Wednesday, September 7, 2022

IWSG: Never Say Never, Song Lyrics, and 500 Miles of Writing

The main blurb here about IWSG is reposted from the IWSG website. Check it out HERE

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer - aim for a dozen new people each time - and return comments. This group is all about connecting! Be sure to link to this page and display the badge in your post. And please be sure your avatar links back to your blog! Otherwise, when you leave a comment, people can't find you to comment back.

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG.

The awesome co-hosts for the September 7 posting of the IWSG are Kim Lajevardi, Cathrina Constantine, Natalie Aguirre, Olga Godim, Michelle Wallace, and Louise - Fundy Blue!

Every month, we announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say. 

Remember, the question is optional!

September 7 question - What genre would be the worst one for you to tackle and why?

Many thanks to Alex J. Cavanaugh for starting the IWSG! 

IWSG

NEVER SAY NEVER

My thoughts on the September 7th Question: Never say never! Even if the genre would be the worst one for you to tackle.

When I say Never Say Never, I'm not quoting the Bieber song. In fact, when I say those words, I hear a very different song from the 80s running through my head and some of the lyrics are... well. Umm, I don't even know who the song was by or the actual name of it, but it was on a mix tape a guy friend gave me - and doesn't that make me sound like I could be writing 80s-90s historical fiction? Said guy friend was someone I dated, but did not ever call a boyfriend because, well, we thought about it, but he was Catholic, and I was Protestant and we thought it mattered. There's definitely a story there, but I'm not sure it's one I'll ever write. The above is actually enough over-sharing for that. However, as I said, never say never. Who knows, another decade will pass, and I might think, yes, it's time to write that story in a fictionalized way.

I say all this because I "never" thought I would write with a pseudonym. Now, I have two. 

I "never" thought I would write song lyrics. I have, both in fiction projects and outside of them. 

I "never" thought I would write a stand-alone book because I honestly love a great series, but now, I have.

I "never" thought I would write in second person point of view because that's just too weird and grammatically confusing, right?
But now I have written a novel with three POV characters that shifts from second person point of view, first person point of view, and letter writing (first again, but different). 

This is not a new writing technique, but it's a rarely used one. NK Jamieson obviously made it work. Scott Reintgen did it successfully in his Ashlords duology. I'm sure there are more examples outside of the speculative fiction realm. 

Will all of these projects see the light of day? 
Yes, eventually. Some already have. Some will someday.

Because this writing gig is something I love. I am not giving it up, ever. I will write and I will write, and maybe I will write all the "nevers" by the time I'm done, which will be when they pry the pen and laptop from my cold, dead fingers. 

 For anyone waiting for Rayatana 3, I apologize. Drafts 1, 2, and the partial of 3 were shlock, pure and simple. They didn't work. Parts of them shine prettily, but problems happened when I tried to salvage them, so I went back to the brainstorming phase. It will get finished. I have carved out a block of time to rewrite it entirely, but I am not promising any particular release dates until I'm satisfied it doesn't stink.

Current writing vibe:


I decided to replace Never Say Never with 500 Miles by the Proclaimers for my song for the week.



*I had to look that song up because you know how it is when a snatch of lyrics is running on repeat in the back of your head? Yes. That feeling. So, the Never Say Never song I remember is by Romeo Void and came out in 1981. I heard it the first time around 1989 or 1990. If you like clean lyrics, don't go looking it up. It's a weird song from a time when weird song lyrics were the norm.


What's your writing vibe right now?

Any songs sticking in your brain these days?

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Pseudonyms

 


I have wrestled with the idea of pseudonyms for over a decade. I didn't originally want one.

I love my name. I love the way it reads. I love the way it sounds. I love it as it is.

However, some readers find it off-putting for various reasons, sometimes because they can't pronounce it easily.

Think of how you use the 'ea' vowel combination in words like read, lean, mean, freak, leak, teak, ease, sea, and you should have it right. 

However, it's still a conundrum on the front of a book cover.

Now, if you're wondering what I'm doing with most of my existing series, well, I'll keep my name there.

However, for some new projects, I'll be going with one of a couple of pseudonyms.

Plural.

Yep. 

