Monday, July 15, 2019

Adventures in Hiking and Fiction with Guest Author Tara Tyler

Thanks for letting me hang out with you, Tyrean! I love seeing her family adventure pics on the social sites--they go big!

Thanks, Tara! Adventures are the best!

Hiking is the most adventurous I've gotten, and usually just river trails and waterfalls. I used to love getting out into nature with my first puppy. We roamed and roved through the woods -- without a cell phone! Georgia was our stomping ground, the Appalachian trail and the Chattahoochee River made for great sights.

I miss it! And when my pup passed, I scattered his ashes into the Chattahoochee along one of our trails.

I've taken my boys, but they didn't get into it like I did--they're video games and sports parks kids.

I'm hoping I'll be able to go back with some grandkids some day. Get them to disconnect!
And nature can be very inspirational. Here are a few hiker sayings...

"If you are seeking creative ideas, go out walking. 
Angels whisper to a man when he goes for a walk." -- Raymond Inmon

"In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks." -- John Muir

"There are no shortcuts to any place worth going." -- Beverly Sills

"Fresh air and muddy boots make everything better." -- anonymous

Thanks again, Tyrean. Hope we can go out on a trail someday!

That would be awesome, Tara! I hope we can, too.

Do you hike or get out into nature? How do you disconnect? 
How did we ever get along without cell phones?! Ha!

In Beast World, the kids have technology, but they have to get back to nature and do some hiking and exploring on their adventures.

Beast World MG Fantasy Series, book #3
by Tara Tyler
Available NOW!

This summer, Gabe and his friends fly over the Great Sea for the wedding of the century: a dragon prince and a beautiful harpy. But Gabe can't relax on this vacation. Besides competing in rigorous wedding events, he overhears the nearby human village WINDY HOLLOW is in danger from an evil human scientist and a vengeful were-ogre experimenting on beasts. Gabe and his friends risk crossing the mountains to help, despite several warnings. 

Maybe he's going too far this time, but he's in too deep to quit. It's do or die, hopefully not die!

Tara Tyler has had a hand in everything from waitressing to rocket engineering. After moving all over the US, she now writes and teaches math in Ohio with her husband and one boy left in the nest. She has two series, Pop Travel (sci-fi detective thrillers) and Beast World (fantasy adventures), plus her UnPrincess novella series where the maidens save themselves. She's a commended blogger, contributed to several anthologies, and to fit in all these projects, she economizes her time, aka the Lazy Housewife—someday she might write a book on that... Make every day an adventure!

twitter: @taratylertalks
Instagram: taratylertalks
newsletter: tara tyler news

Don't forget to enter the giveaway!

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Character Traits and IWSG JULY 2019

To find out more about IWSG, go HERE.

OPTIONAL QUESTION: What personal traits have you written into your character(s)?

I try to avoid writing personal traits into my characters.
I really do.

However, in my first book, many of my characters (possibly all) had the same way they reacted to irritation, frustration, and anger. They closed their eyes and took a deep breath.
Yes, I do that. 

And no, I didn't intend for nearly every single character to do that in my first novel.
So embarrassing.

The second book in the trilogy gets a bit better. Some characters clench their teeth (okay, I do that sometimes, too) and some grip the pommels of their swords (I don't carry one) or clench their fists (I don't do that either).

A book that has helped me the most with varying my character's reaction to strong emotions is: The Emotion Thesaurus

I have incorporated emotional moments from my life into some my fiction, but I have tried to change the details so much that no one would know. By the time I have written a novel, I've spent a lot of time developing characters and discovering how different they are from me. 

To me, writing is the best way to take a walk in someone else's shoes, to ask "what if" questions about humanity and life within the safe zone of fiction and other realities. 

I've written about heroes, I've written about villains. I've written in fantasy and SF worlds and I've written in the contemporary world. In all of my stories, my characters are developed from the problems they face, the world they live within, and the choices they make. 

While I have fenced foil and saber competitively, I've never killed anyone with a sword like some of my characters have. (Champion in the Darkness)

I believe the best fiction has an element of truth behind it, but the characters and their choices are new to their world and their time.

My insecurity the last few weeks:  my busy family life, other life projects (house, yard, job hunt) have been over-taking my writing time. I have been struggling to commit to writing sessions longer than 10 minutes other than on Tuesday night write-ins (have I mentioned how thankful I am for this group? Super Thankful!!!).

My July plan: 
1. Acceptance. If short spurts of concentration are possible, then I'm going to work with them. 10 minute writing sessions, 4-sentence exercises - bring them on!
2. Building up endurance slowly. I'm going to add a few minutes to some writing sessions at home: 10-12, 12-15, 15-20, etc. Only going up to 25 minutes (other than Tuesdays). 
3. More than one short session a day. I know this is possible, especially since I need physical breaks between yard/house/etc projects.
4. New desk area. I moved my desk into my older daughter's old room. She has a summer internship and she'll only be home for one or two weekends before she takes off again in the fall when I'll be empty nesting since my youngest is going off to college, too. (I'm glad my daughters are soaring on adventures, I'm going to miss them - my emotions are all over the place. Side benefit: more space for a writing area.)
5. Writing calendar revision. I have one, but it was buried under laundry and cat hair. Now, it's time to dust it off. 
6-7. Acceptance and rest. No matter what happens with my writing, I fully intend to spend as much time possible with my family this summer - which means there are going to be days when I don't write at all. And that's not just okay, it's good.

