Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Legends, Tresure, a New Book, and an Interview with Katherine Briggs

Do like books? Want to read about legends and treasure in a fully immersive fantasy world, I recommend checking out this interview with Katherine Briggs and her new book The Eternity Gate! 

1. Katherine, can you name five of your favorite stories in books, movies, or shows? (These don’t have to be the top 5.) 
Katherine: This is a good and difficult question! There are many excellent stories. Some that have captivated and shaped me include The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis, "Little Daylight" by George MacDonald, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne, Casablanca directed by Michael Curtiz, and the film Beauty and the Beast.

Tyrean: I love many of those, as well, especially The Horse and his Boy, and Beauty and the Beast

2. What have you learned from these stories, either as writing lessons or life lessons? 
Katherine: I admire growth, and I love redemption. Seeing these written well encourages me to press on in my own stories to try to offer these beautiful experiences to deserving readers.

4. Are you a plotter, a discovery author, or a mixture of both? What do you like best about plotting, discovery, or mixing both? 

Katherine: I think I'm a plotter and discovery writer blend. I plot bookseven scenesbefore beginning to write, but often things do not go according to plan (which is sometimes horrifying but always rewarding!). I tend to discovery write during idea creation before drafting and later when transforming plot holes and deepening characters while editing.

Tyrean: I do a combination of discovery and plotting, too. :) 

7. Which character was your favorite to write in The Eternity Gate? 
Katherine: One of my favorite characters to write in The Eternity Gate is Geras. He's the oldest surviving character through all the versions this story took in my mind and on the page. He also claims the prize for being one of the two most difficult characters I've ever tackled. I'm working on a third challenging character now, and she takes residence in the duology's Book 2.

8. I love the specific word choices you've given your characters to show they are in an alternate world with a different language than ours. How did you come up with those? 
Katherine: Thank you so much! That's a lovely compliment. I lived outside my home country for a few years, and I didn't have very many friends or access to books written in my language. So, I read lots of old books, especially the Bible. I think I drew a lot upon that time period and to shape the characters' vernacular. Verbs are particularly powerful.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us, Katherine! 

>> Book Blurb
Destroy the key. Save her people and herself.

The Eternity Gate is found, and kings and monsters battle over its legends of treasure. But rumors whisper that someone stole the gate's ancient key.

Seyo, handmaiden to the princess, keeps three secrets. First, she's gifted in fire, not light, and may as well be cursed. Second, she translates a prophecy warning that the gate does not offer treasure but judgment. Third, Jorai, the scorned prince and Seyo's confidant, entrusts her with the key and disappears.

Surrounded by war, Seyo and her companions embark on a journey to seek help from a faraway empire and find Jorai, unaware of the trap awaiting them. But what should Seyo do with the key? Who can survive judgment, especially someone as flawed as her? Will hiding the key—or destroying it—save her people or ensure their defeat?

>> Book Links

>> My Links

Website/Newsletter |

>> Short Author Bio
Katherine Briggs crafted her first monster story at age three. Since graduating from crayons to laptop, she continues to devour and weave fantasy tales while enjoying chai tea. She, her coadventurer husband, and rescue dog reside outside Houston, where she classically educates amazing middle school students, teaches ESL to adults, and enjoys studying other languages. 

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Fictional Werewolves: Guest Post by L. Diane Wolfe, Author of In Darkness: A Werewolf

Welcome L. Diane Wolfe! Today I'm celebrating my friend L. Diane Wolfe's newest book release, In Darkness: A Werewolf as part of her book blog tour. L. Diane Wolfe is the CEO of Dancing Lemur Press, a professional speaker, a multi-book published author, a Christian who writes and works in the secular side of publishing, and someone I consider both a mentor and a friend via the IWSG, an online group. We've never met in person, but I hope to, someday.

For today's post, I asked L. Diane to share some insights into Fictional Werewolves in celebration of her latest release In Darkness: A Werewolf.

Well, technically, there aren’t any non-fiction werewolves. Not in the truest sense, although the legend of a man who could become a beast goes back centuries.

There are many famous werewolves, both in books and movies. I thought I’d touch upon a few of them.

The Cycle of the Werewolf by Stephen King / Silver Bullet

This began as an engaging and unique book by King and eventually became a movie.

The book is a month-by-month account of a werewolf terrorizing a small New England town and the boy who tries to solve the mystery of the killings. The movie compacted the events into half the time but it’s no less effective. While scary and sometimes gruesome, the movie is a story about redemption.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling

Also made into a film, this book introduced readers to Remus Lupin, a werewolf bitten by Fenrir Greyback who serves under Lord Voldemort. Remus taught at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry as Professor of Defence Against the Dark Arts. He is a sympathetic character who ultimately dies defending what is right.

The Wolf Man staring Lon Chaney Jr.

