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Guest Blog Post and Blog Tour Blast For Author M.D. Grimm’s “Sapphire: Home and Abroad” with OWI Blog Tours

Hi everyone! Thank you for joining me today. I hope you’ll give author M.D. Grimm a warm welcome as we hear some fantastic insight into the development of “Sapphire: Home and Abroad”.


Good day lovely readers! Thank you for joining me. I am M.D. Grimm and I am here to promote my newest release, “Sapphire: Home and Abroad.” This is the latest entry in The Stones of Power. I am overjoyed and relieved to finally release a new book in this series. After re-publishing back titles, I can now work on new projects. So, if you like magic, surly, anti-hero mages (wizards), and a fun setting with quirky supporting characters, this series might be for you!

So… Morgorth. He’s a difficult character, isn’t he? I don’t think I quite knew what I was getting into when I wrote the first book over ten years ago. I have an affinity for dark and/or damaged characters. Their journey and trials as they become better people is something I never grow tired of either writing or reading. One of the worst things in the world is for a writer to be bored with a character and/or a story. And when it comes to series, I strive to have a character(s) that needs to overcome something as they evolve over the course of several books. If I’m not interested in their journey, then why would anyone else be?

“Ruby: Lost and Found” was the third book I ever published. It presented Morgorth in a time of his life where he was bored with being a villain. He’d embraced the label after his peers, fellow mages, decided he simply had to be one because of his birthright: being the seventh son of a seventh son, which they determined meant he was to be the Destroyer of their world. It is said that we often create our own monsters, and in this case, it was true. Morgorth became what his peers already thought he was. However, when Aishe crashes into his life, the desire to be something different awakens within him. In my opinion, he becomes an anti-hero. Or, as he would say, a dark mage. He’s not out to wreak havoc on the world but he’s certainly not going to play by the rules, either.

My initial goal for this series was to challenge myself to write an anti-hero. I’m not quite sure if I succeeded or not, but I can’t argue with the result. Morgorth is wonderfully flawed, his struggles are real, and his desire to be worthy of his mate, Aishe, pushes him into uncomfortable situations and makes his choices harder. What I love most about Morgorth is his refusal to surrender. Despite the abuse he survived as a child, the hatred from most of his peers, and the struggle with his own internal demons, he continues to fight. The closest he came to defeat was in the previous book, “Lapis Lazuli: Forgotten and Remembered,” but even then, even without Aishe kicking his butt into gear, I don’t doubt that after a bit of time in self-pity, he’d roll up his sleeves and start fighting again. It’s one of the things I love most about him: he continues to get up every time he’s knocked down.

Due to the abuse from his father, Morgorth has always carried a deep-seated rage inside him. Unfortunately, it led him to unleashing his pain on innocents until he made a promise to his mentor that he would stop perpetuating the cycle of abuse. Morgorth has grown a lot from book one to book eight, but the core of him hasn’t changed. He still carries the rage, only now he channels it into protecting those he loves. He still has a darkness inside him, a thirst to hurt others, and yet again, he targets it at other villains and in defense. I find that the hardest balance to strike with such a complex character is letting them evolve without changing who they are at their deepest core. I didn’t want Morgorth to lose his edge. I didn’t want it to seem as if he simply flicked off his past trauma and that it no longer affected him. That is unrealistic and an insult to folks who live with trauma. However, he did find the tools and the support to work through his trauma and to use his rage for good instead of evil.

And how did he do that? By finding a mate who accepted all of him. With Aishe, he found the motivation and the reason to work on himself. That’s what I love most about their partnership—they make each other better and stronger. 

The Stones of Power 1-8 are available for purchase at Amazon (also in print!) and Smashwords. I have a newsletter that I send out monthly with all the goodies you can expect in the future. That’s the best way to find out about my current and future projects.

For fans of the Saga of the Bold People series, I just finished the first draft of “Resistance,” book 3. I hope to release it October 2022, so keep your eyes peeled for that! I am also booked (pun intended) solid this year, working on the next shifter book, the next Stones of Power book, a couple single titles, and the next On Wings Saga book. Wish me luck!

More information on my catalog can be found at my website.

I hope you stay safe and healthy, and may dragons guard your dreams,

M.D. Grimm

Sapphire: Home and Abroad

M.D. Grimm has a new MM fantasy book out, Stones of Power book 8: Sapphire: Home and Abroad.

The Dark Mage, Lord Morgorth, and Aishe of the Ravena Tribe, are to become bondmates.

Morgorth is equal parts nervous and excited. He wants to unite with Aishe in the sacred dialen ceremony, to proclaim their devotion to the world, to show everyone that Aishe is his equal and deserving of respect. After all they’ve survived together, why shouldn’t they make the cosmic promise before friends and family? But duty must often come before pleasure. When Morgorth’s estranged mentor, Master Ulezander, comes to him with a time-sensitive mission involving a major stone of power, Morgorth has little choice but to acquiesce.

Aishe knows his mate struggles with the revelation of his true destiny, after a lifetime of defining himself as the future Destroyer of Karishian. All he can do is reassure Morgorth that being the Savior is a far better fate for both of them. But as Morgorth and Aishe leap through worlds and dimensions in pursuit of a stone of power, more pieces to the puzzle of Morgorth’s destiny are revealed. And they form an image of sacrifice and tragedy.

The dark cloud of an ancient enemy looms ever closer, and the path to becoming the Savior might prove more monstrous than that of the Destroyer.

About the Series:

Lord Morgorth is a dark mage on the planet Karishian. His peers consider him a villain, but there is more to him than they choose to understand. Cursed by a dark destiny and tormented by painful memories of the past, Morgorth struggles to find his place in the world. Far from innocent, Morgorth has teetered between embracing his destiny and fighting against it his entire life. A decision that is made easier when Aishe comes into his life. Aishe is a creature of the forest, a warrior and healer. He has the moral compass that Morgorth needs, and Morgorth gives Aishe the companionship he craves. Together, they forge ahead, weathering the storms and fighting the enemies fate puts into their paths.

However, their greatest enemy is not a living being, but gemstones infused with deadly power. They are addictive, seductive, and completely treacherous. Morgorth hates them and is determined to find and imprison all of them. But he soon realizes they are keys to a greater power. He learns his destiny is not all he thought it was. And an even greater enemy stirs in the darkness. Enter the world of “The Stones of Power.”

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Excerpt

Sapphire Home and Abroad meme

Morgorth stepped forward and stretched out his arms. He murmured a series of words under his breath and an opaque pinprick of light appeared. I stepped a bit closer, fascinated. The pinprick grew into a swirling, pulsing liquid silver gateway. It was beautiful and ominous. It made no sound, and yet gave off pressure that I felt against my body, and the hair on my arms stood on end.

The few trees bordering the clearing creaked and groaned as they bent away from the portal. I didn’t hear anything—not birds or squirrels, not deer. Nothing was near us, and the poor, stationary trees were doing their best to also get away.

Morgorth fisted his hands and widened his stance, still muttering. His skin glowed, and I silently shifted to his side. His eyes were a burning amber, his expression set in stubborn determination and intense concentration. Sweat slid down his face. The portal pulsed a bit faster, the beat knocking against my ribs. What was he doing?

Then the silver gained a bluish color before darkening to mossy green. Morgorth grunted and lowered his hands, though his magick still glowed.

“Take my hand,” he said in a stiff, strained voice. “And hold on tight, to both me and your bow.”

I swallowed hard and took a deep breath. I clung to my bow as I took his outstretched hand and pressed to his side. His skin was hot to the touch but not burning.

“What can I expect?” I asked.

“Discomfort and weirdness,” he said with a hint of a smile. “Just don’t let go.”

“Never.”

Then Morgorth ran and yanked me with him. We dove into the portal without hesitation, and he was right about the discomfort and weirdness. It wasn’t the emptiness of teleportation nor the whiplash of magickal speed. Morgorth charged through the swirling green, dragging me along. The green slipped over my skin and hair like cold putty and tried to capture my feet in its murk. It seemed to last forever but I was certain it was only a moment or two. Then we were somewhere else.

I caught my breath and stumbled forward, still clinging to Morgorth. He didn’t let go either, his magick still at the surface. He took a cloudy crystal from one of the many pouches at his waist and bent to place it at the base of the portal.

