Wednesday, December 11, 2019

WEP & Tremors

Calla eased over the edge of the canyon once the ground tremor passed. Maybe today she would find some evidence of animal life on this planet.

So far, nothing. Not a beat of wings nor a roar from a throat. Not a scratch on a tree to mark territory, not a bone or a carcass. Not even a footprint or a piece of scat.

In her years as Pathfinder’s senior biologist, she’d never seen a planet like it.

Vegetation flourished on the sides of this canyon that looked like it had been carved in ancient times.

The whole planet was nothing but giant hole after giant hole. Some of these holes were full of vegetation and the botanists couldn’t contain their glee every time they found a new species. Some canyons were dry as Terran deserts while still others had barely any vegetation and looked like they’d been created the day before.

She was going to be stuck on this planet with absolutely nothing to do at this rate. They were scheduled for a yearlong stretch if they found anything interesting. And they had.

For the botanists.

Calla used the trunk of one of the tougher-looking plants to steady herself when the rocks beneath her feet tumbled away during another tremor. She moved along the ridge until she spotted an easier way down.

All this vegetation needed water and she was hoping to find a pond at the bottom. That might be her Terran brain in action again. Not all life required water. And she might have a year to catch up reading all about the other types of life if she didn’t find anything else to study.

The vegetation thinned to her right, so she moved that way and managed an easy trek to the canyon floor. If there was a pond or stream, it would likely be in the lowest portion. 

Maybe she’d find evidence of animal life there. Even fossilized remains would be a thrill.

A few hours later, she’d found nothing but frustration.

The only thing different from the last few days was that the tremors were increasing in intensity and duration. The seismologists would be just as thrilled as the botanists.

After finding no sign of animal life near the only water source she’d spotted, Calla started back up the canyon. The first sun was setting and soon it would be too dark to find anything. 

The tremors continued to increase and she found herself following the rhythmic pattern as she ascended.

Rocks and smaller pieces of vegetation slipped under her feet when she moved, and she had to slow her pace so she didn’t tumble to the bottom. When she scrambled over the edge, she threw herself to the ground and decided she needed to get in better shape.

A wild screech snatched the breath from her lungs and nearly deafened her. She searched the area for the cause.

The sky darkened and Calla looked up to find that it wasn’t clouds or vegetation blocking the setting suns.

The source of the screech was all the proof she needed that this planet had animal life after all.

Long lizard-like legs galloped toward her at an incredible pace. Upper arms flailed. Giant jaws opened and closed as shriek after shriek split the air and froze Calla in place.

At this distance, the size of the beast was impossible to gauge, but larger than anything on any planet humans had visited. Larger than Pathfinder. Maybe larger than five Pathfinders.

The rhythmic tremors continued as each foot crashed to earth, sending vegetation and dirt flying in all directions as it flattened whatever was in its path.

The creature raced closer, making dents in the earth and Calla looked back at the canyon she’d been surveying in horror.

It wasn’t a canyon after all. None of them were canyons.

They were footprints.



***

This story is part of the WEP/IWSG December Challenge. Check out the link and enjoy the other stories. It's always fun to see the variety of stories that spring from one prompt. And the talent is stellar!!

WEP CHALLENGE FOR DECEMBER 2019 - FOOTPRINTS. CHOSEN BY THE IWSG.

How about you? Any important footprints in your life?

I probably won't post until the New Year, so I hope those of you who celebrate enjoy a wonderful holiday season with your families.
Spread some love and kindness and joy!!!


