Monday, December 10, 2018

WEP December: Ribbons and Candles

Write…Edit…Publish (WEP) is an online writing community now partnering with the Insecure Writers Support Group (IWSG). We post the third Wednesday of every second month. Check out our program for 2018 in our sidebar and Pages. WEP challenges are open to all. *Submit your name to InLinkz (free) on the first day of the challenge month. The winner for each prompt wins a $10 Amazon Gift Card with winners’ badges for second and third prize. *Scroll down to read previous winning entries. There is also a special Commenter’s badge.

My Entry Starts Here:

Holly ducked her head as she walked past the ribbon-filled Christmas display at the General Store where she worked. Christmas wasn’t on her list this year. 

She felt tears threaten as she put on her frumpy red work smock. Looking in her locker mirror, she told herself to keep her chin up, keep her smile bright. She smiled at her reflection, but it looked forced. 

It would have to do. Her break was over and she had to work. She closed the locker, clocked herself in, and went to take over the register from a teen who hadn’t even bothered to learn her name. 

Small town life wasn’t really all that wonderful. Few jobs available, no place for singles to meet other than a few bars, and not much to do during the winter, other than take snowy hikes.

Holly liked walking in the snow, hearing it crunch and pack beneath her boots. She thought of this as she listened to “Winter Wonderland” on the store’s Christmas play-list. She used to love everything about winter and Christmas. The tears threatened again, and she was glad there weren’t any customers in the store. It was pretty bleak this time of evening, dinner hour to close, but she needed the hours.

To make the best use of her time, she wiped down the sparkling clean counter, then locked the register and walked around the store, looking for something to re-stock. 

The doorbell jingled and she went back to the front.

A young man, bundled with a scarf around his face and parka, stood in the entryway.

 “Hello, can I help you find anything?”

He unwound his scarf and gazed at her seriously. It was Brad. And, he had obviously heard the news about her parents. 

“Hey, Holly Jol-,” he paused and didn’t finish his childhood nickname for her. “I hoped I’d find you here.” He held out his arms for a hug. 

She wouldn’t deny herself a good, warm hug from Brad, even if they hadn’t been close since high school. So, she threw her arms around him and held him close, pressing her face into his snow-damp shoulder. 

“I heard,” he whispered. “I’m sorry I couldn’t make the funeral. I …,” he paused again, his breath hitching. 

“It’s okay, Brad,” she said. She didn’t cry, would not allow herself to. She started to draw back, keeping her head down, but he didn’t let go.

“After your mom’s accident when we were in high school, I know you gave up a lot, Holly, but now, maybe you can … I mean, after you take some time to grieve and make sense of things, you can go and do some of the things you used to dream of doing.” 

Hot anger that bubbled up inside her, the anger she’d been holding in every time someone tried to comfort her, or told her she could go do something different now that her parents were dead.

She yanked away and marched over to the register. 

“I’ve made sense of things already.” This wasn’t exactly true, but she had gone over the finances. She knew the reality of her situation. After her mom’s post-dated medical bills had been paid, her parents’ second-mortgaged house sold, she would have just enough to live for a month or two, no more.

As she started to wipe away her tears, Brad handed her a handkerchief. 

It was soft when she took it in her hands. Of course, only the finest things for Brad Morgan. She swallowed that thought back, tried to force the sting of jealousy away. 

“Please, Holly, you can talk to me. My mom said you haven’t talked to anyone, haven’t even gone to church.”

“I talk to customers,” she said. 

He shook his head, then wandered over to the Christmas d├ęcor section. “You know I’ve been thinking of getting an advent wreath, you know the kind with the candle-holders, not the evergreen kind. Do you have any here you recommend?” 

She gazed at his broad shoulders, noticed he wasn’t even looking at the display as he glanced back at her. She walked over to him and pointed. 

“I’ve always liked this one, with the gold and silver leaves. It’s simple, just a circle of candle-holders, but it seems peaceful to me.”

“So, this one.” Brad picked it up. “Do you sell candles for it?”

She tried to ignore the way he looked at her so hopefully. “Yes, we have them in blue, purple, pink, and white. Some people like blue for hope, and some like purple for the royalty of Christ, and then there’s a single pink one for joy, and then a white one to put in the center of the circle on Christmas day.” 

“Which color are you using? The blue for hope or the purple for royalty?”