This was the first of five movies with Chaney playing the werewolf. While not the first cinematic werewolf, it was the film that launched the creature into stardom. It was part of the Universal Monsters line of movies and Chaney endured 5-6 hours of makeup time to prepare for his scenes.

 The Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer

First a series of four books and then five movies, it featured Jacob Black, a werewolf and Native American of the Quielute tribe in La Push. Love them or hate them, this series established a sympathetic and vulnerable side to the werewolf legend.

 Hotel Transylvania

An animated series of four movies, it features many famous monsters and creatures. One of the most amusing it Wayne the werewolf, voiced by Steve Buscemi. Wayne is Dracula’s best friend and has dozens upon dozens of kids with his ever-pregnant wife. Beaten down by his huge brood, he is one tired but funny werewolf.

Yes, the last one was thrown in for fun, but kids will know Wayne for sure! (And those of us grownups who are suckers for such movies.)

In Darkness: The Werewolf

By L. Diane Wolfe

Souls shrouded in darkness…

On her own in England, Vicki trains at a prestigious fencing school. Face marred by a birthmark, she’s suspicious of Nicholas’ attention. A dinner date reveals his genuine interest and they begin to connect. Nicholas is attractive and she wonders why he’s so shy and reclusive.

Then one evening she happens upon him changing into a lycan. Every werewolf legend is challenged by the gentle, fearful creature before her. Vickie accepts his secret, but Nicholas knows he’s an unpredictable beast. Can they trust love enough to overcome their physical challenges?

Release date – Sept. 5, 2023

Romance/Paranormal/Shifter, Romance/Paranormal, Fantasy/Paranormal

$3.99 eBook ISBN 9781939844927

A professional speaker and author, L. Diane Wolfe conducts seminars, offers book formatting, and author consultation. She’s the senior editor at Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C. and contributes to the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. - Spunk On A Stick - Spunk On A Stick’s Tips - Insecure Writer’s Support Group

Links for In Darkness: A Werewolf:

Amazon -
iTunes -
Barnes & Noble -
Kobo -
Scribed -
Goodreads -

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

Happy Birthday, IWSG!

The Insecure Writer's Support Group is a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds. 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. The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer's Support Group day. Writer's post their thoughts on their own blog, talk about their doubts and the fears they have conquered, discuss their struggles and triumphs, offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling, visit others in the group and connect with fellow writers--aim for a dozen new people each time.

Celebrate with us. Answer this month's question. 

Remember, the question is optional!

September 6 question: The IWSG celebrates 12 years today! When did you discover the IWSG, how do you connect, and how has it helped you?

I discovered IWSG right at the beginning, sometime after I had participated in an A to Z Challenge, hosted by Arlee Bird, in which Alex J. Cavanaugh's posts had made a positive impression. As I was striving to build my platform, I caught the IWSG bug and signed up for this awesome group of supporters.

IWSG has changed over the years as Admins have come and gone (including me), as blogging has changed, as those who participate have changed. But one aspect of IWSG has remained true; the kindness and encouragement from involved authors who make this group one of the best gatherings of the internet once a month in the blog hop and who create a helpful and encouraging community on every IWSG platform. 

It would take me hours to properly describe all the kindness of the writers I've met through IWSG.

I've met writers who are willing to be ARC readers, who have given me feedback on book covers and book blurbs. I learned about the various types of publishing platforms through the IWSG blog hop, following along with the publishing journeys of a few hundred writers. I've hosted really cool release day posts and book tour posts and been hosted in turn. I've met individuals who became friends I've kept in touch with outside of IWSG through email and other platforms. I've been given help on social media shout-outs, and more, but more importantly, I've read encouraging posts when I needed them the most and had kind comments written here on my blog when, again, I needed them the most. 

Again, IWSG has helped me in countless ways, and I am thankful for all the kindness, encouragement, and support. 

Happy Birthday IWSG!

If you are new to the IWSG community, start at the website, or go find the founder Alex J. Cavanaugh.

A little about Alex:

Alex Cavanaugh is a writer and promoter. He works in web design and graphics, and he plays guitar in a Christian band. A fan of all things science fiction, his interests range from books and movies to music and games. 
Sign up for the blog hop HERE.

And please thank this month's co-hosts: 

News and Something I Have slowly learned on Kindle Vella: 

First, I want to say Thank You to all who commented last month and offered to help with the eventual paperback and eBook release of The Dragon and The Ranger under my pen name Rene Hawthorne!

Second, well, mainly I've been writing, writing, writing, and marketing, marketing, marketing. Every day is similar, but different, and I am thankful for this life. 

 Third, Dark Blade: Forged, the serialization I started with on Kindle Vella has received over 1700 thumbs up - this is by no means phenomenal when looking at the top runners on the platform, but I am thankful for those who have read it.

