Monday, August 12, 2019

Heroes and Villains: Know Your Origins... It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's ...

This is a re-post from my now-closed Word Press blog and part of a Heroes and Villains series, exploring the history, pop culture, viewing, reading, and writing of heroes and villains. Enjoy!

Can you finish the phrase?
It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s ...*
One of the oldest comic book heroes has an introduction we all recognize. 
But did you know, Superman didn’t always fly?
Upon his creation, Superman was only super-strong and his super-strength made him able to run fast (faster than a speeding bullet) and jump high (leap tall building with a single bound) because he came from a planet with heavier gravity than earth’s gravity. (And, actually the first time he was inked, he wasn’t a hero at all, but a villain instead … but then, the comic creators changed their minds.)
Every superhero has an origin story, not just the origin story of his or her powers and weaknesses, but also his or her origins in written history. Superman’s story has been with us since the late 1930s and it has been told and retold like Cinderella’s story has been told and retold. We like to retell stories that resonate with us and by retelling them, we make them our own.
Superman’s powers have shifted and morphed, his character has developed differently in certain settings, and even his backstory has evolved over time. Personally, I like one of the newer renditions of his parents in which his mom has become a self-made expert on astronomy and life in the universe as she has spent years researching the origins of her adopted son. It makes sense to me as a mom and as a mom of today.
We retell our favorite stories not to ruin them, but to expand on them and share our love of them with others. Those favorite stories often inform our shiny new stories which have been built on the foundations of our favorites.

One thing that remains the same in every Superman rendition: he is a baby sent away by his parents to live on a faraway planet. They do this to save his life. There have been studies done to show how this actually reflects an even older story from the Bible, in which Moses is sent by his family to live with Pharoah's family. In the Superman/Moses parallel, both of these heroes rise to save their people (Superman saves Earth, Moses saves his people from slavery). 


1. Every hero/villain has an origin story, both in their own fictional world, and in how they came to the page.

2. It's okay if your villain becomes a hero, or vice versa, in multiple drafts of your story writing. You are in charge of the outcome of your story. You don't know where your ideas will take you sometimes and it's okay to explore before you have it all nailed down in a final draft.

3. If you don't have every detail figured out right away, it's okay. I know this sounds a little free-wheeling and that might make plotters nervous, but I have seen a few writers who have expanded back story and world-building details as their series of work has expanded. I've seen this in Anne McCaffrey's Pern series, in John Flanagan's Ranger's Apprentice series, Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar series, and more. It's possible to know just what you need to tell the story of one novel or one section of a series, knowing you can expand in the next book.

4. Many heroes have roots in faith, myth, and legend. We don't create in a vacuum. We create based on experience, knowledge, stories we've seen and heard, and more. Superman has some similarities to Moses. Who does your hero/protagonist emulate? What favorite story foundations are you working with?

For more information about Superman and other superheroes, I recommend taking the free online Edx course: The Rise of Superheroes and Their Impact on Pop Culture. I don’t get any kickback from this. It’s a course I took and one that was recommended to me by another author. The course is through the Smithsonian and features guests like the late Stan Lee. If you want, you can pay money to get a certificate that proves you took the course, but you can also sign up for free and take it for free.

Do you like superheroes? If you do, do you know their origin story of how they came to the page or screen? Do you have an origin story for how your hero/protagonist came to the page? 

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

IWSG August 2019

Many thanks to Alex J. Cavanaugh, all of the administrators, and the blog co-hosts this month for making the IWSG an awesome place to hang out, let our worries fly free, and gain/give some encouragement!

My post will be super short this month as I'm currently cheering my lungs out at the American Canoe Association Flat-water Sprint Canoe and Kayak US Nationals in Georgia. (Can you hear me from where you are?) I will be commenting for IWSG sporadically, at best.

BTW, for an quick update on my kayaking daughter: she has friends who went to the Pan American Championships and Junior/Senior Worlds, but she elected to not go to trials and to save for college this fall. She is competing at Nationals.

Has your writing ever taken you by surprise? For example, a positive and belated response to a submission you'd forgotten about or an ending you never saw coming?

My writing surprises me all the time. Okay, maybe not "all" of the time, but much of the time. I went back to look through (purge) some of my old journals and found some writing gems I decided to keep - a simile, a few poems, a novel. They were better than I remembered - surprise! 

Has your writing every surprised you?

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

End of July 2019 Update

These posts started with reading updates for "fun" then I decided to add in my viewing updates, then my writing and pursuit of publication updates. These are all areas which intertwine in my pursuit of story-writing craft, publication, and the art of story. 


