31 July 2011

*An App for That

Intro: This story isn't what I planned it to be. Sorry it is kind of a rant in story form. I buy paper books and I own a cell phone to do one thing, make phone calls.

"I have an app for that," Mark said.

Pike shook his head as Mark pulled out his phone. Once again he'd splurged on the latest model. Pike had used the same phone for three years and it had been his older brother's three years before that. He cast a bored glance at Mark who dragged and poked at his screen with a finger. Pike sighed and turned his attention back to the street signs and the buildings.

"Give me a sec," Mark drawled out the last word. "Here we go. The closest bookstore is on Lex—"

"There's one right there," Pike said, pointing across the street.

Mark's head snapped around to see what Pike was looking at. His mouth turned down as he looked down at his phone.

"Ah but you see, the one I found is larger and a chain. We don't even know if this store will have the book you're looking for."

"I'm willing to risk it," Pike said and headed across the street, dodging traffic.

He heard Mark curse and run after him. The bookstore smelled of paper and a hint of dust. It smelled like home. He slowly walked up and down the dozen or so shelves, letting his fingers trail along the spines as he read them. Mark followed.

"You realize that I already have most of these books on my phone. I have an app that turns it into an e-reader. Plus the electronic books cost less."

"Really? How much did your phone cost you? And how much does the internet cost you? Plus purchasing the file? I'll take my hard copy thank you."

"I don't have to trek all the way to the bookstore to get them," Mark said.

Pike shook his head and continued scanning the spines. He pulled a few books off the shelf and then headed back up to the counter. He nodded his thanks to the clerk. She smiled at the choices and when she looked at the last one let out a little gasp of breath.

"Did you know that he's coming here, in about fifteen minutes?" She waved to a sign and both Pike and Mark turned.

"This is totally awesome," Mark trilled. "I love his books. We have to stick around so I can get his autograph."

Pike picked up his purchases and a grin split his face. "So do you have an app for that? Or are you just going to have him sign your phone?"

29 July 2011


by Bram Stoker

I first read DRACULA, by Bram Stoker, in college. I had recently watched a movie that had a variety of well known book characters, Mina being one of them, and I was ashamed that although I knew the characters, I hadn't read the stories they came from. So I read DRACULA and every assumption I had of the book was dissolved. I thought I knew what to expect because I had read other classic horror such as FRANKENSTEIN, but they just aren't the same. (I like DRACULA better.)

The first point to note is that the story is written in epistle format. I know this is a dissuader for a lot of people; I have a difficult time getting into books that are entirely journal entries or letters. For me the emergency of the situation isn't there. The letter or entry was written, therefore the character survived the situation. However, with the POV character being Mina, there is still a lot of suspense as to what is going to happen to the other characters in the story. You may think you know the character of Dracula and what he can do, but seeing the story evolve from beginning to end is something completely different. This is one of the origin stories for vampires and is more realistic then some of the other novels out there.

DRACULA isn't action. It isn't face paced. It is all about feeding on fear of the unknown and unbelievable. It is creepy. It moves along at its own pace but is well worth reading and learning about a high profile character and his origins.

27 July 2011

Harry Potter Memories

This month sees the last of the Harry Potter movies in theaters. (Though it wouldn't surprise me if there was something else that came along to continue the saga in some form or another.) It is hard to believe that when the first book came out I was in elementary. My grandmother gave us the first book for Christmas the year it came out. We all loved it and convinced the other grandparents to bring us the second book from England before it was even available in the states. We were hooked early and telling all of our friends they needed to read it.

When the books came out we would argue over who got to read them first. With four kids (later on it was five) and two adults it was quite a battle. I remember going with my dad one year to buy it the day it came out and never letting it out of my hands. I read (I want to say it was the fourth book) in one day because I knew if I set it down, my two older siblings would magic it away and I would have to finish it after they were done.