It's going to be a big of an experiment, but so far, I think it will go well.

For one of them, I'm just adding a page here at my blog and my other website. For the other, well, you'll have to hunt for it. I'm not going to reveal it at the moment. 

Ironically, the one I'm adding here is the one with which I'll be publishing slightly more dicey material. My Captain Wrath stories have often surprised people who know me in the real world. It's like I'm too "nice" in my regular life for friends to realize I actually can and do write some slightly grittier material. 

So, for now, TA Thorne (yes, it's obvious, right?), is my pseudonym for my Captain Wrath series, which is going live on Kindle Vella this month. 

The page for TA Thorne is HERE.

More information about the pseudonym and the story are on that page. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

IWSG August 2022 and a Massive Book Sale

 




The awesome co-hosts for the August 3 posting of the IWSG are Tara Tyler, Lisa Buie Collard, Loni Townsend, and Lee Lowery!

Optional Question for the month:

When you set out to write a story, do you try to be more original, or do you try to give readers what they want?

I hope to do be both original and give readers something they want. However, I have often erred on the side of original, which can be a tough sell.

I have been writing a long, long time and I love to write original ideas, but I would also love to get "read" by readers. 


As I ponder this quandary this month, I have some stuff going on behind the scenes. 

Plus, I have a birthday this month, and to celebrate, most of my eBooks are on sale at Amazon for 99 cents. If you've ever been curious about reading my books, but haven't yet, now is a good time to plunk down less than a dollar for one. 


MASSIVE BOOK SALE

These titles are all only 99 cents for Ebook for the month of August:


Liftoff into adventure with Amaya when her movie theater turns out to be a spaceship in disguise!




Champion in the Darkness, my first publication with a new cover, at only 99 cents!
Faith matters in this fantasy world - Christian Fantasy YA Adventure.




















Wednesday, July 6, 2022

IWSG July 2022, Fictional Worlds, TikTok, Branding, and Events


 

Insecure Writer's Support Group

A resource site and support group for writers and authors. Featuring weekly guests and tips, a monthly blogfest gathering, a Facebook group, a book club, and thousands of links – all to benefit writers! #IWSG

Website / Facebook Group / Twitter / Book Club

Purpose: To share and encourage. 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. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer - aim for a dozen new people each time - and return comments. This group is all about connecting!


Founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh with the awesome co-hosts for the July 6 posting of the IWSG are J Lenni Dorner, Janet Alcorn, PJ Colando, Jenni Enzor, and Diane Burton!


July 6 Optional Question - If you could live in any book world, which one would you choose?


IWSG

If I lived in a fictional world, I would have a hard time choosing between Narnia, Middle Earth, Aramatir from The Champion Trilogy, or the alternate Earth in my Rayatana Series. I love world-building, even if I keep some of the details back to myself and struggle to know how much is enough. 

For now, I live here, and I do my best to live life well and fully. 
This means, going to the gym, eating healthier than I was, taking bike rides, reading good books, writing books (hopefully good ones), worship, prayer, travel, volunteering, teaching, family and friend time, music, and more.

Something New These Days


I'm on TikTok these days, something I thought I would "never ever" do, and I'm actually liking it. Did I admit to that? Yes. There it is.

Has it been a good marketing tool? It's a little early to tell, since I started it a few weeks ago. I do know more about Tik Tok now, like it's a good idea to follow certain hashtags and accounts to stay away from some of the garbage on there - because, yes, there are some icky things on Tik Tok as well as the good things.

The best "click-rate" for marketing for June came from an ad I pinned to the top of my page on Instagram for the month. I'm hoping I can utilize both IG and TikTok more effectively together. 

So, why did I go on TikTok when I said I "never" would? 
I write YA fantasy and science fiction. 
There's a YA #booktok community, and some pretty active YA Fantasy and YA Scifi #booktokers as well as those on Instagram. 

I am giving it a 100-day trial to see how it goes. I'll try to remember to recircle back to this and review my experience in October.

