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Kickstart This: Sex and Spooks and Sauvignon

Kickstart This: Sex and Spooks and Sauvignon

Last year, 1,666 publishing projects got their funding on Kickstarter. With over $15 million pledged to publishing projects alone, Kickstarter has given the power to the people. We are creating a market where people tell companies the kinds of products they want made, rather than the previous market where corporations tell us what to want. So, to support this brilliant movement, I’m going to begin featuring cool publishing projects on this blog.

The first one is a book called Sex and Spooks and Sauvignon. This project is for a print-edition of a book already available on the Kindle. The author has collected a handful of really positive reviews, most of them visible on the Amazon UK site (in case you read “11 reviews” and went “where? I only see one!”)

The book is already available on Kindle, so it’s market tested, and you can download the excerpt from your respective Amazon storefronts. Prizes for backing the book include autographed copies, acknowledgments, psychic readings, and having yourself written into the book as a character.

So check it out and give a dollar if you can. Support Indie Projects YOU want to read. We don’t have to live in a world with ordinary fiction anymore!


Update 2/15/13: The project was successfully funded this morning!

Happy All Hallow’s Read!

Happy All Hallow’s Read!

On Saturday, the Strickland family (the younger) hosted an All Hallow’s Read party. It was a lot of fun and I want to share some of the highlights of the night to get you in the Halloween spirit and convince you that book parties are the new black.

Here is my beagle in a convict outfit!

The party featured book-themed costumes, book-themed food, Cards Against Humanity (I know, breaking theme), a candy bar, and a Dirty Santa-style scary book swap.


We dressed up as book characters. My friend Scott came as Little John, my husband was Arthur Dent, I was Jenny “Pox” Morton, and my friend Grady was something for a man-fiction Monster Hunting series. There were a few characters I didn’t know (which started great conversations!) and a few characters that weren’t from books but were accepted and loved anyway. We even dressed up my mutt, Apollo, as Peeta from The Hunger Games.

(Click thumbnails to enlarge images).


Arthur Dent

Jenny Pox



Everyone brought a book-themed dish to share. We had Solent Green (Cake), Prim’s Goat Cheese, Elven Lembas Bread, Hogwarts Pumpkin Pie, Parcel Day Apple Sauce, Bran’s “Pigeon” Pies, and more. People were encouraged to bring a variety of foods so that it wasn’t all candy (because the average age at the party was 26, not 19). Every dish had a card with its name. We ate well and nothing was left over at the end of the night.


Decorations were simple. I replaced a few pieces of art in my living room with silhouettes on metallic painted canvas (Sherlock Holmes and Frankenstein). Candles and pumpkins (traditional Halloween) littered tables and shelves. The pile of books for the swap served as their own decoration and flying keys hung over the table with the food. When the AC kicked on, they fluttered in the current and “flew.”

The Book Swap:

We played our book swap like a Dirty Santa (wrapped gifts, stealing, etc.) Some friends took the Dirty Santa bit to hear. Along with copies of Jenny Pox, John Dies @ the End, and The Call of Cthulu, were a book of “real” UFO sightings and Twilight. Nobody stole Twilight, but we did enjoy flipping to random pages and reading out loud (for Lols.)

This brings me to my conclusion. The book swap was cheap (the gifts ranged from 99¢ thrift store books to $12 Amazon finds) and tons of fun. It lead to lots of laughs, great conversation, and everyone got something new to read. I recommend adding a book swap to your next Halloween party. Heck, I recommend adding a book swap to your next Christmas party. Why get a cheap candle set that doesn’t even smell nice while burning, when you can get a book? Even terrible books can be amusing to the right audience.

So, Mr. Gaiman, I tried your new tradition. I like it. Happy Halloween.

