Thursday, December 1, 2022

WEP & Harry's Mission

Nothing was going to stop Harry from achieving his mission. He’d planned every step. It had taken him days and days. Now, he had to make sure no one messed it up.


He ate all his supper. Even the broccoli.

He scraped off his plate. Put it in the dishwasher.

He didn’t splash in the bath.

Well, not too much.


Harry put on his new pajamas. The feet were a little too long, but he’d be careful.


At bedtime, he only asked for one extra story.

Then he waited.

Waiting was hard.

So was staying awake.


Harry pinched his toes and counted all the way to a hundred.

He whispered his plan to Marshall, but the stuffed Dalmatian didn’t have any ideas on how to stay awake.


When he’d waited forever, he looked at his clock. The first number was a nine. Or was it a six? He traced the number on his hand like his teacher had shown him. It was a nine.


That had to be late. No one could stay awake until nine.


Harry hugged Marshall for luck and then snuck out of bed. The nightlight helped him see and he peeked into the hall. Lights were still on downstairs but they’d have to leave them on tonight.


Harry slid to the side of the stairs and held the banister tight. His pjs were a little slippery but he only fell once on his way down.


When he reached the bottom, he looked down the hall. No one. He tiptoed into the living room and grinned. No presents were under the tree yet. He wasn’t too late.


Harry went straight to his hiding place, between the two chairs and in front of the bookshelf. Then he sat down to wait some more. He was going to see Santa’s face for the first time. All he had to do was not fall asleep.


Harry jerked awake when something wet touched his face. He tried to roll away, but the wet followed him. When something barked, Harry opened his eyes as the dog licked him again. A Dalmatian. Just like Marshall. “Did Santa bring you?”


The dog woofed and jumped in Harry’s lap.


Mom and Dad came into the room with their coffee cups. “Merry Christmas, Harry.”


“Did Santa bring me a puppy?”


“Didn’t you see Santa?”


“No.” He must have fallen asleep after all. He hadn't seen Santa's face.


Mom picked up a red paper from the plate where they’d left the cookies. “Looks like Santa left you a note.”


“What does it say?”


“Maybe next year.”


Harry nodded and hugged the Dalmation. "I'll see him next year."

***

Tagline: Harry's on a mission to see a face for the first time

The above is part of the WEP challenge First Time Ever I Saw Your Face. Please check out the links to read the other entries into the challenge. There's lots of time to join as the entries will be open from Dec 1-15. I hope you'll join in the fun!!!



Wednesday, November 2, 2022

IWSG & NaNo

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!  

November 2 question - November is National Novel Writing Month. Have you ever participated? If not, why not?

I LOVE NaNo!

WAY back when I first stumbled into writing for fun (at that point I had no actual knowledge of the publishing biz) I learned about NaNo. Sounded like fun so I jumped in. This was on November 1st.

I started a new project and won. My prize? A rambling mess of a story that required a ton of edits! I learned so much from writing that mess.

Since then, I've done NaNo fairly regularly. Now, I have a much better idea of how I write a story, and my projects no longer require all those edits. I still don't outline or plot in advance, but the characters and main points of a story percolate in my brain long before I start chapter 1.

We all have different ways of writing a story, so the NaNo experience might not be for everyone, but it makes me happy. NaNo is all about the joy of a community focused on writing. As part of the IWSG, we all know something about that!

How about you? Do you NaNo? Are you a rebel?

If you want a NaNo buddy, I'm @jemifraser over there!

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Hey, Thrillers!

 Lindsay swallowed hard and looked into the camera. “Hey Thrillers. It’s been a fun year broadcasting with you. Just wanted to let you know that, in case this is our last video. Ever.”

Julie laughed and switched the feed to her own camera. “Hey everyone. Can you believe the woman who dove with hungry sharks and climbed into a derelict mine in search of treasure is afraid of a cemetery?”


“Those are thrills. This is spooky stuff. Not my thing at all.”


Julie lit up her face with the flashlight beneath her chin. “But it is mine. And you lost the coin toss.”


All true.


Julie smirked. “Okay, Thrillers, you’ve been watching the live stream of the cabin for hours now. No one has entered or exited since we checked it out together before sunset. Now, it’s five minutes before midnight.”


Lindsay sighed heavily. “On All Hallow’s Eve, when the veil between worlds is at its thinnest. When spirits have the best chance of crossing that veil with a full moon to light their way.”


Julie made a Wooo sound and Lindsay glared at her. Julie lowered her voice in a conspiratorial whisper while she looked at the camera. “Okay, Thrillers, we’re moving in. Approaching the cabin as the clock ticks closer to midnight. Lindsay, remind our viewers about the legend.”