When the DEATHLY HOLLOWS came out I was in college and because I wasn't living at home, was at the bottom of the borrowing list. Luckily one of my roommates purchased the book and the other three finished it relatively quickly. I was then able to take my time and savor it. The month it came out, was also the month I was married. The day of my wedding my roommates planned on doing my hair, I just had to make sure I was up at 6:00 showered and dried so they could curl and style it for me. Ever since I was a child, if I had something important the next day, I would often mishear my alarm. This was no different. I woke up at 3:00 thinking it was 6:00, showered and dried my hair. By that time I really was awake enough to see my alarm clock and realize I was a couple hours to early. When the alarm went off at 6:00 I realized that I was too awake to go back to bed a second time. I decided instead to use my time wisely. I read. That morning, as my roommates beautified me, I finished reading DEATHLY HOLLOWS.

25 July 2011

Starting Sentences

I was taught early on to vary how I start out my sentences. This is a lot more difficult for me than I know it is for other people. The trick is to notice how many times you use the same word to start a sentences. Some of the most common repetitive words are pronouns. This is especially true when you have one character by themselves. What I was taught was when you have one character instead of always focusing on the character, focus on other objects.

Tyson walked into the cafe. He examined the empty room for a moment before moving up to the counter. He rang the bell with a sharp tap to to the top. He leaned against the counter tapping his fingers on the top. He smiled when the waitress came out of what he assumed to be the kitchen.

Make the objects the subject of the sentence.

Tyson walked into the cafe. The room was empty and he only spent a moment examining it before moving up to the counter. The bell rang clear when he tapped the top of it. His fingers rapped against the counter as he leaned against it. A waitress bustled out of what looked to be the kitchen.

Try reading the paragraphs out loud and you will more likely catch all of the repetitive words, whether they start the sentence or not.

24 July 2011


Intro: I wanted to do a Pinocchio type story. I didn't watch Pinocchio growing up as a kid, so I don't have the same love for it as other people probably do. Instead I always looked at these instances of people getting children in their old age as a little odd. I think it would be much easier to raise a child when you are younger. This story is a futuristic version of the origins of Pinocchio.

Kendall leaned back in his chair but kept an eye on the code streaming across his screen. The code represented seven years of his life. It had started out as a college thesis and now, his life revolved around getting this to work, by tonight. That was the deadline his work gave him. If this code didn't work, he would be fired, and he would then lack money to pay for his apartment.

"Stop thinking that way. This will work."

His eyes never left the screen for if one mistake were to slip by him, he wouldn't make the deadline. He had already spent fifteen hours going through the code and still had at least one left to go. Starting over was not an option.
"Pay attention." He could always pause the code, but even when all of the code was done he still had to upload it to the doll and make sure the physical motors worked.

The doll rested against the wall of his room. It had been built by a friend of Kendall who had majored in something considered more practical, engineering. He didn't like working in his apartment during the day. Most of the time he worked at his cubicle during daylight hours, slept between five and midnight in his car and stayed up late at his apartment until early morning when he could get into the office building again.

The reason why he avoided his apartment during the day was because of the terrors above him. He could hear them now. His upstairs neighbor was a single mother with three children. Kids didn't use to bother him until moving here where there was no rest from them. Then again, before moving here, he avoided children.

The error almost slipped past him but just as it was about to disappear at the top of the screen he paused it. He removed the extra dash and breathed another sigh of relief. Errors use to bother him because it meant he had made a mistake, but now, he found a little pleasure in catching those mistakes.

One of the little terrors stomped so hard that he was worried the light over his desk was going to collapse. He glanced up for a moment almost growling in frustration. Another stomp rattled the light.

"You've got to be kidding me."

When Kendall glanced back down at the computer he cursed. The code still flowed by and he had neglected to watch it for almost ten seconds. He touched the screen, pausing the text and ran his finger up the side, scrolling back to where he'd fixed the code.

Though the light continued threatening to fall, he kept his eyes glued to the screen and gritted his teeth. An hour and a half later, with a headache pounding, he moved away from the desk. He drained a caffeinated soda and some drugs, hoping the caffeine would kick in quickly.

