It’s currently in its second draft and I feel like I have a pretty good idea of the revisions that need to be made in the third draft, but I would love your feedback! Going from the beginning, so today is…the first scene. No set up needed.

(This is a little nerve wracking….)

Clouded, by Amanda Moon

I whisper a prayer and push open the door to Clouded, Incorporated.  There is no one at the reception desk yet, but I can hear the sounds of people starting their morning routines all around me.  Chairs scrape against the floor, computers ding as they wake up, doors open and close.  Someone is putting dishes away in the kitchen, I hear the plates and cups as they clink against each other.  

It has been three weeks since I was last here right before Christmas vacation. I feel awkward standing in the entryway and I’m not sure if I should go find Laura, the office manager myself, or if I should wait until Nicole is back at the reception desk and check in. I recognize many of the people walking around, but those that see me either don’t know who I am and don’t want to stop and find out, or don’t realize I’m no longer an intern.

“Oh, Addie, good, you’re here,” Laura says as she run-walks from the kitchen toward the corner office carrying a steaming cup of coffee.  “Head into the conference room, we’ll be right there.”

The office door is closed behind her before I have a chance to respond.  The office she just entered is Seth Mitchell’s, the president and CEO of Clouded.  It’s in the front corner of the building, and I get nervous just looking at the door.  He built this empire from the ground up.  My goal is to get the opportunity to learn from him.

The office is a two story modern-brick building.  The wide, iron and wood stairway to the second floor loft is just to the right of the reception desk.  Behind me, tinted windows stretch from the floor to the roofline, making the building feel even taller than it really is.  The layout of both floors is essentially the same, a large common area in the middle with cubicles and general work spaces surrounded by offices.  The corners of the building are reserved for the larger rooms.  The back corners of the first floor are the conference room and a listening room, the front corners are Seth’s office and the reception area.  The second floor has a kitchen and a break area in the back corners.

I had interned at Clouded for six months, leaving just before Christmas with the promise of great recommendations if I found anything to apply for, but no leads on any job possibilities.  Then, last week, Laura had called, told me they were hiring, and asked if I could come in for an interview.  There were no details, no explanation of what had changed in the last four weeks that necessitated a new employee. 

I smile at the interns as I make my way past the cubicles to the conference room. By interning, we committed to work, without pay, for the company for at least one thirteen week semester, hoping to gain experience and make connections that will one day lead to a job in the music industry. I notice my old cubicle is empty, the large #6 is still hanging on the wall.  It was there to remind me and everyone around me what number I was.

“It’s just easier than trying to learn everyone’s name.  You understand, interns come and go so quickly in this business…” Laura had told her on the first day of the internship. 

I peak inside the few office doors that are open as I walk by.  Each has the same glass and metal desk: ultra modern and minimalistic, a physical reminder that, when you are doing your job well, the artist will be the only one that is noticed. Some walls have gold and platinum record plaques, others have concert posters.  I used to think you could judge a person’s success by what was on the wall.  Really, the only thing you can learn is their decorating style and how much they like to brag.

In the conference room I choose a seat in the middle of the table and pull my coat tighter around me.  I remember from interning that a flaw in the building’s ductwork prevents the room from receiving any heat when the door is closed.  Nicole is supposed to check to be sure it’s open whenever there isn’t a meeting, but judging by the temperature it must have been closed all night.  The walls are lined with gold and platinum records from artists I worked with at Clouded, many of whom I’d been a fan of since long before I’d moved to Nashville. The comfortable leather conference chair and the cold, quiet of the room subdue my nerves.  The exhaustion that I have been battling the entire morning takes over and I have to fight the urge to lay my head down on the table and go to sleep. Besides interning, and taking a full load of classes at Belmont University, I a full time job at the front desk of a swanky downtown- Nashville hotel.  Twice a week I overnight, from 11:00 pm to 8:00 am.  the other three nights I work the evening shift from 3:00-12:00. I hadn’t known I’d be working the overnight shift when I agreed to the interview.  By the time I had my work schedule I was afraid I would look undedicated or irresponsible if I had tried to change the appointment.  I’m debating whether to go to the kitchen for a soda when Laura walks in, followed closely by Josh and Jonathan. The three of them greet me and choose seats on the opposite side of the table.  I’m worried I might be overdressed .

