Thursday, May 31, 2018

Colors: A Poem

We lived in a land
With no smiles or frowns,
But eyes that betrayed 
Emotion with color

Yet we did not know
We did not understand
That there was no rule
No two people saw color 
The same way

Jeana saw red and feared.
Paul embraced it with passion.
Rhanna's love was violet
And Nod saw purple with disgust

I looked in your eyes, 
Blue as the sky
I thought I saw peace there
For that is how I saw blue

But your blue was sadness
And that is why I never understood
Why you left.

Also, Water Princess, Fire Prince is currently free, as it was selected for Book of the Month by Fellowship of Fantasy's book club.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

My Favorite Indie Contemporaries

Soooooo ... it came to my attention, as I finished filming my show-off the other night ... I don't own any indie contemporary.

Therefore, I'm going to feature contemporary over here. What little I've read. *sigh*

I have nothing against the genre ... just, when you've led as difficult a life as I have, the cutesy Contemporary seems too superficial, and the feelsy Contemporary must be taken in small doses. Spoiler alert: Almost every book below is a feelsy.

So, in no particular order:

First off, we have The Brother I Remember, a book which I did a critique swap on and the only critique I had for it was "You need a better title." The author, regretfully, did not heed my advice. Nevertheless, it's a touching story about a girl's repaired relationship with her brother after tragedy strikes. Also, ice dancing. p="">

Second off ... Okay, I will confess, this book DOES have fantasy elements. But the main story is contemporary and the "fantasy" part of it is the book that the main character is writing. Which may or may not be creeping into reality. A ... cousin? of mine wrote this book, and it's only available in paperback, but it's really good.

This is a suspense romance that is written by another cousin of mine - to be specific, the cousin who did the original covers for the Bookania Quests. It's really fun, and I enjoyed my read of it even though I was still deep within my hoyden stage. I'd probably rate it higher now than I did then. Also, it's only available on kindle. (these cousins of mine)
(And, yes, her last name is Ingalls. Her husband is descended from Laura Ingalls Wilder's aunt and uncle)

Probably the only "cutsey" story on here. I read this on-whim towards the end of last year in a mad-dash to reach my reading goal for the year. It's a fun take on Cinderella, and very twisty. I quite liked it.

One of the books that I read for Indie e-Con this year, this was a lovely modernization of the Good Samaritan. Very well done and realistic - my only complaint is that the book climaxed in the middle, so the second half kind of dragged. Still a lovely story.

Ugh. My poor heart on this one. While it needs a better cover, and there was some editing that made me wince, this story utterly tore out my heart and crushed it on the floor in a million pieces. 

Fun fact: My grandparents used to be foster parents. As such, this was another touching story that very much pulled at my heartstrings and felt very personal. Ugh.

And, finally ... well, this is a stretch of the term "Indie." The author is traditionally published, but this particular short story is her newsletter subscription story, so Imma gonna make it count. I've not read the main series that it goes with, but this story ... and I was actually babysitting the son of a single-mother coworker when I read it, so ... yeah, it got personal.

Annnnnd there we go. My shelf of Indie Contemporary. How about you, what's the best indie contemporary that you've ever read? Read any of these?

Monday, May 21, 2018

Writing with the Five Love Languages

As I mentioned on Saturday, I'm holding Indie e-Con over on the GiraffeCrafts blog. BUT, just to make sure that you guys are aware of it, I am going to be posting a few articles over here. My own articles, that is, just as all of the other authors are posting articles on their blogs for cross-promotion. (Yay!)

Now, onto my article! Today's theme is romance, so into the untried waters of love I go.

I've never been in a relationship, yet I insist on writing romance into my writing (don't ask me why!). Therefore, most of what I write is based off either (a) observing people around me, and (b) reading - especially marriage counseling books. (Honestly, you'd think I WAS in a failing relationship with as many marriage counseling books as I've read.)

One of the books that I've found most helpful has been "The 5 Love Languages" by Gary Chapman. Why? Because, like personality types, the book lays forward a "formula" that allows me to create deeper, more dynamic characters.

(Please note that the system itself is NOT a formula, I just use it as one when applying it to character creation.)