He picked up the doll from his room, the silicon covering over the titanium skeleton didn't even feel remotely human in his arms, but that didn't matter. He set it up against the wall and activated the linking sensor on doll. The code streamed from his computer to the doll.

"Two hours and nineteen minutes remaining." The computer informed him.

One of the terrors started to scream. Kendall left the apartment and headed to his car. It was parked under a tree and cool despite the summer heat. He glanced through his notes, reminding himself of what was needed to finish the process, but fell asleep with the computer across his legs.

"Transfer complete." The computer woke him

Kendall sat up and rubbed his eyes. The sun no longer hung in the sky and the only light came from the computer across his lap. He stared at it for a moment before getting out of the car and rushing back up to his apartment. The doll sat in the dark apartment, bathed in a pale light from the computer screen. For a moment he just looked. The doll was human in form with two arms, two legs, and a head, but the proportions were exactly right and there was no detail. The head was merely a sphere, the fingers cylinders. There were sensors behind the silicon covering, strong enough to work through the skin as well as microphones and speakers. But if it did what he wanted, it didn't matter that it wasn't biologically correct. He disconnected the link and activated the code. The doll remained still but a red bulb light up in its chest.

"Come on. You are the key to my future."

The doll moved and Kendall let out a whoop. "Now for the easy part," he said folding his arms a sense of smug satisfaction settling over him. "I have created an AI that can move a physical body. Now to prove the progression of intelligence even in computers."

The doll moved its head around. Kendall held his breath as the faint sound of static signified the speaker activation. Nothing intelligible came out, only a shriek. The hands pounded the desk and the screen teetered. Kendall rushed forward grabbing the screen before it fell off. In the process the doll fell to the floor. He glanced at it but it only rocked in place, the screaming even louder. He grabbed the doll and tried to pick it up but it only batted at his hands.

"Hello!" Someone called through the door.

Kendall let go of the screaming doll and hurried over. The woman from upstairs stood in the hall, her eyes rimmed with dark circles.

"I don't know what you have going on in there, but if you could please keep your child quiet I would appreciate it. I only just got mine to bed and I don't need them waking up."

Kendall stared at her as she walked back down the hall towards the elevator. He shut the door and leaned his back against it as he looked at the infant computer now in his life.

22 July 2011

Ranger's Apprentice

by John Flanagan

I started reading the RANGER'S APPRENTICE series about four years ago. John Flanagan is an Australian author who wrote short stories for his son to encourage him to read. Not only are these books a great way to encourage kids to read, but as an adult, I loved the story line and the character development. There are ten books in the series and though I thoroughly enjoyed them all I can't talk about them all, not just because I would be writing my own novel glorifying the stories, but that it would give away some of the fun plot twists.

The stories follow two characters primarily both of them orphans who grew up together. Will is a smaller fellow who initially wants to be a knight like he believes his father was. When he is given the opportunity to become a ranger, he develops amazing skills with a bow and the opportunity to harness his quick wits. The other character is Horace. He is a much larger boy who does get the opportunity to train as a knight. Though he doesn't seem to have the same mental prowess as his friend Will, his strategic comprehension and skills with a sword make his a force to be reckoned with.

If I had to choose my favorite book from the series I would say it is book seven, ERAK'S RANSOM, though not by much. These books teach the importance of responsibility, honor, dedication, and friendship. Though the two characters I mentioned were male, there are plenty of strong female characters that are just as awesome as the boys. An overall killer series that I will make sure my children read when they grow up.

The Ruins of Gorlan
The Burning Bridge
The Icebound Land
The Battle for Skandia
The Sorcerer of the North
The Siege of Macindaw
Erak's Ransom
The Kings of Clonmel
Halt's Peril
The Emperor of Nihon-Ja

20 July 2011

Cooking Addiction

Where my husband and I are currently living we have cable. In the four years of our marriage we have never had cable before. Most of the time we watch the criminal shows: NCIS, CSI, Criminal Minds, and what not. Lately we have really gotten into the cooking shows. We now watch five different shows, most of which are the competitor shows. We sit on the couch and drool and marvel as these people create masterpiece meals within the restrictions they are given. I mean come on. They have to pull these recipes out of their heads in minutes, sometimes even faster. I keep thinking that between my husband and myself, my husband would rock while I would fail spectacularly.

