Wednesday, April 21, 2021

WEP & Jardin

Thanks so much to the WEP team for selecting Jardin as the runner up this time around! Congrats to Toi for her powerful entry and the emotions she evoked!


Jasta woke well before her alarm. In reality she wasn’t sure she’d actually slept. Who could sleep when Freedom Morning was so close?

Jasta shoved out of her bunk and slipped into the bathing chamber to prepare for the day. She rushed carefully through her preparations. She wanted to look her best when she dreamt back on this day.

At her first stop in engineering, she found grinning crew members, sparkling equipment, and enough data to confirm that Freedom Morning was a go.

The air in Esperanza was now completely Jardin’s air. Terran air was left far behind.

In medical, she confirmed there were no longer ill effects from the new combination of hydrogen, nitrogen, and what their scientists called jardigen. A molecule never seen back on Terra. At least from the records she had. Records from seven generations ago.

Hard to even imagine the changes in knowledge over that time frame. Leaving behind a burning husk of a planet in search of a future.

A future about to be realized.

Jasta checked in several more sections before heading to the gallery. The largest room on Esperanza was filled with her people. Not everyone fit, but she knew the others were watching from the screens. She doubted even one was asleep.

Jasta moved to the front of the room and grinned at the spontaneous round of applause.

“We’re here. We’re ready. This morning will begin a new chapter in humanity’s tale. We’ve got things to prove. We’ve been given a second chance. A second planet. We’ve all pledged to ensure we don’t harm this one. We’ve studied, we’ve learned.”

Her voice trembled and Jasta took in a deep breath before beginning again.

“We’ve read about wind and weather. We’ve seen vids of mountains and seas. We’ve heard the calls of fauna and smelled the scents of flora, but from a distance. Today, we experience all of those in a new way. In the best possible way. On Jardin, our new home.”

A cheer resounded through the room. Jasta blinked away the tears of pride in these people she loved.

“We’re going to dream better. We’re going to do better. We’re going to be better.”

The gallery rang as the people echoed her words. The promise they’d pledged every morning of their lives.

“It’s time.”

Jasta led the way to the nearest exit and for the first time in seven generations, the door opened.

Jasta tried to keep to a sedate pace, but joy and hope sent her into a run within only a few steps. She whooped and threw her arms to the sky.

Felt the wind.

Smelled the planet.

Saw the mountains.

Touched the grass.

And believed.

Freedom Morning was their chance.

And they weren’t going to screw it up.


The above story is part of the WEP Challenge

Have you participated in the Challenge before? It's always fun and productive. Not only is it good to flex those short story muscles, the real bonus is reading all of the amazing stories springing from a single prompt. Follow the link to read more!

Monday, April 19, 2021

Nicole Souza & Things That Shouldn't Happen

Please welcome Nicole Souza to the blog today. Her book Sins Of Our Mothers is a dystopian look at what humans have done to our world with a few fascinating twists.

I asked Nicole to list the Top 5 things from her book that she hopes never happen on earth!


The Top 5 Things from Sins of Our Mothers I Hope Never Happen to Humanity

I don’t know if it’s the same for all dystopian writers, but for me, the things from the novel I most hope never happen to humanity are the ones that seem most likely to happen when observing social and political trends in the world. Maybe that’s the very reason dystopian fiction is written? It’s hard to say.

To keep this post at a readable length (I could go on forever!), I’ll choose just the top 5 things from Sins of Our Mothers that I hope never come to pass.

1) Men give up completely and allow themselves to be erased from their families, society, and history.

Humanity is currently experiencing a multidirectional transition. Anyone paying even the slightest bit of attention knows a lot of things are changing globally. Some things for good, some for bad. Because this post is particular to what I hope doesn’t happen, I’ll be focusing mostly on the bad—sorry! Though I do hope my thoughts translate as hopeful in the end!

As a freedom-loving woman, I want all women—all people for that matter—to experience the same opportunities I’ve had in my life. Opportunities made possible by the conquering of immeasurable struggle and hardship by women and men who came before. It’s impossible for me to fully comprehend their experiences having grown up myself in a relatively peaceful world that affords the same liberties to me that it does to those in power. Seating charts in elementary school aside, I’ve never been told where to sit. I’ve never been denied work due to my sex. And aside from my dad throughout my childhood, I’ve never depended on a man.

Let’s talk about dads for a minute.

Yes, a lot of opportunities were given to me because the Constitution of the United States, where I was born, declares I have certain liberties. However, the opportunities that mattered most, the ones that make me who I am today—well I have my parents to thank for those. I’ve depended greatly on both my mother, and my father.

