Wednesday, July 29, 2020

New-Old Endeavors, Revisited + Reading Roud-Up

As a teacher and tutor, I've been working with small groups of homeschool students, individuals, and  public classrooms for many years now. I like teaching. It can be a joy. It can be a challenge. I feel like I can make a difference. I feel like I have made a difference. I want to keep working at it. For a while, I tried to get back into it full-time. Instead, I kept tutoring and teaching small groups.

Now, it's COVID 2020, and I have been teaching and tutoring online.

I've had some good moments teaching online. 24 tutoring sessions which went well. 15 class sessions which went well.

I've had some bad moments teaching online - a free online class where no students showed up because I hadn't been clear about the time and the time zone. I live in the Pacific Northwest, and Pacific Time is three hours behind Eastern Time. When did people show up? Eastern Time. Yikes!

With a great deal of thought, I decided to continue forward and open up a new business based on the model I've been using for years in my local community solely by word of mouth.

Words Take Flight: Teaching, Tutoring, and Editing has an official platform now. I am still working on some small pieces for it, but if you are interested or know someone who might be interested in Grades 9-12 and adult online classes in writing, tutoring for English and Language Arts, or editing on short works like college application essays, academic essays, or short stories, check it out here:
Words Take Flight

And, because I always have a question: which one of the above do you like best?
The top one is my old business card.
The new one is the banner I'm currently using for my website.
I thought I liked my new design best, but I still like my old one for clarity.

I haven't done one of these in a while. I'm definitely not going to go over all the books I've read, but I will mention a handful with comment and star reviews. I decided to include books I read in a variety of genres, even though I am partial to SF and Fantasy.

Science Fiction:
Children of the Fleet by Orson Scott Card. Another takeaway from the Ender's Game series, this one felt like it trotted out some old themes with new characters. World-building took a new leap and I always like Graff, but I had to push myself through parts of it. 3.5/5

Lost Helix by Scott Coon. This SF felt fresh and new, full of the possibilities of space colonization, but that wasn't even the best part. The best part of this novel is the friendship and the relationship between the main character and his dad. Great character and world-building! 4/5

The Novice by Taran Matharu. An excellent, enjoyable read with interesting characters and great world-building, this adventure had me hooked from page one through the end. However, as a Christian, it took me a few years to pick up this book and read it because of the whole demon-summoning aspect. I told myself he was summoning beings from some other plane of existence and let it go. Once I did that, it was really good. 5/5 for most readers, probably only a 4/5 for Christian readers with content concerns. 

The Dragon's Heart by David Powers King. This beautifully written fairy tale adventure felt like a wonderful return to traditional fantasy, but with a complex heroine at the core. World-building, character development, and adventure were all solid. 5/5

Historical Fiction
Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys. A beautifully written, multiple viewpoint historical fiction book for YA readers, Salt to the Sea had compelling, individual characters who came together slowly and solidly for the final part of the novel. I did have a little trouble getting into the head of one of the antagonists, who lived in a fantasy world most of the time. 4.5/5

Is this SF or Fantasy? Post-apocalyptic?
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins. Beautiful writing, a greater depth of world-building for Panem, and some excellent secondary characters didn't completely save this book for me. I really didn't like being in the POV of a young Snow in this prequel to The Hunger Games. 3.5/5

Marly in Pieces by Cathrina Constantine. A beautifully written mystery with a troubled heroine that comes together like pieces of stained glass to create a complex novel. 5/5

Reaching for Normal by Jemi Fraser.  A heart-broken woman and a war-torn man come together in an icy wilderness adventure to save threatened wolves, and each other, in this sweet and sexy romance. I don't usually do heat as a reader, but it worked in this romance novel. 4.8/5*.

*I am not a huge romance reader, especially anything warmer than "sweet" so I am never sure if I am the right person to review these. Plus ... this is just a note for every romance writer I've read in the last few years: please stop using the phrase "dueling" to describe kisses full of tongue. This comes from someone who used to fence with sabers. It's not the same. No matter how heated the kiss, I would never describe it as dueling.