So, what are the five love languages? Well, I'm not going to spend too much time on each one, given that there's a whole book written on it (several books, more accurately), but I'll give some examples of each:

Touch: Hugging, kissing, snuggling, handholding - basically, positive physical contact.
Words of Affirmation: "I love you," "You're doing a good job," "That was beautiful cake you made," "Have I ever told you how much you mean to me?" Basically, verbal acknowledgments of love and empowerment.
Gifts: Flowers, a card, a car, jewelry, a stone you picked up by the side of the road - this can be anything really, just as long as you're giving an object.
Quality Time: Watching a movie together, going on a hike together, reading books together, deep conversations together - just, general emphasis on time spent together. 
Acts of Service: Taking out the trash, cleaning a room, fixing the computer, doing a chore - basically, doing things for the other person. A lot like gifts, but with the emphasis on time and actions over money and objects.

No one of these languages is "better" than any of the others, and, in a healthy individual, none of them are a statement of hatred (there are exceptions, usually because someone in the person's past abused that love language), but everyone "speaks" them in a different order. Your primary love language means infinitely more to you than one from the bottom, for instance. And you're quicker to speak your first few than you ever will the latter ones. I've ordered the above in the order that I speak them, but my sister actually speaks them in pretty much opposite order (it makes our relationship interesting.)

So how does this affect writing? Well, in helping develop your characters and strengthen their relationships, of course.

I admit that I don't have a language order for every one of my characters, but I have them for most of my main couples, and I'm going to discuss three of them for the purpose of this post (but with names removed as some of them are spoilers.) All three couples come from very different backgrounds, and I will discuss that as well, because that can influence HOW the love languages are spoken.

(I also would like to state that knowing your own love language is vitally important, as it WILL creep in and affect your couples. I don't know how often I've had to dial back on handholding and hugging because it doesn't fit with a couple. The first couple that I will mention especially.)

So, couple #1.
Her love languages: Words, Time, Acts, Touch, Gifts
His love languages: Acts, Words, Gifts, Time, Touch.
This is a couple who started out as rivals. She's insecure in herself, especially as there were several people important to her who didn't speak her language very well, and he admires her but doesn't know what to do with her temper.
They fall in love when they're forced to spend time together and she finally hears him express his admiration for her. He offers to take her places that she's never been before, which for him is an act of service, but she interprets it through quality time.
Strains on their relationship: Mostly the fact that spending time together isn't as important to him as it is to her, and occasionally the fact that his acts of service can translate into protectiveness, and she is fiercely independent.

Couple #2.
Her love languages: Words, Touch, Gifts, Time, Acts
His love languages: Acts, Time, Gifts, Words, Touch.
Now, this pair is fun, due to how little they seem to have in common. This is one of my arranged marriage couples, and neither of them is quite happy with the affair at first. However, the disparity of their love languages actually proves to be a saving grace for them, as her barbed insults don't hurt him as much as someone to whom words are everything. Another saving grace for them is the fact that his dad's primary love language was touch, so when confronted with the need to comfort his new wife, the fellow draws on the memory of his parents and offers physical comfort, even though it's not his natural inclination.
Strains on their relationship: The fact that their languages are in almost complete reverse of each other. When stress hits, frequently forget how to speak or understand the other's love language. Theirs is a very uphill battle all through their relationship. They love each other, but a lot of it is an "us against the world" mentality alongside a strong commitment to their marriage vows. I think I've plotted more out-and-out fights between this couple than I have for any other.

Couple #3.
Her love languages: Time, Acts, Touch, Gifts, Words.
His love languages: Touch, Words, Time, Gifts, Acts.
This couple grew up together and were best friends before they were lovers. As such, they are well acquainted with each other's personalities. Even as the book opens, they're both already very good at speaking each other's languages  - not perfect, by any means, but they still communicate easily, though she's a little bit better as she translates touch through acts of service. In fact, it's very possible that they are aware of their love languages. They live in our world, after all, and categorizing and research is an addiction of hers.
Strains on their relationship: When one forgets to speak the other's love language. Especially their secondary love languages. It doesn't happen very often, but stress will get to even the healthiest of relationships.

As you may gather from this list, there is no "perfect" formula. A healthy couple has their differences and learns to succeed despite those differences.

So, some tips to sum this up:

1. While it is possible for an action to be spoken one way, as in the case of couple 1, it can also be a source of letdown when the receiver realizes that they had misunderstood their partner.