Branding Reflection, Again

I've been working on pinning down my main themes, my universal fantasy areas in my books, my often-used tropes, and my joys in writing to create an easier-to-understand platform. 
I don't think I'll ever have a good one-liner this is "all of who I am" kind of brand, unless lightning strikes me with it, but for now, I know I work with doubt/fear vs. courage as an often-used theme, chosen one and chosen one with a team kind of tropes, and I enjoy writing imaginative adventures with faith and reflection. 
I also enjoy helping other writers to hone their craft and overcome the blank page or muddy middles. 
Hmm. Anyway, still keep thinking on this. 
And, I still love my new logo created by MiblArt




Upcoming Events/Activities

Gig Harbor Senior Center Author Talk July 6th.

Gig Harbor Art Fair Local Author table July 16th-17th.

Attending Realm Makers in Atlantic City July 20-24th.
This is my first time at Realm Makers, so I'm going as an attendee. If you're coming, let's hang out!

Books and BBQ at BBQ2U's Author Table August 15-21st.

Teaching a class at the Write in the Harbor 2022 Conference November 4-5.

Teaching College Prep English at Harbor Christian Homeschool Cooperative for the 2022-2023 school year.


Sign up HERE if you would like to read some super short fiction or poetry and get more updates in my newsletter. 


Also, for now I'm double-posting here and on Tyrean's Tales although this site is the only site I have signed up for IWSG. I'm trying to figure out which is more effective.

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

IWSG June 2022: When the Going Gets Tough

 


The Insecure Writer's Support Group

This is a place to vent fear, encourage one another, and consider the ups and downs of the writing life!

Many thanks to founder Alex J. Cavanaugh and all of the co-hosts this month!

OPTIONAL June 1 question - When the going gets tough writing the story, how do you keep yourself writing to the end? If have not started the writing yet, why do you think that is and what do you think could help you find your groove and start?

When The Going Gets Tough

I can't help but hear the little tune to "When the going gets tough, the tough get going" when I write that phrase. Some tunes stick in our heads like that partly because of the music, and partly because of their truth. 

When the going gets tough for me, I get going by:

  •  Going for a walk/bike ride.
  •  Getting on my feet and stretching.
  •  Cleaning something - if this doesn't make me want to write more, it's a super tough day.
  • Singing, dancing, moving somehow.
  •  Changing the scene I'm writing.
  • Creating a list of questions about what I'm writing to help me consider all possible angles.
  • Changing the project I'm working with. I have a bouncy brain and sometimes I get more done in the course of a week by allowing myself to change up the projects I'm working on. It might go something like this each day: Project 1 - 25 minutes, stretch 5, 25 more minutes. Later (after other life stuff) - Project 2 - 25 minutes, stretch 5, 25 more minutes. Even later (if possible) - Project 3 - 25 minutes, stretch 20, then Project 4 - 25 minutes. That's actually my favorite schedule.  
  • Reading something completely different from what I'm writing, like poetry, or a craft book that inspires me but doesn't make me feel as if I need to change my current WIPs on their heads and make them walk on their hands. I found one of those craft books last year, put it on my wish list, and received it for Christmas. I have been pleasantly inspired by Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury, certainly not a new title, but one that always inspires me to write. 
  • Sometimes, I do read those craft books that make me flip my WIPs upside down and get them dancing to a different tune.

It really depends on what seems to work.

One tried and true method which has helped me, whether any of these others do is to celebrate the work I have done, good or bad. 

Taking time to see the work already done as an accomplishment, reminding myself that it is, and celebrating it accordingly, usually puts me in a healthier, happier mindset about writing, which means I can return to it.

To read more about why I decided I needed to celebrate, go here: Writing Productivity: Why celebrate every word and moment? – Tyrean’s Tales (tyreanstales.com)


A lesson I have learned: I need to write as I write and not how anyone/everyone else writes. My brain is bouncy, so I need to celebrate the way it works and not try to fit it into someone else's mold. 

So, please use any of the above methods if they help you. If they don't, chuck them and create your own list of what works for you. 

What helps you when the going gets tough?

