Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Writing Links, Quotes, and a Quick Reading Update

Writing Links I Really Enjoyed Recently:

5 Writing Tips from Harlan Coben
My favorite line from this: "Write like there is a knife against your throat."
(I don't think I can write like that, but it definitely caught my attention.)

The Netflix Literary Connection
We can all dream Netflix will pick up our books, can't we?
This might be even better than a movie deal.

5 Science Fiction Books That Predicted the Future
This post might give you the same "pause" it did me, or not. It's good food for thought.
If you write SF, do you think it's possible your writing is predicting the future?

Writing Quotes found via Instagram shares:

"Overnight success is almost always a myth. Half of this industry is luck, and half is the refusal to quit." Victoria Schwab

"Who I am and what I am capable of doing has always managed to surprise me." Jodi Piccoult

"I write because it fulfills me. I do it for the pure joy of the thing and if you can do it for joy, you can do it forever." Stephen King

Quick Reading Update

This just keeps getting shorter, I know. For my full reviews of the following books, head to either my Instagram, previous blog posts, or Amazon. 

Big Red by Damien Larkin - a SF reread that was just as mind-bendingly satisfying and fun as the first time I read it! Highly recommended! 5/5 Full review in another post in May.

The Broken Star by Emily R. King - this YA Fantasy Adventure is lushly immersive, exciting, and just wonderful. Highly recommended! 5/5! My favorite NEW book of May.

The Book of Mistakes - a beautiful and encouraging picture book written and illustrated by Corinna Luyken, one of the speakers at the regional SCBWI conference I attended recently. 5/5 Highly Recommended!

Archangel by Margaret Fortune - YA SF - action-packed, fun, and thought-provoking sequel to Nova. 4/5

Their Fractured Light by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner (Starbound Series Book 3) - fun, entertaining YA SF Romance. 3.5/5.

A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer - an entertaining YA Portal Fantasy Romance based on the Beauty and Beast story, but definitely going new places of its own. 4/5.

I also read or attempted to read at least three books that I really didn't like. I will not name them. I am beginning to think I don't like things off the Bestseller List - what does this mean?

An Extremely Short Movie Update:
I went to see Avengers: Endgame and I was impressed by the CGI, character arcs, and the ability of the directors to juggle just that many actors and storylines. However, I wasn't a fan of ... well, two scenes. So, it's a yes, I loved it, but ... movie for me.

Remember, the IWSG is looking for stories for their new anthology contest!
Word count: 3500-5000
Genre: Middle Grade Historical – Adventure/Fantasy
Theme: Voyagers

And, the IWSG is already gearing up for #IWSGPit 2020!

What have you been reading lately? Seen/heard any good writing quotes? 

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

5 Reasons to Join the SCBWI If You Are Writing YA, MG, or PB

So, technically, this isn't a 5 Reasons to Write Post, it's a 5 Reasons to ... Post. I may change that graphic soon(ish). Here's another for today's topic:

After years of hearing about the SCBWI from other authors, I finally joined last spring/summer. 
After I joined, I promptly read a bunch of materials on their website, then I slowly realized that nearly every regional monthly meeting feel on a weekend my family had other events planned. 

Finally, I made it to a monthly meeting in April, then the regional conference in May (last weekend). 

Despite my late adoption into the SCBWI and despite my slowness to actually participate, I really love this group!

So, why join?

1. An excellent, informational, and encouraging newsletter! Really, it's not huge, but it is packed every time with great articles! (I liked this even before I made it to a meeting.)

2. Monthly meetings with encouraging and informational speakers! So, I admit, I've only made it to one of the meetings, but I was super impressed in April, and according to everyone I spoke to, they bring that level every month.

3. An awesome regional conference! The SCBWI WWA in May (just last weekend) was the best writing conference I have ever attended! It had a great variety of informational workshop sessions, encouraging and excellent speakers, and plenty of opportunities to meet fellow creators and industry professionals. By the end of just one day, I had met at least seven fellow creators (writers and illustrators), handed out a few business cards, met an agent (by the snack table), and felt like I'd gained some huge, needed insights into creativity, writing, and traditional publishing.

4. If you are a Young Adult (YA) author, and you fear that the SCBWI is geared only towards MG and PB authors, fear not! They have information and encouragement for all writers who write for ages 1-17.
(Maybe you wouldn't fear this, but I did until I joined because I was thrown by the word "Children" in their name.)