Monday, December 9, 2019

Jane Godman & Finding Writing Inspiration

Please welcome the lovely Jane Godman back to the blog today!
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Inspiration can strike at the strangest times, just as it can dry up when we least expect it to. Here are some of the things that I’ve found over the years to fire up my ideas:   
  1. Read a variety of books
Stephen King once wrote, “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” The links between reading and writing are well known.
Within the pages of books other than your own, you will find ideas, learn about different writing styles, structure, and formatting. 
Research also helps you to relax and broadens your imagination, making it a great source for writing inspiration.
  1. 2. Listen to Music
Music can help you unwind while at the same time fuel your imagination, helping you write a piece conveying the same emotions as the songs you’re listening to.
The lyrics of a song itself can also tell a story. It can be the inspiration for a setting, dialogue or scene. I use playlists to set a mood according to the scene I’m writing. Action. Romance. Sexy. Sad. 
  1. Watch Television 
Television programs display different cultures, places and time periods. 
You can observe characters in situations that you wouldn’t see in real life. Take notes of memorable quotes from dialogues, turning them to inspiration for prompts or new topics.
  1. Engage with readers
Ask your readers for opinions about what they’ve read and what they want to read next. This can present you with a different point of view and new ideas.
By communicating with them, you’ll be able to know which areas you’re lacking. Take criticism as a way to improve and as inspiration for your next content.
  1. Always carry a notebook and a camera
Writing inspiration everywhere. It can be an old building, a painting, a newspaper article, even a person you pass in the street. 
Ideas don’t arrive when you want them to. They will often turn up when you least expect them. 
Keep a notebook and an album of photographs (or a Pinterest board). You can keep adding to it as you go along.  

These are a few ways I use to ignite a spark but there are so many others.  I hope you’ll share yours!
***
JANE GODMAN is a 2019 Romantic Novelists’ Award winner and 2018 Daphne du Maurier Award finalist. She writes thrillers for Harlequin Romantic Suspense/Mills and Boon Heroes and paranormal romance for Harlequin Nocturne/Mills and Boon Supernatural and St. Martin’s Press Romance. She also self publishes her historical and gothic stories.
Jane was born in Scotland and has lived in Germany, Wales, Malta, South Africa, and England. She still gets the urge to travel, although these days she tends to head for a Spanish beach, or a European city that is steeped in history. 
When she isn’t reading or writing romance, Jane enjoys cooking, spending time with her family, and enjoying the antics of her dogs, Gravy and Vera.  

 Connect with Jane Godman on the web:

Website         Facebook          Twitter         Goodreads



An unexpected family

A once-in-a-lifetime reunion in danger…


After a bitter breakup, FBI agent Everett Colton never expected to see his ex-girlfriend, Alyssa Bartholomew, again. Suddenly, tragedy reunites them—and makes them guardians of an orphaned baby girl. Everett suspects that her parents’ deaths were anything but innocent. When his instinct for danger proves correct, it’s his job to protect the child he’s grown to love…and the woman he never forgot.


Buy on:



Harlequin                 B&N 


Kobo        Book Depository        iBooks


***
Thanks Jane! Those tips are excellent! For me, music is always a source of inspiration and a way to find my way out of a dilemma. Reading too - although that may be just another excuse to read more!!

How about you? What are your favourite ways to find inspiration?

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

IWSG & Dreaming Big

The Insecure Writer's Support Group is the brainchild of Alex J. Cavanaugh. He, his clones, minions, friends, and fellow authors make it an amazing event every month.



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!


****

December 4 question - Let's play a game. Imagine. Role-play. How would you describe your future writer self, your life and what it looks and feels like if you were living the dream? Or if you are already there, what does it look and feel like? Tell the rest of us. What would you change or improve?

I'm a pretty content person - I like my life the way it is...

BUT

... if I'm dreaming big, then I'd probably add these changes

  • copies of my (multiple!) published books on the shelf in my den
  • a desk where my feet touch the ground and I can sit without pain for an hour at a time
  • someone in the background quietly cleaning my house with products that don't make me sneeze
  • and most important of all - me as a confident author who is able to tackle those major revisions without flinching and without needing more than 2 or 3 revision rounds!

How about you, what's a change that you would/will make if you're dreaming BIG?


Wednesday, November 6, 2019

IWSG & Strange Research

The Insecure Writer's Support Group is the brainchild of Alex J. Cavanaugh. He, his clones, minions, friends, and fellow authors make it an amazing event every month.




