Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Thinking Happy Thoughts

I am not sure which is more exciting, that my story won the June 2021 WEP, or that my three-year-old just pooped in a toilet instead of her pants (for the first time)! What a fantastic day!

I am going to admit, staying positive can be difficult. I sometimes reread the "average" reviews for my published short story and wonder if perhaps it was missing something that makes readers love stories. I am definitely not suffering from any illusions that all my stories are absolutely fantastic. I also completely understand the feedback labeling my work as confusing. I did not become a writer to create "normal" stories. Regardless, I feel accomplished just being part of the anthology. To my knowledge, no one has given me a one-star review, so I call it a win. I would love to read some reviews from people who regularly read science fiction, though. Most of the reviews I've read mention the genre is not their favorite. So, if you are a science fiction fan, pick up the anthology and drop us a review!

I am certainly grateful for any review. You can read the most recent full review here. There are also reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. Reading honest reviews helps me improve!

And on to the happier thoughts...(not the poo).

Winners were announced for the June 2021 WEP competition.

Congrats to all the winners:

Steph - Winner

Kalpana - Runner Up

Jemi - Encouragement Award

Pat - Team's Choice

Brilliant Debut Awards went to:




Such a great collection of stories and art. I have been very inspired by this challenge and am working on a treat for my readers involving some very beautiful artwork combined with some hopefully enjoyable stories. I need a few weeks to work on it, so maybe by the end of July!

Keep thinking happy thoughts!

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

WEP - Storm of the Water Dragon



“Are you sure this is where we will find her?” Hisoka shouted over the deafening wind and the splash of the waves against the hull of his trimaran.

    Everywhere he looked he saw gray—water, clouds, air. Even his skin looked gray. He feared the storm would force color from the world forever. The invisible horizon oscillated three meters above and below the edge of the deck. Lines and sheets vibrated and pulleys popped. Gray was the color of fear. 

    “Yes! All the oracles divined the same thing. I spent my whole life studying this. I am sure!” Asuka shouted. Her soft voice did not carry well through the turbulent air.

    “If we die out here…” Hisoka started. He wiped his face with his hands, trying to peel the water from his skin, but another spray surged over the side of the boat. “This is ridiculous!”

    “What did you expect? A giant butterfly resting on a sunny beach? We are talking about a water dragon!” The water roared all around them, erasing her voice.

    Hisoka shook his head. Conversation proved pointless. He spit out a mouthful of seawater and motioned Asuka to come below deck.

    Inside the salon, the noise shifted from constant whooshing and thunder to the sound of being trapped in a metal can being kicked down a gravel road. Hisoka grabbed a steel bottle from the cupholder. The tea inside made him gag. “Gods Asuka! Do you have to use my water bottles for that rubbish?”

    The trimaran lurched, sending Hisoka straight into Asuka. He put his hands against the cabinet but the force was so sudden his chest still collided with hers.

    “Must be a love potion. One swig and you can’t stay away from me!” Asuka laughed.

    Hisoka forced his breath out and braced himself against the opposite counter.

    “Your obsession with drinking potions does explain your crazy ideas about water dragons. I still cannot believe you talked me into this. That man was serious when he asked us to fill out our death certificates before embarking on this mad mission. Sea travel was shut down over a decade ago for a reason. The oceans are no longer passable. The surface temperature is out of control and the CO2 levels cause storms every few hours. I still don’t know how you convinced me to do this!” Hisoka fumed. 

    Asuka reached out to brush his arm gently, taking the bottle from his tightened fist. 

    “I think the news that we only have thirty years left on this planet did the majority of the convincing. That and the fact that my cycle is late. We both know there is no point having a child if they will never live to be our age. And what life would she have? Gasping for breath? Hiding in storm shelters? Eating from powdered ration bags? I am telling you, this will work. I know it.”

    “It is a fairy tale, Asuka. There are no such things as dragons. But somehow sailing into the sunset, finally living the dream we built for each other, seemed worth it. I just did not think it would be over so soon.”

    “Nothing is over, beloved. Anyone who seeks the power of the water dragon who perches at the end of the world will be flown to the portal of a new world.”

    “Yes and bad poetry is the product of wet farts after drinking the mead of poets,” Hisoka said.

    “True, most mythology is not literal. But most of them are analogies. Honestly, strong drink does drive some to create dreadful prose.”