My newsletter goes out once or twice a month, if you would like to know more about my writing and reading life. Sign up: Tyrean Martinson, Author (list-manage.com)

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

IWSG May 2022, Best and Worst Writing Times, Notes from an Author Table, Invite to a Class

 

IWSG

The IWSG is a place to vent concerns and give encouragement! Started by Alex J. Cavanaugh, this blog hop has grown to support writers all over the world with a website and social media pages. 
Many thanks to the co-hosts this month: Kim Elliott, Melissa Maygrove, Chemist Ken, Lee Lowery, and Nancy Gideon!

To join, go here: IWSG Sign Up

May 4 Optional Question - It's the best of times; it's the worst of times. What are your writer highs (the good times)? And what are your writer lows (the crappy times)?

Ah, I've had good times and bad times. I hope I've already had the worst of times, and I hope I haven't had the best of times yet. 

My writer highs come when I get some writing in, whether it's a line of poetry, a list of words, a paragraph, or 10,000 words. Each word counts. 

I also love seeing my work in print online, in paperback, or just about anywhere.

My writer lows come on the days when writing just seems too daunting to start, or when I feel overwhelmed by all the marketing stuff, or the business side of things - like knowing I need to fix all the links in all of my e-books. I'm not a big fan of rejection letters, but I know those are part of the business so sometimes they are part of my lows and sometimes they spur me on to work harder.

Speaking of working harder, life, as always, is pretty busy, but I had an Author Table last week and I have a writing class online this week. If you would like to sign up for the latter, there might be spaces still available. 

Notes from an Author Table

Last week, I spent a week at an author table at a BBQ restaurant in my home city. The owner has a rotating group of authors who take the table for a week at a time, all the time. He's super supportive of local authors and artists. The space is by the window, right next to the exit door so customers have to walk by it, and there is a chalkboard on the other side of the table, visible to most in the restaurant. Here is what I rediscovered from my second time at the table in the last six months:
  1. Being present in the world is the most important part of sitting at an author table. People get to see me and know that I seem mostly sane and friendly. This is key to actually getting sales, whether they are there at the table or later online.
  2. Being engaged at the author table is the second most important part. If I have something I am doing, so I am not just staring down anyone who wants to approach the table or smiling maniacally (I do this when I'm nervous), people actually come talk to me. The important key here is having the right thing to do, so I can greet people, but also not overwhelm or look distracted. Tasks that work for me: writing in a journal (not a laptop, which looks "closed for business" to most people), drawing, and origami. Things I've seen other authors do: play cards, knit, talk to other people around them (if at a multiple table venue). 
  3. I need to keep my gaze moving. I can't stare into space, stare at potential customers, read a book, or even look too long at any task I've given myself to look busy. 
  4. Changing activity levels always helps. I can stand up, rummage around my book table - really, how many ways can I fiddle with my display? - sit, change chairs, take a short walk in the general area, or do some performance art by writing a poem or hint fiction story on a large chalkboard (this was available to me at the restaurant so I used it). 
  5. Business cards are the best swag. I know they aren't really swag, but honestly, they are the thing that the second most interested customers pick up from my table. The top interested customers pick up a book. 
  6. The second-best swag for me: tiny stories and poems on small pieces of paper for potential customers to take for free. These are all stories and poems I've had previously published. 
  7. Remember, being present is the most important part. If I make live sales at the table, that's a bonus. If I hand out business cards, about half of the number that get picked up represent the number of sales I have online afterward. 
  8. Trust the customer to ask the questions. 
  9. Keep any "sale" talk to a minimum and keep it simple. "I write science fiction and fantasy with strong heroines and a touch of faith" is about enough. If people ask me about specific books or ask about a cover, then I can say more. If I say too much too quickly, sometimes they run.
  10. Long pauses while they look at my books are good. Dramatic effect does wonders for sales. Talking too much drives people away - at least for me. 
  11. Having an "interest" item on the table that's visible from ten feet away is good. I bring my fencing foil or saber with me. I don't let kids pick it up, so I have to keep an eye on it, but it definitely draws customers to come and talk to me about it, which leads me to talk about my books and writing fight scenes. 
  12. If someone won't take a book after they've paused and talked, try to get them to take a business card by offering it to them. 
  13. Take advantage of my surroundings. I used the chalkboard visible to most of the restaurant to display some of my poetry - each day I wrote a new (previously published) poem on the board. It gained some attention from customers and gave me way to engage with them. One regular customer of the BBQ restaurant offered to read my work out loud with theatric hand gestures in a booming voice. I let him have at it and it was great. 
  14. Thank the venue. . 