Meanwhile, The Dragon and the Ranger under my pen name, also has over 1700 thumbs up despite being on the platform a shorter length of time. Why? I suspect it's because it's fantasy romance and not fantasy action adventure, but I also suspect it has something to do with something I learned about the platform. 

Something I've learned in a turtle-like fashion: 

Kindle Vella stories with more likes typically have more episodes for the entire story. For example, the front runners which have over 100,000 "likes" contain 121-187 episodes and they aren't completed yet. 

How this has played out in the above "like" average for two of my stories on there:

Dark Blade: Forged is around 68,000 words in a Word doc, but I split it into 41 episodes (chapters). It has over 1700 likes gained slowly over two years. 

The Dragon and The Ranger is around 71,000 words in a Word doc, and I didn't upload it to the platform until earlier this year, but I split it into 74 episodes. It has over 1700 likes. 

Each "like" is for an individual episode, so a story with 1700 likes doesn't have 1700 readers unless those readers all liked one episode and stopped there. In fact, not every reader will finish the story. 

Instead of switching titles for a new book in a series, the front running stories on Kindle Vella, simply state "Season 1 and 2," or "Seasons 1-5" to show these serializations contain more material than one would expect in an average book. I've read at least two seasons of Elven Heartbound (one of the front runners), and the amount of material is similar to reading two standalone books in a series. 

So, belatedly, I realized splitting the Dark Blade Trilogy into more than one title on Kindle Vella was a mistake. Argh. I'm remedying that the best I can by making "book 2" into a combination of book 2 and 3 with the plan to have 150 episodes of it by the time I'm finished with it. It's currently sitting at a modest 374 likes with 31 episodes, but readers are required to leave Dark Blade: Forged and find Dark Blade: Tempered. Kindle Vella doesn't make that easy.

If you decide to write for Kindle Vella, I recommend writing a series under one title name with many short episodes of 1200 words or less.  

There are reasons to have several Kindle Vella titles of shorter lengths, but to break into the top 250 Kindle Vella titles, a singular, massive title is more likely to get there. Romance also helps. Cliff hangers at the end of every chapter also help. 

BTW, the top 250 titles are the ones most new readers are reading on Kindle Vella, so that's why I consider it a benchmark.

Wednesday, August 2, 2023

IWSG August 2023: Conflicted About Stories and Pseudonyms


OPTIONAL August 2 question: Have you ever written something that afterwards you felt conflicted about? If so, did you let it stay how it was, take it out, or rewrite it?

Oh yes! I've written several somethings I felt conflicted about, even had a few short poems with conflicted material published and suffered some negative feedback, but I survived and kept writing. 

For a while, I tried to shy away from conflict, but then I discovered something.

When I write something I feel conflicted about, I try to take a step back and let it rest before I run ahead with it, but often, I only revise it a little and then send it out into the world. Conflict, especially if I feel it, is usually a sign that I'm getting to the heart of a story. It's true I don't want to write a scene or story that's too gory, icky, or awful feeling to read because I want most of my writing to uplift, entertain, and offer hope. However, most characters in a fictional read will have to go through some hard stuff to get to the other side, or to discover where their hope resides. 

This is a perfect segue into my other topic for today: pseudonyms. Please be aware this gets lengthy, so feel free to skip if you would like to. 


I have a handful. Yep, may sound weird, but I felt like I had to try some of them out before I ran with them. I've experimented with various pseudonyms over the last ten years, with short stories, a Twitter novella, and some Kindle Vella stories. 

Two factors which make pseudonyms fun:

1. I feel freer to write to different audiences under pseudonyms, although the one I'm spending more time with today may seem much like what I write under my own name. 

2. I feel more confident with my pseudonyms, because of #1. 

There are two factors which make pseudonyms difficult:

1. Time management of projects, any associated media, and release dates.

2. Gaining an audience with a new name takes all of the above, plus it feels like a bit more. 

A few of my current pseudonyms: 

TA Thorne: Speculative, Heartrending, Hope

This is where my grittier sci-fi and fantasy stories are going. I struggled with the darker, more conflicted aspects of writing the Captain Wrath novel, so it went on my shelf and collected dust. This year, I pulled it out, broke it apart, and started uploading it onto Kindle Vella as Captain's Dilemma. More news about this title will come eventually, when it's ready to go into a full book publication. Even though the stories for Captain Wrath came out under my name, I feel it is a starker, older book than most of my fare. 

Rene Hawthorne: Author of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Non-fiction, Seeking Hope on the Horizon

This is the name I have decided to use for sweet romantic fantasy and science fiction with faith themes, and for a bit of non-fiction writing. All of these titles are currently Kindle Vella titles, but my first will be coming out as an ebook and paperback in February 2024. 

