Thursday, December 27, 2012

Book review - Sacrifice of an Angel by Tasha and Sophie Duncan

The horrific murder of a well loved young woman shakes up a small English town. Police detectives, twins Remy and Theo Haward, must use all their skill and cunning to track the dangerous killer before he strikes again. What takes this beyond the typical murder mystery is the infusion of magic, the paranormal, and the beyond (or as it's called in Sacrifice of an Angel, There).

It's always wonderful to find gems such as this in the indie book arena. Tasha and Sophie tell a great story. The murders are suitably grisly, the characters are charming, and the working magical aspects are very interesting. The last point is especially of interest to me, as I like to see how the unusual is integrated into the "real" world. They show the nuts and bolts of it without it being boring. I love that there's a "Sorcerous Crimes Task Force (SeCT)".

If I have any complaints, which I'm nitpicking at this point, because this book was enjoyable and a pleasure to read, the characters sometimes seemed a bit cookie cutter. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but I'm the type of reader who likes to delve deeply into character - that's a personal preference.

The mystery aspect leaves plenty of clues as to who might have done it, while leaving little trails that give you cause to doubt. Close to the end, though, I was pretty certain who, and I was rewarded by being correct. The case is wrapped up neatly; however, throughout the book there is a larger plot at work. At the end, it blows up and leaves a huge lead-in for the next in the series. I will be purchasing the sequel for sure.

Overall, a well written page turner, (I was often up past 2am reading!), for those who are looking for a murder mystery with a twist.

Monday, October 29, 2012

How Ebooks Have Changed Writing

Fifth stop on my international blog tour, Indiana. Thanks so much to Tressa Green for hosting me; it’s good to be here.

I've had a lot of people ask me what I think about this recent craze over ebooks. They want to know how ebooks have changed the face of writing. I tell them writing has not changed. Publishing has changed a lot, as well as technology, but the art of crafting a story and presenting it in a permanent form on paper has not changed in several hundred years. No matter what the genre is, or the length of the story, all fiction writing has a few things in common. There must be a hero. The hero must have a goal. There must be obstacles between the hero and the goal. Some people may be surprised I don’t specify there must be a villain. There are many types of conflict and obstacles, not all of which absolutely require a villain; however, most heroes do have a flesh and blood nemesis throwing obstacles in their path.

Now, a little about publishing. Some 700 years ago, Johannes Gutenberg put together several new technologies to create a new type of type of printing press. Before this time, all books were either written by hand or printed after a piece of wood had been carved for each page. Somewhere around 150 years ago, Samuel Clemens is credited with being the first author to turn a manuscript in to his editor which had been written on a typewriter. Before that, all manuscripts were written out by hand. In fact, the very word manuscript means hand-written.

Some five years ago, ebooks became very popular with the invention of the Kindle. Ebooks had been around before that, but people like to carry their books around with them, and not have to sit at their desk to read them. The Kindle made the carrying-around part easy. Suddenly readers had the ability to go on vacation and take all of their favorite books with them. They would never run out of things to read. However, because mainstream publishers were slow to make their books available in electronic format, readers became frustrated. At the same time, writers who for one reason or another were unable or unwilling to publish via mainstream companies were frustrated at the inability to get their books in front of willing readers. Self-publishing a book at that time cost a small fortune. By making ebook publishing affordable and available to all, readers and authors both found a cure for their frustration. Authors could afford to self-publish. Readers had more novels to choose from. Self-published ebooks made everyone happy except for the main-stream publishing companies who didn’t dare try the new technology.

Various inventions have changed the face of publishing over the years. The art and science of novel-writing has changed very little, however. An author still needs a hero, his goal, and a bunch of obstacles standing between the two. A good story is a good story, no matter how it’s produced, and it will continue to delight readers for many years to come. The method of its delivery to a reader’s eager eyes and hands is largely irrelevant to the writing process. Instead of stories being written and revised and copied out by hand on voluminous amounts of paper, an ebook can be produced entirely with a computer and use no paper at all, yet still be totally engrossing to the reader. Thanks to my e-reader, I have just discovered a “new” favorite author...H. G. Wells.

Over the thirteen years I worked on Tanella’s Flight, I used a lot of paper. Many of the chapters were written in longhand, then typed into the computer. The manuscript was printed out, double spaced, at nearly a ream of paper per copy, for each revision. Ten copies were printed and sent to beta-readers. By contrast, The Siege of Kwennjurat was never on paper at all until the proof copy was printed. No paper! If you buy an e-copy, then between us we have used no trees in the production of an excellent novel. If you want a print copy, then the tree-consumption is still kept at a minimum, because only copies that are ordered get printed. There is no pile of paper books sitting in a warehouse someplace gathering dust.

The publishing process of both books was different, but the writing followed roughly the same path. I have a hero...and a goal...and a whole pile of obstacles standing in his path.

Books available from A M Jenner:
The Siege of Kwennjurat is the second book in the Kwennjurat Chronicles. Alone in Kwenndara, Princess Tanella cares for the refugees from war-torn Jurisse, while she worries about her loved ones’ safety. Her new husband Fergan is two days away in Renthenn, coordinating the business of two kingdoms. Kings Jameisaan and Fergasse join forces in Jurisse to pursue the war against the Black Army. They know Liammial hasn't played his last card, and are willing to give their lives to protect their people and their children. Who will triumph and claim the throne of Kwennjurat?

About the author:
A M Jenner lives in Gilbert, Arizona, with her family, a car named Babycakes, several quirky computers, and around 5,000 books. A self-professed hermit, she loves to interact with her readers online. Her books are available at, as well as most major online retailers.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Book review: Rising by J. R. Nova

Rising is a spectacular first novel in the Czar Chronicles series by J. R. Nova about a young woman on a mission of revenge. The revenge theme runs strong throughout; it's all Clara can think about -- it's her life's purpose. However, things don't go quite the way she plans when she runs into Zen, a young man with problems of his own.