The Interminable Cockroach Man

The Interminable Cockroach Man

When we were kids, my brother and I had big dreams of being cartoonists, video game designers, mystery writers, etc. In 5th grade we each had an AMAZING teacher who encouraged that creativity. She was Ms. Richards when Sam had her. The next year, when I had her, she was married and had another name. She did a project every year to let her students write, illustrate, and bind their own book. Mine was something forgettable and stupid and I only remember a character having a boom box (but I think his name was Zach, coincidentally). My brother’s was a superhero named Cockroach Man with the power to not die, among other things.

Cockroach Man was rehashed over and over again during our adolescence. We were two years apart in age and one year apart in school. Sam and I were, and still are, close. In high school, after seeing Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man (the one I’d like to forget in favor of Marc Webb’s), we decided to write a movie script.

It was so bad.

Last year my brother decided to launch Cockroach Man as a web comic. Of course, he knew that he was not a writer, so he asked for help. My husband started writing it for him, but time and his other web comic got in the way. A few months ago, I joined the team. Now I write, Kyle consults and edits (“He should say this instead. That’s better.”) and Sam does the art. Sam has since started doing cell-shaded 3D environments (he’s a 3D modeler by trade) mixed with hand-drawn characters.

The Interminable Cockroach Man is about a superhero from the golden age who was frozen. In the freezing process, his brain was addled. Cockroach Man is not quite there, but he’s powerful. The government has place an agent, Rick Rogers, with Cockroach Man as his sidekick. It’s a parody of comics, but also has a really cool plot. The art is constantly improving and the story is really taking off.

Check out to read the comic! The comic updates every Sunday at midnight, EST.

MTG Literary Theme Deck: Sacred Nectar

MTG Literary Theme Deck: Sacred Nectar

A few weeks back I brought you a breakdown of my Magic The Gathering, Harry Potter themed deck. I don’t know if my regular base of readers cares at all about MTG, but it brought a lot of outside traffic, so someone cares! Here is another themed-deck of mine. Sacred Nectar is a Greek Mythology deck based on Order (White), Nature (Green), and Chaos (Red). Here is the breakdown:


Dryad’s Carress (2)- Named after a type of Greek tree nymph, this card allows me to gain life and, when played with white mana, untap creatures.

Centaur Rootcaster- A centaur that helps me get mana out.

Protean Hydra (4)- I love this card because it takes damage in the form of losing counters and then doubles the counters lost at the resolution of the turn. This is awesome because, if I put any non-counter enchantment/effect that gives it at least +0/+1 on it, it is basically immune to combat damage.

Centaur Glade– An enchantment that allows me to generate centaur creature tokens!

Dryad Arbor– A land that is also a free 1/1 creature, but it has summoning sickness.

Craw Giant– A giant that has trample and rampage (it gets stronger the more creatures block it)

Shanodin Dryads (2)– Another cheap Dryad. This one has forestwalk, which makes it awesome against decks with green.

Gaea’s Blessing– So named after the first primordial God of the Greek mythos. This card puts 3 cards from any graveyard back into its corresponding library, allows me to draw a card, and if it goes into my graveyard from my library, shuffles my graveyard back into my library. Translation: the best defense against discard decks.

Gaea’s Embrace– Enchanted creature gets +3/+3 and trample and can be regenerated for 1 green mana.

Gaea’s Bounty– Allows me to get two forests into my hand.

Forcemage Advocate– A centaur that lets me put a card from an opponent’s graveyard back into their hand to pay for a +1/+1 counter on one of my own creatures.

Centaur Safeguard– A green and white centaur. When it dies, I get three life.


Griffin Sentinel– Has vigilance.

Diving Griffin– Also with vigilance. I like Griffins.

Mesa Pegasus– It’s an old card with banding. Who actually understands banding?

Pegasus Charger– First strike!

Armored Pegasus (2)– A slightly tougher pegasus. These white creatures are my early game (low cost)

Oathsword Giant– Another giant that gives other creatures +2 defense.

Sun Titan– A giant (and a Titan!). This wicked awesome card brings small cards back from the graveyard and is a 6/6 creature with vigilance!

