Short but Poignant (Tested by Magic Review)

Normally when an author offers up a novella, I worry that some of the story will get lost in the rush for keeping it within word count. That didn’t happen with Jasmine Walt’s offering Tested by Magic. The first “short” story in Ms. Walt’s Baine Chronicles, Tested by Magic is a fabulous introduction to the heroine, Sunaya Baine, and does not require reading of any other book in the series (which isn’t to say you shouldn’t read the others.)

Tested by Magic gives us a glimpse into Sunaya’s start as an Enforcer, showing a different side to the girl readers might have met in Burned by Magic and allows us to see what she was like before she begins her journey. It’s a slightly different Sunaya (but not really) who starts her first day as an Enforcer: making friends with Annia (another enforcer) and searching for a lost little girl.

Sunaya struggles with her morals in this book, which underlays a nice little bit to things that will come up later in the series and characters that will be major players are introduced, but for the most part, this is a nice little introduction. For readers who aren’t quite ready to dive into the whole series, this is a nice little toe dip.

Me? I’ve read the first book and have the second book ready to cue up on my Kindle. You? Can rush over to your favorite eBook retailer right now and snag a pre-order of Tested by Magic. I highly recommend this one!

Pledge Review

Pledge by Christiana Gardner (Book One in the Witches of Coventry House) seems at first glance to be a story about a group of sorority sisters starting out on a new adventure. But secrets lurk within the walls of Coventry House; not just with the new pledges, but also among the sisters and the house mother.

The story mostly follows the group of pledges: Eden, Sarah, Hannah, Rebecca, Paige, Talia, Lexi, and Julie. Although you also see a lot of the pledge leader, Alex, and the house mother, Carolyn. Just as you are getting to know the girls, they start failing the “tests”. There is no hazing in Coventry House, but everything is a test. And failing means removal from Coventry House.

Although the idea of the story was interesting, I found myself wanting to get to the meat of the story. There was a lot of buildup and false “mystery” in the story and the only reason to keep reading was to find out what was happening, not why it was happening. Ms. Gardner seems to want to leave her reader craving more. Although this can be a good thing, too much leaves the reader frustrated. And I reached that point.

I got to the point where I was starting to make guesses on what Eden’s “problem” was and predicting Sarah’s reactions to things. I also guessed things like the true meaning of Coventry House long before the characters in the book which left me with an almost unfilled feeling. (I didn’t read the subtitle so that didn’t clue me in.)

Taking the story at face-value, it’s a nice little college romp that happens to have some paranormal elements. While it’s probably not something I’ll continue reading (it’s the first book in a series), I don’t regret trying this one.

Magic Unknown Review

I received an ARC copy of Magic Unknown for a true and unbiased review. I did not receive any monetary or other compensation for my work. Please be mindful of spoilers below.

Magic Unknown by Caethes Faron picks up right where Magic Born leaves off. Ms. Faron drops readers right back into the action, hoping and expecting that they will remember where they were when they finished the last book. The story picks up with Kat Thomas and her shifter guard, Alex, debating what their next move is in the hotel dining room. It quickly jumps into the action and doesn’t let up until the last page, keeping you turning (or swiping if you’re on an e-reader) long after you should be asleep.

New characters are introduced as Ms. Faron takes the reader through a portal into Elustria and almost immediately into a confrontation with the Council, who Kat believes has sent assassins to kill her. She’s given an ultimatum; discover evidence of what her mother was doing or be banished to the Vortex.

Bouncing back and forth between Elustria and Earth, the pace never lets up as Kat, Alex, and Millbrook race to discover what Kat’s mother was working on and find evidence to clear Kat.

My only complaint about the book is how it jumps right back into the story. It’s been a while since I read the first book and I had to really dig into my memory to recall what had been going on. Still this was a gripping read, carrying on from the ideas created in Magic Born and building on the idea of the gaming world. Ms. Faron has created a worthy world, building on the idea of the game, and making a beautiful world out of it.