There are several plot threads woven together to create the overall story and though the main line is about Clara, I have to say, I'm most intrigued with Franz Deckard. I admit to being a sucker for the anti-hero, but I feel like this character has a huge role to play and it's going to be fantastic. I can hardly keep from rubbing my hands together in anticipation. He's a nicely fleshed out character in his own right; I can't wait to see deeper inside such a ruthless, yet perfectly flawed man. All the characters are like this. Wonderfully imperfect; very human.

Another thing that stood out is the canon. Very original take on traditional beings such as witches, werewolves, vampires, and other various paranormal creatures. Absolutely a delight to read. J. R. took time and care in creating this world and its workings; it shows.

The cherry on top of this lovely novel is the nearly flawless editing. What a treasure.

If I had any complaints about Rising at all, it would be the end. It's a part of a series and it doesn't dance around that fact when it drops you like a hot brick. It serves its purpose by pretty much guarenteeing that I'm tapping my foot impatiently wanting the next book; as if I needed a reason. Rising is stellar reading in its genre. If I could rate it more than five coffees, I would in a minute.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Tagged! The Next Big Thing

The lovely Sophie tagged me last week for the Next Big Thing where I answer some questions about my current work in progress.

1. What is the working title of your book?
Shattered Bones for now.

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?
I was doing a portrait of both characters in my novel Fragile Bones, which is from Nathan's POV, and I thought, hey, I should write Michael's story. He's such an interesting character, but you only get the smallest glimpse into who he is because you can only see him from Nathan's perspective. And so it began.

3. What genre does your book fall under?
I'm still trying to figure that one out. Whatever Fragile Bones is, so would be Shattered Bones. I'd call it sort of an esoteric dark urban fantasy for lack of a better idea.

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Gale Harold as Michael. I think he'd perfectly capture the nuances of a long carried pain, the cool aloof exterior, and the fiery, passionate heart of the hidden killer.

Andrej Pejic if he let me dye his hair black. I don't know if he can act, but he's got exactly the right look.

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
When the darkness fills the furthest reaches of your soul, only the darkest heart can lead you to the light.

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Most definitely self-pubbed. I find it rather fullfilling and of course, I have complete control. Not that I'm a control freak or anything, but my stories are my babies.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I'm still working on it. I'll be working on it for quite awhile, I'm sure. It took a full five years with long breaks between to pen Fragile Bones. I don't expect such difficult topics to come any easier the second time around. I sometimes have to wait patiently for the characters to speak.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I've not read anything like it, so I don't know.

9. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
I have a keen interest in digging around the parts of human nature that really should probably be left in the dark. We all have these dark spots we keep hidden, whether we want to admit them or not. My characters are put in extreme situations and they aren't too heroic about how they deal with those circumstances. Even though these books are in the gay category, the subject matter deals more with coming to terms with one's inner darkness and not overcoming it, but recognizing and directing it.

I've got excerpts of Fragile Bones here on my blog and you can of course read quite a ways into the first part of Fragile Bones on Smashwords and Amazon. (see the links on the sidebar)

10. Tag you’re it!
Alas... I'm floating alone in the great wide world. If you find the message in the bottle, pick it up and let me know... I'll link back to you here. ;)

Reviews - two short vampire stories

From the unique mind of Gabriel Fitzpatrick, comes two short vampire tales that will leave you a bit unsettled. Without further ado...

An Anecdote at Dinner by Gabriel Fitzpatrick is a welcome change from the vampire genre where the shine of glitter seems to have blinded those who seek out the more traditional vampire canon. It's about time.

I've been a long time fan of the vampire; cutting my teeth (if you will) on movies like Gary Oldman's Dracula and reading about the notorious vampire Lestat, for example. So while I love the idea of what Gabriel tried to do here, I couldn't fall in love with the nameless vampire narrator. The cold detachment was perfectly executed (pardon me again for the puns) but the POV character lacked the allure of the beautiful, but deadly seductive tragic monster I enjoy reading about. The humanity is completely gone from him and so he loses his power to enchant.

Gabriel is definitely on the right track here with An Anecdote, but when I got to the end, I felt nothing except a bit startled. Perhaps that emptiness was the point of this avant garde story. I suspect fans of true horror would have a much better appreciation for it.

I dug the treatment of the vampire overall, but I have to take away some points for the cold, impersonal narrative that left me feeling too detached. Three and a half coffees.


The Centurion's Commencement, also by Gabriel, is a leap across time from the previous short. I have to admit that I'm a little perplexed by this story. I enjoyed it quite a bit, but I just don't know what to think about it as a take away. It's almost dread slice of life, yet there's this stark otherworldness about it that skims along just below the surface--highlighted by the introduction of the vampire character. This transforms a perfectly ordinary tale into a somewhat odd excursion.

Having read three of Gabriel's stories now, I've come to expect the unexpected with his twisty, pop in your face endings. Still, knowing ahead of time something odd is going to happen doesn't really prepare you for the oddness, because he has a talent for taking 180 turns at the last moment. Even though the prose remains somewhat distant, I did feel the centurion's apathy; like a struck match throw sparks.

Gabriel's work as a body, in my opinion, is not for mass consumption, but more for tasty little nibbles, a piece at a time over time.

This particular treat of a story gets five out of five coffees for being fabulously what it is. Even if I can't quite figure that out; I did enjoy reading it.

Where to find his work:

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Guest post by Sophie Duncan - There were 3 in the Bed...

I'm pleased to host Literary+ member, Sophie Duncan, a gal after my own heart, talking today about menage in fiction.


Much gratitude to Tressa for hosting me today and thanks to Literary+ (especially Paul Carroll) for organising the blog tour for me.

There Were 3 In The Bed - Menage, ewww or gimme gimme!