2. Touch can be easily misunderstood and misinterpreted. It's more than just the passionate kissing. It's about the little moments of physical contact - brushing fingers, a pat on the back, kiss to the forehead - that anchors a person and says "you're not alone." Indeed, for me, since quality time is lower down, I don't even care for prolonged snuggling all that much. (Though that might also have to do with the fact that I live in Texas where it's hot).

3. Most healthy individuals do not interpret any of the love languages as hate, but abuse can destroy positive pathways - especially for a person's inferior languages. Someone who has been in a relationship where "I love you" was just lip service might no longer believe that the words even mean anything. My sister has a sensory processing disorder, and she can't stand being touched unless you're very gentle. Also, the further down a language is, the harder it is for them to restore the positive association.

So, do you know your Love Language? If you're a writer, can you name the love language of at least one of your characters?

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Indie e-Con Scavenger Hunt - Stop 24

Hey all! Remember Indie e-Con, the shin-ding I put together last year? Tons of fun, wasn't it? Well, I'm doing it again, but this year over on my new GiraffeCrafts blog. Next week. *screams*

Anywho, in build-up for Indie e-Con, we're holding a scavenger hunt. You know, the sort where you hop from blog to blog and end up with a string of something that you email to someone and get a prize.

Well, there's a number at the end of this post that you'll be collecting.

As for the prize? It's pretty shiny, too.

Ace Carroway 2-Book Paperback Set
3 random ebooks from Indie e-Con authors
Cover Design by Alea Harper
Bookshelf Necklace donated by Rachel Rossano

(Please note that the Ace Carroway Paperbacks and the Bookshelf necklace are US only. If your name is drawn and you live outside the U.S, you will be supplemented with extra ebooks, and a second name will be drawn to receive the papberbacks and necklace)

And, yes, that's the self-same Alea Harper who designs the graphics for Indie e-Con, and who did the covers for both my Rizkalands and the Ankulen. Whoever gets their name drawn is in for a TREAT.

Please note that this is the LAST stop on the hunt, however, so please yourself over to Kandi Wyatt's blog and

Have you read everyone else's posts? Well, onto the author I'm featuring. Guy Worthy. Guy's the author of the Ace Carroway books that someone will be winning, and I've read the first one. An interesting little story that reminded me a bit of Hogan's Heroes. (No, I'm not dating myself ... my mom made my sister and I watch all of the old shows ;) Just set in WWI, instead of II, and with a sixteen-year-old female pilot in place of Hogan. (Which ... is historically inaccurate, but the author admits it, and I don't think a fellow could get away with what Ace did.) My one complaint about the story is that Ace is a bit on the Mary Sue-ish side, as I never really saw her struggle with anything until nearly the end of the book, but I'm hoping that the next book shows more development for her character.

On to what Guy has to say.

Hello! My name is Guy Worthey. I’m @guyworthey on twitter and @guywortheyauthor on facebook and I blog at

I write a novella series about Ace Carroway and her adventures in a world that’s almost 1920s earth. The stories are old-fashioned yarns with dastardly villains, narrow escapes, humorous banter, and outrageous plots. Our dauntless hero is Cecilia “Ace” Carroway. She’s strong and smart, and trained throughout childhood to get that way. She leads a marginally-organized gaggle of five male associates of various shapes, sizes, abilities, and dispositions. But let’s yak about inspiration.

One item a writer needs is inspiration. This can be anything. Today, for example, I was chatting with my son. He showed us how he persuaded a computer program for electronic music to find a pitch from his cello input and match it with a synthesized tone. BOOM. Inspiration. My mind drifted to an E. E. “Doc” Smith space opera where spaceship pilots were described as artists, as their feet and hands danced on all the controls. Suddenly, I had a vision of an organist improvising a musical riff, and the music gets interpreted as control sequences for the spaceship. This sort of pilot would control the spaceship by composing music in real time. I know that’s awful heady and nerdy, but, hey, that’s me. This idea went into my little notebook of random synapse firings for potential later use.