Lindsay blew out a breath and steadied her voice. “Here, deep in the swamps surrounding New Orleans, the line between reality and the supernatural is always thin. Voices lure you in far deeper than you planned to go. Mists rise from the ground, sneaking between the plants and reaching ever upward.”


Lindsay panned her camera down and around, showing the old forest and the mists. The full moon made the pictures perfectly creepy and she had to work to keep her voice level. “On this night seven times seven times seven years ago, in 1679, a family lived here. The youngest was the seventh son of a seventh son.”


Julie grinned and picked up the tale. “The number seven has power. Young Caleb Bouchard felt it growing inside. He’d told his parents but they urged him to keep it quiet, to never use his powers, to never let others know. But Caleb was two times seven years of age and oh, so sure of his control. Sure that he was a good person and that the power would do as he commanded.”


When Julie nodded to her, Lindsay continued. “Caleb decided the night of All Hallow’s Eve would be the day he’d show them all that his power was good. He waited for the stroke of midnight, waited for the moon to shine. And then he called for the spirits to cross. Called for them to rid the world of those who would harm others. Called for them to spare those of good heart.”


Julie whispered. “Witnesses heard terrible screams and saw flashing lights, but there was no evidence of fire. No evidence of anything. Not Caleb. Not his family. Not a trace.”


Her phone vibrated in her pocket, and Lindsay took over. “It’s almost midnight. Count it down with us.”


Julie put her hand on the door and slowly twisted it as Lindsay counted. “Five, four, three, two, one. Midnight.”


Julie threw open the door and light bloomed from inside, flashing and changing. A hideous howl filled the night and Julie jumped back with a shriek.


Then the iconic first beats of Michael Jackson’s Thriller filled the air and Lindsay couldn’t keep in the laughter anymore.


It took Julie about three seconds before she joined in. Then she moved to stand beside Lindsay with a playful swat on her arm. She tapped her hand over her heart and then smiled at the camera. “She got me. Just remember, payback is coming. Happy Halloween, Thrillers!”


***

Tagline: A legend of a Seventh Son of a Seventh Son



The above is part of the WEP Challenge for October! Be sure to click the links to get to more entries for the Challenge. This is always a favorite time of year for flash fiction. I hope you join in for this round!





Wednesday, October 5, 2022

IWSG, Romance, and Hope

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!  

October's Question: What do you consider the best characteristics of your favorite genre?

My favourite genre for both writing and reading is romance, specifically romantic suspense on the lighter side of the genre.

I love this genre because it's all about hope.

  • Hope that you can become a better person
  • Hope that you can find someone to spend your life with
  • Hope that you can solve the problem
  • Hope that you can make the world a better place
  • Hope that good will always win
  • Hope that hard work pays off
  • Hope that love makes everything better
  • Hope that happy endings can be real

Of course, Hope isn't specific to romance.

I also read a lot of Mystery, Fantasy, & SciFi where Hope is often a major theme - at least in the books I love!

How about you? Do you like books that have Hope as a central theme? What's the central theme of the genre you like best?

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

HR Sinclair & Oscar The Apprehensive Apparition!

 I'm delighted to welcome HR Sinclair to the blog along with Oscar, the Apprehensive Apparation! Before we get to her feature, I had 2 questions to ask Holly!

Writing for young people is a delightful challenge. What was your favorite part of writing a chapter book?


It’s freeing. You can be goofy and silly. There’s no bogging down on subplots, twists, red herrings, or going to dark places– it’s about wonderment and journey and joy.


What was the most challenging?


Choosing the age range. Children develop at such different rates, picking the correct age is difficult. You would think having a range would make it easier, but it really doesn’t. In the end, I went with my gut.


***


It’s a pleasure to welcome Author H. R. Sinclair here today as part of her tour from with MC Book Tours featuring her book, OSCAR, THE APPREHENSIVE APPARITION, to be released the first week of October.


This is a Chapter Book for ages 5 through 8 but is a delight to read no matter your age. If you’ve ever enjoyed Casper, then you’ll be glad you got to know Oscar.


Oscar, the Apprehensive Apparition

By H. R. Sinclair

Chapter Book for Ages 5-8


*Independently published

*ISBN: 9798848409956

*Dimensions: 5x8

*42 pages, black and white illustrations

*eBook: 3.99

*Print book: 6.99

*Release date: Oct 3


Oscar the ghost dwells happily in his cozy cottage, where he hides from creatures that lurk in the dark. After a mysterious message arrives, he must find the courage to go out and discover what's waiting for him. Can he do it? Or will the monsters get him?