I always thought I was a good cook. That was until my husband started cooking. For a year my husband beat me home, it wasn't by much, but he decided that since he was home earlier, it was his job to get dinner on the table by the time I was home. (I feel like I wasted the first two and half years of our marriage. I was never that ambitious.) With his new interest in cooking, he not only cooks what he feels comfortable with but he has gone out of his way to learn how to cook more ethnic foods, like Thai. His interest in learning how to cook new foods encourages me to learn more as well. And by golly, I am going to learn how to properly decorate cakes one of these days.

18 July 2011


Everyone knows that there is a lot more to the world and characters than what is actually shown in the book. How do you get important information from the past into the story without bogging down the flow of the book? One of the most common ways is to have two characters discussing what has happened. The only problem with this is that if the two characters already know, why are they discussing it? This isn't natural. The trick is to have a character introduced that doesn't know. Then this character can be told. The other thing to keep in mind is not to throw it at the reader all at once. Exposition is important information but not always the most exciting.

Though I love the movie THE GREAT MUPPET CAPER, don't do what they did.
Lady Holiday: [Lady Holiday gives Miss Piggy the entire backstory for the movie]
Miss. Piggy: "Why are you telling me all this?"
Lady Holiday: "It's plot exposition. It has to go somewhere."

17 July 2011

*Storm Warning

Intro: I enjoy the series, Avatar: The Last Airbender and I wanted to do something with being able to control the elements and all that it entails. I may end up doing more with this idea later, but for now it was just fun to think about.

Javier stood with his back against the wall of the building and looked at the figure rushing through the rain. The man, dressed in a coat, was sopping wet, the cold rain running down slick hair and soaking through the fabric. Javier detested the cold, but a job was a job. He snapped his fingers, a bubble of air pulsating around him, encouraging the rain not to fall on him. Though the air kept him dry, he didn't want to waste the energy to do anything about the cold. He would need that later.

The target continued hurrying down the street, puddles billowing up under every step. The man never looked over his shoulder, though he wouldn't have seen much. Javier walked among shadows. His years of training had perfected the movement and he always put it to good use. He not only walked among the shadows, he was one himself.

He has no reason to look back. In a rainstorm people don't want to spend the time watching where they've been, they only want to get out of the moisture. But that is no excuse to be sloppy, Javier thought, as he continued to slink through the puddles, his feet resting on a cushion of air over the puddles.

No sound, no trace. All of his kills bore his mark. The body found after a heavy rain, a knife behind the ear. Instant kill. Little mess. Evidence gone with the rain. The police called him the Rain Killer. Those who hired him knew his true identity, Storm Wind. He didn't create the storm, but he didn't have to. He used every wind as a storm. The police weren't a threat. A news report the day before said the police would be stepping up their surveillance in the area, but Javier knew between the rain and his wind he didn't have to worry. No one could match his talents, especially in a storm.

The man scurried from the main street, down a dark side street. His footsteps were nearly drowned out by the sound of the water running from the overflowing gutters.

Right on time.

Javier slid the knife from its sheath and felt the cold metal in his palm. He picked up his pace. Halfway down the block, the man fell to the ground, the rain already washing the deed from Javier's hands. When all trace had been cleansed from his flesh, he built the wall of air around himself once more and continued on his way.

"The theory is true," a voice said.

Javier spun on his heel looking at the alley behind him.

"People in rainstorms rarely look behind them." A man in blue stepped forward, gun raised.

Javier threw his knife, pushing it forward with the wind. The officer leaned to the side, the knife sailing past.

"You aren't the only one with talents." The officer snapped and the water at Javier's feet moved against gravity.

Javier pulled more knives from his pockets but none of them flew true.

No. I refuse to be taken out by a second rate copper.

He pulled for his last resort, a small gun hidden in the waist line of his trousers. As he raised it, he already saw smoke rising from the barrel of the officer's gun. He fell, the wind dying around him.