My title today came to me, because, as I was considering this subject for a blog post, that old song 'there were x in the bed and the little one said roll over, roll over', came to mind and it made me laugh as I thought about the extra arms and legs and other unmentionables in a PG post that a writer is dealing with when they tackle a menage. Of course, menage does not strictly mean a sexual relationship, but the type of menage I'm discussing here is definitely of the sexual kind and, usually when I read or write it, it means the sexual relations go all ways, not as in the classical menage a trois where one person has two lovers and those two lovers are not sexually involved.

three in the bed

Phew! Menage is a tricky concept to define and writing it can be even more complex. Traditionally speaking, we're used to duos, one-to-one relationships in both our romance and erotica (less so in porn - and if you want to see my definitions of those three genres, check back to yesterday's blog tour post). When we move on to three or more in a relationship, lots of things get complicated and not just the sex scenes. Personally, I like reading and writing menage, those challenges in dynamics make for an interesting read/write and, well, three in a bed can be hot! I'll state clearly here, I'm talking fiction, fantasy: I have no objections to equal, consensual multi-way relationships in the real world (by equal, I mean any combination of male and/or female partners allowed, no restrictions, I'm not attempting to start a religious debate), but I'll keep my own menage fantasies safely on the page :). For other people, two is the perfect number, any more and it gets icky for them. To those people, I say, fair enough, each to their own, I like pairs too, but for me there is just something a little kinky and erotic about breaking that convention.

My only published menage*, apart from fanfic, is Bonds of Fire, which, again I mentioned yesterday, and including an all-male threesome romance (emphasis on PG13 here) in a science-fiction/fantasy story has made it both my most popular release to date, but also the one that has drawn the most vitriol. Apparently, some people reading fantasy don't want a m/m/m romance popping up in the middle of the story. Personally, I didn't even think twice about it, it didn't occur to me that the relationship in the story would 'ruin' it for some people, although I have now listed that content in the description due to some folks' comments, not everyone who was surprised by it was nasty BTW. Anyway, my point for mentioning this story is that I enjoyed developing the relationship in this story. One of the empaths, Yakov, is the catalyst for romance developing and he is already in a relationship with Malachi, the other empath, before Drekken, my protagonist, enters the equation.

There were two scenes I had a lot of fun writing. The first may be obvious to anyone who has read the book, and even if you haven't, you'll understand why I enjoyed it when I say it was the nearest this story gets to a sex scene: it's a little playful flirting, okay, so they are naked, but that's because they've all just been washing in a pool and there are children present (in the form of dragon hatchlings), so there's nothing overtly sexual going on. This is a two-on-one scene where the empaths, the established relationship, are teasing Drekken, the newcomer, and I like writing flirty scenes like this, they are light, fun and gently erotic (if I can get them right, that is ;) ). The second scene deals much more with character: Malachi and Drekken to be exact and Malachi's jealousy over the easy way Drekken and Yakov had begun to hit it off. The society in which I have set this story does not have hangups about gender in relationships, and only gives a nod to pair-thinking as 'the norm', but I wanted to explore the protective side of Malachi when it comes to Yakov and how he deals with the new dynamic.

Throwing a new person into an established relationship and watching the fireworks is something that is done in fanfic, usually because a TV show already has a popular male-female pairing and some of the fans want to see the bromance pairing joined into that relationship. You get any number of combinations in Harry Potter fandom, from Harry/Draco/pick a girl (or guy for that matter), to James/Lilly/Snape and anything in between, you'll also get multi-way relationships with The Marauders as well. In fact, in any fandom where there are more than two leads, you're likely to get menage of established characters and, even when there are only two male leads, you sometimes find writers throwing in an original character to spice up the mix (beware of the dodgy Mary Sues in this form though). Menage is by no means as common as pairings, but it can be a fun read if done well - bad menage, though, is up there with bad porn, especially when the writer loses track of where that hand is and who is doing what to whom :P.

And so, my final thoughts on menage: it's not a kink for everyone, but if you like it, you like it and those of us who do would love to see more quality menage out there. Give me romance, give me sex, show me the unusual character dynamics that multi-way relationships can produce and I'm usually a happy girl.

*I will have another menage (erotica) coming out soon, Incubus Shadows, in the Wittegen Press Giveaway Games Anthologies.

Sophie Duncan

Sophie was born with the writing bug in her blood, boring her primary school teachers with pages of creative writing and killing her first typewriter from over use when she was thirteen. She began publishing her work on line while at university where she discovered the internet and fanfiction. It took another decade for Sophie to realise her long-time dream of releasing her own original fiction as an author through Wittegen Press.

Death In The Family (Heritage is Deadly #1)

Leaving a good London school with solid prospects, Tom Franklin has the world at his feet. Yet one thing has always haunted his perfect life: his dreams. When Tom discovers that the nightmarish images of dark places and even darker instincts are in fact repressed memories from his early childhood, he must face the heritage from his birth-father, a savage vampire known only as Raxos.

Realising his memories are his only hope of controlling his awakening instincts, Tom returns to, Coombedown, the sleepy, Cornish village in which he was born, unknowing that the night-breed in his veins will lead him into danger.

Death In The Family is a young adult, paranormal novel.

Death In The Family Literary+ Blog Tour Schedule:

Literary+ is a marketing initiative which was founded and led by Shen Hart. This is a time of evolution and progress, the market is being opened up to e-books and self-publication. As a fellow writer, Shen understands that self-publication is a hard and often lonely road. She started Literary+ to bring together authors and related creative specialities with the goal of helping each other. With a tight knit, friendly and welcoming community at its core, Literary+ holds a strong focus on marketing. As Literary+ continues to grow and evolve it will use innovating, original and experimental marketing methods and schemes to get its member's books into their reader's hands.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Second Chances pre-order now available!

