Thursday, December 17, 2015

Free Story through Christmas Day

I hit 100 likes on my Facebook page, so I'm giving away a free story. It will be free through Christmas Day, because, Merry.

To get your copy, go to my Facebook page. That's where the link and coupon code are living.

If you abhor Facebook, you can sign up for my newsletter and get the same story emailed to you as a thank you, AND you'll get Story Beasty, the absolute best newsletter about me and my writing around.

Plus, here's a picture of me and my alpaca El Barto. He's my stud. No, he's a literal stud. :)

Have a pacatastic day.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Fuzzy Logic Release Day Contest

a Rafflecopter giveaway

It's Release Day for Fuzzy Logic!

To celebrate, I'm having a release party at Yeasty Beasty, a pizza parlor in Monmouth, Oregon, from 4-6 PM.

If you can't make that, you can enter to win a free ebook of Fuzzy Logic by entering the Rafflecopter contest above.

Here are the links you can use to buy Fuzzy Logic, the alpaca romance novel.

Thank you!


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Pre-Order #fuzzylogicNovel on ebook

Pre-order the ebooks of my Fuzzy Logic today!

If you like alpacas and romance novels (or know someone who does), check out Fuzzy Logic.


All other ebook formats:

#NaNoWriMo advice on a #WOU blog

Are you racing toward the end of NaNoWriMo? I offer a few tips over on the WOU Stories blog:

Good Luck!

Monday, November 9, 2015

"Fuzzy Logic" Cover Reveal-on sale 12/05/2015

Here it is! 

All glow-y and purple with an alpaca and pretty people. Oh! And my name on the front. 

Soo satisfying. 

Fuzzy Logic goes on sale 12/05/2015. 

If you want more updates, be sure to sign up for my newsletter: 


Friday, October 2, 2015

Before We Knew the Shooter's Name--poem v1.0

Hi Everyone-

This is a first draft, so forgive the lack of lustre. It felt necessary to respond today and polish later.

Before we knew the shooter’s name
            by Maren Bradley Anderson

October 1, 2015, 3:00 PM

It’s already started:
            who was the shooter?
            what did he want?
            why was he so angry?

No questions about those whose lives he shattered.
who were they?
            what did they want?
            are they angry?

Is it too terrifying to think of the victims?
            sitting anonymous in class
half listening to the lecture
            or teaching, trying to reach those students who stare out the window

whose car had a flat yesterday—not today
who was late, but made it in time
whose dad was so proud she was going to college
whose motives were to get through today
            so they could get through tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow?

Whose dog will be lonely tonight?

People so like those I see every day
            I saw yesterday in class
            working in the library
            buying textbooks
standing in line at the coffee shop
            giving me excuses why they            
                 didn’t do the reading
or teaching, like me, for the love of the light lit in a few dim eyes

I hope to learn the victim’s names,
            but I won’t be given the chance.

I hope never to learn the shooter’s name
            but I won’t be able to avoid it.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Review of Shadowgirl by @KateRistau

A word about fairy tales. Shadowgirl isn’t a fairy tale. This book is about fairies, but as a folklorist, Kate Ristau recognizes that while pixies in Fantasia dance to classical music and make moon-filled dewdrops, this image of the fair folk is a more modern interpretation. In earlier stories, fairies could make fire and move the earth and the trees. Fairies in this book, in other words, are powerful and frightening.

Kate Ristau and her novel Shadowgirl
Ristau gets so much right with Shadowgirl. It’s a tale about a girl trying to solve the mystery of her mother’s murder, but it’s also a tale about a brewing war in the fairylands. The main character has the typical YA search for her identity, but the discovery and the journey are so extraordinary that neither is typical. Even the love triangle, such a stable trope in the literary world, gets an expert twirl so it lands on its head.

Ristau takes our mundane world—the book is set in modern Ireland—and makes it a place of darkness and mystery to Ainé, the protagonist who has lived her whole life in the land of the fairies and has never seen a shadow. She has dreams of her mother’s murder in the Shadowlands—that’s what fairies call our world—so she crosses in secret to find out once and for all what happened when she was taken as a child to live with the fairies. 