Non-fiction always takes me ages to read. I linger over several non-fiction books at a time, and sometimes a non-fiction book will take me years to read. However, these are some current notables: 

Language in the Schools: Integrating Linguistic Knowledge into K-12 Teaching edited by Kristin Denham and Anne Lobeck has an accurately descriptive title. The book is a collaborative look at "how basic linguistic knowledge can inform teachers' approaches to issues in the multicultural, linguistically diverse classroom." (Quote from the blurb). The two professors who edited this book were two of my top ten teachers at Western Washington University (and they still teach there). I didn't finish this book so it will just be something I dip into over the next several months. (purchased book)

GRIT: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth is a non-fiction book I picked up at Costco after reading an article in the Costco magazine (yes, someone reads those articles). In short, I thought I might need to read this book, then I buried it on my desk, re-earthed my desk, re-found this book, and so far it has hit the right spot.

Some quotes from GRIT:

"Even if some of the things they had to do were boring, or frustrating, or even painful, they wouldn't dream of giving up. Their passion was enduring" (page 8).

"... as much as talent counts, effort counts twice" (page 34).

The Glass Universe: How the Ladies of the Harvard Observatory Took the Measure of the Stars by Dava Sobel is a library book and, thankfully, it has an easy-to-enjoy narrative style and explains the technical jargon en route through the story so I am reading through it a little faster than the average non-fiction book. It's a fascinating look at the history of the women and men who discovered and cataloged the nature of the stars between the late 1800s and the 1950s with some notes up to 2005. So far, I would give it a 5/5.


Coraline by Neil Gaiman. Wow. Beautiful, haunting - a grim fairy tale come to life on the page. This book was recommended to me by a student and it reminded me of the work of Roald Dahl and the Grimm Fairy Tales intermixed. (library book, plan to purchase)
Highly Recommended! 5/5.


This section is both for enjoyment and research, as I intend to write a graphic novel script soon.

Angel Catbird by Margaret Atwood, Johnnie Christmas, and Tamra Bonvillain. I liked the premise, but for some reason I didn't love this comic book/graphic novel by Margaret Atwood - I really wanted to, but just didn't. (From the library.) 3.5/5

Nova: Burn Out written by Sean Ryan is a Marvel comic. I came into the story series partway through, but I enjoyed it. (I got this from the library.) 4/5

Foiled written by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Mike Cavallaro. This urban fantasy graphic novel for MG/YA readers had a fun mix of fencing terminology, first crush romance, and fantasy. (library) 4.5/5

Curses! Foiled Again by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Mike Cavallaro. For some reason, I enjoyed this second book in the Foiled series far more than the first. I really enjoyed seeing Aliera and Avery grow as characters and understanding more about how the fairy and human world are mixed up together. (library) 5/5

Knights of the Lunch Table: The Dodgeball Chronicles by Frank Cammuso is a MG graphic novel that I just loved! Maybe I'm mentally a MG reader of graphic novels, who knows? I felt like the clever dialogue and story-line were just awesome!
(Also from the library, but I'm thinking about purchasing my own copy because I liked it so much!)
Highly Recommended to any reader with a sense of humor!
5/5 Dodgeballs! (My favorite graphic novel of the month!)


Kill the Queen by Jennifer Estep is a beautifully written, action-packed, intense epic fantasy. The world-building is embedded so flawlessly that I slowed down, went back, and re-read chapter one just because I thought "I want to write like this!" Lady Everleigh aka Evie is from a kingdom steeped in gladiator tradition but she's never been to the games, never had to fight anyone outside of training, until one of her cousins betrays their kingdom and attempts to assassinate everyone in the royal family to get the throne. Evie, with her secret immunity to magic, barely survives long enough to fall in with a gladiator troupe, which is in part a circus act and in part a deadly force to be reckoned with. Evie doesn't know what to do, but she knows she'll never let anyone put her in a corner again.
(I got this book from the library, but I want to purchase it.) 5/5 Highly recommended.

Hidden by Donna Jo Napoli is an action-packed historical fiction novel based on the legend of Alfhild, the first Norse woman pirate. Starting with a story of survival after escaping from slavers, 8-year-old Brigid is renamed Alf by her new family - a family that seems to despise her at times. I loved how this novel combined Alfhild's love for her family, her loyalty, her anger, and her compassion. (library) 5/5.

Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kirstoff is an action-packed science fiction novel with satisfying character arcs and development for each of the crew members, as they each deal with an unexpected catalyst - a girl rescued from inter-dimensional space who has been drifting there for hundreds of years and claims to be from a colony that never existed. I really appreciated how the writers captured each character's individual voice in point of view chapters. 5/5 Recommended.


Poisoned by the Pier by Ellen Jacobson is the third in a series of cozy mysteries following the adventures of reluctant sailor Mollie McGhie and her cat Mrs. Moto. 
I really enjoyed the two previous cozy mysteries in the Mollie McGhie series, but I loved Poisoned by the Pier! 
With quirky characters, twisty turns, and a bit of redemption for some of the characters, Poisoned by the Pier has everything needed for a clean, cozy mystery read! 
Highly Recommended to readers with a sense of humor and readers with a love of cats (and dogs). (E-book purchase) 5/5 Chocolate Cupcakes!


This is not the whole list, just the notables.

Spiderman: Far From Home - This is an action-packed fun with a chance for Peter Parker to make mistakes, sorrow over the loss of Iron Man but still give us plenty of chances to laugh, develop his friendships, and have a few awkward moments with a girl he loves. It's a great mid-trilogy film! 5/5 Favorite film of the month!

Stranger Things Season 3 - Continuing the adventures of Eleven and all of the original cast, this show is a family favorite (I have young adult children). I loved the way this season brought everyone together, brought new faces to the show, and deepened the relationships. I also hope there's a Season 4! 5/5 Favorite Series of the Month!


Oy. It's been sporadic. One awesome day, two missing days, a few mediocre days, and so forth. I haven't kept my goal for Camp NaNoWriMo. I'm far behind. But yet, I'm glad I tried it.

Words Written as of the 30th: 23,000 for the month, this includes a non-fiction article, an idea for a short story, some work on a novel, and a bit of journal writing.


0 for 0. I didn't send anything new out. I did receive a few rejections. Currently, I have one short story out there on submission, and then ... I need to start sending novel queries again. Maybe August will be a more productive month.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Why Writers Need a Story Bible by guest author Ellen Jacobson

Series Bible

Do you ever wake up in the middle of the night with a nagging thought? I often do. Sometimes, it’s something innocuous like, “Did I remember to buy more cookies at the store?” Other times, it ends up making me panic—“What details did I get wrong in my latest book? Did that character have brown eyes or blue? How old are those kids supposed to be?” And when I panic, I eat cookies. That is if I remembered to buy them at the store.

I recently published the third book in my cozy mystery series. To be honest, I can barely remember what I had for breakfast (probably cookies), let alone remember what I wrote in the first two books. This is a real worry for me when it comes to ensuring consistency throughout the series.

Fortunately, I have a “series bible” of sorts which tracks things such as:

  • Characters—Names, physical appearance, age, likes/dislikes, mannerisms, habits, family relationships etc. This includes not only humans but also animals. After all, one of the stars of my series is a Japanese bobtail cat. It’s pretty important to remember what her favorite brand of cat food is.
  • Setting—Place names, descriptions, locations etc. I also have a special sub-category under setting for boats. Because my series takes place at a marina, I keep track of their names, types, and what they look like.
  • Timeline—Time of the year / season does the book take place in.
  • Subplots—Details of story lines that continue across the series.
  • Backstories—It wasn’t until I started writing my third book, that I realized how important documenting each character’s backstory was. I ended up not having enough detail in my “series bible” and had to go back and read through the first two books to refresh myself on certain key backstory points. Hopefully, I got it right!

My system isn’t high tech. It’s just a Word document separated into categories where I enter the relevant information and note which book it came from. I share this document with my editor and he adds to it during the editing process which is really helpful.

If you’re new to series bibles or thinking about creating one of your own, here are a couple of resources that you might find helpful.

Elizabeth Spann Craig – Tracking Trivia by Using a Series Bible

Lorna Faith – How to Create a Series Bible

Poisoned by the Pier Now Available!

Poisoned by the Pier, the third book in the Mollie McGhie Cozy Sailing Mystery series, is now available in ebook, paperback, and large print.

Amazon | Kobo | Barnes & Noble | Apple Books | Google Play

When Mollie's husband signs the two of them up for an extreme diet, she's not amused. When someone ends up poisoned by a cake, things get even worse.

While she tries to identify the killer, Coconut Cove’s annual boating festival is in full swing. In between getting ready for her first sailing race and cheating on her diet, Mollie and her cat, Mrs. Moto, uncover clues, interview suspects, and do their best to avoid rutabagas.