She shrugged. “My parents used purple, but I haven’t put one up this year.”

“Holly Jolly, it’s your favorite time of year, your birthday, you have to celebrate it somehow, with someone.” He dipped his chin, his puppy dog eyes serious. 

“Please, Holly.” He put his arm around her shoulders gently. 

“Are you asking me to celebrate Christmas with you, or Advent? The Advent Wreath’s meant to be used every day.” She wanted to step away, but found herself getting closer to him somehow.

“Why don’t you light the first candle with me tonight, then I figure out a way to light them with you every night, either commuting or Skyping.” 

She felt his warmth seep into her side, but she didn't have anything to offer him in return for his comfort. “I don’t know.”

“Blue for hope, then.” 

She smiled slightly at his determination. “Okay. Blue for hope.” 

He grinned. “I always win at arguments.”

“What?! You do not. Remember debate class, when I beat you?”

“It was rigged.” He gave her an exaggerated wink.

She shook her head, but smiled. Maybe Christmas was on her list, after all.

Helpful criticism would be great! I don't often foray into semi-romantic fiction, so I have a couple of questions:
1. Do their physical actions work with their words and the tone?
2. Does Holly's movement from sorrow to hopefulness (and a tiny bit of flirtation) work or is it way too rushed?
This really wasn't what I planned on writing, but it was where the story went. 

This is my last post here for 2018! 



And, as a little fandom Christmas gift to you all, if you haven't seen it yet here's the official trailer for Avengers: Endgame:

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

#TheIWSG December 2018

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer - aim for a dozen new people each time - and return comments. This group is all about connecting!

Blog Hop Link / Website / Facebook / Goodreads / Twitter / Instagram

Captain and Founder of IWSG: Alex J. Cavanaugh
This month's co-hosts: J.H. Moncrieff, Tonja Drecker , Patsy Collins, and Chrys Fey

November Writing Update:

I was a NaNoWriMo Rebel because I started on November 1st with 10,003 words written on the third attempt to get that-super-powered-teen-novel on paper and I finished with 60,448 words to get in the full 50k challenge.

The biggest part of NaNo for me this year was the sense that I finally wrote a good, plot-heavy draft, the best novel draft I've written in the last 2.5 years.

No longer held back by health issues, I pushed through all the plot points, finally hammered down some world-building details that had eluded me before, and wrote a partial ending even thought that meant skimming over some of the final battle scene. (It still needs 15,000 words or more to be really the right size for the plot and the market.)

In the process, I kicked my anxieties and fears to the curb and finished strong; that's what really matters to me about winning NaNoWriMo this year.

The day after NaNoWriMo ended ...
I did a combined spell-check and grammar-check, then started reading the draft out loud and taking notes. I've rested between drafts before, but this time I'm still in the mood to work on it and keep it alive.

My goals for December/January: finish the partial scenes and do my best revisions while also scoping out the best (most affordable and helpful) editor and best publishing option for this project.

OPTIONAL IWSG Day Question: What are five objects we'd find in your writing space?

1. My laptop. This is my #1 writing tool. 

2. My journal. I dedicate the first few pages to a table of contents and I label the pages with titles and page numbers so I can find ideas, story starts, and notes when I need them later.

3. A pen, never a pencil. 

4. A cup of herbal tea, decaf coffee, or water. I love (have extreme addiction to) caffeine but I have Meniere's Disease and the only way I've found to manage it is to keep sodium low, and to keep the caffeine intake extremely low. I miss it, but I don't miss vertigo or massive ear ringing.

5. A source of natural light. Even on the gray cloud-covered days (literally, days on end with clouds filling the entire skyline) of winter on the Washington State Peninsula, I still crave being by a window or skylight. Light seeps its way through even the darkest clouds. 

I still need to upload publisher on my laptop, so I have been creating all of the Instagram posts with my phone and I have trouble lining up numbers in the program I use, so here's the December challenge for Instagram. You can use these as writing prompts or just picture prompts for Instagram. I will also share bits from the IWSG website posts on Mondays. 
In January, we will do a "Best Writing Tips and Motivation" challenge for the entire month, with a highlight day for The IWSG Pit. 

For all the details, go here: IWSG Twitter Pitch.

Also, in December, please join us for the Write, Edit, Publish day on December 19th!
Please create your post on your blog, then showcase it on Facebook and Instagram!