I'm also doing Camp NaNoWriMo at my own pace for July: 

Most importantly though - *Living life fully is important
Between the rough draft of this post and the final draft, I went to a Celebration of Life for the 24-year-old son of a friend and it reminded me of what really matters.


The time is now!
Write and submit stories for the 2019 IWSG Anthology Contest!
Genre: Middle Grade Historical - Adventure/Fantasy
Details of genre: MG means for 9-14 year-old children, not older audiences.
Historical means before the year 2000 and this is the main genre.
It might be Adventure or Fantasy - within the Historical genre.
Theme: Voyagers
Word Count: 6,000

Example of a Historical MG story idea with a fantasy sub-genre:
When Queen Elizabeth made a quick stop in Seattle in 1983, her presence threw off the balance in a D&D game played by pre-teens Sarah and Jason. With an elven mage on the loose, these pre-teens  take a voyage on the ferry from Bainbridge Island to the Seattle Waterfront to find an object that will stop the elven mage before he attacks the Queen on the Seattle Monorail.
Historical elements: Queen Elizabeth stopped in Seattle in 1983. She rode the Seattle Monorail. 
(I saw her and waved along with my Girl Scout Troop and thousands of other people.)
Fantasy element: the Elven mage coming out of a D&D game. 

Enjoy reading the stories from the  2018 Contest Anthology Winners in Masquerade: Oddly Suited.

The next IWSG Twitter Pitch event is January 15, 2020.

The Goodreads Book Club will host events in July for their June/July Book: Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume. This book was selected as a good example of dialogue.

The Next WEP is in August, but you can write ahead!
So much depends upon a red wheel begins the famous poem by William Carlos William - the inspiration behind this prompt. Can be taken in myriad directions. Can be purely a prop. Part of the setting in a garden? A construction site? A factory? What depends upon it?

For the Summer on Instagram, here are our list of dates, days, and announcements!
Feel free to join in on any date, or do your own thing - just add a tag or a hashtag with #theiwsg or #iwsg so we can all encourage one another.

Some guidelines for Instagram:
Hashtags are gold on Instagram. 
Try: #amwriting #writersofinstagram #writingcommunity for writing posts.
For book posts, try: #amreading #bookstagram or specific #readfantasy #fantasy #YA 
Be sure to use your regular feed and don't go "direct" because most Instagram-mers prefer to view the general feed and follow hashtags to find specific posts. 
Don't use direct messages for marketing purposes. (This is considered spam.) 
Follow hashtags like #amwriting to see what other writers post there or to find writing friends.
Share Instagram through Twitter/Facebook to get your posts to go farther and spend less time creating new material for each platform.
And, if you have a picture for your blog posts, share your blog posts via Instagram by sharing the same picture, then asking viewers to click through the link in your Instagram profile - which goes to your site, right?
But, no matter if you forget the rest, always #hashtag your Instagram!

Minor note: Two of my books are in the Smashwords Summer Sale from July through August.
Flicker: A Collection of Short Stories and Poetry is free for two months. (Reviews appreciated.)
Champion in Flight (The Champion Trilogy, bk. 2) is $1.25 for two months. (Again, reviews appreciated.) 

Friday, June 28, 2019

End of June Update

Reading Update

Some of my books reflect my research into picture book and graphic/mixed graphic novel writing. 

Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee is an adventure-filled SF MG novel mixing Korean mythology with space travel. I really appreciated how this story took me on an exciting and twisty journey with the main character, Min. She's a young woman from a long line of fox spirits, but she has to keep her nature hidden because out of all the supernatural beings in her universe, foxes are the least trusted. Despite this, she decides she's the only one to rescue her brother who has gone missing from the Space Force. 5/5.

Voice of Life by Melanie Cellier - the extremely satisfying conclusion to the Spoken Mage fantasy series. 5/5.

Unwound by Neal Shusterman - a chilling SF adventure about a "deal" between pro-life and pro-choice forces which gives society a choice to "unwind" their troublesome teenagers and the consequences of such a law. 4/5

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain. Interesting Non-Fiction. 4/5.

Hoosier Dad by Elizabeth Seckman - really fun, entertaining "warring lovers" kind of romance with a sweet family feel with a little bit of steam (or at least for me since I'm a rare romance reader). 5/5.