Can Mollie nab the killer before someone else is poisoned?

If you like quirky characters, adorable cats, and plenty of chocolate, you'll love this cozy mystery. Pick up a copy of Poisoned by the Pier and laugh out loud from the first page to the last.

New to the Series?

If you're new to the series, you might want to start with Murder at the Marina. Now is the perfect opportunity as the ebook is on sale for 99c/99p for a limited time.

Amazon | Kobo | Barnes & Noble | Apple Books | Google Play

About the Author

Ellen Jacobson lives on a sailboat with her husband and an imaginary cat named Simon. When she isn't working on boat projects or seeking out deserted islands, she writes cozy mysteries and sci-fi/fantasy stories.

Connect with Ellen on her Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | BookBub | Blog

You can also sign up for her newsletter for updates about new releases, current projects, sales and promotions, and other fun stuff.

Review of Poisoned by the Pier by Tyrean:
I really enjoyed the two previous cozy mysteries in the Mollie McGhie series, but I loved Poisoned by the Pier! I feel like it takes the cake and the costume prize! (Note: although there are cake and costume contests in the book - no spoilers here, really.)

As Mollie continues to investigate the mysteries of life in Coconut Grove, work her way around a terrible diet plan her husband is sure they need in their lives, and keep Mrs. Moto on a leash, she stumbles across another death, another murder, and only with the help of Mrs. Moto will she overcome the high stakes stacked against her ... or stumble again. You'll have to read it and see.

With quirky characters, twisty turns, and a bit of redemption for some of the characters, Poisoned by the Pier has everything needed for a clean, cozy mystery read!

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.

Monday, June 17, 2019

WEP and Announcements

Write...Edit...Publish is the writing life in miniature. We write with enthusiasm...we edit carefully...and then we publish our work. All writing or photographic contributions used as part of WEP challenges are copyright.

We will follow this process every second month or so, in response to different prompts - voila - our writing will improve.

Caged Bird Theme: The topic of a caged bird has many possible interpretations, both literal and metaphorical. Choose one and write the best flash story you can in 1000 words or less. Or maybe create a photo essay about your favorite canary. Or a non-fiction story about captivity and its psychological impact. Whatever you choose, we want to read it.

Each entry is under 1000 words. Prizes are offered. Go to the WEP website for more information.

My 997-word entry is actually from an old novel version of Captain Wrath I worked on a few years ago. It fits the theme as a fictional story about captivity and psychological impact. 
 For those who have been following along with the other Captain Wrath entries, this is a bit different for two reasons.
1. It's from another character's viewpoint - Carya. This is actually her introduction scene in the novel.
2. It's not written with the journalistic style. I thought of changing it, but I've been swamped this month with family adventures.

And, I must caution readers here. Although it isn't graphic, the content of this story section discusses violence and human trafficking. Do not read onward if those topics are uncomfortable for you.

Carya tried not to even think about all that had happened to her, all the tortures she had endured. Her body healed too well, too quickly. She was the perfect piece of meat for customers who wanted something rough.

Carya could smell Gorog before she could see him. Oil and sweat with an acidic after-smell from his battery pack. He wasn’t going to be around for much longer unless Madam Xodhur replaced his battery core.

“Get up.”

Carya could barely lift her head. If he wanted her to move, he could move her.

His charcoal pants came into her view. His thick, muscular legs and lower torso were all that was left of his original humanity.

He slapped her with his robotic hand.

It stung, but everything else hurt more. She blinked at him, tried to look up. She only got as far as the waistcoat he wore buttoned over his robotic chest. She didn’t know why he tried so hard to look normal.

“You aren’t healing.” He stated the obvious. He leaned over to look her in the eye.

The sight of his face was oddly comforting. This disgusting cyborg scum had never done anything other than slap her and push her around. He was probably the gentlest being she’d had contact with in the time she’d been kept at the Depraved Labyrinth. His red mechanical eye swept over her clinically, while his cloudy gray eye seemed turned inward, never focusing on anything. His face-plate of bronze had a crack on one temple and his jaw was wired shut. He ate intravenously through the tubes in his torso. His voice came from a box hidden under the cravat at his throat.

“Madam Xodhur must be notified that you will be unavailable for three days while you rejuvenate with your tree.” He wrapped her up in a sheet, handling her like a giant rag doll, but still more gently than any of the customers would have.

Carya flopped limply. Her muscles refused to do anything and her mind felt fogged.

As Gorog closed the door to her cell, he said, “It is finally time. I didn’t think you would be so strong.”