    Hisoka let his head fall back, then quickly recovered as the boat took another dip. “I don’t want to get into another spiraling argument about your obsession with mythology. I just think you should let go of this delusion and welcome the release from this world with me, in my arms.”

    A tear fell from Asuka’s cheek. “That can’t be it, can it? The portal to another world is death?”

    Hisoka pulled her tight against him. “Did you honestly expect a dragon?”

    Asuka’s sobs became a torrent, echoing the storm raging beyond the hull. Tears fell freely, warm and golden. Hisoka wanted to bring her warmth and safety but did not know how. Then, warm light poured from Asuka’s eyes and flooded the boat. She grew hot in his arms and blinding light surrounded them both. 

    He could no longer see, so he called out to her. “Asuka!”

    All he heard was a pounding heartbeat and a steaming hiss that drowned out all other noise. He could no longer feel the hull beneath his feet, or the motion of the waves. He floated, suspended in air thick as smoke. “Asuka!” he cried again.

    The bright white light began to fade to gold. Hisoka blinked and rubbed his eyes. The faint shape of Asuka stood in front of him and he reached for her. The flesh of her arm was textured like scales, smooth, and hot.

    The salon faded into view and he once again felt the rocking of the boat, but this time it was gentle and rhythmic, how he remembered it as a kid sailing on an old fishing boat with his father. That was before the oceans could no longer sustain life and maintain Earth’s climate.

    Hisoka felt as if he had just awakened from a dream. He studied Asuka, steam rising and swirling around her. Her body radiated intense heat and her smile burned. She led him to the deck where the light of the sky shimmered on her skin. Outside they found a scene of extraordinary beauty. A creature jumped alongside the boat, stitching a pattern into the surface of the water. A mountain towered in the distance. But it was not Mt. Fuji. The peak was too high and broad and golden. A large bird flew overhead, its swooping neck turned to study him. Hisoka exhaled his disbelief and found himself in a new world.

Word Count: 996

FCA (Full Critique Accepted)

Click on the image above to enjoy more short stories by some awesome authors!

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Another scene rewrite!

Things are going pretty smoothly with the first round of revision. I have surpassed my goal of 4 scenes per week and made it all the way to scene 32 last night. But I did find a hiccup in scene 31 and it made me laugh, so I wanted to share it with you.

In scene 31, the "final battle" is beginning. The main characters are standing on opposite sides, ready to take lives for their beliefs. But then, one of the characters basically tells his side, "Don't kill anyone yet," and he goes off to do something on the other side of the city.

I cannot stop laughing about this. What was I thinking? Who stands between two warring groups and decides they need to leave in order to solve the problem? Maybe there is something in a later scene that explains why this works, but I doubt it. 

Honestly, it sounds like an old British war tale. They stopped the front line because the general needed to go get some more tea first. From a writer's perspective, it is not a good idea to lead the reader away from the action in a critical time. There might be a scene change to prolong the drama, but the characters should not lead the reader away from the fight. (Unless that is their role as a coward.)

Luckily, I am ahead of my own scheduled deadline and have plenty of time to stop and fix this issue. I knew I would need to rewrite the ending, so it is not a surprise. I just had no idea I wrote this scene like that.

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Dune (2020) - Cast Q&A with Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Oscar Isaac, Jos...

The release date cannot come soon enough!!!! I am trying to be patient but I just keep watching the trailer over and over. My copy of the novel has been stuck in storage for the past year and a half. At this point, I am going to just buy another one! I have the e-book, but it just isn't the same.

Friday, June 4, 2021

Fifteen-Year Friendship

Fifteen years ago today, I sat across the table from a guy who was way too skinny and way too tall. We were at a small, local pizza place in Maumelle, Arkansas.

The server approaches and asks for our order and the guy says, "Could you put 'buh-non-nuh' on the pizza? Like a Caribbean pizza?"

The server looks clueless and glances at me. "He is asking if you offer banana as a topping," I translate. She laughs, we order pineapple on his half and continue our meal. Clearly, all the signs pointed to this guy being a completely bizarre friend who would provide me with plenty of amusing moments. (Even if he did eat pineapple on his pizza.)

When the check is brought to our table, he slides it closer to himself and says, "If I pay, then I get to call this a date."

Really? Is that how it worked? A few months earlier, I met the guy while he was on a date with my best friend. I was still semi-engaged to my high school sweetheart and going to college. I just returned from studying abroad in France and had so many ideas about how I wanted my family to be.