A couple of things inspired me to write Ace Carroway stories. One is a deep and abiding nostalgia for pulp fiction, especially the more fantastic stories such as Edgar Rice Burroughs, or the Tom Swift and Doc Savage stories. One example of pulp fiction is “Doc Savage and the Polar Treasure.” The Doc Savage stories were written by ghost writers, but all the early ones were by ghost writer Lester Dent. It’s short, action-packed, and a bit bizarre. The characters are sharply drawn. It gives the reader the feeling that they are in the hands of a good storyteller, but the reader cannot guess how the tangled threads will connect at the end. That’s the sort of thing I strive for with the Ace Carroway stories.

The number two inspiration was feminism. It’s high time for smart, strong heroines. By day, I’m an astrophysicist. In that field, even forty years ago, gender equality was a hallmark. Not a soul would claim that men were inherently more suited for astronomical pursuits. And yet, today, the day I write this (May 13, 2018, for the record) that pernicious 15% pay disparity hangs on, giving lie to our noble intentions and righteous words. If men and women are treated equally and esteemed equally, why are women paid less? The obvious answer is that bias remains. I’ve been on committees that research this bias (let me be clear: I study stars and galaxies, not people, so I mostly just listen and learn when I attend such meetings), and the causes are complicated. There are institutional biases, societal biases, biases regarding childbirth and child rearing, and even patterns of language usage that affect downstream pays scales.

Anyway, long story short, I like to dream up ways that men and women can retain their romantic sizzle and chemical attraction while still treating each other with mutual respect. And so, turnabout being fair play, putting a woman in charge is an excellent way to reveal gender based power politics, and so I have leapt into the fray with Ace. I feel that I need to put in a disclaimer: you’ll hopefully never consciously notice the feminism in the stories. Ace fights bad guys. She does not organize leaflet campaigns. In fact, most of the feminism gets displayed via her associates. I’m not likely to write about a construction worker whistling at Ace, but if he did, it would be one of the associates that would come over and break the whistler’s nose, not Ace.

My final inspiration is dorky: I just wanted to spin some fun blarney.

Anything from a romance that breaks up to a stubbed toe can be inspiration for a story or a character. I guess the bottom line is to pay attention. Writers observe.

With that said, “Here’s looking at you!”

This is an 8, by the by, not a fancy S. Which is what I might have thought it was when I first saw it...

Now, take it and all of the other letters that you've been collecting and fill in the blanks below:

You can pop your results into this form here! (And please note that, yes, Kyle Robert Shultz's and Guy Worthy's letters are backwards. We had to swap their positions in the hunt at the last moment and completely forgot to get them to trade graphics. So sorry!)

If this is where you're starting, please hop over to Kandi Wyatt's blog, to find my guest post which is the start of this journey. To find a list of all of the blogs, in order, go here.

Done with the adventure? You're welcome to join us over at FB for the Meet-and-Greet, where several of us and some more authors, are going to be hanging out and being awesome! 

Sunday, May 13, 2018

The Mothers in my Writing

Happy mother's day! Everyone, do me a favor and go give your mother a huge hug for me. Kay? Kay. And your Grandmothers, too, if you can manage it. I lost my Grandmother on mother's day, nine years ago.

But, sad stuff aside, let's talk about fictional mothers. Particularly the mother's in my own writing. (I'll feature the mothers in my favorite books by other people next year, kay?) It seems to be a trend in fiction, especially in fantasy, to kill off the mothers, but I like to rebel against that. Mothers are awesome people, see. And the good ones know to let their children go off and adventure. I've killed off a few, but, for the most part, they're all alive and kicking.

So, yeah, let's get started. In no particular order and with no number cap.

Isa: Let's start off with Clara's mom in Water Princess, Fire Prince. You only see her in one scene at the end of the book, but she's such a core part of Clara's character that I can't help but mention her (especially as she plays a much larger role in Love and Memory. I need to finish writing that.). She's a woman who wanted a large family, but due to an accident in her teens, ends up with only Clara - and ten miscarriages. She's a woman based on my mother and paternal grandmother, and, oh, she hurts my heart so much.

Maid Marian: Let's hop over to Bookania now to talk about this lovely lady. While she is a mother in her own right, where she shines is in her mentor relationship with Robin. See, she does see Robin as her daughter (for spoiler reasons). And Robin very much benefits from a positive relationship with an older woman.

Andrew: Wait, what? A guy? Why am I putting a guy on a list of mothers??? Okay, hush. I'm just saying that this fellow deserves an honorable mention for stepping up after he lost his mother in a car accident (see, I DO have a few maternal casualties), and was mom to his three younger brothers. At twelve. Poor boy.