This time, I heard his word of magick.

“Lelleknau.”

Words of magick were supposed to be nonsensical, something each mage created for themselves. It was personal, each new word linked to a spell and used for nothing else. It took both words and hand flourishes for a mage to cast a spell or secure an enchantment. It was different for magick healers like myself. It wasn’t so much magickhealers used, it was our life essence, gifting a part of ourselves to our patients. Give too much and it could kill us. The missing part of our essence would replenish over time, faster if we were happy and balanced.

To open a portal and redirect it was remarkably heavy magick, and my mate never ceased to leave me in awe of his abilities and his continual growth in both strength and intelligence.

“Will the crystal leave the portal open?” I asked.

He nodded. “Only on this side, though. We don’t want anyone or anything following us.”

“I doubt any of Vorgoroth’s creatures want to follow.”

Morgorth shrugged and straightened. “I don’t want to take the chance. And I wasn’t just thinking of my minions.”

He was thinking of our guests. Probably about Lyli.

I sighed. Yes, that girl was fearless and far too curious for her own good. And wherever Lyli went, Olyvre wouldn’t be far behind. Then Elissya would also come.

“This will also prevent any of the creatures here of getting inside. The crystal is also a shield.”

“Clever.”

“Draining,” he said with a sheepish grin. His magick settled into his core, causing his eyes and skin to lose their glow. “It won’t hold for long. In and out, no sightseeing.”

I snorted and glanced at our surroundings. “I don’t think that will be a problem.”

A thick, dense jungle surrounded us, and I was only now noticing the oppressive heat. My skin broke out in sweat and my clothes soon stuck to me in the most uncomfortable way. I exhaled sharply and let go of Morgorth to wipe at my brow.

“Aye, in and out, please.”

Morgorth grimaced as well and readjusted the bag.

“I hope you can track the bloody thing.”

“I don’t sense magick like on Karishian so it shouldn’t be a problem to open my third eye and spot the box. And if for some reason that doesn’t work, I can always try to meditate and find its aura and track it back to its location.”

“Wouldn’t the box shield the stone’s power?”

“Its power but not its signature. According to Melondia, the box doesn’t have enough layers to truly block it. Think about the layers of Geheimnis. A mage could use their third eye but not spot the stones I have in the tower because the barriers are too thick.”

I nodded, and he closed his eyes. This place did feel… empty. Magick was everywhere in Karishian, in the land, the water, in the creatures. In the sky and in the clouds, and in the sun. In the air itself. I didn’t like it here. I shuddered and fingered my bow. The familiar texture of the wood soothed me just enough to unclench my muscles.

I kept an eye on our surroundings as Morgorth once again called to his magick.


Author Bio

M.D. Grimm Logo

M.D. Grimm has wanted to write stories since second grade (kind of young to make life decisions, but whatever) and nothing has changed since then (well, plenty of things actually, but not that!). Thankfully, she has indulgent parents who let her dream, but also made sure she understood she’d need a steady job to pay the bills (they never let her forget it!).

After graduating from the University of Oregon and majoring in English, (let’s be honest: useless degree, what else was she going to do with it?) she started on her writing career and couldn’t be happier.

Working by day and writing by night (or any spare time she can carve out), she enjoys embarking on romantic quests and daring adventures (living vicariously, you could say) and creating characters that always triumph against the villain, (or else what’s the point?) finding their soul mate in the process.

Author Website: http://www.mdgrimmwrites.com/

Author Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001710645622

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4574220.M_D_Grimm

Author Liminal Fiction (LimFic.com): https://www.limfic.com/mbm-book-author/m-d-grimm/

Author QueeRomance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/m-d-grimm/

Author Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/M.D.-Grimm/e/B00I0KZMY6/

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Guest Blog Post with Author and Poet Louise Bélanger

I am so happy to share this heartfelt guest post from author and poet Louise Bélanger for her poetry book tour, Your Words Your World, available now. I hope you will enjoy this post and be sure to grab your copy of the book today.


Let me start by thanking you, Anthony Avina, for being part of Your Words Your World ’s blog tour. And a big round of applause for Serena at Poetic Book Tours who organized such a brilliant one, a wonderful opportunity for me and my new poetry book.

Your Words Your World is a beautiful inspiring collection of poems with nature photographs.

You will read poems about God, having a relationship with Him, various life subjects, and lovely stories.

What inspires me? What triggers the writing? 

Each poem is an idea or a story I want to tell, a point I want to make, an emotion I want to pour on paper. It can come from something I just read or heard. Something from my past or something that just happened. Other times, it’s the result of the thought process where one thought makes room for another, and so on, till it lands on something clever. Lastly, it can be an image that only “lives” in my imagination that I want to describe.

Contrary to a novel, per example, where, I would think, the author decides beforehand the main lines of the story, for me, I search for each topic. No, that is the wrong word, I focus my mind to be aware, to find ideas. Ideas worth writing about. I never know in advance what my next poem’s topic will be.

Let’s visit a few.

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I was always a bit reserve as a child as far as clowns where concern. Something false about them. They have a painted smile on their face but maybe they feel something else inside. This became part of a poem, simply call Clowns…it takes the reader…well, let’s not spoil it. I will let you discover the meaning when you have the pleasure of reading it.

My faith-based poetry is inspired by my relationship with God, my experience with Him, the books I read and teachings I listen to. On a particular Sunday, a Bible passage was brought to my attention. That became the base for More than just…as music shares the stage.

A storm was raging one Saturday morning, a fierce wind against my window and I surprised myself thinking, wow, sounds like the wind is banging on the window: “Let me in, I don’t want to be outside in this nasty weather.” Oh! That is so good. That afternoon, A war erupted made its appearance on the page.

And my photos? They are from places I visited or traveled to. I photograph the beauty I see, what catches my attention. It’s everywhere, from my neighborhood where I take walks, to cities across the country, even further, from previous travel destinations. 

All my writing is done first, then, I look through my large collection of photographs to choose the ones that would complement the poetry. The selection is not random, there is always a connection between the poem and the photograph next to it, I hope you will see it. 

Most of them were taken before I became a poet, an author with already two poetry books and a third one on the way. I never thought the photos I was taking would end up in beautiful books, books written by myself. That makes me smile, a huge smile.

So here you have it, my inspiration comes from many places. Each poem is unique, same for the photographs. 

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Thank you for your time, thank you for reading my poetry. I invite you to visit my author’s website: Louise Bélanger – Author (louisebelangerauthor.com) . I hope you will enjoy Your Words Your World and will find a favorite poem or two or more. 

Louise Bélanger 

January 12, 2021

Guest Blog Post: When a House is More Than a House by Mary Beth Hines

It’s December as I write this, a season when gift and gratitude are top of mind, yet also when loss and grief feel particularly acute. That continual interplay—darkness encroaching on the light; light suffusing shadows—provides the backdrop for the poems in my debut collection “Winter at a Summer House”. 

A reader recently asked me if the summer house in the title poem was real. I said yes—and no. Both are true. There was a real house, but it grew, through time and memory, into something different—turreted, and towered—more haunted castle than summer cottage.

The real house belonged to my parents who retired to South Yarmouth, Massachusetts in the early 1990s after the last of their children left home. As kids, we’d often vacationed on Cape Cod, and for a few years, my parents had owned a small cottage there. But it was their rambling, retirement home—a house with enough room for all of us—that became the hub of my, and my adult siblings’, and our families’ summer lives. 

It was a sunny, lively house presided over by my parents during a mostly healthy and contented period of their lives. Of course, we all went through a myriad of ups and downs during those years, as people do, but in retrospect, the sun shone and shone then, year after year, until the day our seemingly spry and vigorous mother died of a sudden heart attack. We were devasted. Mother’s death precipitated our father’s decline. Once hale, hearty, and brilliantly competent, he faded overnight. 

When the world collapsed, my youngest child had just left for college, and I had recently started a new job. My sister was busy with family, art, and work. Despite these obstacles, she, and I, both of whom lived two hours away, each began to stay with our father a few days each week. Our brother who lived further away used his vacation time to relieve us. We continued this for several years. While challenging, it was bearable, and often pleasant in the spring, fall, and summer. The winter was different. 

