Wednesday, December 6, 2023

IWSG December 2023


IWSG is a monthly blog hop. You can sign up or find the full list of participants at this site. This group was founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh and runs with a full list of volunteers, including volunteers for each month. Thank you, C. Lee McKenzie, JQ Rose, Jennifer Lane, and Jacqui Murray!

This month's optional question is: Book reviews are for the readers. When you leave a book review do you review for the Reader or the Author? Is it about what you liked and enjoyed about your reading experience, or do you critique the author?

My answer: I think online reviews are for both authors and readers. I think most online reviews read as subjective to a reader's experiences and values, and because of this, I rarely leave reviews for books I cannot give a nice review for at an online site. If I were to write an academic review, then I would handle the whole topic differently. Online review sites are not remotely academic.

I have given a handful of highly negative reviews, but it's rare and usually has to do with negative content in a book - for instance, the renewed popularity of Stephen Lawhead bothers me, because in his book Hood, his "hero" slapped his love interest and then justified it with an excuse that sounded like the gaslighting of a narcissist - it was truly sickening to see the justification of abuse in a book touted by Christian fantasy enthusiasts so I did leave some comments at online review sites to warn readers.

However, even this review could be seen as subjective and a reflection of my own values, as many reviews left online truly are. When I support a book or like a book, I review it and give it a kind review. If I don't like a book, I typically don't review it, or I don't do more than give it a few stars on Goodreads and move onward. Life is short, there are massive amounts of books in the universe, and I would normally rather spread cheer and kindness than tear a fellow author apart on an online forum.

If you really want to read my scathing academic reviews of literature, I have some old college essays I could pull off one of my shelves. I did not enjoy writing them, but I did what I needed to do get top grades in my classes.

The interesting aspect of negative reviews online is that they can actually help authors. Amazon would not share any of my books in the "customers also bought" section until I had 25 reviews on one of my books. For over a year, my first book languished with 24 reviews. I begged family members and friends for that 25th review. Instead, I received a negative one-star review from a stranger in the UK who couldn't be bothered to write a review without typos, but that one-star review brought me to 25 reviews, and suddenly, my book started selling more because it was featured in the "customers also bought" section. So, thank you, reader who hated my book, whoever you are. You made my year that year. :)

It's wild to know that books with both positive and negative reviews generally sell better than those with only positive reviews (there are studies about this, beyond my experience with it), but I still do not like to write negative reviews most of the time.

The Insecure Writer's Support Group community has been a blessing for more than a decade and I am glad to be a part of it. We come together to carol our delight and dismay on our writing each and every month, giving each other a bit of our journeys and a bit of courage. I am thankful for those who have reviewed my books, and now you know, if you need to give me a negative review, I may not love it, but I will be okay with it. Any review = more sales. :) 

Community News

In light of our giving community, I want to share the latest book of an author who has been highly encouraging, and who I met in our group.

CONDUCTION by Tara Tyler

Sci Fi Detective Thriller or Techno Thriller

Book 4 in Pop Travel series

Blurb: In 2085, cutting edge technology is the most valuable currency, and the black tech market offers high pay-offs for diamond-level code. Jared Nertz is an easy-going ex-juicer gone legit working for Pop Travel Technologies, and just when he finishes his long-awaited Conduction project--the process of storing data in the brain--someone immediately steals it and kills his mentor, framing him for the murder. Now it's up to his lawyer/wife Miki and their resourceful friends, Geri and Cooper to prove Jared's innocence by recovering the stolen tech before the criminal killer sells it. But that's only the beginning, as they discover a darker threat when they dig deeper into the case.

You can find it here: Conduction at Amazon

Congratulations, Tara!!!

News for me:

I'll be back for at least one more post this month to celebrate Tara's book, and another one to celebrate CJ Malicci's latest book. 

I will be taking part in the Indie Book Blitz over New Year's Weekend on December 30th with the Fantasy Panel for Middle Grade and YA authors. That will take place on Katherine D. Graham's Youtube Channel. 

I am back to building Resonance on Kindle Vella. Episodes 20-22 are live this week. The first three episodes are free, if you are curious. 