Dancing with Dementia by Jemi Fraser. This vignette-styled journey through the writer's experiences of caring for a parent and a step-parent with dementia is written with thoughtfulness, humor, and graciousness. I really appreciated this book and the tips in it. 5/5.

Middle Grade/Children's
Warren the 13th: The All-Seeing Eye written by Tania Del Rio and illustrated by Will Staehle. This quirky, adventurous mystery has an intelligent, interesting protagonist, some dastardly villains, and some really strange secondary characters. The world-building, masterful illustrations, and story-line reminded me of James and the Giant Peach. I really loved it and highly recommend it - even if you are far older than the intended audience. 5/5

Current Reads: 
Keep Writing with Fey by Chrys Fey
Wielder's Curse by Elle Cardy

Monday, July 20, 2020

Monday Motivation - Stories Give Reality Form, or Do They?

 “Sometimes reality is too complex. Stories give it form.”
– Jean Luc Godard, film director, screen writer, film critic

I think one of the reasons we long for narrative is our desire to make sense of the world around us.

 Ironically, I scheduled a post with this quote before 2020 went into the current series of tough events: pandemic, murder hornets, locusts, unemployment, the murder of George Floyd, protests and marches, the Space X launch, UFOs, and huge comets coming close to the Earth. I almost just deleted it, and then I decided to reflect on it again.

I believe writing can help us find a narrative "through" line in the circumstances of our lives, whether we seek the narrative through line in fiction or non-fiction.

However, there are times when we just are on the roller coaster of life, clutching at our notebooks and our sanity and we aren't really sure what words to jot down.

How do we find the narrative "through" line, the "form" for this year? 

One day at a time. One word at a time.

In my journal, I have vent-filled accounts - entries in which I just vent all my emotional stuff. I can't say I've found the narrative through line for the whole year, but as I come to the end of those entries I start seeing a pattern to each of them. I start seeking the form for that moment, and I often find it.

I can't control the circumstances of 2020. I can't make decisions for how other people handle everything going on.

I can handle my own stuff. I can pray. I can write. I can seek out beauty. I can walk.

It feels like a "clinging to the end of the rope" kind of form, but that's okay.

It's a cliff-hanger year.

Maybe in 2021, I'll be able to write something meaningful about life during 2020.

For now, my writing has been short, speculative, but sometimes contemporary issue based, and sometimes just silly. It depends on the day.

And my journal?  I may burn the thing after this year, but I need to vent the garbage out somewhere, and not on my family's heads.

Are you finding a narrative through line for 2020? 
Have you found a form to deal with the complexity of it all?

Friday, July 17, 2020

Catch the Sparks You Need to Conquer Writer's Block, Depression, and Burnout: Keep Writing With Fey

Catch the sparks you need to conquer writer’s block, depression, and burnout!

When Chrys Fey shared her story about depression and burnout, it struck a chord with other writers. That put into perspective for her how desperate writers are to hear they aren’t alone. Many creative types experience these challenges, battling to recover. Let Keep Writing with Fey: Sparks to Defeat Writer's Block, Depression, and Burnout guide you through:

·        Writer's block
·        Depression
·        Writer's burnout
·        What a writer doesn’t need to succeed
·        Finding creativity boosts

With these sparks, you can begin your journey of rediscovering your creativity and get back to what you love - writing.


Amazon / Nook / iTunes / Kobo

When I shared my story about depression and writer’s burnout, I received many emails, comments, and Facebook messages from other writers thanking me for my bravery and telling me about their own trials. That really put into perspective for me how many people suffer from depression and/or burnout in silence. I had no idea those individuals were impacted by these things, just as they hadn’t known that I was, because my outward presence to others was always happy and smiley and bright.

After the supportive response and upon realizing how many writers in my online circles were struggling, too, I wanted to do something to help. I was candid with my experiences and blogged about the things that assisted me through the rough times in the hope that it would aid others.