The wind blows hard on Cape Cod in the winter. The shutters on Dad’s house banged. Windows and chimneys rattled. December and January days were gloomy, with darkness falling by mid-afternoon. Sometimes, I caught a glimpse of Mother coming around a corner then she’d vanish. I listened for her voice amidst the house’s rumblings. Having been an English major in college, I found the house, in winter, eerily reminiscent of Ramsay’s house in Virginia Woolf’s “To the Lighthouse,” particularly in the “Time Passes” section. Wind invaded. Moss, mold, and spiders set up camp. One could scrub, dust, and polish all day just to make way for a new crop of marauders. And though our summer house wasn’t on the ocean as the Ramsay’s was, I had walked and jumped off enough jetties to imagine one there, and thus its prime billing in “Winter at a Summer House.”

Early on, when people asked me what the book was about, I described it as a narrative, not focusing on the house, the water imagery, or associated metaphors. However, a recent Kirkus review highlighted the prominent place of the ocean, water, and the passage of time, and this caused me to consider it from a new angle. That review began: “Hines grew up in Massachusetts, adjacent to the Atlantic Ocean, and the poems in this debut collection are filled with richly detailed imagery evoking the sea—of characters swimming, bathing, diving as if time were an unpredictable element, and living, a process of navigating unexpected currents…” 

I had not set out to write a narrative, nor a collection of water-themed poems. I wrote one poem at a time, and only later ordered them so that they could “talk” to each other and tell a story. And since I’m a lifelong, year-round swimmer, I evoked the water imagery naturally. Writing this post has prompted me to explore these thoughts more deeply, and to consider, alongside them, the role of the house in the book. 

An author friend recently told me he believes that every book someone writes is a miracle. I understand more clearly, each day that goes by, what he meant, and I welcome opportunities to contemplate my small miracle from new vantage points, and to share my thoughts. So today, I thank author Anthony Avina for generously hosting me on this blog. It’s the first time I deliberately explored the role the summer house plays in this collection, and I hope readers enjoyed taking the journey with me. Happily, by the time others read this, we’ll be past the winter solstice and our short days will already be lengthening.

In closing, I want to thank Kelsay Books for publishing “Winter at a Summer House;” Poetic Book Tours for coordinating this tour; and all of you, Anthony Avina’s readers, who have taken a few minutes to commune with me here. I truly appreciate your time and attention, and if you read the book, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it! You can find me at www.marybethhines.com.

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About the Author

Mary Beth Hines grew up in Massachusetts where she spent Saturday afternoons ditching ballet to pursue stories and poems deep in the stacks of the Waltham Public Library. She earned a bachelor of arts in English from The College of the Holy Cross, and studied for a year at Durham University in England. She began a regular creative writing practice following a career in public service (Volpe Center, Cambridge, Massachusetts), leading award-winning national outreach, communications, and workforce programs. Her poetry, short fiction, and non-fiction appear in dozens of literary journals and anthologies both nationally and abroad. Winter at a Summer House is her first poetry collection. When not reading or writing, she swims, walks in the woods, plays with friends, travels with her husband, and enjoys life with their family, including their two beloved grandchildren. Visit her online at www.marybethhines.com.

https://www.facebook.com/marybethhineswriter

Guest Blog Post: Poetry and Image by Anne Leigh Parrish

Hello everyone! Author Anthony Avina here. I am happy to be sharing with you all this amazing guest post from author and poet Anne Leigh Parrish, where she discusses poetry and the utilization of visual representation in poetry. I hope you all will enjoy this stop in association with the Poetic Book Tours. Look for my review of the author’s upcoming book on November 4th. 


Poetry is a visual expression, even when it’s about politics, or feminism, or how nasty people can be. In poems, words evoke both what we feel and see. This is important to me, I’d say even crucial. Since leaving the urban mess of Seattle four years ago and coming to the quiet of a Northwest forest outside of Olympia, I find nature supplies a great deal of visual stimulation to write about.

Many poems begin with an image—something I notice and want to capture. Moss hanging from a branch; the darting of a jay; how a gust of wind gives a suddenness to how trees move.

Once the image is expressed in words, I delve into what those words mean. If moss drapes a branch, what else drapes, when, and why? A ring drapes a finger, for instance, but that draping is intentional, not the result of a natural process – or is it? This is where poetry gets really fun, because the ring on the finger could, in fact, result from an expression of love, man to woman, or man to man, and love is a recognized natural process. 

I also like to underscore differences among things and explore commonly held ideas and expectations, quite often about women. Returning to moss as a poetic subject, looking at it you might think it feels soft and silky, but it doesn’t. It’s rough and scratchy. Its appearance is deceptive, and in one poem I say moss evolved, went one way / then another which improved its chances / like a woman / nice to be reminded things / aren’t always as they seem, even if / truth at first disappoints

How many women feel the weight of the world’s expectations on them, particularly about how they look?

Using an image to shift the poetic drive or narrative into an unexpected direction is another way I craft my work. Violence against women is a theme I return to again and again, usually to raise awareness of the issue in general, but sometimes as a vehicle to open another door and prompt another discussion. This is where poetry and philosophy tend to blend and lose their boundaries. What if a woman finds herself needing the help of a man who then destroys her, and the poem reveals that it wasn’t because she was weak, or vulnerable, too trusting, or naïve, but because she had been distracted by something beautiful and thus let her guard down? She then reflects wryly from the afterlife that beauty gets her every time. 

Sometimes I like to start with a metaphor and build a world around it that stands on its own logic, even if what it’s depicting has no logic. I see this as another way poetry can bend reality. In my poem “even the trees went under” a couple’s home is gradually falling apart from heavy rain. Obviously, the story represents how bad things have gotten between them, and as the water rises and they climb higher in the home, the woman turns into a mermaid and is faced with a life or death decision: will she save the man, or leave him alone to drown?

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The title piece from my new collection explores the idea of objectivity in the face of turmoil. Two souls are held together by their not entirely healthy need for one another. They realize they’re really one monster, twirling before the sky / laughing at stars/ daring the moon to cut us apart. But the moon won’t be dared . . . how we love her joyous remove / up there alone. Again, nature as a force and backdrop comes into play, now as something uninvolved, coolly reflecting the occasional absurdity of the human condition.

On my last trip to Arizona, an elderly couple walked across the parking lot toward the restaurant where I was having dinner. They were backlit by a gorgeous Southwestern sunset. Their manner suggested years of life together, and for some reason, these images came down to the idea of a needle and the work that needles can do, in particular holding things together. This couple walked like looped stitches/ in the slanted evening light and through their many years they have/sewn, pulled apart / frayed / and dropped the needle’s thread / but now they rest and / gather up their loosened strands/ bound together / always.

I’ve been married for decades, and this fact too no doubt informed that piece.

And what of life overall? The gradual passing of time? How to express the understanding of one’s mortality? You have to have reached a certain age for these questions to be relevant, even poignant and yes, I’m there. I remember my mother saying to grow old was to become increasingly detached, and this idea became the basis for the poem I quote here, in its entirety (it’s brief) and logically entitled “time.”

let’s call it a study in detachment / gradual drift from passion to prayer / then even that loses strength / we grow quiet, soft, and slow/joyous in the face of this timely withdrawal / we’ve given  so much, we’re ready now to hold a little back from / this riot of shifting light we know / as life

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About the Author/Poet

Anne’s first fiction publication appeared in the Autumn 1995 issue of The Virginia Quarterly Review. That story, “A Painful Shade of Blue,” served as the basis for more fiction describing the divorce of her parents when she was still quite young. Her later stories focused on women struggling to find identity and voice in a world that was often hostile to the female experience.

In 2002, Anne won first place in a small contest sponsored by Clark County Community College in Vancouver, Washington. In 2003 she won the Willamette Award from Clackamas Community College in Oregon; in 2007 she took first place in highly esteemed American Short Fiction annual prize; and in 2008 she again won first place in the annual contest held by the literary review, The Pinch.

The story appearing in American Short Fiction“All The Roads that Lead From Home” became the title story in her debut collection, published in 2011 by Press 53. The book won a coveted Silver Medal in the 2012 Independent Publisher Book Awards. Two years later, a collection of linked stories about the Dugan family in Upstate New York, Our Love Could Light The World, was published by She Writes Press.