The title says it all. :) If you love a good m/m romance, Second Chances features five stories about finding love again:

Non-Negotiable by T. D. Green <--this one is mine. ;)
Jacob Kerns is due for a promotion, but his ambitions are at risk when he learns his next contract will be handled by Alexander Corey, his ex. Jake tries to put personal feelings aside to do his job, but Alex won't let him. Will they find love again or is the whole thing non-negotiable?

Heart of Glass by L. J. Harris
When Zack Doherty comes to Australia on a working holiday, he is uncharacteristically forward in pushing Heath Connors, a man he barely knows, for a date. Heath, who has only recently begun to live life his way, wonders if Zack will be the one to mend his heart of glass.

Better Together by DaNay Smith
Greyson Welles followed Dominic Nash to Baltimore for his dream job, putting his own on hold. Dominic can see that Greyson's unhappy, but never expects him to turn down his proposal and return to New York. Will Greyson be gone forever or will he decide they're better together?

Dirty Martini by Bette Browne
When Daniel Fletcher runs into his ex with the man he caught him in bed with, vodka seems like the answer. Nathan Smith is used to men drowning their sorrows at the bar he tends, so the connection he feels to one is unusual.  Will a means to forget turn into something more?

Notice to Appear by C. C. Lorenz
Josh Campbell is handed a notice to appear in court for a traffic offense, but his humiliation is complete when he comes face to face with his schoolboy crush, Carter Sullivan, in the court room. Could this be the start of something with Carter now that age is not an issue.

Coming August 31st, pre-order now!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Guest post by Paul Carroll - Speed Writing

I'm delighted to host Paul Carroll today. He recently finished his "Writing Olympics", completing his novella, Balor Reborn, (see info at the end of his post.), in an amazing one week. How'd he do it? Read on.

Speed Writing

Writing at speed is not a new phenomenon. There are challenges that take place throughout the year that involve writing a comic, or songs, or scripts, or novels, all within a short space of time. What makes the Speed Writing event at my Writing Olympics so different was that I didn’t have an extended deadline on when the finished product could be revealed to the world. From day one, I was on camera, and by day seven the book had to be available to buy.

Event two of the Writing Olympics, then, put me under a lot of pressure to complete Balor Reborn. I followed my own advice: I went in with a plan. I knew that I wanted to start with the separation of Stephen and Fionn, with Fionn only being a child. From there, I wanted to slowly introduce Fionn into the world of magic that was coming back to Ireland, and throw Stephen in head-first with an encounter with Balor of the Evil Eye. This much was clear from my plan, and it only took a short space of time to get used to the camera before writing at speed became a simple endeavour.

The approximate figures came out as follows: 5,500 words on day one, 10,500 words on day two, and 5,000 words on day three. The latter ended the book, though I finished much earlier than planned. In theory, I could have written twice as much.

When you attempt something like this, you need to focus on doing one thing, and one thing only: writing. There can be no going back to edit, no restarting the book because you got a new idea, and no stalling to get the exact right word. So how do you do this?

Leave it for the editing. I ploughed through my book, with the plan, to ensure the first draft was written swiftly. Except on a couple of occasions at the end of a writing session, I didn’t go back to change anything. I built up a momentum, and I set myself word count targets for every half hour. Aiming for 850 words every 30 minutes meant that I was producing a lot of words. This also tired me out, so it’s worth noting that you need to take things at an appropriate pace. It may be a sprint, but you still have to reach the end.

As for new ideas... I was fortunate enough not to have to change the book to cater for them while writing. I got ideas that fit better into later books, so I didn’t have to concern myself with going against my plan. However, it’s inevitable that something will pop into your head while you write. Deal with this by keeping post-its or a notebook nearby, and when you find an idea coming to mind, jot it down and keep on writing.

That’s the vital thing: you can’t stop. Stopping ruins your momentum, breaks your train of thought, and puts you in a position of needing to start all over again. We all know what happens to runners when they have a series of false starts: they’re out of the race. It happened to Usain Bolt, it can happen to you. So keep focused, and when it comes to that exact word, remember that this isn’t the only event in the Writing Olympics.

Deal with your inner-perfectionist by highlighting the word or words you need to change, then move on. When you go back to edit, you’ll know where to pick up. Until then, finish your first draft. Yes, I mean it. Don’t edit until the whole draft is written. This isn’t a freestyle medley, and this isn’t a relay. You’re in a sprint, and you just have to keep on going.

There’ll be plenty of time to slow down once you have something written, as you’ll soon discover in the later events.


Paul Carroll is a writer from Dublin. He is studying to be a teacher of Religion and English at second level, while working in a bookshop at weekends. His 'free time' is divided among assignments, fiction, poetry, articles and blog posts, as well as college Drama and almost weekly trips to the local cinema.

He has been writing since the age of twelve, with a love of words going back further than he can remember. When he isn't reading or writing, he likes to make use of social media, bake, and talk to friends. Often, he'll watch a horror film alone in the dark for the sheer joy of it.

He can be found online at

About Balor Reborn

Old Ireland is returning, as an ancient evil arrives in Dublin. A single glance from his eye is all it takes to kill.

Stephen Fox is haunted by the memory of his wife, and suffers from guilt at abandoning his new-born son. The spirit of the tyrant Balor has come back to take his vengeance on the country. A hero must rise in the unwilling form of Fionn Murray, a university student with a mysterious past.. As a world of wonder unfolds around him, and with no one but his house mate Michael at his side, he’s left with the choice of running, or facing the evil that could consume the world.

Based on the old Irish myth of Balor of the Evil Eye, Balor Reborn is the first in a series that seeks to revive the magic of Ireland. It was written and published in one week.

It's available to buy on PDF, Epub and Mobi via his website, Amazon, and Amazon UK

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Short story review - Enki

As a palate cleanser between novels, I pounced on the opportunity to read the experimental 14 page short, Enki, by Literary+ member, Gabriel Fitzpatrick.