15 July 2011


by Brian Jacques

I was introduced to this series when I was in elementary. I can remember going to a book fair and my mother letting me get a couple of the books. I had no expectations for this book and as soon as I delved into it, I knew I wouldn't come across anything like it again. The characters in REDWALL are some of the most human I've read, despite the fact that they are mice, moles, badgers, foxes, ferrets, weasels, rabbits. The world that Brian Jacques created was one I could picture and he made me feel like I was there with the characters at Redwall.

The storyline isn't groundbreaking, but it is still gripping. The good mammals, mice, rabbits, moles, have to protect their home of Redwall against the villainous mammals, weasels, ferrets, and rats. There are a couple of plot lines that weave through the whole story and it grabbed my attention. I will admit that this is the first book I remember reading on my own and crying in because of a situation. It teaches good lessons of responsibility, friendship, and being accountable for the actions you take.

This book is a classic YA fantasy that appeals to a wide variety of children. There are dozens of books in the series and if you are wondering which Brian Jacques book to start with, this is a perfect place to delve into the world. I still enjoy rereading this book and spending time with the wonderful characters.

13 July 2011

A More Permanent Temporary Address

This week my husband and I have been trying to find a new place to meet. We have been staying with a relative's relative. We have been very grateful for a place to live but at the same time, we have lived on our own since we were married, and this situation is a little odd at times. We were pleased to find a new more permanent temporary location. (I just find it so funny to say that.) We will be staying in this new location through the winter and while I really am not overly excited about renting again, we can use this to build up our savings and it will give us time to find a house we really want.

I can't really complain about the whole moving in steps. I have heard from several people where the situation is a lot worse and the family ends up living in separate locations in order to get everything to work. It was bad enough living on my own for two days, I am more than happy to have a long commute and a rent payment if it means I can see my husband every night.

11 July 2011

Where to Submit

Since last week I talked about submission guidelines, I thought maybe I would continue that trend and talk about places to submit. I know that some writers are discouraged because when they go to a publisher's website it says "No unsolicited manuscripts accepted" and when they go to an agent's site is says, "Not currently accepting manuscripts." So the question is, where do you submit? First off, don't limit yourself to just manuscripts. There is a pretty big market for short fiction as well. It doesn't pay nearly as well, but you can start branding your name through the short stories.

There are two tricks to learning about contests and submissions. The first one is to subscribe to literary news items. This can be online magazines, journals, or even social media. There are plenty of places that advertise through these mediums. These will take some time from your writing but you will get to a point where it is quick and easy to peruse through the ads looking for what you want. The second trick is to ask other writers. I have entered several contest because a friend told me about them. I wouldn't have found them on my own. In exchange, I try to pass along information about the contests I know about.

There are plenty of writing contests available, and while not all of them will be as distinguished as being accepted by Tor or Baen, they are a way to start getting your name out there.

10 July 2011

*Angel of Death

Intro: Percy is a personification of death who is over the suicides. She is more of someone who is the last help offered. In this case she can see that the man isn't a typical jumper and wanted to learn more about what caused his death. I wanted to have a play with the terms "angel of death" and "merchant of death" and show the differences between the two groups of people.

Percy looked at the ground seventy-two stories below her dangling feet. Before death, something like this would have terrified her. Now she only felt the urge to jump, to feel the wind streaming through her hair as she plummeted to the ground below. Not that it would do her any good. Death was no longer an option when one had already lived through it. Life after death wasn't boring, yet that was the problem. She didn't want an exciting death. She wanted to be buried in the ground like a normal corpse.

Someone stepped up onto the edge of the roof next to her. She looked at the worn shoes, the stitching pulling out from the seams and the leather worn and polished as much as possible. She gazed upwards. Crisp pressed trousers slightly faded at the knees and butt. A well used belt held the too large leg ware up and kept a thin shirt in place.