Her debut novel, What Is Found, What Is Lost appeared in 2014. This multi-generational tale speculates on the nature of religious faith and family ties, and was inspired by her own grandparents who emigrated to the United States in 1920.

A third collection of short stories appeared in 2017 from Unsolicited Press. By The Wayside uses magical realism and ordinary home life to portray women in absurd, difficult situations.

Women Within, her second novel, was published in September 2017 by Black Rose Writing. Another multi-generational story, it weaves together three lives at the Lindell Retirement home, using themes of care-giving, women’s rights, and female identity.

Her third novel, The Amendment, was released in June 2018 by Unsolicited Press. Lavinia Dugan Starkhurst, who first appeared in Our Love Could Light The World, is suddenly widowed and takes herself on a cross-country road trip in search of something to give her new life meaning.

Maggie’s Ruse, novel number four, appears October 2019 from Unsolicited Press, and continues with the Dugan family, this time focusing on identical twins, Maggie and Marta.

What Nell Dreams, came out in November 2020 from Unsolicited. This collection of sixteen short stories also features a novella, Mavis Muldoon.

The next installment in the Dugan families series, A Winter Night, was released in March 2021 from Unsolicited Press. Anne’s fifth novel focuses on eldest Dugan Angie and her frustrations as a thirty-four-year-old social worker in a retirement home.

Anne has been married for many years to her fine, wise, and witty husband John Christiansen. They have two adult children in their twenties, John Jr., and Lauren.

About Lydia Selk 

Lydia Selk is an artist who resides in the pacic northwest with her sweet husband. She has been creating  analog collages for several years. Lydia can often be found in her studio with scalpel in hand, cat sleeping on her  lap, and a layer of paper confetti at her feet. You can see more of her work on instagram.com/lydiafairymakesart

Guest Post: How To Teach Your Kids To Become Great Writers by Linda Mills

Writing permeates every aspect of modern life and is an essential skill regardless of profession and interest. Even businesses cannot survive without good writing at their core and it is a vital part of effective online and print marketing and promotions. Teaching writing to children whether it is a report or technical writing or creative writing has a number of key benefits for their healthy development and prosperous future. Among other things, excellent writing skills mean they will learn to express themselves, consume more reading material and perform better in most academic parameters.

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Atmosphere Dictates All

Writing is considered a challenging prospect by children especially if they are younger than middle grade because it seems complex and they might have trouble retaining good vocabulary or expressing themselves. As a parent, you need to identify issues (also ruling out the chance of dyslexia or other learning disorders) and solve them in imaginative and interesting ways. Create a safe space for the child to practice their writing like a desk or a spare room and incorporate inspiring décor ideas like scrabble tiles or framed quotes.

Next, buy them books on subjects they like such as sports or stories. As you build up their reading skills, ask them to jot down new words they have learned in a separate notebook. You can also test them on the meaning and uses of these words using colorful flashcards. Never underestimate the value of consistent practice as it often counts more than simply talent in a particular area.

Switch The Tables

One of the key aspects of being a great writer is the shifting of perspectives. Skilled writers can write for a variety of audiences to suit each and every purpose. Teaching tone and style is therefore very important. Encourage your child to imagine various scenarios and how writing would differ in all of them and help them to find examples online or in print as well. For example; writing a news report is different from someone writing a story and that is different from someone trying to sell you an item.

To Each His Own

Each child has their own favorite type of writing to read and therefore write. Is your child interested in keeping a journal or scrapbooking? Do they prefer to write travel logs? Do they like tales of fantastical lands and beasts? Encourage them to practice the kind of writing that makes their heart sing. When they are able to get a starting point this way, they’ll be more conducive to doing school work for types of writing they perhaps don’t enjoy as much such as reports or work assignments.

Equip Your Child

Make sure you have purchased all the equipment your child needs to become a formidable writer in their own right. Pencils, books, practice books, a desk, etc all matter and impart a sense of purpose. Furthermore, if you’ve consistently observed your child struggles with words and sentence formation and will benefit from English tuition, then that is a worthwhile investment. Not to mention good tutors can also be hired online with ease! You can also take them to libraries and bookshops and build up the reading habit which is in fact the greatest teacher when it comes to becoming a better writer.

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Listening Helps

Listening to audiobooks or documentaries and even podcasts is a great way to better your writing. Listening translates into better sentence structure and formation when you sit down to write. Encourage your child to listen to educational and interesting material when they are playing outside, going for a walk, simply want to lie down, or are doing anything generally unproductive. This will add to their passive learning and impact their writing in the long run.

Templates And Tests

Writing is a skill like any other and part of developing it in children is periodic testing. Look up tests online you can either use as they are, or tailor to your requirements and have your children take those tests on weekends and so on. Make sure they are short and creative so they don’t add to the school workload each child has to undertake. You can come up with story prompts or even templates and give them to your children to work from. Seeing available examples and starting points always helps with writer’s block.

To make your child keen to practice their writing more, you can even consider starting a blog or something similar from where you and he/she can track how well you are progressing. Not to mention it is brilliant motivation to keep writing and improving.

Guest Blog Post: Symbolism Reflected in Stories from Around the World By H. R. Conklin (author of The Eternity Knot in the Celtic Magic series)

In stories as varied as legends about local animals to tales of fairy creatures, there is tremendous cross-over in the symbolism used by cultures around the world. By studying these stories, we are reminded of the universal truths about life. The salmon, a transformational fish known for being of both salt and freshwater, has stories which teach new generations to show respect for the food that nourishes them. Tales of mermaids tell of the hardship of living between two worlds, no matter the original culture. Fairy tales about a girl growing up in painful conditions teaches how a person can earn a chance at a new life through being kind and honest. What we eat, the trials we go through, and how we act are all taught through the symbolism in these ancient stories from around the world.

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People who live close to the land, who have lived in the same places for centuries of generations, have a connection with nature to be envied. It’s through such a connection that the salmon came to be touted as the bestowers of knowledge upon anyone who eats them. Such wisdom was passed down generation to generation until finally verified by modern science. Salmon, after all, contains Omega 3, a brain food. Certainly, such a creature deserves to be revered. The legends of salmon coming from countries in the Atlantic or the Pacific always hold the salmon in the highest esteem. The Ainu of Japan say salmon is a gift from Paradise. The Haida of the Pacific Northwest, like so many Native American tribes in that region, teach that salmon must be respected in their story of Salmon Boy. The Celtic people of Ireland tell the story of Finn MacCool, a man who gains unlimited intelligence by tasting the Salmon of Knowledge. Revisiting the legends of the creatures living where we live can teach us a lot for how to respect nature.

Mermaids, being both human and fish, live between worlds and symbolize transformation and longing. They are ocean creatures, but they long for the land of their human half. This is not unique to Ariel, the Disney version of Hans Christian Anderson’s The Little Mermaid. When the cast for the live action The Little Mermaid was announced, and Halle Bailey was cast as the key role, there was backlash about how mermaids are supposed to be white. This was repeated over and over in heated debates, and the comeback was that there are black mermaids, too. There are the stories of Mami Wata, a mermaid tale that originates in Africa and was passed along through the people captured into slavery, and still circulates today throughout the USA, Haiti and other former slave destinations. Unlike most African deities, Mami Wata is not an Orisha. Her name originates in Egypt. Like Ariel, there is longing for the seemingly unattainable land. Yet Mami Wata is no simpering child. She is powerful, almost more like the character of Ursula in The Little Mermaid. Someone to be feared. In Celtic stories of mermaids who drag their suitors to the bottom of the ocean floor, so do the African mermaids who serve Mami Wata. A creature to be feared, in symbolizing living between worlds the mermaid serves to teach us to learn to do the same.