Oscar, the Apprehensive Apparition is available to purchase at the following links:


Kindle https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0BCSTBY2Z 

Apple https://books.apple.com/us/book/id6443352338 

Nook https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/oscar-the-apprehensive-apparition-h-r-sinclair/1142119998;jsessionid=6D3B1242750AB815B15649BDA04040CB.prodny_store02-atgap11?ean=2940166313034 

Kobo https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/oscar-the-apprehensive-apparition 


Meet The Author: H. R. Sinclair



H.R. Sinclair is a left-handed hermit prepping for the squirrel apocalypse. She writes fantastical stories and visits cemeteries for inspiration.


For more about the author and her work, connect with her on the following sites:


Blog: https://www.iamhrsinclair.com/blog/ 

Newsletter: https://www.getrevue.co/profile/hrsinclair 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/southpawpov 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/hrsinclair/ 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/7548000-h-r-sinclair 

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/h-r-sinclair 

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/iamhrsinclair/_created/ 


Thanks for stopping by today during H. R. and Oscar’s visit. Are you a fan of friendly ghosts like Casper and Oscar?


***

How about you? I adore Casper and I know I'm going to love Oscar as well! Who is your favourite ghost from TV and movies?



Monday, September 19, 2022

Deniz Bevan & Druid's Moon

 Please welcome my long-time blog buddy Deniz Bevan to the blog today! I asked Devin about the spark for her great story.

***


Thank you, Jemi, for the opportunity to post on your blog!

 

I was looking back over some of my blog posts about Druid’s Moon and remembered all the research I’d done for the story. I can’t find any written mention of what sparked the initial idea; I’ll bet there are some explanatory scribbles in the margins of my first draft on paper, but to find that I’d need an intern, to dig into some of the bins in the storage space downstairs.

 

The closest I’ve come is a brief mention in a post of the dream that sparked the tale (https://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.com/2012/09/gutgaa-questionnaire-next-big-thing.html): “Fred and Lyne's story all started with a dream of a man and a woman in a room in the depths of the cave. I knew who was searching for them beyond the closed door, and I knew that Fred had been transformed from a Beast. The rest I had to discover while writing.”

 

I do have records of my research, though!

 

This was my first contemporary story in some time, so it was fun not to have to double-check every piece of vocabulary (except for my characters from Cornwall!) and determine when certain words entered everyday language (the Oxford English Dictionary is very helpful in this regard) or worry about methods of transport (all I had to do was look up a few schedules on the United Kingdom National Rail site).

 

Of course, being me, the story included historical references, and those required quite a bit of research!

 

I needed to look up lists of baronetcies to make sure Frederick had a title that wasn’t connected to anyone improper, wasn’t currently in use, and hadn’t been linked with salacious activities in the past. I also delved into Celtic myths and legends, went back and read the original Beauty and the Beast fairytale a few times, looked up Kraken and the habits of octopi, glanced at shipping and trade patterns along the Cornish coast (https://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.com/2017/05/insecure-writers-support-group-day-and.html)...

 

Somewhere along the way, I found a video of one of my favourite actors, Ioan Gruffudd, reading from The Mabinogion in Welsh: https://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.com/2012/08/row80-taliesin-montreal-photos-and.html. I also kept collecting images, not only of character faces, but of cute octopi (https://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.com/2017/06/hodge-podge-no-3-all-about-druids-moon.html)!

 

I had one blog post in which I wrote, “I need one more spell and one more curse”! https://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.com/2013/07/row80-intimidating-books-ottawa-writing.html

 

The other main research area for this book was archaeology. Lyne is a graduate student in archaeology on her first official dig, and I needed vocabulary, standard operating procedures, insider tips, and stuff that was so familiar to archaeologists that they wouldn’t even think to mention it. I started following archaeologists’ blogs, I got into Time Team, I bought introductory books on archaeology, I reread Agatha Christie (https://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.com/2017/03/need-research-help-plus-photos-of.html), I bothered my friends who were archaeologists, and I even took a Future Learn course!

 

I even got to feature author and archaeologist Jordan Jacobs on my blog! http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.com/2013/12/a-visit-from-author-and-archaeologist.html

 

The last time I compiled all my research needs was over two years ago: http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.com/2019/11/iwsg-day-nanowrimo-and-research-lists.html.

I get a kick out of tracking all the weird stuff I somehow seem to need to know for my stories. And I love poking around among dusty books in libraries!