My parents both grew up poor. They each fought ruthlessly for the comfortable life they live now. Learning how they grew up, and comparing how I grew up, was how I comprehended the American Dream. But the American Dream isn’t just another way to say “rags to riches.” In fact, I’d argue it’s not that at all. Though building personal success is a beautiful part of the freedom this land affords, a person doesn’t need to be extremely wealthy to be successful. They just need fertile soil in which to grow.

For humans, fertile soil is family.

While my biological parents were married before my birth, and remain married today, I grew up with many friends who either barely saw or never met their fathers. From a young age I’ve wondered why it’s usually the father missing from the picture (though not always). And before you get the wrong idea about where this post is going, my fatherless friends all grew up to be wonderful people. I’ve witnessed single moms, stepparents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and adoptive parents give the children they’re raising, or helping to raise, all the love they could possibly need.

See, this isn’t about the challenges of growing up without a father. It’s about what men lose by choosing a life—any life—other than family. It’s about the tragedy of a grown man choosing to not experience becoming fertile soil to others, especially their children. Becoming fertile soil for others is the natural course, and I daresay purpose, of human life.

Of course, many of you great men want families, but for reasons out of your control, it hasn’t happened for you yet. You can still experience the joy of caring for grandparents, parents, siblings, nieces and nephews, godchildren, friends, and those in your community. Becoming fertile soil isn’t just about fathering. In my experience, it’s the men who run from fatherhood who also run from sonhood, brotherhood, and unclehood.

Great men leave the world more beautiful wherever they go.

Men who have chosen to disappear from their families and communities, you can course correct. The reason U-turns exist is because human beings tend to take wrong turns. Whether you were frightened, angry, or just a garbage person at the time, you can make better decisions going forward, and be even better than you would’ve been if you hadn’t experienced the nothingness of living life without becoming fertile soil.

For the record, we’re all garbage people at different times in our lives, this isn’t unique to men. Trust me, I have plenty of regrets and have made choices that keep me up at night. Often that’s how we learn to make good choices. And for men with children they don’t know, families from whom they’re estranged, and neighbors they’ve never helped, it’s no different for you. You can make good choices. It’s insane how strong women and children are. Forgiveness is given quite freely to the genuinely penitent.

What scares me most about the common absence of men from families and communities in our generation is that there are so many in today’s world pouncing in to take advantage of your absence. This is causing tremendous division amongst us regular folk who are otherwise peaceful. Governments are more power-hungry than I’ve seen in my lifetime, women are more prone to leave the raising of their children to strangers to occupy male spaces, and children are being influenced in countless directions. Where fathers have always been their children’s shields, the darts they once stopped are now soaring through, along with plenty of new darts being shot because those with power and agendas know home defenses are down.

Everyone wants to blame someone else for what’s happening.

I blame men for giving up on themselves. And women for kicking men while they’re down. Nothing drives a man away faster than an uncompassionate woman.

Men’s abilities, innate talents, and minds are different from ours. We need men. Not because we can’t survive without them, but because with them, we do so much more than just survive. Life should be excellent, and women and men increase each other’s excellence.

Sins of Our Mothers takes place fifteen-hundred years from now, long after men are removed from society and shepherded to remote settlements around the globe where they’re “harvested” for sperm. Women believe women are the only kind of human that exists. They’re taught in school the seeds that fertilize their eggs are grown and harvested in the earth. When Lyratelle, the protagonist, discovers the world of men, and the truth about creating human children, her life spins out of orbit. It’s up to her to figure out how to save her brother and the men she’s grown to love from the nothingness—the world more and more men are disappearing into in our day.

This is definitely number one on the list of things I hope never happen from the book.

2) Women lose their unique identity by becoming Men 2.0.

I’ve never understood why men are considered the more physically strong sex.
Hear me out. It’s relevant, I swear.
Men’s and women’s bodies are built differently. Men can lift more weight and are better

to have around for moving large objects. They endure manual labor longer as a general rule. There’s a lot to say about male strength, and I’m so grateful it exists. Especially when moving! But there’s also something called “man flu” remember?

Going about a normal day’s work when sick, cramping, getting headaches, and other physical challenges is women’s thing. It’s a different challenge than moving large objects, but women have to learn to deal with menstrual pain (and its accompanying hormonal showers) from a very young age. We still go to school, work, and fulfill other responsibilities while cramping horrifically and bleeding all over ourselves. All the while wanting to bite anyone’s head off who crosses our path, and simultaneously knowing it’s not “rational” to feel that way. Trust me, I’d love a week off every month to hibernate but that’s not how our society works. Women have to suck it up and get stuff done no matter how we’re feeling. That’s physical strength, too!