Also, I’m pleased to say that Ristau’s plot swerved in directions that surprised me. I didn’t foresee the plot twists, I didn’t guess the ending, and I was lead merrily astray until the end. It was awesome. The last time that happened to me with a YA book was the first Harry Potter.

The only criticism I have is that I didn’t know that Shadowgirl is the beginning of a series. The book ends with a crossing back to Fairyland, but so much is unresolved. All of the promises of the book are answered, but there is much left for the next book. Naturally, the next book is not out yet, so readers will have the same sweet agony I have now: waiting for book two while savoring the memories of book one.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Awaiting first edits on "Fuzzy Logic" #writing

The Acquisitions Editor at Black Opal Books (BOB) told me last weekend that Fuzzy Logic is on the desk of the editor for first round edits. I had two reactions pretty much simultaneously:

1) Huzzah!
2) Holy crap!

The first reaction is self-explanatory, but I'll explain it, anyway. I've been waiting for edits since I signed the contract in August. Now, I know that eight months is not long in Traditional Publishing time, but it is an eternity in New Author time. I caught myself several times imagining that my manuscript had fallen behind a book case, or maybe caught on fire, or was perhaps so horrible that the editor had refused to work on it.

None of these (except the last, perhaps) were really possible since BOB had an e-copy of the manuscript. However, when my children were born, I have acquired worry-wort superpowers that rival only my mother's. Mostly I keep them in check so my kids can have normal lives. However, sometimes I would slide into this worry slip-n-slide/spiral when thinking about the book.

The second reaction occurred when it sunk in that now someone with an opinion was going to tell me what is wrong with the book. Of course, I KNOW that there is stuff wrong with my book. I can list about ten things I'm planning on changing as soon as I get the edits in my hot little hands. However, someone with a valid opinion is going to critique my book, and I'm going to have make changes.

I've been able to take criticism for a good ten years now, but the young writer who equates someone liking my story with liking ME, she still lurks in my deepest heart of hearts. Silly young writer. Get back into your shame box and stay there.

So, now it's back to waiting. However, I'm sure that I won't need to wait another eight months.


Sunday, March 15, 2015

#4c15 My slides and handout for my talk on Saturday M.05


Slides for my talk and the handout are available on the Connected Community part of the CCCC website, but I thought I'd provide them here, too, especially for those of you who don't have access to the NCTE website. Or are just lazy. I get that, too.

Melliferous, the Grammar Dragon makes an appearance in the slide stack. Just so you know, this is a (stock) artist's rendition of Melliferous. No one has been able to get him to sit for a portrait, despite his old mother's pleas for "just one good picture to remember you by."

I'd love to see you all at the actual talk, too. We're session M.05 on Saturday.


"Knock, Knock. Who's There: Humorous Approaches to Teaching Grammar"
Slides for my talk --Just what it says.
Handout --Resources, links, a reference list, and a coupon for a free ebook.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Not much happening, so I'm writing reviews...

You, loyal reader, may have noticed that I'm writing lots of little reviews these days. I'm writing reviews because it's good for me as a writer to think about why I like certain books, why I admire certain authors, and how I can make my writing better. Reviews help me do this to an extent.

Also, I'm still waiting for my first round of edits on Fuzzy Logic, my romance on an alpaca farm book. Because I know the edits are coming any time (and have been for months), I'm loathe to start any really big projects. I have, anyway (look for a book with Lilith of myth in the future), but it's hard to really get into a project when you know that there's something huge looming in the future.

That's my excuse, anyway. It seems lame now that I've written it down.

If you want some excitment, take a look at my friend Kate Ristau's blog:  Her book Shadow Girl is due out May 5, 2015, and her cover is posted on her blog. She's awesome, and her book is awesome. So awesome.


Review of @AimeeBender 's "Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake"

The main character can taste the emotions of the people who make the food she eats. Her brother is trying to literally disappear. Southern California is a wistful, glaringly pastel backdrop for this book about magic so ordinary that it seems to escape the notice of everyone around them.

This book is beautiful, understated, dramatic in a quiet way. It’s magical realism at its most realistic. Just a girl who can taste her mother’s sadness in fresh-baked lemon cake.