I really appreciate this kind of story. It takes a bit of daring to buck traditional story telling "rules" and a special talent to pull it off well. Gabriel does this with obviously passionate flare that compels the reader to continue. You get an encapsulated peep into the POV character's history in a taut conversational style. It begs the questions:  Who is he speaking to? How is this going to resolve? And wham! A neat twist that is quite satisfactory if a bit sudden and odd. This is far from mainstream, but that's what I love about it. Bravo, Mr. Fitzpatrick for bravely penning this unique work.

5 coffees out of 5 - cream and sugar added. ;)

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Book review - The Seeds

I finished reading The Seeds by Literary+ member J.D. Savage, (see his guest post here). I love anything that will get me through 30 to 40 minutes on my exercise machine so quickly and painlessly! ;)

The Seeds, a YA fantasy by Jeff Davis, is a quick-paced, fun look into the world of fairies. Jeff does an excellent job of creating a tiny world and making it seem larger than life.

The reader is instantly taken down into what I imagine is lightning bug size in the dramatic opening scene of a lone surviving soldier in a field of destruction. Agnus flies to the palace as quickly as possible and is met by two of the story's key figures--the princess generals--twins Varia, the cool headed diplomat, and Dartura, impulsive and hot-tempered. And we're instantly taken to the intrigues of palace life. As we get to know the main players through interaction and dialog, a lurking darkness threatens the peace of the kingdom.

Though the title of the book is The Seeds, the story is more about the characters, both "good" and "evil", and their struggle for power, of which the seeds are central in the fight. Agnus was by far my favorite character. I hope he gets more page time in the future. Some of the shouting matches between siblings were cringe-worthy as they would be in real life. The battle scenes were ferocious. Giant toothy moths! The enemy is interesting as is the implementation of magic and technology. The only thing that took me out of the story periodically was some wonky formatting here and there; I had to stop and figure out who was speaking. Not a huge deal, really, and easily corrected.

This looks to be the first in a series of stories, so even though the end isn't as satisfying as I'd like; it's to be expected, leaving things wide open for a continuation that I'm looking forward to reading. I have to know what happens next.

5 out of 5 coffees

Monday, July 23, 2012

Guest Post by A.K. Flynn - The Self-Doubt Monster

Today, the lively A.K. Flynn, a member of Literary+, is a guest on my blog. She's addressing something that I still struggle with periodically--self-doubt. Read on for ten valuable tips on conquering this pesky little demon.

The Self-Doubt Monster
There are many authors that are high paid, sold millions of copies, and still they find themselves in the quandary of having self-doubt. One of my favorite authors is Dean Koontz. He had once said “I have more self-doubt than any writer I know.” Many writers have doubts and reservations regarding their literary works, and they're famous! So what does this mean for the dreamers, the enthusiasts, and the self-proclaimed novelists? Should the dreaded, dreary little monster known as self-doubt squash the opportunity to be able to spread their passions and creatively written works of art with the rest the world?

We never think that this little monster will get a hold of us, because we’re not famous and we’re not watched by the entire world in regards to our grammar and structure. (Think of Stephanie Meyer's literary upheaval.) The problem occurs when we see famous authors being criticized for their literary downfalls. It's difficult to think that our laboured efforts are really worth anything. Then there are the Bloggers who have written their work raw and bravely put it out on the Internet for the world to see, only to have negative comments tearing apart their effort and leaving it in nothing but self-doubt’s enervating wails.

Who would want to continue to write after that? The little monster finally got its earworm in your head; who are you kidding? You can’t write, look at how you placed your commas, they’re everywhere! Do you want me to splice you up? Because that’s how others will feel reading all these comma splices! Oh, did I mention your creativity for this novel was probably already about something that someone already had written and did it better than you! (Feisty little creature isn’t it?) After these types of thoughts you would feel like deleting every last word or shredding every last bit of what you’ve written, burn it, and then eat the ashes. (O.k. maybe not eat the ashes, but you would burn it, that’s probable.) However there are ways to seduce your little self-doubt monster, giving you the opportunity to grasp its mouth firmly while pinning it to your desk as you smirk with sheer enjoyment as it wriggles around trying to free itself. I will get to that in a minute!

I know for a fact that I had a very difficult time dealing with my self-doubts and when criticism hit the fan. I felt like all my self-doubts were valid and deleted three years of work and my blog five years ago. If I had continued to let that little monster get the best of me, I would not be enthralled in my passion of writing or Child and Youth Work, nor would I be writing this right now; so I want to give you a small guide that has helped me and many others tame this nasty little creature. (Self-doubts will never fully go away.) The reason I call this thing a monster or creature is because it takes on a life of its own—it can be your worst nightmare that creeps up on you or your motivation to complete your written works of art. (This can be applied in other areas of your life as well.)

  1. Remember you are not alone. Other people do have the same emotions that boil up when it comes to their fictional babies, they just may not express it.
  1. Self-doubt is part of the literary creative growth. If we never had doubt we wouldn’t be able to self-criticize our work, and we will never know if we are writing sub-par.
  1. Be kind to yourself. If you are harsh on yourself, your work will reflect that. Replace hard words with a different perspective. For example: My self-doubt’s are my insecurities showing up on paper, and no one will like it vs. I’m self-doubting this written piece because I want to make sure it is up to my standards. Doubting your work shows that you care about it!
  1. Write for yourself and not others. Once you start writing for others you lose your style, which can encapsulate the self-doubt because it’s not your literary niche. Write for you. There will always be people who love or hate your work, it's that person’s preferences, and we cannot control how someone may react to your writing.
  1. Welcome criticism like it is a kitten on your doorstep, but keep the claws at length. Criticism is something every writer must endure. It can be your worst enemy next to the self-doubt monster, but it will help you be more aware of your writing style and mindful of your mistakes to help improve your literary baby. However, poor criticism is not worth your while. To handle that, you simple say thank you for your concern; and I appreciate you reading my work. If they continue, do not give them the satisfaction by engaging.
  1. Surround yourself with other quirky, non-judgmental, and supportive writing groups, such as Literary+ and NaNoWriMo. In this kind of environment of positivity and support, it’s very hard to have the self-doubt monster whisper nasty things to you.
  1. Remember your accomplishments! They are important, writing a paragraph can be just as daunting for some as writing a novel, so relish in the moments of writing that first sentence as it is still an accomplishment to say the least.
  1. If you want to accomplish something, put mini attainable goals in place. You also cannot compare grapes to crepes. Do things at your own pace, and you will get to where you want to be.
  1. Practicing gratitude is a powerful way to tame the self-doubt monster and worries. When we’re feeling discouraged, gratitude is one of the quickest, most effective pick-me-ups around.
  1. Being a writer is all about process. It’s not about the celebratory party you have when you reach the summit of your career; it’s about the journey you experience along the way.
And as I always say “A procrastinator’s work is never done!”