Petra Sphinx– Makes people discard a card (or, if I get to look at the top of my deck, can be used to let me keep that card)

Sacred Nectar (2)– Gain 4 life for 2 mana.


Raging Minotaur– It has haste.

Titan’s Revenge (2)– A really great card that does X damage for only X+2 AND after clashing, has the chance to go back into my hand to be used again.

Thunderbolt (4)– Zeus’ old standby. This does 3 damage to a player or 4 to a creature with flying. Very useful, as most fliers are small.

Bloodshot Cyclops– The tap effect of this card is the equivalent of throwing another creature at an opponent. It is an unblock-able effect. Now picture this: I pump up a Protean Hydra to a 10/10 and then I throw it at them. Tada!

Molten Hydra– Another great Hydra card. This one is cheap to start and can be built up to be bigger. When it is as big as I’d like, I can strip its counters, damage the other player, and then start again from 1/1

Magma Phoenix– A beautiful rare. When it is killed, it hurts EVERY creature and player (3 damage), but for 5 mana I can put it back in my hand. Nobody with a lot of tokens would be crazy enough to kill it.

Minotaur Explorer– Cheap, but I have to discard a card to keep it.


Primal Clay- The clay Prometheus used to build first man! This card costs 4 and can come into play as either a 1/6 wall, a 2/2 creature with flying, or a 3/3 creature.

Gorgon Flail (2)- It’s like whacking someone with Medusa’s head on a stick. Equipped creatures get +1/+1 and any creature that takes damage from it DIES.

War Chariot- Tap, pay 3, and any creature targeted has trample until the end of turn.

Naya Panorama- A land that generates red, white, or green mana.


MTG Literary Theme Deck: Harry Potter and the Curse of Wizardry

MTG Literary Theme Deck: Harry Potter and the Curse of Wizardry

This is the first installment of a new MTG (Magic The Gathering) post series. In these posts I break down Magic the Gathering theme decks with my cards, strategy, and reason for putting each card in the deck. If you don’t know what Magic the Gathering is, check out this site. I’ve been playing for years (about half my life). You can buy cards at almost any Target, Wal-Mart, comic store, etc.

Today’s deck is called Harry Potter and the Curse of Wizardry. As you may have inferred, it is a Harry Potter theme deck. It is always a work in progress. Here is how it stands today.

The two main strategies of this deck are life leeching and milling (where you force a player to run out of cards to draw and thus, lose the game). I built the deck as a red, blue, green, but later cut the green. It is based on intellect (blue) and death (black). The two cards that I built the deck around are my Harry (the planeswalker Jace Beleren) and Voldemort (planeswalker Sorin Markov).

On Voldemort’s Side:

Sorin Markov- Voldemort. He can deal damage, reduce an opponent’s life to 10 (20 is starting), and at his most powerful, seize control of another player’s turn.

Evernight Shade- this is my Dementor. It is a creature that is weak, but can come back from the dead.

Dark Ritual (2)- this card helps me get black mana to pay for spells.

Bog Initiate- a dark, female wizard. She can deal damage and generate mana. She’s my Bellatrix.

Curse of Wizardry (2)- this card allows you to choose a color and when an opponent plays spells of that color, they lose a life.

Soul Feast- The Dementor’s kiss. This sorcery sucks 4 life out of a player and gives it to you.

Tendrils of Agony- My Cruciatus Curse. Like soul feast, it takes life (2) and gives it to you.

Diabolic Tutor (2)- This is my Snape. He even looks like Snape on the card. He allows me to search my library and put any card in my hand, bringing out Harry or Voldemort faster.

Greater Werewolf- The Fenrir Greyback of the deck. He puts counters on creatures that he blocks or that block him, reducing their toughness.

Douse in Gloom- The fog of the Dementor. This card is just like Tendrils of Agony, but cheaper.

Sadistic Augermage- another dark wizard. He has a fun little effect, but mostly he’s a 3/1 wizard for 3.