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!


***

November 6 question - What's the strangest thing you've ever googled in researching a story?

We're a fun bunch and I'm looking forward to seeing the answers to this question!

For one of my stories, the setting was a ranch so I did a lot of research on that.
The weirdest part of that research was on the different ways to brand cattle.
I now know a lot more about using dry ice to brand cattle than I ever thought I would!

I also have a pretty good idea about how to steal and fly a small personal plane without getting tracked by radar.

How about you? What fun things have you researched - or read about?
Anyone else's searches make them appear to be living a life of crime?




Monday, October 28, 2019

C. Lee McKenzie & Not Guilty



I’m delighted today to welcome author C. Lee McKenzie to my site to talk about her latest release, NOT GUILTY, as part of her MC Book Tour Blog adventure.

After you find out more about this tantalizing new story, be sure to enter Lee’s giveaway featured below.

* Not Guilty
* by C. Lee McKenzie
* Publication Date: October 25, 2019
* Genre: Young Adult

          A blood-smeared knife. One young man’s word against another. A lifetime dream crushed.
          The evidence points to Devon Carlyle. He was there when it happened. Everyone knows he had it in for Renzo Costa. And Costa says Devon was the one. In the judge’s rap of a gavel, Devon’s found guilty of assault. The star of the Oceanside High’s basketball team loses his shot at the one thing he’s worked so hard for—the championship game where college scouts could see how good he is.
          Now he makes his great shots in Juvenile Hall with kids far different from those that have always been in his life.
          Angry? Hell, yes.
          He’s bent on finding who did the crime. He’s bent on making them pay because he’s Not Guilty.
          But can he prove it?

For those who aren’t familiar with the author, here’s a bit of background on her.

C. Lee McKenzie has a background in Linguistics and Inter-Cultural Communication, but these days her greatest passion is writing for young readers. She has published five young adult novels: Sliding on the Edge, The Princess of Las Pulgas, Double Negative, and Sudden Secrets. Not Guilty is her most recent one.

          Sometimes she likes to jump into the world of the fantastic and when she does, she writes for the middle-grade reader. Some Very Messy Medieval Magick is the third book in the time-travel adventures of Pete and Weasel, with Alligators Overhead and The Great Time Lock Disaster being the first two. Sign of the Green Dragon, a stand-alone, takes the reader into ancient Chinese dragon myths and a quest for treasure.

          When she’s not writing she’s hiking or traveling or practicing yoga or asking a lot of questions about things she still doesn’t understand.

For more information on Lee and her writing, connect with her on FacebookTwitterInstagram and at her Website

NOT GUILTY can be found AMAZONSmashwords, Barnes & NobleKobo, and Goodreads.



The author’s other young adult books include: Sliding on the Edge, Princess of Las PulgasDouble NegativeSudden Secrets


GIVEAWAY

With Halloween celebrated this week, Lee’s giving away five digital copies of NOT GUILTY and a $10 Amazon Gift Certificate. This tour-wide giveaway will end at midnight on Tuesday, Nov. 5th.

To enter the giveaway, just click on the Rafflecopter widget below and follow the instructions. The widget may take a few seconds to load so please be patient. If the widget doesn’t show up, just click HERE and you’ll be directed to the widget.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks for stopping by today during Lee’s visit. Do you enjoy stories where the underdog becomes the champion? Don’t forget to enter the giveaway.



***

My review: 


This book is a powerful and emotional read - one of my favourite YA reads ever.
Devon is a 17-year-old basketball star who has everything going his way ... until he's accused of stabbing a man on a stretch of beach near his home.
Watching Devon go through so many challenges makes for a stressful and emotional ride that had me both in tears and cheering more than once.
Honest, gritty, realistic, and incredibly heartfelt.
These characters and this story will stay with you long after you've finished the final page.


A fabulous read!!