Laura is the office manager of Clouded, and was the first employee Seth ever hired. Her long black hair was hanging straight down her back, not quite dry, leaving moisture spots on the shoulders of the red cardigan sweater she was wearing.  Josh and Jonathan are two of the managers at Clouded.  They spend their days coordinating the lives of the bands they work with, everything from personal appearances to recording schedules. Jonathan is wearing his typical uniform of khaki pants and a plaid button down shirt. Josh’s outfit is the same thing he wears every day: jeans and a ringer-t. I had been torn when picking out my clothes for the interview.  After interning, I knew the office was very casual and that most people wore jeans every day, but I had always been taught that you dress up for interviews, so I chose a simple black dress and flat shoes.  

“How are you doing?  Did you have a good Christmas?” Laura asks, taking a sip from her coffee cup.  It’s a different cup than I had seen her with when she went into Seth’s office. 

“I did. “I stayed here, but it was nice.”  

“Oh, it’s too bad you didn’t get to go home! I know you would have liked to see your family!”  

I nod. She’s right, I would have loved to go home.  But I couldn’t get the time off from the hotel, and I’m trying to save as much money as possible.  I’m considering how much of this to explain when the door opens again.

“Great, you’re here!” Laura says as Seth walks in.  Immediately I’m happy I chose the dress.  Seth is dressed in a impeccably tailored gray pinstriped suit with sea-glass green shirt underneath.  His brown hair, slightly long, is just starting to curl along the nape of his neck and above his ears.  It looks at once perfectly messy and perfectly styled.  His eyes, the exact color of his shirt, do a quick scan of the room.  He overlooks me completely, making me feel even more nervous. My hands began to sweat despite the temperature of the room. I glance at Laura and she smiles in what I know is meant to be a look of reassurance, but it doesn’t reach her eyes. 

“Number Six,” Seth says glancing quickly at me and choosing a seat at the head of the table.  My heart sinks.  I hate being referred to as a number.  I had made it my goal to make Seth learn my name before I was done with my internship.  I guess I failed.

If my face registers my disappointment, Seth doesn’t notice.  He nods Jonathan. “Jonathan is taking over Shreds.  He’s going to need some help with the accounting stuff here while he gets that up and going.  The pay is $10 an hour.  How’s that sound?”

He has a file in his hands and starts flipping through the papers, not looking at me.  I wonder if the file has anything to do with me. Maybe it’s my resume?  I glance at Laura and Jonathan for some sort of clue and get nothing.

 “What is Shreds?” I ask, directing the question somewhere between Seth and Jonathan since no one is looking directly at me.

Seth rolls his eyes, looking at Jonathan.  I feel completely lost.

“We didn’t get a chance to talk about that, did we?” Laura says, overly cheery, absorbing all of Seth’s attitude and turning it into vocal sunshine.  

“Shreds is,” Jonathan says, leaning forward and folding his hands on the table, “our full-service merchandising company.  We are giving all of our artists the ability to maximize their peripheral profits by cutting out the middleman.  We will be the designer, the manufacturer, and the distributor for all of their merchandising needs, from CDs to t-shirts to lunch boxes.” He glances quickly at Josh, who is smirking, watching his coffee like it might start to do tricks.  I can tell he wants to laugh out loud.  Is he laughing at me, or at Jonathan’s sales pitch? 

Seth is nodding his head in agreement with everything Jonathan says, giving the impression that this has been rehearsed.  Jonathan continues, “I need you to help me get the stuff done here, so I can focus on what I’m doing over there.” 

Everyone is looking at me now.  I’m weighing several questions in my head, such as “Where is over there?,” “What exactly will I be doing?,” and “What are the hours?” Before I can decide which one to ask Seth has pushed his chair away from the table and looks ready to leave.  I calculate quickly and say the most enthusiastically neutral thing I can think of.  “Sounds great!” 

“So,” Laura asks, “You’re accepting?”

Am I accepting?  I don’t even really understand the job yet.  What does helping with the accounting stuff entail?  Seth’s standing now, obviously ready to go.  Any job in the music industry is better than nothing, so I dive in. “Absolutely.”

It’s the right answer, everyone is nodding and smiling.  I feel like it’s okay to ask some of the more necessary questions now.  “What are the hours?  When do I start?

“Let’s start out with ten to fifteen a week or so,” Seth says.  “You can work it out, but we’ve got to stay within the budget.” He gives Jonathan a meaningful look, then walks out the door.