I think the differences between women’s and men’s physical strengths are summed up well in two stories. First, my aunt and uncle:

My aunt suffers from chronic kidney stones. Once in a while, she’ll wince slightly. When asked what’s wrong she’ll wave a hand a say, “Oh, just passing some stones.” One day, her husband fell to the ground in agony and exclaimed he was dying. Unwilling to hear any of my aunt’s suggestions, he called an ambulance. On the road to what he insisted was his death bed, it was discovered he had—you guessed it—a single, tiny kidney stone.

The second story is about me and my husband. One day, while packing to move, I was becoming overwhelmed and decided I needed to clear my head, so I took the dogs to the park to walk for a bit in the fresh air. I wasn’t gone more than an hour. Upon returning, I found the moving truck filled and organized beautifully with our couches, beds, dressers, tables, and every other large object in the apartment. Having me and my anxiety gone, my husband was able to quickly load all the big stuff into the truck alone. I couldn’t even comprehend how he got it all out the door, let alone stacked neatly in the truck.

The way I see it, men have exceptionally strong outer bodies, and women have exceptionally strong inner bodies. Both are important. Both are good. They’re compatible—a healthy combination.

Isn’t it obvious that we need each other?

Some women today do all they can to occupy male spaces. It doesn’t make sense! We’re not built for the same things. Neither is better than the other, and yet, it seems women have decided it’s better to be men. Think about how weird that is—our bodies grow and deliver other human beings to the world. Men can’t even grow and deliver kidney stones with dignity.

In Sins of Our Mothers, women have completely left womanhood behind. Their eggs are extracted, fertilized, and implanted in simulated uteri conversationally called “pods.” They no longer bear children with their bodies. They witness pregnancy and delivery from the outside—from the view of fathers. Their breasts don’t produce milk, so they bottle-feed their babies. They all work outside the home, so their children are raised by grandparents or daycare workers. Instead of creating a community of women helping one another, they live in competition with each other in the workforce.

Women have become men. A transition that started in our day, in both the book and reality.

Don’t misunderstand; I’m not saying women must be homemakers. Not even close! I can’t cook to save my life. My husband is a gourmet chef. He’s more domestic in every way. He cleans quicker and more efficiently and if it weren’t for him, I’d never don a clean pair of socks.

The point is, women and men have different strengths. We’re good at different things. Our bodies are capable of different things. We’re designed to go together. Women don’t improve by becoming men. I really, really think we need to course correct before we lose what’s innate, unique, and impressive about us.

And please don’t read any of this as political. If you’re like me, you’re tired of everything being politicized. These are human issues. I care deeply about humanity, and not at all about politics. Human relationships should be between humans. Institutions of any kind are irrelevant to these conversations.

3) Children are raised by governments and brainwashed for a political agenda.

In Sins of Our Mothers, both female and male children are raised on lies. Both groups believe men are defective women who didn’t develop properly or fully in the pods. Women are taught “defects” never survive past ten years of age. Men are sent to remote settlements after spending the first twelve years of their lives in prisons deceivingly called research facilities.

The agenda in this situation is clear: the characters are living sex segregation without ever knowing more than one sex exists. Women are in control, and men need to stay controlled in order for women to retain all power.

For me, despite what agenda is in play, living anything less than a true and authentic life, rich with the freedom to explore our personal and collective beliefs, share knowledge openly, and say whatever thoughts run though our heads, is unacceptable. Particularly when controlled by people who have absolutely nothing to do with our families and communities. Willing surrendering one’s freedoms of thought, speech, and the exchange of knowledge to governments or like entities is one of the greatest betrayals to the human family.

Every person, by virtue of being conceived by other members of our human family and born into this world, has the right to consider freely all philosophies, to form sovereign opinions, and live to their full capacity according to the principles they construct through independent observation and individual experience.

Now, someone could easily argue, “Sometimes surrendering freedoms is good. We’ve already surrendered to our governments the freedom to harm others. Isn’t that a wonderful thing?”

My answer, of course, is, “Yes!” Because it is a wonderful thing. It means the weakest among us can still thrive, still live their dreams, and pursue happiness. It also means we have far more people contributing to philosophical discussions and the exchange of knowledge and ideas. You don’t have to be the alpha wolf to contribute to conversation. Life is much better for all now that arguments (at least in most places) aren’t settled by shootouts on the street.