What five objects to you have in your writing space?

Do you have any highlights/insecurities to share from your writing life?

Are you on Instagram? Planning to take part in our Twitter Pitch day or in the WEP December contest?

My WEP: Ribbons and Candles post will go live next Monday, so please come back to read it! It will be my last post for the year.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

#TheIWSG November

It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click HERE. We post the first Wednesday of every month. 
Started by Alex J. Cavanaugh, this hop is all about encouragement. 

The awesome co-hosts for the November 7 posting are: Ellen @ The Cynical SailorAnn V. FriendJQ Rose and Elizabeth Seckman!


This month's optional question is: How has your creativity in life evolved since you began writing?

I think I've become more courageous about my creativity. I love to sing and I've been singing on the praise team at my church. I love photography and I've been playing around with that. I love color and I finally told my husband who is a bit of a "white walls and white trim" kind of guy that I really need color in our house. I'm currently painting over white walls and white trim with blues, a purplish off-white, and a silvery gray. My house finally doesn't feel like an institution to me. 
And, my husband has been surprised to find he likes it. (So, I am conquering the white on white world one person at a time! Mwahaha.)

I'm currently doing NaNoWriMo and I'm definitely pushing through some writing walls with creativity this month.


Check out the Instagram Posts for IWSG or participate by creating your own posts with these themes for each day of November!

The #IWSGPit Twitter pitch is once a year now – and the next one is in January! Don’t miss it.

IWSG Anthology Contest! Winners will be announced January 2!

The IWSG partnered with Write…Edit…Publish and we are hosting a contest for the February theme! 

Rules: Submit your idea for a WEP February theme by November 12 to admin AT Nothing so U.S. culturally bound. Should have wide appeal. 

Prize: Feature in the December newsletter for the winner. And, of course, the winning theme will be the official February WEP theme! 

Deadline: November 12. Winner announced in the November newsletter on November 28. 

Plus December's WEP theme is... 

So, how has your writing encouraged your creativity in life? Are you on Instagram, Goodreads, Facebook, or Twitter? (IWSG is at all of those places.)

Did you submit a story for the anthology? Are you ready for WEP in December? And do you have a great idea for WEP in February? 

Are you doing NaNoWriMo?

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Anthology Contest and October Wrap-Up

Write. Send it in! You could win!
See all the details here:


Re-read: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, The Hobbit, The Horse and His Boy, and Theft of Swords.
Re-watched: Star Trek 2009, Star Trek: Into the Darkness, and Star Trek Beyond.
Had a late discovery of Grimm on Amazon Prime and watched the first three seasons with my 17-year-old.

Totally new and unplanned viewing: Bad Times at the El Royale. 
Disturbing, unique, and interesting. Definitely R-rated for content. 
My whole family loved the storytelling style - how the movie was sequenced and presented. We watched this at the request of a family member who did not want to watch another superhero movie at this time. (Venom is going on my to-be-viewed-as-DVD list. I, perhaps, have been re-watching too many superhero movies at home this year. Can there be too many?)

Wrote: a dozen micro fiction stories, one of which I submitted. I plan to submit 5-6 more in the first few weeks of November.
Also wrote: 7,000 words on a new draft of Anomalies (previously: Greenling, Seedlings, Generations, Title Death). I think this is the right draft this time. Plan to make this my NaNoWriMo project and finish it for real this time.

Submission responses: 1 rejection earlier this month. 1 in submission-waiting zone.

Firsts: I went to a new-to-me critique group for the first time and liked it.

Grad School: 2 more credits done. (Total of 10 finished so far, 16 to go.)

Teaching: Ups and downs, love all my students, wish they would all turn in their work.
Plus, ran into a few former students and heard about their lives and goals and dreams. (Yay!)

Family and Community: Ups and Downs, some health concerns (not me), and a reason to strongly urge everyone I know to shower love on everyone they know. Suicide is showing up as a real and urgent issue in the community I live in and among people I know. Remember, we don't know what kind of day someone else has had. Let's be kind. Let's find a way to listen. Let's love one another.

Released: Ashes Burn, Seasons 1-7 as an e-book. There's a Reviewer's Special at Smashwords and it's also available for Kindle

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Ashes Burn, Seasons 1-7 Release and Reviewer's Special

Ashes Burn, Seasons 1-7 is available now!