Ravenous Rats- Peter Pettigrew– A little 1/1 rat that makes players discard cards from their hand.

Unspeakable Symbol- It’s even flowing green in the art! Unspeakable sumbol is my dark mark. It allows me to pay 3 life to put a +1/+1 counter on a creature.

Dread Warlock- Another black wizard who can only be blocked by black creatures.

Vedalkin Ghoul- The inferi from the cave. When you block it, you lose 4 life.

Death Wind- The Killing Curse. I can pay X+1 black mana to give a creature -X/-X until the end of turn, effectively killing it.

On Harry’s Side:

Jace Beleren- Harry Potter. He can make people draw cards and at  his most powerful, make a player discard 20 cards of their deck (the average deck is 60 cards).

Divination- It allows me to draw two cards

Cathartic Adept- An old wizard that allows me to make a player discard a card from their deck.

Invisibility- It enchants a creature so that they can only be blocked by walls.

Architects of Will- This is a black/blue card, and I jump between calling it my Wizengamot and my Order of the Phoenix. Either way, it allows me to look at the top three cards of anyone’s deck and put them back in the order I choose. It is also a creature.

Fugitive Wizard- A cheap, CHEAP wizard

Thought Courier- A blue wizard that allows me to draw a card and discard a card (to get Jace and Sorin earlier!)

Levitation- Creatures you control now have flying

Lumengrid Warden- A nice, cheap wizard

Rebound- Remember when the slug jinx bounced back at Ron? I can redirect a spell with a single target using this card.

Aether Adept- A human wizard. I can use it to make a player return a creature to their hand.

Augury Owl- Had to have an owl, right? It allows me to rearrange the top 3 cards on my deck.

Kraken Hatchling- The giant squid. A cheap, tough defender.

Tome Scour- Hermione’s strategy. I can make someone discard the top 5 cards of their deck.

Azure Mage- A decent wizard lady who can let me draw a card.

Memory Sluice- A black/blue spell. The memory erasing charm. This card furthers the milling strategy by allowing me to make someone discard four cards from their library.

Artifacts and Settings-

Glasses of Urza- Dumbledore’s Glasses. They let me peak at people’s hands.

Soaring Seacliffs- The cliff where Harry and Dumbledore went to get the locket. This card is a blue land, but it also lets a creature fly for one turn.

Sphinx Bone Wand- The Elder Wand. You can cast spells to put charge counters on the wand. When you do this, it deals damage equal to the charge counters to a target creature or player.

Diviner’s Wand- Harry’s wand. It allows you to give a creature +1/+1 and flying until the end of turn for each card you draw that turn. It also lets you pay to draw a card. This is especially awesome because this deck has a lot of cards that allow me to draw cards without paying as much.

Ebon Stronghold- The tower- A black mana source. I can sacrifice it to get double mana in one turn.

Mirrodin’s Core- The Forbidden Forest. A colorless mana source. I can charge it up and save mana for later.

Sword of Vengeance- The Sword of Gryffindor. It gives the equipped creature +2 power, first strike, vigilance, trample, and haste!

Conjurer’s Bauble- The resurrection stone. I can tap it to put one card from my graveyard at the bottom of my library and draw a card.

Whispersilk Cloak- The Invisibility Cloak. It makes the creature wearing it unblockable and unable to be targeted by spells.


So that’s my Harry Potter deck. If you know of any MTG cards that you think would fit a Harry Potter deck, post here! Back when it contained green, it had a few Giant Spiders and a Great Sable Stag. Comment with your ideas here.

The next MTG post will feature my Greek Mythology deck!

The Expedition & Beyond

The Expedition & Beyond

Check out the latest product from Matter Deep Publishing.

The Expedition and Beyond- Work by 13 artists, introduced through the Women Painting Women phenomenon of 2010, who continue to be challenged and inspired by each other. They come together once again in a show at Principle Gallery, Alexandria, Va, April 2012. Foreword by John O’Hern, American Art Collector, Santa Fe editor.