Not only has the world of Disney shown just one version of the mermaids from around the world, so too has there been but one view of most popular fairy tales been told. Cinderella has many versions of the same story in a multitude of countries worldwide. Original versions of Cinderella (under different names) are found in the east as far back as 618 AD during the T’ang dynasty of China and even in some Native American tribal stories out west. The stories are always similar; a young girl is mistreated by her family and through telling the truth she is united with a powerful man. Truth may be symbolized by a clothing item such as a golden sandal or an anklet as in the versions of the Eastern countries, or it may be represented by the Cinderella character being able to see the truth where no one else can as in Native American stories. Either way, truth overcomes poverty and pain, giving the girl a “happy ever after” story she has earned through her kindness and honesty. Recognizing that this story is not only a European construct but belongs to all the people of our planet helps teach us that we are all capable of being good citizens worthy of a happy life.

It is because of these varied stories offering connecting symbolism throughout a multitude of cultures and countries that I was inspired to write my final book, The Eternity Knot, the way I did. We are more alike than we realize. Our stories, centuries old, have shown us this over and over again. If we study these ancient stories, we can also learn the simplicity of taking care of our world. Knowledge and respect of nature, learning to live between worlds (e.g. technology and nature), being kind and honest; these are some of the traits we would do better to exhibit and they are taught to us through the symbology within the stories of our world. 

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About the Author

H. R. Conklin grew up in the rural mountains of Northern California where her mother gardened and her father played the bagpipes, as well as spending long hours in the theater where her parents were a dancer and an actor. This undoubtedly led to her overactive imagination and love for nature. She currently lives in San Diego with her husband, two adult children, and three dogs. She used to teach kindergarten at a public Waldorf charter school in which she told many fairy tales to the children, and made up stories in her spare time. Now she is a Story Circle Leader and guides parents in homeschooling at a private Waldorf school.

 Keep in Touch – Sign up for Conklin’s Newsletter

Find out more at: 

Website:  https://wildrosestories.com/welcome

Facebook Page:  https://www.facebook.com/wildrosestories/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/wildrosestories

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

Purchase The Eternity Knot on AmazonWaldorf Books, and/or H.R. Conklin’s website: Wild Rose Stories. Be sure to also add this to your GoodReads reading list.

Buy Links: 

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Eternity-Knot-Celtic-Magic/dp/B096TTR9PK/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&keywords=celtic+magic+h.+r.+conklin&qid=1625601403&s=books&sr=1-2

Waldorf Books Online: https://earthschooling.info/thebearthinstitute/product/celtic-magic-book-4-the-eternity-knot/

Wild Rose Stories: https://wildrosestories.com/shop

Blog Tour Calendar 

July 19th @ The Muffin

July 21st @ The Faerie Review 

Join Lily at the Faerie Review as she shares her review of H.R. Conklin’s latest book The Eternity Knot; part of the Celtic Magic Series. This is a great book for anyone who enjoys a modern take on myths and fairytales! 

https://www.thefaeriereview.com/

July 29th @ The Knotty Needle 

Judy at the Knotty Needle shares her review with readers after reading H.R. Conklin’s The Eternity Knot – part of the Celtic Magic Series. Don’t miss Judy’s insightful review! https://knottyneedle.blogspot.com

July 31st @ Author C.K. Sorens 

Fellow Author C.K. Sorens shares her review of The Eternity Knot – the latest release by H.R. Conklin and part of the Celtic Magic series. Don’t miss today’s peer review! 

https://www.cksorens.com/blog

August 1st @ Bring on Lemons with Cathy Hansen 

Wisconsin entrepreneur and educator, Cathy Hansen reviews the latest novel in the Celtic Magic Series – find out what Cathy has to say about The Eternity Knot as she shares her thoughts with readers at Bring on Lemons. 

http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com

August 2nd @ Author Anthony Avina 

Fellow author Anthony Avina shares his review of H.R. Conklin’s The Eternity Knot. This book is part of the Celtic Magic Series – readers of all ages will delight in this special story! https://authoranthonyavinablog.com

August 3rd @ A Storybook World 

Readers at A Storybook World will hear from guest blogger H.R. Conklin on the topic of Symbolism in Fairytales. Conklin just release The Eternity Knot – another 5 star book in the Celtic Magic series, but she’s taking time to share her author expertise with readers today! Don’t miss this fabulous opportunity to learn from Conklin! 

http://www.astorybookworld.com

August 4th @ Author Anthony Avina 

 Earlier this week, readers at Author Anthony Avina’s blog read Anthony’s review of H.R. Conklin’s The Eternity Knot. Today readers will hear from Conklin herself as she shares a guest blog post titled:  “Symbolism Reflected in Stories from Around the World” . Don’t miss this fantastic opportunity to learn more about The Celtic Magic series! https://authoranthonyavinablog.com/

August 5th @ The Knotty Needle 

 Judy at the Knotty Needle shares her review of The Eternity Knot by H.R. Conklin. This is book 3 in the Celtic Magic series and it is guaranteed to delight readers of all ages! Don’t miss Judy’s review! https://knottyneedle.blogspot.com/

August 6th @ Beverley A. Baird 

 Today’s guest post for readers at Beverley A. Baird is written by H.R. Conklin. Conklin is the award winning author of the Celtic Magic Series and she recently released her latest title: The Eternity Knot. Don’t miss a chance to read today’s guest post titled: “Parenting Wisdom Shared Through Storytelling”.

https://beverleyabaird.wordpress.com/

August 7th @ World of My Imagination with Nicole Pyles 

Nicole just finished reading The Eternity Knot by H.R. Conklin and can’t wait to tell readers at World of My Imagination all about it. Don’t miss today’s review by Nicole to find out more about this title as well as the others in the Celtic Magic Series! 

https://worldofmyimagination.com/

August 8th @ Word Magic; All About Books with Author Fiona Ingram 

 H.R Conklin pens today’s guest post about fairies and mythology as she visits fellow author Fiona Ingram at Word Magic. Don’t miss this opportunity to hear from Conklin and find out more about her latest release: The Eternity Knot; part of the Celtic Magic series! http://fionaingramauthor.blogspot.com/

August 9th @ Bring on Lemons with Crystal Otto 

 WOW! Blog Tour Manager, Crystal Otto reviews the latest novel in the Celtic Magic Series – find out what Crystal has to say about The Eternity Knot as she shares her 5 star review with readers at Bring on Lemons. 

 http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/

August 10th @ Bring on Lemons with Libby 

 Libby is a young artist who enjoys many genres of books – she shares her thoughts with readers at Bring on Lemons today – her deep thoughts about The Eternity Knot by H.R. Conklin. This book is part of the Celtic Magic series and Libby is excited to read all the books. Readers will delight in her youthful perspective and her energy! 

 http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/

August 11th @ Lisa Haselton 

 Lisa Haselton interviews H.R. Conklin about the Celtic Magic series and her latest release The Eternity Knot. Don’t miss a chance to become better acquainted with this talented author! 

https://lisahaselton.com/blog

August 18th @ Jill Sheet’s Blog 

 Today, readers at Jill Sheet’s Blog will hear from H.R. Conklin on the topic of “How Symbolism in Fairy Tales of Old Help Us Today”. Stop by to learn more about The Eternity Knot (part of the Celtic Magic Series) and learn from this talented author. 

http://jillsheets.blogspot.com/

August 19th @ Wildwood Reads with Megan 

 Readers at Wildwood Reads will hear from Megan as she reviews The Eternity Knot by H.R. Conklin. Don’t miss an opportunity to learn more about The Celtic Magic Series and this latest release! https://wildwoodreads.com/

Guest Blog Post: Preferences of Single vs Series Works

From the beginning of the Mystic Rampage project, I knew I wanted it to be at least a two-part series. It seemed like the best way to combine the fantasy and science fiction elements. In the first novel the Genie’s powers have some principles in biochemistry or physics, but they are mostly considered magic. In the second book I introduced a deeper scientific explanation for their abilities. I was unsure about writing a third installment. I killed off a few characters at the end of book 2 and wasn’t sure I had enough material for another full-length novel. I’ve been working on it almost a year now and I’m still not sure I have enough.