The final few items in that post were all about my abject ignorance of floramedieval images, tips for using square brackets when writing historical fictionwhy published authors always tell aspiring authors to READ, plus can you identify this item? and how would you take a snail to Constantinople?... 

***

Love it!!! It doesn't surprise me in the least that you enjoy poking around libraries and digging in deep with the research. It pays off so well in your story.

I was lucky enough to get my hands on an early copy of Druid's Moon and it is fabulous! Here's my review.

Druid's Moon is an intense and captivating retelling of the Beauty and the Beast legend.

Set in modern times, Lyne is an archeology student who is thrilled to be working closely with her professor on a dig. They discover pages of an old manuscript that details a curse.

When some of the events in the curse appear to happen, Lyne starts to wonder if there is any possibility the curse is real - and if she is part of it.

I don't want to give away spoilers so I won't give details, but the plot twisted in unexpected and intriguing ways that had me reading well into the night. The characters pulled me into the story until I needed to know if they would find a happy ending or if the curse would prevail.

This is a terrific read and if you love mysteries and retellings, you're going to love it!

***

Druid’s Moon
By Deniz Bevan

Beauty to his Beast…

Lyne Vanlith, an archaeologist who seeks a logical explanation to any mystery, discovers an ancient Druidic curse on her first dig. When the signs foretold by the curse descend on her, Lyne can’t find a reasonable interpretation.

And that’s even before a Beast rescues her from a monstrous sea-creature. She drops a grateful kiss on the snout of the Beast, who transforms into a man, Frederick Cunnick, Baron of Lansladron. Lyne is meant to be Beauty to his Beast—and break the curse forever.

Now both spellkeeper and monster are targeting Lyne. She must take up her legendary role, to defeat the curse and save Frederick—and herself. Instead of logic, for the first time, Lyne must trust her heart.


Release date – September 20, 2022
$14.95, 6x9 trade paperback, 226 pages
Fantasy – Romance (FIC009090) / Paranormal (FIC009050) / Fairy Tales, Folk Tales, Legends & Mythology (FIC010000)
Print ISBN 9781939844866 / EBook ISBN 9781939844873
$4.99 EBook available in all formats


A firm believer in burning the candle at both ends, Deniz Bevan is generally writing a new novel while editing another and blogging about her reading and research adventures. Other days, she tries to stay off the web altogether, as she delves into the history, mystery, and romance of her characters’ lives. http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.com/

Links:
Apple - 
https://books.apple.com/us/book/x/id1588920227
Amazon - https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09HRDWJZ8
Barnes & Noble - https://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/2940165040276
Kobo - https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/Search?Query=9781939844873
Scribd - https://www.scribd.com/search?query=9781939844873&language=0
Amazon UK - https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B09HRDWJZ8
Goodreads - 
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/59360035-druid-s-moon

***

How about you? Does anyone else do deep dives into research like Deniz? What's something interesting you've learned? Do you love poking into libraries? (I do!)

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Built Of Strength

Built Of Strength is out today!!!

This is the 2nd book in the Small Town Heroes series. The books are standalones, but there are a few spoilers in this book if you haven't read Built Of Secrets yet.

I love this setting -  an old fishing lodge and sawmill surrounding Midnight Lake in the middle of Vermont. The nearby town of Phail (there's a story behind the ridiculous name!) is fun and like Bloo Moose, they don't take themselves too seriously. What they do take seriously is helping each other out, especially when times are tough.

Aisling and Graham are the stars of Built Of Strength. They're good people who've been through some tough times. They're both consumed by their work and don't believe they have the time - or the heart - for love. They're in for a few surprises!

***

When life was tearing them down, they shared a scorching—and anonymous—one-night stand

Five years later, they come face to blushing face at Midnight Lake. Aisling has committed to renovating the old lodge for her friend. Graham is part-owner of a security business operating out of the same property. And they both want to claim the shop space. Let the awkwardness commence. But the mutual attraction? Still scorching hot. 

When Aisling is attacked, Graham realizes he wants more than one night. Now, he has to make sure she not only survives, but that she feels the same.




Wednesday, September 7, 2022

IWSG & Nightmares & Built Of Strength

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! 

September 7 question - What genre would be the worst one for you to tackle and why?

Horror would be the worst for me.

I had debilitating nightmares as a child. Bad enough that they would scare my mother when I told her about them. I still remember quite a few of them (some recurred a lot) and they're still terrifying. My folks were worried enough to take me to doctors who all declared I simply had a vivid imagination.

Very helpful.

It took me years of practice to learn to "push away" the nightmares so that I could step out of those worlds and into the real one. It's a push with my brain to the left and it works. No idea why.