Less than a month after I met him, though, my quasi-fiance walked, I could not sleep at night or eat anything, and overnight, all my friends were too concerned with picking a side that they ignored me completely.

But then I met this guy again. I swore he grew another five inches taller and his accent was even harder to understand, but I clearly understood him when he asked if I was gay. "You seem to hate men," he said. "And you are wearing a commie hat." He was referring to my short-brimmed cap that maybe looked a bit like something Castro wore. I laughed and went to get my sunglasses out of my car. We were at a park near a "mountain." At least that is what people in Arkansas call it.

"You drive a manual?!" he asked. We exchanged phone numbers and I was put in the Nokia bar phone as "Manual Mustang Girl."

The following week, he and my best friend came up with a plan to find me a good boyfriend. I am not sure why. I had my own apartment. I was doing great in school. I had plans to go to grad school anywhere else. But I went along with it. No taller than 5' 10", spiritual or at least open-minded, college or trade required, likes to do outdoor things, knows about cars, appreciates my art and cooking...I don't even remember the rest. 

Since this guy was "not from 'round here," and in circles I was not, he agreed to keep an eye out. 

Then late one night, I got a text. A text! Those things cost money! I didn't pay for those. So I called him. "You know I don't want to pay for messages, just call me, I have plenty of minutes. No one else calls and my mom is in my circle."

We talked for about an hour, it was the middle of the night. Then he said he rented some Monty Python DVD's from the Movie Gallery where he worked. I had not seen those in ages. "I'll come over," I said.

Before I knew it, we were movie buddies. He got a discount on rentals, and I love anime, and we talked on the phone when I couldn't sleep. He promised to make me a cake. He made jokes about fitting every description on my list.

"No, you are too tall."

"That is only one thing. I really like doing stuff outdoors and I don't know anything fun to do here. There is no beach. I grew up in Cape Town, beside an actual mountain between two whole oceans!"

"We have a mountain, you went to it. And yes, there is a beach. It is on a lake."

"There's a lake? See, I need someone to show me around. A local."

"You are 6' 7"! But I do like cake."

"Well, I will make a cake tonight, but let's go get pizza first. Can't have any pudding if you don't eat your pizza."

"I thought you said cake."

"Yes, cake is pudding."

"That does not make sense."

And that is how he ruined my visual image of a bunch of British children trying to take chocolate pudding without eating their meat.

So we went for that pizza. Fifteen years ago. What a friendship! Married eleven years, two kids, and many adventures behind us and ahead. I don't even mind the pineapple on my pizza, as long as it is gluten-free. Plus, we finally live closer to an ocean and visit it almost every weekend.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

June Insecure Writers Support Group

June 2 question - For how long do you shelve your first draft, before reading it and re-drafting? Is this dependent on your writing experience and the number of stories/books under your belt?

The awesome co-hosts for the June 2 posting of the IWSG are J Lenni Dorner, Sarah Foster, Natalie Aguirre, Lee Lowery, and Rachna Chhabria!

I am going to "sort of" answer this prompt.

I am currently revising the fourthish first draft of my first novel. If that statement is not confusing you, then you are doing better than me.

I finished the latest first draft at the beginning of March (I think). In March, I printed my scene outline and started making notes based on what I wanted to add/change. April, I made some insane life choices, like signing up for the A to Z Challenge and getting my lifeguard certification, while still working overtime every week at my day job, preparing my daughter for her first dance recital, and receiving my parents for a visit. (Oh, and homeschooling my son.)

Now May is over and I am halfway through the first set of revisions. Unfortunately, I find myself stuck. I made a lot of useful notes, I am working scene by scene to make those characters grow and reveal the right details at the right time, but I have literally lost myself as a reader. I really want to put this whole project away and start on one of a dozen other ideas I have, but I fear this makes me a quitter.

I tried reading more for inspiration, but it was not as useful as I remembered. I see the arcs clearly in other novels, I follow character growth, think about weaknesses and quirks, and watch the morals clash. But for some reason, I am not satisfied with my own versions. In addition to this, I have realized one more thing I hate about my draft. Since learning to self-edit my published short story I have been very careful with my overused words and my phrasing. But now I am realizing the draft is dry. It has no voice and feels too clean.

Technically, I should not be worried about this yet. I have a few ideas for solving that issue when the time comes, including putting back a POV I removed several months back. For now, I will focus on my main character and how readers will relate to her as the story unfolds. 

I would like to hope this process will be quicker next time, but I have a feeling several of you just laughed at the first half of this sentence.