Around the Web #1

Around the Web #1

I’ve popped up at a few web sites this week, so I thought I’d catch y’all up on my various internet appearances. I have 3 big ones today. Check them out!

Fairy Metal Thunder Review Embed

You may have seen my review for Fairy Metal Thunder. If not, you can follow that link and watch it. JL Bryan is my new favourite Indie author and is quickly topping my list of authors, period. Fairy Metal Thunder got me into Jenny Pox, and 50% of the way through it, last night, I found my eyes ON FIRE because it was two hours past my normal bed time, yet unable to stop.

The review is now embedded in JL Bryan’s Fairy Metal Thunder site. I guess he liked it.  

Blake Northcott’s Social Plug

Blake Northcott, author of Vs. Reality, gave an interview with Ashley Barron last week. In it, she mentioned that I am one of her favorite tweeters. I’m super flattered by this mention. You can read her interview here.

If you haven’t read it already, download Vs. Reality on your Kindle. It’s a great, quick read for a superhero/comic book fan.


Indie Frenzie Feature

It takes a LONG time to get a review of a YA book because popular book bloggers have such backed-up reading lists of full-length novels. Though the Book Brunette hasn’t gotten to her copy of Olympia Heights, yet, she was kind enough to post a feature on my book as part of her Indie Frenzie.

The post, which features the sound tracks for my Olympian characters, was very well-received by her audience. Check it out at her blog.

Holiday Deals

Holiday Deals

My publishing company, Matter Deep Publishing, is offering some holiday deals until December 10th. Included is a FREE digital book, a short story by my husband, Kyle Strickland. It was a 2007 story that was published in An Alabama Christmas and is now a FREE Kindle, Nook, or PDF book. There’s no need to Like or Subscribe to anything! Just go download it!

Also, relevant to me, is an announcement of another sale. Get Olympia Heights on sale until December 10th for 99¢. It goes back to $2.99 after that, so hurry up. A coupon code for Kindle makes a GREAT stocking stuffer!

A Holiday Gift from Matter Deep

Download Your Free Digital Copy of Smile and Greet the Customer

The Short Story

Smile and Greet the Customer is a short story by Kyle Strickland, author of Jeremey’s Mother is a Vampire, Love & Blood, Sunshine’s Night Out and the upcoming Say No to SparklesSmile and Greet the Customer is a holiday short about finding the holiday spirit amidst the chaos and capitalism of the Christmas season. It was first published in the 2007 Sweetwater Press book An Alabama Christmas alongside stories from Truman Capote, Helen Keller, Sonny Brewer, and others.

Digital Conversion: As a holiday gift to its readers, Matter Deep Publishing has convertedSmile and Greet the Customer to formats for the Nook and Kindle eReaders as well as PDF eBook. You can download the short story for free by visiting our site and selecting your prefered format. Download it now!

December Sunshine

Holiday Coupon Code: Matter Deep Publishing had some glowing November reviews of Sunshine’s Night Out.  We would especially like to thank Ashley at The Reynold’s Mom for hosting our giveaway. Three prize-packs including autographed books, hand-made plushies, and original tote bags have been rewarded to Amanda A., Janet W., and Renee R. Those items will be going out in the post this week.

Didn’t win one? You can use our Newsletter exclusive coupon-code, QFH6TAWDto get 10% off of Sunshine’s Night Out at the Create Space store. Hurry. This offer ends December 10th.


Snuggly Soft

Sunshine’s Night Out Plushies: Didn’t win the contest? Still want one of those adorable, cuddly plushies? Don’t worry, they are available! Carly Strickland, illustrator of Sunshine’s Night Out, is selling them on Etsy.

Sunshine plushies are bean and bead free and made of super soft fabrics. They are kid-safe and super-snuggly. Each one is hand made with love by the illustrator ofSunshine’s Night Out.