Also, I have books in two Book Funnel promos going on right now:

Friday, November 17, 2023

Happy Thanksgiving! And What's Next?


I love Thanksgiving for one main reason: I love the act of giving thanks.

That's it. The turkey, mashed potatoes, and pie are all extras. The family time is extra. The family games we play are extra.

I love the act of giving thanks. I love the challenge of it, and the joy of it - once I get going.

When I taught at a homeschool cooperative in the past, I gave out Thanksgiving Writing Prompts, challenging students to write out things they are thankful for with every letter of the alphabet, or every letter of their names.

So, this is my challenge and hope for each of us, that we can find things, ideas, people, and places to be thankful for this week. Name 20 books you're thankful for. Name 10 things you've written that you're thankful for. Name 10 objects in the room with you that you feel thankful for. Name 26 people you feel thankful for, and maybe coordinate their names/nicknames with the alphabet. :) These are just ideas. I find that thanksgiving challenges help me to break out of my mental sludge that forces my gaze toward the ground. Thanksgiving helps me lift my head up.

I hope that if you read this, you have hope, joy, peace, love, and thanksgiving in your life.

What's New/Next for Me?

I am working through all the notes I took at 20 Books Vegas and at Write in the Harbor. The amount of learning and the excellence of the teachers has given me a lot to consider as a writer. I'll be bringing out more in future weeks from those experiences.

I am starting a Vlog on Youtube. I thought about starting a podcast without video - that would be easier, not to show my face, but I decided to go full Vlog. After years of thinking of this and holding back due to fear of failure, I decided to just start.

Find my Youtube Channel here: The Truth About Storytelling. The first video is my rough start video. The second will air this coming Friday and be all about my long, learning journey to discovering the necessity of author branding and what I'm doing about it. My hope is that authors find these videos entertaining, informative, and maybe a little encouraging - if I can do this, you can. :)

Events the last days of November:

Winterfest at Peninsula High School in Gig Harbor, Washington. I'll be there, selling and signing books. Please come by and say hello if you're there. :)

I'm part of a new Sword and Sorcery Book Funnel. So many books, so many authors, so many adventures! Check out your next new books!

For a limited time, I'll be a part of the BlackFriday/Cyber Monday SFF MegaSale only November 19th-28th! 

Thursday, November 2, 2023

Belated IWSG Day, November 2023

Happy IWSG Day

 Yikes! I missed yesterday! 

Many thanks to all who keep everything running smoothly - especially Alex J. Cavanaugh, and those who co-hosted yesterday: PJ Colando, Jean Davis, Lisa Buie Collard, and Diedre Knight!

This month's question: November is National Novel Writing Month. Have you ever participated?


Due to my participation in NaNoWriMo, teaching at Write in the Harbor 2023, and attending 20 Books Vegas, I completely spaced on my post yesterday.

And yes, I have participated in the past.

And now, I must go, write and prepare for the coming events. 

So, one day late, I wish you all a Happy IWSG day! I hope this month brings you much fruitful writing and much to give thanks for in your life!

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Book Cover Reveal for Dark Blade: Forged!

 I'm excited to share my book cover for Dark Blade: Forged, Fantasy Adventure for New Adults+ forthcoming September 2024!

Many thanks to @miblart for the awesome cover!

An ancient blade buried deep within an abandoned tower of the Watch Guard calls for justice and someone to wield its power.

Dan Torren, Junior Lord of Septily, wants to break free from his father's political machinations and fight with honor for the Watch Guard, a multi-kingdom organization that Keeps Watch over all of the known world of Aramatir.

Unfortunately, Dan is saddled with training partners who hinder him: his country's prince in exile and another young man who would rather be a Shepherd. With recruits from many kingdoms, including beautiful swords women, pirates, and a griffin, the training is intense.

With human trafficking on the rise, the world of Aramatir cries out for justice. King Xandros, Sword Master Theran, and Shepherd Jordan hatch a plan to catch the culprits, but even they are not prepared for the treachery they will find.

Dan may want to become a simple swordsman, fighting among allies to protect his world, but supernatural events work to forge a path he can't resist as he battles his own inner darkness.

Pre-order Dark Blade: Forged for Kindle at Amazon or read the early book as a Kindle Vella serialization. Please note: the book will contain bonus content not in the serial format.