Invite to a Class

You are invited to: 

The Writer’s Workshop Series, Four-Sentence Exercises to Boost Creativity and Sensory Description 
Friday, May 6, 2022
7:00 PM  8:00 PM (PDT - Seattle/LA Time)

In this class, writers will engage in listening, discussion, writing, and sharing to learn how to:

·       Create a micro-fiction story.

·       Utilize short writing exercises to hone their writing craft.

·       Increase their sensory descriptions beyond visual description.

Please note all virtual gatherings are live streamed on Facebook to amplify accessibility. 

Zoom link will be sent just prior to the start of festivities. 



NEW LOGO

I have a new author logo from the excellent creators at Miblart!

I received the final artwork a few days ago, so I haven't put it in all the right places yet, but I'll be dedicating post to the process of getting this logo done next week!


And...



Wishing you all the best of writing times and life times! 

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Fiction Freebie for April, 4 Book Recommendations, and an Author Table


Freebie for April

I've decided to post a tiny bit of previously published writing each month on my blog here and my website Tyrean's Tales. 

"Guidance Counseling"

Previously published at The Drabble in November 2016. 

“A Guide to Succeed in 100 Worlds!”

The pamphlets strewn across the table in front of Ghent had a dizzying array of colors and languages that flashed across their surfaces in a blinding cascade.

Ghent closed his four eyes against them. They didn’t have a track for his chosen profession at this back-planet secondary school.

His counselor, a blue-haired Wispan, leaned over him, “Ghent?”

Ghent mesmerized her, bribed the principal with information he found in the school network, and sauntered out, re-assured of his purpose.

Perhaps even future villains needed a boost in the right direction after all.



4 Late April Book Recommendations:





1. Whale Day and Other Poems by Billy Collins - an excellent and fun poetry read that I'm currently reading (haven't finished it quite yet).



2. A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik - a hilarious, slightly dark, and excellent older YA Fantasy. Think Harry Potter, but with snark and high stakes danger lurking in every chapter. 




3. Maya and the Rising Dark by Rena Barron - a fun, middle-grade super-powered story. 



4. The Business of Writing Short Stories: Writing, Submitting, Publishing, and Marketing by Shannon Lawrence. See full review below:

This book is the definitive work on the business of writing short stories. It has everything you need, from non-nonsense tips on writing short stories, publishing short stories, and marketing short stories. It is jammed full of information, and I recommend it for anyone who wants to write short stories successfully.

I have been writing short stories for over three decades and I wish someone had given me this book back in college, or ten years ago. I highly recommend it as a book for any student of writing, any writer who wants to make a go of it, and anyone who needs a little help going in the right direction with the business side of writing short stories. 

*Truly an excellent book and a must for any writer's shelf. 5/5

Next month, I will be reviewing: Cassadark by Alex J. Cavanaugh, The Portal by Shana Dow, a non-fiction book, and a poetry book (TBA). I am trying to read about 50% non-fiction and poetry books this year.

An Author Table



This week, I am at BBQ2U in Gig Harbor, WA at the author table. The owner of the restaurant is a patron of local artists and authors, providing us with a place to sell our wares every week in a prominent spot by the front window. I had a shift at the author table last fall, and I'm back again this week. It's good for me, since I find author events to fill me with a bit of author-social anxiety, which is akin to going to an interview when someone comes up and I need to figure out how to talk about books without being too pushy, but yet with bold confidence in the books I've written. Sitting at the author table for seven days in a row usually takes me from nervous to comfortable because it's so daily. I'm thankful for the experience and thankful to be there. I hope I sell a few books, too, or at least garner enough interest for someone to pick up a business card and go search out my books online. 


Friday, April 22, 2022

An Interview with Alex J. Cavanaugh, Science Fiction Author and Ninja Captain


An Interview with Alex J. Cavanaugh, Science Fiction Author and Ninja Captain


Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Connect with other writers. This is a lonely business, and we need the support of like-minded individuals who can encourage, support, and guide the way.