This statement sent fear through her, but even that small adrenaline rush didn’t help her. Her muscles twitched involuntarily and she cried out from the pain.

“Sh. You will be with your roots soon. Don’t fight it. Just . . .”
A hard knock on her head sent Carya into darkness.

Carya woke to the hum of a stasis tube. Through the edges of her eyelashes, she could see the inside of glowing stasis tube, and she wore a clean hospital gown that covered her entire body, except her neck and head. Two tubes fed into her right hand and her left hand was buried in her potted tree’s soil. She could feel rootlets from her fingers taking life from the tree. Her body healed with the sap of her root-tree, and she felt strong enough to move now.

The hum of the stasis tube changed pitch, from high to low, and the smell of lilacs filled the chamber – sleeping gas.

The second time Carya woke, the stasis tube had stopped humming. Her finger-rootlets were still attached to her root-tree. Her whole body felt strong, alive like it was spring on her home planet of Edvena. As she reveled in this feeling, wishing she could unfurl and let loose flowers, she heard heavy footsteps outside of the tube, and smelled the familiar combination of oil, sweat, and dying battery acid. Tears came. She couldn’t help it. She released the roots of her tree, and waited for the torture to begin again.

When Gorog opened the stasis tube, she didn’t look at him. She sat up slowly, letting her feet dangle over the edge of the tube.

“We will be there soon. You must be ready. No time for chat.” Gorog thrust clothing at her and stomped away.

Carya tried to sort out his words as she stared at her old pilot’s uniform in her hands. She didn’t understand. With trembling hands, she put on the one-piece uniform, zipping it up the front until it came to her chin. It was baggy on her. She had never been large, never been anything but fit, but her uniform hung on her like a sack. She picked up her root-tree, and walked barefoot across the room. She appeared to be in a long storage container. The walls were a corrugated metal, and the floor was gritty with space dust. Was she truly on a ship, headed away from the Depraved Labyrinth?
If so, why had Gorog taken her? What was his plan? She didn’t understand.

She searched the room for a weapon. It was empty except for her, her root-tree in its sturdy container, and the discarded hospital gown. Gorog had sounded hurried.

Going to the control panel of the stasis tube, she pried off the cover with her fingernails. With that free, she pulled out some of the wires with a yank, and took the small battery that powered the control panel. It wasn’t much, but if she –

The door to the storage container opened, and Gorog stepped heavily inside. He shook his head. “No time for that. Come. Go free. Complete the deal.”

“The deal?”

“Freedom for you, new battery for me. The deal.”

Carya understood now. If Gorog thought he could save his own decaying hide by saving hers, then he would sell her to the highest bidder. She still pocketed her scavenged supplies in her ship’s uniform leg pocket. She held her root-tree in both hands and walked towards him.

He stepped aside for her at the door, and trained his wrist-gun on her. Attached to one of his bionic arms, the weapons had enough firepower to take down a dozen beings at once.

Carya passed him, knowing that if he had wanted to kill her he would have just let her die already.


Tara had a long journey to get this book published!

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

In BROKEN BRANCH FALLS, Gabe and his friends go on a quest to save their school, blowing up all the rules, and discover their origins.

Then they go to CRADLE ROCK and meet some real live humans, scaring them into attack mode. The Beasts realize they have to spread the truth ASAP.

Now, school's out, and Gabe is ready for a break from all the drama...

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!

Author Bio
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 novel 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!

How to find:
twitter: @taratylertalks
Instagram: taratylertalks
newsletter: tara tyler news


Coming Soon from Krystal Jane Ruin ...
Title: Garden of Ravens
Release Date: August 13, 2019
Genre: Poetry, Dark Contemporary & Folklore
A collection of dark poetry that journeys through folklore, twisted tales, mental breakdowns, and depression. 

We hide in shadows
We wither under layers
Sunlight is for beautiful people
Darkness is for us


Amy Stapleton of Tellables is looking for a few freelance writers to create Tellables content for the Tricky Genie skill. She has asked me to try to find a few authors. If you are interested, e-mail me and I'll send you a file with specific requirements for the work and you can decide if you want to pursue it. My e-mail is tyreantigger (at) gmail (dot) com and you can find out more about Amy by reading her guest post from last Monday at IWSG or by checking out her LinkedIn page. I met Amy in person while she attended a conference in Seattle, and I think she's a great person to work with through edits for stories in this new realm of voice-first storytelling and story-gaming.

What do you think of Carya's chance for freedom? 
Are you picking up any new books?
And would you be interested in writing Voice First content?