If you would like to help spread the word about Dark Blade: Forged, please feel free to use the picture above, the synopsis, and the pre-order link! Please tag me in any posts on IG, Facebook, or X. :) 

Wednesday, October 4, 2023

IWSG October 4, 2023: Stardust, not Code Will Win Out


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! 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 October 4 posting of the IWSG are Natalie Aguirre, Kim Lajevardi, Debs Carey, Gwen Gardner, Patricia Josephine, and Rebecca Douglass!

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!

October 4 question: The topic of AI writing has been heavily debated across the world. According to various sources, generative AI will assist writers, not replace them. What are your thoughts?

Will AI take over creative writing?

Why not? 
Honestly (looks both ways here), I decided to try ChatGPT just to see what it would spit out when I entered in various prompts. I've tried short stories, I've tried a blurb for one of my books, and I've asked it questions about philosophy, just to see what it would say. 

One thing I have noticed is that it tends to repeat specific phrases and words, possibly even worse than I do. It writes purple prose with a specific rhythm to the words. While I would say that it's possible for it to learn several styles of writing, it is only putting out one style of writing right now, no matter what you put into it. It also doesn't understand emotional emphasis. 

I do not think it will overcome human creativity. Even if it starts to go that direction, I believe we will see more restrictions put into place in all areas of the arts. I think it will end up being used as a tool and not as a replacement for good storytelling. 

That's my gut feeling, but it's also based on what I've seen. I have read completely AI driven stories by other authors on purpose, just to see what I thought and there is a noticeable difference between AI writing and human writing. 

Again, I will admit I tinkered with it, but for anything it produced, I spent hours revising so it sounded more like me, and less bot-boring.

I hope we can all start to see that difference. If there's no market for it, it will dry up. 
If restrictions are put into place, it will dry up more. 

So, this is what I'm telling myself and all my writing friends: 
Go, write, be creative, be funky, be weird, and explore your humanity. Your writing will shine because of it. We are God-breathed stardust, not merely code. 


I was invited to take part in the Creative Colloquy Crawl as one of the family-friendly authors for their MG and YA night, last night. Not many attended the reading, but those of us who did had a good time last night.

I am taking part in two different Bookfunnel promos for October:

 The SciFi and Fantasy MegaSale 

Spellbinding Stories - the Vella October Reads

Happy IWSG!

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!

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

WEP Close Encounters

This post is part of the June WEP: Close Encounters of the Third Kind. To find out more, go HERE. 

Word Count: 975 NCCO

Side Note: Not sure it is important, but this story is set in the same world as my series that starts with Liftoff

 At five minutes to close, Nora startled as the shop bell jangled. She stared at what appeared to be an empty door frame with the door held halfway open by either someone invisible or someone shorter than the life-size superhero display between her and the door.

Thanks to recent events, the idea of invisibility was no longer off the table. Not since the alien war had torched a mini mall up north in Washington state. 

Nora reached for the emergency button and the taser under the countertop as the door swung shut, clacking against the jangling bell again. She leaned slightly to the right of the display and let out a sigh of relief at her friend Kit, who drove her new, high-tech, electric wheelchair down the center aisle. 

She paused when she saw Nora. “Hey Nora, is it okay to give you company?”

“Heck yeah,” she waved her friend closer. 

“You look like you weren’t sure there for a moment.”

Nora shrugged. “Well, it’s kind of embarrassing but I didn’t see you with that huge display in the center aisle blocking my view of the door and I thought, well, I thought you were an invisible alien.”

Kit snorted, and then let out a bray of laughter. Nora couldn’t help but join in, laughing with her friend. Kit’s laugh was like that.

Kit drove her electric chair to the side of the counter. “So, is your boss still being crazy?"

Nora shook her head. “Yeah. He wants me to stay past close to watch for whoever’s been causing our cameras to fritz.”

“What the… you know, is he thinking?”

“You can swear around me, you know.”

“You took an oath. I respect that.”

“It was stupid.”

“Yeah, I miss you telling off the meatheads at school with all the color of a woman who knows her mind, too.”

“I know my mind.”