The man didn't even glance her direction. Instead his eyes were squeezed closed, a prayer of forgiveness on his lips as the tears dribbled down his cheeks. Percy glanced back down the dark glass face of the building which reflected the red sunlight of the faded day.

"They won't forgive you, if you jump," she said tapping her heels against the side of the building.

The man saw her for the first time. He didn't say anything. He didn't even twitch at the appearance of her and she cut quite a figure. Her dress dated back to her death and she had been considered the belle of the ball in her time. Though the dress was nearly a hundred years old, it still looked brand new, straight from the seamstress.

"That is the problem with suicides," she continued meeting the man's gaze. "No one receives forgiveness. You are jumping not because you are mad, but because you feel like a failure. When they hear of your death they will think they drove you to it."

The man looked at her, meeting her gaze for the first time. His eyes looked dull, dark circled rimmed the bottom. His eyes showed he was already dead. She turned away.

He wasn't like the others. Over the years she'd convinced hundreds of people to step down from the building and return home. She was good at her job. There had been times when the person had still jumped, but this one was different. This one was about selfishness or self-loathing, it was something deeper.

"I'm missing something." She drummed her fingers on the wall. "I can't leave it at this."

The next day she looked through the paper she'd picked up before heading to her post. The man was a husband and father of three children. All of whom were currently missing. He had been a scientist. Percy frowned. Three other scientists had died this last month, one had jumped off a bridge, one had been shot in the back, while the third had been hit by a car. She only knew about the others because she kept in contact with the others. None of the others had thought anything of the other deaths, but then again Percy was always digging too much into events that weren't her concern.

"I can't leave it alone." She stood up and jumped from the building. The exhilaration took her breath away but it didn't last long. She landed lightly on the sidewalk, no one any the wiser for her actions. She was only seen when she wanted to be seen. All of the men worked for a private weapons manufacturer located in the center of the train yard. Getting into the important looking office was a little more difficult but she found the opportunity to slip through an open window.

"With three of them dead, we can't finish the project." One of the men said. The man held a cigarette in his hand and sucked at it a couple of times a minutes. His hands shook and his voice was testament to how long he'd been addicted.

"You shouldn't have left them alone with the prototype." This man sat behind a large mahogany desk.

"You can't blame this on me. I did everything you asked for."

"But this is your fault. I promised them a working nuclear bomb. How do I keep my buyers happy if you can't even keep the scientists in line? If you can finish this project, I'll consider not killing you. Otherwise, your life ends now. I don't care who finishes it."

The man behind the desk raised a revolver.

"I'll make sure it's done." The other man said and ran from the room. Percy followed after him, and made it just before the door closed.

The man hurried to a lab where two men in white coats sat on stools, their hands in their laps. Percy started trying to convince the man that death wasn't the only option, but her words had no effect. He didn't even notice her talking in his ear.

"Get to work," he said.

"No," one of the scientists replied.

"We won't do it. That's why we destroyed it once we learned the truth," the other one said.

"You don't have a choice anymore," the man said pulling out a gun. "You help, or you die."

"We help and we die. We know you are planning on killing us once this is all over." One of the scientists stood up from his stool and walked towards the gun so that it was pressing against his chest. "The others had more courage than we did, but now I too am ready to die. You cannot force me to build this monstrosity. You're nothing but a merchant of death."

"What can I say? It pays well. If you won't work, I'll find someone who will."

Two shots. The scientists met their deaths honorably.

The man was spooked and that gave her the opening she needed. Percy spoke, trying to keep her voice free of the fury she felt."You do realize you won't be able to find anyone to replace them, don't you. You're all dead if you can't deliver the bomb. You might as well end it all."

The man acted as she predicted running back to the office. Two more shots. As she stepped over the bodies of the merchants, she spared them no glance. She needed to get back to her post.

08 July 2011


by Ally Condie

I listened to Ally Condie at an author's night recently. Her personality is infections and I enjoyed learning more about her. When I first looked at MATCHED I must admit I was entranced by the cover itself. From there I flipped open the cover and read the blurb inside and I was hooked completely: "For Cassia, nothing is left to chance — not what she will eat, the job she will have, or the man she will marry."