 From start to finish, how long does it take for you to complete a novel? Or What's your writing process like? Slow or fast? Are you a cheetah in the drafting process and a turtle in revision or vice versa? 

Depends on the novel. This one took two years as I was a bit rusty from a very long break. I’d say between six and ten months for drafting and revisions is average. And I am no cheetah when it comes to the first draft. Takes me forever. Revisions go much faster and smoother.


How did you come up with the idea for the unique world you’ve created? (Or, who/what inspires your writing?)

The whole universe was inspired by the likes of Battlestar Galactica and other movies and shows from the late seventies. The world within CassaDark—I guess I just have a thing for desert planets. Or just characters living in desert areas. There were also a couple movies that inspired the idea behind a garbage planet that serves as a prisoner hold as well. The setting just leant itself to a place where survival would be challenging and escape a distant pipedream.


If there was one thing you could do to change the world, what would it be?  

The honest answer? If everyone knew the love of God, this would be a much better place.


If you could choose who would direct the movie of your book, who would you choose and why?

James Cameron! I want a blockbuster, a great, big movie with outstanding special effects. Who else would I choose?


If you could choose who would act as the main character in your book in a movie production, who would you choose and why?

Tom Holland. He’s the right age and would bring just the right level of awkward dorkiness to the role.




Alex J. Cavanaugh 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. Online he is known as Ninja Captain Alex and he’s the founder of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.

http://alexjcavanaugh.com 

https://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/

https://twitter.com/AlexJCavanaugh


 


CassaDark By Alex J. Cavanaugh

His world is unraveling…

Bassan’s father is stepping down from command. His best friend almost dies when Bassan freezes. Now, he’s being sent across the galaxy to speak at an important conference. Despite saving the eleven races years ago, he’s paralyzed by fear and doubt. Could things get any worse?

Once there, new acquaintance Zendar convinces Bassan to visit his planet for a humanitarian mission. Bassan’s special connection to ancient technology is the key to saving Zendar’s people. One problem though—it’s a prisoner planet.

On Ugar, he discovers things aren’t so straightforward. As each secret reveals itself, the situation grows more desperate. If he can’t find the right answers, he might die along with Zendar’s people. Can Bassan summon the courage to be a hero again?


Release date – April 6, 2022

$16.95, 6x9 trade paperback, 226 pages

Science fiction - Adventure (FIC028010) / Space Opera (FIC028030) / Space Exploration (FIC028130)

Print ISBN 9781939844842 / EBook ISBN 9781939844859

$4.99 EBook available in all formats


Links:

iTunes – https://books.apple.com/us/book/x/id1574189874

Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0982FL3SH

Barnes & Noble – https://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/2940164947033

Kobo – https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/Search?Query=9781939844859

Scribed – https://www.scribd.com/search?query=9781939844859&language=0

Goodreads - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/58461762-cassadark


Monday, April 11, 2022

Four Sentence Stories Workshop Notes and Extra Prompts

Four-Sentence Stories

 If you viewed my Four-Sentence Stories Workshop with QuaranCon 2022, you might have seen me get a bit nervous a few times, but I kept going and taught the class mostly as I meant to. 

If you haven't seen it yet, it's here:

 



Either way, I thought I could reiterate some of the points of the class briefly here and add in a few extra writing prompts if you are interested.


What are 4-Sentence Stories?

  • Exactly what they say they are: stories in four sentences. 
  • Part poetic brevity, part fiction, these stories force focused word choices.
  • Always include a character, a problem, and an ending/hint of resolution
  • Yes, this can be done.
  • Yes, they can be fun to write.


Why write 4-Sentence Stories?

  • Explore characters
  • Explore ideas
  • Fill the creative well
  • Play with words
  • Focus on sensory words, active verbs, or another area you want to work on. 

Example of a 4-Sentence Story:

This is one of mine, but there are many more to be found in Jessa Forest's newsletters and at online markets which I will link at the end of this post.

Solution by Tyrean Martinson

Gilly touched the railing of her childhood home.
Painful memories lodged like splinters under her skin.
She could change that.
The match caught easily on the gasoline-soaked wood.