5. If you write Middle Grade (MG), chapter books, or Picture Books (PB), or if you are an illustrator who wants to work on PB or Graphic Novels, the SCBWI also has a information and encouragement for you. At their regional conference, they have a portfolio showcase so you can show off your illustrative work. 

So, if you write or illustrate YA, MG, or PB, are you an SCBWI member? If so, why? If not, why not?

And, if this doesn't apply to you at all, what organizations have you joined to help you in your writing journey?

I'm a part of:
SCBWI - Society of Children Book Writers and Illustrators
PNWA - Pacific Northwest Writers Association (I haven't made any meetings in a while.)
Tuesday Write-In - we don't have an official name, we just show up at a local community center and write for three hours on Tuesdays. 
First and Third Thursdays - A critique group, again, no official name.
And, of course, the IWSG - the Insecure Writer's Support Group (an awesome online group with a blog hop, a website, and platforms on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and Instagram). 

I think being a part of a group of some kind can help us grow as authors. 
What do you think?

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Big Red Review

Please note: this book is picture-approved by Emily the cat. 
(No offense meant to Emily-humans. Emily is a good name).
Rating: Four Paws! (4/4)
This rating is based on four areas:
1. Her owner's lap was available for the entire book reading.
2. Her owner did not get up during the entire book reading.
3. Her owner was happy, so Emily approves.
4. Emily likes the cover (as pictured). 

Tyrean's Review: 5/5 Stars! 

Rating Based on 5 Areas:

1. Page-Turnability:

From the first page to the last, I was hooked by Damien Larkin's premise, characters, plot, and world-building! I did not want to put the book down. Because I started reading it in the evening, I read into the night with my cat on my lap and tea by my side. 
The entire book is thrilling, mind-bending, page-turning ride!

2. Premise:
From the blurb: "Suffering the side effects of Compression travel, solider Darren Loughlin wakes up screaming from a gunshot wound that isn't there." 

In this book, we are taken on a long, twisting journey into the memories and training of Darren Loughlin about his year-long tour of duty that isn't just a year, isn't what he signed up for, and isn't what it seems. As readers, we are fully immersed with Darren as he fights to get his memories back. Author Damien Larking immerses us as readers so seamlessly into the premise that it's nigh impossible to close the book. 

3. Character(s):
While we are fully immersed into the MC's viewpoint, Darren is surrounded by fellow soldiers, scientists, officers, and colonists while we journey with him on Mars. Darren has a compelling character arc, including moments of heartbreak, moments of levity, and moments of fuller understanding and determination. He learns a great deal about perception and reality in Big Red. In addition to Darren, author Damien Larkin fills the book with fully realized secondary characters and as a reader I appreciate this because it adds to the plot and to the world-building.

4. Plot:
As stated in the page-turner section, the plot drop-kicks the reader into the world, Darren's mind, and the premise all at once. There is no long preamble or slow introduction. We are with Darren in his confusion, his moments of clarity, and his long haul into understanding his mission and all that it entails from the first page. The plot gallops forward through training sessions, missions, and plot twists, not letting go until the very end. It's a satisfying, action-packed read!

5. World-Building:
If you like SF, you won't be disappointed. If you are not a big SF reader, the world-building leaves enough to your imagination that you won't feel dogged down by too much description. Larkin's book gives you just enough world-building through the eyes of his main character that you can be fully immersed in the story without pausing for long-information dumps. It's tightly knit world-building - the kind I highly appreciate. Every bit of world-building has a purpose and a place within the plot, character building, and the premise.

By the way, I did receive this book as an ARC from Dancing Lemur Press. I'm pretty sure they, and Damien, were hoping for an early review (you know, the Advanced Reader Copy kind), but I'm very slow - that's not a reflection on the book. 
I read it back in December - the same evening after I opened the package! 
I couldn't slow down enough to take notes on it as I read. I just was in a state of "wow" after I read it, then Christmas and other life events happened. So, I read it again before I wrote this and it's just as good on the second read! 

If you would like to know more about the author, go to my last post - Damien did a guest post for me!

If you are looking for action-packed, mind-bending SF, read Big Red! 

Big Red
By Damien Larkin

 We have always been here...
Traumatized by the effects of Compression travel, soldier Darren Loughlin holds the key to the fate of Earth's Martian colonies. With his Battalion decimated, his fractured memory holds the only clues to the colony-wide communications blackout.