During this time, I recognized the need for writers to receive support, guidance, tips, reminders, and encouragement during their writer’s block, depression, and burnout. That’s how I got the idea for this book. A book not just about depression or only about writer’s block, but both, and much more.

Since you have picked up this book, that means you may need assistance with one or all of these areas, and I sincerely hope you find what you need here…that tiny spark to get you through whatever you are going through.

As always, keep writing.

Keep believing.

Keep dreaming.

Chrys Fey


Chrys Fey is the author of Write with Fey: 10 Sparks to Guide You from Idea to Publication. She is also the author of the Disaster Crimes series. Visit her blog, Write with Fey, for more tips on how to reverse writer’s burnout.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Interview with Cathrina Constantine for the Marly in Pieces Book Release!

Thanks for joining me and Cathrina Constantine for this interview!
My parts are in bold and Cathrina's answers are in plain font.

Here's a tiny piece of my review of MARLY IN PIECES: 
"I love the way the story is written in pieces, past and present, picked up and placed together like stained glass."

1. What prompted you to write the story in a mix of past and present scenes?

Since I decided to begin Marly In Pieces with Rae's death, I felt the need to go back in time to tell Marly and Rae's story. The idea came to me after writing the first couple of chapters. I wasn't positive as to how the story would be accepted or how it would come together.

2. Did you write the past scenes first, then the present day scenes, then mix them up? Or, did you move back and forth between past and present while drafting? I'm just curious, because I found it so compelling and I thought I might like to try it as an author.

Actually, I went back and forth between past and present chapters. Though, I have to admit, toward the end I got confused. Quite a few times I had to rework through the past and present scenes to make it flow in the right direction. And a good editor and proofreader is essential for searching for discrepancies.

3. The opening lines about broken promises really hooked me. What promise do you think is one of the most important promises broken in this book? (This is a question I'm not sure you want to answer because it might spoil the ending.)

The biggest broken promises are, trust and honor. The definition of honor is: adherence to what is right or to a conventional standard of conduct. Also, loyalty plays a major role before Rae's death and after...

4. Broken trust is a central theme in this novel, affecting many of the relationships. At what point, did you see this theme emerging, or did you plan it all along?

I did not plan this type of theme, I believe my characters planned it all on their own....LOL.

5. I was impressed by the number of clues and red herrings present in the novel, keeping me guessing about the identity of the killer until the very end. Did you plan those out beforehand, plan some and add some later, or write them in as you went? 

I'm glad to hear my story kept you guessing! I had hoped the developing characters would present themselves as possible suspects. When editing and revising, I had added and planned on creating several red herrings. I changed the ending more than once because my characters were all vying for being named as Rae's killer....

Bonus: At the end, I imagined a new life for Marly. Do you think you'll write another book for her?

As I picture it, after healing from the trauma, Marly will have a new life. As of yet, I don't have a new story idea for Marly, but never say never....

Marly refuses to believe her friend, Rae, committed suicide. Even though her wrists were slit, Marly knows her beautiful, vibrant bestie would never do that.

Even though the two had drifted apart, Marly and Rae made a blood promise long ago. Even in death, Marly intends to honor that vow.

Determined to find Rae’s killer, Marly faces a long list of potential suspects. It seems everyone has secrets or lies that they are covering up... including the boy she loves. Can Marly uncover the murderer’s identity before she becomes the next victim?

Find your copy today:

My short review:
5/5 Stars
I love the way the story is told in pieces, past and present, picked up and placed together like stained glass. This novel is a tightly woven, character-driven thriller. The character development of Marly and the whole cast of characters is done well, although I wondered at Marly’s decision to throw her life together with Rae’s when their friendship started. As the novel continued, I understood her decision as part of the way she developed in character. The ramping up of tension through the pieces of past and present work really well, and included just the right number of clues left as bread crumbs. The end contains a satisfying conclusion to the mystery of the events in the novel, bringing all the pieces together in a whole. 

Congratulations, Cathrina!