NOT GUILTY is out and about and it is so good. It's easily one of the most powerful and emotional YA books I've ever read. It pulled me in from the beginning, dug in its claws, and didn't let go until the last words. Do yourself a favour and pick up your copy!

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

WEP Challenge & The Crop

Every crop of students has their own personality, their own foibles, and strengths.

This crop is strong.

Teachers plant seeds in their students. Good teachers strive to improve the future with every lesson. Hope is paramount. 

There is no future without hope.

Teachers who don’t get that weed themselves out pretty quickly. Kids know far better than adults who is truly interested in them and who is just putting in the hours.

By the time they become teenagers, students who’ve been exposed to too many putting-in-timers are apathetic and that apathy might be the biggest problem facing the world today.

People who don’t care about anything breed more people who don’t care. Then society goes to hell, doesn’t even need the help of a hand basket.

This crop of students isn’t apathetic, they aren’t going to contribute to those issues. This group is going to do something about apathy. The future will be better because of those seeds planted long ago.

A ceremony isn’t strictly necessary, but pomp is never out of place at a moment like this.

The full moon brightens the clearing and the three take their places around the altar, black robes swirling around their feet.  Each raises their hands and speaks the words.

After a symbolic beat, the words are repeated.

Sparks sizzle at their fingertips and blue light arcs from one to the next and the third, completing the circle.

Sulphur burns the air, robes blow in the sudden wind, and the howl of the unknown fills the woods.

They’re ready.

The most successful crop in history.

The world will never be the same.

***

This story is part of the WEP/IWSG challenge. Check out the link to find all the details - there's still time to sign up. Make sure to check out the other stories - it's always a blast to see how everyone interprets the theme!

How about you? Any memorable graduation ceremonies? Anyone else worried about Apathy? 


Monday, October 14, 2019

Damyanti Biswas & You Beneath Your Skin

Please welcome my good blogging buddy Damyanti Biswas to the blog today!

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You Beneath Your Skin has been called a gritty novel, and Jemi is a romance writer--but we have found one common ground--Romance in a Gritty Setting!
Grit is sandy, gravelly, rough. Romance brings in images of softness. The two seem as different as-- well, to use a sad cliché-- chalk and cheese.
It is possible though to evoke romance in a grittier setting, and often, this works well to make the novel grittier still, and the romance more tender. If you show moments of tenderness, then those of violence, the harsher realities of being human are even more effectively seen in contrast.
There are two romantic relationships in You Beneath Your Skin:
Jatin-Anjali : Anjali is a conflicted Indian-American single mother of a teenaged boy with autism. She's a psychiatrist, also involved in a long standing-affair with Jatin Bhatt, a patriarchal, corrupt cop. Not much stereotypical romantic potential there, especially when you consider their ages: Jatin is 44, Anjali, 39.
Maya-Pawan: Pawan is a handsome young detective of 23, straight-laced and principled as they come, who admires Maya, his cute 27-year old boss who runs an investigative agency. Maya has a giant crush on Pawan--but all of this is complicated by the fact that Maya carries a secret. She has vitiligo, and wears covered clothing to hide the patches.
The setting is New Delhi—a burgeoning metropolis known more for its politics than romance—and my story is very real, it does not follow tropes of either crime, or romance, or romantic crime. It is a novel obsessed with the characters it portrays of which the city of New Delhi is one.
All in all, the novel does not sound like a typical home for romance, but here's how romance appears in my gritty crime novel, You Beneath Your Skin:
  1. A romance where each fills a lack in the other: In my mind, no matter what the story, if the reader comes to understand  characters, you have won the battle. In You beneath Your Skin,  Jatin stays in an unhappy marriage to save his career, because his father-in-law is also his boss. His affair with Anjali is a bid to escape his dreary existence. Anjali, on the other hand, stays in the affair despite her guilt because she's attracted to him, and because he is her way of escaping the rigors of her life--single motherhood to a special-needs son.
  2. A romance that grows as the story develops: Without giving much away, we can say that Jatin's love for Anjali deepens when they face crises together. A love that changes and strengthens is one that keeps the reader engaged.
  3. A romance sub-plot. A light sub-plot provides necessary relief from the darkness in a gritty crime story. In You BeneathYour Skin, that relief is provided by Pawan and Maya, and their nuanced, positive relationship throughout.
  4.  A romance in gritty settings needn't be a happily ever after. A traditional romance needs a happy ending but when you write romance into a grittier novel, a tragedy or an unrequited love keeps the reader guessing. 
  5. The relationship between the two main protagonists and their ups and down hold interest and provide narrative tension in places where the crime is in the background. When crime is in the foreground, the relationships in the background provide a certain wholeness—life continues, as does romance, in the harshest of settings and circumstances.
  6. Moments of  tenderness: Tender moments between the characters establish their traits and this is something that makes the ending come together when the novel reaches its climax. In You Beneath Your Skin, everything collides in the end and the effect is heightened because the romance was established beforehand--the reader  (hopefully) connects with the characters and wants to know their fate, romantic or otherwise.
  7. Poetry: Jatin is a lover of classical Urdu poetry, and of poets who are known as much for their philosophical take on life and loss, as they are for their couplets on love. This works throughout the novel to retain a sense of whimsy, of delicacy, of languor in a story that is a relentless barrage of events.