(5 stars on Goodreads)

Here's the link to my Goodreads review:

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Review of The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton

I like magical realism. I like a story about a girl (Ava) with wings who isn't an angel, a super hero, or a thing that has to be explained or forced to conform. I like a book-long metaphor that isn't explained. I like the nod to “A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings.”

But, I don’t think the reader needed the backstory at the front of the book. The great-aunt who turned into a bird when her love affair soured. The great-uncle, also killed with/by love, whose ghost followed the family. Wonderful characters and stories, but stories that could have been better woven into Ava’s story, rather than laid out in front of it.

(Incidentally, this criticism may be coming from my burnout on stories set in 1850-1910. I’m tired of trash-cluttered city streets lined by tenements and covered in horse-shit. It was the bad luck of this book to be the latest 19th century origin-story novel that I read.)

My only other criticism for this book is that I was aghast to find out “Ava Lavender” is a YA novel given the horrifying way Ava is violated at the end of the book, which is difficult to discuss without a spoiler. I think this criticism points more to the fact that my kids are very young, and I can’t imagine them reading something like this. This is the age of “Twilight” and “Hunger Games,” though, so perhaps I am the one out side of the norm. Kids, and YA readers especially, have been pampered for so long, when what they seem to crave is Grimm fairy tales, the grimmer the better.

Still. I like a story about a girl with wings and no explanation.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Review of The Serpent of Venice by Christopher Moore @TheAuthorGuy

The Serpent of VeniceThe Serpent of Venice by Christopher Moore
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I want to be Christopher Moore when I grow up.

Rather, I want to write the way he does. He is able to smash together my favorite characters from my favorite classic authors and twist them into a story so entertaining and funny and smutty that I still can't get my tongue out of my cheek.

Lear's Fool from Moore's previous book (called Fool) appears in Venice out of France as an emissary from his wife, Queen Cordelia. Then, Moore combines two other Shakespeare plays, a Poe short story, and twists in a little mystical history so that Marco Polo and a Chinese water dragon have a part to play. Oh, and a ghost. There's always a ghost. This is comparative literature at it most entertaining.

However, even if the reader isn't an overeducated literature teacher (like me), she can enjoy this book for its silly, smutty adventures, its bloody justice, its convoluted mystery, or its absolutely joyful, uninhibited use of language. Like the Fool, Moore has given himself license to say any- and every- thing and can get away with it because it is cloaked in the guise of humor.

View all my reviews

Friday, February 13, 2015

Review of Room by Emma Donoghue

Here's another review from my Goodreads. This time its about Room by Emma Donoghue.

How did Emma Donoghue do it? How did she write an entire novel from the first person POV of a five year old boy? Who'd never been outside? Because he was born to a woman who was locked in a garden shed for years by a man who kidnapped her? How did Ms. Donoghue do it and not write a book that was exhausting, heart-rending, and unreadable? I don't know, but I'll know something about writing when I figure it out. 

I think part of the magic of this book is that it is told by the child. His innocence and ignorance make the circumstances of the book bearable. We, the readers, aren't exposed to the mental anguish Jack's mother experiences because Jack is just telling us about the only world he has ever known. It's a world his mother has filled with magic and routine and love, a world in which she also manages to protect her child from his father, the man who kidnapped her when she was 19. Jack doesn't know that, of course. All he knows is that Dora the Explorer is his friend because she talks to him, and that green beans are his "enemy food." 

At five, Jack is beginning to ask the questions that will prevent his mother from maintaining the fiction of the room, the fiction that the world is 11' X 11', and that everything on TV is unreal. Five is the age when children go to Kindergarten, often the first time they leave their parents' care for the better part of the day. At five, Jack is exposed to the world in a much more dramatic way. 

I will figure out how you did this, Emma Donoghue.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Getting ready for CCCC 2015 in Tampa #4C15

It’s been years since I went to a big English teacher conference. I last went to CCCC (Conference of College Composition and Communication) back in 2003. Before that, I went in 1996 when I was a graduate student. I went as an observer only both times. This time, I’m presenting.  