More about A.K. Flynn:

Salutations! My Name is A.K. Flynn, I'm a 27 year old bright eyed bushy tailed Child and Youth Worker to be, who is very ambitious and absolutely in love with writing all sorts mind perplexing Fiction. I also tend to pour my emotions out on the screen as it  is the only thing that keeps my hectic life sane. As of right now my website and second novel seems to be a major focus and writing is my major outlet so it all pans out perfectly. Oh did I mention I was a redhead? Well now you know! So you know my writing has got to be good, because redheads are very spontaneous... (runs off into the distance babbling to herself)

G+ profile: A.K. Flynn

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The addiction

For this week's writing assignment for the Literary+ group, we were to address "writer's addiction." I'd originally thought to write about my love of coffee, but when I sat down to write, what you see below is what came off my fingertips. While not addressing a writerly addiction, per se, this is an apt metaphor for my relationship with writing. 288 words.

Light vanished along the edges of my vision, caught in the toxic space of conscious and unconscious. Aware, yet pushed back into the deep shadows where secrets scatter like rats before a scrapyard dog.

I fell. Fell into the abyss that lurks in the depths of the human soul; that place only glimpsed in dreams where the harbingers of strife and destruction, overcoming and conquering, delve willingly. I struggled briefly, but with desperate breath taken in heaving gasps, I cautiously reached out with open eyes to see that which should not be seen. I grasped the stuff of imagination and molded it with callous hands and a critical mind for pleasure or, perhaps more accurately, release.

Struggling with vice and wretched, crippling doubt, I surrendered it to the fires of hell. Waiting. Waiting until the formless shape captured heat to glowing. I peered into that brilliant pit and my eyes melted away as the pieces began to also melt away. Hot liquid tears poured down my face and I yanked it from hell’s fiery clutches. I stared at it resting in my burnt hands, so vivid and stirring.

My soul cried out in a sort of bereaved agony while I placed it on the anvil of my heart and pounded it with all my might. Tiny embers flew and snapped, biting and tearing. Little hunks of flesh sizzled away; I pounded still. I couldn’t stop until the vision transferred to that tangible treasure, sharp as any blade crafted. Steam and froth boiled up to quench the fire. I leaned on the trough. My sweat turning the water to brine.

“Why do you do it?”

I didn’t move. I stared down with blinded eyes. “I don’t know anything else.”

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Guest Post by JD Savage - The Mom Filter

I'm very excited to have +JD Savage as a guest on my blog; part of +Literary+'s blog tour. JD is the author of The Seeds, an exciting story that takes place in the realm of fairies. I'm currently reading it now; my motivation to get on my exercise machine every day. Yes, it's that good. ;)

Today, JD discusses a topic that I've dealt with personally. 

                                    The Mom Filter
                          Writing So Others Don’t Judge

I spend a lot of time online. I check my Google Plus feed constantly. I check Facebook a few times a day. Even Twitter gets a look once or twice. As much as I like to simply lurk around and see what people are posting, I do feel compelled to comment now and then. When I do, I try to follow one simple rule. Don’t write anything that I wouldn’t want to appear, credited to me, on a billboard outside of my Mom’s house. It goes back to the lessons of childhood. The over-arching rule was to be conscious of what you do and say because it all reflects on your family.

It sounded like nonsense when I was a kid. Now that I have kids of my own, I realize that it’s true.

So that’s fine for online posting, but what about writing for real? Am I supposed to temper my speech? Do I need to rework that sentence so that it doesn’t contain a swear word? No! I’m a grown -up. I can write whatever I want. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to read it!

Well, that’s easy to say, but for some people, this can be one of those questions that pop up when you least expect it. You may have emboldened yourself to write about a controversial topic, but how close to the bone can you get without really offending someone who knows you? Maybe your Grandpa will be a bit put out to hear that a character that sounds a lot like him is the pedophile that drives your protagonist to the edge. Maybe your Aunt will feel a bit flustered when your character’s Aunt robs that liquor store to pay for her meth habit. Or maybe the ladies at church are simply unprepared to learn that you really write hard core porn.

Don’t try to write so that others don’t judge. It can’t be done. That’s what ‘others’ do. They judge. But, there is a secret to dealing with this unpleasant reality. Any time someone makes a snide or hurtful comment, not on how you write but what you write, tell them to kiss your ass.  Not too forceful, not too wishy-washy, this little nugget has helped me deflect more than once the slings and arrows of those I’ve offended. Sure, you’re burning bridges, but did you really want to go back to Uptightville?

Bill Cosby said it best. ”I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.”

You can’t please everyone. It’s impossible. You’re just going to have to try to please yourself. Make your story the best YOU think it can be. Somebody will still hate it, but that’s a given, no matter how great it is. I hated Moby Dick. I thought it was the most boring, drawn out yawn-fest ever to be celebrated as one of the greatest novels in human existence. I can hear Melville’s Mom now, “Did you have to make Ishmael so wordy, Darling? And why did he have to describe every fishhook on the boat?” And his reply, “Mother, you may kiss my posterior region, that which is just below my belt, but behind me. To be any other way would be too strange a case to make, for it would be unseemly to suggest any other course and I am extremely wordy!”