Kit raised her eyebrows at her. “And that’s why you’re supposed to watch for potential burglars by yourself after close?”

“They’ve never burgled. They just light up the security cameras with some kind of flash.”


Nora shrugged. “I get paid twice my normal hourly for it.”

“Well, I’m not letting you stay here alone.”

Nora wasn’t sure either of them were prepared to deter an actual burglar, but having Kit here made her feel more comfortable. 

Nora locked the front door while Kit texted her mom. Nora had already prepared for closing, so she set the alarm system and they made themselves cozy with snacks in the security room behind the main counter. They had video views of all the outside walls set on one large screen. On the other large screen, they started the movie and wore the boss’s favorite headsets. Nora kept her volume low, just in case.

They were in the second half of the movie, when something on the other screen caught Nora’s attention. “What is that?”

Kit leaned in, paused the movie, and together, they watched as a figure dressed in loose sweats and a hoodie slinked along the back wall of the video store. 

Nora remembered locking the back door. Even so, she tensed, one hand on the emergency button in the back room and turned to stare at the door, thinking she heard something pushing against it.

Kit poked her in the arm and whispered. “Nora.”

In the screen, the hooded figure had turned its face to the camera, and its face glowed so bright it was hard to make out distinct features. The glow grew brighter until Nora closed her eyes to a partial squint. 

A massive flash forced her to close her eyes completely. Next to her, Kit gasped. Behind them, the door banged open. Whatever it was had effectively taken their sight, and it was inside. The footsteps coming their way were faint, but steady. 

Nora meant to push the security button, but Kit’s hand clamped down on her wrist. 


“I’ve got this.” Kit let go of Nora’s wrist and she could hear her friend’s chair whirring, then a whooshing sound.

Something thudded on the floor. 

Nora’s vision was slowly coming back, and she could see Kit staring down at the hooded figure, her hand on a dart-gun. Her eyes were glowing. 

Nora backed into the wall. “What the actual hell, Kit?”

“I’m not an alien, but I am one of their children.”

“No. That’s just, no. I’ve known you forever. Since baby days.”

“Yeah. We’ve been here a long time. The war found us.”

Goosebumps ran down Nora’s arms and she shoved her hands in her pockets. “Now what?”

Kit twirled her chair so she could stare down at the intruder. “We tie him up and call the police, and my mom.”

“Your mom?”

“I’m in so much trouble. And your boss will need to know about this, too. We need to get our stories straight.”

Nora bit her lip, listening to her friend plot ways to keep them from trouble. She wasn’t sure how to handle this reality. Kit made all the phone calls while Nora slid to a seat on the floor, clammy and cold. 

The bell jangled again and again, letting more and more people into the shop. Her boss, Kit’s mom, and Nora’s dad. The noise fell into a rhythm. It made her think, briefly, of that movie where the aliens communicated in music, and this made her start to laugh. It was a hysterical laugh, but that was all she had left. 

Kit patted Nora’s shoulder and Nora stared up at her friend, perched in her chair, her eyes no longer glowing. 

“Still friends?”

Nora nodded. “Yeah. But I pick the movie next time.”

“Whatcha thinking?”

Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

Kit snorted, and then they both started laughing. It was going to be okay, even if Nora’s best friend was half-alien. 

Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Before I begin my regular post, I have to say that I have been deeply touched and highly encouraged by everyone in this group, by all who stop and give comments and by the posts you all share. 

When I received news that Ken Rahmoeller (Chemist Ken, My Hogwarts Sabbatical) passed away, I cried. I had never met him in person. I never spoke to him other than through the comment sections on our blogs so I don't even know what his voice sounded like, but yet, I will miss him. He touched my life with his words, his fun, funny, and genuine posts over the course of a decade. He always encouraged me. I am praying for his family to be surrounded by a comforting support network, and loving family and friends. If you want to know more, you can read his obit here

Many thanks to Alex J. Cavanaugh for starting the Insecure Writer's Support Group over a decade ago and all the volunteers who keep it running.

And thank you for everyone helping this month:  Patrcia Josephine, Diedre Knight, Olga Godim, J. Lenni Dorner, and Cathrina Constantine!