I highly recommend Magic Unknown, but make sure you read Magic Born first!

Fiction in a Flash!

I was sitting down with one of my students (I’m an English tutor for my day job) and discussing parallelism the other day when I noticed that the phrases we were using would make great prompts for some little bits of life stories. So I copied them down and wrote up some Fiction in a Flash!

 

Nothing is really fleshed out, but I thought I’d share them. I’ve underlined the phrases I used so you can see where they each came from. And I alternated them in bold so you can distinguish each “story”.

 

Can you come up with something using the same phrases?

 

Unlocking the screen, I let my four dogs out the door. They made a racket as they barked and chased each other across the yard. Breathing a sigh of relief that the noise was no longer in my house, I shut the door. When I looked out ten minutes later, I discovered that all four of them had escaped under the fence.

 

 

A runner has to keep in shape somehow. So runners can often be seen jogging and lifting weights. I even know one that goes rowing on Sundays.

 

 

“He told you I wanted help with painting the kitchen,” she complained as the kids headed out the door.

“Mom, you need more than several brushes and one roller to do the job,” Jake said.

“Yeah,” Alex added. “You need at least a couple of cans of paint.”

 

 

The guest speaker looked toward the audience. He hadn’t expected such a large crowd at this podunk college, but he was always happy to impart his knowledge. Leaning against the table, he rubbed his hands together in his mind. It wouldn’t do to let them see too much of his plans. Smiling with anticipation and open his mouth to speak, he wove a spell over his gullible audience.

 

 

When I’m buying a birthday present for that special someone, I search everywhere. I comb through music shops looking for the perfect CD or sheet music. I haunt electronic shops, sorting through bins of odds and ends to find that elusive piece to build a new robot. Finally I visit the clothing shops so I can deck out my precious in the latest style. Nothing is too good when I’m shopping for my darling’s birthday.

 

 

Getting dressed for the office takes meticulous patience. He has to pick out the perfect outfit and make sure everything is pressed neatly. His hair must be styled perfectly and not a line can be out of place. Then he packs up his laptop computer into his leather briefcase and tucks his cellular phone into his pocket (even if it ruins the line of his pants) before leaving for the train.

Why Write?

Why Write?

This is going to be a long one. Sorry!

A little while ago, I posted a review for the novel, Fangirl here on my blog. One of the things that got me thinking while I was reading it was the English professor in the book asks the question “Why write?” I think that’s something we as writers get asked or ask ourselves at least once in our lifetimes or our writing lives.

Why do we write? Why do we sit down at the computer or the table and pour out our stories or our poems and then face rejection or criticism? What drives us to bang our heads against that wall that is our characters or plot? Why do we let people (or ourselves) tear us down and then come back for more?

With that in mind, I posted five questions to my writing friends (I love all of you, I love that you are willing to answer these questions for me when I throw them out and not ask me what I am going to do with them) and got some fantastic answers back. I have friends who are published authors, who are fanfic writers, and who just write because they feel the call (honestly all of them feel the call or they wouldn’t be writing) and all of them had some really great answers. I think even if you aren’t a writer, just the idea that someone will commit to something for this long is awesome. (I don’t think any of these people have been writing for less than half their lives.)
The following people answered my questions:
SJ (Fiction, fanfiction, some poetry but not in years)
Dee (Fanfiction, poetry, fiction)
Tinhutlady (Fiction, fanfiction)
Patrece (Blogging, fiction)
Ransom Noble (Fiction, poetry, blogging, non-fiction)
Elle (Blogging, poetry, short stories)
Laddee (Fiction, newsletters, editing)
Ann (Poetry, short stories, novels, letters to the editor, blogging)

The questions I asked them were:
1. Why do you write?

2. Why do you write what you write (fiction, non-fiction, fanfiction, poetry, blog posts, etc)?

3. How do you feel when you don’t write?

4. What is the longest you’ve gone without writing?

5. What is your longest streak of writing?

And they gave me some fabulous answers! I’m not going to share all of them because I ended up with NINE pages of replies, but I’ll share the most interesting ones.