Ok, I hear you. I hear you saying, “But, what if it’s my Mom!? I can’t burn that bridge!” Ok, ok. Granted, there are some people you have to stay on the good side of, be it for familial love, respect or the possibility of inheritance.  If that’s the case, warn them before the book comes out. “Now, Mom, I gotta tell ya. There may be a few things in this that might sound a little coarse. You’re just going to have to trust me that it was necessary for the story.” If she’s anything like my Mom, that little bit of confidence you just shared will turn her from a pursed-lipped magistrate into your biggest defender. “My son/daughter, the visionary!” she’ll cry, before punching the lady who made that face when your name came up. Be prepared for the follow-up call, too. “She thought she was going to tell me what’s what! Well, I showed her!”

So, for most other people, tell them that you’re not sorry for what you do, and they can kiss your… well, you know. Give Mom a heads-up on your next work. Ask her advice. You’ll be able to turn her loose on the next reviewer who pans your work.

About The Seeds and its author:

This is not your grandmother's fairy tale. A fantasy novel that turns the genre on its head, "The Seeds" follows Trooper Angus Mayweather as he is thrust into the conflict faced by twin sisters Dartura & Varia, Generals of the Tarol Nation. As the sisters uncover a new threat from an old enemy, Angus must do what he can to help as the Tarol Nation faces all-out war.

Where to buy: The Seeds
Writer's Blog: Tarol Nation
G+ profile: JD Savage

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Book Review-Ginnie Dare: Crimson Sands

Yesterday, I finished Literary+ member Scott Roche's book, Ginnie Dare: Crimson Sands.
Here's my review:

Ginnie Dare: the Crimson Sands by Scott Roche is a delightful YA sci-fi mystery for the whole family. The story opens with Ginnie, the daughter of a merchant, anticipating the Dare Company's next delivery. This gives an immediate look into the titular character and hooked me into the story.

Things start happening right away when Ginnie, who serves as the communications officer for her dad's ship, notices something's not quite right. As they approach their destination, they're met with silence. The mystery begins.

On the desert plant's surface, they find the colonists missing with everything set as if they were suddenly taken. A very eery atmosphere as the away team looks for clues as to where they might've gone. The story progresses at a quick pace with aliens, a mystery object, and confrontation with the military. Where have the colonists gone? What does the military want so badly? What are the alien's motives? Is the object the key to the mystery or just a pretty piece of art?

Scott does an excellent job of creating a colorful world with interesting characters. I read this while on my exercise machine, which made that chore go by very quickly. In fact, I'd often go a few more minutes to finish a chapter. While there are a few tiny things that may bother some readers, I understood the target audience for this story and easily overlooked them.

Conclusion: this is a fun, quick read that kids are sure to like as well as adults who enjoy a trip back to their youth. I hope there will be more adventures with this interesting young lady.

I give this 5 coffees out of 5.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Profanity in YA?

Kicking off LiteraryPlus's first ever blog tour is the insightful J.D. Savage, author of The Seeds. Today, he talks about Profanity in YA over on Scott Roche's blog. Be sure to check it out and share your opinion on this hot topic.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Bridge

This week's flashfiction assignment for the  +Literary+ group was to take the first line of our partner's WIP and write 300 words or less. I was paired with +Jim Hanson, who gave me a wonderfully challenging first line.

I'm pretty certain I went in the complete opposite direction of the original. In fact, I did a 180 from my usual fare, which after reading it over a few times, I didn't mind in the end. :)
(294 words)

Perched atop a hillock overlooking the north field and obscured by the sun at his back, Aldwin looked down at his field in horror. The last play of the game; Jimmy over-estimated the fly ball and missed the catch. The crowd groaned. Watching one boy, then another, and yet another cross home base was a bit like watching a slow motion scene in a bad movie.

Afterwards, his son Darren shuffled out from the dug-out. His head down and dragging his bat like he’d lost his best friend. Aldwin took a deep breath and pasted on a smile.

“Good game, son,” he said and clapped him on the shoulder.

“Not really. We sucked.”

“You almost went into overtime,” he pointed out.

“But we didn’t win.” Darren shrugged off his dad’s hand and ran ahead to the car.

‘Allison,’ he thought. ‘I wish you were here.’ It had become a silent mantra. Aldwin squared his shoulders and unlocked the car. Darren needed his mother; she always knew just what to say. Aldwin had been the disciplinarian of the family; his wife the comforter. Stepping into those uncomfortable shoes taught him just how inadequate he was at being a Dad.

“It was a good game,” he said again, feeling his ineptitude keenly.

Darren shifted in the seat and sighed.

On the drive home, the reflection of his son’s dejected face in the window made his heart ache. “You played well.”

“Not good enough,” the twelve year old mumbled. “I wanted to win.”

“Then do it.”

Darren snapped his head around. “Huh?”

“Next time, win.”

“Dad,” Darren said as if speaking to an ignoramus. “Baseball’s a team sport.”



Aldwin smiled at his son and for the first time in a long time, Darren smiled back.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Cast Your Spell

As a get to know you exercise for the Literary+ group over on Google+, we wrote a fun bio about ourselves then were paired up to write a 300 word flashfiction based on our partner's bio. I was paired with the delightful Sanna Caduri and this is what she gave me for her bio:

"Sanna is of the weird kind.
She usually doesn't go into her head alone, because it's scary in there.

Writing is an essential part of Sanna's life. In one way or another she is always writing.
She's a witch and if you think that writing fantasy is a cliché, screw you. :p
In her stories the princesses are most likely to kill you, Beauty and the Beast will find themselves in the same body.