 With time running out, Darren pieces together his year-long tour of duty with the Mars Occupation Force. Stationed in the Nazi-founded New Berlin colony, ruled by the brutal MARSCORP, he recounts his part in the vicious, genocidal war against the hostile alien natives and all who question Terran supremacy.

 But as his memories return, Darren suspects he is at the centre of a plot spanning forty years. He has one last mission to carry out. And his alien enemies may be more human than he is...

Barnes & Noble - -  Amazon - -

Monday, May 13, 2019

Guest Post from Damien Larkin, author of Big Red

A Small Note from Tyrean:

Please welcome Damien Larkin to my blog today! I had the opportunity to read an ARC of Big Red and, in short, I can definitely say it's a wild, mind-bending, action-packed ride! I'll post a full review on Wednesday.

Guest Author Damien Larkin's Writing Journey, Perception is Reality, and Big Red

Damien Larkin

A few years ago, when I was in the Irish Reserve Defence Forces (RDF), my platoon and I were out doing manoeuvres. Our corporals used to yell at us to ‘switch on’ if we were too slow or didn’t follow their orders to the exact letter. One day, on a whim, they ordered us to race across a field. We were tired and exhausted from hours of drills at this stage. The sun was beating down on us, we were laden with equipment and as we ran, the griping started. People cursed and lamented about our predicament until someone turned to me and asked why I was so quiet. Shrugging my shoulders, I told them quite simply that there was nothing we could do about it, whining wasn’t going to solve anything and I was quite happy ‘switching off’. Everyone laughed at that and for the rest of the week, the levels of people moaning and whining over something beyond our control dropped considerably.

There are things in this life that we can control and things we can’t, but one that people take for granted is our thoughts and emotions. I like to sum this up with three words:  perception is reality. We can be or do anything we want to if we change our mindset to align with our goals. That might sound easier said than done, but the first step is to separate what you can control from what you can’t. Once you understand that, it’s surprisingly liberating.

Perception is Reality and the Writing Journey

Using writing as an example: I started out on my writing journey over two years ago. I didn’t tell that to many people, but those that I did tell thought I was nuts. I was a stay-at-home father, my children were both young and I also worked part time in the evenings and weekends. I had virtually no free time and had never once (openly) expressed an interest in writing up until this point. I could have let myself become upset or frustrated at the lack of support around me, but instead, I switched off and focused on my goal of writing a novel before the end of the year (and made that goal two hours before New Year’s kicked in!)

It’s easy to beat ourselves up over things or tell ourselves we’re not good enough. The hard thing is to change that outlook, to push aside limiting beliefs and actively force our minds to see the positive. If I had listened to everyone else, my debut sci-fi novel Big Red wouldn’t be out on the 14th of May and I would never have known the joy of watching this story grow and evolve into what it is now.

All of us are capable of achieving our dreams, but the first step is to start with ourselves. It’s up to us to recognise what baby steps we can take to get there, even if it’s simply reminding ourselves that we can do it. Whatever your goal is, I can’t promise it will be easier getting there, but I can promise it will be worth it.

Big Red

By Damien Larkin

We have always been here...
Traumatized by the effects of Compression travel, soldier Darren Loughlin holds the key to the fate of Earth's Martian colonies. With his Battalion decimated, his fractured memory holds the only clues to the colony-wide communications blackout.

With time running out, Darren pieces together his year-long tour of duty with the Mars Occupation Force. Stationed in the Nazi-founded New Berlin colony, ruled by the brutal MARSCORP, he recounts his part in the vicious, genocidal war against the hostile alien natives and all who question Terran supremacy.

But as his memories return, Darren suspects he is at the centre of a plot spanning forty years. He has one last mission to carry out. And his alien enemies may be more human than he is...


Barnes & Noble - -  Amazon - -

Damien Larkin is a part-time Planning Analyst and a full-time stay-at-home father of two young children. He enjoys turning terrifying nightmares into novels and currently resides in Dublin, Ireland.


Wednesday, May 1, 2019

#TheIWSG The Power of Language, Submissions Open, Masquerade Release, and More!

Started by Alex J. Cavanaugh, this blog hop for insecure and encouraging writers has expanded onto several social media platforms and has become a steadfast writing community.
This month's co-hosts are: Lee Lowery, Juneta Key, Yvonne Ventresca, and T. Powell Coltrin! 

What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

When I was a young child, I stayed the night at my grandmother's house across the street as often as I possibly could because I loved the way she told stories - fairy tales and stories from her childhood. I loved the ones from her childhood best. Her voice brought every moment to life.