Ashes Burn, Seasons 1-7 includes all the seasons from the hint fiction fantasy series. Following the lives of the three characters, the story takes place in a unique format of micro-fiction episodes.

Wend runs a strange path to find a new future.
Teresa hunts for the man she loves.
Bryant blazes a destructive path to a new empire.
Who will survive their methods?

Ashes hold the inner heat of fire, the spark and ember of flame.
Like those, micro-fiction holds the spark of a larger story that may grow inside the mind of a reader.

Consider each piece a frame of embers. Picture the story in your imagination.

Please note that micro-fiction is an experimental form of story-writing and the whole series is very short.

Now Available for:

The Reviewer's Special is a Coupon Code I've generated for up to 50 downloads between now and November 29th at Smashwords ONLY. If you use this code, you'll get 100% off and be able to read the whole hint fiction series for FREE. However, this is a limited time, limited download offer. If you like the book or find it interesting, please leave a review. The code is: ZG27Q

Terrified of downloading a FREE series? That's okay. Check out the first and second season for FREE (all the time) via Smashwords.

Help Appreciated!
This series has been a fun, funky bit of fiction writing for me for the past three years. I love it, but I know it's unique in format and not necessarily everyone's cup of tea/coffee/blue milk. 

Because of that, I decided not to do a blog-fest, mass marketing attempt. I think it's probably best read by readers who like micro-fiction, like the series, or just want to help me out by spreading the word in a slow, grassroots way.

If you can/want to help, please either just take all or some of the above material and send it out to the stratosphere or e-mail me if you would like a guest post or if you do a review. Thanks! My e-mail is tyreantigger (at) gmail (dot) com 

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

#TheIWSG October and Poland Excerpt

It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. I encourage everyone to visit at least a dozen new blogs and leave a comment. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs.
The awesome co-hosts for the October 3 posting are: 
Dolorah, Tanya Miranda, Chemist Ken, and Christopher D. Votey.

Optional Question this Month: How do major life events affect your writing? Has writing ever helped you through something?

Quick answer: Major life events usually slow down or change my fiction writing process and send me deeper into my journal writing. I have a lot of short bits from the last few years - chapters, short stories, massive journal entries (10 pages sometimes), and the like. Currently, I'm painting the interior of my house and my writing has slowed a bit for that, but I'm still working at it.

One event that changes my writing is travel. It's fun, it's usually wonderful, and it's distracting. I write odd descriptions during travel times - I have a 12 page journal entry from a layover in the Toronto airport from my last trip in Poland. It includes two short stories and a description of various people in the airport. I continued that trend on most of my trip, mixing stories with descriptions, and reflections on the trip. 

On an eight day trip with a major time change, I admit that I struggled with jet lag and an oncoming cold. My camera was having issues and I really didn't take as many pictures as I have on past trips. By the time I took my first flight towards home, I had a fever and merely tried to get enough anti-cough medicine into my system to stave off my symptoms enough not to spread my illness. I also had wet wipes and hand sanitizer, but it was a bit of an uncomfortable journey on the way home followed by the worst "regular" sickness I've had in a few years. 

Memorial in a park

However, I'm still very thankful for the opportunity to go and to see a small part of Poland. Poznan is a beautiful city, bustling with regular life, universities, some historical sites, and an amazing race course for flat-water sprint events. However, the race course is on Lake Malta, a beautiful place with a harrowing past. Lake Malta was hand dug by Jews during the German occupation of Poland. Poland is the home of the remains of concentration camps, memories of the Holocaust, and tributes to the Polish Revolution from Communism. I didn't have a chance to visit all of these places, but I did see some and I heard about more of it from other parents who traveled alongside Team USA. 

Tribute to the Polish Revolution in the park where the Pope spoke to Polish Youth

I found myself moved to reflection and prayer more often than bursts of excited tourism on the first part of my trip. I prayed in a park with a tribute to the Polish Revolution, prayed again in a 10th Century Cathedral, and prayed again in another park with a small memorial to the Holocaust. I wrote in my journal in coffee shops and parks.

Stary Rynek  - the historical town square 

Then, I had the fun of spending time with my daughter for a few hours while Team USA rested during the rain one afternoon. I had fun with fellow parents of athletes - just ubering around the city, eating out, and trying to figure out the tram system, as well as cheering on our athletes at the Olympic Hopes Regatta for 15-17 year-olds. 