I think the most interesting and best answers came from the “Why do you write?” question. Almost everyone had some version of “To keep myself sane.” And I laughed so much over how many people talked about the voices in their heads. Only another writer would understand that.

Why do you write?
Because the little voices in my head won’t shut up. Until they do. (SJ)

It keeps me sane. I started writing as a form of therapy. It still serves as that, but I also discovered I really like and that I’m good at it. (Dee)

I love dreaming up stories but never thought to write them down until about 15 years ago. I find that writing brings out the best in my imagination and hones it, and it is both fun and challenging. (Tinhutlady)

I write for different reasons. Sometimes I have a story running around in my head and it demands to be set free. Other times I write to distract myself from things I don’t want or need to think about. Other times I write just for the fun of writing. (Patrece)

I write… because I don’t know what else to do with all the characters and voices and plots in my head. Usually it’s fiction, though occasionally poetry, blog posts, and non-fiction pop out for different reasons. (Ransom Noble)

I write because I enjoy it. It provides me with a challenge and intellectual stimulation while being enjoyable. (Elle)

I write because I am adventurous, and I love to type. The stronger the imagination, the deeper I travel. Everything, place, and action has a feeling. I like to bring those feelings out. Putting them in typed or written words makes them more acute. At least, that is what I am aiming for. If no one reads my words, I’m okay, but I do like to share. It is communication; it is exploring together. (Ladee)

I write because I desire to; as a reader from childhood, then a teacher of ‘creative writing’ after college, writing long grant proposals that were always successful in raising money for my nonprofits, I knew I could write anything. Stayed too busy with life, family, earning a living as single mom, finally at retirement I had time to write. So I write. Have always jotted down poetry, occasionally a story in pen and ink, then at 69 I took a Writing Course and wrote my first short story……………..it’s in my portfolio “Damn the Whiskey”………found Writing.com a place of encouraging friends, so I keep writing. (Ann)

Why do you write what you write (fiction, non-fiction, fanfiction, poetry, blog posts, etc)?

Almost everyone said they write what they do because that was what they felt they needed to write. There were different reasons, but it all boiled down to; this is what we felt most comfortable writing or this is what the “muse” called us to write. The majority of them (as you can see above) have written different things over the years and have moved from one thing to another or are working on different projects. I think not settling into one thing helps keep your writing fresh.

How do you feel when you don’t write?

This one was interesting. Everyone seemed to express a feeling of anxiety or malaise when they didn’t write, but they also admitted to going without writing from time to time. I think it says a lot about writers as a whole that we actually feel “sick” when we do not write.

I used to feel irritated if I didn’t write. Now, I know that I can’t force it. If the words are there, they’ll come, but trying to make it happen just makes me cranky. Which is probably why it’s taking me so damn long to write the fic I’m currently working on. 🙂 (Dee)

When I wrote fanfiction many years ago, I felt compelled to keep it at a very consistent and constant output. I panicked when I didn’t have anything to say. Now that I write original fiction, there is less pressure and I can take breathers and let my imagination go at its own pace. There’s no pressure to write if something isn’t ready to be written down yet. (Tinhutlady)

What is the longest you’ve gone without writing?

It seems the average time is about a year, although one admitted to have been about 9 years and one said 69. But most also said they worked on other creative outlets.

A little over 9 years ago, I took about a year-long sabbatical to change my focus and get a better perspective on just what I wanted from my writing. That was probably the most significant break I’ve had. (Tinhutlady)

The longest I have gone without writing is unknown to me. I went through a period of several years without writing, other than for necessary purposes. I was just into other creative activities at that time. (Patrece)

I would say no more than a month without blogging. I have previously gone years without doing creative writing. (Elle)

What is your longest streak of writing?
This varied. It seemed that even if they are writers no one has a set of time amount they write.
Eleven years. I usually do most of my writing in January to post in February for my fic writing anniversary. If I’m lucky I’ll write more throughout the year. I started writing in February of 2004 and I’ve written something every year since, but there’ve been some pretty long stretches in there between fics sometimes. (Dee)

Since understanding that I just need to put out words, today will be Day 922 – and counting. (Ransom Noble) **She is far beyond that since she gave me this note a few weeks ago. I stand in awe of Ransom’s ability to consistently write each day and produce good quality work.