Not all of my friends understood my grandmother, even when I was young. She had been born with a cleft palate and it was fixed via surgery when she was ten - an age when most of our language and speech patterns have become fixed. To me, her voice was beautiful and her words were clear.

As an older child, when I was around the age of ten, my grandmother had a stroke and moved in with us. When we went out to eat together as a family and she ordered her meals, servers often didn't understand her. I was shy and my parents were working on me to speak up, so if a server didn't understand her, it became my job to clarify her order. I learned speaking mannerisms could help or harm a person - words and their presentation have power, even in a simple moment of ordering a meal. 

A few months ago, I answered a submissions call for a Mother's Day story collection. It's a different kind of collection - a spoken collection with an AI. This means the stories (or, in my case more of an essay) are told in a storytelling style with the voice of an AI. It's a different kind of writing than the usual short story writing. It has a different ebb and flow. It reminds me a little of my grandmother's stories, which is why I wrote my essay "Grandmother's Legacy" for the collection. To hear it and other stories, find out more here.

Language, both written and spoken, is extremely powerful. It can shape the way we think. It can certainly shape how other people "hear" us or even treat us. 



Tellables is looking for stories for their Summer Romance story collection. Here's part of their submissions prompt and guidelines: 

Have you ever visited a chocolate shop where a chocolatier is making candy?  The shop smells sweet with a counter full of all flavors, shapes and sizes of chocolates for sale by the piece or the box.  It’s an inviting place where customers enjoy chatting as they sip the richest hot chocolate, topped with a mountain of whipped cream and chocolate shavings.  

Today, one of the chocolatiers enjoys listening to stories told by the customers. Summer is approaching, calling up visions of past summer romances in the minds of some of the clientele.  

Your challenge is to write a very short story (275 words or less) with the theme “summer romance” that will be told by one of four imaginary chocolatiers. Imagine one of the regular visitors to the chocolate shop. What summer romance might they have experienced in their past? How did it turn out? Can the protagonist see humor in the situation now? Your story can be pure fiction or based on real-life. Write the story from the perspective of the chocolatier who is retelling the story.

Tellables needs your stories by May 10th - and the full guidelines are here: Call for Submissions.

Word count: 3500-5000

Genre: Middle Grade Historical – Adventure/Fantasy

Theme: Voyagers

Submissions accepted: May 1 - September 4, 2019

How to enter: Send your polished, formatted (double-spaced, no page numbers), previously unpublished story to admin @ before the deadline passes. Please include your full 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: 

Elizabeth S. Craig, author and honorary judge

Dianne K. Salerni, author

S.A. Larsen, author

Rachna Chhabria, author

Lynda Dietz, editor

Tonja Drecker, author

David Powers King, author

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. 



Masquerade: Oddly Suited - An Insecure Writer’s Support Group Anthology
Young Adult Fiction: Romance - General/Paranormal/Contemporary
Print ISBN 9781939844644 $14.95
EBook ISBN 9781939844651 $4.99

Find love at the ball…

Can a fake dating game show lead to love? Will a missing key free a clock-bound prince? Can a softball pitcher and a baseball catcher work together? Is there a vampire living in Paradise, Newfoundland? What’s more important—a virtual companion or a date to the ball? 

Ten authors explore young love in all its facets, from heartbreak to budding passion. Featuring the talents of L.G. Keltner, Jennifer Lane, C.D. Gallant-King, Elizabeth Mueller, Angela Brown, Myles Christensen, Deborah Solice, Carrie-Anne Brownian, Anstice Brown, and Chelsea Marie Ballard. 

Hand-picked by a panel of agents and authors, these ten tales will mystify and surprise even as they touch your heart. 
Don your mask and join the party…

Find Masquerade: Oddly Suited here - Barnes and Noble, Amazon, iTunes, Kobo, and Goodreads

And the authors of Masquerade: Oddly Suited are hosting a live Q & A session on Discord! Join them on Sat 11th May from 1:00 pm EST / 6:00 pm GMT to find out more about the anthology and the contributing authors and ask any burning questions you may have. 
The Q & A will be held on Discord. Please follow the invite link: HERE

The IWSG Goodreads Book Club is discussing Method Acting For Writers: Learn Deep Point Of View Using Emotional Layers starting on May 22nd.

The WEP Challenge for June is already out! Get writing!

 When have you experienced the power of language? Are you going to submit some stories? Picking up Masquerade? Participating in Goodreads or Instagram?