Fictional worlds have always been real to me (even though I know they're fictional...). Whatever horrific thing that happens to the MC in movies, TV, & books feels as if it's happening to me. And happens again and again in my dreams.

Writing horror would mean living in that world for the time I needed to write the book. Nope. Nope, nope, nope.

So, no horror for me, thanks!!

How about you? Any genres off-limits for you and your brain?

PS: Built of Secrets releases next week!


When life was tearing them down, they shared a scorching—and anonymous—one-night stand.
Five years later, they come face to blushing face at Midnight Lake. Aisling has committed to renovating the old lodge for her friend. Graham is part-owner of a security business operating out of the same property. And they both want to claim the shop space. Let the awkwardness commence. 
But the mutual attraction? Still scorching hot. 
When Aisling is attacked, Graham realizes he wants more than one night. Now, he has to make sure she not only survives, but that she feels the same.

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

WEP & Human Song

Humans were exhausting. Loud, obnoxious, destructive. The world would be a much better place without them but Liaka’s powers didn’t extend to genocide, even if the species deserved it. She fluttered over the trash scattered on the edge of her pond. Along their roads and everywhere they visited.


Did the species have a single redeeming quality? She hadn’t encountered one yet. Not that she’d encountered an actual human yet, either. The elders forbade it.


But Laika wanted to see them for herself. Wanted to see if the horrors she’d conjured in her imagination were close to their physical forms. Any being who created such destruction must be terrifying.


A shiver ruffled her body and her wings. She corrected her flight automatically and decided that even if these humans were terrifying, she needed a glance. The elders didn’t do anything to stop them. Once she saw them, maybe she could come up with a plan. A way to make them change.


If she could find proof they had no redeeming qualities, the elders could vanquish them. The shudder that shook her this time was more severe. Causing death was forbidden as it should be. While she wanted the humans gone, she didn’t want to be the force behind their destruction.


Could they change? Could they be redeemed? The elders were always trying to eliminate negative behaviours in the young like her. Maybe if she saw the humans, she could find a way to help them eliminate the bad behaviours.


Laika peeked over her shoulder but didn’t see any elders. Or anyone to tattle on her. The sun was high so she flew from the pond and to the edge of the forbidden territory.


The trees thinned and she spotted a human road through the trees. Her limbs trembled, but she flew on, darting from tree to tree and keeping to the shadows.


A sound reached her. A sound she’d never heard. Not a voice. Not an animal or a bird. Not one creature. A pleasant combination of sounds. Some reached high, others reached low. Fast then slow.


A series of sounds repeated and then repeated at a different level. Other sounds mixed in.


Laika settled on a tree branch and closed her eyes to listen. The sounds were beautiful. Like birdsong but different. Human song?


Did humans make song? How could a species make something so beautiful and be so destructive at the same time?


Laika’s wings fluttered with the song and tears slipped from her eyes from the beauty. The human song continued, building up and slowing down. Up and down like bird song. But different in a way she couldn’t explain.


When the human song ended, it took Laika a few moments to open her eyes. She wiped the tears from her cheeks and realized she wasn’t alone.


Jokila the elder sat on the tree branch beside her. Smiling.


“I’m sorry I broke the rules. I wanted to see the humans, to find out if they had any redeeming qualities, to find out if we could help them alter their behaviour to stop hurting our world.”


Jokila nodded, her own eyes shimmering with tears. “What do you think now?”


The sounds started again. Laika’s voice was hushed when she spoke. “Is that human song?”


Jokila nodded. “It is. They have many different human songs. This one is my favourite. They call it Moonlight Sonata.”


Moonlight Sonata. Even the name was beautiful. She didn’t know the word sonata but she would never forget it.


Laika nodded at Jokila. “Human song is beautiful. They are not all evil.”


Jokila nodded. “No, they’re not.”


“Can we help them? Do we have a plan?”


“Not yet. But with your help, maybe we will. It is getting late, we must return soon.”


Laika nodded. “After the Moonlight Sonata is finished?”


Jokila smiled and they listened to the human song while Laika worked on her plan.


***

Tagline: Does the species have any redeeming qualities?


***




I hope you'll click on the link to check out the other contributions to our challenge. Please join in - we love to have new people!


The above is my odd-ball contribution to the August WEP Challenge Moonlight Sonata.


Life has been a little wacky-busy here and this was not my original thought for the sonata, but it's what flew out of my fingers 😊


I do believe the ability to create music is one of species' most redeeming qualities. Imagination is vital to being human and I love the various ways that imagination can showcase itself.


How about you? Any other music fans out there? Any one else hoping we humans can start fixing the messes we make?