Short Stories
Masquerade: Oddly Suited Anthology and all of the IWSG Anthologies - all edited by a panel of professional judges, all clean reads, all entertaining. I'm working my way through individual stories on a second read basis. Each anthology contains one genre: clean YA romance, SF, Fantasy, and Mystery.

A is for Apocalypsea short story speculative fiction anthology edited by Rhonda Parrish. 4/5.

C is for Chimera, a short story speculative fiction anthology edited by Rhonda Parrish. 5/5.

Picture Books
My Heart written and illustrated by Corinna Luyken - a beautiful picture book. (Corinna was a speaker at the SCBWI conference I attended and I'm a fan!) 5/5.

Adrian Simcox Does NOT Have a Horse written by Marcy Campbell and illustrated by Corinna Luyken - a story about the power of inner truth and imagination. Picture book. 5/5.

Graphic Novels for Children and YA
Red Riding Hood Superhero by Otis Framton - a children's graphic novel with a great premise, excellent graphics, and occasionally clunky dialogue. I really love the concept, but it felt like it was trying too hard. 3.5/5.

Mera: Tidebreaker by Danielle Page - a YA graphic novel for DC universe fans. This novel follows the early adventures of Mera (love of Aquaman) and the challenges she faces. Good premise. Excellent graphics. I felt like dialogue was good, but not quite excellent. 4/5.

Brief Movie/Viewing Update

Dark Phoenix - I saw the critic reviews, but I wanted to see it, so we went and I really enjoyed it. I felt like this movie portrayed Phoenix more faithfully than the earlier X-men film from 2006. It was a satisfying film and had a full measure of grace and redemption in it, which I really appreciate. (This doesn't mean that it meets skip-into-the-sunset happiness type requirements, so be warned if that's what you're looking for in a movie.) It was a good finale to a trilogy of movies which haven't flinched from looking at messy relationships and the consequences of both good intentions gone awry and intentionally bad choices made by characters who know they are messing up. 5/5

Toy Story 4 - I loved this movie, too! I don't always want to watch messy gray-to-dark kinds of entertainment. It was good to watch this wonderfully written, excellent addition to the Toy Story series. (Is it the last one? It could be.) I only felt like one character needed more screen time, but otherwise it was great! I loved the way Woody helped Forky understand his new role as a toy and not trash. The small message embedded in there (about negative self-talk) was really well done and not over-done. 5/5

My family caught the GoT fever late. Our daughters both reached the age where we thought it might be okay to watch the show so we got most of it from the library, fast-forwarded through 99% of the nudity scenes and watched all 8 seasons (the last one through Amazon and HBO) in six weeks. We were all surprised to find Season 8 to be the cleanest of the whole series, at least as far as sex scenes went, although it definitely had the gore factor going. So, I get the craze now, but at the same time, I'm with my local librarian who said, "I just got tired of all the gratuitous sex for ratings." I guiltily checked them all out anyway and hit the fast forward/leap button, as needed.
3.5-4.5/5 depending on the season. Definitely not recommended for younger viewers!

Netflix's Always Be My Maybe - I liked it. It's one of their romances; it had some nice twists, and great acting by the whole cast. The bit with Keanu Reeves is hilarious ... he's so, so beautifully terrible (I think you would have to watch it to see what I mean). The story of the two friends who love one another but can't figure out how to show it is sweet and filled with awkward humor. I'm not sure about one part, but ... well, I still liked it. 3.5/5

I also tried Netflix's I Am Mother and it was interesting - not quite what I expected, especially the end. 3.5/5


I've been considering podcasts since I had people tell me I have a voice for it when I emceed part of two kayak and canoe regattas. So, I've been doing research:

And in other areas:

Mid-Year Writing Goal Update

1. Get an agent and a contract with a publisher.

Where I am: 5 rejections for + 3 queries out for my teen superhero project, and 2 rejections for + 1 query out for my Christian picture book project.

2. Get more stories published in paying markets than in non-paying markets for 2019.

Where I am: 2 stories published by a paying market, 5 stories/short works published in non-paying markets in 2019, and an accumulating pile of rejections from paying markets. Only 3 stories out on submission right now.

BTW - if you have an Alexa, tell it to "Open My Box of Chocolates" and listen to the June stories or the May stories (you may hear one of mine.)

Pursuit of Publication Goal for Summer: I need to kick myself in the pants and write more query letters.

3. Finish Bookbound, a MG Fantasy novel and start sending out queries.

4. Finish an Interactive Journal and start sending out queries.

5. Keep other projects (short works, a SF story, a hybrid-graphic novel script idea) moving forward in 1-2 day spurts throughout the summer (when/if I'm stuck in Bookbound).

Pursuit of Writing Goals in Summer: Get Bookbound to the halfway point or beyond, and get the first five chapters set for the IJ. Keep the others moving in short spurts.

How/Why I do more than one project: I rotate projects every 2-8 weeks to keep from hitting a wall. Rotating projects actually helps me reduce stress from the pursuit of perfectionism. It does mean I have to have an organized plan, but that helps me reduce stress, too.