Part of the reason I decided to attempt a third novel was due to Soleil’s uncertain fate at the end of Public Display of Aggression, although it’s probably unnecessary. There’s nothing wrong with leaving readers with a mystery; it’s why fan theorists exist. The main reason I’m working on another is that three books just feels natural. I’m aware that duologies exist but I can’t recall any off the top of my head. For some reason when authors decide to make a series they are expected to write at least three. I don’t know when it became the norm, but now that I’m conforming to it I find three novels gets boring. It’s too long for me to follow the same characters. Flarence was always my favorite character in this series to write, but even he’s become dull. I’m getting sick of finding reasons for him to get into fights. I’m also running out of clever ways for the Genies to use their magic. I have a lot of respect for authors who produce series that consist of five books, or ten, or even more. I have even greater respect for people involved in comic books. Some superheroes have been around for more than 70 years, and they still fly off shelves. I can’t imagine keeping a story going that long. Mystic Rampage is going to be my last series, at least for a while. From now on, it’s one-and-done for me.

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Book Summary:

Soleil and Flarence are immortal Genies who can bend the fundamental forces of the universe through willpower alone. For centuries, they have considered themselves the most formidable beings in the world, but some newcomers just might give them a run for their money.

Magic has always been limited to living things. Throughout his life, Soleil has never come across an object with supernatural capabilities. Now, a human has somehow constructed guns with the ability to fire spells. Genies are normally resistant to offensive magic, but Soleil knows from experience that the enchanted revolvers harm all creatures equally.

Resurrection is one of the few limitations to a Genie’s abilities. Not even magic should be able to bring a person back from death. Recently, though, Flarence saw a corpse not only rise but also fight. Endowed with incredible speed and strength, the revived man seeks revenge on his murderers.

To make matters worse, Darren (the third member of the Genie “family”) is still missing. He’s been lying low, biding his time, but hasn’t forgotten about Officer Tymbir, and has every intention of settling their score.

Darren, the revived corpse, and the man with the magic guns have a list of people to kill, and are eager to spill blood. With the help of Mohinaux and Claire, Soleil and Flarence rush to locate them, uncover the sources of their powers, and find a way to stop them.

This book is perfect for adults who want to get in touch with their inner child!

Purchase Public Display of Aggression on AmazonOrganic BooksPage One Books and Barnes and Noble. Be sure to also add this to your GoodReads reading list.

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About the Author Hugh Fritz: 

Hugh Fritz is a fan of monsters, mad scientists, sorcerers, and anything that involves beings with incredible powers beating each other senseless. After years of writing research papers, he decided it was time to give reality a rest and let his imagination run wild.

Find out more at:

website:  http://www.hughfritz.com 

Facebook Page:  https://www.facebook.com/Stories-by-Hugh-Fritz-397896477228957

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  — Blog Tour Calendar

June14th  @ The Muffin

Join us as we celebrate the launch of this incredible tale. Find out more about the author, Hugh Fritz, and enter to win a copy of Public Display of Aggression for yourself.  

https://muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com

June 15th @ A Storybook World with Deirdra Eden

Deirdra Eden shares the spotlight today – and in today’s spotlight it is none other than Hugh Fritz with Book #2 in the Mystic Rampage Series: Public Display of Aggression! Readers won’t want to miss an opportunity to dig into the magic of this incredible story!

http://www.astorybookworld.com/

June 16th @ Create Write Now with Mari McCarthy

There’s a guest author at Mari McCarthy’s Create Write Now and it’s the one and only Hugh Fritz who recently finished Book #2 in the Mystic Rampage Series. He’s busy promoting Public Display of Aggression but has taken time out of his busy schedule to write an informative post about “Using Bacteria and Fungus in Food”. Join readers at Create Write Now to learn more!

https://www.createwritenow.com/

June 17th @ World of My Imagination with Nicole Pyles

Nicole Pyles shares her thoughts as she reviews Public Display of Aggression by Hugh Fritz. Readers at World of My Imagination will put their imagination into overdrive with this fast-paced story involving plenty of magic. This is Book #2 in the Mystic Rampage Series but reads just as well as a stand-alone. Don’t miss today’s review by Nicole!

https://worldofmyimagination.com/

June 18th @ Bibliophile with Diti Shah

Diti Shah shares her book review with her Insta followers – find out what she thinks of Public Display of Aggression by Hugh Fritz! This is Book #2 of the Mystic Rampage Series that has delighted readers and left them wanting more!

https://www.instagram.com/she_a_bibliophile/

June 21st @  A Storybook World with Deirdra Eden

There’s a guest author at A Storybook World and it’s the one and only Hugh Fritz who recently finished Book #2 in the Mystic Rampage Series. He’s busy promoting Public Display of Aggression but has taken time out of his busy schedule to write an informative post about “Illustrations in Fantasy Novels”. This will be great for writers and readers alike.

http://www.astorybookworld.com/

June 22nd @ Lisa Haselton’s Reviews and Interviews

Lisa Haselton interviews Hugh Fritz about the Mystic Rampage Series and Book #2 Public Display of Aggression. Don’t miss this insider opportunity to hear from the author himself – the man behind all the imagination and fun!

https://lisahaselton.com/blog/

June 23rd @ One Writer’s Journey with Sue Bradford Edwards

Fellow author Sue Bradford Edwards offers her review of Public Display of Aggression by Hugh Fritz. Readers won’t want to miss her thoughts!

https://suebe.wordpress.com/

June 24th @ Knotty Needle with Judy Hudgins

Judy Hudgins keeps readers on the edge of their seat at the knotty needle blog as she reviews Book #2 in the Mystic Rampage Series . Readers will want to grab their own copy of Hugh Fritz’s Public Display of Aggression so they won’t miss a beat of this imaginative story!

http://www.knottyneedle.blogspot.com

June 30th @ Bookish Trischa

The spotlight is bright at Bookish Trischa and today it shines on Hugh Fritz and his latest creation Public Display of Aggression – Book #2 in the Mystic Rampage Series! Don’t miss this opportunity to learn more about the book everyone is talking about!

http://bookishtrisha.com

July 1st @ Book Santa Fe with Crystal Otto

Crystal Otto reads a lot and she loves a fast-paced imaginative story. Public Display of Aggression is 5 Stars and she can’t wait to tell readers more about it at Book Santa Fe today! This is the 2nd book in the Mystic Rampage series, but she says it reads great as a standalone. Read Crystal’s full review today!

http://www.booksantafe.info/booksantafeblog

July 7th @ Sreevarsha Sreejith

Readers of Varsha’s blog will hear from Hugh Fritz today in a post about “Fan Fiction” as he takes a break from promoting his latest book Public Display of Aggression. Don’t miss this guest post and opportunity to learn more about the Mystic Rampage Series and the man behind all the excitement!

sreevarshasreejith.blogspot.com

July 9th @ Bring on Lemons with Carmen Otto

Carmen is an avid reader and soon to be high schooler – she loved Book #1 in the Mystic Rampage series and she joins us today to share her 5 Star Review of Book #2 – Public Display of Aggression by Hugh Fritz. Don’t miss her youthful insight!

http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/

July 10th @ Author Anthony Avina’s Blog

Readers of Author Anthony Avina’s Blog will hear from Hugh Fritz today as he pens a guest post titled “Preference of Series of Stand Alone Pieces”. This post will delight authors and readers alike – so don’t miss it! This is also a great opportunity to learn more about the Mystic Rampage Series and Book #2, Public Display of Aggression.

July 12th  @ Bookish Trischa

Today is the day – Trischa reviews Public Display of Aggression – Book #2 in the Mystic Rampage Series! Don’t miss this opportunity to learn more about and hear from Trischa herself as she shares her insight into the writings of Hugh Fritz.

http://bookishtrisha.com

July 13th @ Sreevarsha Sreejith

Today it’s Varsha’s opportunity to share her review of Public Display of Aggression. Don’t miss this chance to learn more about the fast-paced writing of Hugh Fritz and Book #2 in the Mystic Rampage series!

sreevarshasreejith.blogspot.com

July 14th @ Author Anthony Avina’s Blog

A few days ago, readers of Author Anthony Avina’s Blog heard from Hugh Fritz in a guest post: “Preference of Series of Stand Alone Pieces”. Now it’s review time – hear what Anthony has to say in his review of Public Display of Aggression, Book #2 in the Mystic Rampage Series by Hugh Fritz!

Guest Blog Post: The Story I Needed To Tell by Cheryl Wilder

The Story I Needed to Tell

I’m not sure who said it, but there’s an adage that goes something like: A first book is the one the author needed to write. This statement is true for me, though not for all the themes found in my first book, Anything That Happens. Hm. That may not be accurate. Let me begin again.