My longest streak of daily writing was 100 days. I have been writing regularly for the last five and a half years which is the longest streak of regular writing I have done. (Elle)

What I think it all boils down to is that no two writers are the same. And no two writers face their daily or semi-daily writing the same. But it’s always good to touch base with our fellow writers and know we are not alone. I’d love to hear from some of you about why you write!

Goals Update!

Well it’s almost halfway through the year (not quite, but close enough) so I thought I would do an update on my “Dear Me” letter. I realized I didn’t post it here, so I’ve linked it in case you want to go and read what I had posted as my goals for the year. I’m going to be going back over them a bit here though so I think you’ll catch up on them pretty quickly.

Update on Goals
1. I haven’t found a new job, although I’ve been looking. I’ve been trying to apply to a couple of jobs a week either part time or full time. I’ve only had one interview so far.

2. I’m probably not going to publish Blood Oath at this time. That doesn’t mean I’m not going to publish, just not Blood Oath specifically. I’d like to get at least one Leave story published before the end of next month (June) so that’s going to be my goal right now.

3. Using the newly updating fic list (because the other one was driving me nuts), it looks like I have 12 stories finished. Yay me! I’d still like to finish a few more before the end of the year so I’ll keep trucking on that (and hopefully stop ADDING stories to it.)

4. I went through and counted up my blog entries and I actually haven’t been doing too badly with this. Haven’t been doing weekly, but I knew that was a stretch anyway. I have been doing bimonthly. My most has been four in January and I’ve done at least two each month.

5. I’ve been a reviewing machine on WDC. I hit my goal before the end of last year of 1000 reviews and since then I’ve been trying to do at least two reviews a week (this has been helped by working on reviewing a book for another member).

Except for the week I was away, I’ve been participating in Weekly Goals each week. I’ve been hard at work on Monthly Accountability and having a good time with them. It’s nice to be accountable for my goals and I seem to accomplish more when I have a set end point.

I did re-open Naughty Niceties, but it looks like I’m going to be closing it after this round for a variety of reasons. It’s just becoming more stressful and I don’t want to continue running it. I’ll miss running the contest, but it looks like in the long run it will be better.

Finally, I did sign up for Writo de Mayo. It’s a little lower key than Mini-Nano and I’ve been doing all right. I need to update in the forum today (since I haven’t checked in lately, but I’ve been busy.)

Looks like overall my goals are moving along nicely. (And this accomplished a nice chunk of my blogging goal for the month!)

See you for an update on the goals in a few months. And for a new entry in a few weeks!

Dark Fairy Queen Book

This was written as part of a wedding present for one of the moderators/judges for Flash Friday and published as ebook, which is available here. All of the stories are wonderful! Please enjoy the Dark Fairy Queen Writerly Bridal Shower which is a free download in all formats (epub, mobi, and pdf)

And you can preview my part of the book here:

A Fairy Tale

SaraBeth loved to play in the woods behind her house. Even though she was there almost every day, there was always something new and exciting. Now she ran through the woods, trailing the streamers of her princess wand behind her. She was so excited to see the sparkles on her streamers that she didn’t watch where she was going and she tumbled over the ring of toadstools before she knew what had happened.

Letting out a tiny shriek, she threw out her hands, attempting to save herself from landing on her face. When she sat back up, she giggled. In front of her was a group of tiny, winged beings. They fluttered back and forth in front of her, in a tizzy because of her appearance.

“Silence!” one of them ordered and the group subsided; settling down to the ground. A few wings still beat, but they all stayed land bound. “Where did the human child come from?”