“You can set your own hours,” Laura says.  “But they need to be regular.  I need to know when you’re going to be here.”  I watch her eyes follow Seth out the door.  She looks worried, and I wonder what is going on.

“Yeah, me too,” Josh says. He laughs out loud, unable to hold it in anymore.  I had almost forgotten he was there.  I look at him, and his eyes tell me that he doesn’t understand why he was included with the interview any more than I do “That was fun,” he says, standing up and shaking my hand. “Welcome aboard.”  

“Seriously,” Jonathan says, “We’re glad you accepted!”

He pats me on the back and walks out with Josh.  I see them go into Jonathan’s office and close the door.  Seth’s door is also closed when Laura and I come out of conference room.  I see her face cloud over again when she at his door.

“Should I ask Jonathan about my hours?” I ask standing awkwardly outside of the conference room.  I’m not sure if I should move towards Laura’s office on the left or Jonathan’s office on the right, and it’s obvious that Laura is dealing with something else in her head.

“No, that’s fine,” she sighs and walks to her office.  “I need to do your paperwork anyway.  Can you start tomorrow?”  She sits down and begins shuffling through a drawer, periodically pulling papers out of the file folders and stacking them on her desk.

“No, I have school and work tomorrow.”

“Oh.  Okay. I didn’t realize you were still working.” We didn’t discuss the fact that I was still working at the hotel.  Laura looks a bit annoyed at the thought that I might be considering anything more important than Clouded. 

“Only for now,” I say quickly. “I am still at the hotel.  But if this ever becomes full time, I can quit. It’s just at night anyway. I have classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but my mornings are wide open Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  I can be here whenever you need those days.”

“9:00 on Friday?”

“Sure.  How’s 9-2, Monday, Wednesday and Friday?”

 “Perfect,” Laura says, handing over the stack of papers she had accumulated on her desk.  “Fill these out.  I’ll see you on Friday.”

What I’m Reading: The Survivors by Amanda Havard

Yesterday, I finished a fantastic book by a fantastic author. The Survivors, the first in a new series by Amanda Havard, is YA paranormal, but it’s not just another Twilight knockoff.

Sadie is a descendent of a group of kids who were exiled rather than executed during the Salem witch trials. They were left for dead somewhere in the midwest in the dead of winter, but they survived, and continued to survive, century after century in their Montana commune. No one had left until Sadie, enthralled by the world she had only read about in books, ran away. She had grown up being taught that there were no other beings like her and her family: immortal with super human strength and other-worldly powers, but learns quickly that is just one of many lies. Now her family is threatened, and she must decide how to deal with her hunger for the truth and her love for her family.

The thing that sets The Survivors apart from everything else on the YA paranormal shelves is the blend of true facts with incredible fantasy. Amanda weaves real history and legend with fiction seamlessly and beautifully. Sadie’s experiences are at once familiar and unique, and sometimes it’s hard to remember that you’re reading the story and not living it. Sadie has stayed with me since I finished the last page. The second book in this series, Point of Origin is set to release this summer, and I can’t wait.

Pintersting this week

If you haven’t joined Pinterest yet, do it now. And just know that you are going to lose a good hour or two (or five) on the site each day.

While purusing the other night, I started seeing all of these images that seemed to go well with Home, the book I’m currently working on. So I grabbed them and started a new board. I realized that I can use Pinterest to create vision boards. (Yes, maybe I’m a little slow sometimes. Don’t judge.)

Here’s the thing: I love the idea of vision boards, but hate making them. The magazines I have on hand are either ones I don’t want to tear up or, if I want to tear them up, it’s because there is nothing left in them I want. Plus, vision boards are all about pictures. I get most of my pictures online. And I hate the mess of cutting, tearing, gluing, etc. This is perfect for me! So I started grabbing pictures for my book. I’ve only done Ashley, but I’d like to do one for each of the main characters and one for the book as a whole.

Then, this morning, I was looking at my Google Reader and my mentor talked about this very thing. And she quite literally wrote the book on vision boarding your novel.

This got me thinking…could I maybe possibly make a vision board for me too? Gasp! I might actually enjoy this.

*The link back for the photo doesn’t work. If it’s yours, please email me at amandamichellemoon dot com and I’d be happy to give you credit and a back link!