Please note, I have posted about this at two other places, but this blog is my official, connected link to IWSG. Those other posts are, in a way, an invite for more people to check out our awesome group. 

June 7 optional question - If you ever did stop writing, what would you replace it with?

Answer: That's not happening. I have only "stopped" writing for short amounts of time.

If I had to give it up because of some major health concerns, I would attempt to overcome those health concerns with new ways of writing and sharing stories. 

I come from a storytelling family. Most of my family members don't write, but they do spin yarns, based mostly on facts and life events. My grandparents were all uneducated - farmers, loggers, sawmill workers, and a Calvary Sergeant turned farrier, who also worked in a sawmill and had a large vegetable garden. None of my grandparents graduated from high school. Their spelling could be creative. Some were from Canada and didn't realize American and Canadian spelling and grammar are not the same. 

Despite their lack of formal education, my grandparents all loved swapping stories and reading. They were some of the best storytellers I've ever heard, with the way they could evoke emotion and setting with the tone of their spoken words. Their home libraries were either well-kept or scattered, but even those with organized shelves had books in nearly every room. They all also loved music. They couldn't read music, but they continued to play music, picking out the notes on their instruments. 

If I couldn't write stories, I would tell them or sing them, or do both. I can't imagine living a life without stories and music. They are not only necessary for joy, but they are necessary for living and making sense of life. 

What would you do if you stopped writing? Would you?


I'm writing Kindle Vellas, working on how The Rayatana and Anomalies fit together, journaling, and writing poetry. 

If you are interested in reading any of my work, check out the tabs above or go to one of the links below:

Liftoff, The Rayatana Book 1 is currently only 99 cents for eBook.

Champion in the Darkness is available for Kindle Unlimited for the summer.

A Pocket-Sized Jumble of 500+ Writing Prompts has a new cover and is currently only 99 cents. 

Dark Blade: Forged is a complete Kindle Vella series and is my second highest earning book of all time. Eventually, it will find its way to paperback and eBook, but for now you can find it all on Vella. 

So many other authors have awesome books coming out. If I get the links, I could post about some of them. Let me know if you have a new book coming out soon. 

Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Redemption, Australia 1990s, and Historical Fiction: A New Release from Author L. Diane Wolfe!

 Redemption, Australia 1990’s, and Historical Fiction

Tyrean offered me several topics that tied in with my release today, In Darkness: The Shark. And I’ve decided to tackle all three.

Redemption is the theme of my In Darkness series. (And it ties to my earlier series, The Circle of Friends.) As a Christian, redemption is an important aspect to my faith. No matter how far gone someone is, through God that person can be redeemed.

The main two characters in each of the In Darkness stories are both in need of redemption. They are in effect in darkness, which is what links the stories together. They find that redemption through love. The love of someone who is completely and totally accepting of who they are.

The setting for this story is Australia early 1990’s. This was before most people had computers, let alone Internet, and cell phones didn’t exist. That gave me the perfect setting for the story. A place where great white sharks were plentiful but the constant barrage of information and privacy invasion didn’t exist. Human populations were also smaller, giving Jewels and Clarence peace and quiet and the opportunity to get to know each other.

Was writing a historical piece from my own lifetime easier? Yes, since I could access facts, figures, maps, etc., that were accurate. I could research where the aquariums were during that time, how many people lived in a given area, how far did the city stretch at that time? Through the Internet I could contact someone who lived in Australia at the time and get the lingo correct. I can imagine researching for a period a thousand years ago would be much, much more difficult.

And there you have it! Oh, and did I mention Clarence the shark talks?

In Darkness: The Shark

By L. Diane Wolfe

Souls shrouded in darkness…

Focused on her studies and duties at the aquarium, Jewels prefers her solitary life. Burned many times and short on trust, she has more in common with her aquatic friends than the people around her. But she never imagined coming face to face with a shark named Clarence…a shark who talks!

As their friendship grows, Jewels must overcome her deep set mistrust. There are dangers, both in the Australian ocean and on dry land. Can Jewels depend on the great white or will his animal nature betray her?

Release date - May 9, 2023

Romance/Paranormal - Fantasy/Paranormal - Fantasy/Romance

eBook ISBN 9781939844910 $3.99

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


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