This is one case in which the surrender of one freedom increased freedom overall.

Indoctrination—the surrender of our minds—is something all people should be willing to fight against.

4) A person’s age to die is determined by those in power.

In the settlements, men are given lethal injections at age fifty. Women have gotten all the sperm they need from them at that point and choose to not “waste” anymore taxpayer dollars and resources on keeping them alive in the settlements.

As someone who has benefitted enormously from relationships with grandparents, aunts and uncles, friends’ parents, and the elderly in my community, I consider individual human lives innately valuable, from conception to final breath. It should never be up to anyone to determine the end of another person’s life.

I maintain that a person can’t believe human life has intrinsic value or purpose, or that we’re anything more than pond scum, if they also believe it’s ok to determine when another person will cease to live. Every human who has ever lived was conceived in a woman’s womb. Therefore, conception is proof enough of the right to be here, to live and exist exactly as we choose every day that our bodies make breath and pump blood.

I also assert that the only way for me or others to form such opinions, including opposing opinions, is through open conversation guaranteed only by the free exchange of ideas.

5) Marriage is Outlawed.

Book 2 (of what I anticipate will be a trilogy) will better show how marriage became illegal in the Sins of Our Mothers universe. Because the first book deals with the world fifteen- hundred years after men were erased, marriage isn’t even a concept, notion, or thought in any character’s deepest subconscious. The second book will show two timelines: a continuation of Lyratelle’s timeline beginning where the first book ended, and also Melissa’s timeline, which deals with our day.

Marriage, though exceedingly difficult, is the most valuable union that exists. Having a life partner, someone in my corner, and in whose corner I spend a significant amount of time and energy, who knows the struggles I’ve never shown anyone else, and whose struggles I witness daily, who cares about my wellbeing, goals, and mental health, and whose wellbeing, goals, and mental health are priorities in my life, has been the single most rewarding road I’ve ever traveled.

Friends often say, “Yeah, but you can get all that from friends and other family. You don’t have to be married to be loved and supported.”

They’re right. You can live a full, rich, blessed life being single. You can have an amazing support system and find joy in your relationships. Even more importantly, you can enrich others’ lives. You can be an amazing support and joy for others.

Marriage, though, is different.

Marriage isn’t just loving and supporting. It’s not just calling your partner out when they’re being foolish or encouraging them when they’re down. It’s not just having each other’s backs when the world turns against you. Marriage is the formal, and ultimate, recognition and proclamation of your dedication to one another.

There are many examples I can use to illustrate my thoughts. Since food is my go-to for pretty much everything, I’ll use sandwiches.

love bread. A single slice of bread offers unspeakable joy. When I’m there to retrieve a scalding hot slice of toast the moment it pops, with softened butter ready to spread and premixed cinnamon sugar to sprinkle over the top, I absolutely know—beyond any hint of doubt—I’m about to partake of undefinable goodness. It’s the same feeling I get when my mom cuts me a slice of homemade bread to sample her fresh apricot preserves.

You can put almost anything edible on toast—cottage cheese and avocado, peanut butter and honey, peanut butter and bananas, peanut butter and jelly, chunky peanut butter, egg salad, honey butter, Nutella, there’s really no limit. It’s all good and wonderful.

However, toast and single slices of homemade bread are not the same as sandwiches.

Sandwiches are a compilation of ingredients held together by two slices of bread. You can pack exponentially more into a sandwich than you can onto a single slice.

Suddenly you have double cheeseburgers, cold cut combos and clubs, hoagies, paninis, entire restaurant chains build around chicken sandwiches, grilled cheese, BLTs, and the list goes on.

Right now, someone’s probably thinking, “I prefer a single slice of bread with preserves over grilled cheese.”

And guess what? That’s totally fine! The purpose of sandwiches isn’t to make toast feel less significant. There may be a piece of toast out there thinking, “Man, it’s not fair the bread in sandwiches get help holding it all together.” At the same time, there may be a sandwich thinking, “Wow! How did that one slice of bread hold all that chunky peanut butter alone?”

It’s ok that we all go about life differently. The variety is beautiful. I don’t want cinnamon toast to stop existing just because the grilled meat lovers footlong is so delicious.

Those in marriages know the benefits. We know and love how a life partner enriches our lives. Many people choosing the single life in no way diminishes the value of marriage. And marriage isn’t responsible for the lonely souls who remain unmarried against their wishes. While this situation can be tremendously trying, we shouldn’t advocate to abolish that which makes it so. That would be like advocating to rid the world of toilet paper because not everyone has access to it.