What happens if you don't follow the 4-Sentence Format EXACTLY?

If you have too few sentences, consider it a win. 
Consider rounding it out, or leave it as, if you are satisfied.

If you have one or two too many, consider it a win. 
You wrote. You finished a super short story. You conquered the blank page. 
OR you can play around with the words or grammar and try to tighten it to four sentences. 

The point is: enjoy the writing. Have fun with it. Overcome the blank page and play with words!

Writing Prompts to Use:

  • Put your character in a white room and show what they do there.
  • Put your character at the edge of a cliff, top of a castle tower, underwater, trapped in a spacesuit that’s running out of oxygen and show what they do there. 
  • Take away the sense of sight and make your character rely on sound, smell, taste, or touch for the duration of a four-sentence story. (This forces a focus on writing other sensory description.)
  • Take a character you already know and put them in a weird or impossible situation. Dump Athena into a modern fast-food chain and see what she does.
  • Something came over the horizon. 

Questions to ask yourself after writing the story:

  • What did I learn about this character?
  • What did I learn about this character's dilemma?
  • What did I learn about the ending/hint of resolution in this story.

What can I do with a four-sentence story?

  • Query them. There are markets for four-sentence stories, markets for hint fiction, and markets for micro-fiction. 
  • It is true that most of these markets are non-paying markets, but you can build up your writing resume and your ability to query by starting with these.
  • Use them in a newsletter as a free giveaway.
  • Use them at an author table as a free giveaway. 
  • Collect them and print them in a collection.  

Markets for Four-Sentence Stories and Super Short Fiction:

Four Sentence Stories https://www.foursentencestories.com/

The Drabble http://thedrabble.com/

Nail Polish Stories (hint fiction of 25 words)
https://nailpolishstories.wordpress.com/ 

A Story in 100 Words http://entropy2.com/blogs/100words/ 

Make sure to read all of their submission guidelines first!
And please note, these editors are volunteering their time and they are all decent people. They don't accept every story, but they will give yours good consideration.

More Uses and Examples

On Medium:
https://discoveringawritersvoice.com/4-sentence-story-practicing-creativity/

Most of Jessa Forest’s newsletters: https://jessaforest.com/





Also, these can be used as a drama/improv exercise or as a group storytelling exercise with friends, family, or in classrooms.

Many thanks to Quarancon and all those who make it possible for hosting this workshop!!!



What's next for this workshop?

I'll be teaching a Four-Sentence Stories Workshop again in May with Creative Colloquy! I'll be sure to freshen up the material, use different examples and prompts, so if you did attend this one, there will be more to explore! Please join me there by going to here to sign up: https://www.creativecolloquy.com/all-events/four-sentence-exercises-to-boost-creativity-and-sensory-description





Friday, April 8, 2022

Quarancon 2022

 Quarancon started in 2020 as a free online fantasy and SF convention because we were not allowed to go out and have fun at in-person events. Now, two years on, the convention is still going, and it started on April 7th.

There are lots of panels with fantasy, horror and SF authors from all across the world. It runs from 7-11th April 2022. You can find the full schedule here, and all of the panels will be streamed via YouTube etc.

I have two events this year with Quarancon: a reading, and a workshop.

On April 9th, I'll be reading from Liftoff, my sci-fi novella which I wrote, had professionally edited, and published in 2020. Imagine an American teen trapped inside a movie theater which turns out to be an alien spaceship during liftoff, add in a cute alien dude, a high stakes space-chase, and some fist fighting, and you have Liftoff, the first book in The Rayatana Series. If I have time, and there aren't many questions, I might also share a bit from Dark Blade, my ongoing Kindle Vella series. The reading link for Youtube.



On April 11th, I'll be teaching a workshop entitled originally Four Sentence Exercises to Boost Creativity and Sensory Description which the organizers cleverly renamed Four Sentence Stories to Boost Creativity, and I am hugely thankful for the rename. The workshop is essentially what it says it is. I'll talk about micro-fiction and using it to keep the creative well full and to build writing skills. The workshop link on Youtube.