I came to writing through a side door. At the end of my senior year in high school, my English teacher pulled me aside, a stack of my creative assignments in his hand, and urged me to keep writing. “If you enjoy doing this, keep doing it,” Mr. Langford said, making me look up and into his eyes so I could see his serious face. He knew I was an adrift teenager about to be released into the world. I imagine him crossing his fingers as he gave me the “life raft” that is poetry.

My poetry has always been personal, tied to the exploration of emotion. I believe it’s a response to the practical, non-communicative environment where I grew up. The stack of papers Mr. Langford held were poems about friendship and trust, my mom making a new home with her husband-to-be, my father’s absence, and me coming to terms with … my future? 

Since I had little direction, and I enjoyed writing, I took Mr. Langford’s advice. But, I didn’t know how to live like a writer. And I believed “experience” would make me a writer. (Obviously, I wasn’t paying attention in class when we talked about Emily Dickenson’s life.)   

So, when I moved from California to North Carolina at nineteen years old, I was embarking on “life.” I uprooted, hoping for new, enlightening experiences. Nine months later, the event—a car crash—I would eventually need to write happened. 

The irony is that after the crash, I couldn’t write. Then, I wouldn’t write, not seriously. Not for years. I believed it was wrong to make a good thing from my bad act. And since I wanted to become a poet, I kept myself from it, accepting my due punishment. 

The thing about needs is they don’t disappear. Whether I wanted to believe it or not, I was a poet, and a poet needs to write poetry. There’s no escaping it. (Oh, thank goodness.) 

I first gave myself permission to write about the crash in a fiction class. I had returned to college at twenty-seven years old and majored in creative writing. Fiction provided me the distance I needed to write the details of the night, from my friend’s phone call to being handcuffed and put into a police car. In the “story,” the crash was happening to someone else. 

That first step was monumental: I was in the writer’s chair. 

Two years later, during my last poetry workshop before graduation, I wrote my first poem about the crash, the original version of the “Slipped” series that’s in the book. It was the story I wrote in fiction, but this time, I was once again in the driver’s seat. Placing myself there gave me a better vantage point to tell the story, and not only the drinking too much and car wrapped around a pole story. The pieces of the story only I knew: the emotional and psychological impact.

The crash was the story I needed to tell. “Emotional and psychological impact” is the inherent slice of all the stories I tell, like when I tried to understand my father’s choices compared to my mother’s back in high school. 

The main narrative of Anything That Happens is the car crash and its aftermath. But there is also the death of my mother, the birth of my first son, struggles of parenthood, and underneath it all, ever-present shame. There’s no doubt the car crash heightened my interest in how one action can affect someone else. When I wrote about the relationship with my parents and how I felt about becoming a mother, I did so through the lens of cause and effect—the impact of choosing what not to do weighing as heavily as choosing what to do. 

The impact of writing the story I needed to write is just coming to fruition. The book is only two months old. My desire to write hasn’t lessened. Now, I get to work on what I want to write. I don’t know what that looks like yet. Sure, I have ideas and dreams. Okay, I even have projects I kept putting to the side while I finished the needed-to-be-told story. But that’s the “work” of being a writer, and I’ll get to it. For now, I’m still living the piece I’m most interested in, the emotional and psychological impact of having told the story I needed to tell.

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About the Author

Cheryl Wilder is the author of Anything That Happens, a Tom Lombardo Poetry Selection (Press 53, 2021), a collection that examines how to reconcile a past grave mistake and a future that stretches into one long second chance. Her chapbook, What Binds Us (Finishing Line Press, 2017), explores the frailty and necessity of human connection. 

A founder and editor of Waterwheel Review, Cheryl earned her BFA from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and her MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts.

Guest Blog Post: Why the Title of a Story Matters By Jennifer Zhang

“What’s in a name?” Shakespeare asked. 

“Potentially the difference between a blockbuster and a flop, kid!” Hollywood answered, chewing on a cigar and pouring two fingers of scotch.

In all seriousness, it is unfortunately true that more than a few cinematic gems have been buried by their lackluster titles. A good title, by contrast, can get someone to click on a trailer, read a two-sentence description that can clinch the deal, or fill a theater seat on the power of the curiosity it has inspired alone. 

At the very least, a good title gets a moviegoer to ask, “tell me more”… and a really good title gets a moviegoer to say, “Okay, show me.”

And this is why Blake Snyder emphasizes in Save the Cat! – his methodology that revolutionized the language of storytelling – that you are not tasked with simply coming up with a title for your movie. 

You’re tasked with giving your movie a killer title.

It’s a mission so important—so absolutely paramount—that we hammer it home in great detail in the “Cracking the Beat Sheet” online course. We also offer an arsenal of tips and pointers because, after all, imagine pouring your heart and soul into writing a story for the ages, pulling every string to get it into the hands of a decision-maker (or at least an intern) at a production company or major studio, only to have them look at the title, and with a “meh,” toss it onto the “maybe later” (maybe never) pile.

Tragedy! One that would ruffle even Shakespeare’s… ruffles! So let’s prevent it!

“Legally Blond”

“The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly”

“Fight Club”

We all know a good title when we read one. But what makes a title good? 

Years ago, Blake offered us an important clue to cracking that case. He pointed out that “a good title must say what it is! and yet give us a fresh, intriguing invitation to your party that gives us a hint of the type and tone of the festivities we’re about to attend. And that’s some tight writing right there.“

So as you can see—and as many of us have had the displeasure of experiencing—it’s no easy task, nor is it a small one. And to prove that it’s a task on which even the biggest films may stumble and fall, allow me to share the example we use in the Save the Cat! “Cracking the Beat Sheet” course:

In 2014, Tom Cruise starred in a movie called Edge of Tomorrow, which was phenomenal by both audience and critics’ accounts with a 90% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The premise was basically Groundhog’s Day in the middle of an alien invasion. A man with no combat experience is forced to relive the same day over and over again until he can figure out how to thwart a devastating extraterrestrial attack. 

The problem was, none of the excitement of that premise was hinted at or captured with the title “Edge of Tomorrow,” slick as it sounded. And one of the most vocal lamenters of the title’s failure was Doug Liman, the film’s director. He openly blamed this title, which was forced on the film, for the movie’s disappointing box office returns. 

“I ended up having to call the person (the Warner Bros. executive) and apologize for pointing out that they were wrong,” he said. “And they started titling it the title I always thought it should have, which is Live Die Repeat. But they tiptoed around it, and when we make the sequel, it’ll be permanently titled Live Die Repeat. The sequel will be Live Die Repeat and Repeat.”

Guess what? That’s a title that says what the movie is. 

Hopefully, you’re now fully convinced that a title matters a great deal, and you’re mentally running the “Say What It Is” test on your current script titles.  

And if you still only find yourself on the edge of inspiration, we’ve packed our online course with wisdom and tricks to tip you over.  

Happy writing! Or shall we say… live, write, repeat! 

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BIO:

Jennifer Zhang is a screenwriter and filmmaker who wrote, produced and sold her award-winning debut feature “The Evil Inside” shortly after working with Blake Snyder and adopting Save the Cat! storytelling principles in her screenwriting. She is the instructor featured in the Cracking the Beat Sheet” online course, and has most recently garnered early festival buzz for her feature-length independent thriller “Charon” which has picked up multiple official selections and “Best Writer” nominations.

About Save the Cat!

Save the Cat!® is the bestselling story methodology introduced by screenwriter Blake Snyder in 2005 with his first book, Save the Cat!. Snyder’s acclaimed ideas, methods, and software have provided thousands of writers with the resources they need to develop their screenplays and novels.

Save the Cat!’s

WOW! WOMEN ON WRITING TOUR OF Cracking the Beat Sheet

&

Story Development Cards

Tour Begins February 22nd

First, what is Save the Cat!®? 

Save the Cat! provides writers the resources they need to develop their screenplays and novels based on a series of best-selling books, primarily written by Blake Snyder (1957- 2009). Blake’s method is based on 10 distinctive genres and his 15 story beats (the Blake Snyder Beat Sheet). Our books, workshops, story structure software, apps, and story coaching teach you everything you need to unlock the fundamentals and mechanics of plot and character transformation. 