One of fairies bobbed a curtsy. “Your Majesty, she tumbled in from outside.”

“It’s a blessing! A blessing!” the others shouted.

“It is,” the Queen said in a calm voice. “Child, what is your name?”

“SaraBeth. Please, Your Majesty, I didn’t mean to interrupt,” SaraBeth said.

“Children are always welcome,” the Queen said with a smile. “And it is a blessing on this happy day.” She patted the ground next to her throne. “Come, Child, come sit beside me.”

SaraBeth looked around before carefully crawling over to sit cross-legged beside the Queen. “Please, Your Majesty, I don’t want to stay here. I didn’t mean to tumble into the fairy ring.”

“Oh, you precious child, we don’t want to keep you forever. We simply want you to stay for the wedding,” the Queen explained.

“I can go then?” SaraBeth asked carefully. “After the wedding?”

“Absolutely,” the Queen assured her. “Will you stay for the ceremony?”

“Oh, yes, please!” SaraBeth bounced a little where she was sitting. “That would be very nice.”

“Very well then.” The Queen regally raised her hand. “Return to your places.”

There was a moment of scrambling; wings fluttering and fairies leaping and dashing as they scrambled back into position. Within moments, the group was arranged with two fairies crowned with flowers standing before the Queen and SaraBeth. They bowed to the two before them, then joined hands.

One of the other fairies stepped forward with a flowered vine in her hands. “Your Majesty, Shaylee and Aengus have come before you to pledge themselves to each other. They will honor and respect each other. And turn to no one but each other.”

“Do you hold these promises to be true?” the Queen asked. “Do you promise before your friends and your Queen?”

“Yes, your Majesty,” the two answered in unison.

“Finvarra, the binding,” the Queen commanded. The fairy who had spoken first stepped towards the two with the vine. As she began to wind it around their wrists, the Queen spoke again, “Let this vine be a symbol of your commitment and promise. As it now binds you together, let it remind you that you are stronger together. Do you promise to work as one?”

“Yes, your Majesty,” they answered.

“Do you promise to look to each other first for support and love, but never to forget you have support in your friends and family beside you?” the Queen asked.

“Yes, your Majesty,” they answered.

“Then I see no reason not to declare this binding official,” she decided. “We welcome the new pairing to our court!”

SaraBeth clapped along with the other fairies as they cheered and clapped as Shaylee and Aengus pressed their noses together before kissing chastely. “Oh that was lovely!” she exclaimed.

The two stepped closer now; Shaylee blushing prettily as she ducked her head a bit. “Thank you for staying for our wedding, SaraBeth,” she said.

“Thank you for having me,” the little girl replied. She held her princess wand out to the young fairy. “I’d like you to have this.”

“I can’t accept that,” Shaylee said, looking to the Queen for direction.

“Go ahead,” the Queen said. “She is giving it of her own free will. And you should always accept a gift freely given.” The Queen waved Finvarra forward. “Finvarra will escort you home, SaraBeth. And you are always welcome here.”

SaraBeth got to her feet, carefully curtsying. “Thank you, your Majesty.” With a wave to the other fairies who were cheerfully celebrating the nuptials, she followed Finvarra from the fairy ring; already planning her return and what adventures she might have.

Welcome!

Welcome. In the coming months, I’ll be promoting my own work as I slowly publish it with smashwords and also review other authors’ works. In addition, I’ll be sharing (as I find them) writing and other articles. I’m not at all sure what exactly I’ll be posting here as yet, but for the most part it’ll be a place for background on my novels and short stories, a place for you to know when I plan to publish.

 

In addition, I participate in Flash Friday here on wordpress and I’ll be using this blog to post my additions when I write one. So on Fridays, you might get a little story once in a while (I don’t participate every week or even very often right now, but some times.) I’ll be moving my prior entries over in the next few weeks.

 

Please feel free to say hello and stop back in the next few weeks to see what I’ve added. I’ll be adding the flash stories and a review shortly.