Learning to read

Do you remember learning to read? Yeah, me neither. Lily’s learning right now. Let me tell you: IT. IS. HARD. She knows what sounds letters make. She knows what sounds they make when you put them together. She knows what letters are what. What she doesn’t seem to be getting yet is the visual “that is a word because the letters are all together” part of reading. And I don’t know how to teach it to her other than just keep working on it.

The funny part of all of it is, she’s much more okay with the process than I am. She doesn’t get frustrated or upset. She can go right back to coloring or playing, whatever. No problem. She’ll get it.

I’m trying to take a lesson from her. I’m not nearly so patient when I’m learning something new.

What I’m writing

Book photo for sale here:

I’m going to experiment a little bit with sharing a snippet of what I’m writing with you. Experiment as in: I promise I’ll do it, I’m still working out exactly what I’ll share. I’d like to hear from you: what do you want to see? Fiction? Non-fiction? Whatever? Any length thoughts? I’m thinking right now that if I do fiction, I’ll do a complete scene, but not whole chapters at a time, since that would just get overwhelming. Check out my writing page and let me know what’s tickling your fancy.

Photo for sale here.

What I’m reading- Dead to You

More like “What I read.” I picked this up at the bookstore the other night and read the first few pages. Then a few more. Then (I’m a little ashamed to admit this) I looked it up and saw that it was $8 cheaper, so basically half the price, on Kindle. So, I bought it. And I read it. All. In the course of about 18 hours. Including a nap, two room rearrangements, and a lot of mothering. Oh, and a little wifing and a whole night’s sleep.

Get it now. Read it. Thank me later.

How to Design Your Own Writing Retreat

This semester, my Writer’s Loft mentor is Charlotte Raines Dixon. She’s got an excellent blog and newsletter. This morning, my inbox included some wonderful words of wisdom on creating your own writing retreat and I want to share. These are great, low budget suggestions for people for whom taking a full weekend or flying away are not an option. Hope you enjoy and are inspired to plan your own.

How to Design a Writing Retreat
By Charlotte Rains Dixon

Feeling a bit disconnected from your writing? Longing to have an extended period of time to delve deeply into a writing project? Have a looming deadline? Perhaps what you need is a writing retreat. You can design yourself a writing retreat for any amount of time from a couple of hours to a couple of weeks, and make it as simple or complicated as you’d like. Here are some suggestions that cover the gamut:

1. Take a Writing Retreat at Home. Commit to an hour or a whole weekend to working on your project without going anywhere. This takes a bit more discipline, I think, to carry on with the work while battling the distractions of home. But it can be done. Tell all family and friends that you will not be available, stock up on tea/coffee and snacks, then go into your office and close the door. Turn off your phone, shut down your inboxes and have at it for the appointed amount of time.

2. Create a Self-Designed Retreat. A friend of mine used to take two-day retreats at a nearby college town. This was a good choice because there’s generally cheap lodging and cheap eats, plus a campus to stroll through for writing breaks. If you’ve got a university town nearby, try it. Just be sure to check you’re not trying to have your retreat on Parent’s or Homecoming weekend. If there’s not a college town close by, resort towns in the off-season can work well and be inexpensive. Or rent a motel room across town!

3. Take a Retreat at a Writing House. Many writing organizations have houses that offer cheap rentals to writers. Here in Portland, I know of two—one in town and one an hour away at the beach. Some are rentable by the day, or the week—Google writing organizations for your city and see what comes up.

4. Go In With a Friend. Find a friend or two and plan a writing getaway. Join up and rent a house or motel (get connecting rooms) at a motel or resort (as above). Having more of you will bring the cost down and keep the motivation up. Plus, it’s a lot of fun.

5. Check into Spiritual Locations. Many monasteries and other such places offer rooms for silent retreats which can include writing. The amenities may be Spartan, but you’re writing, right, so who cares?

Whichever option you choose, I hope you will try retreating for your writing. It is truly an amazing way to connect with your work.

Ten-Minute Tip: Take a Mini-Retreat

This one is ridiculously easy and crazy hard. First of all, decide you’re going to take an hour off. To do nothing or something that you really, really want to do (like writing). And then do it. Shut down your inboxes, turn off your phone, and….just do it. You’ll thank me. You really will.

Writer, mentor, and coach Charlotte Rains Dixon is passionate about helping writers, coaches, entrepreneurs, and creative professionals succeed, achieve, and profit in their careers and lives through writing. Visit her for more tips and techniques on writing—and living—at