MATCHED is the story of Cassia, a seventeen-year-old girl. She, like the rest of the citizens, trusts the Society to make the best choices for her. These choices include everything from a career to who she will marry. The problem comes when she sees an unexpected picture. From then on she is torn between doing what is best for her, her family, and her friends, and doing what actually feels right.

From the very beginning, I was creeped out by the Society. It reminded me a lot of THE GIVER in the idea that people follow blindly along when the leaders of the community tell them to do something. They don't know any better but as a reader I just want them to understand what is so wrong with the whole idea. The character of Cassia is someone who I really felt for as she tried to decide what choices she should make. There are a lot of other characters in the story that are easy to relate to such as her grandfather and parents. This book is great for a lot of reasons, not only because it made me appreciate the choices I do have in my life, but it makes me appreciate the opportunities I have every day to create something. I'm really looking forward to CROSSED which comes out in November.

06 July 2011

Submission Guidelines

These last couple of months I have been involved with a writing contest. I was in charge of getting the contest set up, receiving all of the entries, organizing the entries, dispersing the entries to judges, and so on. I have submitted my work to a variety of publishers, agents, and contests and yet only as a contest chair did I actually understand the importance of submission guidelines.

1. Read through all of the instructions and documents you can find about the contest. This normally means scouring the website looking through old posts. Here you can normally find information on what they don't want so you can avoid shooting yourself in the foot by submitting something they specifically say they don't want.

2. Follow said directions. There is no excuse not to follow the instructions given on the website. (I have been really lucky in this regard. Twice I have sent something that didn't meet the requirements and I got a second chance. I will make sure there is never a third time that happens.)

3. If you have any questions ask. Most of the time people don't mind if you want clarification on something. Just make sure the answer to your questions isn't located on the website. If it is, you'll look pretty foolish.

4. If at all possible, don't wait until the last moment to get your entry submitted. Nothing is worse than having a printer or internet failure the day of the deadline. Give yourself plenty of time to get your entry in. This isn't always possible but I have learned is good practice.

5. Never complain about the guidelines to the contest people. Yes, I did experience this, no, I've never done it. They will not respect you if you send them an email talking about the ridiculousness of your contest rules. They will not change the rules for you. Everyone has to follow the rules. You are not special.

Submitting something is always terrifying. After I submit something I normally find a mistake and I have learned instead of worrying about it, or hoping everyone else made a mistake, to just keep writing and preparing for the next submission. If the story is rejected, then I can fix the mistake and submit it somewhere else if the opportunity arises.

04 July 2011

03 July 2011

*An Unopened Box

Intro: It is the first of July and I am writing a wintery story, a little odd I know. Once again, I don't really know where this story came from, I just wanted a winter themed story in a futuristic setting and this is what happened.

Persephone stood at the window to her room, taking in the falling snow. She wanted to go and play, but she didn't have that option as a Child of the Heavens. Children of the Earth lived in the city. Children of the heavens, known by their yellow eyes, remained at all times in the tower. She was one of two children of the heavens currently living. She hated it.

Her brother, Titan, sat by the fire, reading the book she'd purchased the day before. She didn't want to miss anything tonight and she had been hoping the book would keep her awake. Titan use to buy books but not anymore but he still borrowed hers whenever he got the opportunity.

"Cheapskate," she said to the wind.

"Close the window, your letting all of the cold in."

Persephone touched the sensor next to the window and the force field shimmered into place. She wanted to demand Titan give her back her book but he was already half way through it. If she took it now he would bother her until she gave it back or she finished. At this rate he would be done by tomorrow and then she would be able to take her time with it. She would just have to make sure he didn't give anything away.

"Why are you so anxious?" Titan asked, flicking his finger across the screen for the next page.

"I'm not," She replied.

"Then why is there a track in the floor?"

Persephone glanced down and Titan laughed, flicking to another page.

"Don't you ever find it odd, that this is the only time we see them?"

Titan didn't answer and for a few minutes she thought that he was too entranced in the book, but he never moved his hand to turn the page. He had been thinking about it, he just didn't tell her.