As a gift to our subscribers and followers, we’re offering a holiday discount. The combination of plushie and book makes a great Christmas gift for the little reader in your life. You can snag one for 10% off by using the coupon code CHRISTMAS11. This offer is only good until December 10th, so hurry to get yours in time for Christmas.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!


One last gift…

The Return of the Olympia Heights, 99¢ eBook Sale

Less than a dollar for the Kindle and Nook: In anticipation of the release of Book 2, Olympia Heights: The Weight of the World, Book 1, Olympia Heights: The Pantheon, will be on sale for the entire month of December. From now until New Year you can get Olympia Heights: The Pantheon, for Kindle or Nook for only 99¢.

Have a friend who owns a Kindle? You can purchase gift codes for Kindle books and hand them out as stocking stuffers or holiday gifts.

A Manifesto Against Black Friday

A Manifesto Against Black Friday

On Black Friday in 2007, 15 minutes in to my shift at a Target store in Nashua New Hampshire, I saw a grown man climbing the shelves on the back wall of electronics to pull down Guitar Hero bundles. Now, climbing shelves is against Target policy for three very good reasons:

  1. That merchandise is located elsewhere
  2. That merchandise on the top riser is in a back room location, so taking it from the top shelf messes up inventory
  3. That shelf is a two-foot deep piece of metal, held on by thin, triangular edges that hook into the wall. We might put a 100 pound stack of boxes evenly dispersed across the shelf, but one 200 pound man on the outside edge is likely to break it, fall, and injure himself.

So I had to stop him. I rushed through the crowd hollering, “Sir, you need to get down from there.” He looked back at me. He heard me. Then he continued what he was doing anyway. I was 21, I looked 16, and he was going to do whatever the hell he wanted, never-mind what the little Hermione Granger girl was telling him.

Then he grabbed the handle on the bottom box of a stack of 22″ LCD Computer Monitors and pulled. Five monitors came down. In an instinctual move that saved my life, I ducked and turned my back into the cascade of Monitors. I counted three that struck me on the head and shoulder. Immediately the shelf-climber took off.

Yeah… 3 of those.

I managed to find the head of store security and he drove me to the hospital. I had a concussion and needed physical therapy for my shoulder multiple times a week for the following month. The trapezius on my right shoulder had to be taped to stop muscle spasms that knotted up a chord straight from my spine, mid-back, up through my shoulder and neck. It cost Target a lot of money in workman’s comp for my medical bills and it cost me the pleasure of most of my Christmas season. I had to drive to sessions through some pretty rough blizzards and I spent my Thanksgiving weekend doped up in bed.Sobbing, mascara running down my face, I held my head and shoulder and walked to the front of the isle to find some help. A woman stopped me in the phone isle (the regular house phone isle, where there were no specials and nobody competing to buy that at 6:15 in the morning– because really, who buys anyone a house phone for Christmas?) and demanded to know if they had a particular phone in stock in white. I kid you not. I, covered in mascara-dyed tears, walked away from her, noting that if I wasn’t in excruciating pain, she might deserve a a good kick in the shins for being so self-absorbed.

And my hatred of Black Friday as a holiday shopping event didn’t start there. Now I will explain to you why you shouldn’t buy in to that Black Friday rush either. After, I will propose a productive alternative to Black Friday Mayhem.

Sunshine’s Night Out Giveaway

Sunshine’s Night Out Giveaway

I love to support Indie writers and I LOVE my husband and my sister-in-law even more. Kyle Strickland (the beau) wrote the story for Sunshine’s Night Out, an adorable children’s book about a real hamster that I helped pick out to purchase. Carly Strickland, who also helped design the Olympia Heights: The Pantheon cover and took over design responsibilities for the cover of Olympia Heights: The Weight of the World, illustrated this book.

You can watch a YouTube video I made for the book (below) and enter to win a copy of Sunshine’s Night Out with a custom tote and hand-made plushie. We have three (3) of these prize packs to give away. Enter through Sunshine’s microsite.