Short stories are Sanna's favorites, but she is also working on bigger projects right now.
Or, should be working on them. ;)"

And here's my flash (297words):

Even deep into the night, the west wind blew hot across the open plain. Her hair danced in a wild tangle that glinted white streaks of moonlight like glyphs floating around her head. She climbed a small rise and cast her gaze across the fields. A smile flitted across her lips as she lifted her arms; eyes shut, head tilted back and palms open to the sky in supplication.

Curled at her feet lay the great feline Dawon, named after the goddess Durga’s fierce mount. The weight of his mighty presence a comfort as she prepared the way.

Her breath slowed in time with the gusting wind. Her heartbeat sped to match the lusty cries of the field crickets. Dawon stood and leaned heavily into her leg; he grounded her even as the earth opened up around them. She screamed as the power pulsed up through her feet and out her palms.

The sweet agony of creation coursed in her veins like icy streams of bitter cold. She opened her eyes. Light glared out from empty sockets scorching the fields within her view. She clapped her hands once overhead. Once at her chest. And once at the lowest reach of her arms.

The place beyond opened with a great tearing of reality, which bled out in anguished cries of sorrow or terrible suffering. The gash grew wide and she laughed. Laughed with joyful abandon at what she had wrought. Dawon nudged her dangling hand with his great head.

“Only out of destruction can there be renewal,” she said calmly, though existence shrieked around them. “Even we must follow at the end of it.”

Dawon’s rumbling purr, like the crashing of distant waves, acknowledged her words. He knew, as she knew, they’d craft another world in due time.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


I caught another PnS! :D I wasn't going to post this submission to my blog, because... because... I don't really know why. Perhaps it's too raw? But the feedback I got on the PnS feed made me feel like perhaps I should.

The rules:

Same rules as always apply, all stories must include at least:
- 1 conflict
- 1 resolution
- 1 character
- 1 setting

The "theme" for today is Change . Change can be a lot of things, from the loose stuff that jingles in your pocket, to the big stuff like births and death and there are many places for change in between, so be as creative or uncreative as you like.

300 word max pretty please"


I've lived a sort of backwards life. All the years of my youth spent concerned for the comfort of my children. The time when all my friends were running all over the map having the time of their lives while they had the energy to do so, I ran around chasing toddlers and picking up messes and wiping little noses and kissing boo-boos.

Then worrying about having enough food and torn jeans and whether or not the homework's complete. My little ones growing beyond my abilities to pick them up into my hugs. Having to watch them run around the smaller map of town. Then one by one leave on their own greater adventures.

My children, don't live your lives backwards. Run while you have legs to carry you. Breathe the wild winds in your hair and dance with as many friends as you will or alone as you will.

I peered into my future. It was an empty house with no where to go. My friends were no longer running the map, but running after toddlers with snotty noses and potty training -- no time their own. I'd already seen those sights. I wanted to gallivant across the loops and lines. Places that inspired me and called me to see, but my old body unable to carry me any more.

Old enough to really feel the heart of a place, but too old now to see it. I can only sigh and dream.

Then the phone rings and one of my progeny pipes down the line, "Mom! Listen to what happened!" And I smile and listen and travel with them where I can't go.

I smile and listen and am content. I can finally rest my bones.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

A start of something

The last couple of prompts haven't called me, so today, I listened to some music and contemplated the emotions of the songs- melody and lyrics. As the music disappeared into the background, my mind wandered, then arrived at a scene.

I don't know if anything will come of it, but it's there if I decide to continue.

152 words in the raw*:

He sat alone. The perfect picture of the tragic figure. His profile sharp against the lowering sun, which just kissed the horizon in a spectacular blaze of blinding color. He leaned forward; pressed his forehead against his palm. His dark hair, scrunched between splayed fingers that dug into his scalp, tumbling down his cheek.

What caused such despair? I felt it radiate out from him even at a couple dozen yards. I never knew such sadness myself, but I carried that heavy burden for many years now. The aching familiarity squeezed my guts up through my throat until I choked back a flood of tears.

His anguish, a potent crashing of waves on a tidal break, throttled me until I kneeled before it. Jagged little rocks cut through my jeans - another layer of pain. If I couldn’t crawl that small distance to reach him soon, I doubted my hold on sanity.

*unedited words as they first appeared on my computer

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Whether or no...

"Prompt-and-Share A fun little random word prompt for Friday, keeping it short again but a little longer than yesterday:

150 words max
Use the words: time, attitude, clever"

Those who follow me on Twitter will have a decent clue where this came from. ;P

Time, like the soft sigh of a sleeping babe or a clever turn of phrase in the hush of distant memories; it comes and goes.

Woe that it is so. No matter to which attitude we greet it.

It comes.

Swiftly or slow; it goes.

Would you weep for me? Would you rage with me? Would you laugh at the turning of its wheel?

Or holding hands, leap forth into that deep night where it matters not. Where time cannot grasp at our wrinkling flesh. Or touch strands of silvery hair.

Our stuttering hearts wind down. Would you stay with me? My head bowed in final supplication, with outstretched arms to greet it.

Swiftly, now, it goes.

Thursday, January 26, 2012


 I caught a prompt today! I think I've been missing them in my feed.

"Prompt-and-Share A really short one today, just to get those juices flowing.

100 words MAX
Your story has to start with: I'd expected he'd come after me.

No other criteria required - Write!"

To be upfront about this.... I haven't written anything in probably close to two months now and I only put about three minutes worth of effort into this little flash. I have to say, I've really missed the prompt and shares. 


I'd expected he'd come after me, but he'd already been. The whispering shadows shifted, lingering where the sun couldn't reach. His scent, I remembered so well. So fondly. It tickled the edges of my awareness. Yes, he'd already come and gone. Long before my dreaming mind fled to reality; the hateful place, but for him.

There, he'd waited, impatiently. Waited, then walked away while I slept. His breath a memory of the wind, now. His sad eyes peering too deeply. His beating heart under warm skin. I'd never know, ever again.

I expected to be first, but he'd gone on ahead.