I highly encourage you to join me, but also join in by check out all of the events at the con. It's free, fun, and I've already seen some panels I'll be revisiting to watch again.

Authors and publishers to watch for: Damien Larkin, Jessa Forest, and L. Diane Wolfe.

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

IWSG April: Audiobooks, News, and Writing Samples

 

Many thanks to the Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh
and the co-hosts for this month's hop:

OPTIONAL April 6 question - Have any of your books been made into audio books? If so, what is the main challenge in producing an audiobook?

This is a timely question. The answer is yes, just recently. Liftoff is new for audiobook. I think the most challenging aspects for me were: 

1. Deciding on a platform. I went with ACX. It seemed simplest and most cost effective.

2. Deciding on a narrator. That was tough. Avelina McRines did an excellent job with all of my oddly named characters and places. 

3. Not letting personal life stuff get in the way of the final bits of releasing it. Actually, my personal life did take precedent, otherwise it would have been out in December, but it did come out in March.


NEWS

My church's podcast has been going well and is on Spotify, RSS.com as well as at our website, if you want to give it a listen. We have been working on a Lenten Journey through the Gospel of Mark.

Small Steps of Improved Health: I have been going to the gym and I would love to say my health has improved by leaps and bounds, but it is improving in small steps, and it is steady, so that is all good.

The Rayatana 3 is my main writing focus for April. I hope to have a revised version finished and prepped for my editor by the end of the month.

Dark Blade: Forged is my secondary focus. It's coming out on Kindle Vella and the first three episodes are free to read. 

I put out a query for one of my "trunk" books and I applied for an exciting part-time position for next fall, and the process for both of these made me take a close look at what I have accomplished, instead of what I haven't accomplished yet. Listing out what I've already finished was kind of wonderful and I recommend doing that if you feel stuck in a rut. 

In addition to all that, I got a temp job as a reading instructor for the summer. I'm looking forward to talking books with students online! :) My tutoring business has been small and I haven't had the energy to grow it, so for me, this is a growth and continuation of doing something I love (and actually get paid for doing). 

QUARANCON - THIS WEEK

Quarancon is a free, online writing conference for speculative fiction authors. The creators of the conference live in the UK, but the authors and publishers who are taking part are from around the world. April 5-11, as an attendee, a reader, and as a workshop teacher.  

Here's the "I look serious about a fun workshop" picture.

I'm not the only writer from IWSG involved in Quarancon.
L. Diane Wolfe is moderating a panel.
Damien Larkin is a panelist.

Also, a writer I know from IG, Jessa Forest, is moderating a panel and reading. 


CASSADARK

Our Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh has a new book out!


The award-winning series continues… CassaDark - iTunes– tinyurl.com/fs9nw8s2 Amazon– tinyurl.com/3e5tcdbu B&N– tinyurl.com/aupm8wst Kobo– tinyurl.com/fsj4tumj

CassaDark
By Alex J. Cavanaugh

His world is unraveling…

Bassan’s father is stepping down from command. His best friend almost dies when Bassan freezes. Now, he’s being sent across the galaxy to speak at an important conference. Despite saving the eleven races years ago, he’s paralyzed by fear and doubt. Could things get any worse?

Once there, new acquaintance Zendar convinces Bassan to visit his planet for a humanitarian mission. Bassan’s special connection to ancient technology is the key to saving Zendar’s people. One problem though—it’s a prisoner planet.

On Ugar, he discovers things aren’t so straightforward. As each secret reveals itself, the situation grows more desperate. If he can’t find the right answers, he might die along with Zendar’s people. Can Bassan summon the courage to be a hero again?

Release date – April 6, 2022
Trade paperback, 226 pages, Dancing Lemur Press, LLC
Science fiction – Adventure (FIC028010) / Space Opera (FIC028030) / Space Exploration (FIC028130)
Print ISBN 9781939844842 $16.95 / eBook ISBN 9781939844859 $4.99

Links:
iTunes – https://books.apple.com/us/book/x/id1574189874
Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0982FL3SH
Barnes & Noble – https://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/2940164947033
Kobo – https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/Search?Query=9781939844859
Scribed – https://www.scribd.com/search?query=9781939844859&language=0
Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/58461762-cassadark