In You Beneath Your Skin, love and loss hold hands in my attempt to show Delhi and its denizens as they really are, through complex, conflicted characters. The romance in the novel makes it not just a crime story, but as well a story that is (hopefully), deeply and unapologetically human.
***

You Beneath Your Skin is a crime novel about the investigation of an acid attack on a woman from Delhi’s upper class, set against the backdrop of crimes against underprivileged women. They are assaulted, disfigured with acid, and murdered. 
While the framework is that of a thriller, the novel threads together different narrative strands. The author tackles various social issues: crimes against women and why they occur, the nexus between political corruption, police and big money; the abuse of the underprivileged, be it adults or children. 
Of these the issue of crimes against women is the strongest—why do men attack women? Why do they gang together? What happens when a woman tries to break the glass ceiling? Can toxic masculinity masquerade as benevolent patriarchy?
Parents would also find this novel fascinating: how do you bring up a good human being in today’s
troubled times? How much do you know of your teenager’s life? If you’re the parent of a special child, what challenges do you face and what sort of support can you expect?

It is a  whodunnit, but also a whydunnit, because violent crime unravels those affected: the people, the relationships, the very fabric of society, and we get a glimpse of what lies beneath. That’s why the title, You Beneath Your Skin.
The narrative of the book was researched and shaped during the author’s work with Project WHY, and some of the experiences generously shared by acid attack survivors from the non-profit Stop Acid Attacks. To return this debt of gratitude, all author proceeds from the book will go to these two non-profits.
Outside India: 



Net galley: http://netgal.ly/fZfa9s 


Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/47634028-you-beneath-your-skin


***

Damyanti Biswas lives in Singapore, and works with Delhi's underprivileged children as part of
Project Why, a charity that promotes education and social enhancement in underprivileged communities. Her short stories have been published in magazines in the US, UK, and Asia, and she helps edit the Forge Literary Magazine. You can find her on her blog and twitter.


 All the author proceeds will go to Project WHY and Stop Acid Attacks.  
    
       Book links:        Outside India: https://buff.ly/2LSv3vw
                                India: https://buff.ly/2KMXlXN



***

Thanks so much, Damyanti!

The book is indeed gritty and powerful and stays with you long after you turn the last page. The relationships between the characters is the reason the story pulled so hard at me, even when some of it was very difficult to read. The characters are people searching for better - and isn't that often what life is all about? If you haven't read You Beneath Your Skin yet, do yourself a favour and pick up a copy today!!

How about you? Do you like gritty stories that pull you in and don't let go? Does having those tender moments make the dark parts easier to read? Have you read You Beneath Your Skin yet?