Monday, July 6, 2020

Many Thanks and a #Free Class

First, I just wanted to give a huge thank you for all who stopped by my post last Wednesday, and a super huge thank you for those who signed up to help me with LIFT OFF - reviews, shout-outs, and blog tour/book blast stuff.


I will be sending out an email to any interested in helping out.

Plus, if you didn't know, I'm hosting a #Free class via Zoom this week on Thursday evening 6-7, Pacific Time. (That's like 9 pm for any East Coast peeps - next time, I'll schedule something earlier). If you want to show up and haven't already indicated interest, please comment below with your email address or shoot me an email at tyreantigger (at) gmail (dot) com 

The class is Journal for Creativity and Purpose. In the class, I'll share tips to keep your journal organized, keep your journal focused on your purpose (or multiple purposes), fill your journal with creativity, and keep a continuous journal practice going even on the dry, dusty days.

We'll even do some exercises together - one for organization, one for purpose, one for creativity, and one for continuity. 

Journal writing does not have to be an onerous chore or an extra hassle for writers who already have massive WIPs. Journal writing can help you stay focused, help keep your purpose strong, and help you fill your creative well.

So, let me know if you are interested, and I will send you a Zoom link.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

IWSG: Industry Changes

Many thanks to Alex J. Cavanaugh for the IWSG!
July Hop co-hosts: 
Me! :) 

OPTIONAL QUESTION: There have been many industry changes in the last decade, so what are some changes you would like to see happen in the next decade?

I wasn't sure how to answer this question as a writer when I first encountered it. So, I flipped it around and asked myself what I would like to see as a reader. I brainstormed in one massive paragraph, but then I broke it up into what I hope is reasonable chunks of ideas. My "big" idea is the last one I hit upon and it's still a bit messy.

As a reader, I would like to see:
  • Small bookshops everywhere! Book shops on wheels (parked next to the best food trucks, driving to park by beaches and hiking areas, etc.). Book kiosks for paperbacks of all sizes (chapbooks, novellas, novels, experimental fiction), audio, and e-book (not sure why we would need kiosks for e-books, but having a way to interface might be a good idea).
  • Storytelling and Read-Aloud groups everywhere for all ages and age groups. Book rooms, book discussion rooms, and reading rooms need to be including with all book shops - even kiosks and book trucks could have a small fold-out chairs for this.
  • Book clubs abounding. Readers connecting with each other and talking books. 
  • AND Streaming Book Channels/Websites like Netflix and Hulu, but for Audio and Reading. I know this sounds like Amazon, but I mean something with an entertainment interface - maybe even including book discussion rooms, author talk videos/meet-ups, and Q + A sessions. Basically, a combo of Netflix, Amazon, Youtube, and Facebook/Instagram with readers creating fan art for their books or taking pictures with their favorites. And, footage of actors like Levar Burton reading snippets of their favorite works out loud. 
  • This really cool book streaming service would offer good pay rates to authors, but also be inexpensive enough to draw readers/listeners and somehow have both the feel of walking into an online movie theater and an online library - with awesome graphic interfaces (this needs to be a key component, especially in the search section). 

I would love to see this as a reader and as a writer.

Instead of seeing reading as a chore, a duty, or a terrible assignment from the universe, we could get excited about it and treat it like the fun, entertaining, relaxing, wonderful, mind-bendingly awesome activity it is. 

What would you like to see happen to the book industry?

My novella Crash became the re-titled Lift Off.  (Crash is an overly popular title word.)
I will be releasing an edited, revised version of the story. I had planned on shooting for an August release, then slowed way down in the revision process. I'm now looking at a November release date.
So, looking way ahead, would anyone be interested in helping me with:
1. A Cover Reveal.
2. Book Reviews.
3. A Book Blog Tour.
4. Twitter, Instagram, Social Media celebrations.
If you are interested in helping, please let me know in the comments or in an email.

Plus, I am hosting a one-time, free online Journal Writing for Creativity and Purpose Session on July 9th. Come, write with me!
Get details by sending me an email at tyreantigger (at) gmail (dot) com