Find out more about Save the Cat! by visiting their webpage at https://savethecat.com/

About the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet Online Course

This course is designed for writers to turn their idea into a movie or novel. This learn-at-your-own-pace online class helps you develop the 15 key “beats” or “plot points” of your story. Strung together, in the right order, these 15 beats make up the blueprint to a successful screenplay or novel. 

You’ll Turn an Idea into a Story by Learning to… 

• Create a solid beat sheet that will serve as the road map, and “backbone” of your story 

• Identify and know the key components of your story genre • Learn the clichés of your genre so that you can break them like an artist 

• Plot your hero’s journey and “transformation” • Troubleshoot your story idea for viability 

• Write a compelling logline or elevator pitch 

This Course Is for Those Who… 

• Want to troubleshoot an existing story 

• Have so many great ideas and struggle to choose “the one” 

• Are ready to write but not sure how to start 

• Are determined to finish a half-written story 

• Want to learn 

This Course Includes… 

• Over 3 hours and 17 minutes of original video production 

• 9 downloadable worksheets • 3 reading assignments (book not included) 

• 4 homework assignments 

Course Value: $59 

Find out more information about the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet Online Course by visiting https://www.savethecatcourses.com/courses/cracking-the-beat-sheet.

About Save the Cat! Story Cards

Introducing Save the Cat!®Story Cards, consisting of Save the Cat! Beat Cards and Save the Cat! Scene Cards, all designed to outline and develop your story. 

Save the Cat! Beat Cards 

Crack your story from the “Opening Image” to the “Final Image.” Save the Cat!® Beat Cards provide writers with the 15 key plot points to map out your script or novel. Every set contains 15 individual index cards with helpful explanations of each beat to form the foundation of your story. 

Save the Cat! Scene Cards 

Every scene of your story needs to communicate “place,” “basic action,” “emotional transformation,” and “outcome.” The Save the Cat!® Scene Cards help writers nail the purpose of every scene. Each set of cards contains 40 color-coded cards broken down by act, with 10 extra cards because we know you’ll need them. 

Cards Value: $10.95 

Find out more information about Story Cards at https://savethecat.com/story-cards

More information about Save the Cat!:

Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet Online Course

https://www.savethecatcourses.com/courses/cracking-the-beat-sheet

Save the Cat! Website

Save the Cat! Best-Selling Books

https://savethecat.com/books

Save the Cat! Story Cards

https://savethecat.com/books

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– Blog Tour Dates

February 22nd @ The Muffin

What goes better in the morning than a muffin? Grab your coffee and join us today over at our blog, where we launch another blog tour for Save the Cat! We talk about their online course and their story cards, interview the Save the Cat team, and host a special giveaway you don’t want to miss.

https://muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com

February 23rd @ Cathy Stucker’s Selling Books

Join Cathy as she reviews the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet Course. Perfect if you want to finally outline your novel!

https://www.sellingbooks.com/

February 23rd @ And So She Thinks

Join Francesca and read her review of the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet Course. You don’t want to miss this!

https://andsoshethinks.co.uk/blog/

February 24th @ Chapters Through Life

Visit Danielle’s blog as she reviews her experience with the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet Course.

http://chaptersthroughlife.blogspot.co.uk

February 24th @ Margay Leah Justice

Join Margay as she reviews the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet course and the Story Cards.

http://margayleahjustice.blogspot.com/

February 25th @ Author Anthony Avina

Join Anthony as he shares a Save the Cat! guest post about why the title of a story matters.

https://authoranthonyavinablog.com/

February 26th @ Writer Unboxed

Join Therese as she reviews the Save the Cat! writing course Cracking the Beat Sheet. Don’t miss it! 

https://writerunboxed.com/

February 27th @ Jessica Samuels

Join Jessica as she shares her insights into the Save the Cat! Story Cards.

https://jessicasamuelsauthor.com/

February 28th @ The Faerie Review

Visit Lily’s blog as she reviews the Save the Cat! Story Cards and shares her insights into the Cracking the Beat Sheet course.

https://www.thefaeriereview.com

March 1st @ Michelle Cornish

Join Michelle as she reviews the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet course.

https://www.michellecornish.com/blog

March 1st @ Memoir Writer’s Journey

Kathy shares the Save the Cat guest post discussing stress testing dialogue and scene.

https://www.krpooler.com/blog/

March 2nd @ Cathy Stucker’s Selling Books

Visit Cathy’s blog again as she reviews the Save the Cat! Story Cards! Find out how this item will help you storyboard your novel.

https://www.sellingbooks.com/

March 3rd @ Knotty Needle

Visit Judy’s blog as she reviews the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet and the Save the Cat! Story Cards.

https://knottyneedle.blogspot.com/

March 4th @ Author Anthony Avina

Visit Anthony’s blog where you can read his experience with the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet course.

https://authoranthonyavinablog.com/

March 5th @ Quill and Books

Visit Kathryn’s blog and read her review of the Save the Cat! Story Cards.

March 7th @ Sioux’s Page

Join Sioux as she reviews the Save the Cat! Story Cards and her experience with the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet course.

http://siouxspage.blogspot.com/

March 7th @ Help Me Naomi

Visit Naomi’s blog today and you can read her review of the Save the Cat! Story Cards and the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet course.

https://helpmenaomi.com/

March 8th @ World of My Imagination

Guest writer, Stephanie Anne, reviews the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet course and Save the Cat! Story Cards on Nicole’s blog World of My Imagination.

https://worldofmyimagination.com/

March 9th @ Cathy Stucker’s Selling Books

Visit Cathy’s blog again where you can read a guest post from the Save the Cat! team about why structure is a friend, not a formula.

https://www.sellingbooks.com/

March 9th @ Sandy Kirby Quandt

Sandy shares her review of the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet course and the Save the Cat! Story Cards.

https://sandykirbyquandt.com/

March 10th @ Brooke’s Reviews and Sweeps

Join Brooke as she reviews the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet course and the Save the Cat! Story Cards.

http://www.brookereviewsnsweeps.com/

March 11th @ Jill Sheet’s Blog

Visit Jill’s blog today and check out her insights into the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet course and the Save the Cat! Story Cards.

http://jillsheets.blogspot.com/

March 12th @ Finished Pages

Join Renee as she reviews her experience with the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet online course.

http://finishedpages.com/

March 13th @ Writer Unboxed

Visit Therese’s blog again as she reviews the Save the Cat! Story Cards. You’ll want to check these out if you want to storyboard your novel!

https://writerunboxed.com/

March 14th @ The Margate Bookie

You’ll definitely want to catch today’s guest post where Save the Cat! discusses the power of the writer’s board.

https://margatebookie.com/news/

March 15th @ My Heart is Booked

Join Danielle today where she reviews the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet course and the Save the Cat! story cards.

March 15th @ LM Harley

Visit Laura’s blog and check out her review of the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet course.

http://lmharleywriter.com/index.html

March 18th @ Cathy C. Hall Writes

Join Cathy as she shares her thoughts about the Save the Cat! Story Cards.

https://c-c-hall.com/

March 19th @ One Writer’s Journey

Visit Sue’s blog today as she shares her insights into the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet online course.

https://suebe.wordpress.com/

March 21st @ World of My Imagination

Join Nicole and read her review of the Save the Cat! Story Cards.

https://worldofmyimagination.com

March 22nd @ Mint Miller Writes

Mint Miller treats us to a review of the Save the Cat! Story Cards. Don’t miss it!

https://www.mintmillerwrites.com/

March 23rd @ Karen Brown Tyson

Join Karen as shares a Save the Cat guest post discussing the benefits of using a board.

March 25th @ WOW’s Editor Blog

You don’t want to miss WOW’s editor-in-chief, Angela Mackintosh’ review of the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet online course.

https://wow-womenonwriting.com/

March 26th @ World of My Imagination

Writer Kate Mahony is a guest reviewer at World of My Imagination and she shares her thoughts about the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet course.

https://worldofmyimagination.com

March 27th @ Joyful Antidotes

Visit Joy’s blog today where you can read her review of the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet online course.

https://joyfulantidotes.com/