Kate Ristau, my writing/editing partner in crime, threw our hat into the ring at the National Conference of Teachers of English (NCTE) CCCC conference last year, and damned if they didn’t accept our proposal. The proposal? Teaching grammar with humor. 

If you keep up with me at all, you’ll know that last year, Kate and I published a small book about commas called Commas: An Irreverent Primer. We took the errors that we most often saw in our student’s papers and wrote a book covering only those errors. The twist is that Kate is a folklorist and YA author, and I write books about dragons when I’m not writing novels set on alpaca farms. So, the grammar book about commas is populated with fairies, grammar dragons, and unicorns grumpy about the Oxford comma. 

Kate proposed a panel based in creative writing about teaching grammar with our weird of kind humor. Then Kate promptly quit teaching (I’m jealous/proud of her…that’s a different blog post). The upshot is that our proposal was accepted, but now I’m the one who gets to go, because I’m the one who can get a faculty grant to pay for it. 

In about a month, off I go to Tampa, Florida, to talk to teachers of English about teaching grammar to college students who don’t want to learn it. Yeah, I’m freaking out a little. It’s one thing to profess in front of a classroom of college students who know nothing about your topic; it’s another thing to tell a roomful of experts something new. 

I’ll talk about the comma book for sure, but I’m also going to do  show and tell about another project I’m working on: a Choose Your Own Adventure (CYOA) study guide based on the comma book. I’m having groups of students write an adventure based on their assigned chapter of the comma book based in a world that mimics the one in the Comma book…that is, lots of grumpy grammar dragons and the like. 

I could go into all the relevant narrative/exposition/learning jargon here, but I won’t; you can hear it at the conference or in the slides I’ll post later. I also hope to have a working “study guide” via Google Forms to share with the panel attendees. 

One restriction is that I only have 12-15 minutes to talk about all this. That’s about three slides, if I’m doing it right. That’s not a lot of time. It’s also an eternity. 

If you are at CCCC in Tampa this year, be sure to come to my presentation. It’s during the last session on Saturday (M.05), just before lunch, so bring an apple or a really crinkly bag of chips. If you have your grammar dragon already, bring it along and I’ll sign it if we can hold him down long enough. If not, I’ll sign a book for you. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

I have two pieces in the Northwest Passages

The Northwest Passage is the literary magazine at Western Oregon University, where I teach composition and literature.

I have two pieces in the issue that came out yesterday (1/13/15).

"The Berkeley Peet's" is a poem about--you guessed it the coffee shop in Berkeley, California.

"Slow Rodeo" is a short story about a drunk guy who decides to play bull poker. I am told it's really funny.

You can pick up your copy on campus, or you can follow the link and contact the Northwest Passage staff. They can probably send you one.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Review of "This One is Mine" by Maria Semple

So, I'm trying to catch up with my GoodReads reviews. I'll start with the books that have left an impression, whether good or not so good. Some will be recent reads for me, others will be historical. I read This One Is Mine 2 1/2 years ago, for instance.


This One is MineThis One is Mine by Maria Semple
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book sticks with me. Perhaps it's because the characters are drawn so well, each with his or her own type of pain and failures, contrasted with their ambitions. No one is trying to be the bad guy, but they all make choices that injure other people.

And yet, they all grow a little. Well, except the junkie. But at least he warns everyone that he is a junkie, and no one should expect anything beyond junkie behavior from him.

Somehow, Semple redeems everyone else. I'm still trying to figure out how.

View all my reviews

Saturday, January 10, 2015

What should Maren write next?

I am trying to decide on a new project. I just finished a children's adaptation of A Midsummer's Night's Dream, and it was so fun.

So, help an indecisive writer out. Please take my one-question poll by following the link above. I've put the one question below, so you can ponder it.

Thank you in advance!


If I were to write another children's play, which of the following do you all think I should write?

1. Jungle Book or any number of the "Just So" stories by Kipling
2. Beowulf
3. Gilgamesh and Enkidu
4. Theseus and the Minotaur (might get the Icarus myth in there, too)
5. Lillith Myths (I kind of like the evil/not evil dichotomy. Kind of like Maleficent, which my girls loved)