"I would rather see them one day then never at all," Titan finally said and went back to his book.

"What about the third option, seeing them every day? Some people do have that option. Some people aren't locked away —"

"That's enough."

"Come on, Titan. Just because of our eye color we are given archaic names and shut up in a tower to play as gods. It isn't fair."

Titan remained silent, to Persephone's irritation. He always remained silent when he knew he was winning the argument. Her temper got the better of her more often than she cared to admit. She stomped to the window again and opened it. The blanket of snow only existed in a few places. Most of the building radiated enough heat to melt the small ice crystals as soon as they landed. She held out her hand and caught a few flakes.

"It's cold."

"Deal with it," Persephone replied. Her hand melted the snow as well and she looked at the drops of water. The city lights reflected through the prism and turned the world upside down. She leaned against the window sill felling the warmth of the city life from beneath her and the cool of the weather above her. Snow drifted down on her head and melted in her hair running and dripping down her hair. She let her tears mingle with the water already seeping down her face.

"They're late," Titan said and she turned from the window. She knew her face must be pale and the heat from the room made her cheeks tingle from the warmth. Titan tossed the book on her chair, signaling he'd finished it.

"They never promised they'd even be here."

"They've been here every other year," Titan said. "I'm sure they'll be here this year too."

Persephone wiped the water off of her face with her sleeve.

"Why don't you take a warm shower?"

She nodded and headed to her room. Titan was only two years older than she was but at this moment, she felt the age between them like the distance to the moon. The shower helped warm her body but she had little hope when she walked back into the living room.

"They're not coming," Persephone said.

"Of course they are."

"It's almost two in the morning."

"They're just running a little late," Titan said. He held out her book and a blanket. "I'll wake you as soon as they get here."

Persephone nodded and curled up on the chair entranced in her book.

She hadn't even realized she'd fallen asleep until a cool breeze brushed her ears and she shivered. The room was dark, the only light coming from the city beneath open window. She thought about getting up to shut it but decided she would rather wait it out in the blanket than get even colder, if even temporarily.

As she stared at the window a shadow moved in front of it. Titan. He leaned against the window, looking out at the night sky. Persephone's heart skipped as she watched her brother stare out at the night sky.

"No more."

Titan stayed at the window the snow blowing in around his frame and Persephone fell into a fitful sleep.

"Are you planning on sleeping all day?"

Persephone opened her eyes and looked around the room. A couple of presents stood near the door.

"They came?" she asked.

"Yeah." Titan ran a hand through his hair. "I tried to wake you but you were with the dead. Sorry." He paused for a moment. "They won't be able to come anymore, visiting hours have been restricted."

Persephone spent the rest of the day playing games with Titan already planning the day when they would leave. They should have named her Pandora.

01 July 2011

Moonraker's Bride

by Madeleine Brent

MOONRAKER'S BRIDE can be classified as a gothic romance novel. While the romance does play an important role in the overall story, the mystery is just as compelling. The story starts in China at a missionary. Seventeen year old Lucy Waring grew up in China under the care of an English missionary. She has never known a society beyond the Chinese and when the dire situation convinces her to try her hand at thievery her life changes. In prison she meets Nicholas Sabine, scheduled for execution, who agrees to help her and asks if she will marry him as payment. Once released from prison she is sent to England away from everything she knows and even more mysteries unfold.

The reason why I love this book is because Lucy is such a loveable character. Having grown up in exotic China, she is not prepared for English society. Her sense of propriety is viewed as outlandish and unacceptable and only adds to the hilarity of the story. The story behind Nicholas Sabine and his rivals give the novel a haunting feeling and kept me wondering what was going to happen in the end. There are some unbelievable elements but nothing too outlandish.

MOONRAKER'S BRIDE is a clean, light-hearted story that a lot of people will enjoy. It has its own air of excitement and I never thought it dragged. I have read a couple of books by Madeleine Brent and this one is my favorite. A perfect book if you just want to feel good after reading it.