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?

Monday, June 10, 2019

Editing Tips



Editing is something we all have to do at some point, no matter the route we take with publishing. 

It's challenging to look at our own work and see all of the flaws, especially after a first draft.

It's still challenging on the second, third, fourth, and all the other drafts it takes to finish. 

So I started compiling a list of tips, then I asked for some help from Instagram and Twitter followers. 

So, the image contains my list of tips (plus, I added them below in case the image has problems). 

After the image, we have all the awesome tips given by fellow authors. 


1. Print out your draft.
2. Use several colors of pens to highlight and take notes.
3. Use sticky notes.
4. Read it out loud.
5. Always highlight a part you like in each editing session with your favorite color.


"Printing out is key. I always highlight my favorite sentences, too! I also find reading the beginning and ending back to back is helpful to see if they play well together. I always tell my students ... don't marry your first draft! Don't be afraid to cross out, add, change, and rearrange!"

From Phi @longwaydownbook on Instagram:
"Leave yourself comments about your emotions as you read! If you wrote a sad scene and it's not making you sad when you reread it, you may need to look at it again."

"I love my multi-coloured pen approach. I bought a pack of twelve coloured pens for the purpose, but the yellow is pointless for writing - it's my doodle pen now ... I have a specific pen to procrastinate." 😊

"I like to print out my manuscript when I edit. It "feels" like a different process than writing on the computer and I think my brain recognizes it as such. Also, have lots of cookies at hand."

From Tonja Drecker @TDrecker on Twitter:
"When I have trouble capturing a character's reactions/thoughts, I sometimes write a section in another POV (1st instead of 3rd) so as to see it from another angle."

From Laurel Garver @LaurelGarver on Twitter
"Change the line length and font size. You need to trick your brain to see the words anew, not as you *think* you wrote them."

From Linda K. Rodante @lrodante on Twitter
"Circle every "to be" verb--am, is, are, was, were, be, being, been and then see if you can change that sentence to get rid of them. Of course, you can't and shouldn't get rid of them all, but try to get rid of a good percentage, esp on your first page!"

This is the first of a series of posts I hope to do with tips from friends and followers. I'll be posting one about handling rejection in the IWSG site on June 17. 

BTW - if you are looking for ways to engage with your Twitter and Instagram community, I recommend trying something like this. Be sure to add the hashtag: #writingcommunity or the hashtags appropriate to your post to get responses. (And if you have accounts in both places, always share "through" from one to the other for more engagement.)


The IWSG is accepting submissions for the newest short story anthology. See details here

The June Instagram "Challenge" is here.

Tellables founder Amy Stapleton is doing a guest post at IWSG today about Voice First Storytelling. Check it out. 

Do you have any editing tips to share? 
Which editing tips mentioned above do you use?

And, if you have any to share, would you like to be a part of an Editing Tips, Part 2 post in August? Let me know by stating that in the comment section. 

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

#TheIWSG June 2019 + Genres + NEWS

Many thanks to Alex J. Cavanaugh, all of the administrators, and our co-hosts this month: Diane Burton, Kim Lajevardi, Sylvia Ney, Sarah Foster, Jennifer Hawes, and Madeline Mora-Summonte!

OPTIONAL IWSG Day Question: Of all the genres you read and write, which is your favorite to write in and why?

I love to write fantasy/SF because I love thinking of new worlds with new customs and people.

Plus, I think it's possible to highlight real world issues within an entertaining new realm within the multiple universes of Story - a place only restricted by our imaginations.


Tyrean's News -
I have a new two-part flash fiction story out with Tellables. Just say "Alexa, Open my Box of Chocolates" to hear it.

My youngest daughter has graduated! She is going to WSU in the fall and I'm super excited for her.
And, if ever wanted to know what a home-school cooperative graduation might look like, it could look something like this:
They are "moving their tassels" in this part.

Each student speaks at graduation for 2-3 minutes about their past, present, and future. Plus, we had a guest speaker, slide shows for each of the students which were 40 seconds in length, an invocation and a benediction, and special music.

My daughter's last slide show picture.
(Photo by Connie Riggio Photography, used with permission)

Each one of the students has completed home-school curriculum and community college classes as part of their education. 

The various plans they have include: sustainable textiles, biomedical engineering, civil engineering, real estate, taking a gap year, ministry and missions, and automotive technology. So, not all home-schoolers are alike - in fact, I think the main theme of home-schooling is uniqueness

And now, that chapter of my life is done and I'm looking ahead to the next adventures with excitement, anticipation, and a little concern - what will I do? It hasn't been settled yet.
One might think I was the one graduating.

Will this change in my life change the way I write or what I write about? Maybe. Slightly. Not sure. I'll find out.


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.
BTW - some changes have been made for WEP participation - see HERE for more details.

The next IWSG Twitter Pitch will be January 15, 2020!
Mark your calendars ahead!

Want to write a story for the next IWSG anthology? The genre is Middle Grade Historical Adventure.
There's no time like the present to write about the past!
You can send your story in today!

Ready for some Beach Reads? Tips? Motivation?
Want to share some?