The Dragon and The Ranger is a clean/sweet romantic fantasy adventure story told in a unique point of view with second-person point of view narration and first-person point of view narration. This is a completed Kindle Vella novella, has been edited by three outside editors, read in pieces by members of my critique group, and as of 7/27 has 763 thumbs up on Kindle Vella. 

While the point of view style makes this book slightly experimental in nature, I think it is a solid fantasy romance (yes, I'm biased) with plenty of adventure, shapeshifting dragons, a few assassination attempts, and some infighting for the right to rule the Realm of Claw and Might. 

I've had some fun writing it and gained a bit of an audience. I am looking to expand that audience. If this is something you would be interested in reading, please let me know via email or go check it out via the links for my pen name and the book's Kindle Vella page below. I am seeking a street team to help with my launch in February 2024.

Please note, this cover may be revised, but it is one I made fairly quickly in Canva, so it is the one I've used fairly successfully for Kindle Vella. 

The Dragon and The Ranger on Kindle Vella (first three episodes are free)

Princess Erissa, half-dragon and half-human, can hear the harmony of truth and the disharmony of lies in others, but the hardest lie she may have to face is her own. Daniel, sent to assassinate the "curse" of the kingdom, falls in love when he gazes into her eyes. Instead of being the downfall of the realm, she might be the only one who can save it. The Dragon and The Ranger is uniquely shared in second and first person dual POV. This is a complete novel with 74 short episodes.

Rene Hawthorne Website

Rene Hawthorne on Twitter

Rene Hawthorne on Instagram

 So, what happened to my sci-fi novella series, The Rayatana?

It's coming. I wrote it four times in the last two years, but I think the version I have now is solid. I am testing it out on Kindle Vella because I'm actually earning some $ there, which is going into editing and more solid cover art (forthcoming). The first episode is here. The first three episodes of any Kindle Vella are free. 

When I started The Rayatana, I was answering a question I had all along about another story I had previously written in 2016, based on a flash fiction story I had published in 2011. The roots of these intertwined stories run deep, and so while it may seem like I'm coming up with things quickly, the stories have been there, sitting on my dusty shelves and waiting for their time. Anomalies: The Gathering and Anomalies: Sanctuary were first written in 2016 as full-length novels for a MG or YA audience. I have started airing revised episodes for Anomalies: The Gathering on Kindle Vella, now that the links between those books and The Rayatana Series make more sense. 

And if you're wondering how I keep track of all of my projects, I have three methods:

1. Calendaring in print and on my phone.

2. Prioritizing three items each day. 

3. Running goal sheets in my journal and on an excel spreadsheet.

Bonus: grace for projects which need to be pushed back or reconsidered after time on the shelf. This is where The Rayatana has been because I couldn't seem to finish it properly until I fixed Anomalies.

Projected release dates for my projects (beyond Kindle Vella):

Paperback and eBook of The Dragon and The Ranger: February 2024. 

Paperback and eBook of Once Upon a Garden, a poetry book under my name: March 2024. 

Paperback and eBook of Resonance and Rift of The Rayatana series, coming out back-to-back in late spring/early summer 2024.

Paperback and eBook of Dark Blade: Forged, Dark Blade: Tempered, and Dark Blade: Guarded in the fall/winter of 2024, or I will push it all back to late 2024/early 2025 because I plan to release these one month apart. 

Paperback and eBook of Anomalies and book 5 of The Rayatana in 2025. Anomalies is linked to The Rayatana Series and is about super-powered teens on the same alternate, fictional Earth where The Rayatana series started. 

I have more plans than this. I have a shelf of books in binders that need to be either revised or formatted. I am working through those currently. I am considering taking a few of my newer ideas and writing them as screenplays to get the ideas out on paper without spending 300-500 pages on them. 

If anything in the 2024 range of publication sparks your interest, let me know! :)

Wednesday, July 5, 2023

IWSG July 2023


Many thanks to Alex J. Cavanaugh for starting this blog hop and all the writers who help each month!
Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!
Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG.
The awesome co-hosts for the July 5 posting of the IWSG are PJ Colando, Kim Lajevardi, Gwen Gardner, Pat Garcia, and Natalie Aguirre!

July 5 optional question - many story ideas come from dreams. Where do yours predominantly come from?

I get my story ideas from all over... 

Today, I wanted to say thank you to all who have worked at making this group a welcoming and encouraging place to be.

It's a busy month for me, so I hope I get around to say hello.

I'll be giving a message about prayer this Sunday, on James 5. 

I'll be going to Realm Makers 2023 in St. Louis July 13-15.

Happy Independence Day (a day late) to all!

Quick News:
Dark Blade: Forged is complete on Kindle Vella, and I'm having some pro cover art created for it before the fall 2024 release. 
Dark Blade: Tempered is an ongoing Kindle Vella and has 30 episodes out, with more to come!