The compilation of ingredients held together by two slices of bread—the meat of the sandwich—that’s marriage. All the things you work together to keep are the very things that keep you together. And sometimes bits and pieces fall out. No marriage is perfect. But I definitely don’t want to live in a world where it can’t be chosen and entered into freely.

Much of what I’ve said may appear controversial. The good thing is, I love conversation! I’d be delighted to hear from you, whether you agree with what I’ve said, or strongly oppose it. Let’s keep conversation and the exchange of thoughts, opinions, and ideas alive.


It is a pleasure to welcome author Nicole Souza here today to talk about her latest release, SINS OF OUR MOTHERS.

◊ Genre: Dystopian Novel
◊ Publisher: WiDo Publishing (August 25, 2020)
◊ Print & eBooks
◊ Paperback: 338 pages
◊ ISBN-10: 1947966391
◊ ISBN-13: 978-1947966390

     It has been fifteen hundred years since the solar flare devastation of the Global Catastrophe. Due to the radioactivity in the harvesting fields, society dismisses its defective children as nothing more than flawed products of the malfunctioned seeds in the field.

     But Lyratelle, a hyper-observant musical prodigy, believes these “defects” are intelligent, particularly her own sibling, the youngest child of her impervious mother. Abandoning her dream career, Lyratelle climbs the bureaucratic ladder to run the Defect Research Center, where she can safeguard the child.

     With an underground team of women who share her uncertainties, Lyratelle unearths the Old History truth that womankind’s survival actually hinges on the existence of these defects.

     When General Sarah Love, the city’s most powerful advocate against the defects, detects Lyratelle’s sympathy toward the creatures, she threatens the life of Lyratelle’s sibling.

     Now Lyratelle’s desperate attempt to save this child endangers everyone she loves—her team, her family, even the existence of the defects themselves.

SINS OF OUR MOTHERS is available at AMAZONBarnes & Noble * WiDo Publishing. Also, be sure to add it to your TBR List on Goodreads.

Meet the Author


As the third of eight siblings, Nicole has always been surrounded by people. Among her immediate family are spoken seven languages. Her favorite thing is hearing her nieces and nephews speak French, Tongan, or Mandarin. It’s no surprise she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Languages, as language is one of her greatest passions, topped only by music and Beat Saber.

Nicole minored in Women Studies and continues to take a particular interest in both women’s history and their individual stories. She’s grateful for her ancestors and other women who paved the way for her to pursue her dream of publishing stories and strives to create new avenues for the coming generations to pursue their dreams.

Though she’s lived-in various states in the U.S. and Brazil, Nicole considers Utah “home base” and continuously finds herself returning, even when previous moves were intended to be permanent. She attributes her love of Utah to the beauty of the Wasatch Mountains and the incredible people who make it feel like home, even when she’s been away for long periods of time. Recently, however, after visiting her sister’s family overseas, she’s been dreaming of a quiet beach house in Taiwan.

Connect with Nicole on her website

Be sure to enter the tour wide giveaway below. If the widget doesn’t appear, you can still enter by clicking HERE.

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Thanks so much for stopping by today. Do you enjoy books where the main protagonist is a female? 


Thanks, Nicole!

I find it highly entertaining that in the previous post to this one, I declared myself as a person who is most definitely NOT controversial!!!

Nicole has created an intriguing world that has its basis in some of the big issues on our planet today. We humans have a lot of work to do in order to repair our planet and ensure the future or our species!

How about you? Any thoughts on Nicole's story? Any parts of your story, or one you've read recently, you hope never happen on earth?

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

IWSG & Risk Taking

 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.

IWSG badge

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!  

April 7 question - Are you a risk-taker when writing? Do you try something radically different in style/POV/etc. or add controversial topics to your work?

Short Answer: Nope!

Slightly Longer Answer:

My memoir, Dancing With Dementia, is a bit of a mixed genre. Most of the book is written in short snippets about our experiences with dementia. These sections are organized by themes. They read as short stories (although they are 100% factual). The back of the book includes lists relevant to families experiencing the early stages of dementia (early warning signs, communication tips, self-care tips etc.). While this isn't exactly controversial, it does combine a couple of styles/genres in one book.

My Bloo Moose romances follow the most important romance rule - there is always a happy ending! My characters don't always follow stereotypical gender role jobs. I blend a lot more humour into my romantic suspense than is typical. But, no, nothing too controversial.

That pretty much matches my personality.

How about you? Anyone going boldly where no one has gone before? Anyone bending gender stereotypes? Anyone writing in second person? Anyone thrive on controversy?