Petra: Oh, you guys haven't really read her as a mother, but let me just say, the mother-daughter relationship that develops between her and Laura is beautiful. And she does have children of her own, and she's a wonderful mother to them, too.

Robin: Again, you guys haven't read her as a mother yet but readers of the revised Do You Take This Quest? know that she has adopted a whole orphanage of children (her new husband ran the place), and readers of My Kingdom for a Quest know that their own is on the way. And, let me just say, motherhood looks very good on Robin. Really mellows her out and gives her a direction in life.

Erika: Aka, the Eternal Queen. I haven't finished writing this book - I've barely started writing it, but her relationship with her granddaughter has been fun thus far, especially since she's physically younger than her granddaughter (due to the cyclical nature of her life). And I'm very much looking forward to writing the resolution of her relationship with her own mother.

Rintaya: This is a woman whose baseline of her personality is "mother." She's Ashna's stepmother in Lady Dragon, Tela Du, and Ashna really scores with her stepmother. A very kind, understanding woman ... who may or may not be hiding some pretty interesting secrets.

Emily: Aka, Jen's mom in The Ankulen. I don't know if I've ever mentioned her by name before. But she's a dear lady, who, like Isa, wanted a large family but only ended up with just one daughter. She chose the route of adoption, though that ... turned out interesting. Oh, but her backstory's sad.

Queen Blanche: Stardrana's mother in Half-Hidden, and another character for whom "mother" is the baseline of her personality. She would sacrifice anything for her children - and has. Ah, but her story's so tragic, and I really can't wait to share it with all of you.

Queen Tailya: One of Jen's imaginary friends in The Ankulen - to whom was given children before a husband. Yeah ... kid logic isn't always the soundest.

Queen Camilla: Eric's mother in Bookania. She was never the prettiest of women, and her husband is ... shallow. So, once she'd provided him with his heir and spare, was pretty much left alone. Pretty much the source of most of the good parts of Eric's character. Such a dear woman.

And ... there's my list. There are some others that I have in my WIP's who I didn't mention, including several who are negative influences (Queen Charlotte, Queen Adelaide), but I'm going to stop here. This is a good list.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Top Ten Purple Books!

Today's Top Ten Tuesday topic is "Books with My Favorite Color on the Cover." I'm a huge fan intense, saturated colors - reds, blues, hot pinks, and purple. Purple's my favorite, though, so let's go with that.

1. Of course, we're going to start with my own purple book, the cover I designed myself. While this isn't my favorite of the Bookania Quests, it is my favorite of the covers - although my current plans for Honor's cover might give it a run for its money.

2. Okay, just to warn you all now - there's going to be a LOT of fairy tale retellings on this list. This book is, to me, the high point of the series ... book three I was meh about (though it wasn't bad), and thereafter, other authors have handled the world/characters, and I really preferred Hale's treatment of the characters. But ... let me just say. Maddie Hatter.

3. This was a book I read back in the dark ages. And I really don't remember much about it except that there were orphans, storytelling, and I rather liked it. 


4&5. These books were interesting. I need to continue the series. But orphan princesses!

6. Back to the fairy tale retellings! This is an adorable little series that I'm quite in love with. This isn't my favorite of the collection, but it's delightful nonetheless.

7. This is a series I read for the sole reason of the main character sharing my name. And it's quite a good little series, too. Highly recommend. And this particular volume is my favorite (though please don't read them out of order). Time travel awesomeness is always awesome.

8. Now, THIS is a book from the dark ages. I devoured this series back when I was little and squishy ... although, confession, I don't think I ever read this particular one. I ... uh ... lost the copy that we borrowed from the library. (We did find it, eventually, but I never actually read it) Rose (Beauty) was never my favorite character (she had had the unfortunate honor of being the NoTP of my first Love Triangle), but I otherwise quite loved these books.

9. Here's a book I just read this year. Lovely story. The author will be taking part in Indie e-Con this year, so please stay tuned.

10. And, finally, we abandon fantasy and Kingdom fiction for a sci-fi. I'm thoroughly in love with Pennington's Firmamant series. Highly recommend. 

What's your favorite purple book?
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