(Trisha going out to race - blue jersey, red sleeves, second from the left)

Team USA did well this year. Every athlete made at least one semi-final and five athletes made finals. One athlete brought home two gold medals (Her name is Nevin and she's a women's canoeist from Seattle. I think we'll all be seeing her in the Olympics soon). My younger daughter (a kayaker) raced in five different race categories (K1 1000m, K1 500m, K2 500m, K4 500m, and K2 200m) and made semi-finals for each category. 
My daughter

The team from Hungary took the most medals home, followed by the Czech Republic, and Canada. Canadians and Americans cheered our athletes together - unless they were competing against each other - and over 600 athletes from 33 countries competed in the event. Hearing parents and coaches cheering for their athletes in 30 different languages at the top of their lungs is a pretty incredible experience.

Team USA and coaches hanging loose after the regatta ended

As a parent, it's just amazing to see my daughter compete in Poland and to see her love her sport the way she does. I'm just left with a sense of gratitude and abundant blessing. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

#TheIWSG September and the Publishing Path

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
Creator of IWSG: Alex J. Cavanaugh aka The Captain

Optional Question:  What publishing path are you considering/did you take, and why?

Publishing Path - Indie Publishing and Small Press Publishing

So far, I've taken the Indie and Small Press publishing path. When I looked around at publishing houses, agents, and other places to send my work between 2010 and 2013, I couldn't seem to find any who took Christian Fantasy and Christian Scifi. Since I had a Christian Fantasy novel for YA, I grew desperately concerned. 

I couldn't seem to find anyone who published Christian Fantasy or who agented Christian Fantasy unless the authors already had several books of non-Fantasy writing under their belt, or several books of secular Fantasy under their belt. I remember seeing several websites saying they would only look at Christian Fantasy by established authors. What? I didn't want to write Christian Amish Romance (the Christian bookstore shelves teemed with those books at the time) in the hopes of writing Christian Fantasy someday. 

So, I started researching Indie Publishing aka Self-Publishing. I spent two years combing the web for information, checking sources, finding books at the library, and then, with what I thought was great preparation, I self-published and set up a book blog tour and a book signing. The first month felt like a great success! The second month kind of bombed. I didn't know how to sustain sales. I didn't know how to market. I had troubles with my product (I have a post about that), and I floundered, but I kept on writing and working.

Several Indie-Published books later, I still can't say I have great financial success, but I do have awesome readers. And, four years ago, a small press who I knew through an Indie film project  asked me to turn an episode from one of their other projects into a novella. We had good communication at the start of the project, but it fizzled when the book was published. I didn't even know the book was out. (It still is, but I rarely advertise it.) 

However, I know that there are many small press publishers out there and some are excellent communicators. Dancing Lemur Press publishes the IWSG anthologies and since I had a story published in the 2016 IWSG anthology Hero Lost: Mysteries of Death and Life, I've had the opportunity to discover that every communication with Dancing Lemur Press is professional, timely, and helpful. 

In the future, I hope to query agents, send work to small presses, and continue Indie publishing. I don't think there's a need to write myself into just one kind of publishing box.

And, by the way, I have found one small press which does specialize in Christian Fantasy and Science Fiction: Enclave Publishing. Do you know of any others?


The next anthology contest is open!!! 
Word count: 3500-6000

Genre: Young Adult Romance

A Masquerade can be a false show or pretense, someone pretending to be someone they aren't. It can be a ball, a fancy dress party, it can be a mask. Open to interpretation.

Submissions accepted: September 5 - November 4, 2018

How to enter: Send your polished, formatted (Double spaced, no page numbers), previously unpublished story to admin @ before the deadline passes. Please include your contact details, your social links, and if you are part of the Blogging, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter IWSG group.

Judging: The IWSG admins will create a shortlist of the best stories. The shortlist will then be sent to our official judges who will be announced September 5.

Prizes: The winning stories will be edited and published by Freedom Fox Press next year in the IWSG anthology. Authors will receive royalties on books sold, both print and eBook. The top story will have the honor of giving the anthology its title.

Tyrean's News

I'm going to Poland to watch my daughter race her kayak! 

Ashes Burn, Seasons 1-7 (the whole, experimental, micro-fiction series) is available for pre-order via Smashwords.

What publishing path are you on?